Our Northlake branch will be closing at 12pm on Saturday, July 20th due to building maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Monthly Archives: July 2019
10 tips for booking a VRBO or Airbnb summer vacation
The sun is shining, the kids are out of school, and you’re ready for some long-awaited rest and relaxation. Yup, it’s time for summer vacation.
Wherever you go, renting a hotel room is the most convenient option. You can check in any time you want, order room service 24 hours a day, and someone makes your bed each morning.
That may be your happy place, but if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, whether that’s at the beach or overseas, booking your accommodations through a third-party booking site, like VRBO or Airbnb, is the way to go.
These services allow you to rent a shared space or an entire apartment, condo, extra freedom they give you, these rentals are more relaxed–and they can translate to lower costs. They often come with fully-stocked kitchens, washers and dryers, and all the other conveniences of home. You will, however, have to turn down your own sheets before bed and supply the chocolate truffle for your pillow.
Airbnbs and VRBOs are generally operated by the property owner, although some use a management company to take care of the reservations, cleaning, and maintenance services. While a hotel generally comes with some standard expectations, the requirements, services, and rules of a VRBO or Airbnb vary from property to property. No need to worry, though. Here are some tips that will help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay:
1. Know what you want
VRBO and Airbnb both have thousands and thousands of listings, and it can be a little overwhelming. You’ll find a property that meets your needs and requirements much more easily and quickly when you use the filters on each of the sites. Decide whether you want an entire home, a private room, or a shared space. Do you want three or four bedrooms, an ocean view, or a pool? Do you need a washer and dryer on site? The more detail you provide, the more you’ll be able to narrow down the field and find a property that’s a great match.
2. Read all the reviews
A lot of the detail can be skirted in the property description. “It’s a fabulous four bedroom, three bath townhome with an amazing view of the ocean.” Generally, reviews from past renters will give you the honest truth, and whether it was good or bad, they’re happy to share their experience. “The dishwasher didn’t drain properly; the air conditioning didn’t work; the bathroom could have been cleaner.”
While you may run into issues that need to be addressed while you’re there, learning that it took two days for the management company to fix the clogged garbage disposal, or the host never returned the renters’ calls is not what you want to hear. Take note of common issues that have been mentioned multiple times.
Keep in mind, though, that there are grumpy, picky-un renters and things do happen. But, overall, the vast majority of the reviews should be highly complementary.
3. Check out the pics
Photos of the rental property should be current, clear, of every room, and from multiple angles. If not, that’s a red flag. If there are five bedrooms, you should see all five. Does the listing indicate that the kitchen appliances have been recently upgraded? Make sure you can reasonably assume that’s true from the photos.
Check out the picture of your host, too. Is it a silhouette or an actual person? A silhouette may lower your comfort level. After all, everyone wants to be able to put a face with a name, or in this case, a property.
4. Scope out the neighborhood
If this is your first trip to a particular destination, you don’t want to take a chance on having to spend a week in a less than desirable location. It can, after all, make or break your entire vacation.
How close are you to your next-door neighbor? Is the property located next to a late-night karaoke bar or a makeshift petting zoo? “Centrally located” can mean different things to different people, as can words like amazing, great, wonderful, and awesome.
An easy way to evaluate the surrounding area and estimate travel time to some of the attractions you plan to visit is to use Google Maps. Enter the address or the vicinity and you’ll get a 360 degree, street level view of the property and everything around it.
5. Communicate with the host
With many third party sites like VRBO and Airbnb, conversations typically begin through email or text message. This is your chance to learn a little about the host. It’s also a way for them to learn about you, their potential renter. You can initially check availability for the property, but also use this time to tell them a little about yourself and ask questions. Offer information like whether you’re planning a business trip, a girls’ weekend, or a family vacation. Ask questions like, How far is the beach? Do we need to bring boogie boards or beach chairs? Do you supply sheets and towels? Can I bring my pet iguana?
