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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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All Posts > Lifestyle

Lifestyle

You may or may not have heard of QR codes, but in the midst of COVID-19 and the focus on contactless communication, these little black-and-white boxes are in their heyday.


What is a QR code?

A QR (quick response) code, pictured here, is simply a box with black-and- white patterns that lead to a particular action in a device (usually activating a URL or an app download). The pattern is a new-age barcode—but instead of transmitting information about a product, including price, this code holds information that can take you anywhere on the web. No fancy scanners—all you have to do is take a picture of it in most of today’s devices.
QR codes aren’t new. Launched in 1994, QR really failed to catch on with any regularity in the quarter-century that followed their inception. But with 2020 came a resurgence of contactless options in business, fast-tracking this previously no-hit wonder to modern-day mainstream.


Why QR?

On a device, a hyperlink is obviously, instantly clickable, and a fast way to reach a particular website or app. But what happens in real-life when you need to do the same thing? You could type in the web address manually, but that takes time and some URLs are really long. This is the bread-and-butter of QR codes! And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, any option that reduces contact is in high demand. QR codes are shining, and odd are you’ll encounter one:
  • In a restaurant: QR codes printed on stickers or table signage provide a contactless way for patrons to view the menu online.
  • On a vehicle: Moving objects and long URLs don’t mix. But taking a quick photo? Easy peasy.
  • On products: Adding a QR code is a space saving way for companies to direct customers to more detailed information about their product.
  • In advertising: In the year of food delivery, putting a QR code on a receipt, flyer, banner, poster, or other visual advertising is a compact way to let the reader easily access more information if they decide to.
  • As a payment method: It’s not AS common, but behemoths like PayPal have started adding QR codes into their platforms to use as a payment option. Many merchants aren’t quite there, but in the lightspeed advancement of contactless payments that’s happening right now, that’s changing.


How to use a QR code

In the beginning, a special QR reader app was required to make sense of this special, nonsensical box, and the demand for the technology didn’t justify many device makers rushing to build the tech into their products. Slowly, but surely, as QR codes have gained popularity and widespread recognition, device makers have finally caught up. We’ve said, “Just snap a photo!” and it’s literally that easy on most devices. In fact, it’s easier. Have an iOS (Apple) device? Scanning a QR code is as simple as opening your camera app and pointing it at the QR code with the rear camera. Don’t press the shutter button—the phone will recognize the code automatically.

Most Android devices also have built-in functionality through their camera app. If not, the Google Lens app can easily be added.


QR Safety

So, here’s the thing about links: there is always the potential for it to be malicious. When you scan a QR code and head off to that page, you run the same risks as you would clicking on a link in a virtual environment. Here are a few things to consider before scanning:

Where did I find this code?
Is the code in a restaurant you’re sitting in? It’s probably safe if it’s on the official restaurant signage. Likewise, QR codes that come in bills are probably safe. But scanning QR codes you find laying around may not be the best idea. It’s incredibly easy to generate a QR code—for good or for ill. Receive an email with a QR code? Err on the side of caution and just visit the site yourself (not with a link) and look for the information you want.

Where does this lead?
Your device may allow you to preview the link itself before actual launching. Make sure you check this link before heading to the site! If it doesn’t match a site you thought you’d be headed to, cancel out and do not follow it. It’s safer to type in a URL, just in case.

Have you ever scanned a QR code? Next time you see one on official advertising or in a business you’re patronizing, give it a scan!

See more of the contactless ways you can get life done

 

Lifestyle

If the coronavirus has you going stir-crazy, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about renting or buying an RV and taking a road trip. After all, an RV allows you to travel without exposing yourself to germy airports and hotels.
 
You wouldn’t be the only person to come up with that idea. In May, peer-to-peer rental service RVshare saw a 650% spike in bookings since the beginning of April. But if you’re a first-time RV driver, there can be a steep learning curve to overcome.
 
Before you hit the open road, make sure you don’t make one of these major first-timer mistakes.
 
1. Believing bigger is better
Considering that you’ll be spending a good amount of time in your RV, you want to be comfortable. Choosing something too small will make traveling feel claustrophobic. But that doesn’t mean you should buy the biggest RV you can.
 
“The mistake I made was thinking I needed more space than we actually needed,” said Angela M. DiLoreto, who travels nearly full time in her travel trailer and blogs with her husband at Fitting in Adventure. “People compare the space to their houses; we spend a lot of time in the four walls of our home but little time inside the walls of an RV.” However, she said, the RV experience is about what happens outside those walls.
 
A smaller vehicle will be easier to drive and park, as well as faster to set up and tear down. Plus, many national parks have length restrictions for camping, so keep this in mind when choosing the size of your RV.
 
2. Buying brand spanking new
If you’re buying your RV, it might be tempting to lean toward the security of buying brand new. After all, new cars are in great shape and ready to roll, so you might presume RVs are, too.
 
