Making Budgeting That Works For You

Budgeting 101: Making a Budget that Works for You

Making Budgeting That Works For You

Budgeting can be very intimidating. Between spreadsheets, apps and banks there are endless ways to manage your money. Finding a budgeting method that works for you is essential in maintaining financial responsibility. The more you like and understand the way you budget, the more likely you are to stick to it. There is never a bad time to start budgeting, even if you’re starting from the beginning. There are a few things to consider when beginning to budget. Things like how much you get paid, your pay cycle and when your bills are due.

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Happy Parents’ Day

Ways to Make Them Smile This Parents’ Day

On Parents’ Day, it’s truly the thought that counts. Let your Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparents — whoever matters to you — know how much you appreciate them. It’s as easy as sending an e-card or making a Facebook post.

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Summer Sweeps Tips

Party Like It’s 1776!

Sick of the same old sparklers and hot dogs? Change it up this year with these fun and low-cost recipes, games and decorations so you can throw the best BBQ on the block!

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Summer Ideas For Fun

20 Hot Ideas for a Cool, Low-Cost Summer

With longer days and warmer nights, there’s no shortage of opportunities to spend money over the summer. Don’t sweat it, though! Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor activities, cooking or crafts, there is always room for fun in the budget. Having the perfect summer is a breeze with this list of free and low-cost ideas.


Play Outdoor Games

Summertime means game time.

Playing football or soccer can get old quick. Try some DIY outdoor games to liven up your BBQ or birthday celebration. Trash bag Slip ’N Slide, giant Jenga or ladder bean bag toss are bound to bring laughter and smiles to your next event.

Have a Backyard Campout

Nothing says “summer” quite like s’mores.

You don’t have to go far to get away. Play your favorite summer games and fall asleep under the stars. When the ghost stories get too scary you can always head inside.

Visit a Public Park

Swing into summer at your local park.

It’s easy to have a ball on a budget. Get a team together to play volleyball, kickball, basketball or soccer at your local park.

Have a Lake Day

Make a splash with a fun day at the lake.

Whether it’s playing water games, fishing or just relaxing with friends and family, there’s an option for every budget at the lake. Just make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen!

Get Dirty in the Garden

A little green goes a long way.

Gardening is a great way to get outside, try something new and save cash at the grocery store. Spend a little on seeds and reap the rewards of fresh produce and healthy dinners all summer long.


Check Out the Farmers Market

Green beans, small business and low prices, oh my!

Keep things fresh this summer by shopping at your local farmers market. Walking around the farmers market is a free way to get to know your community and maybe try something new.

Give Back & Get Involved

Beat the heat and make a difference.

Impact your community and impact your life by volunteering this summer.  Whether you’re passionate about helping animals, working with kids or cleaning up the environment, there’s always a way to help. Use a website like to find opportunities near you.

Go to a Minor League Baseball Game

Make this summer a home run.

Enjoy America’s pastime without the Major League prices. Spend the day cheering on your local Minor League team for half the price of an MLB game.

Have a Garage Sale

Out with the old, in with the new.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell, a garage sale is a great way to make or save money. Cleaning out the garage or attic not only makes room for what is really important, but may put a few extra dollars in your pocket. Also, attending local garage sales could lead you to treasures you didn’t know you needed.

Experience Local Fairs and Carnivals

You can’t go wrong with funnel cake!

From carnival games to ferris wheel rides, there’s something for everyone at the state or county fair.  Tons of free and low cost activities like competitions, petting zoos and shows will keep the fun rolling all day long.


Get Your Game On

It’s all fun and games, all summer long.

Break out your old favorite board games and play the night away.  All you really need is a deck of cards and some friends to get the fun rolling. Check out this article for free or low cost game ideas that’ll help you host the best game night ever.

Get Lost in a Book

A good book can take you anywhere you want to go.

The library is a great resource for books, audiobooks, movies and music.  Reread your old favorites and discover new ones — all for free. And don’t forget to check the library calendar for free events like readings and book clubs for all ages.

Have a Movie Marathon

There’s always front row seating in your living room.

A rainy day doesn’t have to hit pause on your summer fun.  Skip the pricey popcorn and enjoy summer classics like “The Sandlot,” “Caddyshack” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” from your very own couch.


Make Your Own Ice Cream

Make it Sundae every day this summer.

