Georgia's Own will be closed on Monday, February 19th in observance of Presidents' Day.
8 tips to rein in holiday spending
The expectations surrounding the holidays can cause us to spend more than we can afford. You’re not alone if the pressure’s overwhelming—an Affirm survey found that seven out of 10 Americans typically go over budget during the holidays. You might be thinking, what’s the big deal? The big deal is, once the December décor is put away, the bills are here to stay. Don’t panic, though! You have time to get your holiday spending under control with these eight tips:
1. Use a list to prioritize gift giving
Creating a gift list is just as important as setting a budget. Make a list of whom you plan to give to and how much you want to spend. If you have a holiday savings account, take the total amount you have saved and divide it equally among your list. From there, you can adjust for each person based on whether you want to spend more or less.
Check your list twice, too. It’s easy to forget thank-you gifts for coaches, teachers, the mail carrier, party hosts, etc. Those little, last-minute gifts can add up (and eat your budget)!
2. Know what drives your spending
Whether you can’t pass up a deal or are trying to sprinkle in some holiday magic for your family, recognizing what triggers your spending can help you stop. Carry your list with you, even if you finished shopping. If you find a killer deal or a gift you think would be even better than what you’ve already bought, use your list to remind you that you finished spending.
3. Shop with gift cards or credit card rewards points
Got a bunch of gift cards lying around? Save some cash and use them to snag a few gifts. Or, consider cashing in your credit card rewards points. If you have a Visa Signature®, Visa® Platinum, or Student Visa, you earn Flex Rewards points* that can be redeemed for merchandise or gift cards—perfect if you’re a last-minute shopper or just looking to save a few bucks!
4. Know the difference between cost and value
If you managed to find a $150 Keurig on sale for $70, the Keurig is still worth $150. Just because you saved $80 doesn’t mean you owe the recipient an additional $80 in gifts. Consider that money saved a win—and put it towards your savings or emergency fund.
5. Limit impulse purchases
Now is not the time to give in to impulse buying—stick to your shopping list. If you just can’t resist, give yourself time to think about purchases before making them. Consider implementing a 48- or 72-hour window between seeing something you want and buying it. After that window is over, you can take the plunge if you’re still thinking about the item.
6. Reduce nonessential expenses
Cut back on any nonessential spending in the weeks leading up to the holidays. This could include eating out less, watching a movie at home instead of hitting the movie theater, or finding a way to DIY holiday decorations. With that money saved, you’ll have a little more cushion in your monthly budget in case unexpected expenses arise.
7. Set spending limits
Establish spending limits for each person on your gift list. This helps you stay within your budget and prevents overspending. Consider communicating these limits to family and friends to manage expectations and avoid any awkwardness. We know discussing money can be uncomfortable, but it’s important to be transparent and set clear guidelines.
8. Track your spending
Keep track of your spending throughout the holidays (if you don’t already). This will help you stay on budget and identify areas to cut back. Various free (or cheap) apps allow you to track your expenses, like YNAB or EveryDollar. Visualizing where your money goes can be a huge help in eliminating any extra spending.
Holiday spending doesn’t have to break the bank. By implementing these eight tips, you can navigate the season with confidence and enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your financial well-being.
Remember, the most important gift is the one you give yourself: peace of mind knowing you’re in control of your finances. So, prioritize your needs, focus on what truly matters, and embrace the joy of the season—without jeopardizing your financial health.
*Georgia’s Own Credit Card points will expire five (5) years from the date earned.
Back-to-school shopping: six tips to save big
It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost time to sharpen pencils, fill those backpacks, and send your student back to school! One of the most stressful parts of the back-to-school season is making sure your children get everything they need without breaking the bank…especially when each new school year often means a fresh set of supplies, clothes, or a new tech gadget—or maybe all three.
Amid soaring inflation, prices on all kinds of goods are up, and school supplies are no exception. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend record amounts for both back-to-school and back-to-college shopping this year. But inflation is not the only problem facing families this year—supply-chain shortages coupled with high consumer demand have been affecting online delivery speed and product availability in stores as well.