“This isn’t true in RVing, unfortunately,” said Georgianne Austin, communications director for Escapees RV Club. Common advice shared in RVing circles, she said, is that it’s best to buy an RV that’s at least two years old. “The idea behind this is to let someone else deal with the fresh-off-the-lot issues, such as interior construction problems, chassis problems, etc., which surface during the first real ride with the RV.” This is often referred to as the “shakedown” trip.
 
By purchasing a used RV, someone else has already dealt with those issues that arise with the first few trips and has hopefully had them fixed by the time you take over.
 
3. Failing to check the carrying capacity
Because RVs are big, you might think that they can easily haul whatever you can fit inside. And you might believe that the bigger the RV, the more it can tow. Those are misconceptions that can cost you, said Kimberly Button, co-editor of Couch Potato Camping. “All RVs are different, based on their designs, but they are only designed to safely carry a certain amount of weight, which is known as gross cargo carrying capacity.”
 
Cargo carrying capacities can range from just a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. Either way, that limit includes personal items (shoes, clothing, sports gear, etc.), food, water (including fresh, gray and black tanks), updates or additions to the RV (solar panels, TVs, etc.) and passengers.
 
Button warned that carrying more than that capacity could damage your RV or trailer, tow vehicle or both. “It is extremely important for RV buyers to consider how they are going to camp and how many people they will be bringing.”
 
4. Not considering what your tow vehicle can handle
Another mistake, specifically for those looking at travel trailers, is purchasing a camper too heavy for the towing capacity of their vehicle, according to Rosanna T. Mitchell, founder of outdoor family adventure site A Pragmatic Lens. “Horror stories abound of RV dealers and sales associates assuring customers that their vehicle is able to tow a camper weighing thousands of pounds only to realize later they need a new towing vehicle, or worse, get in an accident,” she said.
 
If you plan to buy a trailer, be sure that your existing vehicle is equipped to tow the weight. If not, you may need to budget for a new towing vehicle or consider a different type of RV.
 
5. Traveling with too many aftermarket modifications
Especially with the explosion of the “van life” movement, many RV owners are making aftermarket modifications to their vehicles to make them more livable and aesthetically pleasing.
 
However, you should be wary of purchasing an RV with modifications such as high roofs or different passenger and driver seats, said Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney in Orlando, Florida, who’s owned an RV for about five years.
 
“The reason is that these aftermarket changes very often aren’t nearly as safe as those tested and engineered by the original vehicle manufacturer,” she said. For example, removing the original roof from a van and adding a new high top eliminates the metal support beams that surround the occupants. Plus, many extended vans already have a higher rollover risk, and making them taller adds to that risk.
 
It can be tempting to buy something that looks like it drove right off an influencer’s Instagram feed, but safety should be the priority when choosing a vehicle.
 
6. Picking a poor floor plan
Rae Miller, blogger at the Getaway Couple, said it’s important for first-time renters or buyers to really think about the floor plan they want. For instance, are you a family that needs separate areas for the kids? Are you bringing any large toys along? Do you like the open concept or do you want distinct living areas?
 
Some newer RV models also have retractable slides that will affect how accessible the interior is while driving. “The number one question we tell first-time buyers to ask themselves is: Can you access the bedroom, bathroom and fridge with the slides in? You’d be surprised how many times you’ll want to access these areas with the slides retracted when traveling, so make sure they aren’t blocked,” Miller said.
 
7. Assuming you’ll get it perfect the first time
Becca Borawski Jenkins, a senior editor at FinanceBuzz who’s been a full-time RVer for over three years, said she knows few people who are still driving the first RV they purchased. “Most are on their second or third, and some have gone through even more than that.”
 
Why? It takes time and experience to truly understand what you want and need in an RV. And that’s OK. Jenkins said realizing you won’t buy the perfect RV the first time is a good thing, as it relieves some of the pressure when choosing a vehicle to invest in. “You’ll probably buy one that turns out to be too big or too small or doesn’t feature an amenity you later realize is essential to your camping happiness,” she said.
 
The most important thing is to not break the bank on your first choice. “If you don’t spend a fortune your first time out, then you can trade your first RV in and get the RV of your dreams the second time around.”
 
Also important to consider: an RV purchase will very often not include many accessories and parts you will need on your journey. Items such as wheel chocks, hoses, and other critical tools will be needed, so be sure to budget extra to purchase these supplies before you hit the road.
 
There are many avenues to pursue RV ownership: through a dealership or through a private seller. If you don’t have a chunk of change laying around, financing is available (and often cheaper than you might think) from your bank or credit union.
 
At Kirtland FCU, you could finance your home on wheels with a rate as low as 6.99% APR* for 180 months.

See how an RV payment would fit into your budget

 
Article originally published at Huffpost.com. Membership eligibility required. *APR=annual percentage rate. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice, and are effective the 1st of the month. Actual rate and loan are dependent on age of vehicle, type of loan, credit worthiness, and other factors.

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