It’s easier than you think, and inexpensive, too. To make this simple recipe, all you need is heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Add in sprinkles, cookies or strawberries  — whatever you have on hand — for the perfect summer treat.

Get out of the Kitchen

Keep it fresh with simple recipes for the whole family.

Don’t get stuck behind the stove this summer. It only takes three ingredients and a few minutes to make a meal or snack that everyone will love. Check out these three-ingredient recipes for inspiration.

Have a Picnic

Try this low-cost way to go “out” to lunch!

Pack a tasty lunch with food you already have at home and head to your local park.  Whether you’re looking for a fun date idea or a great afternoon with the family, having a picnic is the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.


DIY Your Own Butterfly Feeder

Invite some new friends into your garden.

Add some life and color to your backyard by making a DIY butterfly feeder. It’s an easy craft that’ll make everyone smile. You can even simplify the steps listed here and use things you have at home like a paper plate, string, and a sponge.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Create an adventure they’ll always treasure

Teach the kids to explore nature with this fun outdoor activity. Make a list of riddles to guide them around your backyard or local park in search of flowers, candy or coins. Here’s a list of clever outdoor themed riddles and answers.

Try Nature Crafts

Crafts aren’t just for the classroom. Make priceless art with things you can find in your own backyard.

Painting rocks is a fun, creative activity for any age. Also, pressing flowers brings the beauty of the outdoors inside. Just place the flower between parchment paper and leave it under something heavy for about a week. That’s all it takes to make your very own masterpiece!

Take a Photo a Day

Make this summer last forever.

While you’re busy having a blast this summer, make sure you capture the memories on your phone or go old school and use a disposable camera.  When the summer’s over, put together an album to remember all the fun you had.


Keep the fun going 24/7 this summer without breaking the bank. Try out these tips to make your dream summer a reality and use the hashtag #SummerAF247 to share your memories with us.

Advance Financial Scholarship Program

Advance Financial Scholarship Program


At Advance Financial, we are dedicated to supporting education programs within the communities we serve. Part of that dedication is funding a variety of educational initiatives throughout the state of Tennessee. These Programs are focused on improving the quality of education for pre-school, grade school, and high school students, while also making college more accessible to high school graduates.

We started the Advance Financial Scholarship Program in 2015, giving out a total of $5,000 in scholarship money to senior high school students planning on attending a two or four year institution. This year we have tripled that amount, and plan to give approximately $20,000 in scholarships that can be used by students to help pay tuition and other school expenses.

Below is the criteria for applying for the Advance Financial Scholarship:

  • The student must reside in a county served by Advance Financial
  • Must be a senior in an accredited Tennessee school
  • Student must attend a two or four year institution of higher education in the United States as an undergraduate
  • The award brings $1,000 each, payable to the college of their choice to cover part of their school expenses for the fall of their first year
  • GPA Must be equivalent to at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale

Click Here to apply.

Volunteer T Shirt

Paying Our Employees to Give Back to the Community Through Volunteering


Think of the word community. What comes to mind? Is it your church group, the neighbors on your street, or the members of the PTO? A community can be described as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. We at Advance Financial are part of our customers’ communities; therefore we also share many common goals and interests with those that use our service, which is shown through our charity and volunteer work.

Because giving back to the communities we serve is so important to us, we allot 40 paid volunteer hours a year to each of our employees. Whether it be one of our many scheduled volunteer events, or a specific organization that is important to an employee, we make sure the opportunity to make a difference and give back to our neighborhoods is always available.

278 Volunteer Hours for April

April was a big month for our volunteer efforts, with 278 logged hours. Below are some of the charity events that our team participated in. Great job to everyone who volunteered!

Junior Achievement


Our Knoxville volunteers taught some kids at Anderson County about financial literacy. We were happy to partner with Junior Achievement for the day to educate the students from a real world perspective.

McMinnville Kids Funfest & Safety Day


Volunteers from our Gallatin store helped out for the McMinnville Kids Funfest & Safety Day by passing out first-aid kits to the kids.

JDRF One Walk


One Saturday afternoon our Chattanooga team banned together to volunteer for the JDRF One Walk fundraiser. JDRF One Walk is the largest type 1 diabetes fundraiser event in the world. The team helped register runners and pass out shirts.

Clean and Green


Some of our AF ladies joined the Clean and Green organization to pick up trash around the downtown area of Nashville in an effort to keep the city of Nashville beautiful.

