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I'm August, the Brand Ambassador for Carolina Trust FCU. Although I'm from Virginia, I feel like SC is my adopted home because of its hometown feel. I enjoy fashion, SEC football, traveling and all things pink! I am a recent graduate of Coastal Carolina University, and I am just thrilled about my role here at the credit union.

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Ideas for Vacationing on a Budget

Posted by August on Jun 12, 2024 11:50:12 AM

Summer vacations are a great way to create priceless memories and experience new places that you’ll remember forever. From Europe to Fiji, to resorts or campgrounds, everyone vacations differently. And the best part? You don’t have to go halfway across the globe for a quality vacation. You can have a fantastic vacation for a fraction of the price if you do some research and take advantage of offers and deals.

First, download a vacation planner app. For example, Wanderlog lets you input all your flight, hotel, and activity information in one place, creates a trip itinerary and records everything on an interactive map. You can also share your detailed plans with any friends traveling with you. Other planning apps you may want to try are TripIt and Roadtrippers.

Airbnb or Vrbo

Instead of automatically thinking of hotels, consider Airbnb or Vrbo. Both services (which you can use online or in their app) let you search for thousands of places to stay worldwide. Townhomes, condos, apartments, houses, guest homes, and even single rooms are listed as options. In Hawaii, for example, you might find an ocean-front listing for half the cost of what a beachside hotel would charge. Make sure you look at the cost breakdown, as different owners charge different fees. Once in a while, you’ll see a cheap per-night charge, but a $450 cleaning fee hidden in the fine print.

Bring Food

Even if you stick to fast food, eating out for every meal adds up incredibly quickly. And if your family is large, the cost is even higher. A good solution that will save a lot of money is bringing food. Snacks and sandwiches are easy to prepare and budget-friendly. You can eat them in the car on a road trip, at the beach, while hiking, or whatever it is you’re doing. Book a place with a kitchen so you can buy groceries for your trip. Depending on the length of your stay, the size of your group, and your location, consider hitting up a local membership store like Costco or Sam’s Club to get more food for less. A good plan could include dining out once a day while eating groceries the rest of the time. Again, depending on the length of your trip, this approach could save you a significant amount.


Hotels are nice, but have you ever tried a good campground? They are undeniably cheaper than a hotel, and there are campgrounds around the USA that are much more than just a firepit and picnic table. Playgrounds, pools, nice showers, food trucks, and well-maintained lakes are just some of the features you can find. Add a little “glamping” to your trip and bring some cheap cots to feel more like you’re on a bed. Bring battery-powered LED lights and stick them to the inside of your tent; set up a hammock under a tree; invest in comfortable camping chairs (some even recline and have footrests); bring battery-powered fans for extra comfort or space heaters for cold nights; set up a large canopy cover for your food area. Finding a campground next to a recreational lake, river, or beach adds tons of extra fun and playtime for you and the kids. Who needs a hotel?

Price Bidding

If camping isn’t your thing, there are ways to get good hotels on a tight budget. Through Priceline, you can bid on hotels and get them for remarkably cheap. Just enter the city you want to visit and the radius you’re willing to stay around it, the star rating of what you’re ready to accept, what you want to pay per night, and a few other filters. The site will come back with a rejection that your price was too low, or your parameters weren’t met, or it will book you at a hotel that meets your requirements. The catch is that you are committing to stay in what they give you. The considerable upside, however, is that you can save a lot of money.

Gas and Cashback Apps

If you’re driving to or around a destination, you’ll have to budget for gas, which can be expensive. Gas apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru will show you the gas stations in your area (or along the route you’re driving) and their prices. Cashback apps like Upside also are helpful because you will get a percentage of your gas purchases back as straight cash. Upside also gives you cash back for all sorts of other things you may be spending money on during your trip.

