For information on the Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks), please view our FAQs.
Branch lobbies are open. Visit our locations page for the most up-to-date branch hours.
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.
Lake season: Nine things you need to know before buying a boat
The sun is out, which means it’s time for one of our favorite summertime activities: lake days! If you are hoping to while away many of your days on your favorite local lake, you might even be thinking about buying a boat. Before you take the plunge—pun intended—below are nine things you need to know before buying a boat.
1. See if a boat is in the budget
The first thing you need to do is determine whether you can afford a boat at all, and if you can, how much boat you are willing and able to buy. This will narrow down a lot of the choices you have to make during the rest of the purchasing process. If you have questions about budgeting for big expenses like a boat or questions about financing your dream boat Georgia’s Own is available to help you in your decision-making process.
2. Talk to current boat owners
Doing some online or in-person research is never a bad idea, but you can’t beat personal experience when it comes to deciding which boat is right for you. Ask those friends and neighbors who are always on the lake to help you get started on your boat-buying journey. They can offer a lot of insight on what you need, what you want, and what isn’t worth your money.
3. Always start with safety
Going on a boat means spending time on the water, which means you need to ensure everyone who will be on the boat is able to do so safely. If your boat will be primarily used for your family, it’s time to invest in swimming lessons for those who are able to take them. For those who aren’t—and for everyone who will set foot on your boat—you will need to make sure you are following local laws for life jackets and other safety requirements.
4. Choose your boat carefully
If you didn’t even realize there were multiple types of boats to choose from, it’s okay—but you do have some decisions to make. What do you want to use your boat for? Are you spending lazy days on the lake? Will you be fishing a lot? Are you hoping to go viral on the Internet with a well-timed backflip on some water skis? Answering these questions will help you decide which kind of boat is the best fit for you.
5. Know the costs
You should be aware that the cost of a boat goes beyond just the purchase of the boat itself. Boats require maintenance, supplies, a place to dock or a trailer to take it to the lake—and all these things will cost you. Go ahead and factor those costs into your boat budget before making any final decisions. Fears about boat maintenance should not hold you back from getting a new boat, but they are important to consider. Georgia’s Own is available to help you in your decision making process to determine the best boat for your financial future!
6. Consider your options
A new boat obviously has some appeal. It’s shiny and brand new—and more expensive. A previously owned boat may be a better deal, so be sure to consider all of your purchasing options. With a used boat, you run the risk that the previous owner did not maintain it well, so you will have to weigh all of the choices to decide where and how you want to spend your money.
7. Treat it like a house
We’re not suggesting you say goodbye to your family and move into your boat forever, but we are suggesting that you treat your boat purchase as seriously as you would the purchase of a home. Inspect your boat closely before buying it. That means opening compartments, sitting in the driver’s seat, and conducting a thorough search to ensure that this boat is both safe and has will check all of the boxes on your perfect boat list.
8. Get insurance
Did you know boats need to be insured? It’s true, and you will not want to skip this part of the purchasing process. You can ask your current car or homeowners insurance provider if they provide boat insurance or if they can point you to a trusted source that can. You should also consider asking your fellow boat owners about the insurance they have and any tips they can pass along.
9. Take it seriously
Boats are fun. Being on the lake is fun. In general, it’s all a lot of fun. But this is a serious investment you are preparing to make, so don’t just focus on the fun – focus on making sure that you are getting the best value for your money and that the boat you buy will suit your purposes well. Once that is squared away, it’s time to go back to the fun.
If you are hoping to set sail this summer, we wish you the best! Take some time to research which boat is right for you and how much boat you can afford, and then enjoy your time on the lake as you float by on your new investment. And remember, Georgia’s Own is here for all of your boat-lending needs—click here to learn more about our boat loan offerings.
Wedding saving tips: What to do, what not to do, and how to budget
Wedding season is here, and for those couples on a budget, you may be wondering how to have a big day without spending in a big way. We have some tips on how you can create the perfect moment of matrimonial bliss without going over your budget (and maybe even while staying under it).
