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Monthly Archives: March 2018
Eight awesome apps that will help you save money and shop smarter
Saving money is no easy task, and it’s usually no fun either. Shopping around for the best deals, cutting back on expenses, you know the drill…
There’s something to that sense accomplishment, though. Ever get a compliment on a new pair of shoes? Before you can say thanks, you’re bragging about how you found them on sale and how little you paid for them– and people are impressed! We’re right there with you.
There are some incredibly easy ways to score some extra cash or big savings, especially if you’ve got a smartphone in your hand. Check out these apps that will help you find freebies, save a little extra money, and give you some serious bragging rights:
Ebates offers savings and cash back at 2,000+ of your favorite stores, both online and in-store. From clothing, accessories, and electronics, to home décor, office supplies, toys and even vacation and travel plans, you’ll find the best deals, get access to thousands of coupons and promotional codes, and earn cash back on each purchase—even Double Cash Back at some stores! Get paid every quarter with a check mailed directly to your home address or deposited directly into your Paypal account. Earn even more if you choose to redeem your cash balance in the form of a gift card.
Acorns is a micro-investing app that automatically invests your spare change by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar. For example, a $10.56 purchase will be charged as $11.00 and Acorns will invest $.44 on your behalf. Just connect the cards or accounts you use to make everyday purchases, spend as you normally do, and watch your account grow. You can also set up recurring daily, weekly, or monthly deposits or boost your account at any time with a one-time investment. If your account has less than $5,000, you’ll pay only $1 per month for the service. Accounts of $5,000 or more pay only 0.25% per year. College students get the best deal, though—FREE with a valid .edu email address for up to four years from the registration date.
Paribus is a cash back app, but it works differently than most others. I don’t know about you, but making a purchase and then seeing the item on sale a week or two later just irks me. On the other hand, though, I don’t have time to ponder each and every purchase and wait for the perfect timing. Paribus is a price-tracking app that scans your email account for online purchase receipts and then, if an item goes on sale shortly after the purchase, it automatically files a request for a price adjustment in your name. It also looks for coupons or promo codes that can be redeemed retroactively. You’re earning money without even knowing it!
Honey is a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge) that automatically looks for and applies promo or coupon codes at thousands of online sites. Once honey is installed on your computer, the icon will appear in the top right corner of your browser (with the exception of Safari). If it’s orange, Honey supports the site. Click the button to view coupons you can apply for extra savings.
If you’re a big Amazon shopper, Honey automatically compares the prices and price history of their top-rated sellers. The best price is listed on the product page so you’ll know if you’re getting the best deal available. If someone is selling it for less, Honey will let you know.
Ibotta is a cash back app that enables you to earn money on in-store and online grocery purchases by uploading a picture of your receipt, making an in-app purchase, or linking a loyalty card to your account. Simply add offers in your Ibotta account by completing simple tasks, like watching a 30-second video or taking a quick survey. Buy the products you selected, submit a smartphone picture of your receipt, and within 48 hours, your cash back will be deposited in your Ibotta account. When you’ve accumulated at least $20, you can transfer the cash to your Paypal or Venmo account, or purchase a gift card.
Rewards is another app that pays you for uploading pictures of your grocery receipts. It’s different than Ibotta because it doesn’t require you to complete a task to get access to the cash back offer and you don’t need to shop at a specific store. It does, however, require you to redeem your cash earnings in the form of a gift card. Fetch will automatically check every item on your receipt and credit you with rewards from over 150 brands. You can expect to earn between 250 and 2,000 points per offer and since 1,000 points are equal to $1.00, you’ll earn anywhere from .25 cents to $2 per offer. The threshold for payout is only 3,000 points.
Retail Me Not is the first place you should check whenever you purchase anything online. If there’s a promo or a coupon code, you’ll find it here. They’ll tell you how many people have used it and its success rate, too. Install the Retail Me Not Genie Chrome browser extension, and it’ll let you know there’s a discount code available automatically.
The company also has a free app that helps you find coupons on in-store purchases, too, at retailers big and small. No printing coupons, either. Just show it on your phone when you check out at the register. Search by store name or “today’s hot deals.” Retail Me Not offers more than 500,000 discounts at over 50,000 retailers. They also feature some cash back offers, too, so whether you’re shopping at Amazon, Nordstrom Rack, Macy’s, Best Buy, Ulta, or anywhere else, don’t leave home without this app.