Free Activities

Once you’re at your destination, you don’t always have to book pricey tours to have fun. Do some research, and you’ll find plenty of free or cheap activities. National parks are affordable and have countless hiking trails; many beaches have trails, long piers with fun sightseeing, free firepits for a bonfire, and free volleyball nets. You can find free or cheap museums, children’s play centers, and many more options. Don’t forget to check Groupon, where there are deals on many different activities and places to visit.

As you can see, summer vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. With research and planning, the potential savings are enormous. A trip that will give you fun family memories forever without breaking the bank is possible. Camping, glamping, hotels, road trips, and more—the savings are out there waiting for you.

The blog post above was shared from BALANCE. For more information and similar resources,  click here .  

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Topics: Personal Finance, Seasonal

How to Financially Prepare Before a Natural Disaster

Posted by August on Jun 7, 2024 10:42:13 AM

Summertime has finally arrived at the grand strand, and unfortunately, hurricane season came right along with it. Living near the coast, we are in hurricane season from June 1st to November 30th. Thinking about a potential hurricane can be somewhat stressful. However, being educated and prepared can help relieve a bit of that anxiety.

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Topics: Personal Finance, Home, Life & School, Seasonal

Events Along the Grand Strand: June Edition

Posted by August on May 29, 2024 12:09:23 PM

Looking for some ideas to kick off the summer? There are a lot of fantastic events going on along the Grand Strand this month that are perfect for getting into the summer spirit. No matter what type of things you enjoy, there is a little something for everyone. Be sure to comment below on which events you're looking forward to the most!

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Topics: Home, Life & School, Seasonal

Graduation Gift Ideas That They'll Actually Enjoy

Posted by August on May 22, 2024 10:54:44 AM

*Cue Pomp and Circumstance* It's almost time for graduation. What an exciting time for students, their parents, family, and friends. Graduating from high school or college is a major life accomplishment. So, that leaves the question, what kind of gift can you give a graduate to show your pride in them for completing such an educational milestone?

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Topics: Seasonal, Coastal Carolina University

Free Resources That You Can Use During Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted by August on May 14, 2024 9:39:51 AM

Did you know that May is mental health awareness month? According to Mental Health America, approximately 20% of adults in the United States are experiencing a mental illness, with South Carolina ranked 8th in prevalence, according to Forbes Advisor. 

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Topics: Personal Finance, Home, Life & School

Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Posted by August on May 7, 2024 12:40:15 PM

Every year around Mother's Day, I tell myself that I'm going to start gift shopping early to give myself enough time to find the perfect gift. I typically start thinking about gift ideas well in advance; however, selecting a gift and purchasing one is a whole different story.

Mother's Day is always one of the most challenging holidays to shop for because there is genuinely no gift on the planet that is good enough to thank my mom for all that she's done/does for me. And since I know the perfect gift doesn't exist, I typically buy my mom something that I know she needs, and then I wait until the very last minute to buy it. Luckily for you, that means I'm the Queen of last-minute gift ideas. So, if you still haven't found the "perfect" Mother's Day gift, check out my last-minute gift ideas below:

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Topics: Home, Life & School, Seasonal

Five Easy Ways to Cut Monthly Expenses

Posted by August on May 3, 2024 1:19:46 PM

Ever notice how your monthly expenses always seem to equal whatever salary you’re making, even after you get raises? The phenomenon is called “lifestyle creep” and it can keep you from reaching all kinds of financial goals, from paying down debt, to saving for retirement. One way to get lifestyle creep under control is to have any future raises you earn directed into savings. Consider diverting the raise to savings via direct deposit or increase the percentage that you contribute to your retirement account.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Everything You Need to Know About Artfields

Posted by August on Apr 23, 2024 10:02:27 AM

Artfields is officially back! During ArtFields, the town of Lake City, once one of South Carolina's most prosperous agricultural communities, becomes a living art gallery as we recognize, celebrate, and share the artistic talent of the Southeast.

