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Monthly Archives: January 2019
Super fun and simple party ideas for your Super Bowl celebration
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
The Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots will face off in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just in it for the commercials, watching the Super Bowl is an American tradition.
If you’re not lucky enough to be headed to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you should be planning an awesome party. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m., but the pre-game programs begin as early at 11:30 a.m. So, how do you keep the party going strong all night long? Whether it’s a house full of adults or you’re huddling up with the kids, here are some fun activities that’ll keep them around ‘til the end of the game.
Just some friendly competition
Love or hate the commercials, this twist on the classic BINGO game will have your guests glued to the television and begging to see just one more Geico advertisement.
This Super Bowl Pick ‘Em game will quickly even the playing field. Whether you’re a professional fan with a lifetime of game watching experience or you’re a rookie who only came for the hot wings, your best guess is as good as the next guy’s.
You may think that this mascot matching game is just for the kids, but we bet it would challenge some adults, too. Either way, everyone will be entertained with this Super Bowl word scramble and word search, but the real challenge is in football charades!
Tackle their appetites
Part of the fun is the party décor, so be creative. These penalty flags are genius, and football-themed water bottle labels and mason jars are pretty clever, too. If you’re crafty, this football field table cover is our fave.
When it comes to your game day menu, the self-serve chili bar is a real crowd pleaser. Step up your snack game with pigskins in a blanket, Patriots popcorn, or any of these easy tailgating treats, and it might encourage some excessive celebration. But if you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet-tooth fans, check out these chocolate and peanut butter footballs for the win.
No matter which team takes the championship, a party like this could earn you your own Super Bowl ring. Just be a good sport, have fun, and make sure everyone plays by the rules.
20 Fun Things To Do This Winter in and around Atlanta
Brrr, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to watch Netflix all winter! The cooler weather is an invitation to a new bunch of new events, festivals, and fun activities you can enjoy with or without the fam. So bundle up, ‘cause there are people to see and things to do! Here are just a few:
Chinese Acrobats of Hebei (January 24)
This is a “must see” production that combines Chinese traditions, incredible acrobatics, stunning costumes, Chinese props, and a beautiful music soundtrack. Acrobats of Hebei China are a rigorously trained, superbly skilled and highly accomplished acrobatic troupe who have entertained the world by performing an awe-inspiring spectacle that is guaranteed to leave you amazed.
Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival (January 25-27)
The Atlanta Jugglers Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, entertain, enlighten and inspire through the art and skill of juggling. They host an annual festival in February, a 3-day extravaganza featuring the finest jugglers in the Southeast, and often in the country, as well as unicyclists, hoopers, and live music. Admission is free.
The Great American Motorcycle Show (January 26-27)
Featuring motorcycles, accessories, and southern rock music, the show is held at Cobb Galleria Center. It’s Georgia’s biggest indoor bike show and features new motorcycles brought to you by Georgia’s leading dealers. Come see foreign and domestic motorcycles, one of a kind custom bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, choppers, trikes, and touring bikes. This is your chance to see what’s new in the market and talk with the pros.
Frozen 5K/Snowflake 1K (January 27)
You may not be headed to Disney, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress like Olaf or Elsa. The Frozen 5K/Snowflake 1K is guaranteed to be some frozen fun for the entire family, and if you dress like your favorite fairy tale character, you might even win a cool prize!
TopGolf Winter Golf League (January 28 – March 26)
Whether rain, or snow, or sleet, or hail, …you can still golf at TopGolf, sometimes ‘til 2 a.m. Covered bays and heaters for cooler days make it comfortable, even in the winter. If you’re looking for some weekly fun and a little friendly competition, consider joining a league. It’s six weeks of regular season play and two weeks of playoffs. You might just be the next TopGolf MVG!
Pre Super Bowl Luncheon (January 31)
Want to see the Vince Lombardi trophy up close and personal? Join the ATL and NFL community to honor Atlanta-based individuals and companies who are leading the fight against cancer. You’ll watch an awards ceremony, enjoy a plated lunch at the Leaders For a Cure Luncheon in the College Football Hall of Fame, and yes, you can say “cheese” with the trophy!
Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (February 1-24)
Featuring the timeless music and lyrics of Bob Marley, and based on the children’s book by his daughter, Three Little Birds features a boy who wants to enjoy his beautiful island in the sun, but needs help from the animals to overcome his fear of evil spirits, tropical storms, and bandits, at Synchronicity Theatre. Fun for the whole family!
