Georgia's Own Credit Union will be closed on Monday, February 18th in observance of Presidents' Day.
Things to do this Spring in Atlanta
Spring in Atlanta is always a great time of year—well, minus the pollen count. Atlanta offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities for people of all ages. There’s never a dull moment in the best city of the South. Okay, maybe we’re a little biased, but with everything from spring festivals to museums to outdoor concerts to the staple tourist attractions, Atlanta makes planning your springtime fun effortless and exciting.
If you’re looking for something to do for spring break with the kids or just want to get out and enjoy the city, Atlanta has it covered. One growing and popular idea is a “staycation.” A staycation is sort of like a vacation, except you book lodging at or near your home and enjoy the city attractions, or just appreciate the time away from home in a different environment. Make time to enjoy all the greatness of Atlanta and take a break from the everyday routine.
Below are a few great events and venues to check out:
Popular tourist attractions
- CNN Studio Tours
- The National Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Zoo Atlanta
- Georgia Aquarium
- The King Center
- The World of Coca-Cola
- College Football Hall of Fame
- Atlanta Jazz Festival
- Wine Festival
- Atlanta Film Festival
- Georgia Renaissance Festival
- Atlanta Caribbean Festival
- High Museum of Art
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History
- Atlanta History Center
- Children’s Museum of Atlanta
- Chastain Amphitheater
- Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
- Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood
- Centennial Olympic Park
- Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Piedmont Park
- The Atlanta Beltline
- Woodruff Park
Outdoor concert venues
Parks & outdoor recreation
If traffic is a concern, which it typically is, and you want to get around quickly and easily, just hop on a MARTA train or bus to make life easier (and save on parking!). For more resources and ideas on springtime fun in Atlanta or things to do no matter the season, click here.
What’s your favorite springtime activity in Atlanta? Let us know in the comments!
Can you save money by cutting cable?
Whether it’s Comcast, DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, Xfinity, or DISH Network, your cable service is expensive. It’s also the main reason people have been saying bye-bye to traditional pay-TV services. With the dramatic switch of viewers to online streaming, TV antennas, and other entertainment options, cable companies are struggling to retain subscribers and are quickly losing their financial foothold on the market.
Yes, cable still has some good shows like This is Us, The Walking Dead, and Survivor, but you don’t necessarily need a cable box to watch them. If you’re thinking of cutting the cable cord, here are a few options you’ll need to consider about life after-cable TV:
Consider an HD antenna
Antennas have come a long way from rabbit ears and tinfoil (which still works, BTW). Antennas provide free local and live network TV, but the most popular ones now provide it in HD. With just the cost of the antenna and no additional subscription needed, it’s the least expensive and simplest alternative once you call it quits with your cable provider. Just plug the antenna into your TV and point it toward the window. It’s ideal for news and sports but offers limited channels, and where you live has a lot to do with what you’re able to watch. Closer proximity to broadcast towers delivers better reception so those in urban areas can expect the clearest pictures and the best channel selection.
Choose your streaming service and your device
If you’ve purchased a TV in the last few years, it’s likely a Smart TV, which means you already have access to the streaming services that you need. Apps for popular services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, among others, come already installed on a Smart TV. With a monthly subscription of $8 – $17 per month or $119 per year, depending on the service, you’ll have more TV entertainment than you could possibly enjoy in any couch-potato life.
If you currently don’t have a Smart TV, it’s an easy fix. The simplest alternative is to download the streaming app on your laptop computer and watch online. If you prefer, you can also watch it on your TV if you attach your computer via HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, or DVI cable.
If plugging your laptop into your TV each time isn’t ideal, there are other reasonably priced options, like set-top boxes, streaming sticks, game consoles, or other devices, that accomplish the same thing. The most popular choices are made by Roku, Apple, Google, and Amazon and range in price from $35 to $400.
Replace your cable provider with another service
If you’re nervous about cutting yourself off from the cable world and your favorite daily channels, consider a cable replacement service. It’s a subscription service, just like the cable company, but somewhat less expensive. Services like Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV fall into this category and subscription prices range from $25 per month to $80. The services include different channels, so if you’re hooked on ESPN or need to watch Nickelodeon on Saturday mornings, it’ll impact your selection.