Take into account how quickly your questions are answered and how courteous the reply. Some owners or hosts can be exceptionally accommodating, while others may stick to the standard. This is the point at which you can catch a glimpse of their commitment to customer service and their attention to detail.
6. Read the fine print
No one wants or even expects to have to cancel their vacation plans, but it happens. Make sure you’re clear about the cancellation policy because no one wants to give up their vacation and forfeit the cost of it, too.
Read the house rules, take note of the included amenities, the check-in and check-out times, if there are any noise restrictions, and any other particulars. Many times the less favorable details are buried in the fine print.
7. Beware of extra fees
Most people budget for their vacations and have a specific amount of money earmarked for the trip. That’s an ideal plan, but when your bill includes some unexpected fees, you’re caught in a pinch.
Some online rentals come with additional service fees, so make sure you know exactly how much your lodging will cost in advance. While they’re not always charged with every reservation, the most common surprise fees are for cleaning, extra guests, booking services, and taxes. You should be able to see the total cost of your stay including a breakdown of all fees before you book.
8. Ask your host for around-town tips
Vacations are the perfect time to try the local cuisine, visit the most interesting attractions, shop at the best boutiques, lounge at the least crowded beaches, hike the most challenging trails, or find the best fishing spot.
Hosts are typically residents of the community and have the inside scoop on what to do and when to do it. So, don’t be shy, just ask! They’ll be more than happy to share their best advice and recommendations.
9. Be an ideal guest
Remember that, with an Airbnb or a VRBO, you’re responsible for your own housekeeping. That’s cooking, cleaning, laundry, and dishes, among other things. If you’re staying for more than just a few days, it’s helpful to have a washer and dryer on site.
House rules vary from host to host, so make sure you read them as soon as you arrive. You’ll find a list that will include things like, be considerate of neighbors when it comes to noise, run the dishwasher before you leave, refrain from smoking inside the house, and report any accidental damage. Most hosts are reasonable with their rules. Simply treat the property like it was your own and all will be well.
On the flip side, if things are not what you expected or something is not working, let your host know as soon as possible. They’ll want the opportunity to make it right. After all, they want you to enjoy your time there and leave as a satisfied guest.
10. Write a review
Within 14 days of your departure, take a few minutes to write a review of your stay. Remember that this feedback, whether positive or negative, helps both the host and a prospective renter. Be polite, but also honest.
Was the property as described? Was it clean? Was the host friendly, responsive, or exceptionally accommodating? These are details that only a previous renter would know, so be sure to share it with the rest of the community.
Feedback goes both ways so you’ll also receive comments from your host about your stay. Were you easy to work with? Did you adhere to the house rules? Did you leave the property in order?
Other hosts are able to view these comments and use them to decide whether or not to rent to you in the future. So, be polite and courteous, skip the wild pool party, and take the trash with you on your way out. But, most importantly, take time to relax and enjoy your stay!
Creative ways for college students to make money
Juggling school and work can become frustrating for many students, but there are many creative ways to earn extra cash on your own timeline. After hitting the books all night and attending class, it can be discouraging to flip burgers in a hot kitchen. Here are 10 unique ways to get the cash you need without all the burgers and fries.
Watch Movie Previews: Sign up at InboxDollars. As soon as you sign up, you get $5. That’s pretty easy work. But, if you want to earn even more, just take a look at the site to see the variety of ways you can earn cash.
Share Your Opinion: Everyone’s got one…an opinion that is, so you might as well share. Complete online surveys at MyPoints for cash and get $5 just for signing up. The site rewards you in gift cards for completing polls, surveys, and so much more. Swagbucks is another site that rewards you for completing surveys and other small online tasks. Again, you get $5 just for signing up…that’s practically free money.
Exercise: Yes, exercise. Something you probably already do each day will get you paid. HealthyWage pays you to lose weight if you’re willing to bet on yourself. Complete a few short questions about your weight, age, etc., then bid and let the games begin. Become healthier and earn money doing it. You could win up to $10,000 depending on how much money you put on the table. Sounds like a win-win situation if you’re willing to do the work.
