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Monthly Archives: July 2021
Couch to 5k: How to get moving this summer
At Georgia’s Own, not only do we care about your financial wellness—we care about your physical wellness, too, because being physically healthy is just as crucial as being financially healthy. Are you finally committing to your physical health and your dream of becoming a runner? You may have a goal of entering a race, or maybe you’re just tired of the gym and need a new way to exercise. Whatever your motivations are, if you’re looking for an easy way to get started, below are some great ideas to get you moving off of the couch to running a 5k.
I don’t run
We understand—running isn’t for everyone. But, it is a great (and free) way to get some exercise in and some calories burned. It should be noted, however, that running is considered a high-impact activity, meaning it can take a toll on your joints and muscles. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it—it just means you might be sore afterward.
When you get dressed for a good run, you will want to be comfortable. Even if it’s cold outside, you will probably get warm when you run, so dressing in light layers that you can remove along the way is a great idea. And, you need shoes that will support you for the long haul, so put away the flip flops and grab your tennis shoes.
Where should I go?
Where you run is up to you—you might find a nice park nearby, or maybe you’re more of a treadmill person. Running can happen anywhere you have the space. One note: you might want to consider occasionally changing your running spot so you don’t get bored, which is not very motivating for a run.
You will want to be well-hydrated before and after you run. But, don’t drink too much water right before a run, because that can make you feel sick. Drinking throughout the day is a good idea anyway, because your body needs the hydration. And if you’re going for a run—forget about it. Your body will thank you for the extra water while you’re running!
I keep giving up!
Motivating yourself to run is hard, especially if you are doing it alone. Try joining some local running clubs or ask a friend to join you on your next run to help you stay accountable and to make the run more enjoyable. You can even set up a running schedule with a group to help you make it part of your weekly routine. While you’re training for your 5k, consider rewarding yourself by opening a savings account to reward your hard, physical work with financial gain. Georgia’s Own has a number of savings accounts to choose from to help you reach your financial goals along the way. Consider this a motivator along your running journey.
How often should I run, anyway?
This is another area that is really up to you. We encourage you to start small, especially if you aren’t a frequent runner. Try setting a goal to run two or three days a week for twenty minutes and work your way up to more days for longer periods of times. If your goal is to run a race, start small there, too. Try to make your first race a smaller distance, like a 5k, rather than a half marathon.
How do I even start?
A lot of people feel lost in the process of becoming a runner. We love apps like C25k®, an eight-week running program which helps you start at a reasonable pace and gives you cues for slowing down, speeding up, and increasing your overall speed—ultimately helping you run a 5k. Most basic features of the app are free, so it’s an ideal tool for someone who isn’t sure they want to fully commit. C25k can be found on the App Store and Google Play.
You may want to add some tunes to your run as many runners find that they can pace themselves more easily to music, allowing them to meet their time goals and give themselves some breaks as they run. Multiple music streaming platforms, like Spotify, have ready-made playlists that will give you some inspiration.
What if I hate it?
You might not be a runner—and that’s okay. But how will you know unless you try? Using an app like C25k will help you master the basics, and you might just discover that there was a runner in you all along. And if not, you can still rest assured that you can hold your own in any spontaneous three-legged race challenges.
If you’re ready to get moving this summer, there are lots of ways to start! Running gets bonus points for requiring no extra equipment, being available 24/7, and allowing you to exercise while catching up on Netflix. Start small, and you’ll be running a 5k in no time—and reaching your savings goals along the way.
Back-to-school shopping: Five tips to save big
Shopping for school supplies can seem daunting. Between the varieties of notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, and more, the choices are overwhelming—and expensive. Let’s face it—no one wants to spend $40 on notebooks that will more than likely be thrown away in nine months. But, there are more ways to save on supplies besides your typical coupons. Try these tips to make your back-to-school shopping a breeze.
