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Check Into Cash Blog

From tax tips to money-saving tricks, the Check Into Cash blog is your one stop for money talk. Here you’ll find ideas that you can use to save money, time, and energy. Check back for new content every week. If you like a post, be sure to share it with a friend! After all, everyone could use a little extra cash in their pocket.

Honor Veterans This Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is a day of festivities for friends and families to unite in honor of those who served to protect the United States. Join us this Memorial Day as we honor those who have laid down their lives to protect our rights, our freedoms, and our country.

memorial day celebration

What do I get mom for Mother’s Day?

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Two boys kissing momMother’s Day is right around the corner, which may have you wondering, “What do I get mom for Mother’s Day?”
There are many ways to show mom how much you care: you could take her on a retreat or to a concert, or stick with the classic card and flowers. Most moms appreciate quality family time the most. Here are some fun Mother’s Day ideas:

Take an exotic “vacation.”

Even if you can’t afford to go to Paris for the weekend, you can still enjoy a little taste of France (or any other destination that intrigues you). Get some croissants for breakfast, pack a picnic lunch of French bread, cheese, and fruit, or order a meal from your favorite deli or restaurant (quiche, anyone?), and get into the flavor of the country. For an added touch, adorn your kitchen or dining room table with a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth and fresh flowers, put on some French music, and teach your kids a few basic words in French, such as “bonjour” (good morning) and “merci” (thank you).

Go to the movies.

One good way to share family memories is to look at old photographs or home movies. If you live near Grandma or Grandpa, ask them to pull out old photos and movies of you as a child, and take a trip together down memory lane. Your kids will get a kick out of the styles of clothes you wore — not to mention the fact that you were once a baby, toddler, or teen.

Find the humor in family life.

Start a new tradition this year by creating a family comic strip. Take a long sheet of paper, and draw three or four large squares next to one another, like a newspaper comic strip. Then think of an event, celebration, or something funny that happened this past year, and illustrate it with markers, crayons, or paints. Be sure to include dialogue, a date, and a title, such as “Life with the Smiths.” Older children can help with the drawing and writing, while younger kids can dictate their thoughts or help color. Save your comic strip, and create another one next year and others in years to come. When you’re ready to compile all of your strips into a book, stack the pages and thread them together with sturdy yarn.

Make a little music.

Nothing brightens a family celebration quite like music. But if you want to really turn up the volume on fun, stage your own “lip-synch” contest. To begin, have each family member choose a favorite song from a CD, tape, or video that you currently own. Then turn on the music, and let each person lip-synch the words to the song, doing his or her best to mimic the performer. (Your 2-year-old, for instance, can pretend he’s Barney singing the “I Love You” song.) Other family members can rate the performance from one (not at all like the performer) to five (exactly like the performer), and write down their score on a card. The person with the highest score wins the contest.

Get pampered.

At some point on Mother’s Day, you may want some time alone or a chance for a little rest and relaxation. Make sure you get what you need — and deserve — by asking for it in advance. For instance, a few days before Mother’s Day, give your husband and kids a list of five “services” you desire. The list could include:

An hour alone so I can call a friend or soak in the tub
A chance to sleep in until 9 a.m.
A manicure at my favorite nail salon
No sibling squabbles for an hour
Whatever else you’d really love!
Have your husband and kids make up coupons with each of these services, and be sure to redeem them throughout Mother’s Day weekend.

Go on a “bug safari.”

Now that spring’s in the air, why not gather up your family for a good old-fashioned bug safari? To begin, you’ll need an insect field guide (to identify the creepy, crawly creatures), a magnifying glass (to inspect them closely), and a field to explore (this could be your own backyard or a local park). Get kids in the spirit by telling them some fun facts about bugs. For instance, grasshoppers can leap 20 times the length of their body, which would be like a human jumping halfway across a football field. After the safari, kids can run around and pick wildflowers and present you with a homemade bouquet.

Plant some flowers.

If you have some extra space in your garden, you can create a real, live Mother’s Day canvas. First, buy various packets of flower seeds that grow fast and well in your region. Then have your kids draw a picture or write a short message (like “We love Mom”) in the garden dirt with a stick. Drop the flower seeds into the dirt lines; then cover them up, and water every few days. Before long, your picture (or message) will be blooming, and you’ll have a Mother’s Day gift that keeps on growing.