Raise has the largest selection of gift cards to your favorite brands—and they’re discounted! You’ll be able to purchase a discounted gift card and then use it to score the best deals in your favorite stores and restaurants. The wallet feature allows you to organize and track your purchases and the app will notify you when you have gift cards and are at nearby stores. Nervous about buying a discounted gift card and being scammed? Every gift card is covered by a 1-year money-back guarantee, so go ahead, shop and save!
Mortgage Process – Mortgage loan review: The basic C’s
Georgia’s Own mortgage experts, Todd and Earica, discuss the three C’s you should know about mortgage lending.
New Scam Alert: Spoofing
A unique type of technology now enables fraudsters to fake the number they are calling from by making a false number appear on your caller ID. It’s extremely effective, because the number displayed appears to be your bank’s correct contact number.
This scam is called number spoofing. Using specialized technology, the number appears on the victim’s caller ID display. Here is what you need to know:
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof any number so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.
- Don’t give personal information. Don’t provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct. Georgia’s Own would never ask members to verify your full SS#, full card number, card expiration date, CVV or PIN number.
- If you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
The best advice to beat the scam is simple – never assume that someone is who they purport to be just because the number displayed on your caller ID matches that of an organization you know. Always be suspicious if you’re asked for your four-digit PIN or full online banking passwords. Same goes for transferring or withdrawing money or giving your card to a courier. Remember, your Credit Union will never ask you to do any of these things.
Landing a new job and a higher salary
There are lots of ways to increase your income, but many of them include ideas that make you give up something in return. Weekend side jobs, upcycling and selling on Etsy, renting a room in your home, or getting paid to fill out surveys about your brand loyalty—they all require more of your time and attention, a luxury most people don’t have. Yes, they’re feasible, but difficult to manage while working five days a week in a full-time job.
Why not replace your current full-time job with one that’s higher paying? We know that’s easier said than done, but the job market is full of opportunity. In fact, in 2017, the ATL is ranked #6 on a list of the best cities for job seekers, according to NerdWallet.
Don’t know where to start? Resume not updated? Networking not your specialty? Regardless, the Jobvite Job Seeker Study says that 82% of you are up for a new position, so let’s get going!
Update your resume
Your resume is the first impression you make on a potential employer. It stands between you and the first step in the interview process. It needs to be an excellent representation of you, your abilities, and how you can contribute to the overall success of the company. For free tips, resume samples and templates, and even cover letters, check out Resume Help, Thumbtack, or Resume Genius.
Position yourself socially
According to Jobvite , 67% of job seekers used social media to find their current position. 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and 55% used Facebook. You might think Facebook is your mom’s social network, but if more than half of recruiters are using it to advertise positions, you may want to beef up, or clean up, your profile page. It’s also an excellent place to gauge corporate culture, as is Instagram, so get busy stalking the pages and stories of potential employers.
LinkedIn is a more logical place, given the depth of career and job search networking available to you. It’s the largest professional network on the internet. You’ll be able to connect with employees of companies you’re interested in and position yourself to more likely be found by a recruiter.
Consider adding more detail to your job history and use your profile headline to your advantage. With 120 characters, describe who you are, what you do, and what professional benefit you can provide to the viewer. Use keywords that others might use when searching for someone in need of your services and skills.
Search online jobs
There are thousands of job sites on the world-wide-web, so we’ve identified some of the most popular. These allow you to search based on what’s most important to you like the type of job, title, salary, and your location. Try some of the more traditional sites like Monster and CareerBuilder,two of the largest online job boards. Another well-liked and highly rated site is Indeed,which pulls opportunities from thousands of sources including company career sites, newspaper classifieds, job boards, and associations. LinkUp only posts positions from company websites, so you’ll often get access to some unadvertised jobs. If you’re in a profession that has a site dedicated to your specific industry, like Dice or Idealist, be sure to take advantage of it, but don’t let it limit your search. Post your resume on multiple sites because there’s not one site that covers all your bases.
Don’t limit yourself to online resources, though. There are other opportunities, likely in your own backyard. Check these out:
Many churches in the metro Atlanta area offer high-attendance job networking groups. Roswell United Methodist Church offers one of the largest groups. Another popular association is Christ Centered Career Groups (C3G), which is sponsored by North Point Community Church. Marietta’s Catholic Church of St. Ann offers CareerQuest, and The Employment Network meets at St. Brigid Catholic Church. Be sure to check out your local church, clubs, or organizations to see if they offer similar opportunities.