Waitress, The Musical at the Fox Theatre (February 5-6)
Waitress, The Musical was inspired by the popular 2007 film, Waitress. It’s a Broadway musical baked from the heart. Jenna Hunterson is a pie maker stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage who must summon strength and courage to rebuild her life. Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. Hurry, tickets are going fast!
North Atlanta Home Show (February 8-10)
Mark your calendars for the North Atlanta Home Show at Infinite Energy Center. More than 150 companies will be there to display the latest home improvement products and services. Innovative products and hundreds of experts all under one roof! Not only will you get practical advice and great deals, you’ll also hear decorating secrets from insiders John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage!
With or Without You 5K/1K (February 9)
Turn up the heat with a couple’s run, or maybe just mingle with other singles during the With or Without You 5K/1K. All finishers get chocolates and a heart-shaped medal, and if you’re married, an ordained minister will be there so you can renew your vows. “I take thee, all sweaty and out of breath”…now that’s romantic.
Atlanta Chinese New Year Festival (February 9-10)
If you’re looking for a little more culture in your life, check out the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. 2019 is the year of the Pig, so come celebrate and enjoy authentic cuisine, art exhibits, traditional folk songs, and of course, the beautifully performed Lion & Dragon Dance.
Mardi Gras in Alpharetta (February 13)
In celebration of Fat Tuesday, Avalon will host its fourth annual Mardi Gras celebration! Avalon Boulevard will be transformed into a suburban version of Bourbon Street with live music and New-Orleans-style food and drink for sale. Break out your best purple, green and gold, grab some beads, and kick back at the Big Easy bash.
Snow Mountain (Now through February 24)
It’s a must for snow-deprived southerners. Atlanta’s favorite winter wonderland has a 400-foot snow-covered tubing hill and an enormous snow-filled play area. You can build a snowman in the Snow Zone, race down the slopes on the on Tube Runners, or careen down the hills in family-sized tubes on Avalanche Alley. It’s action-packed excitement and fun!
Lace up Your Skates (Now through February 24)
Ice rinks are super popular around the holidays, but several are still open into February. Practice your double axel or that triple salchow at seasonal rinks like The Ice Rink at Sugar Hill (through February 10) or the Olde Town On Ice at Conyers Pavilion (through February 24). There are always indoor rinks, too, which are open year-round, like The Cooler in Alpharetta or the Marieta Ice Center.
Get ready for the Oscars (Now through February 24)
January and February is prime Oscar season, so if you want to voice an educated opinion on this year’s nominees, spend some time in the movie theatre. Whether it’s for the reclining seats, online ticket and seat selection, or epic food, choose one of these top 7 movie theatres in Atlanta and get ready to cast your vote!
Monster Jam (February 23 – 24)
Don’t pass up the chance to see these big trucks with big wheels make big noise and excitement at Monster Jam at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Opt for the Pit Party and you can see the trucks up close, take pictures, meet the drivers and get their autographs, too!
Italy and Wine Food Festival (February 24)
The Discover Italy and Wine Food Festival is a culinary tribute to the world’s wine region. This walk-around style event at Vino Venue, located in Dunwoody, includes unlimited tastings of wine from most of the 20 sub-regions of Italy and samplings of Italian foods like hand-made pastas, salami, cheeses, breads, even olive oils. Mangia!
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (February 24)
One of racing’s most storied venues hosts 500 miles of edge-of-the-seat action when the sport’s biggest names visit Atlanta in 2018 for the running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500! See the blazing hot driving talent of drivers like Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney go for the win against champions like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski. Gentlemen, start your engines!
Sleep Under the Sea (select dates)
The Georgia Aquarium gives new meaning to sleeping with the fishes. Whether you book it for two or for your entire family, you can spend the evening learning about the underwater world and falling asleep in front of one of their magnificent gallery windows. How often do you get to be awoken by the soft songs of a whale in the morning?
See a Concert (select dates)
You might have to brave the cold weather to get there, but the hottest names in music will warm you up fast! Cher, The Foo Fighters, Georg Strait, Michael Buble, Francine Reed, Whiz Khalifa, Mariah Carey, and Jimmy Buffett…there’s something for everyone.
Do Warehouse clubs save or cost your family money?