Make a “lasting impression.”

On a warm day, go outside and have your children (and anyone else who’s game) place their hands and feet into a shallow tub of colorful, nontoxic paint. Spread out a roll of butcher paper, and have everyone press their hands and feet onto it, leaving their prints behind. Label each handprint and footprint with the person’s name, the date, and special message to Mom, and allow your collective masterpiece to dry. Try this activity again next year, and see how much bigger some hands and feet have become!

Read a good book.

If you want to have some downtime on Mother’s Day, take a blanket outside and leaf through a children’s book that’s just right for the day, such as The Mother’s Day Mice, No Time for Mother’s Day, Clifford’s Happy Mother’s Day, or Are You My Mother? You could also select one of your own childhood favorites, and read it with your kids.

Schedule time for hugs.

Finally, what would Mother’s Day be like without hugs and kisses all around? One way to work them into your day is by setting up a silly “hugs and kisses” schedule and posting it on the refrigerator or other visible spot. For instance, you could write, “10:30 a.m.: Everyone runs around the couch and gives Mom a hug and kiss.” or “2:15 p.m.: Everyone hops around the oak tree on one foot and assembles for a group hug.” Make up your own directions and silly things to do — but be sure to include lots of hugs, kisses, and laughter in your day.

Arbor Day Foundation

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Today is National Arbor Day. Celebrate by planting a tree, or visit the National Arbor Day Foundation to see how you can help. Don’t forget to enter our Money Tree Giveaway for a chance to win $500, and Check Into CashOpens in a new window will donate a matching $500 to the Arbor Day Foundation.


 

Win cash and help babies One Dime at a Time

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  Check Into Cash’s May giveaway awards $500 to the winner and $500 to the March of Dimes.

With this May’s One Dime at a Time Giveaway, Check Into Cash will match the $500 Facebook giveaway prize with a $500 donation to the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes works to end premature birth and other health threats to babies.

“Check Into Cash is eager to help the March of Dimes this month,” said Check Into Cash President Steve Scoggins. “We’re thrilled to stand behind an organization that takes action to prevent pain and suffering for mothers, babies, and families.”

Check Into Cash’s $500 donation to the March of Dimes will help fund community programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, as well as supporting research on common threats to the health of babies.  And how will the $500 One Dime at a Time Giveaway prize be used? Well, that will be up to the lucky winner!

“Giving back to the community and aiding nonprofit programs are priorities for Check Into Cash,” explained Scoggins. “With the opportunity to give to the March of Dimes and our Facebook prizewinner, May will be a rewarding month for everyone.”

For anyone who wants to enter for a chance to win $500, visit Facebook.com/CheckIntoCash before midnight May 31 and select the One Dime at a Time Giveaway tab. To learn more about Check Into Cash stores and services, check out CheckIntoCash.com.

Learn more or get involved with the March of Dimes at MarchOfDimes.org.

Brand new design makes LoanByPhone.com your premiere mobile direct lender

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Loan By Phone is rolling out a new and improved website designed for ultimate mobility. LoanByPhone.com 3.0 will feature an easy to use, mobile-friendly design with a responsive layout, making Loan By Phone services more accessible to customers on the go.

“Many of our online lending customers are busy and constantly moving,” said Loan By Phone President of E-Commerce Jimmy Whatley. “The new version of the website is designed to help solve our customers’ cash emergencies with as little stress and inconvenience as possible.”

LoanByPhone.com 3.0 provides customers with all the same capabilities as the original site: apply for a loan, manage an account, learn how online loans work, and more. The difference with the new version is the layout, crafted specifically for mobile users to transition seamlessly from computer to cell phone to tablet while, of course, maintaining full security and confidentiality throughout all platforms.

“We are always thrilled to make our services even more convenient,” explained Whatley. “The new, improved website is highly convenient and establishes LoanByPhone.com as your premiere mobile direct lender.”

Check out the new Loan By Phone design on any device at LoanByPhone.com.

Loan By Phone is powered by Check Into Cash.

 

 

52 Small Things You Can Do To Help The Planet

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Happy Earth Day! When it comes to going green, the smallest steps can make a huge difference. Here are 52 small things you can do to help the planet.