Despite these challenges, here are six easy ways to save money on back-to-school shopping this year:
1. Make a back-to-school budget
Before you start shopping, create a list of needs and put them in order from most important to least. You may not be able to cover everything right away—but creating this list will help you see what you need to tackle first. Once you have your list, create a budget for your back-to-school needs. Budgets are personal so you can set aside what amount you think is best for school supplies, create a category for clothes, and whatever else your student may need. As you set up your budget, you may want to take note of any monthly school-related expenses, like after-school care or club fees, so you can ensure they’re incorporated into your existing budget.
2. Shop online first
Some of the best deals on school items can be found online. Shopping online can also help you cut down those frivolous purchases that may result from wandering around the store. Another perk of online shopping are browser extensions that help you compare deals and potentially get additional savings. Extensions such as Honey and Rakuten track down the best deals. In addition to price comparisons, browser extensions often also automatically apply coupons at checkout or help you earn cash back while shopping online. Lastly, don’t forget to download mobile apps for your favorite stores. You can often find special offers, see store pickup options, and check out clearance items—all from the palm of your hand.
3. Use coupons while shopping in-store
If you can’t find what you need online and are heading to the malls, don’t forget to check for coupons to use in store. You can save money by finding coupons online or by checking those old-fashioned paper sales ads. It seems like a lot of work clipping or clicking and then keeping up with it all—but $0.50 here and $1.00 there really adds up. Some checking accounts, like Perks+ Checking, offer discounts and deals from both local and national retailers, which can help you save big, too!
4. Buy used when possible
Not everything can (or should!) be bought used, but the same goes for brand-new items. Sports gear is a great option to buy used, as well as electronics like refurbished computers or calculators. If your student is starting band, you may also be able to find used instruments. Consignment shops, garage sales, thrift stores, and Facebook Marketplace are all great options to find used items.
5. Shop with the right credit card
Whether you plan to shop online or in person, shop with a credit card that offers points or cash back. You’ll be able to earn rewards that may help defray the costs of heading back to school. Many cash-back credit cards offer an initial bonus for meeting a minimum spending requirement, but you may also earn rewards for each dollar you spend. Some credit cards earn you more rewards at places where you happen to purchase many of your school supplies, such as grocery stores or on Amazon. If you don’t already have one that offers these benefits, research and consider signing up before your next big shopping event.
6. Buy in bulk
For supplies that students need every year, like pens, pencils, or paper, considering buying them in bulk next time you stop by Sam’s Club or Costco. Purchasing these items in bulk as opposed to buying per unit is almost always cheaper, especially for large families. If you don’t have a lot of storage, consider splitting bulk packages with friends or neighbors so you can all take advantage of the savings.
Back-to-school spending is expected to reach an all-time high this year, with families of children in elementary through high school planning to spend an average of $890, while college students and their families are expected to spend an average of about $1,400 per person. Despite these high costs, following the above tips can help you save some cash while still setting your student up for success!
5 ways to save on your electricity bill this summer
Summer is finally here in full force. But, as temperatures start to climb, so can your electric bill. It doesn’t help that Georgia ranks number four in the country for the highest utility costs, averaging $438 per month. However, there are simple ways you can save on your electricity bill—without sacrificing your comfort. Here are five things you can do to start saving on your power bill today.
1. Raise your thermostat’s temperature
While you’re at home, set your thermostat to a high (but comfortable) temperature to keep you cool. When you leave or if you’re asleep, you can increase the temperature by just a couple degrees. Raising your thermostat’s temperature can save at least 10% per year. The smaller the temperature difference between outside and inside, the lower your overall power bill will be. Don’t set your thermostat to a drastically lower temperature. Your home won’t cool quicker, and it could result in a higher electricity bill.
2. Switch to a programmable thermostat
More people have switched to programmable thermostats and for good reasons—they maintain a consistent temperature throughout your house, keep your home energy efficient, and save money. According to a study by Nest, using a programmable thermostat saves almost 15% in cooling costs. Also, a huge benefit is that they allow you to set schedules, so you spend less time adjusting the thermostat when you leave your home or before you go to bed.
3. Clean your air conditioning vent and unit
A clean air conditioning unit is more effective than a dirty one. If you’re reading this and can’t remember the last time you cleaned your a/c unit, it’s probably time you should. Filters, coils, and fins should be maintained to help a unit run efficiently and properly. Ideally, your a/c unit should be serviced at least once or twice per year. But, filters should be changed frequently—replacing a dirty filter can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-15%. Most HVAC companies recommend changing your air filter every 90 days. That can change based on your location, if you have pets, and your equipment’s age.