Job fairs and career expos are held almost daily across Georgia. There are multiple websites that list current events and resources for job seekers. Bookmark them and check them often. Try Atlanta Event and Atlanta Career Fair Events.
Securing the next job of your dreams doesn’t necessarily mean changing your commute. Be sure to check out your current company’s job posting site. Let your manager or your Human Resources department know what your interests are. While it’s best not to broadcast your intention across the company, letting select others in on your career aspirations may be wise. After all, it’s in the best interest of the company to retain talented employees.
Start building relational capital with other managers now. Simply meeting for coffee or lunch will give both of you a chance to get to know each other, and your initiative could bring more attention to your qualifications and your contribution to the company. You’ll never be noticed if you’re quietly eating your leftovers in the break room.
Dress for success
At the risk of stating the obvious, dress like a successful person in your profession. Polish your shoes and paint your nails. While qualifications should outweigh appearances, there’s only one chance to make a first impression. If you want your future employer to think you have it all together, that you take pride in yourself, and you care about the details, be sure you convey that message every way you can. It’s subtle, but hey, we’re approaching it from all angles here.
Mortgage Process – Getting the most out of your loan officer
Georgia’s Own mortgage experts, Todd and Earica, tell you what you should do to get the most out of your loan officer during the mortgage process.
Tax time! Here’s a run-down of everything you need to do before the big date
Tax day can be a dreaded date on the calendar for a lot Americans. Heck, even the post office feels sorry for us. Why else are they willing to keep their doors open late just to help postmark our tax return in time?
To make your tax day easier, we’ve compiled a list of things you need to or can do before the IRS’s red-letter day:
Two Extra Days
This year, tax day is April 17, 2018. Think of it as a gift from the IRS. Because April 15th is a Sunday, and D.C celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, you earn two additional days of interest on the money you set aside for your tax bill and 48 hours to dig through your receipts looking for another deduction.
Fund your retirement account
There’s not much you can do after December 31 that will affect your 2017 taxes, but every bit counts. If you have a Roth or Traditional IRA and haven’t maxed out your contribution, do it by April 17, and you can potentially lower your tax bill. It’s the last day to make a contribution for 2017, regardless of whether it’s tax deductible or not. If you’ve filed for an extension and have a Keogh or SEP IRA, you’ll have until October 15, 2018, but it’s smarter to start your tax-free compounding sooner than later.
Do you know the documents you’ll need to complete your tax return? Don’t leave it to the last minute or you may run out of time. Collect all of your W-2s,1099s, and any mortgage statements. These should have arrived in your mailbox by January 31, 2018. Gather receipts for tax-deductible expenses, bank and brokerage statements, rental property income information, social security numbers for dependents, and any other documents you need for your return. There’s nothing worse than being “in the zone” and having to stop to look for another piece of paper. Plan ahead and avoid the frustration.
Use the right tax form
Yes, most tax forms can be found at the library or post office, but why make a trip if you don’t have to. Go straight to the online source: the Internal Revenue Service. The site can also link you to a list of government websites where you’ll be able to find your state forms, too.
Need more time?
If you don’t think you’ll be able to file your taxes by April 17, be sure to file Form 4868 for an extension. You’ll get an additional six months to finish, which will bring you to October 15, 2018. It’ll give you more time for the paperwork, but it won’t delay any tax payment, however. You’ll have to reasonably estimate your tax liability and include payment when you file your request. Don’t let that deter you, though. If you file late without having filed for an extension and you wind up owing the IRS, you’ll also be hit with a late-filing penalty AND a late-payment penalty!
The IRS processes electronic transfer more quickly than paper, so if you expect a refund, file electronically. You’ll likely get it three to six weeks sooner. Request a direct deposit to your bank account and it’ll be even faster–and it’s guaranteed not to get lost in the mail!
If you owe the IRS, you can still file electronically and then wait until the deadline to send payment. Include a check with Form 1040-V, or pay via direct debit or with a credit card. Know, though, that a credit card will include an additional service charge that can be as high at 2.5 percent. On the other hand, a direct debit should allow you to delay the transaction until the filing deadline.
Ask for help
If you’ve had a life-changing event in 2017 or your taxes are more of an overwhelming task than you’d like to tackle, consider a professional preparer. You’ll still need to collect your documents and answer some questions, but a professional may help alleviate some of the headache and offer you more confidence. Don’t wait, though. They’re under the same filing deadline as everyone else and there are only 24 hours in a day!