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Monthly Archives: September 2018
Show me the money: Smart ways to negotiate a raise
In today’s economy, most employers may still offer the token cost-of-living increase, but you shouldn’t expect more than that with your annual review. That’s not to say, however, that you can’t negotiate a raise, especially if your performance has gone beyond their expectations.
Maybe you’ve taken on some additional responsibility or have consistently put in extra time and effort to keep a project on schedule. If your department has benefited from your work, it might be time to speak up…and you know, money talks.
Here are some tips that will help you prepare your case and navigate the tricky terrain of salary discussions:
Track your accomplishments
Your manager may notice that you’re doing a great job, but if you think you deserve a raise, you’re going to need to prove it. Keep a list of accomplishments that includes key successes, contributions to projects, and leadership roles you’ve assumed. Think tangible and quantifiable examples that prove your worth. When you show consistent performance, it demonstrates drive, capability, and dedication, and will help move your agenda forward. Specifically, it will help identify your value based on outcomes that are important to the success of your organization and give you grounds for greater compensation.
Know how much you’re worth
Do your research. It’s critical to know what others in the same industry, and with the same job title and qualifications are being paid. Proposing a salary that’s in line with the going rate will help justify your request and add a dose of reality to your ask. Employee turnover is costly to an organization. If a company can compensate an already trained, high performing employee instead of replacing them with one that can take months to get up to speed, it’s well worth the investment. Check out Salary.com or Glassdoor.com. Based on your geographic location, cost of living, qualifications, and experience, these sites will help calculate a realistic salary range.
Consider the entire compensation package
Sometimes outside factors can impact your request for a raise like recent layoffs, new cost-cutting measures, or a downturn in the industry. Some companies may not be in a position to increase your salary, but other benefits can be just as valuable. Flexible hours, additional vacation time, stock options, a bonus plan, a car allowance, or working from home can make your life easier and your job more enjoyable. It may not be the money you’re looking for exactly, but it does have value.
Negotiate the no
Stay professional at all times and remain calm during your discussion. Even if your employer says no to a raise, ask for constructive feedback and set a performance plan for moving forward. What additional things you can do that will warrant a salary increase? Set up another meeting to reopen negotiations again in three to six months.
Once you start the conversation, your manager will understand where you’re coming from and can become an ally in your pursuit. Maybe there’s an advancement opportunity in the future, the possibility of upgrading your current position to a new title, or a chance to showcase your project management skills in a meeting. While a raise may not be in the budget today, give your manager a chance to build their own case to sell an increase to upper management.
Above all, don’t give them an ultimatum, unless, of course, you’re willing to follow through. If you come to the conclusion that you need to look elsewhere, it’s best to start searching while you’re still employed and earning a paycheck.
Just do it
It can be a nerve-wracking process, but if you believe you deserve a raise, ask for it. No employer wants their star employee out looking for other opportunities outside of the company. The worst they can say is no, but you’ll have brought your accomplishments and value to their attention. In the end, they might just realize your true worth.
Furry Finances: 5 ways to care for your pets without overspending
We know that most people treat their pets like part of their family. Those little fur babies give unconditional love and acceptance and can bring incredible joy and companionship into your life. Heck, they don’t care what’s for dinner, if the house is clean, or if you’re still in your pajamas at noon. They think you’re the best person in the world, no matter what.
Spending time with your pet and taking care of them is how we reward them for their friendship. You have to admit it, though. It can get expensive. Those antler chews aren’t cheap, and that gourmet dog food isn’t gonna pay for itself.
Here are a few money-saving tips for keeping your pet happy, healthy, and fit!
1. Adopt from a shelter
If you’re interested in adding a four-legged friend to your family, check out the local shelters. Plan your visit so you can spend time getting to know any of the pups you might consider for adoption. All dogs in the shelter will be spayed or neutered and be up to date on all their vaccinations before they leave the facility, which can be a significant savings. Adult dogs are likely to be potty trained and maybe even micro-chipped.
The staff is especially helpful, too, with details about a potential pet’s personality and preferences. And, because the shelters deal with veterinarians in the area, many will also gift you with a coupon for a discounted or free first visit to the vet.
If you’re looking for a particular breed of dog, some rescue organizations are breed-specific. Petfinder is also a good option since you can search for a certain breed and even set up an alert when one becomes available.
In the end, you can adopt a pet for significantly less than purchasing one from a breeder. Whether they’re full bred or a mix, they’ll love you forever.
2. Keep your pet happy and healthy
Many dogs (and cats) are overweight, which can increase their chances for developing health issues and diseases like cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Make sure Fido gets enough exercise, eats right, and goes easy on the treats!
It’s also important to stay current on any vaccines or medications, like flea and tick and heartworm prevention. Be proactive with vet visits, and you’re more likely to avoid costly health issues and big medical bills down the road.
