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Big Changes for Online Shoppers

If you are used to shopping online, you may find that your bill will increase in the next few months.  Amazon, a large internet retail company, will start to charge sales tax in eight more states over the next few years.  Starting in September, Amazon shoppers in California and Pennsylvania will start having to pay sales tax for what they purchase.

As Amazon starts to build more physical locations, they will be required to charge sales tax for the states in which they are present. Amazon is hoping that they can offer same day delivery to more of their customers. Amazon is in the bargaining process with a few of the states, because they are bringing thousands of jobs to the states.

Shopping online can be a great way to save money and time.  As people all around the United States start shopping online, you may want to give it a try.  If you do not have a bank account a Netspend Prepaid Debit card may be exactly what you need to shop online.  Stop by any Check City location and sign up for your Netspend Prepaid Debit Card.  This card will give you the ability to spend money online, without worrying about having to send money securely. Having your money intercepted can be dangerous and frustrating.

After signing up for your Netspend Prepaid Debit card, you can explore the many different tools that come with the card. Budgeting is a lot easier when an online tool tells you exactly where you have been spending your money.  Working with the online tool is a great way to ensure that you are spending money where you want to be spending the money. After you run out of money on the card, you can simply reload it with the cash that you are able to spend.

6 Important Negotiation Skills

Haggling is something that many aren’t used to doing and can be uncomfortable. Most of the time in America the prices are set and there are typically not many items you can negotiate on. It can be difficult to know when to negotiate at the appropriate time and when to stop. When you head into a situation where the price is not set, you should be sure that you know how you are going to negotiate and haggle in a polite and proper way. Here are some helpful tips that can help your negotiation skills:

Mindset

Saving money by negotiating is a great way to go and you don’t have to be a world-class haggler to make a good deal. Don’t be nervous to do it the next time that you are in a situation that permits it. You have to change your mindset, especially if you are someone who is used to set prices. It is important to know that the salesman is expecting you to negotiate and prices can be set higher expecting haggling.

Polite and Persistent

Never be rude or pushy, but make sure that you are polite and persistent. With polite persistence, you will find that you are able to talk the seller down to a price that is fair for the both of you. Name calling, insulting, and lowballing the price are things to avoid when haggling. Being polite and persistent is very important when learning how to haggle.

Be Reasonable

Be reasonable. You do not want to offend someone by offering them far less money than the product is worth (this is called lowballing). It is important to be reasonable during a deal when exercising your negotiation skills.

Do Your Research

In order to make reasonable offers, you need to do research and find a fair price for the product. Research how much the product is selling for online and locally at other stores. Some companies will even price match what their competitors are offering.

Counteroffer

When the salesperson gives you a counter offer, consider throwing another counter offer back at them. This way, you can work against each other and you may find that you are able to meet in the middle somewhere.

Time it Right

There is a time and place for everything, and there is a time and place to haggle. Trying to haggle for a popular toy right before Christmas? Not a good time to haggle. There are specific times, items, and places for haggling. Make sure you do your research before negotiating a deal to avoid conflict.

We hope we have improved your negotiation skills. Thank you for reading!

Filling Out A Money Order Properly

A money order is a great way to ensure that you are able to make a secure payment. There are a lot of people that have a hard time understanding how valuable a money order can be. When you know that you are going to need a money order, you should make sure that you know how you are going to fill it out properly. Filling out the money order properly will ensure that you are able to make a secure payment via a money order.

First, you have to get the money order. After you have your money order, you will want to write the name of the individual or the name of the company that you wish to pay on the line that is labeled “Payee” or “Pay to the order of”. If you have any other important identifying information, you should be sure that you write this down on the same line. Do this as soon as you can to be sure that the check is not going to be cashed by someone else if it is lost.

Second, you will need to sign the money order. Some money orders have spaces to sign while other money orders to do not. You will not want to sign the back of the money order, instead you will want to make sure that you leave that space open for the individual or the company that has received the money order.