Pet Sit: Like pets? Enjoy some fun time with furry friends. It’s flexible and you choose your own schedule. Sign up to help pet owners with their cats or dogs at Rover, and earn up to $1,000 per month.
Offer Rideshare Services: Use your car to make money with Uber or Lyft…or both. Turn the app on or off whenever you like. You work when you want, and you get to meet new people and share stories (only with the passengers who are in a chatty mood).
Work for hire: Got skills? Many companies outsource jobs to freelancers on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and other freelancing websites. Choose the gigs you want to complete on a timeline decided by you and the client. Work when you want and gain the experience you need to pad your resume.
Complete Tasks: Create an account at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and choose a job. Make up to $500 by performing “human intelligence tasks” from home on your own schedule.
Deliver Packages: Become an Amazon Flex delivery driver. You’ll be delivering goods to consumers via Amazon.com, Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Restaurants. Amazon Flex pays between $18 and $25 per hour. The app allows you to set your own work schedule and work when you want.
Take pics: Have a great eye? You can take photos and sell them on an app called Foap. Get paid for snapping pictures!
Nanny: Babysitting has always been a great way to earn extra income. Find a great babysitting gig at Care.com and offer your time at a rate you choose.
Q&A with Nicki Collen
Coach Nicki Collen of the Atlanta Dream basketball team has made an incredible impression on the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She started her career playing basketball at Purdue University. After college, she played professional basketball in Greece for a short period of time.
Her coaching career began as an assistant basketball coach at Colorado State. She eventually moved on to coach under Curt Miller with the Connecticut Sun. Collen helped the Sun turn around from a 14-20 finish in 2016 to a 21-13 record in 2017.
In 2017, Collen was announced as the head coach of the Atlanta Dream, taking over for Michael Cooper. Just a year later, in August of 2018, Collen was selected as the WNBA Coach of the Year. Read more about Coach Collen and her journey below!
What does your daily routine look like?
My daily routine starts at about 6:30 a.m. I shower then have breakfast, which typically consists of a protein pancake or smoothie and some athletic greens. I attend an 8:30 a.m. pre-practice staff meeting, followed by practice at 10:00 a.m. After practice, I handle office work and get in an afternoon workout, have dinner, and watch film work on my team and our opponents to plan the next day’s practice. I close out my day with some family time by watching Netflix or talking
with my family.
What is your fondest memory as a coach?
One of my fondest memories as a coach was beating Tennessee at Thompson Boling Arena when Pat Summit was still the coach and I was the assistant at Arkansas. It was Arkansas’s first-ever win at Tennessee.
Do you have a pre-game ritual?
For my pre-game ritual, I like to get a hard workout in before choosing my dress and shoes for the game. I also enjoy a very long shower. During the National Anthem, I pray for the health of my players and my ability to lead them in a positive way.
How do you channel your frustration during a game?
I focus on the next play. If I lose my cool, my team can feel it. I have to provide the calm to keep the team focused as the game goes along, though I’m not as cool as I appear on the sideline.
What was the most important game you’ve coached? Why?
The most important game I ever coached was my son’s soccer games when he was age four and just beginning to love playing sports. I was often dragging along his twin sister and a baby, but this was the start of his love for sports, competition, and having fun while doing so.
What are some ways you celebrate winning a game?
I don’t do much to celebrate after winning a game. Usually, I just grab food with my staff and/or family, but we are always preparing for our next opponent.
As a leader in women’s sports, does that push you to be more outspoken for women’s rights like equal pay?
Yes, I care deeply about women having a voice in today’s landscape of athletics and business. This is a unique time in history when women are standing up and they are being heard. I am extremely passionate about understanding the business of basketball, and more specifically, the WNBA.
What helps you recover after losing a game?
I am not a friendly human being when we lose. I channel our losses into watching game footage and finding ways to improve or prepare better for our next opponent. Typically, I am back to my normal self by the start of practice the following day after losing. Preparing for upcoming games gives me a great deal of peace.
What advice has any coach/mentor given you that you’ll always remember?