If your pup does get sick, some minor illnesses can be treated with over-the-counter medications that you already have in your medicine cabinet, like Imodium, Benadryl, and antibiotic ointments. Always check with your vet first, but here‘s a list of common OTC medications that are safe for pets.
3. Be picky with your food purchase
Feeding your pet can take a big bite out of your budget! You don’t need to be eating PB&J when your dog is licking his lips after chowing down on a juicy T-bone steak. Be a smart shopper and hunt down some bargains.
High cost does not necessarily mean high quality. Sometimes you’re paying extra just because the word premium is printed on the bag. Check the list of ingredients and choose a brand of food that includes the least amount of filler, which provides little or no nutritional value for your pet. Compare prices among big box pet stores, grocery stores, and online companies. Combine a coupon with free shipping and consider subscribing for additional savings. Many online pet supply stores offer digital coupons and a 5% discount when you auto ship throughout the year. The best part? They deliver it to your front door, so you don’t have to lug that big bag home from the grocery store!
4. Groom at home
When Rover needs grooming every month, it can really break the bank! If you’re not too keen on tackling a wet dog at home, try a DIY self-service wash. Many grooming facilities provide large, elevated tubs and all the dog wash supplies. It’s less expensive than the full-service option, and there’s no mess at home!
If your pooch needs a haircut, opt for the shortest style so you can stretch the time between visits to the salon. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even learn to groom your own dog. You’ll need to buy the necessary tools, but you’ll save more than their cost with your dog’s first new do.
5. Get routine services at a discounted price
All dogs need to visit the vet for an annual exam, but be sure to call around and compare prices. Some offer a free initial exam, a discount on your first visit, or monthly specials on different services.
For vaccines and medication at a more reasonable price, opt for a mobile vet clinic that travels to different locations – like your favorite groomer’s salon — on a standard schedule. Without the overhead of a traditional vet, they’re able to charge less for the same services. Take proof of your vaccines to your primary vet so they always have an updated record.
You can love your pets to the moon and back, but that’s no reason to spend more money on their care than necessary. When you’re able to trim a few dollars off your monthly expenses, it can make a big difference in your budget. It might even free up a few extra bucks for a special treat!
How to make your home a smart home (and save money in the process)
When you think of being smart, you probably picture your high school valedictorian or Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. But, it’s much more versatile a word than that. You can dress smart, be street smart, invest smart money, eat smart food, or even act like a smart aleck. You know what else can be smart? Your home. And it won’t take the cost of a college education to get it there. In fact, it might even save you some cash in the long run.
A smart home is a living space that is equipped with any number of appliances, heating, air conditioning, lighting, electronics, cameras, computers, and security systems that are connected via wi-fi or Bluetooth, can communicate with one another, and can be controlled remotely.
Right now, smart technology is all the rage in the digital world. It improves safety, accessibility, control, and a level of efficiency that can ultimately lead to increased savings and lower upkeep costs. It’s the future of home automation, so let’s get to work on the ABCs of smart technology. Relax. We’ll bring your home up to date in no time!
Smart assistant platforms
Amazon Echo and Google Home are today’s leading voice-control platforms. They each have their own advantages so you can decide which is best for you. Functionality wise, they’ll let you search the internet, set alarms, make to-do or shopping lists, stream music and podcasts, tell you the weather, give you traffic updates, make phone calls, and more! Your voice assistant will also let you control any of your connected smart devices by voice command.
Whether you’re fumbling for your keys, leaving one under the mat, or even racing home to double check the iron, a smart lock will make your life easier and your home safer. Smart locks, like the Nest x Yale lock or the August Smart Lock, allow you to remotely control entry into your home and eliminate the need for physical keys. You can create unique codes that track who, when, and which entrance is used. You’ll also be able to pair it with a smart doorbell, a video surveillance camera, and your security system.
Day or night, wouldn’t you like to know who’s wandering around the outside of your home? Maybe it’s a burglar, or maybe it’s you’re neighbor’s dog. A surveillance camera that detects motion, zooms closer to the activity, provides video, and captures snapshots is your first line of defense. An indoor model will let you chat with your pet during the day, and watch the kids arrive home after school–all from the convenience of your smartphone. Check out the popular Nest or the Arlo Pro 2 family of security cameras.
Interactive doorbells, like the Nest Hello, offer the same type of security at your doorstep. Whether it’s a person or a package, whether you’re home or away, you’ll be able to see who or what’s at your front door. As a bonus, you’ll be able to say goodbye to army crawling across the floor when the doorbell rings. One app on your phone will let you see, talk to, and record front porch visitors and improve your home’s security.
With the smallest of gadgets, you can even raise the IQ of your electrical outlets. Use a smart plug in an outlet, and it’ll bring automation to any appliance or device it powers. Plug your Keurig into a smart plug, and you’ll be able to turn it on before you get out of bed. With either voice control or your mobile device, you can turn on your crockpot, set an on/off schedule for your lights, or turn off the iron after you’ve left the house. Whether near or far, any electrical device can be under your control. Check out both the standard and the mini Belkin Wemo and TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plugs.