Consult the experts
By experts, we mean bridal magazines and websites. There is no shortage of resources available to you by professionals whose job it is to plan beautiful weddings for a small amount of money. Look for these tips and make a list of your own— compare and contrast ideas, see which suggestions pop up most often, and keep an open mind about solutions you might not have otherwise considered. A lot of the work is already done for you, courtesy of these publications, so get to Googling for the best tips.
Talk to your friends
The odds are high that you know of someone who has gotten married within the last year or two. This is the perfect chance for you to ask for their help. Neither of you has to share your budget if you’re not comfortable doing so, but they can give a better idea of current flower prices and which bridal salon is offering the best deals. They can also give you insider tips on locations and what they did to save their pennies beforehand. Everyone’s wedding has a budget—some of them may be large; others are small, but even the grandest wedding can be scaled down to fit your needs.
We don’t want to step on any toes but do take the time to consider your wedding day versus the rest of your life. While weddings are wonderful events, they are also the start to something much more wonderful: your marriage. Keep this perspective in mind as you make financial decisions for your big day. In ten years, will you still remember going with the less expensive catering service? If so, that’s okay—everyone has different priorities. But at the end of the day, the highlight for most couples is that they finally get to begin their lives together.
Choose a less popular day
Fun fact: Saturday evening weddings are by far the most expensive weddings. This is because Saturday evening is the most highly-desired ceremony time for many couples, and venues charge a premium for reserving these dates. Look for other options, like a Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon. You can even take it a step further and get married in the middle of the week if you’re feeling really crazy. Be sure to avoid holiday weekends, as these also tend to drive up venue prices. Choosing a less popular day means choosing a less expensive day—and it all goes back to your budget!
Location, location, location
There are many gorgeous wedding venues in the area, but there are also a lot of equally beautiful options that don’t cost money to use. For instance, if some local friends have a large backyard, you might consider using it for either your ceremony or your reception. Do some research on how you could use your favorite park for your ceremony to keep the outdoor feel without the price tag. You can make any venue beautiful with some simple decorations, so look for the potential in each place you visit.
Don’t use so many fresh flowers
Flowers are wonderful and picking them out for your wedding is especially fun. Unfortunately, flowers are often expensive, too. Talk to your florist about adding a few fresh flowers to your bouquets and make the rest of them yourself out of silk flowers from your local craft shop. This combination will allow you to have a stunning look in your décor that keeps you well within your budget needs. Bonus: those silk flowers will last forever, which means you will get to keep your bouquet for as long as you want it.
If you have crafty friends, now is the time to call on them. Work together with your friends and wedding party to do some DIY projects as a group. You might be able to create your own invitations, make your own cake, and do your own makeup instead of paying a professional, which can add up to big savings. We know it’s a special day, so we aren’t asking you to break out a Betty Crocker box mix for your wedding cake—but you should consider looking for a local friend who could give you a break on the price of the cake if you choose a simple design.
Skip the limo ride
For many brides and grooms, it’s tradition to leave the reception in a big way. This might mean a ride in a limousine, or, if you’re super fancy, maybe a horse and buggy. Either way, consider skipping this step altogether to save a few hundred dollars. If you’re really set on not driving yourself to your post-reception destination, ask a friend to drive you, or look for a car service that offers options within your budget. Leaving in style is fun but having the extra cash to spend on your honeymoon is even better.
There are so many ways to make a wedding great without breaking the bank, so put on your thinking hat and look for creative ways to stay within your financial needs. Make a budget, decide which priorities are the highest for your big day, and plan to have an amazing, finances-friendly wedding that you will remember for years to come.
American Rescue Plan Child Tax Credits: What to expect
The last 18 months have brought about a lot of financial changes, and almost as many financial aid programs as a result. Keeping up with them may seem overwhelming, but we have you covered. Keep reading below to learn more about the American Rescue Plan Child Tax Credit and what it means for you:
What is the American Rescue Plan?