1. Find what you already own
Before venturing out to partake in the craziness of back-to-school shopping, look around your home for what you already own. If you already have hundreds of pens, pencils, markers, or crayons, there’s no need to purchase more when you have plenty at your disposal. Plus, you’ll avoid the dreaded begging for the unnecessary 64-pack of crayons—because who needs 64 crayons? No one, that’s who.
2. Wait until you receive a definite list
Avoid back-to-school shopping until you have a definitive list of the school supplies you need. Waiting until you know what supplies your kids need will not only save you the hassle of purchasing anything unnecessary but also prevents you from overspending—kids don’t always need every single item on their list. After school starts, have your child ask their teacher if there are any items they won’t need. By knowing exactly what you need to purchase, you can then take the time to research which stores have the best deals, plus determine a budget.
3. Purchase supplies after school starts
Try to shop for the majority of your supplies after school starts. It’s okay to purchase any essentials before the school year begins, but do the bulk of your shopping the week after school starts. Most stores typically put their remaining supplies on sale, allowing you to make the most out of your money. However, most of the supplies will likely be picked over. If you find an item that is well priced, then go ahead and purchase it because it may not last until it’s time to be put on clearance. If you’re not picky, then wait until stores are desperate to get rid of their remaining school supplies stock.
4. Price match
Dozens of major retailers price match competitors. Retailers want to prove that they have the lowest prices around, so if you’re back-to-school shopping and realize you can purchase something elsewhere for cheaper, ask for a price match. Typically, all you need to do is show the competitor’s ad or use your phone to show where you found a better price. However, most stores won’t price match on items that are on clearance or BOGO. But, retailers differ on their price match policies, so check to see what they will or will not allow.
5. Stock up if you can
If you can, purchase some supplies in bulk. You’ll save yourself from making multiple trips, and you can use supplies the following school year, which ultimately saves you money. Items like pencils, pens, folders, and composition notebooks are great to buy in bulk. However, remember to research where to find the best deals and compare prices per unit to ensure you’re getting the most out of your money.
These tips are sure to make your school supply shopping a piece of cake and help you find everything you need to make this school year the best one yet! Back-to-school shopping doesn’t always need to be a hassle—make the most of your school supply shopping today by switching to a Georgia’s Own Visa® contactless credit card. When you open a new Georgia’s Own Visa Signature®, Platinum, or Student Visa, you could earn up to $150, making back-to-school shopping that much more rewarding.*
*Promotional period begins April 1, 2021 and ends December 31, 2021. Open a new Georgia’s Own Visa Signature® card and spend $1,500 in the first three months of account opening and earn 19,500 points, which can be redeemed for $150 in cash back. Open a new Georgia’s Own Visa® Platinum card and spend $1,000 in the first three months to receive 13,000 points, which can be redeemed for $100 in cash back. Points will be applied within two billing cycles if the account is in good standing. Offer may be withdrawn without notice.
Believe with Atlanta Hawk, Clint Capela
Our very own, Atlanta Hawks went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. While the 2020-21 season ends there, this A-team of athletes has Atlanta believing the best is yet to come. Atlanta’s strong playoff games have made Bogdan, Capela, Collins, Reddish and Young household names across Georgia. Which is why I was so pumped to talk with Atlanta Hawk center, Clint Capela.
What is a typical day in the life of Clint Capela?
I like to get up, go get tested and practice starts in the morning. Shoot around, watch films, get some body treatments before noon. Afternoon I go back home, take a nap and get ready for the game. I get back to the arena around 5 pm. I get warmed up in the arena about an hour and half before the game. Then I go back to the lockers, where I get some more body treatments. And then it’s game time!
At what point did you know you wanted to play ball professionally?
After high school. I graduated high school in France. I signed a pro contract right after high school. I went to a first division team in France, so I was 18 years old. Pretty late, I would say 13. That’s when I started basketball and saw I may have a chance to make it to the pros.
Who inspired you to pursue your dreams?
Always my mom. Because of the way she raised me and my brothers. She’s always been the adult I’ve looked up to since I was a kid.