ArtFields started in 2013 with a simple goal: honor the artists of the Southeast with a week's worth of celebration and competition in the heart of a traditional Southern small town. The competition and exhibition offer over $145,000 in cash prizes. The votes of people visiting ArtFields determine the winners of two People's Choice Awards; a panel of art professionals selects all the other awards, including the $50,000 Grand Prize and $25,000 Second Place award.

With Carolina Trust having a branch in the heart of Lake City, I'd been through the town several times before, but after attending Artfields a few years ago it's become a can't-miss annual event for Adam and I. Saying that Lake City completely transforms for Artfields would be an understatement. The amount of fine arts culture and community closeness that Artfields creates left such a lasting impact that this event will find a spot on my calendar year after year.

If you're planning to attend Artfields this year, here are all the things you need to know:

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Topics: Home, Life & School, Seasonal

Four Good and Four Bad Ways Online Activity Impacts Your Finances

Posted by August on Apr 18, 2024 11:12:13 AM

The internet is a tool of unprecedented power. Never before has so much information been at your fingertips, nor has there ever been such easy access to so many potentially life-changing tools. The flip side of the internet as a resource is that – depending on how you use it – it can have a negative impact on your quality of life and actively work to push you farther from your goals.

Nowhere is this truer than in your financial life. Used advantageously, the internet can help put you on the fast track to achieving your money goals. However, being online can also make it easier to engage in counterproductive behaviors that, in the end, cause more frustration than joy.

As you read the uses of the internet that follow, look for ways the habits described resemble your situation. Nothing here is intended to pass judgment on how you or anyone else spends their online time. Ultimately, you’ll decide what works best for your needs and lifestyle. But it can’t hurt to take these ideas about the impact of your online activity as food for thought.

Good: Understanding your options

Let’s say you’ve got a child who might like to pursue higher education at some point in the future. They’re only five years old, but you’d like to start saving for their college costs. If this were the pre-internet days, you might gather information from other parents about how to accrue an educational nest egg for your child. You’d have to hope the information you were given was accurate and comprehensive. Alternatively, you could go to a bookstore and search for a book on saving for a child’s college expenses. But if the information in the book is out-of-date, you might be making a critical misstep. With the internet, you can quickly seek out the most current details while ensuring the information comes from trusted sources.

Bad: Decision fatigue

Scrolling through your favorite social media app or site can feel like a useful distraction when the pressures of the day feel overwhelming. But this kind of activity can have a downside. Scientists who study how humans interact with the internet have identified a tendency they call “decision fatigue.” The idea is that when you spend a significant amount of time each day online, you’re potentially making hundreds of little decisions on which sites or apps to visit, whose posts you’ll like, which games to play, whose texts you’ll respond to, etc. Eventually, your brain becomes exhausted from making all these choices.

This can impact your finances in a few different ways. First, when it comes time to make spending choices, you may find yourself making decisions that are the easiest instead of taking the time to weigh your options. For example, you might order food through a delivery app instead of cooking because the former feels less mentally taxing. Do this enough times, and it can balloon your monthly food costs.

Second, information overload can lead to procrastination on critical financial decisions. Consider this example: your taxes are due, and you have to decide whether to do them yourself using software or hire a tax professional. On the face of it, that usually wouldn’t be an agonizing choice. But if your brain has been making little digital choices all day, you might be putting off making more significant choices because of decision fatigue.

Good: Tools for efficiency

When it comes to your money, “set it and forget it” is one of the greatest beauties of the internet. You can decide you want to put away more for retirement, and in just a few minutes, go online and raise the percentage you have taken out of your paycheck for your golden years. In the time it takes you to make a sandwich, you can have an enormous positive impact on your future – and it’s all because of the internet. Or consider roundup apps that put a little bit of money from each purchase you make into savings without having to even take the time to make a transaction. You can put some serious work into building an emergency savings account with little effort.
If you’re like most people, you only have a little extra time to devote to managing your money. There are myriad ways technology can help you automate your finances so that you come out ahead without having to remember to practice good habits.

