Garage Sales: What to Buy & What to Skip

June 26, 2015 by

It seems like a lot of people move over the summer, which means, most weekends, you can find a yard or garage sale going on. If you’re not into thrifty shopping, you might drive by these sales without a second glance, but you can often find some great deals if you’re willing to look.

Ready to get started? Make sure you have cash on hand–sometimes, you can use cards, but you can often get a better deal if you bring cash with you.

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Here are 20+ garage sale finds to snap up when you see them. If that’s not enough to help you on your search, here are 8 more items to try and snag at garage and yard sales this summer.

Some of these things, like large pieces of furniture or books, might seem like obvious yard sale purchases, but there are some unexpected and fun things you should be on the lookout for, as well!

Garage sales can have all sorts of random things for sale, but be sure you steer clear of these 21 things–sometimes, what seems like a great deal is just a waste of your money. No one wants to wear someone’s old shoes or swimsuit, do they?

Estate sales might be harder to come by, but, if you do stumble upon one, here are some great tips on what to purchase as well as what to skip!

Money & Marriage: 5 Things to Consider

June 22, 2015 by

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Wedding season is upon us, and that means lots of pretty white dresses, decorations, and, of course, cake! But something a lot of brides and grooms don’t think about while planning a wedding and a marriage is their finances.

It’s very important that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to finances, whether or not you have a joint bank account. If possible, you should try to have any financial discussions before anyone walks down the aisle, but, if you’re already married and realizing you don’t know what you and your spouse should do about your money situation, that’s okay, too. Better late than never! Here are 5 things to consider once you’re married:

  • Don’t keep secrets from each other. Once you’re married, you need to be able to be totally honest with each other. That means telling your spouse about your student loan or credit card debt that you’ve been keeping from them. Those debts are now a part of their life, too, and they deserve to know what they’re up against.
  • Make a budget. A budget is something everyone should have, and it’s something you and your spouse should create together. It’s important to be realistic with your budget, and to make sure you always budget for your needs first and then your wants. If there is something one of you wants that is not part of your budget, consider adding it into your budget the next month, if money allows. Try not purchasing items on a whim; give yourself time to think if you really need the item. If you step away and realize you still want it a few weeks later, it might be worth it, but try to avoid impulse buys. Thoughtful purchases are always the best purchases. If you need help getting started creating your budget, we have a great template that you can find here.
  • Start saving for retirement. A lot of people start saving for their children’s college funds before their children are even born, but they fail to save for retirement. The reality is, loans are available for college tuition, whereas there is nothing available to help you pay for retirement. It’s important to start saving for retirement as soon as possible because it will help your family in the long run. If you work for a company that offers a 401K plan, put in the maximum amount allowed to take advantage of any company matching, or at least contribute as much as you can afford. If you have a Roth IRA, put in the maximum amount every year if at all possible.
  • Get out of debt. This is easier said than done, but it’s important to try to get out of debt as soon as possible. No matter if you have a small amount of debt or quite a bit, you and your spouse need to come up with a plan to tackle it. Even if you can only pay a small amount on your debs each month, a little bit is better than nothing. Dave Ramsey’s snowball effect is very effective and not quite as terrifying as trying to pay all your debts off at once.
  • Share financial responsibilities. It’s important that you and your spouse know how to deal with the finances. You both need to take part in creating and sticking to your budget, balancing checkbooks, keeping up with receipts, etc. If one of you enjoys numbers more than the other, it’s fine to let that person keep up with it, but you both need to understand the process and work together to ensure you stay on the same page with your money. Your marriage is a partnership, so you should work as a team to keep up with your finances.

Marriage can be stressful because there are so many changes happening really quickly–don’t let your finances add to that stress. Need more tips on money and marriage? Check out this helpful article!

Skip Your Loan Payment This Summer!

June 15, 2015 by

It’s summertime, and you know what that means – sun and fun! But are you actually getting ready for that beach vacation or stuck with a sinking feeling about the bills stacked on your counter? Northwest Georgia Credit Union is coming to your rescue with Skip-a-Pay, which lets you float right past your June or July loan payment(s). Use the money you would have put toward your loan(s) to soak up the summer days and rays!

Just a $35 fee per skipped loan can help you dive into the summer of a lifetime.

Simply call 706-291-9290 (Main office) or 706-802-0030 (Branch office), and speak to a Financial Services Officer by August 1, 2015, to determine your eligibility.*

 

*Eligibility restrictions apply. $35 per loan fee for this service.

In the Community: 2015 Public Works Picnic

May 25, 2015 by

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For over twenty years, the Public Works Department has offered their hardworking employees a picnic at the Lock and Dam Park. Stephanie and I were fortunate enough to attend their annual shindig last week, and we had such a nice time!

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After everyone enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque, homemade sides, and even ice cream (the freezer stopping working didn’t deter us!), the very serious horseshoe tournament began. After all that, the fun still wasn’t over! There were still door prizes to give away and friends to chat with!