Much like the stimulus funds that most Americans received over the last two years, the American Rescue Plan is a similar process of getting funds to people to aid in times of financial crisis. You can find all the details you want (and more!) at the Treasury website, which outlines answers to many frequently asked questions.
How much do I get?
It’s okay—you can ask! The American Rescue Plan clearly outlines the amount that will be distributed: up to $1,400 for individuals, $2,800 for couples, and an additional $1,400 for each dependent in the household. Unlike the previous stimulus payments, dependents are defined as anyone you claimed as a dependent on your tax returns, not just children 17 and under.
There is another change to this plan that distinguishes it from previous stimulus packages: the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. While this credit was not created for the American Rescue Plan, it was expanded under the plan. Now, the credit has been raised to $3,600 for children under age 6, and to $3,000 for children under the age of 18.
When will I get the money?
The IRS announced that they will begin sending monthly payments to disperse the funds beginning July 1, 2021, and lasting until December 31 of 2021. The IRS is creating an online portal to allow eligible people to make any necessary changes or updates, like adding a child who was recently born so the IRS knows to adjust their credit amount accordingly.
This credit is best thought of as an advance of sorts, because the 2021 tax filing season on which the credit is based will not occur until 2022. However, payments will continue from January through June of 2022 to ensure families receive a year’s worth of funds.
This amount will vary for each family—the monthly payments are meant to disburse the funds based on how much each child is eligible to receive. For instance, the benefit could be worth up to $300 per child per month if each child is under the age of six as of December 31, 2021. Again, each family’s amount will be different, but you can figure out your monthly payment based on the ages and number of your qualifying children.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
You probably are—an estimated 90% of Americans are eligible for the updated Child Tax Credit benefits. If you meet the following qualifications, you can receive the credit:
- An adjusted gross income of $75,000 for individual taxpayers
- An adjusted gross income of $112,500 for heads of household
- An adjusted gross income of $150,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, and widows/widowers
While no one is sure yet if the credit will be extended beyond its initial run, some have proposed that the credits continue until 2025, but nothing has been finalized in this regard. The IRS has stated that they plan to create a public campaign that will ensure that everyone understands any updates as they become available.
Do I have to pay back the money?
Like the previous stimulus funds, you will not have to pay back any money—unless your information is out of date. For instance, if you a child who aged out of the eligibility last year but have not filed your 2020 taxes to reflect that, you may be overpaid by the IRS, and you would be expected to repay the excess amount next year. Be sure to keep your tax returns updated with the latest information to avoid any confusion or overpayments.
No one could have predicted the events of the last couple of years, but it’s safe to say that there are some solutions to struggles on the horizon. If you’re still not sure whether you qualify for the Child Tax Credit or what it means for your family, we’re always here to help. Reach out with your questions and learn what this credit means for you.
Streaming wars: best streaming services to replace cable
Today we have 75’’ smart-4K UHD TVs strategically mounted every five feet throughout our homes. We can be entertained 24-hours a day by tens of thousands of shows on just as many channels that we can watch from anywhere—inside, outside, poolside, in the passenger side, or projected on the side of our homes. But, with the rising cost of cable packages, many consumers are axing cable and sticking exclusively to streaming. The rush of new streaming services has many of us wandering around in a state of confusion. They’re trying to win viewership, and we’re stuck in the middle. Don’t worry–we’ve got your back. Here’s a breakdown of the best streaming services to replace cable:
Classic streaming services
Netflix offers a wide variety of commercial-free, award-winning TV shows, movies, and documentaries you can watch whenever, wherever you want. They offer three plans based on the number of devices that can stream the service simultaneously. It’s available on smart TVs, Playstation, Xbox, Chromecast, Apple TV, Blu-ray players, and more. You can even download your favorite shows and watch them on the go. The monthly cost is $12.99, but take advantage of the 30-day free trial first.