Economical ways to save the environment and save money on your home

1. Don’t heat an empty house! During the winter, turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees F when you’re home and 55 degrees F at night and while you’re away. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat if you can.

2. Your computer may go to sleep, but it’s still sucking up energy. Turn your computer and monitor off at the end of the day. In addition, take steps to create an eco-friendly workplace.

3. Clean your refrigerator coils — vacuum out the dust and wipe with a damp cloth. You’ll be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates down there!

4. Look into carpooling. Need convincing? Read why your green commute will save you money.

5. Taking a road trip? Rent a hybrid car. Here are a few more eco-friendly travel tips.

6. Start a compost pile in your backyard. Here is your guide to compost gardening. Did you know you can even add your fireplace ashes to your compost pile?

7. Support green businesses.

8. Cancel your newspaper subscription and read the news online instead. (We’ll bet you’re already doing this one!)

9. Buy rechargeable batteries. Learn to dispose of old batteries properly.

10. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins at dinner.

11. Recycle — all the cool kids are doing it these days! Not sure what is recyclable? Check out this recycle chart.

12. Buy your dog a hemp or canvas leash instead of nylon.

13. Stop using your toxin-loaded dryer sheets and try these alternatives instead.

14. Share your magazines — read them then pass them on. Goodwill, the Kidney Foundation and other used goods collection agencies will usually accept them. You can also pass them along to a doctor’s office for the waiting room.

15. Take a break from screen time and take a hike. Take advantage of this eco-friendly fitness gear.

16. File your taxes electronically to cut back on paper usage. Look into having your tax forms emailed to you instead of mailed as well.

17. Donate old newspapers to animal shelters and take your plastic shopping bags back to participating grocery stores. Better yet, purchase cloth or canvas grocery bags and skip that part altogether.

18. Shop for eco-friendly beauty products. Also consider eco-friendly fashion lines and eco-friendly home decor.

19. Take your own mug to the coffee shop — some shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup. Find out if your coffee is triple certified.

20. Get e-tickets for the movies through apps like Fandango or get e-tickets and boarding passes when traveling. (For more vacation tips, read How to take an eco-friendly vacation.)

21. Buy a new houseplant. For a greener home, read 10 Eco-friendly ways to green your home and family.

22. Schedule your errands back-to-back to consolidate your trip and save gas or ride your bike or walk when possible.

23. Repair your leaky faucet (especially if you live in a drought-prone area), install water-saving toilets and shower heads, and only run the clothes washer or dishwasher with full loads.

24. Pack your lunch in an insulated lunch bag instead of paper or plastic bags. While you’re at it, choose organic food when you can — it’s more affordable than you think.

25. Put a cover on your pool when you’re not using it. Not only will it keep the water cleaner, but it will keep it from evaporating, saving you refills.

26. Ask your power company about purchasing green power like solar, geothermal, biomass and wind turbine.

Next: More cheap ways to go green

Brandon Jones – NASCAR RaceHub Interview

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NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Brandon Jones stopped by NASCAR RaceHub on Fox Sports 1 for an interview on April 13, 2016. See Jones, Richard Childress Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet driver, discuss the upcoming Bristol race and Dash4Cash. Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 16 to watch Jones race fast with partner Check Into Cash!

12 Ways To Save Money by “Going Green”

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We’ve all heard the saying “a penny saved is a penny earned,” but saving pennies while being green isn’t easy. Check out these 12 environmental ways to save:go green and save money

Plant trees. Strategic planting of trees can reduce an unshaded home’s air conditioning costs 15% to 50%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which has tips on landscaping for shade. Utility companies offer customers free trees throughout the year to help reduce energy use through strategic planting, so check with yours to see if it offers such a program. Some local governments give away trees as part of Arbor Day celebrations. National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but many states observe it on different days. Check your local government’s Web site to find out if it is giving away trees as part of an Arbor Day celebration. For $10, you can join the Arbor Day Foundation and get ten free trees. Plus, your membership entitles you to a 33% discount on trees when you buy online from the foundation.