My husband, who coached for 35 years, shared with me that while coaching women’s sports, you have to understand the difference between allowing a molehill to become a mountain and turning a molehill into a mountain. Basically, there is a time to address things, and it’s not always immediately. Sometimes letting things blow over is better than addressing them and creating an even bigger issue. Knowing the difference is so important in coaching.
You started out wanting to be a tennis player. Do you still play tennis at all?
I do not play tennis, but I love to work out with weights, doing interval training, or walking. I will play some lax (lacrosse) with my kids.
Are your daughters interested in playing basketball?
My oldest daughter does not play basketball and has very little interest in the game. My youngest daughter plays tennis and lacrosse and is interested in giving basketball a try. She is very invested in my team and the WNBA in general.
Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t Magazine are all about helping our members make smart financial decisions. Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with our readers?
Save, save, save! I have been lucky to never live on a hard budget, but having said that, I have saved money from every single paycheck I have ever made. Pay yourself. Utilize your 401k and company-match plans.
Just for fun—what’s something many people might not know about you?
I love peanut butter, coffee, roller coasters, shoes, fashion, and I am terrible at bowling. I say, I am 44 going on 14.
On the Money: 10 podcasts that are guaranteed to make you smarter with your cash
Podcast popularity is at an all-time high, and the number of listeners, especially among millennials, is continuing to skyrocket. Today, in 2019, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and over 29 million episodes. According to Apple, these numbers stood at 550,000 and 18.5 million respectively just one year ago.
People listen while they’re at home, in the car, commuting to work, and at spinning at the gym. They’re running errands, waiting in the doctor’s office, shopping for groceries, and walking to their next class.
You can find a podcast on almost any topic—comedy, business, news, politics, pop culture, religion, and more. Many listeners use them not only for entertainment, but to be inspired, to stay educated and informed, and to learn something new.
Money is an especially popular podcast topic. You can tune in to any number of shows that offer advice about saving, investing, paying off debt, and every other way to maximize your financial future.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite money-themed podcasts. Check them out when you have a few minutes. They’re guaranteed to deliver great financial content and sound advice:
Hosted by Joe Saul-Sehy, it’s a combination of financial education and comedy delivered straight from his mom’s basement. Together with “the other guy” and “crazy neighbor Doug,” you’ll learn about investing, creating multiple income streams, and other essential money management strategies. Be careful where and when you listen, though, because this show is laugh-out-loud funny.
What’s it like to be a woman in charge? Ask American businesswoman and host of Girlboss Radio, Sophia Amoruso. She talks in depth about the world of entrepreneurship and how women can rock the virtual corner office. Her podcast is not an exclusive women’s club, though. Girlboss Radio can help any listener define their own personal meaning of success and create a plan to get there. Tune in, and you’ll hear honest conversations with trailblazing women who are sharing, showing, and encouraging others to own their future, too.
Nick Loper is the Chief Side Hustler at Side Hustle Nation. He’s the host of the top-rated weekly podcast called the Side Hustle Show.He’ll teach you how to maximize your time and amplify your earning power through additional income streams.If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, this is your guy.
Nick used to work for corporate America during the day and worked on building his side business at night. He’ll share his experiences and advice as well as tips and business strategies from other successful entrepreneurs he features on the show.
Paula Pant is a real estate investor and blogger. Throughout her award-winning podcast, she’ll tell you that you can afford anything, just not everything. She wants to help you build a better life, and that begins when you make decisions about how you spend money, where you spend your time and energy, and on what you focus your attention. Every decision, big or small, is ultimately a trade-off against something else.
Pant interviews a wide variety of guests, including entrepreneurs, investors, millionaires, artists, scientists, adventurers, productivity experts, world travelers, and just plain regular people. She uncovers and shares their secrets about how they’ve cultivated an extraordinary life and connects them with practical application in the lives of her listeners.
Pat Flynn is an entrepreneur and the host of Smart Passive Income. His weekly show features interviews, strategies, and advice about how to establish an online business that’s optimized for passive income.
