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Monthly Archives: March 2021
Free ways to check your credit score
Are you the kind of person who loves to keep up with your credit score, or do you prefer it to come to you as more of a surprise (which we don’t recommend)? Either way, you will have to know your credit score at some point in your life, and it’s better to be prepared for that day. We know you’re on a budget, so here are some ways you can track your credit score for free.
Understand how it works
Before you check your credit score, you need to know how your score is determined. Your score is based on a number of factors: how much debt you owe, the status of debts you have paid in the past, the length of your credit history, and a few other things. Basically, your credit score is a snapshot of how reliable you are when it comes to paying back money you have borrowed. For example—if you currently have a lot of debt, your credit score may be lower, even if you have consistently repaid loans in the past.
Why does my credit score matter?
You have an apartment you love, a car that’s paid off, and no student loans—so why do you want better credit? First, it’s important to remember bad credit can follow you for a long time, as in several years. That means you need to plan now for the future. You should also remember your credit score can affect a lot of aspects of your life, like renewing a lease, buying a house, or even getting a job. Your credit score is not just about how much money you have—it’s about how dependable you are in repaying your debts.
Where to check for free
There are a few services that allow you to check your credit for free. While you may be limited in the number of times you can check your score for free, these services are still reliable resources for being able to track your credit score on a regular basis.
Annual Credit Report: You are entitled to a free credit score every year through the Annual Credit Report service. If you’re not taking advantage of this report, you should start. A) It’s free! and B) Even if you have great credit, no credit, or are currently living off the grid where no one can find you, it’s nice to check in once in a while and make sure your score has not undergone any unexpected changes in the last year. There are no downsides, so sign up for this service ASAP.
Equifax: This service currently offers six free reports a year. This is frequent enough to help you stay on top of your credit score, but not so frequent that you will be getting updates every day. If you want a way to keep tabs without notification overload, this might be the right choice for you.
Credit Karma: This is an option that’s grown in popularity over the last few years. With the ability to check your score anytime, the Credit Karma service is useful for those who like to track every change in their credit. You can sign up for email or text alerts, and download the app to get even more updates and info.
Other places: Did you know your credit card statement probably has your credit score on it? So do your mortgage documents, and your bank can sometimes tell you more about your score. These are great and easy ways to find your current score and see how your credit is improving.
There are various options for checking your credit score for free, but starting with one of the examples here may be a great way to dip your toe in the water, so to speak. Of course, you can always do some research on your own and look for even more choices that allow you to check your credit for free.
Your credit score will change (but not how you think)
Credit scores aren’t always consistent from service to service. Different credit bureaus use different criteria to determine your overall score. So, you may see one number on your bank statement and receive a different number from your annual report. Be sure to check the date of the report, as that can also account for any discrepancy you see between scores.
Be cautious about over-checking
It’s tempting to run your credit score all the time, whether you are just curious or even trying to apply for something small, like a store credit card. Be careful about running your credit too often (aside from checking through services like we mentioned above) because this can harm your credit rating. As long as you keep an eye on your spending and debts, you can get a general idea of how your credit score is faring for at least a few months at a time.
Managing a credit score is never easy, but it can be done with the right resources and a little planning. You don’t have to avoid it—you don’t even have to pay for it. Keep up with your credit so your future can remain secure.
Five things to do during spring in Atlanta
It’s finally spring, which means it’s the return of (mostly) sunny days, warmth, and all the ventures that come with it. Tired of being cooped up? Here are five ways to end the winter woes and enjoy spring in Atlanta:
Dine on a patio
Springtime is prime patio weather. Atlanta offers some of the best patios to choose from, and nearly every neighborhood has a restaurant with a patio—some with skyline views. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a relaxed environment, there’s something for every palate. Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall is one of our favorites. The camp-themed eatery, self-nicknamed “home of the three-day weekend,” is located on the Beltline, so it’s the perfect way to start—or end—your trek. The patio has fire pits, lounge chairs, and tents for private parties. Empire State South in Midtown is another fan-favorite, boasting a massive covered patio equipped with a bocce ball court—perfect for spring days. JCT Kitchen rounds out our top picks. It has sensational views, live music and is an excellent spot to kick back and relax. All three Atlanta localities have incredible food, and honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Picnic in the park
Nothing is more serene and nostalgic than relaxing in a park with a picnic basket in hand. With dozens of places to choose from, you can’t go wrong with a classic picnic during spring in Atlanta. Some of our favorite parks include Piedmont Park, Freedom Park, and Historic Fourth Ward Park—so there’s plenty of room to find the perfect, shady spot. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even head up to North Georgia, where there are plenty of hiking and picnic spots.
Unleash your adrenaline
Six Flags Over Georgia offers thrills to unleash your adrenaline with heart-stopping, stomach-dropping roller coasters and other thrill rides to test your limits. Not into roller coasters? There are several family-friendly rides! You must reserve your visit, and tickets are as low as $34 for a single day. The park is open on weekends through May and opens fully after Memorial Day.
Visit the Botanical Garden
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is quintessential when it comes to celebrating the start of spring in Atlanta. It’s the perfect way to view exquisite, blooming flowers and embrace the warmer weather. There are numerous events held each month that cater to everyone’s interests. Whether it’s an orchid care course, an art class, or a garden party, the Botanical Garden offers something for people of all ages. If you want to stroll through the gardens, you can do that too! Admission is only $21.95 for adults, so it won’t break the bank.