Third, you should also make sure that you keep your receipt. You want to make sure that you keep your receipt to make sure that the transaction is as secure as possible. The more secure that your transaction is, the more you will be able to trust the money order as a secure form of payment.

Stop by any Check City location to pick up your free money order!

4 Benefits of a Prepaid Debit Card

Prepaid debit cards are a great asset to have. Whether you are gifting money to a friend or want a more theft proof account for your own purposes, these cards make it easy without worry. There are many benefits of a prepaid debit card. It is worth the time and effort to look into what you can do with a prepaid debit card. So what is a prepaid debit card and what can you do with them? Keep reading for 4 great examples:

Gift Money

Trying to find a gift for a friend? A prepaid debit card is a very fast and easy way to do that. One of the many benefits of a prepaid debit card is gift giving.You can load funds onto these cards which are then used and drawn from until the card is depleted. Since the account used is self-contained, you don’t have to worry about other people interfering. Resulting in a secure method of giving money. Giving cash or a gift card has carries risk with the person losing it. Play it safe with a prepaid debit card.

Stay Under Budget

Prepaid debit cards are great if you want to stay within a budget. By loading specific amounts onto them, you can completely control the amount of money that you will spend. For budgeting purposes, this is an extremely useful option – especially for those of you who tend to go a little overboard on your budgeting. Stay under budget by making a plan, figuring out how much you should spend, and putting only that amount on your prepaid debit card.

Teaching Your Children to Budget

If you have children who are getting old enough to learn about money, you may want to consider using a prepaid debit card as a teaching opportunity. These cards can teach your children how to spend money within set limits. You can track what your kids are spending their money on and how frequently. A prepaid debit card is a great way to track your children’s allowance and how much they are able to spend. You can also lock the card or load emergency funds onto the card when your child needs more money.

Stay Safe Traveling

One of the best benefits of a prepaid debit card is traveling. Prepaid debit cards are one of the best ways to keep your money safe while traveling. If your card is stolen then you only lose what is on the card, not everything in your bank account. This way you can control the amount of damage. When you are traveling, you will be able to ensure that your payment methods are safe. Stay safe while traveling by using a prepaid dedit card.

When you are trying to find the best prepaid debit card that suits you, stop by Check City and see our options. At Check City, we are proud to offer great prepaid debit cards for you to select from. Visit any of our locations and pick one up today!

6 Great Picnic Tips

Your Picnic Planning Go-To

As we look toward the end of winter, and the beginning of spring, the season for picnics are approaching. If you want to have a fun and successful spring/summer, planning a picnic should definitely be on your agenda.

Picnics are a great way to spend your summer and spring outdoors with friends and family.

As you plan your summer/spring picnics, here are some great picnic ideas to remember.

Think of Your Picnic as an Outdoor Party

One of the great things about a picnic is that it is a wonderful chance to throw an outdoor party. If you think of your picnic as an outdoor party, it will help you to understand that planning is necessary, but it will also make the planning process much simpler.

As you consider planning a picnic from the position of a host it will put the party into perspective and help you plan it as effectively as possible. Like every party, a good picnic needs a great group of guests, a good location, and an unbeatable menu.

Consider the Guest List

As you set out on your picnic planning adventure, it is imperative that you choose a guest list that will make your party fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.

You should choose a group that you believe will get along well together, and make sure that no one will be left out, or without a friend. You may want to stick to one particular group of friends, or try combining friend groups to make things more interesting.

Setting the Date and Time

Once you have a guest list in mind, you are ready to get into the specifics of the occasion. Setting a date and time is a great next step in the picnic planning process.

You want to choose a date that will likely be open for most guests (perhaps a weekend), and choose a time of day that will allow for good weather without too much heat but that still offers plenty of sunshine for basking.

You also want to plan ahead to give your guests a heads up, and so you can plan accordingly with the proper amount of food. This is a great thing to add to your picnic ideas.

Choose a Great Location

After choosing the date and time of your picnic, the next big decision is the location. Remember to consider your guests’ locations so you can choose a location that will be fun and convenient for everyone.