Flynn uses his own experiments, successes, and failures to show his listeners how to make more money and save more time. While the internet is flooded with resources that can help entrepreneurs build a business, Flynn believes that properly tested ethical advice is what’s missing. During his show, he shares the specific strategies that have worked for him, and, to prove it, he publishes his income report each month.
6. So Money
Host Farnoosh Torabi is a top-rated female host with an award-winning financial podcast. Her podcast, So Money, was voted one of the best at helping you grow your business. She has a knack for attracting top names in business and entrepreneurship and delivers candid conversations about creating a richer and happier life. Torabi’s goal is that her listeners will find inspiration, will be motivated to dream bigger, and ultimately live their best financial lives.
Learn how to reduce expenses, pay down your debt, maximize credit card rewards, and more with hosts Jonathan Mendonsa and Brad Barrett. It’s all about guiding you down the path to financial health and independence for these two. But make no mistake, a happy life is not just about the money. If you want to optimize your life—and your finances, while you’re at it—these are your people. They’ll help you clear away the noise, figure out what’s important, paint a clearer picture of what you want, and then help you build an intentional plan for how to get there.
Tim Ferriss is an author, best known forThe 4-Hour Workweek. His podcast is frequently ranked as the #1 business podcast of all Apple Podcasts andhas surpassed 300M downloads. In each episode, Tim interviews high achieving, world-class performers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vince Vaughn, and Tony Robbins, for example, who share their insights on business, productivity, and life hacks. He’s able to break down each guest’s approach into routines, tactics, and tools that the listener can practically apply to their everyday lives.
Financial expert Davis Stein’s goal with this podcast is to help improve his listeners’ retirement IQ. He walks his audience through the process of building a retirement nest egg that will support them in their golden years. That may be decades away for some of us but stay with us. This is not your grandparent’s podcast. Stein offers emphatic lessons on building wealth and investing for the long term. The sooner you start, the more time you have, and the greater the opportunity for financial freedom in the future. We’re talking to you, millennials.
Joshua J. Sheats is a financial advisor and the host of Radical Personal Finance. He’s a straight talker who has no qualms telling you that the responsibility of your current and future financial health is 100% on your shoulders. In his show, Sheats delivers the information and the actionable items that will bridge the gap between the life you envision and the reality of your current life. He focuses on in-depth, no fluff content and education, stories and strategies, practical steps, and critical thinking that will help turn your vision into a reality.
10 interesting facts about the 4th of July
Each year families and friends get together to celebrate one of the most festive holidays in America: the 4th of July. Beautiful, bright fireworks will light up the night sky, and parades will be held. Americans will consume more than 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times! There are many things about July 4th that people don’t know. Want to look like the smart one at the barbecue? Check out these 10 interesting facts:
- Anyone ever asked for your “John Hancock?” Well, John Hancock was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
- Speaking of John Hancock, did you know that only he and Charles Thomson actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776? The Declaration of Independence was not signed by most of the Second Continental Congress until August 2nd, not even in the month of July.
- The U.S. is not the only country to celebrate this day; the Philippines and Rwanda both celebrate their independence on July 4th, though not related to American history.
- One of the first states to celebrate Independence Day was Massachusetts, recognizing the 4th of July in 1781.
- Strangely, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, within hours of each other. President James Monroe died July 4, 1831. President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872.
- The melody of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally used in an English song called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” used by the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians in London.
- The American flag has changed over the years. The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the colonies would appear equal.
- George Washington, John Lay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison are typically considered Founding Fathers, but none of them signed the Declaration of Independence.
- It’s not Denmark’s day of independence, but this U.S. holiday is celebrated in Denmark. Traditionally, thousands of expatriates living in Denmark would gather at military bases and tourist bars to celebrate as early as 1911.
- The first week of July is the busiest travel week of the year in the United States. Most would think the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday week might be the busiest. Nope.
Have an interesting 4th of July fact? Drop it in the comments below!
Resources: mentalfloss.com, nydailynews.com