4. Turn on the ceiling fan
This seems obvious, but use the ceiling fan to your advantage. While ceiling fans don’t cool a room down, they create wind that circulates throughout the room, thus cooling you off. During the summer, your ceiling fan should rotate counterclockwise, so cool air is pushed down. In the winter, your ceiling fan should rotate clockwise, so hot air rises.
Your ceiling fan’s rotation also depends on the room. For example, if you have vaulted ceilings, it’s best to leave the fan rotating counterclockwise year-round. In dining rooms, allow your fan to turn clockwise on a medium or low speed to avoid cooling your food too quickly. You’ll still have air circulation, but it won’t be as intense. If your fan is not rotating the way it should, turn your fan off and flip the direction switch. When you’re not in the room, turn your fan off so you aren’t wasting power.
5. Use electricity during off-peak hours
Companies charge more for electricity during peak hours when the demand for it is greater. You can reduce the cost of your electricity bill by limiting energy use to early in the morning or late at night. You’ll help reduce the load on power grids and save money. From June through September, 4 pm-9 pm are considered peak hours.
Despite the sweltering heat, it’s possible to cool your home without foregoing your comfort—or your wallet. This summer, try these tips and watch the dollars drop off of your power bill. Need a place to store your savings? Put your money to work with a high-yield CD or Money Market account!
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.
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.
8 ways to save money during the holidays
The holiday season is a time for giving—but it’s also a time for spending. Due to the effects of inflation, the cost of everything has skyrocketed. Higher rates across the board don’t help, either. Despite the obstacles being hurled our way, it’s possible to still make the holiday season merry and bright while saving some cash, too. Here are eight ways you can save money during the holidays.
1. Stick to a budget
Before you begin shopping, create a budget. If you’re one of the savvy shoppers who opened a Holiday Savings account or a short-term certificate of deposit (CD), now’s the time to put those funds to use—but don’t go overboard. Plan how much you’ll spend on gifts, entertaining, travel, and other small expenses, like holiday cards and stamps. You should also add room for extra spending in case you want to treat yourself—or if you unexpectedly receive a gift from a co-worker and need to return the favor.
2. Create a holiday shopping list
It may be the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you need to give to everyone. Create a holiday shopping list after establishing your budget, and stick to it. Shopping for only those who need gifts is a huge way to save money during the holidays. List the people you need to shop for and how much you plan to spend on their gift. If you’re over budget, the easiest way to trim your budget is by trimming the number of people.
3. Cut spending elsewhere
If you need wiggle room in your budget, cut spending elsewhere, like dining out or streaming services. Let’s face it—you don’t regularly use every streaming platform you subscribe to. Save an extra $10-$20 a month by pausing a couple of streaming services through the holidays, and resume your subscription in January. Or, if you find yourself dining out more often than necessary, save by shopping at the grocery store and planning meals at home.
4. Spend responsibly
When used responsibly, shopping with a credit card can be beneficial during the holidays. If you find a credit card with a great introductory bonus, you may meet the requirements just by checking off your holiday shopping list (depending on your budget, of course). If you’ve already racked up rewards points, you can cash in those points for gifts, airline tickets, or hotels. If you don’t trust yourself to stick within your budget while using a credit card, you can opt for cash. Whatever your budget is, withdraw that from your checking account and use that cash to shop—once it’s gone, it’s gone.
5. Shop strategically
When you shop is just as important as where you shop. Also, think about what you need to purchase. If you’re looking to score deals on TVs and other electronics, pre-Black Friday and Black Friday deals are your best bet. Cyber Monday is great for shopping for clothes and travel deals, and it’s often a repeat of Black Friday offers. As Christmas approaches, many retailers also discount toys and games to avoid getting stuck with them after the holidays. Super Saturday is the Saturday before Christmas and is filled with last-minute deals for those who haven’t finished their holiday shopping yet. These deals can be huge ways to save money during the holidays.
