Holiday Budgeting

September 28, 2015 by

christmasWe just had the first official day of Fall, but it won’t be long until we’re all decking the halls and wondering how to afford all that holiday shopping we’ll do. If you haven’t already set a budget for Christmas activities, now is the time to get serious about holiday budgeting. Here is a great post by Maegan from 2013 with some great ideas to get you started.

And, if you simply didn’t start saving soon enough to stash away enough cash, don’t forget about our 12-12-12 Holiday Loan. Available beginning Oct. 1, this is a great option for you to think about.

What strategies do you have for saving on holiday festivities?

DIY Halloween Costumes

September 21, 2015 by

We’ve already had a taste of fall, and now it won’t be long until Halloween. I always admire all of the cute costumes my crafty mom friends make for their children. Unfortunately, I do not have a talent for sewing. But I still want to make cute homemade costumes, too! If you are like me, never fear. I found a great blog post over on the GPB Family Blog with great no-sew costume ideas for the kiddos! Click here to read all about it. These are so easy, you can even wait until the last minute to put them together.

Get these and more no-sew costume instructions from

What easy kids costume ideas do you have?

Happy Fall!

What Is a Credit Score?

September 14, 2015 by

The Scoop on ScoresYour FICO score, a.k.a your credit score, makes a big difference in how lenders see you – and what they’ll charge you. But what, exactly, goes into calculating that all-important score? Here is a quick explanation.

  • 35% of your FICO score is based on your payment history. This is a pretty large chunk of your score, so you want to make sure you always pay all of your bills on time.
  • 30% of your FICO score is based on capacity, or the amount owed on revolving debt. This is also a large portion, and why you want to make sure you are using no more than 30% of your available credit at any given time. Don’t max out those cards!
  • 15% of your FICO score is based on length of your credit history. This includes the length of new credit and total credit history. This one is why it’s usually best to keep old accounts open, even if you no longer use them frequently.
  • 10% of your FICO score is based on your mix of credit. This is your percent of revolving credit (credit cards), installment loans (student and car loans) and mortgage loans. You want to have a good mix of all three types of credit to get the best score.
  • 10% of your FICO score is based on accumulation, or new credit and inquiries. Don’t apply for lots of credit at once — too many inquiries may indicate that you are overextending yourself.

Credit scores are not perfect. The major drawback to credit scoring is that it relies on information in your credit report, which is quite likely to contain errors. That’s why it’s critical that you check your credit reports annually, or at the very least three to six months before planning to make a big purchase, like a house or car. That will give you sufficient time to correct any errors before a lender pulls your score. You can check your report annually for free by visiting

Un-banking. Unbelievable.

September 7, 2015 by


Maybe you’re new to Northwest Georgia Credit Union. Or, maybe you’ve been a member for a while. Either way, you have probably noticed that we are all about un-banking. But, what does that really mean?

We all have experiences that have shaped our opinion and definition of the word ‘banking’. So, what does ‘banking’ mean to you? Depositing, withdrawing, borrowing? Yep, that about sums it up.

But what if banking could be more?

We believe in un-banking…something you can only find at a credit union. We believe that banking is all about relationship. We care about your financial well-being because we want to see you succeed—no strings attached. Because our members are the owners of the credit union, when you do well, we do well.

And because of our not-for-profit status, we are usually able to offer lower loan interest rates and lower fees than banks—just ask one of our members what it feels like to save money when they get a better deal at their credit union.

Financial services should be affordable and convenient. It should be about a relationship with people who will go out of their way to help you out and keep things uncomplicated. It’s all the conveniences of a bank without the hassle of, well, the bank. It’s called un-banking, and it’s pretty unbelievable.

5 Shopping Tips for Preventing Fraud

August 31, 2015 by

Credit card fraud arrests

Are you worried about credit or debit card fraud? Lately there have been several high profile cases of card fraud, and it’s more important than ever to be careful when you’re shopping. Take a look at these tips to protect your wallet and help prevent fraud:

5. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious.

