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Monthly Archives: March 2023
How to use passwords to protect your finances
Passwords and strong authentication are like keys to your home but online. Do everything possible to prevent people from gaining access to your password. Strong passwords can be inconvenient, but they’re critical if you want to keep your personal and financial information safe. Below are some simple tips to secure your accounts through better password practices.
Ensure passwords are long, unique, and complex
Whether it’s your online banking or social media account, all passwords should be created with these three words in mind:
- Long – Your password should be at least 12 characters long.
- Unique – It’s easier said than done, but avoid reusing passwords. Each of your accounts needs a unique passphrase.
- Complex– Combine upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Some websites will even let you include spaces.
Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you will remember but also use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use sequential letters or numbers, like “qwerty” or “1234.”
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to constantly change your passwords. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends against frequent password changes in their Digital Identity Guidelines. Just remember to change your password if there is unauthorized access to your account or if it is part of a data breach.
Use a password manager
As our lives expand while we do more online, we’ve gone from having a couple of passwords to today, where we might manage upwards of 100 or more passwords. If you’re like most people, you’re probably using the same passphrase for most of your accounts—and that’s not safe. Around 66% of Americans use the same password across multiple accounts, which can be detrimental to your personal or financial information. If your passphrase gets stolen because of a breach, it can be used to gain access to all your accounts and your sensitive information. But no need to fret—password managers are easy to use and make a big difference.
How does a password manager work?
The best way to manage unique passphrases for the ever-increasing amount of online accounts we own is through a password manager application. A password manager is a software created to manage your online credentials like usernames and passwords. It stores them in an encrypted database and generates new passphrases when needed.
Because the password manager stores all your passwords, you don’t need to memorize login information or keep that secret password paper in your drawer. Now, you only need to remember one password to unlock your vault in the manager app, making things seamless.
What are the advantages of a password manager?
Easy to use
Password managers save time and are easy to use because you need to memorize one password, which makes them easily accessible and quick to load.
Protects your identity
Using the same passphrase across accounts poses a security risk. With a password manager, you’re more likely to use unique, complex passwords for each application. Some password managers will also generate and store secure passwords for you.
Most password managers are compatible with mobile devices, allowing you to access your passwords on the go. Many phones also feature a built-in manager, like iCloud Keychain.
What are the disadvantages of a password manager?
Single point of failure
One significant disadvantage of a password manager is because your accounts can be accessed via a single, strong password, there is a potential risk of your password manager being hacked. While using a password manager, multi-factor authentication is imperative to keeping your data safe.
You’re not protected from everything
While password managers help protect your passwords, they don’t prevent other attacks, like phishing, malware, or keyloggers. Even if you use a password manager, follow best practices and don’t click, open, or download any suspicious links or files. Remember, Georgia’s Own will never ask you for sensitive information via email or text message, such as your account number, Social Security number, or password.
Passwords are the first line of defense in protecting your personal and financial information. Using a strong passphrase and a password manager are just a couple of ways to safeguard your sensitive information from fraudsters. This is part three of an 11-part series on cybersecurity and how you can protect yourself online in today’s digital age. For more educational tools and tips, visit our resource center.
5 ways to spring clean your finances
Spring is the time when many people start thinking about purging clutter—that sounds good to us. We suggest expanding that purge to reducing your paperwork, trimming your expenses, and boosting your savings. Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below are five tips to help you get a head start on spring cleaning your finances.
1. Cut spending
If it wasn’t one of your New Year’s resolutions, now is a great time to review your budget and see where you can tidy up your spending. Even if managing your budget was one of your resolutions, take the time to see how you’re doing so far. Are there other areas where you can cut spending?
Cutting the cord – The movement to replace cable or satellite service and opting for streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, is gaining momentum. If you already subscribe to a multitude of streaming services, evaluate your subscriptions and see which platforms you use the least.
Gym membership – If you have a gym membership, are you getting your money’s worth? If not, cancel it. There are other ways to burn those calories that don’t require a membership.
Cell phone – Consider changing your plan or even going pre-paid to free up some cash.
Dining out – Cook more meals at home, and pack lunches for work or school. Even though the cost of groceries has risen because of inflation, if you shop smart, you’ll still save money by prepping your meals at home instead of hitting the drive-thru.
2. Automate your savings
Saving is easy to forget, and money has a way of vanishing when it isn’t designated for a specific function. You have to be deliberate about saving to achieve your goals. By automating the process, you can put a plan in motion and let it take care of itself.