The allure of shopping at big warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club is undeniably strong. It’s not only loved by money-conscious consumers who are trying to stretch their budget, but also shoppers who are simply obsessed with perusing the two-football field-sized warehouses. In fact, over one-third of Americans holds a membership with a warehouse club.
It seems a little crazy, and a little counter-intuitive, for someone to spend money on a club membership for the privilege of saving money—or even just to walk in the door—but millions of people do it. Let’s take a look at exactly how it works and if it really does save you money.
The warehouse club business model
In spite of the strategically designed, no-frills environment, warehouse clubs are retail stores. They offer a wide variety of items, from Waterford crystal to cell phones, and from flat screen TVs to paper plates, at discounted pricing.
Unlike traditional retail stores, however, warehouse clubs don’t make the majority of their profits from the markups they charge. Instead, they require each customer to pay a membership fee. They have tremendous buying power and focus on passing those savings on to their customers. Rock-bottom pricing is not the only benefit you gain through membership, though. Members also have access to other deals and discounted services like travel, car buying, insurance, and financial services, to name a few.
Paying a reasonable annual membership fee that can, at the very least, be recouped in savings over the year doesn’t sound like a bad deal. But, there are some pitfalls that need to be considered, and they’re not quite as evident as the savings you see on your receipt.
Big boxes, large quantities
The reason warehouse clubs can offer lower prices is that they buy in bulk, and then they pass the bulk onto their customers. While you may eventually use the 45 rolls of toilet paper, the twin pack of ketchup will likely be expired before you’re halfway through the first bottle. The fresh produce has the same fate. Who can eat 24 apples before one decides to spoil the bunch? We all love the party-size bags of chips, candy, and cookies, but sadly, they don’t stand a chance of expiring, which leads us to a whole other problem.
Take five steps into any warehouse club, and you’ll likely see a giant flat screen TV on sale. Need the new iPhone Xs or maybe an Apple watch? They’ll be there, too. If you make it through the entrance, you’ll also want to steer clear of the center isles. That’s where all the impulse buys are waiting for just the slightest glance. I bet you didn’t know you needed a Vitamix blender or a new set of mixing bowls. Oh look, a 120-pack of Kirkland K-cups!
Limited quantity items
You’re pondering the purchase of a particular item, and then see that it’s marked “Limited Quantity.” Two words that set off the alarms in your head and kick your hoarding tendency into full gear. You’re not even really sure if you need it, but the pressure of missing out, or the fact that this may be your last chance to bring it home has you tossing 3 or 4 of them into your cart.
The free samples at warehouse stores are the perfect snack while you’re wandering the aisles. Hit enough of them, and you can call it lunch. The samples are not necessarily there, however, to keep your belly full. We all know that tasting the product could encourage shoppers to purchase the item on the spot. But, interestingly enough, free samples also work on a customer’s psyche. Ever feel a little guilty just walking away? Yep, a lot of other people do, too. So, out of a sense of obligation or the fear of looking like a freeloader, they head to the checkout with a monster size box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies in their cart.
Be a smart shopper
These danger zones don’t necessarily have to spoil your next trip to the warehouse club. Free samples can be good. It’s nice to know that you need to stock up on an item if it won’t be restocked. And, sometimes you do need a new blender.
Because every family shops differently, there’s no definitive answer as to whether a warehouse club membership is worth the money. If its benefit justifies the cost, then go ahead. But, continue to compare prices, don’t buy what you don’t need, and don’t spend the entire afternoon in the center aisle. You’ll definitely find some deals that will save you money, and balanced with your traditional grocery store shopping, your budget should stretch a little farther each month.
Cyber Security Tip: Who’s that friend request from?
Social Media friends or foes?
Cyber criminals often create fake profiles to befriend you. The ultimate goal is to get you to leak confidential data to them (either about you or the company you work for). Be careful of the friend requests you accept on any Social Media sites (Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
Trust no Social Media “friend” (unless you know them in real life and you’re absolutely, positively sure they can be trusted).
6 Financial New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep
It’s the start of a new year, and in keeping with tradition, it’s an ideal time to turn over a new leaf that will lead to positive change. Millions of people will resolve to lose weight, get organized, quit smoking, or spend more time with family.
Right in the middle of the most popular New Year’s resolution pack is financial fitness—in other words, save more, spend less. But, let’s face it. With the glow of the holiday season fading fast and the inevitable arrival of last month’s bills arriving in your mailbox, it’s an admiral goal, but a tough challenge.