You should also be aware that some locations require reservations, so be sure to reserve your spot if that is necessary.

A good picnic spot should have access to sun and shade, have plenty of space for seating (whether you are sitting at tables or on blankets), and be surrounding by pleasant scenery. A park or canyon trail can be perfect places for picnics, though there are certainly many other options.

Come up with a Great Menu

The next step in your planning process is to get a menu together. Picnic menus should be simple and easy to eat in the outdoors, which makes the selection process a bit easier (and narrower) than other parties when planning a picnic.

Consider foods like salads and sandwiches that are easy to eat and prepare.

Also, be considerate and aware of your guest’s food allergies and diet. Make sure you get food that can be stored and carried to your picnic location.

Don’t Forget to Plan for Cleanup

Lastly, as you pack your picnic basket, don’t neglect clean up materials. Bring a garbage bag as well as dishes that will make the clean up process as simple as possible.

Starting Running Again? 4 Great Tips to Help

How to Successfully Begin Running

Running can be a great way to get into shape and relieve stress. There are many benefits of running; in fact, running benefits virtually every part of your body, from your muscles to your brain.

But let’s face it, running can be difficult to stay motivated. Many of us are able to go for a few weeks, and then we simply stop running regularly. Pretty soon it’s been months or years since we’ve gone for a run.

In order to reap the benefits, you have to run regularly (2 to 4 times per week). As seasons change and your circumstances evolve, it can be difficult to keep up a running routine—but it is possible. Just remember: pretty soon you’ll have the runner’s body you’ve always craved, and you’ll be feeling great. Here are some great tips on how to start running again.

Don’t Start Too Strong

If you’re starting back up after a long break of no physical activity, then you need to ease into it. Don’t hit the pavement at a full-on sprint (that’s never a good idea even if you’re a seasoned runner; a warm-up is always important). Start with some lunges, go into a brisk walk, and then see how your body takes a light jog. If you feel like you’re dying, then it’s probably a good idea to stop and give your body a chance to recover. Pushing yourself too hard at first puts you at higher risk of injury, as well.

You won’t be able to run for miles when you’re just starting off, so don’t try to. Instead, push yourself a little further each time you run. Try to go one more time around the block, or go just a little further up the trail. You have your whole life to go running—you don’t need to overdo it at the start when your body is just getting used to being active again. This is really important to help you start running again.

Pace Yourself

Running is a cardio workout. That means that the primary benefit is in the way it strengthens your heart. While you’re also strengthening your muscles by running, you’ll need to lift weights and do resistance training to truly build muscle.

The art of cardio is in pacing. You want your heart to get up into that sweet spot, where it’s pumping fast but not necessarily pounding out of your chest. According to the American Heart Association, your target heart rate depends on your age. If you are 20 years old, you want to get your heart in the 100 to 170 range for a good cardio workout. 40 years old? Shoot for 90 to 153 beats per minute.
When you overexert yourself, you’re risking your heart by pushing your heart rate above the recommended zone. Instead, pace yourself and let your heart rate slowly rise into the target zone and then keep it there. You will most likely be able to run longer and enjoy your time running much more.

Proper Equipment

When you are a beginning runner, it is important that you go about running in the proper way. You want to be safe while you are running and you want to be sure that you get the workout that your body needs. You will want to start by purchasing the right equipment.

Start with the shoes that you are going to wear while you are running. Stop by a running store to get your feet fitted for the right type of shoe. Having the right fit is very important.

Stay Motivated

After you have your shoes, make sure that you are going to be able to stay motivated. Join a running group, sign up for a race or create a schedule that you know will keep you motivated as you are running. Make sure that you stay positive as you are running. Although it can be frustrating at first, you have to understand that progress may be slow but it will come. Make small goals for yourself and do not be afraid to celebrate when you reach your goals. Take the time that you need to be sure that you are setting yourself up for success as you begin to run.