4. Shop online with trustworthy merchants who require security information like address verification and security codes located on your card.

3. Review account activity online daily to be sure transactions are accurate.

2. Be sure that receipts reflect the correct transaction amount before signing.

1. When using a debit card, you may select ‘credit’ on the card machine, which requires a signature and extends the VISA zero liability to that transaction.

Enjoy your shopping and don’t forget to stick to your budget!

Saving for College?

August 24, 2015 by


Whether they are two or twelve, if you have a child, you have probably already thought about paying for college. It’s really never too early to start thinking about how you will pay for that huge expense. So, we’ve reached back into our blog archives and pulled out an oldie but goody, full of great tips for saving for college. Check it out, here.

At What Point Is Car Maintenance Not Worth the Cost?

August 17, 2015 by


If you have an older model car, or one with higher mileage, you know the maintenance costs increase as a car gets older. So, when do those costs become so high that it makes more sense to cut your losses and buy a newer car? That is a tricky question, and the answer might be different for everyone. There are lots factors to consider. Check out this article from Moneycrashers to see what makes sense for you. If you decide to keep on driving that older car, check out our blog post for car maintenance tips.

Happy Driving!

Organic or Not?

August 10, 2015 by

We all know it’s important to eat fresh, healthy foods. The trouble is deciphering which ones, exactly, are fresh and healthy. All those labels can be confusing, and deceiving: organic, all natural, free range, non-GMO? What does it all mean? Does organic even make a real difference? And, what will buying these often more expensive items do to our wallets? Here are some tips to help make sense of it all.groceries-canvas-bag-lg

  1. Buy in season. Perhaps one of the easiest things we can do to ensure fresh, healthy, AND affordable food is to buy things when they are in season. Visit farmer’s markets, roadside produce stands and local farms for the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables. You can often ask the farmer directly how it was grown, and what pesticides were used. Even at the regular grocery store, when you buy in-season produce, it is most likely grown at least regionally. This makes it fresher and more cost-effective than produce flown in from South America or elsewhere.
  2. Thinking about going organic? Studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables without pesticides can reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. This is a great reason to switch to organic produce. Check out the dirty dozen and clean 15 list so you know which fruits and vegetables contain the most harmful pesticides, and which non-organic varieties are okay.
  3. Consider cutting out highly processed foods altogether. Cutting out processed foods reduces the amount of chemicals and harmful additives you and your family consume. But, it is not an easy task. Almost everything we find at restaurants or in the grocery store has been processed in some way. Check out 100 Days of Real Food to read about one family’s journey to cutting out highly processed food, and how to manage the costs. Generally speaking, when you are no longer spending money on highly processed foods, you can allocate those dollars to buying the sometimes more expensive organics.
  4. Take a small step. If you aren’t ready to take the drastic step of eliminating all highly processed foods, choose one processed staple your family consumes regularly, and substitute with something more healthful. For example, eliminate refined sugar. You can substitute honey or 100% maple syrup in most places where you would normally add sugar or sweeteners. Or, choose a handful of items that you buy every week and replace those with organic, all-natural choices.

What tips do you have for feeding your family a healthy, fresh diet on a budget?

Mom, What’s for Dinner?!

August 3, 2015 by

It’s back to school time again, and for many families, that means back to the hustle and bustle of school, work and extra-curricular activities. Transitioning from slower-paced summer evenings to busy school nights can be a challenge.  Especially when it comes to making sure everyone gets a healthy dinner. It can be all too tempting to blow the budget by picking up take-out or heading out to a restaurant. But, with a little planning, you can have a delicious meal on the table in no time without breaking the bank.

My routine is to use Saturday morning as a planning period. I spend a little time planning my family’s menu for the week, then make a grocery list from that. I usually plan meals based on my local grocery store’s weekly sale paper. That alone can be a big money-saver. Then, I hit the store, coupons and shopping list in hand. (Another money-saving tip: stick to your list!).

grocery list large

Sunday afternoon or evening I spend an hour or so prepping ingredients for the upcoming week’s dinners. This makes the weeknights run much more smoothly, and dinner can usually be on the table in 30 minutes or less! With a little effort and planning, weeknight dinners can be fun instead of panic-inducing. Here is a sample week, with 5 nights of cheap and quick recipes.