Bike to work. By leaving your car at home two days a week, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3,000 pounds a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plus, you’ll save money on gas and parking if you bike rather than drive to work. For example, you’ll save about $7 a day by biking rather than driving if you have a 15-mile round-trip commute. Use our How Much Can I Save Biking to Work? Tool to see what the financial benefits are for you. If biking isn’t an option, you still can drive less by organizing a carpool, using public transportation or walking.
Install a programmable thermostat. You can save an estimated 10% a year on heating and cooling costs by installing a programmable thermostat, according to the Energy Department. Save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat (which costs as little as $20) to 68 degrees while you’re awake and programming it for a lower temperature while you’re asleep or away from home. Set it for 78 degrees in the summer, and increase the temperature when you’re not home. You can shave 1% off your bill for each degree you decrease the temperature in the winter or increase it in the summer. And, no, you won’t have to use more energy to warm or cool your house off when you get home. That’s a common misconception, according to the Energy Department.

Eat less meat. The meat industry generates about one-fifth of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to estimates from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. So if your family skipped eating steak once a week, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly three months, according to the Earth Day Network. And you’d save money. For example, a sirloin steak costs twice as much per pound as chicken breasts and nearly five times as much as beans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Switch your light bulbs. You can save $70 a year on your energy bill by replacing the light bulbs in five of your most frequently used fixtures with Energy Star qualified LED or CFL bulbs, according to the EPA. These bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last ten to 25 times longer.

Install water-efficient fixtures. You can save money on your water bill by installing water-efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets. Look for products with the WaterSense label, which means they are certified to be at least 20% more efficient without sacrificing performance. For example, WaterSense-labeled toilets can save a family of four more than $90 annually on their water bill and $2,000 over the toilet’s lifetime, according to the EPA. Considering you can get a toilet with the WaterSense label for as little as $98, it will pay for itself in about a year. Estimate your savings with this simple calculator.

Recycle electronics. Americans discard more than 2 million tons of obsolete electronic products annually, according to the EPA. Rather than fill the dump with your unwanted gadgets, fill your wallet by selling them for cash. Sites such as BuyMyTronics.com, Gazelle, NextWorth and uSell pay cash — and cover the cost of shipping — for electronics such as smart phones, tablets, computers and more. The type of electronics you can sell varies by site, as does the amount you can receive. If none of the sites will accept your unwanted electronics, you may be able to recycle or donate them. See the EPA’s eCycling list for responsible electronics recyclers.

Compost. Americans spend $5.25 billion on fertilizers for their lawns, according to the EPA. Yet, you can get fertilizer for free by composting leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps and other organic waste. Plus, composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste from the garbage can, according to Eartheasy. See the Eartheasy guide to composting to learn more.

Use rain barrels. You may be able to cut your water costs a little by installing rain barrels at downspouts to collect water. You can attach a hose to the barrels to water your lawn and garden. Some water departments offer free rain barrels, so check with yours to see if it does. If not, you can find rain barrels at home and garden centers and online (about $100 for a 50-gallon barrel). Or you can make your own using a large plastic trash can or metal drum for a fraction of the cost.

Opt for a reusable water bottle. You’re doing your health a favor by drinking water rather than soda. But if you’re buying bottled water, you’re not doing your wallet or the environment a favor. According to the most recent statistics from the International Bottle Water Association, Americans spent $11.8 billion on bottled water in 2012. Considering that the average cost per bottle is $1.45 and the average consumer buys 167 bottles a year, you’ll spend more than $240 a year on bottled water at that rate. For the cost of just a few disposable bottles of water you can buy a reusable bottle that you can fill and carry with you wherever you go.

Buy a power strip. Energy vampires – electronics that draw power even when they’re not in use – cost Americans almost $10 billion a year, and account for almost 11% of all U.S. energy use, according to the EPA. If you want to avoid unplugging all of your electronics when they’re not in use, you can buy an inexpensive power strip that several things can be plugged into and turned off with the flip of a switch. The Smart Strip Power Strip ($25 and up) will automatically shut off computer peripherals, such as printers and scanners, when not in use. And the Belkin Conserve Smart AV ($29.99) automatically shuts off components, such as a gaming console, receiver and speakers, when you turn off your TV.

Line dry clothes. Clothes dryers can be one of the most expensive home appliances to operate, accounting for approximately 6% of a home’s total electricity usage, according to the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center. Because all dryers use about the same amount of energy, the best way to save money — and benefit the environment — is to line dry your clothes whenever you can.

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