Who was your athletic role model or encouraged you?
My brother. We were always playing on the weekends. His games were on the weekends and I was always going with him to watch his games. Since I started, he’s always been the one behind me playing basketball.
How would you compare this Hawks team to your team in Houston?
In Houston, it was always championship year—all-go every year. The fans expected it. The team expected it. That is the difference. I feel like here we still have room to grow.
How did you feel whenever you achieved your first career triple-double?
I was really excited. I knew that it was pretty rare and I knew that I had a chance to do it. Yea, I was just excited and all of my teammates were excited for me. And from the bench, whenever I had my 10th block—it was a really special night. I kept the ball at my house. It’s something dear I will always keep with me and hopefully I will be able to recreate it. Even if it’s not easy to do.
Best part of the 2020-21 season?
I think that we’re getting wins in a row. And just that people weren’t expecting us to go that far or to be that good. That’s really the exciting part about this season.
Where do you call home?
I call home Switzerland. That’s where I grew up. That’s where my family is—my brothers, my nephews, my mom, all the people I grew up with my first 15 years. Geneva, Switzerland is home. I was born in Europe but my parents are African, from Congo, Africa.
What is your favorite thing about Georgia?
I really like the Piedmont Park. I go there a lot and ride scooters. And I really like to go walk there, I do that a lot. I like this place called Park Tavern. It’s pretty cool and I like the people there.
Do you miss Switzerland? Or visit often?
Every summer I go back. I miss my mom and my family back home. Having my mom with me, the dishes and food that she makes, my nephews and the fun I have with them.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal?
My mama, she makes this African meal—it’s rice with beans. She makes this sauce with the beans that’s just a little bit spicy. It’s called madesu in Congo. She has her way of doing it and I miss that meal a lot.
What do you like to order when out?
I like to try new stuff and new restaurants. I like to try new sushi a lot and French restaurants. Whenever I go to a new restaurant, I like to order the best food they have so I always ask for the chef’s recommendation. I feel like this is how you get the best at every restaurant.
What advice would you give young athletes?
Just like I was [given]. Believe in yourself, work hard and get ready for the next opportunity.
Advice for first-time homebuyers
Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming if you aren’t prepared—there are dozens of factors at play, like how much you should budget or the true cost of owning a home. We know this firsthand, so we asked some of Georgia’s Own for their advice to first-time homebuyers. Below are eleven things we wish we had known before buying a home:
You’ll need more money than you think
“You need more money than the cost of the house (earnest money, closing costs, etc.). I didn’t think they were actually going to cash the earnest money check.” – Will M.
“There are lots of costs leading up to the purchase. Be prepared for those extra costs and fees.” – Grace H.
When purchasing a home, you’ll need more money than you think—take earnest money, inspection costs, closing costs, property taxes, and more into account. As a first-time homebuyer, some of these terms may be unfamiliar—like earnest money. Earnest money essentially informs sellers that you’re serious about the offer you’re making—the amount can vary, and you’ll usually get the money back, or it’ll go towards your home purchase.
Consider more than the appearance
“The most important thing about a home is not how it looks. If the size, space, and location will be right for you five or ten years down the road, the rest can be fixed.” – Laura S.
Consider more than just the home’s appearance. While curb appeal is essential—the attractiveness of a home can boost its value by 7% or more—there are other factors you should consider besides looks. If the home has the right number of bedrooms or the location drastically reduces your commute, those are elements that will make your home invaluable to you. If you’re not completely satisfied with the outside of the home, that’s okay—you can renovate later.
Always have availability
“Be available at all times to do whatever’s asked of you, and quickly! The process can be stressful, so be prepared.” – Eve Y.
Even though your buyer’s agent will be doing most of the legwork, you’ll need to put forth effort on your part, too—and that means always being available to do whatever is asked of you and quickly. Your agent may call because there’s urgent paperwork you need to send, or they’re trying to negotiate with the seller and need your immediate input.