On Sunday, fire up the grill, and throw on some extra chicken. You can use that for meals later in the week. Shred some of it and throw it in the freezer for Wednesday’s dinner.

Monday: Grilled Chicken Salad

Pull out that grilled chicken from the day before, slice it up and serve on top of a bed of romaine lettuce, piled high with fresh veggies and your salad dressing of choice. Delicious served with a side of garlic bread. The veggies can be sliced during your Sunday afternoon prep time, and this meal comes together in less than 20 minutes!

Tuesday: Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas

These yummy quesadillas are sure to pass the kid test. Adults love them, too!

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (may omit if you don’t like things too spicy)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
Sour cream and salsa for serving

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in beans and corn, then add salsa and pepper flakes; mix well. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
2. Melt 2 teaspoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet, sprinkle evenly with cheese, then top with some of the bean mixture. Place another tortilla on top, cook until golden, then flip and cook on the other side. Melt more butter as needed, and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
3. Use a pizza cutter to cut each quesadilla into quarters. Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.

Recipe courtesy:

Wednesday: Slow-Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

There is nothing better than dinner waiting for you when you get home, and the slow-cooker is a great secret weapon for busy weeknights. This is my go-to chicken and dumpling recipe; great for leftover chicken. Remember that grilled chicken you shredded and put into the freezer on Sunday? Here’s where you use it!

3-4 Boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 can refrigerated biscuits (10 count)

Place chicken, butter, soup, milk and broth in slow cooker. Cut biscuits into quarters and put in slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Thursday: Make Your Own Mini-Pizzas

mini pizzas

Photo by Kraft

Everyone loves pizza, right? This is a great recipe to get the kids involved. Put all the toppings out, and let everyone create their own pizza! Use your imagination, the topping possibilities are endless. Serve them up with a side salad.

4 English muffins, cut in half, toasted
½ cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
24 slices pepperoni
¼ cup black olives
¼ cup diced bell pepper
¼ cup chopped mushrooms

Heat oven to 400ºF.
Place muffin halves on foil-covered baking sheet; spread with pizza sauce.
Top with desired remaining ingredients.
Bake 8 to 10 min. or until cheese is melted.

Recipe courtesy: Kraft

Friday: Breakfast for Dinner

By the time the end of the week rolls around, your cupboards may be getting a little bare. This is a great time to serve up breakfast for dinner! My son loves the novelty of eating pancakes and eggs in the evening. It can be a fun way to celebrate the end of the week. Scramble up some eggs, and serve them with these delicious pancakes from the Pioneer Woman.

Bon appétit!

Back-to-School Supply Drive

July 24, 2015 by


Founded as a teacher’s credit union in 1961, NWGACU is a financial institution which has its heart in education.  Since our credit union supports education in every way possible, we get excited at the start of every school year to help kids at the Open Door Home! They are always in need of back-to-school supplies at the beginning of the school year – and YOU can help us support them!

The Open Door Home is a terrific organization in Rome “providing for the needs of the dependent, neglected, and/or abused children of Northwest Georgia and helping them to live a healthier, happier and more productive life.”

To be sure these kids are totally prepared we are holding a school supply drive right here at the credit union. Employees and members are invited to drop off anything and everything related to back-to-school supplies. A few specific requests from the Open Door Home include:

• Gender neutral book bags
• Binders (1 inch and 1 ½ inch)
• Dividers
• Loose leaf paper, no spiral notebooks
• Pens
• Pencils
• Folders
• Flash Drives

So as you are back-to-school shopping with your kids this year, remember this great organization and pick up a few extra supplies. Drop-off boxes are located in both branch lobbies and will be there from Wednesday, July 22, to Friday, July 31.

Thank you!


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