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Monthly Archives: April 2022
How to make the best impression at your next job interview
Job interviews are not the most comfortable experience for everyone. You worry about what to say, how to say it, if you wore the right clothes, and whether your industry experience will be accurately reflected through your interview. It may feel overwhelming, but we can help. Keep reading to learn more about the best ways you can make a great impression at your next job interview and land your next career.
The devil’s in the details
If you’re running out for a late-night snack, you’d probably wear your favorite sweats. But for a job interview, casual is not the way to go. Plan your appearance carefully. You don’t need to look fake or not like yourself; you just want to give yourself a leg up for the job by demonstrating your care for detail through your appearance. Iron your clothes. Wash your face. Run a comb through your hair a few times. It may sound obvious, but it also requires planning, so be sure to have your outfit all ready to go before your interview day.
Research, research, research
You may have found out about this job opportunity through a job board or a friend, but now you have to take the next step: researching the company you’re interviewing for. A quick scroll through their website is a nice idea, but it’s not really that helpful. Peruse the website carefully, making note of anything you think will aid you in showing why you are right for the job. You don’t have to bring notes to the interview, but looking at them as a study guide is a good idea.
Have some questions…
Many interviewers ask the interviewee which questions they have about the job or company. And many interviewees find themselves with no response, unsure of what to ask or if they even have questions. This is another chance for you to plan ahead. Write down multiple questions that you have about the company. Even if the person interviewing you answers them all before you get the chance to ask, you will be prepared. Be bold with your questions—if you want to know, ask! Just do so politely.
…and have some answers
It’s impossible to predict what employers may ask in your interview, so it’s smart to have answers to some of the basic questions. They may ask you to tell them about yourself—what will you say? Why do you want to work there? How do you think your experience will aid you in working the job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Thinking of answers for these questions and practicing them with friends or family before your interview will convey the confident professionalism you’re sure to bring to the table if you get the job.
Be on time
Have you heard the saying “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable”? Take this advice to heart when arriving for a job interview. Plan your day and route carefully to ensure you aren’t caught in unexpected traffic. You can even make a practice run on an earlier day, just to make sure you know where the building is. And once you’re in the building, you need to make sure you can find your way to the right place for your interview. Preparation is key for good impressions!
Know your value
If you are a perfect fit for this job and you know it, you need to show it. We’re not encouraging you to be arrogant or rude in your interview, but don’t shy away from answering (or asking) questions that display your considerable skill. You may be up against multiple other applicants, so you want to stand out. What better way to do that than to show a potential employer why you would be a great hire?
Observe basic etiquette
Again, this may seem obvious. But it’s always good to have a reminder, right? Observe the basic rules of etiquette during your job interview to make a great impression. Make and maintain eye contact when speaking with your interviewer. Say “please” and “thank you” when needed. After the interview, be sure to thank the person you spoke with—and maybe send them an actual thank you card in the mail when you get home. Utilizing these niceties is just one more way to show this company why you’re such a great fit for the role you want.
Now have what you need—go forth and be interviewed! Prepare ahead of time, remember why you want this job, and walk into every interview with the confidence that you are exactly who they have been looking for.
Looking for your next career move? We’re hiring! Check out our current job listings here and see how you can become one of Georgia’s Own.
5 checking account mistakes you don’t want to make
For most people, their checking account is the heart of their personal finances. It’s where they deposit their paycheck, how they pay their monthly bills, and where they go to withdraw cash for the weekend. And, since their monthly statement details every financial move, it’s an efficient and easy way to keep track of spending and saving.
Although most checking account activity is processed electronically, it’s critical not to employ the out of sight, out of mind mentality. Check out these common checking account mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. You’re loyal to a fault
According to a survey conducted by Bankrate and MONEY, the average adult has had the same primary checking account for about 16 years. Why so long? People stay for convenience and quality customer service, which are important. But what about making sure they’re getting a good deal?
If you’ve been loyal to the same bank since you were a tween or a teen, it’s time to do a little comparison shopping. Checking accounts come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re all not created equal.
They have different features, expenses, and rates of return. In today’s competitive market, many financial institutions are wooing consumers with lower fees, more conveniences, and quality services, all of which are important to consider. Sticking with the same bank out of loyalty sounds honorable, but it doesn’t do much for your account balance.
2. You disregard the minimum balance rule
Many banks or credit unions offer no-fee checking accounts—as long as you maintain a minimum balance. Others require you to use your debit card a specific number of times per month or receive direct deposits into your account. Heck, sometimes you might even earn a tiny bit of interest. But, if you don’t comply with the requirements, BOOM! Your no-fee just jumped to high-fee and you’re out more than a few hard-earned bucks.
These checking accounts can be a smart choice for some consumers, but it’s critical that you keep track of your activity and always meet the requirements. We’re all not detail people, so if that’s too much for you to manage, move to another option. There’s nothing worse than watching your money fly out the window every single month, especially when you can avoid it.