With Hulu, you can view thousands of shows, movies, and Hulu originals with plans that start at $5.99 per month after a free 7-day trial. If you’re looking for more, you can bundle Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. Hulu’s newest feature is live television sports, news, and entertainment. With access to their entire streaming library, the package is $44.99 per month—nearly $175 cheaper than the average cable package. You can stream Hulu online and on iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV & Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, Samsung, LG, and Nintendo Switch.
Amazon Prime Video is included in the Amazon Prime membership, which is $119 per year or $59 per year for students. It allows viewers to stream thousands of movies and TV shows, including exclusive Amazon Originals. Without a Prime membership, Prime Video can be accessed with a standalone membership at a monthly rate of $8.99. Viewers also have the option to rent or buy select movies and TV episodes. They can even bundle more than 100 premium channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, MLB.TV and STARZ for an additional cost of $4.99-$14.99 per month. Some Prime Video subscriptions include the Watch Live feature, which allows viewers to live-stream programming. You can stream on the Prime Video app, a compatible Fire TV, smart TV, streaming media player, game console, mobile phone, or tablet.
Newer streaming services
Paramount+, formerly CBS All Access, offers streaming of more than 10,000 episodes of your favorite CBS shows, classic hits, and exclusive original series. Viewers can also watch live sports, shows, and news at home or on the go via their local CBS station, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live. Streaming devices include Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Samsung Smart TV. Paramount+ offers a Limited Commercials Plan for $5.99 per month and a Commercial-free plan for $9.99 per month. Opt for the annual plan, and you can save more than 15%, but take advantage of the free 7-day trial first.
Apple TV+ features Apple’s original ad-free and on-demand series and movies. Viewers will also find hit movies and shows available for rent or purchase and access to other video subscriptions like Showtime, Starz, and HBO. Watch it on your favorite Apple devices, smart TVs, and AirPlay‑enabled TVs. You can also access it on the web at tv.apple.com. Most Apple TV+ series release three episodes and then one new episode per week, so binge-watchers take note. Apple TV+ doesn’t have a library of licensed shows or movies and won’t release entire seasons of your favorite shows at once. After a 7-day free trial, the service costs $4.99 per month, and subscribers can divvy up viewing privileges among six family members. Apple also bundles Apple TV+ with its Apple Music student-discount plan at no extra cost. Viewers who purchase a new Apple device qualify for a free 1-year subscription.
Disney+ launched its highly anticipated streaming service in November 2019. Viewers can get the best of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic all in one place—and it’s always ad-free. The entire family can watch new releases, classics, and exclusive originals on the go or at home on up to four different devices at one time. After a 7-day free trial, you can stream for $6.99 per month. Want more? You can bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for just $12.99 per month.
HBO Max is a newer streaming platform that bundles HBO with classic shows, documentaries, specials, and blockbuster movies, acquired series and movies, like Friends, plus an exclusive collection of new programming under Max Originals. HBO Max is $14.99 per month. Viewers who currently subscribe to HBO NOW through HBONOW.com and are billed through HBO or subscribe to AT&T TV or U-Verse TV have access to HBO Max at no additional cost.
With so many new streaming services, multiple viewing options, different pricing plans, bundles, and promotions, finding the perfect streaming service can be difficult. Your best bet is to compare prices, offerings, and determine which works for you.
Want to receive a $25 bonus?
You can earn even more when you use your Georgia’s Own contactless credit card to pay for streaming services. When you use your Georgia’s Own Visa Signature®, Platinum, or Student Visa contactless credit card to pay for monthly subscriptions, like Netflix, you’ll earn a $25 bonus!* Don’t have a Georgia’s Own Visa? Click here to apply today.
*Promotion period begins April 1, 2021. Must have recurring payment in one or more of these streaming services for at least 11 consecutive months to qualify: Apple Music, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora Premium, Sirius XM Select, Showtime streaming, Spotify Premium, HBO Max, Starz, Apple TV+, Paramount+, Peacock Premium, Peacock Premium+, or Discovery+. 3,250 points, worth $25 in cash back, will be applied per 12-month period to your Georgia’s Own Visa Signature or Platinum card account within 2 statement billing cycles following 11 consecutive calendar months of eligible streaming service purchases if the account is in good standing. The maximum points a member can receive is 3,250 annually regardless of the number of streaming services. We reserve the right to adjust or reverse any portion or all of any streaming services credit for unauthorized purchases or transaction credits. Offer may be withdrawn without notice.