5 Great Steps When Starting a Community Garden

5 Steps to Create a Successful Community Garden

If you are interested in getting more involved with your community, there are many ways that you can start to involve yourself. Community gardens are becoming more popular and are a great way for you to become more involved with those around you. Not only will you get to know your neighbors, but you will also help grow nutritious food for your community to eat and enjoy.

Here are some great steps when planning how to start a community garden:

Step 1: Invite Your Community

If you want to start a community garden, don’t be afraid to talk about your idea to the people in your area. You may be surprised at how many people around you have an interest in this as well.

Once you know there is enough motivation and people who can support it, you can then form a planning committee and get the ball rolling for a community garden in your area. Having a community to participate with you is a very important step when starting a community garden.

Step 2: Find Resources

You will need to figure out what types of tools, materials, funding, and volunteers may be needed to keep your garden running smoothly.

While doing this research, try to identify all of the available resources that you and your planning committee can utilize. Starting a community garden can be expensive so it’s a good idea to utilize the skills and resources within your own community before you consider looking for outside help.

It may be beneficial to find a sponsor for your community garden. Some churches, private organizations or businesses may be willing to sponsor your community garden to ensure that it is successful.

After you have your funding in place and a list of materials, tools and members, you can decide if the garden will be open to any willing residents, or if you will require membership dues.

By requiring a small participation fee, the garden will be self-sustaining and you can be sure that as long as people are interested, the garden will continue to run well.

Step 3: Locate a Garden Site

Once your committee is set, you know you have funding and/or sponsors, and a community ready to garden, your next step is to find a location! Search your city for land that may be available for lease or purchase and contact the landowner.

While searching for the perfect location, remember that it is recommended that your plot of land get at least six hours of direct sun daily and has an easily accessible source of water.

Your garden can be as large or as small as you wish, but ultimately the size will be determined by how big your community is, and how many people will participate. Finding the proper location is a very important step when planning how to start a community garden.

Once you have a plot of land secured, make sure you obtain all the necessary liabilities and fees.

Step 4: Arrange Your Garden Plot

After you have figured out everything above, you can then move on to the garden itself. Plan the size and lay out of the garden to ensure that it is user friendly and protected.

Make sure your garden is easily accessible for people of all ages, but also protected from any wildlife that may destroy the garden. Depending on your area, you might be concerned about vandalism as well. Make sure your garden area has a secure tool storage when starting a community garden.

Step 5: Grow Your Produce

Most of the hard work is done, now it’s time to do the fun part: plant your garden! To get off to the best start, test your soil and see if you need to add any fertilizers for better growth.

Make the most of your garden by using plants that grow well in your climate, including native plants, incorporate mulching or composting, and if legal in your area, install a rain barrel to use for watering plants or cleaning supplies.

As you go through these steps to create your community garden, do not get too upset at small setbacks. With many people coordinating, you may find that there are problems and differences of opinion.

If you run into problems with your funding, stop by a Check City location to take out an Installment Loan. These loans are safe, quick and secure. They are also developed to ensure that customers are easily able to repay the loan. With some time and patience, you can be sure that you have a community garden that you know you will love.

3 Beneficial Budget Vacation Ideas

Budgeting While on Vacation

While most people go on vacation to get away from the stress, tasks and everyday living, the logistics and finances of taking a trip often wind up adding to that stress. The ultimate goal is to get maximum joy out of your vacation, while maintaining minimal stress.

To reduce the stress of taking a trip, you’re going to have to come up with a vacation budget. Your vacation budget should be separate from your everyday budget, and you should do your best to predict and anticipate all your expenses before you step on a plane or pull out of the driveway. Without proper preparation, you could find yourself racking up unnecessary expenses, or worse, stranded far away from home. Coming up with a good budget is one of the great budget vacation ideas.

If you’ve ever been on a vacation that went exactly as planned with no unexpected expenses, then you’re very lucky. The vacations that the rest of us take are full of surprises, twists, and turns. In fact, that’s part of the fun of going on vacation—the little adventures that pop up that you can never plan for.

