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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.
Money advice for kids: What you need to be sharing and why
How do you decide if and when your kids are ready to talk about money? While there is no timeline that will look exactly the same for every family, you can still use some general guidance to help know when it’s time to have the money talk, and what you should say. Read on for some ideas on ways to start financial conversations with your kids.
Get Everyone on Board
If you and your spouse or partner are raising your kids together, you need to talk to each other first to make sure you both agree on what type of information to share and when. You might even want to write out a game plan or schedule to help you hit the points you want to emphasize to your kids. Having your thoughts written down will help you steer the conversation in the direction you want to go.
How Young Do I Start?
For those with younger kids, you’re probably wondering if this even applies to you. Talking about finances can be useful for most ages, but it’s reasonable to wait until you feel your child has a better concept of supply and demand. This doesn’t mean they need a full understanding of global economics; rather, they just need to realize that there is a cost associated with things they want (i.e., if you want a snack at school, you have to sit down at the table first). As your child grows more familiar with these concepts, you can begin explaining that most things cost something, whether it’s money or time or something else.
What Do I Say?
Each family is different, but you can still work through some basic concepts that should apply across the board. Work on age-appropriate ways of introducing finances to your children when you feel they are ready. Here are some ideas on how to get started:
Young children: Begin the conversation by using an example they are familiar with, like the grocery store. They may have to choose between two items they want because you are only budgeted for one, or you might show them how you count out the money you use to pay for your grocery order. They don’t need to be able to add up the total, but seeing that money is exchanged for goods or services is a great first step to understanding a budget.
Older children: If your kids receive an allowance or earn screen time and other privileges through chores, this is an opportunity to help them understand the idea of budgeting and saving. You can show them how they have to think ahead – their allowance is only given at certain intervals and they need to make the money last until the next allowance payment if they want to continue to use their funds. That may mean waiting to buy a favorite toy or new item of clothing, or looking for less expensive alternatives. Either way, you can begin to show them how they have to use their money to pay for each item they wish to purchase.
Teenagers: Typically, even young teenagers have all of the cognitive resources to understand the concept of money only lasting so long and for certain items or services. Talk to them openly about why budgeting matters so much, and how they can create a budget that is specific to their needs. This is also a great time to shift some financial responsibility to them – they don’t need to take over your mortgage, but they can begin to fund small purchases, like their cell phone bill or going out for meals with friends. If your teenager has a job, it’s also a good idea to show them how saving now can make a big difference later.
Adult children: Every parent knows that just because the kids are out of the house doesn’t mean their job as parents is done. As your child leaves home for college or a job, offer to sit with them and help them budget for this new phase of their life. They may need to cover rent, utilities, groceries, and many other things they have not tackled alone before. Prepping them early will help, but it’s still a good idea to review their budget with them if they’re not confident in their spending habits.
Why Does It Matter?
Some of us had to learn about budgeting the hard way, because no one sat down and gave us the basics outside of a class at school. But budgeting is crucial for everyone, even if you are not currently worried about having the funds you need. Between emergency situations, market fluctuations, and the changing cost of living, the budget you make today may need a major overhaul in five years. Being prepared will make a big difference.
Since you’re responsible for covering the financial needs of your children until they are grown, it may seem silly to start these conversations so early. But getting your kids used to the idea of being smart with their money is a skill they will use for the rest of their life. Showing your young child why budgeting matters so much will mean they already have a firm grasp of important financial concepts when they are responsible for maintaining their own budget.
Money conversations can feel uncomfortable, but it’s true that practice makes perfect. Use the opportunities life gives you to help your children understand why it’s critical to learn about using their money well, and watch as they take those lessons with them to the next phase of their life.
Five money warning signs not to miss
No one likes to think of being in financial trouble. But the truth is that many people who aren’t ready for or expecting financial trouble often find themselves ignoring some of the most common warning signs. If you’re not sure whether these warning signs apply to you, read on to learn more about the red flags you should look for to indicate trouble in your finances.
1. Not paying your bills
This may seem obvious, but when you begin to skip bills, it often has a snowball effect: the next bill is higher, and the next one is even higher, and you can find yourself in a lot more debt within a matter of months. If you notice that you are skipping bills or even just pushing back on paying them until they are overdue, it’s time to look at your budget and see what you can change. If you don’t feel there is anything you can cut out or reduce, it might be time to consult some financial experts.
2. Over-drafting your bank account
Are you constantly getting notified that your bank account has reached zero dollars, or even less? That is a red flag you will not want to ignore. Overdrawing your account once by accident is one thing, but doing it regularly means you have to make some changes. Either you are not putting enough money in to cover your bills, or you are going overbudget pretty often. Whatever the case, it’s time to put a stop to it. Ask your bank if they offer any type of overdraft protection service to keep you from hitting that $0 on the regular, and then see what changes you can make each day to maintain the funds in your account.