3. You maintain a higher than necessary balance
First it’s not enough money, now it’s too much? Yep, the art of managing your money is all about striking the optimum balance.
Not all checking accounts are interest-bearing, but if they are, they traditionally offer the lowest rates. As such, you should keep enough money in your account to pay your monthly bills and cover your spending, plus a little more that can serve as a buffer. Put the rest in a higher-yielding savings account so you maximize your interest earnings.
Be sure to monitor your balance, and if you’re running low, initiate a transfer. Because most banking is done online, it’s quick and easy to move funds from your savings account to your checking account when needed.
4. You use any nearby ATM
Regardless of which banking institution you use, there are ways to avoid the notorious ATM fees. Some have large networks so an ATM is always nearby. Use your bank’s app to locate other branches or free ATMs so you don’t incur the most dreaded of all account fees. If you’re using an online bank, they’ll likely have a smaller network of ATMs, but many will offer a monthly ATM fee refund.
Using an out of network ATM should be your last resort. You’ll be charged twice—once from each bank. And, with ATM fees at a record high, it could easily cost you between $5 and $10. That’s especially painful when you’re only withdrawing a few bucks at a time.
When you’re in a pinch, you might want to be a little more creative and avoid the ATMs altogether. You can pay for your purchase with your debit card and choose the cash back option, withdraw cash less frequently, but in higher amounts, or even arrange for a friend to pay and use a money-sending app like Venmo to repay them.
5. You don’t fully understand the checking account overdraft protection plan
In 2017, Americans paid more than $34 million in overdraft fees. Today’s average overdraft fee is more than $33 per transaction, and it’s on the rise.
While an overdraft protection plan can be a benefit, it can also be a detriment. Without it, any charge or check that would cause your account balance to fall below $0 would be declined or returned. If you’re enrolled in the plan, you’re home free, right? If you’ve mistakenly swiped your debit card for more than what’s in your account, you’ll be covered and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Until, of course, you see the overdraft fee—or maybe it’s fees.
Once the first transaction crosses the $0 threshold, every transaction that follows also incurs an overdraft fee. It’s especially unfortunate when a large charge hits your account before three smaller transactions, for example. In that case, you would incur four overdraft penalties at roughly $33 each. If the three smaller transactions hit first, you would only incur one fee.
Overdraft protection will help you avoid returned check fees and maybe a little embarrassment when your card is declined, but you can rack up some hefty fees pretty quickly. If you opt for this feature, be sure to read the fine print. Some banks will offer you a grace period that allows you time to make a deposit and avoid the fees, but others may not. Be sure you thoroughly understand the overdraft plan feature before you decide whether or not to opt-in. Otherwise, it could be a costly mistake.
Biggest money mistakes people make
Everyone makes mistakes—even financially. You’re not alone if you have money regrets. But, it’s necessary to understand how money mistakes can affect the rest of your life. The habits you form now will shape your financial future, and getting ahead of any past mistakes will help tremendously. Are you curious if your financial habits are harmful? Below are the biggest money mistakes people make:
Avoiding a budget
You probably hear this constantly, but having a budget is crucial—even if you think you don’t need one. Watching your money disappear isn’t fun. However, you need to know where your money is going, and long gone are the days of tracking your spending on a spreadsheet. There are tons of free budgeting apps, like Mint and Honeydue (perfect for couples!), that allow you to see where you may be overspending.
Getting behind on payments
Falling behind on your mortgage, car payment, or credit card bill creates a tough cycle to break. You pay more in interest and late fees and also severely damage your credit score. You need to determine a strategy to pay off debt—and analyze your spending to figure out why you’re falling behind.
If your goal is to pay off debt and avoid accumulating interest, the avalanche method is your best bet. Start by paying off your debts with the highest interest rate first, then work your way down. Your overall debt load is reduced faster, and you pay less interest.
Using credit cards for everyday expenses
Credit cards aren’t evil if you use them correctly. However, many people use their credit cards for daily purchases—which come at a high price. If you can’t pay your statement balance in full, you should reserve your credit card for emergencies or other appropriate situations, like recurring payments. With double-digit interest rates, you’ll wind up paying more for items that are probably consumed before you receive your credit card statement.
Spending more than you earn
Spending more than you earn goes hand-in-hand with using your credit card for everyday expenses. Charging your credit card here and there may not seem like much, but when you’re not seeing the money disappear from your account in real time, it’s easy to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.
If you’re trying to control your spending, use your debit card instead. It’s much easier to track your spending when using a debit card, as you more than likely know how much is in your account and how much you can afford to spend. Using a debit card also reduces the habit of impulse buying.
Missing out on employer matching contributions
If your employer offers a 401(k)-matching program, contribute at least up to that percentage to take full advantage of the benefit. If your employer matches 401(k) contributions up to 6%, you should at least contribute 6% of your pre-tax income. By not contributing, you’re leaving money on the table.