Crafting Your Unique Vacation Budget

Between the cost of travel, food and lodging it can get very expensive to take a vacation. When you know that you are going to want to take a vacation, there are many ways that you can minimize the cost of traveling. First, it is important to understand what your budget is. You want to make sure that you have a firm budget in mind and that you are going to be able to afford to go on vacation.

While you are setting your budget, you should figure out how much money you are going to save and how long you will need to save to make that goal. Saving is key—overall everyone spends more money while they are on vacation than when they aren’t. Unless you want to go into debt, you’re going to have to spend the weeks and months leading up to your vacation saving as much as you can.

If taking regular vacations is important to you, you can even set aside money for a vacation fund in your regular budget. That way you’ll always have vacation money, even for those spontaneous road trips.

When you sit down to craft your vacation budget, be prepared for surprising expenses. It’s always better to over compensate when it comes to vacation finances. In addition to the cost of activities and amenities, set aside money each day for spontaneous spending—nothing too crazy, just enough so that you don’t feel guilty about buying a cool gift or going on a last-minute night out on the town.

Booking Travel and Lodging

The ideal time to book flights and hotels is months in advance, not weeks, especially if you plan on vacationing during the busiest times for travel. When it comes to vacations, you will be rewarded exponentially for advanced planning.

While you are booking your hotel rooms and rental cars, you should ask for a breakdown of the bill that you receive. Make sure that they are providing you with the total, including tax. When you get the total ahead of time, you can be sure that there are no surprises when you are checking into your hotel or getting your rental car.

Take your time booking your flights and make sure you are finding the best rates. If you don’t feel like you are able to find a good deal, talk with a travel agent and book your flight through him or her. Websites that specialize in booking flights can also bundle hotels and rental cars so you can get a great deal. Sometimes these deals are temporary, so it’s a good idea to subscribe to the website’s newsletter for alerts and promotions on good deals.

We hope you have learned a lot and enjoyed these great budget vacation ideas. Thank you for reading!

4 Beneficial Tips for Healthy Children

Keeping Your Child Active and Healthy

The rise in child obesity in the United States is very alarming. Children who are overweight suffer short-term and long-term consequences that can affect their health and overall happiness. For example, according to the CDC, obese children are much more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and are at higher risk for many types of cancer as adults. Short-term effects include poor self-esteem and a higher risk for joint and bone injuries.

How can Parents Help?

Parents need to be aware of ways they can work with their child to help ensure their child is healthy and happy. There are many ways you can get your child moving, but every single way requires parents to be aware of the problem and willing to address it.

If you are the parent of an overweight or obese child, you may be hesitant to bring up the subject at home. But there are ways of encouraging healthy habits without making your child feel bad about his or herself. Look for healthy and fun activities you can do as a family. Encourage everyone in the family to participate in a healthier lifestyle. You can also bring in the help of a family doctor or lifestyle coach to add extra positive encouragement.

Exercising more as a Family

Many parents believe that their children should be playing an organized sport to keep them healthy. Not all children enjoy organized sports or thrive in a competitive setting. Work with your child to find a physical activity that you know your child is going to enjoy. This may mean that they love dancing or martial arts. No matter what the physical activity is, encourage them to pursue this interest. Allowing your kids to do this is a great opportunity and exercise for kids.

Whenever you want your child to get out and start playing, do not be afraid to join the game. Doing something with your child is a great way to ensure that your child is going to participate in the activity. You can go for a family hike or a family bike ride. Increasing the amount of time you spend together walking and moving is a great way to keep your child healthy and allows great exercises for kids.

Avoiding and Limiting Unhealthy Habits

Limiting the amount of time your child spends in front of any screen is a great way to ensure healthy children. Make sure that you stick with the limits and that there are consequences for not following the rules. Your child has to understand how important it is to get away from the screens and start moving and being active.