You can add funds to your loan
“I wish I had known I could add funds to our loan for renovations. It would have been helpful to know beforehand.” – Kaye E.
If you’ve found the perfect fixer-upper and are wondering how you’ll pay for the renovations, your choices might be better than you think. Various options allow you to add the cost of a renovation to your mortgage, even if you don’t have equity. An FHA 203k Loan or a Fannie Mae HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage is a government-sponsored renovation mortgage that allows you to finance the cost of buying a home that needs repairs and the cost of renovations, bundled into one loan.
Know the home’s condition
“Look in all of the cabinets and closets. Not to snoop out what they have, but to get a better idea of the condition of the home.” – Rebecca M.
While tackling the house-hunting process, it is acceptable to open closets, cabinets, pantries, and appliances (if they’re staying with the home). Looking inside cabinets and closets can indicate the home’s condition—for example, you can check kitchen cabinets to ensure they open and close properly or that there’s no mold or mildew.
Get a home inspection
“Get a home inspection during the due diligence time frame and request the sellers fix anything beforehand, especially anything major.” – Alex Q.
If there’s one thing you absolutely must do when purchasing a home, it’s getting a home inspection. Inspections are comprehensive reviews of a home’s condition and alert buyers to any major issues—common ones include roofing issues, electrical problems, window and door issues, foundation problems, or chimney damage. Buyers normally pay for their home inspection, but sellers who may be concerned about findings sometimes opt to pay for a pre-inspection. Never waive a home inspection—it may cost a chunk of change now, but it’ll help you save big in the long run.
Consider possible repairs
“Be sure to look beyond just your mortgage payment when considering whether you can afford it. Houses will need repairs.” – Kaitlyn R.
“Purchase at a lower price than your budget so you can get the repairs done your way. Don’t trust the sellers to get the repairs done completely or the way you’d have them done.” – Cassie W.
Consider purchasing a home that is priced lower than your budget to allow for repair funds. Your inspector may find that the home needs a few repairs. While this is typically a seller’s responsibility, there is a caveat—the seller may not have the repairs fully completed, or they may not take care of them the way you would. You can request a concession in an amount that is enough to cover repairs.
Set up bi-weekly payments
“Set up bi-weekly payments from the very beginning! It’ll help so much in the long run and is not something anyone told us.” – Kristin H.
Bi-weekly mortgages allow homeowners to make payments every two weeks rather than every month. Bi-weekly mortgage payments equal 26 half-payments per year—a total of 13 full payments. This helps reduce overall interest costs, plus an extra payment can help borrowers pay off their home loan sooner. However, there is a catch—it’s a firm commitment and cannot be changed month-to-month, so you need to determine if you can keep up with additional payments.
Property taxes can vary
“I wish someone had let us know how property taxes can vary greatly by county!” – Abby C.
When buying a home, there are a few external factors to consider, like property taxes. Property taxes can vary immensely by county, and it helps fund things like education, transportation, emergency services, libraries, parks, and recreation. It’s not regulated by the federal government—instead, it’s based on state and county tax levies. Depending on where you’re located, your annual property tax bill can be lower than your mortgage—in other areas, it could be three to four times your monthly mortgage. Because they’re variable and location dependent, it’s something to consider when you’re determining where to live.
Be prepared for emergencies
“Have an emergency fund! Our septic tank flooded not long after moving in. I wasn’t prepared for the headache or cost involved with fixing it.” – Andy C.
Unfortunately, emergencies happen. Your HVAC unit can break, your appliances can malfunction, your basement could flood, or you could encounter some plumbing issues—just to name a few. Homeowner’s insurance can help offset some costs, but not everything is covered. As a renter, it was relatively easy to handle these emergencies with a quick call to your landlord or property maintenance. But, as a homeowner, these are now your responsibility—and they can add up. Be prepared and have an emergency fund so these unexpected costs don’t drain your bank account.
Stay on top of routine upkeep
“With a house comes maintenance and upkeep. Budget for those extra expenses and stay on top of routine upkeep to prevent major issues down the road.” – Becky B.