Bad: Keeping up with the digital Joneses

Not many social media influencers and celebrities rose to stardom based on content about making frugal and prudent financial decisions. The norm is to use a glamorous and luxurious lifestyle to seduce followers. Because of this, it’s easy to feel like your life is somehow less than when compared to a carefully curated and often fictionalized view of “success” by popular social media personalities.

Due to the omnipresence of high-end living in social media feeds, it can start to feel like you only have a good quality of life if you’re taking vacations to the hottest resorts or sporting the trendiest fashion regularly. Spending money to have the latest and greatest can be doubly alluring because it allows you to experience an ego boost from posting your own social media pictures of your newly acquired expensive item or fabulous vacation. While it’s okay to use your money to buy things and experiences you feel will improve your life, try to do so within the parameters of a monthly figure you’ve calculated to fit your overall financial plan.

Good: Identity theft protection

This one might seem a bit counterintuitive at first. You might be under the impression that being online puts you at greater risk of having your information tampered with. While to a certain extent that is true, being online also gives you access to powerful tools for guarding against intrusions into your personal data. By regularly reviewing your checking and credit card transactions and your credit reports online, you can catch illegal activity and respond quickly and decisively. Furthermore, a few monthly search engine queries make staying abreast of fraudsters’ latest techniques much more accessible.

Bad: Fad investing

The internet is full of many great tutorials and pieces of explainer content for getting to the heart of complicated financial issues. But at the same time, there are a whole lot of people on the internet peddling opinions that are more focused on making money for them instead of you. Investment advice is a prime example. Take the example of digital currencies. There were thousands of internet talking heads yelling at the top of their lungs about missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you weren’t putting all your money into the same digital currency they were investing in. Despite what the internet “experts” tell you, the bottom line is that investing hasn’t changed that much over the years. Yes, a few people will make a lot of money in alternative investment vehicles. Still, your safest option will typically be with the kinds of investments that have been around for a while and have a proven track record of consistently positive performance.

Good: Comparison shopping

Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. For example, if you’re looking to buy a used car, you might have compiled a list of criteria you plan to use in making your choice: passenger size, fuel efficiency, safety rating, etc. While online shopping makes weighing the relative merits of different models and individual vehicles simple, it can alert you to factors you may not have even considered. To be a truly informed shopper, leverage the power of reviews to give you an inside look at the experience of people who have used the item – in this example, a vehicle – you’re considering buying. This can help you uncover potential problems you might not have considered.

Bad: Impulse purchases

The internet speeds up life, sometimes for the positive and sometimes for the negative. Have you ever quickly purchased a household item online only to discover that you already had it tucked away in a cupboard? This, of course, isn’t the end of the world. However, it does speak to the fact that fast purchases aren’t always the best. And sometimes, the purchase carries a higher price tag than a few toothpaste tubes.

Consider implementing a “sleep on it” rule for online purchases. Oddly, a relatively small percentage of the things you buy on the internet are needed immediately. By building a buffer time into your spending decisions, you can give yourself the opportunity to exercise greater prudence.

It can be difficult to fully grasp the impact of your actions online while you’re online. Giving yourself time to unplug and think about how you use your time on the internet provides valuable perspective on the impact on your financial well-being.

The blog post above was shared from BALANCE. For more information and similar resources,   click here  .   
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Topics: Personal Finance

Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

Posted by August on Apr 11, 2024 12:14:17 PM

The freshness of spring motivates a lot of people to throw open the windows and doors, and do a thorough spring cleaning. It’s a great way to take stock of what you have, organize it so everything’s more accessible, and ditch the clutter that’s keeping you from enjoying your space. While you’re at it, why not dive into a bit of spring cleaning for your finances, too?

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Topics: Personal Finance, Seasonal

Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union Blog 

Welcome to the Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union Blog! We're excited to share financial tips and information for a variety of different topics.


Check out recent blog posts by our Brand Ambassador, August, for tips on achieving financial success in the bag. 


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