3. Not tracking your spending
If you are constantly surprised by the number of dollars in your checking account, even if it isn’t a low number, that isn’t a good sign. Even those people who have plenty of financial resources to spare will tell you that tracking that money is essential to making sure all your needs are covered. You may think you can keep up with every bill and charge and expense in your head, but the truth is that you just can’t. Balancing checkbooks is not exactly in vogue anymore, but there are plenty of ways to keep up with your finances, especially if you use a bank that allows you to track your balance online.
4. Living for the next paycheck
There is an increasing amount of people who live paycheck to paycheck – that is, they spend all the money they have and must wait for the next paycheck to be able to make any more purchases. For some people, this is a daily reality that cannot be changed due to extenuating circumstances. However, for others, this is an opportunity to look for ways you can cut back on your spending. Think of it as a game or experiment: how creative can you get to save even a few bucks from each of your paycheck? Can you make more meals at home, or pare down your streaming services to just your favorite one? Much like debt tends to snowball quickly, you’ll be surprised at how you can start saving money with just a couple dollars and watch that amount grow over a few months.
5. You don’t have any financial goals
Do you have a lifelong dream of going to the Caribbean? Do you want to own your home one day, or buy a new car for the first time ever? Many people who have goals like these have an easier time saving up their money, because they are motivated. But if you don’t have a goal, it’s much harder to save, and you are in more danger of running out of funds.
Your goal doesn’t have to be extravagant. You can make it something small to start, like treating yourself to a spa weekend if you have saved a certain amount of money every month for six months. As you watch your savings grow, you might find that goals grow, too – it’s all about believing what is possible and being motivated to make it happen.
In a perfect world, we would never have to worry about money. But since we do have to worry about it, take some of the stress off your shoulders by managing your money the smartest way you can. Know your financial limits, set some goals for your spending, and see if you can turn these warning signs into a cautionary tale that no longer applies to you.
Selling your stuff: a quick guide to the online marketplace
We all have too much stuff: whether it’s that pair of jeans from high school that are taking up space in the bottom of your drawer, or the giant kitchen mixer that you don’t use but just can’t bring yourself to throw away, we all have those one or two or fifty items that need to find a new home.
If you think your items are worth something, you might try selling them online, through websites and apps that are designed to help you make your trash someone else’s treasure.
Where to Sell
There is no shortage of options when it comes to places you can sell your items. But you want to make sure that you are selling through a site or service that has a reliable reputation and makes it easy for you to sell your items.
eBay: Ah, a classic. eBay has been around since the mid-90s, offering people the chance to sell their unwanted possessions all over the world. eBay is the preferred online selling resource for a lot of people, especially because you don’t have to meet anyone in person – everything is delivered right to your door.
eBay also boasts a wide variety of products, ranging from homemade goods to car engines to hard-to-find collectors items. One caveat: eBay does charge its sellers a fee to make more than 200 posts each month, as well as a percentage of the final value that your item sells for. Items also automatically relist each month, meaning they will count toward your free total unless you take the listing down.
Let Go: This app has risen in popularity over the last few years, and many people find that it is a convenient one-stop-shop for selling their items. The app takes steps to verify and authenticate users, and allows you to communicate over its chat feature so you don’t have to give out any personal information. Let Go also partners with SafeExchangePoint.com, which helps users find safe, public places to meet up to complete the sale. The app also makes it convenient to check messages and the status of your items even if you are out running errands or working.
Craigslist: This website has everything – and we mean everything. With the ability to search for items within a certain radius of your home, Craigslist makes it easy for you to get what you need in a timely manner. However, it’s important to note that Craigslist does not employ a high level of identity authentication, nor do they closely monitor posts for fraud or scams.
This means you will be to be extra diligent in deciding what information to list, where to meet up with buyers, and how you will take payment. The good news is that you will reach a broader audience very quickly, and there is no fee to join. Depending on what you want to sell, you may be charged a low fee to post certain items, like job openings or vehicles for sale.
Facebook Marketplace: Social media has joined in on the virtual garage sale gig, and they do a decent job helping you find what you need in your area. As with the other services we mentioned, Facebook Marketplace can be very successful, but shouldn’t be relied on for steady income. But if you are looking to declutter and make a few bucks, start posting and see what interest you can find.
One advantage of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can post in multiple selling groups at once to increase your chances of selling all of your items. And, of course, Facebook is free to join and the marketplace does not charge any fees. You can also comment on your own post periodically (unless the rules of the group say otherwise) to keep your items at the top of the list for new buyers.
What else do I need to know?
