Tax Free Back to School Shopping

TaxFree blog

With the start of the new school year days away, shopping for clothes and supplies is probably at the top of your to do list. This weekend’s tax holiday is the perfect time to get that task done. You can enjoy tax free shopping on clothing, school supplies, personal computers and much more! The tax exempt sales run from August 4 through August 6.

Sales tax will not be collected on purchases of:

  • Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories priced $60 or less per item
  • School supplies selling for $15 or less per item
  • Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories priced $750 or less per item.

This is a great time to take inventory of your home or office space as well as your closets. Do you need new work shirts or a new laptop? Now is the time to buy

You can certainly use this weekend to grab savings for the entire family or you can purchase items and donate to someone that is less fortunate. There are a number of organizations that will be taking donated school supplies during the upcoming weeks. Check out your local news outlets for school supply drives in your area.

We know shopping for school related items can get expensive; however, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing them during the tax free weekend. Click here for more information and for frequently asked questions about Florida’s sales tax holiday.

Happy Shopping!

10 Ways to Make Extra Money From Home

Whether you’re saving for a vacation or just want to have a little more cash in your rainy day fund, we want to offer ideas to help you reach your goals. We’ve put together a list of easy ways to make extra money at home so a lack of funds doesn’t keep you from achieving your objectives. Keep reading for more.

Tutoring

The school year will be starting before we know it and with that comes students needing assistance with a variety of topics. From math and reading to helping with instruments, your expertise is valuable. Utilize your skills to help a student learn.

Photography

Another option for creative types is photography! Submitting your pictures to stock photo sites is a fun and artistic way to make some extra cash. If you want up to brush up on your photography skills to make this an option, visit your local public library to see if they may offer free classes.

Baking

If family and friends always rave about your cookies and cakes, why not take what you’re naturally good at and turn it into a business? You’ll be immersed in something you love and can make money doing it. Make sure to look up your county’s rules on food based home businesses before you get started.

Online surveys

If getting paid to share your opinion interests you then online surveys may be something to try. Many companies look to shoppers for feedback on the products and services they offer. Providing your thoughts can help improve a service, and you’ll get compensated for doing it.

Freelance writing/editorial work

If you’re the creative type and are good with words, freelance writing and editorial work may be right up your alley. There are many opportunities to be found from ghost writing blogs and articles to editing manuscripts. You can even take a look at your favorite magazine’s editorial calendar and consider submitting articles to be published.

Childcare

This option is great if you’re a stay at home parent. While you may have your hands full with your own children, watching after a few more for a fee can help bring in some much needed extra cash. If you have the space and energy, this is a lively option that will ensure you stay busy throughout the day.

Online jury

Did you know there’s such a thing as online jurors? As part of an online jury you provide opinions and feedback on potential cases that attorneys are working on. If you’re interested in the legal system this may help provide a little insight into the jury process.

Crafting

Are you a master crafter? If you are skilled at making clothes or jewelry, knitting, embroidery, crocheting, monogramming or any other craft, selling your creations can prove to be a worthwhile endeavor. The website Etsy is a great starting point for a side business like this.

Customer service

Many companies hire home based service representatives to provide assistance to their customers. This is a common way to make extra money from home. Before you sign up for a gig like this be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau for additional information on the credibility of the company.

Garage Sale

What better way to make money and get rid of stuff you been meaning to clean out than a garage sale? The saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You may have some hidden gems in your home that neighbors and visitors will be willing to dish out cash for.

Now that you have some ideas on how to add a little extra cash to your wallet, you can put the extra money you make aside in one of our savings accounts. You can establish any number of *share savings accounts at Insight Credit Union and watch your money grow for whatever purpose you choose such as a vacation, new car, or holiday shopping.

Have you had success with any of the options above? Share your story in the comments below.

*Federally Insured by NCUA

Staycations Are Key to Summer Fun on a Budget

Summer is here, and for most, that means vacation time! Many people travel out of town, or even out of the country, but if you’re on a budget, indulging in a “staycation” may be just the thing for you. In case you’re wondering, a staycation is when you stay in your own city or state and take day trips to local attractions. Here in Florida, there are so many activities to choose from the possibilities are endless. And you can do it all without breaking the bank. We’ve put together a few ideas for you to get your staycation started.

Stop by the beach. Florida is known for its beaches. What would summer be without a trip to one of our sandy shorelines?  If you don’t know where to start, make a game out of it. Make a list of all the beaches in the state you want to visit and assign them a number. Put all of the numbers in a hat, shake it up and pull one out. Whichever beach was assigned that number is your next staycation spot. “Sea” you later!

Visit one of Florida’s many state or national parks. They are filled with tremendous beauty, adventures and new discoveries. Best of all— they’re affordable! Entrance fees to most Florida state and national parks are less than $10. There are about 11 national parks, 160 state parks, and a number of preservation and recreation areas for you to choose from. So you might want to do a little advance planning. Besides the awesome sights, national and state parks are an awesome place to picnic or even camp overnight. So pack up your tents, gather ingredients for s’mores and head out to enjoy nature. Click here to find a park near you!