Ride a bike
Riding a bike is a fantastic, environmentally friendly way to get out and explore. If you want to experience the city, the Beltline is your best bet. Biking along the Beltline is a fantastic way to view street art, enjoy local eateries, or switch up your exercise routine. Don’t have a bike? No problem! There are various bike rental shops near the Beltline, with some charging as little as $5 per hour. If you’re looking to get a break from the hustle and bustle, the Silver Comet Trail is a terrific option. The trail is 61 miles long, beginning in Smyrna and ending at the Georgia/Alabama state line, so it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Georgia’s natural beauty.
We’re eager for spring’s return and everything that it brings. Grab a group of friends, your brunch buddy, or whoever, and get out and enjoy Atlanta’s most incredible season.
Georgia’s Own Healthcare Heroes
As part of our Georgia’s Own Hero series, we’re honoring Georgia healthcare professionals who have been working bravely and tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Below are five extraordinary women who play an integral part in Emory Healthcare’s role in fighting COVID-19.
Colleen Kraft is an infectious diseases specialist at Emory and has spent her career studying and treating communicable diseases. She was on the frontlines caring for Ebola patients at Emory and is now a vital part of a team responsible for protecting hundreds of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic at Emory’s hospital network.
Deena Gilland is vice president and chief nursing officer for Emory Healthcare’s ambulatory patient services. Her knowledge of ambulatory clinical nursing deployment has played a significant role in her ability to lead and influence the mobilization of the COVID-19 vaccine for eligible groups in the hospital network.
Marybeth Sexton is an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist at Emory Clinic. Sexton is a key member of a team that leads COVID-19 preparedness efforts for the entire Emory Healthcare system.
Sharon Vanairsdale is the program director of the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit at Emory. Vanairsdale applied some of the critical lessons learned from the successful treatment of Ebola patients at Emory to help set rigorous standards for provider safety when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
Christy Norman is the vice president for Emory Healthcare Pharmacy Services. She led the complicated vaccine storage and distribution protocols for the COVID-19 vaccine for the state’s most comprehensive healthcare network. She also administered the first vaccine at Emory to a frontline worker in December.
To these brave women and every healthcare worker courageously fighting the pandemic—thank you. We appreciate everything you do to keep our communities safe and healthy, and we are grateful for your guidance and leadership during this time.
Five money warning signs not to miss
No one likes to think of being in financial trouble. But the truth is that many people who aren’t ready for or expecting financial trouble often find themselves ignoring some of the most common warning signs. If you’re not sure whether these warning signs apply to you, read on to learn more about the red flags you should look for to indicate trouble in your finances.
1. Not paying your bills
This may seem obvious, but when you begin to skip bills, it often has a snowball effect: the next bill is higher, and the next one is even higher, and you can find yourself in a lot more debt within a matter of months. If you notice that you are skipping bills or even just pushing back on paying them until they are overdue, it’s time to look at your budget and see what you can change. If you don’t feel there is anything you can cut out or reduce, it might be time to consult some financial experts.
2. Over-drafting your bank account
Are you constantly getting notified that your bank account has reached zero dollars, or even less? That is a red flag you will not want to ignore. Overdrawing your account once by accident is one thing, but doing it regularly means you have to make some changes. Either you are not putting enough money in to cover your bills, or you are going overbudget pretty often. Whatever the case, it’s time to put a stop to it. Ask your bank if they offer any type of overdraft protection service to keep you from hitting that $0 on the regular, and then see what changes you can make each day to maintain the funds in your account.
3. Not tracking your spending
If you are constantly surprised by the number of dollars in your checking account, even if it isn’t a low number, that isn’t a good sign. Even those people who have plenty of financial resources to spare will tell you that tracking that money is essential to making sure all your needs are covered. You may think you can keep up with every bill and charge and expense in your head, but the truth is that you just can’t. Balancing checkbooks is not exactly in vogue anymore, but there are plenty of ways to keep up with your finances, especially if you use a bank that allows you to track your balance online.
4. Living for the next paycheck
There is an increasing amount of people who live paycheck to paycheck—that is, they spend all the money they have and must wait for the next paycheck to be able to make any more purchases. For some people, this is a daily reality that cannot be changed due to extenuating circumstances. However, for others, this is an opportunity to look for ways you can cut back on your spending. Think of it as a game or experiment: how creative can you get to save even a few bucks from each of your paycheck? Can you make more meals at home, or pare down your streaming services to just your favorite one? Much like debt tends to snowball quickly, you’ll be surprised at how you can start saving money with just a couple dollars and watch that amount grow over a few months.
5. You don’t have any financial goals
Do you have a lifelong dream of going to the Caribbean? Do you want to own your home one day, or buy a new car for the first time ever? Many people who have goals like these have an easier time saving up their money, because they are motivated. But if you don’t have a goal, it’s much harder to save, and you are in more danger of running out of funds.
Your goal doesn’t have to be extravagant. You can make it something small to start, like treating yourself to a spa weekend if you have saved a certain amount of money every month for six months. As you watch your savings grow, you might find that goals grow, too—it’s all about believing what is possible and being motivated to make it happen.
In a perfect world, we would never have to worry about money. But since we do have to worry about it, take some of the stress off your shoulders by managing your money the smartest way you can. Know your financial limits, set some goals for your spending, and see if you can turn these warning signs into a cautionary tale that no longer applies to you.