Another service to consider is Plex, which allows users to create their own media library on their personal computer and then stream it to their web browser, game consoles, or other media players. The service allows for screen mirroring, recording live TV, and sharing libraries with friends. Best of all, it’s basic service is FREE.
With so many options, we can see why people are making the switch. If you’re paying for a service and there may be a better option that meets your needs and your budget, it’s worth a look.
12 Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Atlanta
Valentine’s day is right around the corner and whether you’ve been married for fifty years, just started dating, or are single and ready to mingle, there’s something for everyone in the ATL. Grab your honey, your most recent crush, or your BFF and find something romantic, fun, or just plain silly to do for this sweet occasion:
Valentine’s glass blowing (February 1-24)
Grab your cutie and sign up for this hot-glass blowing class at Decatur Glassblowing. Choose from a variety of colors and shapes (round, flat, or heart-shaped) and make a glass paperweight. It’s an experience and a gift all in one…how sweet!
Valentine’s Day cemetery tour (February 9-10)
Who says spooky can’t be romantic? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with an hour-long tour as you look back and listen to some of Oakland Cemetery’s tales of everlasting love. Love Stories of Oakland recounts the lives, loves, and losses of Atlantans of days past.
Valentine’s Day dinner (February 14)
If food is your love language, you’ll need to make your Valentine’s Day dinner reservations fast! Wine and dine your sweetheart at any of these Atlanta restaurants that are offering special menus and specialty drinks for the occasion.
Romance in the Garden (February 14)
Let love bloom at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Enjoy an elegant evening of live entertainment, dancing, appetizers, dessert, and cocktails from a cash bar at this Valentines in the Garden celebration.
Valentine’s Day at the Fabulous Fox (February 14)
If music puts you in the mood, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Keith Sweat are hosting a Valentine’s Day Celebration at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Tickets for this smooth jazz and R&B concert are on sale now!
Atlanta Balloon Glow (February 14)
Whether you’re looking for an uplifting way to celebrate Valentine’s Day or want to enjoy the day with the whole family, the Atlanta Balloon Glow at Piedmont Park will surely light up your life! It features glowing hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, and food and activities for everyone. Want to sneak away with your sweetheart for a few minutes? Opt for a couple’s balloon ride and enjoy the spectacular view of the Atlanta Skyline!
Music in the Wimbish mansion (February 14)
If you’re up for a more sophisticated celebration, check out the Black-Tie Valentine’s Day event at the Wimbish House. Enjoy the pre-concert soirée, fine wine, and champagne. Then be swept away by the sounds of the string orchestra, opera, solo violin, and saxophone jazz quartet.
Romance at the Lake (February 14, 15, 16)
If you’re looking to escape this Valentine’s Day weekend, Lanier Islands is the perfect place. The resort is offering a romantic getaway package that includes your room, chocolate dipped strawberries, a four-course dinner, and a buffet breakfast the following morning.
Sips Under the Sea (February 15)
Eat, Drink, and Be Mine! Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special edition of Sips Under the Sea at the Georgia Aquarium You’ll enjoy romantic tunes, delicious small plates, and sweet cocktails among the stunning whale sharks and manta rays!
Murder Mystery Dinner (February 15)
Celebrate your Valentine’s Day with the “Love You to Death” Dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy-Cumberland. It’ll be a night of murder, mystery and…yup, you guessed it, pasta!
An evening of silly love songs (February 15)
Invite your sweetheart and your friends to spend the evening with Yacht Rock Schooner. You’ll be serenaded with silly and smooth songs from the ‘70s and ’80s at this concert-only event at Park Tavern. Hurry and buy your tickets now. This annual celebration always sells out fast!
Cook up some romance (Several dates in February)
Get hands-on this year with a couples cooking class! Check out the class schedule at The Cooking School at Irwin Street or The Cooks Warehouse. Mercato di Bellina at Ponce City Market features a special I Love Vino for Lovebirds course on the 13th, and Publix offers a Wine and Dine Your Valentine demonstration on the 14th.
Do Warehouse clubs save or cost your family money?
The allure of shopping at big warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club is undeniably strong. It’s not only loved by money-conscious consumers who are trying to stretch their budget, but also shoppers who are simply obsessed with perusing the two-football field-sized warehouses. In fact, over one-third of Americans holds a membership with a warehouse club.