There are a few more tips you’ll want to know before you start selling online…
Always meet in a public place
Safety first – always find a safe or public spot to meet up to sell your items to your buyer. You can even meet in the parking lot of a local police station if that makes you feel better. If you are giving someone your address to pick up an item, only send that info through a private message; don’t add it to the post for everyone to see. Let someone know where you are going to meet your buyer and when you expect to return so they can check in with you once the item is sold.
If you post an item for sale online, you need to be prepared to follow through. This means checking for messages from interested buyers, as well as making sure you make and follow a plan to drop off the items they buy from you. Many websites ask buyers to rate sellers on their level of responsiveness, so answering messages and questions quickly will help build your reputation as a seller.
Take lots of photos
If you want your items to sell quickly, be sure to take some photos to go along with your post to catch the eye of interested buyers. Make these photos as clear and uncluttered as possible to showcase your items and set yourself up for success. Include your asking price and any relevant details with the photos, such as whether your home has pets or how long you have owned/used the item.
Know the rules
Every virtual selling platform will be different, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of each one. Some Facebook groups require you to let potential buyers know if you have posted in more than one group. Or you may need to disclose the type of condition your item is in so people know what they can expect. Review the rules before you make any posts to sell your items so the process can go smoothly and efficiently for all involved.
If you have some extra items around the house that you think can make you a few bucks, there is no harm in finding out! Remember that your safety needs to be a priority, and that the more effort you put into making your post look great, the more likely it is someone will want to buy your items. Happy selling!
Can you get paid to take online surveys?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the internet has never been more vital. But if you are stuck inside longing for the day you can sit inside your favorite restaurant once again, you might as well take the opportunity to make a few extra bucks, courtesy of online surveys.
While this concept isn’t new, the experience and results of those who tried it have varied, so read on for some tips and tricks on the best ways to get paid for taking online surveys.
Why Would I Want to Do This?
Let’s be real – you’re on the internet most of the day anyway. Getting paid to do that is just a bonus. Taking the surveys and getting paid for it can be done from virtually anywhere you have your phone or laptop or any other access to the internet.
While each survey will vary in length and topic, you won’t spend more than a few minutes at a time answering them, which means you can fit it in between work meetings or before you get ready for the day.
Where Do I Go?
There are a lot of options for online surveys, but be on the lookout for scams and sites that do not pay as advertised. It’s smartest to stick to the ones that people have verified as being legitimate and that have actually paid their participants as promised. According to some researchers who actually signed up and took surveys from several sites, there are several reputable options:
Survey Junkie: This website received top marks from multiple sources. It’s free to sign up and create an account to take your surveys, and you can also use existing platforms like Facebook or Google to add your information to make that process even simpler. When you take a survey, you earn points. You’ll get your first points by completing your profile, and from there, it’s up to you. Once you reach 1000 points, or $10, you can choose to cash out or keep taking surveys. Payment is made through either PayPal or through e-gift cards.
Swagbucks: This company made big news when it first rolled out the idea of paying people to take surveys. Since then, thousands of people have taken online surveys to earn extra cash. Swagbucks uses a similar point system as Survey Junkie, and also requires minimum point amounts be met before you can cash out your earnings. Aside from online surveys, Swagbucks also offers opportunities to earn points by watching videos and referring friends, along with other ideas you can find here.
OneOpinion: With a reputation for being one of the easiest online survey websites to sign up for, OneOpinion also makes a name for itself by being easy to navigate and providing customer support when needed. They also operate on the points system, though you may have to wait a little longer to cash out – 1,000 points equals $1, and you can only cash out at a minimum of 25,000 points. Still, they provide ample opportunity for you to earn those points, especially if you have some extra time.
Can I Take Every Survey?
Most of these websites are looking for a specific demographic to fill out their survey. Some of them may be more general, like anyone between the ages of 18 and 45. Others may be looking only for women between the ages of 30 and 35 who have two children. Most of the surveys have a screening process in place to determine if you are eligible to take the survey. Some sites, like OneOpinion, have a much lower disqualification rate than places like Swagbucks, which has a lot of survey options but is quicker to disqualify you based on its demographic needs.
Is it Worth It?
As with many of the treasures we discover on the internet, the success of this endeavor really depends on how much time you can devote to it. Taking surveys won’t replace your nine-to-five job. But if you are just interested in making a few extra bucks before the holidays and you have the time, you can definitely make these online surveys work for you.
Is it Safe?
There is always a risk involved when you give anyone your personal information. Before you decide to move forward, take some time to review each site’s policy on privacy and what information they will be sharing with others. If you decide to sign up using an existing account like Facebook, it’s a good idea to change your password every few months to ensure your information remains secure. You can even create a whole new email just for taking surveys, because you will likely be spammed with promotions from the site once you sign up.
Taking online surveys is not a guarantee, and it has its drawbacks. But if you are safe with your information and just want to add a little bit of spending money to your wallet, these surveys might be exactly what you need.