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Northwest Georgia Credit Union donated a VISA gift card and made sure everyone went home with a NWGACU red flashlight!

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Thanks for having us, Public Works friends!

What’s Free and Fun This Summer

May 18, 2015 by

School’s almost out, and you probably need some ideas on how to keep the kids occupied. We’ve got some great ideas on things you can do this summer–for cheap or free!–so read on!

Summer Reading Program at Sara Hightower Library: Come in starting May 26th–birth through upcoming 5th graders will be at the desk closest to the door, and upcoming 6th-12th graders will be at the one closer to the castle. The library employees will explain everything you need to know, and your kids will get to hear lots of fun stories!

Camping at Rocky Mountain: If you like to camp, fish, and grill out, this is the place for you! For $5 per car load, you can do all this with a beautiful view!

Hiking at Berry College: Hiking to the House O’ Dreams is really fun for the whole family, and you can see beautiful views, have a picnic, and even swing on the tree swings right outside the house! Plus, it’s totally free!

Visit the Chieftains Museum: Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home was once the former home of Cherokee leader Major Ridge and his family.  Its heritage most significantly encompasses the history and traditions of the Cherokee Indians and the clash of cultures in the southeastern United States that culminated in the tragedy known as the “Trail of Tears.”  The museum tells the story of the Cherokee up to the removal, as well as exhibiting  Cherokee artifacts that were unearthed on the property. The museum has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

Visit the Rome ECO Center: The Rome-Floyd ECO River Education Center’s mission is to inspire children and adults to experience the ecology of Northwest Georgia. The aquariums inside the center feature fish, turtles, and frogs native to the Etowah, Coosa, and Oostanaula (ECO) rivers. Indigenous plantings are located outside the center. The ECO Center is located inside Ridge Ferry Park.

Vacation on a Budget

May 11, 2015 by

Summer is right around the corner, and, if you’re anything like me, the beach is calling your name. Also, if you’re like me, you might realize you can’t exactly afford going to the beach this summer. If that’s the case, we have some tips for how you can have a fun vacation without going into debt.

Don’t go to the super popular destinations. When you think of vacation, there are probably several places that immediately come to mind: New York? Panama City Beach? Europe? Though these are all great vacation destinations, looking beyond these can save you a lot. Find a beach that isn’t quite as popular, and you might find out that you save money and get the added benefit of a far-less-crowded beach! If you’re hoping to visit a fun city and do some sightseeing, try visiting Chicago or planning a day trip to Atlanta!

Start saving as soon as possible. If you always take your vacation over the summer, you should definitely have a place in your budget for that specific purpose. If you haven’t been saving yet but need a few days away, start setting money aside now. Make sure your other expenses are covered and then forgo any random purchases for a few weeks in order to save up a bit for your trip. Put a picture of your vacation destination on your fridge or in your wallet so you can be reminded of it when you consider buying things you don’t really need.

Take a weekend trip rather than a full week. Sure, we all know long vacations are better than short ones, but we also know that short vacations are better than no vacations. If you just can’t swing a full week away right now, take a long weekend trip somewhere not too far away and enjoy the time you have. A little relaxation is still relaxation, and it won’t cost you nearly as much money.

Take Dave’s advice. Dave Ramsey has some great tips and tricks on how to make this vacation the best, things to budget for while getting ready for your vacation, and how to go on vacation even when you’re trying to get out of debt.

Thinking About Buying a Car?

May 4, 2015 by

How do I buy a car? Where to start? What do I need to know?

First things first: get pre-approved for financing before you go shopping. Knowing exactly how much you can afford before you decide on a car will help keep your payments reasonable. Of course you’ll want to check your credit union for the best deal on car loan rates!

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If you’re buying a new car you’ll want to shop around and find the car that meets your needs. If you stick with buying just for your needs, you’ll probably end up saving money in the end.

Another tip to remember when buying new: always be prepared to walk away if you don’t think you’re getting the best deal.

Since new cars lose most of their value as soon as they are driven off the car lot, you’ll most likely see a bigger value in buying used cars. Here’s what you need to know before you buy used:

  • if the car was ever involved in an accident
  • previous mechanical problems
  • the maintenance history of the car

A CARFAX report will help you with all of that information. You’ll want to know everything that could have gone wrong with the car and this is the most reliable resource. And you can get a 10% discount on your CARFAX report when you get your report at either NWGACU location.

Go online or use Kelly Bluebook to get an idea of the average price of the car you are interested in.

A good rule of thumb is to always have a mechanic take a look under the hood before you sign on the dotted line. You’ll want him to be sure there are no unknown problems before you buy.

Lastly, be sure to check into GAP insurance to be sure you are covered.

Still have questions? Click here to download a handy car-buying guide.

Gardening Tips with Rhonda

April 27, 2015 by

RhondaOur very own Collections Officer, Rhonda, is more than just great at her job: She’s also a very avid gardener. I was lucky enough to sit down with her and find out some great tips and tricks for gardeners, whether you’re just starting out or your thumb is as green as they come!