Your heating and cooling bills make a significant contribution to your monthly household expenses. Install a smart thermostat and not only will it help you live more comfortably, but it’ll also automatically save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, will learn your temperature habits and preferences and adjust as needed. It’ll also sense whether people are in the house and, if not, switch to Eco mode to conserve energy. Ecobee4 is another intelligent thermostat that can detect the number of homebodies and regulate the temperature for maximum efficiency.
Energy efficient bulbs have graduated to smart bulbs. They’ll still conserve energy and save money, but you’ll also be able to control them from your smart device. Turn them on, off, and dim them through voice command or remotely from your smartphone. Light up a room or create different moods with the variety of available hues. Set up motion sensors and Philips Hue bulbs will automatically light your way when you get up for a midnight snack. Gone are the days of stepping on that random Lego piece. LIFX bulbs will be a less expensive option since they only require a wi-fi connection and don’t require a starter kit, which can be costly.
A smart home isn’t necessarily born overnight, or over the weekend for that matter. It’s easy to start small and gradually add more features. Consider what’s most important or what conveniences you value most and begin there. Once you realize the benefits, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
Georgia’s Own Gives Back and You Can, Too!
There are a number of reasons that people make charitable donations. Whether it’s to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, support cancer research, or to build a new church, it’s often a personal choice to support a cause that’s close to your heart. Others use charitable donations as part of a smart financial strategy that reduces their tax liability or helps to build a legacy they can leave behind.
The ROI on charitable giving
Whatever the reason, charities depend on your contributions to continue their mission. But, they also reward you with something in return. The act of donating, whether it’s money, time, or goods, improves your wellbeing—and that’s a proven fact! It reduces stress, improves your mood and self-worth, and can positively affect your mental health.
When you contribute to or volunteer with a local charity, it helps build community, gives you a sense of belonging, and serves as an example that encourages others to follow. It’s also incredibly fulfilling when you can see the direct results of your giving.
Invest in your community
Georgia’s Own understands how important it is to give back to the community. Our passion for serving extends beyond the financial products and services we offer, and we take great pride in working alongside local charities. Here are a few of the organizations we support and maybe some opportunities for you to consider, too!
Action Ministries is a nonprofit organization that helps Georgians break the cycle of poverty by meeting their basic needs of hunger relief, housing, and education. Georgia’s Own partners with Action Ministries on their Smart Lunch, Smart Kid initiative, which provides meals during the summer months for those children who live in food-insecure households. Without a school-sponsored free or reduced lunch program, and limited access to adequate food and nutrition, the children’s health and wellbeing are at greater risk.
We collect donations at each of our branch offices ($5 feeds a child lunch for 2 days!) and have held lunch-packing parties with our Georgia’s Own employees. We also regularly volunteer at their Women and Children’s Community Kitchen in midtown Atlanta and participate in their Feed the Hungry program. There are always opportunities for others in the community to get involved, so come join us!
Each year, Georgia’s Own donates the proceeds of their annual golf tournament to L.E.A.D., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower at-risk, black males to lead and transform their city and live a life of significance.
L.E.A.D. works to create positive outcomes by leveraging the relationship between education, athletics, and service. To date, 100% of their participants, called Ambassadors, have graduated from high school and have enrolled in college, 92% of which have received college baseball scholarships. Love baseball or just have a passion for helping to drive change? Your monetary donation or volunteer time will be well spent with this organization!
Jesse’s House is an emergency and long-term shelter for adolescent girls who have suffered from abuse or delinquency. To date, over 550 girls have been welcomed into the shelter and protected from an unfit or unsafe environment. We recently held a luggage drive at our Cumming location to provide a new piece of luggage for every girl to use when she’s ready to leave Jesse’s House. So often they only arrive with the clothes on their backs or a few things in a trash bag, at best, and have nothing with which to start their new journey.
If you can lend a hand, they always have volunteer opportunities for general house maintenance, organizing fun outings, meal donations, and more. Consider serving as a mentor, teaching a life skill, or simply coming to spend some with the girls!
Read with Malcolm is a youth literacy initiative founded by Malcolm Mitchell of UGA Football and New England Patriots fame. The goal of his foundation is to transform the lives of young students through literacy.
By introducing book ownership to households where reading is not a high priority and working to improve literacy in schools, every child will have the opportunity to read. An astonishing 61% of families in the U.S. do not have access to age-appropriate books at home, despite the fact that a child’s success in school and later in life is greatly dependent on their ability to read and write. We have made several donations of books to the foundation and have had many of our employees volunteer at Malcolm’s ‘Reading Rallies’ around Atlanta.
Literacy is the foundation of all learning. Volunteer with this foundation, and you’ll have tons of opportunities to help prepare these students for a brighter and more successful future.