It seems a little crazy, and a little counter-intuitive, for someone to spend money on a club membership for the privilege of saving money—or even just to walk in the door—but millions of people do it. Let’s take a look at exactly how it works and if it really does save you money.
The warehouse club business model
In spite of the strategically designed, no-frills environment, warehouse clubs are retail stores. They offer a wide variety of items, from Waterford crystal to cell phones, and from flat screen TVs to paper plates, at discounted pricing.
Unlike traditional retail stores, however, warehouse clubs don’t make the majority of their profits from the markups they charge. Instead, they require each customer to pay a membership fee. They have tremendous buying power and focus on passing those savings on to their customers. Rock-bottom pricing is not the only benefit you gain through membership, though. Members also have access to other deals and discounted services like travel, car buying, insurance, and financial services, to name a few.
Paying a reasonable annual membership fee that can, at the very least, be recouped in savings over the year doesn’t sound like a bad deal. But, there are some pitfalls that need to be considered, and they’re not quite as evident as the savings you see on your receipt.
Big boxes, large quantities
The reason warehouse clubs can offer lower prices is that they buy in bulk, and then they pass the bulk onto their customers. While you may eventually use the 45 rolls of toilet paper, the twin pack of ketchup will likely be expired before you’re halfway through the first bottle. The fresh produce has the same fate. Who can eat 24 apples before one decides to spoil the bunch? We all love the party-size bags of chips, candy, and cookies, but sadly, they don’t stand a chance of expiring, which leads us to a whole other problem.
Take five steps into any warehouse club, and you’ll likely see a giant flat screen TV on sale. Need the new iPhone Xs or maybe an Apple watch? They’ll be there, too. If you make it through the entrance, you’ll also want to steer clear of the center isles. That’s where all the impulse buys are waiting for just the slightest glance. I bet you didn’t know you needed a Vitamix blender or a new set of mixing bowls. Oh look, a 120-pack of Kirkland K-cups!
Limited quantity items
You’re pondering the purchase of a particular item, and then see that it’s marked “Limited Quantity.” Two words that set off the alarms in your head and kick your hoarding tendency into full gear. You’re not even really sure if you need it, but the pressure of missing out, or the fact that this may be your last chance to bring it home has you tossing 3 or 4 of them into your cart.
The free samples at warehouse stores are the perfect snack while you’re wandering the aisles. Hit enough of them, and you can call it lunch. The samples are not necessarily there, however, to keep your belly full. We all know that tasting the product could encourage shoppers to purchase the item on the spot. But, interestingly enough, free samples also work on a customer’s psyche. Ever feel a little guilty just walking away? Yep, a lot of other people do, too. So, out of a sense of obligation or the fear of looking like a freeloader, they head to the checkout with a monster size box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies in their cart.
Be a smart shopper
These danger zones don’t necessarily have to spoil your next trip to the warehouse club. Free samples can be good. It’s nice to know that you need to stock up on an item if it won’t be restocked. And, sometimes you do need a new blender.
Because every family shops differently, there’s no definitive answer as to whether a warehouse club membership is worth the money. If its benefit justifies the cost, then go ahead. But, continue to compare prices, don’t buy what you don’t need, and don’t spend the entire afternoon in the center aisle. You’ll definitely find some deals that will save you money, and balanced with your traditional grocery store shopping, your budget should stretch a little farther each month.
A Quick Guide to Becoming a Freelancer
Freelancing comes with endless freedom, but also endless responsibilities. Businesses have accountants, marketing teams, benefits administrators, and everything in between. However, if you want to be your own boss, then these responsibilities fall on—you guessed it—you! Before taking the plunge into freelancing full-time, consider sticking with your day job with a steady income until you get your footing.
Before you can begin your freelance career, you need to figure out what it is you want to do. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Why do you want to freelance? Can you afford it? How do you plan to present your “brand” to future clients? Who is your target audience? Asking yourself these questions will help set you up for success in your field. Most companies and start-ups want a specialist to complete the job – wouldn’t you? Decide what your biggest selling point is and go from there. If you love graphic design, think of one area that you’re best at. Maybe your niche is designing graphics for t-shirts, but consider who those t-shirts are for. Continue narrowing down your market so you can brand yourself as a specialist in whatever field you’re in. This will allow you to build a dependable reputation and control how clients perceive you.