Set up automatic transfers – If your paycheck is direct deposit, have a set amount from each check go directly to savings. You’ll be less tempted to spend it if it never hits your checking account.
Round-up savings apps – Some apps will round up the change from each debit card transaction and deposit it into a savings or investment account. For example, swipe your card for $4.65, and $0.35 automatically gets transferred into a savings or investment account, depending on the app.
3. Set up automatic payments
Setting up automatic payments either through online bill pay or your service provider’s website (i.e., cell phone, credit cards, utilities, etc.) makes your finances more efficient and reduces the stress of remembering due dates or paying a late fee because you missed a payment. Keep an eye on your account to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover the automatic payments.
4. Organize or shred old documents
Reducing the clutter of old documents and paperwork can be refreshing—as long as you trash responsibly. The tips below can help you do it the right way:
Shred, don’t toss – Throwing old documents in the trash increases your risk of identity theft. Shred them in a shredder. If you don’t own a shredder, Georgia’s Own hosts shred day events for members to securely get rid of paperwork.
Tax documents – Don’t get too carried away with purging your documents. Remember, the IRS has up to six years to audit you. Hang on to tax returns and supporting documents for at least that long.
Scan or snap – If you’re unsure whether you’ll need a document, you can scan a copy to your computer or snap a photo of it with your phone.
5. Cut down on junk mail
One of the best ways to reduce paperwork is to keep it from ever showing up. You can opt out of pre-screened offers for credit cards and insurance at optoutprescreen.com. Less junk mail means less paperwork to shred.
Spam and subscription emails can also clog your inbox quickly. If you’re working on saving money, getting emails from your favorite stores advertising sales doesn’t help, either. A cluttered mailbox can be overwhelming, but unroll.me is a free tool that allows you to manage your inbox in one place.
- Manage your budget and cut spending where you can, like subscription services or gym memberships.
- Automate your savings to reach your goals and set up automatic payments to ensure you don’t miss bill due dates.
- Shred and organize old documents, and cut down on junk mail or clean your email inbox so you’re not tempted to spend when you should save.
Vacationing with inflation: tips for traveling on a budget
As we head into warmer months, dreams of sandy beaches or European adventures are starting to fill many of our heads. Spring break is on the horizon, and summer will be here before we know it. But with inflation at a high, you may be wondering if a vacation is even possible. The good news—YES! While it may take a little more planning, your (well-deserved) vacation can still go off without a hitch. Keep reading for our tips on how to have your best vacation while battling inflation.
While inflation is driving up prices across the U.S., the same is true abroad. On top of that, pent-up travel demand from the COVID-19 pandemic is still propelling travel bookings. This makes planning ahead to lock in lower rates a key to managing costs.
The other benefit to planning ahead is flexible travel bookings. These can typically be canceled and rebooked should the prices drop. Be sure to read through the fine print and avoid bookings that carry restrictions or other limitations. For example, airfare refunds are often issued as vouchers or travel credit, not cash.
Do your research
Another key part of your planning should be a review of pricing trends. Nerdwallet compared the prices of flights, lodging, and rental cards with their pre-pandemic datapoints. While airfare has increased overall, prices on flights have started to fall again. Meanwhile, the price of renting a car has skyrocketed, as has the price of eating out.
Keeping these factors in mind can help you decide how and where you want to spend your money. If you’re flying and have some flexibility, you may consider flying on a weekday. Booking a hotel room with a kitchen might not be cost-effective under normal circumstances, but it could be this year. And visiting a destination with good public transportation will help you avoid those high rental car prices.
Set realistic budgets
Once you have a plan in mind, and an idea of cost, it’s time to set a budget. According to a recent Forbes survey, 45% of respondents are allowing for a higher travel budget in 2023 than they spent in 2022. But a little more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said their budgets would remain about the same this year.
Many travel sites publish average budgets, but when it comes to vacation budgeting (and budgeting in general), your personal preferences often dictate your overall spending. For example, do you prefer to fly first class when traveling overseas, or are you taking short-haul flights on budget carriers? Take stock of your preferences and plan accordingly. You may also want to review your past vacation budgets and adjust for inflation.
Consider a credit card with rewards
While inflation is affecting most things, it hasn’t impacted everything. As travel has become more expensive, the per-point value for most credit card reward programs actually went up in 2022. This means the redemption costs of points and miles are actually deflating while cash prices inflate.