As a homeowner, ongoing upkeep and maintenance are essential to preventing major issues in the future. Regular maintenance includes mowing your lawn, cleaning your siding, power washing, cleaning gutters, replacing air filters, or having appliances serviced. You should expect to spend between 1% and 4% of your home’s value each year for maintenance. For example, if your home is $300,000, you should save between $3,000 to $12,000 for annual upkeep. There are a few other factors to consider, too, like your home’s age, size, or the climate in your area.
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s important to understand what truly accompanies homeownership. But, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Ready to start your home-buying journey? Explore your options with the experts at Georgia’s Own.
Six ways to market your business for free
Owning a business isn’t easy, and you might find yourself looking for new or better ways to stretch your dollars just a little bit further. You want people to know who you are, but you still have to make payroll, so how do you get your name out in the community without breaking the bank? We have six ideas that can get you started on the path to marketing your business for free.
1. Get on Social Media
The odds are high that you have a personal social media account. What about your business—does it have a social media account? More importantly, does it have the right social media accounts? Find out where your audience is most likely to be in the social media world and set up camp there for your company. This may mean you have to do a little research—tracking where your audience sees most of your posts will mean going through some trial and error. But putting in the work now can mean big payouts later.
2. Start a Blog
A blog is a great way for you to establish yourself and your business as an expert in your field. Create a blog that addresses industry updates, answers frequently asked questions, or shares important information with your audience. You can even reach out to colleagues to ask them to write a guest blog or offer to write one for them. There are also multiple reputable blogging sites have the tools you need to make your blog look professional without any additional costs.
3. Optimize Those Search Engines
Have you ever heard of SEO, or search engine optimization? It’s a way to identify and use specific words or phrases to ensure that if someone comes looking for a specific service, your website will show up at the top of the list. Do some research on this one, because it’s an art form—too few keywords or phrases won’t help enough, while using too many can actually cause your website to be lower in search results. But finding the magic formula for your website can go a long way in letting people know you’re there.
4. Send Some Emails
You might receive dozens of marketing emails a day, and you probably delete most of them. But, much like SEO, there is a technique to sending emails—and the best part is you can do it for free. Different companies will find success through different methods, so now is your chance to look up some ways to ensure that your next email blast will be opened by a significant percentage of the recipients. Once you find what works, you can use email to make a name for your business.
5. Make it Pretty
Do you have interesting industry info to share? Try putting it on an infographic to gain some follows and shares through social media and beyond. This is another area where you may need to go through some trial and error before finding out what works best for your company, but once you home in on the style that attracts the most viewers, you can begin to make all sorts of interesting images to share.
6. Say It In a Video
Similar to infographics, videos are paving the way to increasing engagement for many companies. While the elusive Facebook algorithm doesn’t follow a consistent pattern, videos are often given a little more airtime on Facebook news feeds. Videos are also a fun way to show others more about your business, while offering up some useful information at the same time. You can create a free YouTube account to share all the videos you make.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive—you just have to do the right research to learn what your target audience will respond to best. So join social platforms, search for tips on writing that email, ask a colleague for a book recommendation on best blog practices, and start letting everyone know why you’re the best at what you do!
Pros and cons of a home equity line of credit
Homeowners who want to tackle major home renovations or consolidate high-interest debt can tap into their home’s equity and take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Unlike home equity loans, which offer a lump sum, HELOCs are a revolving line of credit. You can borrow funds whenever you need them—similar to a credit card. You’re given a maximum borrowing amount based on the equity in your home—typically up to 85% of your home’s value minus any remaining mortgage payments. If this applies to you, below are four pros and cons to taking out a home equity line of credit.
Pros of a HELOC
Little to no closing costs
Closing costs for HELOCs are lower than what it costs to close a mortgage, as loan sizes for HELOCs are smaller than a standard mortgage. Closing costs for HELOCs typically run between 2% to 5% of the total line of credit and consist of origination fees, underwriting fees, and other administration fees. Depending on your lender, some of these costs are reduced or eliminated. For example, some lenders may waive origination fees or offer no cash due at closing.