Showcase your skills by creating a portfolio or a website that features your best work. When a potential client sees your website, they’ll want to see your past experiences, your personality, creativity, and, most importantly, how to contact you. Keep your website domain name and social media handles consistent so it’s easy for potential clients to find you. Your online presence is often the first impression a new client will have of you, so make sure it’s professional, consistent, and on-brand.
Now that you have some of the groundwork out of the way, it’s time to start selling yourself and landing gigs so you can start earning money. If you already have a few clients lined up, great! If not, there are job sites for freelancers to help you get started. Ask friends and family for referrals, and consider reaching out to companies directly to offer your services.
Managing money as a freelancer can be tricky, especially when you’re just starting out, since you won’t know how much income you’ll have and how steady that income will be. Now’s the time to put on your accountant hat and start to develop a monthly budget. Start by tracking your revenues (income) and expenses. Find your monthly income by adding everything you’ve made in a year and then dividing it by 12. This will give you a rough estimate of how much you can spend and save each month. Each time you get paid for a freelance project, write it down, and every time you purchase an item to complete a project (e.g., a Photoshop subscription), write that down, too. Keep track of all of your fixed expenses, like rent, insurance, car payments, etc. Create a spreadsheet or use an app like Mint to track and organize your income and expenses.
If your budget is doing its job, you should be earning more than you’re spending. It’s tempting to use that extra money for travel or fun activities, but it’s more important to start saving some money and funneling at least 30% of every paycheck into a separate account to cover self-employment taxes. Don’t forget about retirement (you do want to retire, right?) – consider contributing to Individual Retirement Account (IRA) each time you get paid for a project. Your future self is already thanking you!
Freelancing is an enticing choice for many reasons, but it’s still a huge career choice that requires a lot of work, especially in the beginning, in order to be successful. If you’re ready to make the leap, congrats! If you’re still on the fence, why not freelance part-time to see if it’s right for you? After all, freelancing is about flexibility and freedom.
Atlanta Love Bomb: Q&A with Xavier Perry
Much like his signature Love Bomb design, Xavier Perry (and his infectious smile) is making his mark on Atlanta and adding a touch of positivity wherever he goes. Xavier, who is a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in illustration, was selected to design a t-shirt as part of the Xfinity Art Series program. Ne[x]t Magazine spent a few minutes with Xavier to learn more about him and his work. See what Xavier had to say below.
How did you find out about the Xfinity Art Series? What did it mean to be chosen as one of the artists?
An Xfinity Art Series representative actually reached out to me about participating in the project. Xfinity selects a handful of local artists, who each gets to design a t-shirt for Atlanta’s MLB team. Each artist then gets to participate in a shirt signing at the Xfinity Rooftop at SunTrust Park during a game and another shirt signing at an Xfinity store. It was a great honor to be chosen for the series – collaborating with both corporations was a dream come true, because I’m originally from Atlanta.
What was the inspiration behind your t-shirt design?
I wanted to incorporate my signature design (Love Bomb), which symbolizes the rippling effect of spreading love and positivity throughout the community.
How did being selected as an artist for the Xfinity Art Series impact your career as a freelance artist?
Sharing Xfinity’s platform allowed me to reach a more diverse audience, and it also helped fuel my confidence.
When did you first spark a passion for art and wanting a career in the art industry? What keeps you motivated?
Becoming an artist was unexpected – art chose me. Art allowed for self-expression and it provided an opportunity to speak for others. My support system and community inspire me to keep going.
Where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?
Because my art is for the people, I’d rather focus on the now. My audience may need another message in 5 – 10 years.
In 2017, you helped create “The Largest Toilet Paper Roll Sculpture” and set a Guinness World Record. What was that like?
The opportunity was given to me while working with ABV Gallery. We built a rocket ship using only toilet paper rolls, hot glue, and duct tape, and, once completed, it measured 24 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The experience taught me anything is possible with time and consistency. (Curious? Check out the project here.)
What is one of your all-time favorite projects?
My first Love Bomb mural is my favorite because it was my first community piece.
Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t Magazine are all about helping our members make smart financial decisions. Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with our readers?
Budget your money with personal growth and responsibilities in mind – but don’t forget to enjoy life!
Just for fun – what’s something many people might not know about you?
I enjoy running, and sometimes jog as much as 7.2 miles.
Learn more about Xavier’s work on his website, and check out his Xfinity Rooftop shirt signing below.