And the more travel rewards you have, the more options you’ll have for traveling in 2023. A survey by Hyatt showed that more than half of respondents said they’d change their travel plans to earn or redeem points. A huge stash of points can get you those free hotel nights or airfare, allowing you to take that 2023 dream trip you wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
Additionally, some cards offer even more perks for travelling—included travel insurance can make inevitable missed connections and flight cancellations more of an annoyance than a major setback or cover your expenses while you wait for lost or delayed luggage to be found. And reimbursements toward CLEAR, Global Entry, or TSA Precheck will save you time during airport security or passport control.
Don’t forget– Georgia’s Own Visa Signature, Platinum, and Student Visa cards offer travel and emergency assistance and trip cancellation/interruption reimbursement when you book travel with those cards.
Though both daily life and travel may be more expensive, there are still ways to plan a vacation in 2023 at a cost you can afford.
- Plan ahead so you can lock in the best rates with flexible options.
- Pay attention to trends in prices and book what makes sense for you.
- Consider a Rewards credit card to help you earn more.
Despite the rise in inflation, that same Forbes study found that there is still a big push to travel in 2023. A resounding 87% of survey respondents expect to travel at least as much as they did in the prior year, with 49% selecting that they expect to travel more.
Unfortunately, many of the same recent travel challenges are expected to spill into 2023: crowds, high prices, and flight disruptions. These headaches aren’t entirely unavoidable, but the above tips will help make your next trip easier.
Banking on Purpose since 1934
For nearly 90 years, Georgia’s Own has been a trusted, financial partner. Our commitment to our members, our employees, and the communities that we serve are the foundation upon which Georgia’s Own was built.
The safety and soundness of our members’ money has been our number one priority since our inception in 1934, and remains unwavering today. The credit union business model is designed to return earnings to members (rather than stockholders), which inherently creates a safer, more conservative financial portfolio for these financial institutions—and Georgia’s Own is no exception. Our liquidity remains strong and our capital position remains well above what our regulators require. In addition, each of our individual depositors is insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA). Our members can rest assured that their money is secure at Georgia’s Own, and we will continue to ensure that they are safeguarded at every step.
Supporting women-owned businesses in Georgia
March 8, 2023 marks the 112th International Women’s Day (IWD), which is about women’s equality in all its forms. IWD encompasses so much–for some, IWD is about fighting for women’s rights, and for others, it is about reinforcing key commitments. For some, IWD is about celebrating success.
Small businesses are a major engine of growth in the U.S. economy, and women are playing an increasingly large role in the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women-owned firms now represent more than one in five businesses with employees in the U.S–out of all 50 states, Georgia has the 8th most female business owners. Overall, these enterprises report over $1.8 trillion in annual revenue and employ nearly 11 million workers.
Below is a list of some of our favorite women-owned businesses across Georgia. From home goods and trendy apparel to baked goods and more, we’ve got you covered. Check out these 20 women-owned shops and restaurants across Georgia that you can start supporting today.
Boutiques + Markets
the beehive – Atlanta
This beautiful boutique is fully stocked with local, independent designers offering apparel, housewares, accessories, baby goods, food goods, and jewelry. Visit them in store or shop online at the beehiveatl.com!
Berry Trap Boutique – Waycross
If you’re looking for the latest trends, head to Berry Trap Boutique–a one-stop shop for all kinds of women’s clothing and accessories. With a variety of styles, you’re sure to find something you love when you visit them in-store or online!
The Culturist Union – Savannah
Not just a coffeehouse, The Culturist Union is a community gathering spot, and inclusive marketplace that empowers creatives, entrepreneurs, and professionals to be seen, heard, and celebrated.
Ordinary Magic – Savannah
Ordinary Magic is an online and brick + mortar shop in Historic Downtown Savannah. With a wide selection of crystals, minerals, and magical lifestyle products, Ordinary Magic provides a welcoming atmosphere for all, plus the tools and resources to dive deeper within, and bring more happiness and magic into your life.
U-Neeks – Savannah
Find all kinds of little hidden treasures and wonderful furniture at this unique shop! They specialize in vintage and refurbished furniture.