6. Consider non-monetary gifts
Experiences and favors for family and friends can sometimes be more meaningful than material gifts. If your budget is lower this year, opt for non-monetary gifts. Volunteer to watch your sister’s kids so she can have a night out. Or, help an elderly relative with housework and running errands. Even handmade gifts, like scrapbooks or a framed photo of a special memory, can be more meaningful than something expensive.
7. Give the gift of your time
Volunteering can be the greatest gift of all. If you and your family or friends have everything you need, why not volunteer during the holidays instead of exchanging gifts? Help out a local soup kitchen, host a coat drive, volunteer at a nursing home, or help wherever else you’re needed. Just a few hours of volunteering your time can brighten the holidays for dozens of people. If you’re stuck on ideas, volunteermatch.org posts various volunteer opportunities, and you can filter by category to find something that piques your interest.
8. Celebrate after the holidays
Traveling during the holidays can add up quickly between flights, transportation, and hotels. It can also be stressful and overwhelming due to the sheer volume of people. If you’re visiting family or want to travel during the holidays, celebrate after to help save big on travel costs. You’ll even save on gifts if you wait for post-holiday sales to shop. If you can’t wait until after the holidays to celebrate, try to book in advance and avoid high fares.
4 ways to save on sporting events
For many people, their lives revolve around sports. It’s how they connect to their families, bond with strangers, and choose to spend their hard-earned money. Sure, you can catch a game on television, but for some, that will never beat the feeling of sitting in a packed stadium, taking in the sounds and smells, and enjoying their favorite team. However, tickets can be a little pricey—especially now due to inflation. Worry no more sports fans: here are four ways to save on sporting events.
1. Use a ticket resale site
Let’s say you and your friends want to see your favorite team last minute. You get excited, look at ticket prices, and frown—the tickets are too expensive, and you can’t justify spending that much money. The solution? Ticket resale sites. These sites allow people to buy and sell tickets at various prices, making this a good option for people trying to purchase last-minute seats. You can often find multiple tickets at different prices, allowing you to see your favorite teams at a lower cost.
Use caution and be aware of the face value of the tickets you are attempting to purchase on these sites. Don’t automatically assume that the tickets sold on these sites are the best or cheapest—some people buy and resell tickets at a higher price, looking to make a quick buck. If you find tickets below face value, this can be a safe, easy, and affordable option for sporting events.
2. Buy tickets in bulk
Many teams offer discounted rates for groups larger than eight or ten, which could be anywhere from $50 off or 20% off the total price. It’s a great, cost-effective way to enjoy a game with friends. What could be better? This deal usually depends on the stadium or team box office, but if you reach out, you may receive a discount. Finding a large group of people to go to a single sporting event with you isn’t always easy. If it’s not an option, you can try finding individual seats in a section (which can sometimes be cheaper). If you have a large friend group, buying in bulk can make for an inexpensive and fun-filled outing.
3. Plan and budget
Planning and budgeting seem like an obvious answer, as most people who are effective budgeters set aside money to use for entertainment costs. However, with the rising prices of sports tickets, concessions, and more, you need to set aside a larger sum of money to attend a game. One solution is to pick a game in the future, set aside money, and save. Once you reach the time to purchase your ticket and go to the game, you may have even saved up enough money to get a higher-quality ticket.
With a Georgia’s Own savings account, you’ll have a secure place to store your cash that you’ve worked so hard to save—and reach your goal in no time. We even offer goal-based savings, so you can make sure whatever funds you set aside will be used towards your next sporting event or even a vacation.
4. Use team memberships
The easiest way to get specific deals and memberships for your preferred sports team is to become a member of your team’s fan incentive group. Sometimes these organizations have membership fees, which are usually not expensive, but more often than not, these groups put you on a text or email list at no cost. These notifications allow you access to specific deals only available to members, such as reduced ticket prices, packages, and more. You’ll also have access to priority seating and higher-cost items for a reduced price. For example, some sports offer four- or five-game ticket packages. This can reduce costs while also offering other perks, like great seats and access to other parts of the fan experience.
There are other ways to obtain low-cost tickets through buying from people on resale sites, negotiating with friends, or finding a ticket through social media. However, these four ways of buying sports tickets can allow you to experience live sports without breaking the bank. So go out and enjoy that game with your family and friends—now you can afford it!