Encourage Healthy Food and Drink Choices

High sugar, high fat, and pre-packaged junk food is one of the main culprits for America’s obesity epidemic. These types of foods are readily available to your children and often times can be hard for them to find a healthy alternative.

Of course, there are plenty of healthy food choices out there, you just need to make them more available in your home. The simple act of choosing one healthy alternative over an unhealthy one (picking an apple over a candy bar, a vegetable tray over a bag of chips) can have a powerful effect on your child’s health. While you’re unlikely to cut out all unhealthy foods and soda from your child’s diet, you can certainly make an impact on their daily choices.

No matter what you say to your child, you will want to lead by example. Make an effort to make healthy food choices yourself, and fill your cupboard and refrigerator up with natural and health-promoting foods and drinks. Switch to water over soda, and always have healthy snacks for your children and teenagers to eat throughout the day.

We hope you have enjoyed these tips on exercise and healthy children. Thanks for reading!

Finding the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Getting Ready for Mother’s Day

When you think about everything your mother has done for you, it can be difficult to imagine anything that you could possibly do for your Mother in return on her special day. Of course, the last thing you should do is just give up and do nothing. Your mom deserves the best Mother’s Day you can possibly give her; she’s earned it.

Don’t wait until the Saturday before Mother’s Day—start planning today to get ready to show your mom just how much you appreciate her!

Mother’s Day: The Planning Stages

Nobody knows your mother quite like you do. Think about all the things she does when she has some time to herself. What does she do for fun? What are her hobbies? Finding something that she loves is a great Mother’s Day Gift idea.

The answers to these questions can help you decide on the perfect gift. But even better—you can start to formulate the perfect Mother’s Day events that are tailored to you mom’s interests and passions.

If you think your mother enjoys being surprised (not everyone does), then Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to really surprise her. In the weeks leading up to it, you can pretend like nothing is planned. Avoid inquiries into the day’s activities, and make it seem like it’s not on your mind at all. If you don’t want your mom to be too heartbroken before you surprise her, then you can tell her that you’re planning something simple, like a dinner. Once she’s comfortable and un-expecting, hit her with the big surprise! First, make sure that your mom has the day off. You want to make sure that your mom does not have to work throughout the day and that she is able to relax. Without complaining, make sure that the daily chores are done and get the whole family excited about helping.

Some ideas for Mother’s Day surprises are:

  • Surprise her with a gift card to the spa
  • Make her breakfast in bed, or prepare a lavish dinner yourself
  • Get her away from the house and then clean it from floor to ceiling
  • Create a special Mother’s Day photo album
  • Invite relatives and friends over for a surprise dinner
  • Buy her a weekend getaway package

If your Mother doesn’t like being surprised, then it may not be worth it to plan a huge surprise if it’s just going to make her mad. In this case, you might want to include her in all the Mother’s Day preparations—she’ll probably enjoy planning the details with you, and the whole experience can be incredibly positive.

Gift Ideas

The best gift any mom will receive is her child’s love. What she needs on Mother’s Day are thoughtful gifts! Of course, you’re going to want to go with the standard flower arrangements and card. This is pretty much a given. But you shouldn’t stop there.

The perfect Mother’s Day gift is both thoughtful and practical. A framed photo is thoughtful, and it can be practical in the way that your Mother can place it somewhere in the home so it can be viewed and remembered. These are great Mother’s Day gift ideas.

Many Mothers love chocolate and other sweets and candies. This is definitely an appropriate time of year to indulge her sweet tooth.

A great gift idea is something that you can do together. This could be a game, tickets to a show, or some kind of craft you can both do together. If you don’t want to spend too much money, you can give her the gift of your time—take her on a walk, show her a part of town she hasn’t been to in a long time, etc.

Some Moms don’t mind if you ask them what they want for Mother’s Day (they might even prefer it). This ensures she gets what she wants, and that you don’t stress out trying to figure out the perfect gift.

Making Mother’s Day special is a great way to express your appreciation to your mom. Start planning your Mother’s Day activities now, so you are totally prepared to make your mother feel great on Mother’s Day.

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