Online jobs: legitimate online jobs that really pay
Many people have found themselves going through unexpected circumstances in their professional life. Maybe you were working full-time and now have fewer hours; maybe your job even disappeared altogether. Or perhaps you have found yourself with additional family responsibilities as you work to juggle your home life and work-life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever your situation, many have turned to remote or online jobs as a way of making money on their own schedule—but are these jobs legit? Read on for some online options that may fit your needs.
What to know about online jobs before you get started:
If you’ve never worked from home before, or if you have never had to set your own schedule, you will want to do some planning. It may sound relaxing to stay in your jammies all day—and it is—but you will need to manage your time wisely to make sure all your tasks are completed. Think through some basic needs, like office equipment, childcare, other responsibilities (i.e. doctor’s appointments, ballet recitals, family vacations, etc.), and other details to ensure you are prepared before you start to apply.
Ten years ago you may have laughed if someone suggested you become a full-time blogger. But, thanks to the power of the Internet, this online job actually ranks first on Clark.com’s list of online jobs that are a) legit and b) pay a decent amount. If you have writing talent and feel like you can dedicate the time to building a blog, this option offers a lot of flexibility. Be warned that making money on your own blog can take some time, so this option is best for those who are not in immediate need of more cash in their bank account.
Are you an algebra phenom? Does teaching kids to play the trumpet sound like the most amazing gig ever? You should consider becoming a tutor for students in your area, or even those around the world. Once again, the Internet has done you a solid and brought you a vast array of options–you could teach a local neighbor over a video-chatting service, or you could apply to a place like www.vipkid.com to teach kids from different countries. Either way, this is another opportunity to make a schedule that works for you (though it is important to remember that most kids will need a tutor outside of typical school hours).
If you can drive and shop, the perfect job might be waiting for you through a service like Instacart, which allows customers to order their groceries and have a personal shopper—that would be you—drive to the store, do their shopping, and deliver their groceries to their house for an additional fee. You choose the jobs you do and don’t want to take, so, again, there is a high chance you can customize your schedule as needed. Be sure to note that those drivers with more experience will have the first shot at the higher-paying deliveries, so this is a job you need to stick with for a while to make the most out of it, financially speaking. Bonus: you can get your own grocery shopping done while you shop for others.
Are you bilingual? Your unique skills are exactly what many companies are looking for to assist them in either working directly (online) with customers or helping them translate website pages and other written information into the language(s) you speak. You can even look at places like Rosetta Stone to assist them in teaching other people a new language, or sign up as a subtitle translator through services like Rev.com. Put those languages to work for you and help others become as lingo-savvy as you are.
Coach or Consultant
If you have a passion for helping people find their way, consider starting your own online business as a coach or consultant. While this option may require you to obtain some certification first, crossing that hurdle opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities. You can work with people online to help them organize, get healthy, find their dream job, plan a vacation, or anything in between. If this sounds like it’s right up your alley, do a little digging to figure out which certification seems to fit you best and get to work.
There is nothing quite as cool as knowing you are the only person to own a special piece of art—or, in your case, to be the one who provides the art. If you can paint, sew, draw, sculpt, crochet, or even bake, put those skills to work for you with some custom offerings like blankets, party treats and favors, funny t-shirts, and the like. You can set up shop at a place like Etsy.com and showcase your best work. The best part is you can share your online shop for free on most social media platforms, giving you an even bigger audience to work with.
Online jobs get a bad rap because some of them seem too good to be true. While you have to do some research to make sure an online job is the real deal, some of them can actually turn into a career (or at least a well-paid hobby). If working online seems like the right step for you, there’s no time like the present–brush off that resume and start showing off your talents to the world.