You can also contribute more than what your employee matches. Most people think that contributing 100% of their employee match will max their 401(k) contribution, but that’s not the case. You can contribute up to $20,500 in 2022, and anyone over 50 has an additional allowance of $6,500.
Not having an emergency fund
If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that an emergency fund is critical—and something most people don’t have. 56% of Americans can’t cover an unexpected $1,000 bill with savings. Instead of drawing money from an emergency fund, many would have to go into debt. In a perfect world, emergencies wouldn’t exist—but we know they can happen whenever. Having at least $1,000 in a rainy day fund will go a long way in an unexpected situation.
Not knowing where to start may seem overwhelming, but you can make it happen. Use an app to start saving or have a monthly goal. You should also review your budget to see where you can eliminate unnecessary funds and put that into your savings. Don’t have a savings account? Now’s your chance to open one. Georgia’s Own offers various savings accounts that work for your needs and keep your hard-earned money safe.
Not monitoring credit score and reports
Monitoring your credit score and credit report is something you should do regularly. Checking your credit score and report will help you understand your credit history, inform you of any changes to your score, and keep your credit in good shape. Checking your credit report will also alert you to fraud or identity theft.
Various services allow you to check your credit score and report for free. You’re entitled to a free credit report annually through the Annual Credit Report service, which provides reports from the three major credit bureaus. Georgia residents can get two additional reports for free each year. You can also check your credit score regularly through Credit Karma. Aside from the free options just mentioned, you should avoid running your credit too often. Hard credit pulls, like applying for a credit card, can lower your credit rating.
If you’ve made (or are currently making) these money mistakes, don’t beat yourself up—we’ve all made these missteps at one point. But, knowledge is power, and now that you know what mistakes can be harming your financial future, it’s possible to get ahead. We hope you’ll learn from these mistakes and be equipped during your financial journey.
Credit Unions for Ukraine Humanitarian Fundraiser
Credit unions were founded on the principle of helping members and communities—both near and far.
Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Georgia’s Own has partnered with Associated Credit Union and Peach State Federal Credit Union in a collaborative effort to support those in need through the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund.
Your generous donation will benefit displaced credit union members in Ukraine and will make an immediate and meaningful impact—any amount is greatly appreciated.
5 steps to achieve financial independence
Financial independence is a beautiful thing. But while many of us desire financial independence, fewer of us know which steps to take to actually achieve it. That’s why we’re here—we want to give you the industry tips and tricks you may not know to help you work toward your dream. Read on to learn about five steps you can follow to gain the financial independence you’ve always wanted.
1. Take stock of your current situation
Every good plan has a starting point—and this one is no exception. Take some time to review your current financial portfolio. How much debt do you have? Which bills are you paying on a monthly basis?
Knowing where you are is a key step in getting where you’re going, so give a thorough and honest look at your finances. You can even speak with a financial advisor to get some professional insight into your monetary needs. And while you’re talking to them, ask them to help you set a goal: what does financial freedom look like for you?
2. Start those savings
After you have reviewed the state of your finances, you can begin to plan. To be financially independent, you’re going to need a way to save money. Start by looking at those expenses you don’t really need—there may be expenses you didn’t even realize you had.
Rework your budget to spend less and save more as much as possible and commit to keeping those savings set aside in your question for financial independence. Remember, you may not be able to save what you want to in the beginning. But as you work to decrease your debt and increase your savings, the path to financial independence will become much easier to travel. You’ll also need somewhere to store those savings. Find a savings account that works best for you, so you can keep your hard-earned money safe.
3. Talk to the pros
We already mentioned reviewing your finances with a professional, but it’s a good idea to ask them to help you with the rest of your plan, too. An accountant or tax professional can give you invaluable insight on ways you can be saving even more money, whether it’s through the right type of bank account or through diversifying your portfolio. Having someone guide you through the process also means less stress for you. Ask some friends and family who they trust to take care of their own finances and get to work.
4. Work out your debt
Life happens. Sometimes we deal with unexpected medical issues or find ourselves paying for braces this year instead of next year. But you have the opportunity to rid yourself of that debt as part of your journey to financial freedom. Start with the smallest debts first—as you pay those off, you’ll find more and more room in the budget for some of your larger debts. It’s also a good idea to reach out to your debtors. You might be able to work out a payment plan that works better with your budget, creating the ultimate win-win situation.
5. Prepare to handle your money
When you achieve financial freedom, it may seem like the hard work is over. But just like you don’t stop going to the gym when you get the muscles you want, you don’t stop managing your finances when you achieve the wealth you want.
In order to maintain that wealth, you will need to be diligent about spending your money the right way. This is another chance to talk to a financial expert who can give you some direction on how to keep your wealth from slipping away. You made it this far—don’t stop before you reach home plate!
Gaining financial independence may seem impossible—but it can be done! Figure out your ultimate goal and then take a planned approach to achieve it. This type of independence may not happen overnight, but it can still happen for you. Find some expert help and start working on your plan to financial freedom today.