Cheesecaked – Norcross
It’s time for your taste buds to branch out. Cheesecaked Creamery & Café is known for its showstopping cheesecakes—serving up the absolute best in America—and the result is as surprising as it is delicious. Step into any Cheesecaked Creamery & Café, and you’ll find yourself in a whimsical world filled with treats including cheesecake cannoli, red velvet milkshakes, and “Unicorn” grilled cheese sandwiches.
The Little Tart Bake Shop – Altanta
Founded by Ohio-native Sarah O’Brien in 2010, Little Tart is made up of passionate bakers, baristas, and counter staff who work diligently every day to make and serve delicious, thoughtfully produced pastries and coffee. Offering handmade eats & treats, Little Tart works with local farmers, jam makers, beekeepers, cheese makers, and butchers for local, quality ingredients.
Jardi Chocolates – Chamblee
Decadent cocoa bombs, chocolate bars filled with strawberry jam, macadamia nuts covered in white chocolate and raspberry—your sweet tooth is begging to stop by!
Seoul Food – Kennesaw
Meet your new and favorite, fast-casual Korean restaurant, serving up Korean street comfort foods with a modern twist. All made with fresh ingredients, this food is ready to leave a Seoul-ful impression.
Sisters of the New South – Savannah
Sisters of the New South is serving up authentic Southern cooking from their locations in Atlanta and Savannah. Not local? Check out their online store!
Star Provisions Market & Café – Atlanta
A culinary dream. Just a fraction of chef Anne Quatrano’s Atlanta empire, this market and cafe serves up baked goods, cheese, meats, seafood, locally roasted coffee, and other gourmet food items. Quatrano is known for running Bacchanalia and Floataway Café, as well as mentoring other women in the Atlanta restaurant industry.
Super Sweet Bakeshop – Kingsland
While working at Nana Teresa’s, Amanda Ramos let her imagination run wild, having the opportunity to craft beautiful, edible works of art. With the start of Super Sweet Bake Shop, Amanda is ready to take all those creative techniques and put them to work, bringing joy and sweetness into the world. Visit her website to start an order!
Tropical Taste Restaurant – Albany
Where Southern cooking meets African cuisine. Tropical Taste serves up traditional dishes like jollof rice, plus Southern classics like black-eyed peas.
Wandaful Things – Kingsland
Every day isn’t perfect, but it may come pretty close if it’s filled with Wandaful Things! Fresh bread, delicious food and desserts can all be found at this awesome bistro.
A Pot To Plant In – Smyrna
Your green thumb’s new favorite store. A Pot To Plant In is your community plant shop, offering various indoor plants and accessories to help create your own living oasis. Plus, they’ll help with plant maintenance, plant sitting, educational workshops & events, and on-site design.
Art Bash Studio – Savannah
Whether you’re alone or with your friends, Art Bash is an unforgettable evening of fun, music, and art. Get ready to be inspired by our local artists who will guide you step-by-step through a featured painting—canvas, brushes, paint, and apron provided! Book your next night out here.
Brave + Kind Bookshop – Atlanta
A neighborhood kids and family bookshop, Brave + Kind Bookshop carries a carefully curated selection of literature, from activity books and pre-school, to fiction favorites and graphic novels. They also have a monthly book subscription services for all ages. Shop online, or browse in-store.
Chemin – Atlanta
Chémin is a luxury lifestyle brand that operates at the intersection of beauty and wellness, experience and service, artistry and life. At Chémin, they believe that selfcare isn’t selfish, it’s vital! Specializing in custom fragrance, they also offer a curated collection of luxury wellness essentials, products, and experiences. Book an experience and join their legacy of living well.
Pinker Times – Buckhead
This floral design studio was created by artist Skye Lin, a SCAD Atlanta graduate who designs ethereal arrangements highlighting peonies, Amaranthus, dahlias, and more. Her studio features floral art installations, bouquets, and a choose-your-own flower bar!
Founded by Akila McConnell, a former lawyer who turned her love of history and Atlanta into a business, Unexpected Atlanta. You think you know the city? Take one of their tours, like the Grant Park Past and Future Food Walk or the King Historic District Tour, and you’ll see it in a whole new way.
This year’s theme is Embracing Equity. Forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women. One of the best ways to celebrate this month is by using your spending power to support women-owned businesses. When we shop with companies that uplift diversity, we increase representation, visibility, and economic development. Buying from women-owned shops, restaurants, and brands is just one of many ways you can support a community that are essential to Georgia’s culture and economy.