Get discounted tickets to amusement parks. Most Orlando area theme parks have Florida resident discounts as well as promotions where you pay for one day and get in free the rest of the year! Take advantage of the Florida resident discount to enhance your staycation, and continue the fun for the rest of the year. Click here for a list of Florida resident discounts from Visit Orlando. An added bonus – as an Insight Credit Union member you get discounted tickets to Legoland. Cool, right?!

Catch up on some reading. Find a cute little park, coffee shop or bookstore and let yourself get lost in a good book. This can help with relaxation and transport your mind to another place. You can even take a book to that beach you decided to go to.

Attend a local sporting event. Whether it’s baseball, soccer, golf, bull riding or wrestling, Central Florida has plenty of sporting event options to take advantage of. Get the family out for a fun-filled evening to one of the many Florida Collegiate Summer League baseball games. If you are more of a soccer fan, be sure to check out an Orlando City soccer game! For other exciting sporting events this summer, check out the list that Visit Orlando has compiled for more details.

Visit local museums. History and art museums can be found all over Florida. They may even be a museum celebrating the history of your own city. This is a great activity for both adults and children. You can have fun and learn something all at the same time. Botanical gardens, zoos, and farms that let you pick your own fruit are also great ideas for some summertime fun, not to mention they’re a hit with the little ones.

We hope these ideas can help you maximize your staycation without maxing out your budget! Do you have a favorite staycation spot? We would love to hear more about it! Share with us in the comments below.

 

*This is an updated version of a post originally published on July 28, 2014.

5 Tips to Host Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thanksgiving Dinner.jpgThere’s no doubt that the holiday season can be expensive, and maybe a lavish Thanksgiving feast just isn’t in the books for this year. If you’re not riding the gravy train, it’s still possible to cook a delicious Thanksgiving meal that doesn’t cost you an arm and a (turkey) leg. Here are some easy as pie tips to help you host a wonderful Thanksgiving on a budget!

  1. Make it a potluck. You don’t have to tackle the whole menu by yourself! In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, get everyone involved and ask them to bring one of their favorite dishes. Just keep a list of everything that everyone is bringing so you can make sure to have all of the Thanksgiving staples on the table.
  2. Stick to your shopping list and budget. Create your menu and budget well in advance. Bring your Thanksgiving shopping list with you on your regular grocery store trips to pick up non-perishable and frozen items when they’re on sale. You can also check your grocer’s weekly ad for current sales.
  3. Start from scratch. Pre-made items are often full of preservatives and seldom taste better than homemade items. Instead of buying powdered mashed potatoes, make delicious mashed potatoes with this simple recipe. You can also make a yummy stuffing with this easy recipe.
  4. Buy a frozen turkey. The turkey is usually about 40% of the cost of the meal. Opt for a store brand frozen turkey instead of a fresh one. Just remember to allow ample time for thawing. Click here to see how you can safely thaw your turkey.
  5. Find decorations at the dollar store. Believe it or not, the dollar store has some great decorations for the holiday season. Check out your local dollar store to see what you can find! Click here for 70 cheap DIY fall decor ideas.

We hope these tips help you stress a little less and enjoy time with your family during Thanksgiving! Do you have any other great tips? Comment and share them with us!

7 Easy Ways to Pay off Debt

DebtFree.jpgThere are several different approaches to pay off debt, and to say one is the best isn’t really fair or accurate. You need to choose a method that works best for you. The difficult part is designing your plan and sticking to it. That’s why we want to showcase an easy method that seems to work well for most people. Have you heard of the Snowball Method to pay down debt? Click here to read all about it. This method is a great way to pay down your debt because: 1. The process is laid out – you just need to fill in the blanks. 2. It is designed to help you see progress quickly, which keeps you motivated to keep going!

Here are some other great ways to pay down debt:

  1. STOP spending money on your credit card. Some people will go as far as to freeze their cards in a container of water. This forces them to wait out their impulsive decision, which often changes by the time the water thaws.
  2. If you have credit card debt with interest, start looking for lower or 0% APR balance transfer deals.
  3. Put all money from work raises or bonuses towards paying down your debt.
  4. Sell unwanted or unused items in your home. From clothing to furniture, there is likely something you have that someone else wants. Alternatively, sell items you receive for birthdays or holidays that you know you won’t use.
  5. “Fast” one of your more expensive luxury items for a period of time (a week or a month) and use the money you would have spent to pay down debt. For example: $5 McDonald’s breakfast x 5 days per week = $25 a week or $100 for the month.
  6. Change your expensive habits and reroute the money to pay down debt. For example: Smoking a pack of cigarettes at $6 per day is $2,190 per year.

Paying off debt isn’t easy. If it was, most of America wouldn’t be in debt. However, it isn’t the act of paying off debt that is hard, it’s changing our habits and committing to those changes. Are you willing to commit? Tell us about your journey to become debt-free below in the comment section. What is working for you? What are your challenges?