What are the best things to plant in Rome?
Almost anything! Tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, and herbs all do really well, and drought resistant plants are great for this climate as long as we don’t get a really cold winter. Flower moss is another great thing to plant because it’s low maintenance but really pretty.

For a beginning gardener, what sort of things should you start out planting?
• Start small and basic–maybe try a small garden in a sandbox or kiddie pool.
• Don’t spend a lot on high-dollar flowers; try something inexpensive so you aren’t out a lot of money if you find out your thumb is black.
• Test your soil–it’s free to do at the Floyd County Extension Center!
• Know your area. The plants that do the best here need part shade/part sun. Some examples include hydrangeas, basil, and daylilies.
• Sunflowers, zinnias, and flower moss are also great for beginners in this area because they are low maintenance and need full sun.
• If you do cabbage or tomatoes, use plants; don’t try to start from seeds.

What’s a good way to get rid of pests in your garden?
Sometimes you can plant certain things together that pests don’t like. For example, if you plant marigolds near your tomatoes, your tomatoes will be safe from bugs because they don’t like the smell of the marigolds!

If you could give someone your five best gardening tips, what would they be?
1. Be sure to prepare your spot in advance–don’t try to do it all in one day or you’ll get overwhelmed and possibly give up.
2. Don’t over-water.
3. Don’t overthink it!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts if you need help. Lavender Mountain Hardware here in Rome is a great resource, and the employees are very helpful.
5. Plant things that are compatible to our area, but don’t be afraid to try new things! For example, I tried a eucalyptus bush in my garden and it’s flourishing; my mango tree, on the other hand, isn’t doing so well. Everything won’t always work out, but don’t give up!

Five Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

April 20, 2015 by

tax refundTax day has come and gone. Did you get a refund this year? Should you save it or spend it? What should you buy? If you’re asking yourself some of these questions, read on. Here are five ideas for spending your tax refund wisely this year.

1. Make a plan.
Before you do anything with that refund, evaluate your financial situation. Do you have debts that you need to pay off? If so, allocate a certain percentage of your refund to pay down that debt. Using eighty percent of your refund to pay down a credit card balance or loan will put you in a much better place financially, and still leave you 20% of the refund to treat yourself.

2. Invest It.
From investing in yourself by building an emergency savings fund, to saving for college or retirement, there are lots of options to make that money work for you.

3. Give your home a facelift.
Tax refunds can vary. Luckily, it can require very little money to give your home’s value a major boost. Here are some inexpensive but major ways you can easily liven up your living space:
• Under $100: Give your interior rooms a fresh coat of paint.
• Under $200: Replace your old kitchen and bathroom fixtures with shiny, new ones.
• Under $300: Replace the lighting in dark spaces with bright and efficient light fixtures.
• Under $400: Replace bathroom laminate floors with tile.
• Under $700: Add major curb appeal with fresh outdoor landscaping.

4. Buy a car.
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a shiny, new car. Or, maybe your old clunker is on its last legs. Either way, your tax refund could make a great down payment. And, with auto loan rates very low, now is a great time to buy. For rates as low as 2.99% new and used, check out your credit union!

5. Donate it.
Making a donation to charity is a great way to serve others, help those in need, and improve your own sense of self. And, donations to qualifying charities are tax deductible, which can help you save more on next year’s taxes.

Happy saving, spending and sharing!

Build Credit While Saving Money

April 6, 2015 by

Piggy BankDo you need to build or repair your credit? How about boosting your savings? Building a positive credit history safely takes time and a financial partner who believes in you. Our Credit Builder and Savers Loan helps members do just that, without applying for high interest rate credit cards or going to a payday lender or finance company. This loan is ideal for members with no credit, or members who are recovering from previous credit problems, bankruptcy, or other difficult life circumstances. Satisfactory repayment will result in favorable consideration for future NWGACU loans. The loan proceeds must be deposited into a regular share account and a permanent hold placed on those funds until the loan is paid in full.

Quick facts about the credit builder and savers loan:

  • Safe way to build credit or help repair damaged credit – 14% APR
  • $500 loan to kick start your savings with affordable monthly payments
  • Financial education on credit provided with each loan
  • A report of your favorable payment history will be sent to the credit bureau

Qualifications to receive the loan include:

  1. Member at NWGACU for at least 12 months.
  2. Currently employed with the same employer for at least twelve months.
  3.  Current on all loans at the credit union.
  4. Member must have a checking account with NWGACU.
  5. Payments may be made through payroll deduction, auto-transfer, mail or in person
  6. Capacity to make payments, as indicated by your debt-to-income ratio
  7. No negative balance in any account with us, as well as having caused us no previous unresolved losses

Additional information:

  1. Qualification will not be based on current credit bureau report.
  2. Score enhancement action plan must be completed.
  3. Direct deposit/payroll deduction is strongly encouraged.
  4. There is a $20 application fee.

Ready to get started? Apply here.


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