Like exercising, though, financial health is something you need to visit every day. It’s not a one-and-done achievement. So, in the spirit of the resolution season, here are some realistic financial goals you can set and keep in 2019:
1. See where you stand
Before you can make any changes, you need to know what you own and what you owe. Use a spreadsheet to record your assets and liabilities including your home, car, savings, and investment accounts, medical, dental, life, auto, and home insurance policies, revolving credit, automated subscriptions, services like pest control, lawn maintenance, TV, internet, and phone charges…and anything else that involves money coming in or going out the door.
Now, what do you need and what can you do without? Talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough–or if you have too much–home or car insurance. Can you find a more reasonable internet/phone provider? Is your dental plan worth renewing or should you downgrade your medical coverage? Can you mow your own lawn? Is your Amazon Prime membership worth the annual cost?
Yes, it’ll take time, but knowing how much money you have, where it goes, and what value it brings will be the basis for almost every other financial decision you make this year.
2. Build up your emergency fund
An emergency fund is like insurance. You may not need to use it any time soon, but it’ll save your financial life if you do. You could be living comfortably at the moment, but whether it’s an unexpected home repair, sudden job loss, or large medical expense, it can cripple your financial stability. Start by saving a few dollars a week and keep building until you have at least three months of living expenses. And just so we’re clear, replacing your standard TV with a 65” flat screen does not qualify as a home repair. Just sayin’.
3. Create and stick to a budget
The old “stick-to-a-budget” advice. But listen: the amount of Americans who spend their hard earned money without a budget in mind is astronomical, and it’s a big reason our finances are a major source of worry and concern.
Believe us, we know. In the beginning, budgets are tough. You’re used to whipping out a credit card at Starbucks, buying the newest technology because it’s cool, or spending money on your designer shoe habit. If those things are important to you, you don’t necessarily have to do without them—just budget for them.
A budget realistically balances your earnings with your spending, saving, and investment goals. It helps you avoid overspending, allows you to live within your means, and alleviates financial stress and worry.
When you’re aware of how much money is available, you’re able to make smarter financial decisions that lead to a much happier life. And we all want that, don’t we?
4. Pay down your debt
Life is expensive, you need certain things, everyone has it, so some amount of debt must be fine. Debt can be used for good—like when you need a mortgage, but, it can also spiral out of control.
Revolving debt that continues month after month after month can be detrimental to your financial health and could hinder any financial progress, whether it’s your emergency savings, investments, your mortgage, retirement, or even saving for a vacation.
Be diligent about paying it down every single month and track your progress. It may not be gone by the end of the year, but if you’re committed, you’ll not only make a significant dent, but you’ll be able to sleep a little better at night.
5. Stop buying stuff you don’t need
Selling your unnecessary or no longer used stuff is one way to recoup a small amount of what you’ve spent on these things, but the best way to regain that money is to avoid buying it altogether.
Do less shopping and more relaxing. Use that time for more constructive efforts, like investing it in a hobby or spending more time with friends. The next time you find yourself ready to make a purchase, ask yourself how often you’ll use it.
Is it work the expense? Will it make your life better? Do you own something similar? Is it a real need or just a want? Eventually, you’ll find yourself spending less and living more.
6. Create an additional income stream
Any side hustle can help you pay down debt, increase savings, build your investment portfolio, or even retire at an earlier age. Turn a hobby into a small business, turn your talent into freelancing, sell your stuff on eBay or your creativity on Etsy.
Find something you love and figure out how to make money doing it. Be a personal shopper, a babysitter, or a handyman on weekends. One caution, though. Don’t sacrifice your performance at your full-time job and be careful to balance your work and home life. Making extra money should be a bonus, not a dreaded chore.
It’s not an all-or-nothing mentality
Resolutions aren’t easy to keep. In fact, more than 80% of people give up by February, and we can understand that. When you set unreasonable expectations, the first sign of failure offers you the permission you need to return to your old habits. Each of these financial goals, though, is a work-in-progress. Did you blow you monthly budget on a Super Bowl party? Spent this week’s emergency fund deposit on a Starbucks run for the office? Splurged on some after Christmas shoe sale? Don’t give up, simply get back on track. Practice makes perfect, and one misstep doesn’t mean it’s all over.
Make the commitment, work on getting your finances in order, and 2019 will be a stellar year!