Lower interest rates plus tax benefits*
Interest rates are already low, but HELOC rates are lower than common lending avenues, like personal loans and credit cards. Interest rates for personal loans range from 6% to 36% depending on credit score and financial history, and credit cards average around 16%. Meanwhile, some of the best HELOC rates fall below 5%. Interest can also be tax-deductible*, but there are restrictions. The Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 made several changes to individual income tax, including reforms on itemized deductions. But, interest paid on HELOCs can be deducted, only if the loan makes improvements on the taxpayer’s home used as collateral—and it must be their main home. Interest is not tax-deductible when used to pay off personal living expenses, like credit card debt.
HELOCs offer tons of financial flexibility. Depending on the amount borrowed, repayment periods are often longer, making them ideal for big-ticket projects or expenses. The timeline varies, but some lenders offer terms up to 30 years. And, you only have to make interest payments during the draw period, which is usually the first five to ten years of the loan’s lifetime. When the draw period ends, you begin making payments on principal and interest. You have the option to pay the principal amount, too, to lower the amount remaining during the repayment period. Georgia’s Own offers flexible terms, so you can make your funds work for you.
Fewer restrictions on how you use funds
There are few restrictions on how you can use HELOC funds. Many people use HELOCs to pay for major renovations. Even though HELOCs are secured by your home, you don’t have to use them for remodeling. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to use HELOCs to pay off personal expenses because of their lower interest rates. For example, HELOCs can be used to consolidate debt, pay off substantial medical expenses, or help pay for tuition—to name a few.
Cons of a HELOC
Your home is collateral
Unlike credit cards or personal loans, which are unsecured, HELOCs are secured, which means a form of collateral is required to borrow funds. Secured loans often have lower interest rates but assume some risk. The upside of your home being used as collateral is that the more equity you’ve built, the more you’re capable of borrowing. The downside of your home as collateral is if you’ve missed a few loan repayments, unfortunately, your home could be subject to foreclosure.
Your home’s equity is reduced
As previously mentioned, HELOCs involve borrowing from your home’s equity. When you build equity and can borrow what you need, it’s beneficial. However, if housing prices decrease and the value of your home drops, this could lead to you owing more than what your home is worth. And, if you owe more than what your home is worth, this reduces your borrowing capability.
Variable interest rates
Unlike home equity loans, which offer fixed interest rates, HELOCs offer variable interest rates. The interest rate fluctuates over time—usually at the mercy of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is responsible for setting the rates that banks charge each other for overnight loans to meet reserve requirements. The prime rate is another benchmark rate and the most commonly used determinant of HELOC rates. The prime rate is typically 3% higher than the federal fund rate, and lenders use this to set their rates. When the Federal Reserve changes the federal funds rate, other loan rates increase or decrease.
Possibility of overspending
Unfortunately, HELOCs are not interest-only payments forever. During the draw period, you’re required to make interest payments. It can be easy to forget how much you owe, especially when you have a draw period of ten years. When the draw period is over, you begin paying the principal amount of your loan, plus interest. If you’re not anticipating or accounting for the increase in monthly payments when your draw period ends, it can come as a financial shock.
Although it involves significant consideration, HELOCs can be a viable option if you have enough equity built in your home due to their flexibility and potential tax benefits. But, using your home as collateral can be intimidating for some. Examine your financial habits and see if a HELOC works for your situation. And remember, Georgia’s Own is here for your lending needs, with ReadiEquity LOC rates as low as 4.00% APR through August 31st.**
*Please consult your tax advisor.
**Rates are variable and subject to change. Your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may differ from the one shown and will be based on your credit worthiness and loan to value. Rate may not exceed 18% at any time. Property and/or flood insurance may be required. Terms, rates, and conditions are subject to change without notice.