If you feel strongly about our volunteering efforts and think you would be a good fit for the environment we try to create at Advance Financial, click here to find out how to join our team.

Martin Luther King

What are we doing for others?

Martin Luther King

Monday, January 19th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an American federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of January each year and is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15th. King was the chief spokesman in the civil rights movement.

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” Each year, Americans come together on this holiday to serve their neighbors and communities, hence, Monday is also known as the King Day of Service.

It’s great when we can donate money to give back to the communities we serve, but Advance Financial is proud to be a company that offers it’s employees 40 hours of paid volunteerism every year. In 2013 and 2014, we sponsored Hands on Nashville’s MLK Day of Service, donating $3,000 per year. In addition, in 2013 we provided volunteers to paint a fire hall and in 2014 we painted at Metro Park Community Center.

To celebrate MLK Day in 2015, we will once again partner with Hands on Nashville with volunteers to serve Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation Community Centers through facility improvement projects.

To find out more about the King Day of Service, visit the Corporation for National & Community Service website.

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman

Happy New Year Poster

Resolution. Friend or Foe?


The holidays are just about over. The only one remaining for 2014 is New Year’s Eve. A night when we celebrate the past year and look forward to the hope of a bright new year just east of 11:59 pm.

Thousands of people also make new year’s resolutions, a promise to oneself to make changes, usually for the better, in the upcoming 365 days. These lists include things like losing weight, quitting a bad habit, saving money, etc. The list goes on and on.

But somewhere between January 1 and say maybe February 15, most of those hoped for promises tend to blow out the proverbial window. So, you ask, how do I make a list and stick to it? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be realistic. You’re probably not going to lose 100 pounds, but you might lose 25. Or better yet, break it down to 1-2 pounds a month. A shorter-term goal is always easier to attain.
  • Ask for help. If you’re trying to quit smoking, join a support group or talk to your doctor to see if there’s anything that can help with the process. Be open to new things.
  • Be accepting of mistakes. If you’ve committed to eating better, be nice to yourself. If you have a cookie, there’s no need to get a stick out and start beating yourself up. The only thing that’s accomplished by this is a feeling of failure. And when I feel like a failure I want to eat a cookie.
  • Be patient. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • Be intentional. If your resolution is to “be happy,” then find ways to be happy. When you get up in the morning, making a list of all the things for which you’re grateful. A grateful person is a happy person.
  • Write it down. Put your goals on sticky notes and attach to your mirror to be seen every morning while you’re brushing your teeth.

These are just a few ideas. Be creative and come up with some of your own. Remember, none of us are perfect. The idea is to keep trying. Change is a life-long process. The idea is to begin that process.

We at Advance Financial wish you a very safe and happy holiday and look forward to serving you in 2015.

Photo Credit: The Globzer

Drunken Santa

Office Party Shenanigans

Drunken Santa

It’s the time of year for celebration. And we all know what that means, P-A-R-T-Y. Most offices hold a yearly holiday party. But just because you want to let your hair down, doesn’t mean you necessarily should at a company function. There are certain things you can’t (or shouldn’t) do at these gatherings. 

For those of you who don’t know already what those things are, here’s a short list to help you keep your job and survive another year:

  • First and foremost, DON’T GET COMPLETELY CRUNK (for those of you who don’t know what that is, “Crazy Drunk”). It’s just not a good idea. We all do things we wouldn’t normally do when we’re drunk. Which brings us to #2.
  • Don’t hook up with fellow employees or worse, your boss. In other words, if anyone asks you to come see something in the broom closet, JUST SAY NO!
  • Don’t tell vulgar or off-color jokes. You don’t know if Sue from accounting will report you to HR, so better safe than sorry.
  • Dance with care. Don’t do any “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty,” moves.
  • Dress appropriately. If you’re showing something you’d be embarrassed to show on a regular day, a good rule of thumb is cover it up.
  • Don’t overshare. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than a “Hey, do you know what Madge and I did last Saturday night,” story.
  • Almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera that can take images and records. Unless you want your holiday party behavior to live on post-holiday season, think twice.

Remember, you have to work with these people everyday and there’s nothing worse than hearing, “Did you see Herb at the party. He was _____________.”

All of us at Advance Financial hope you have a very safe and happy holiday.

Photo Credit: Katrina Cole


Have Yourself a Merry Little…


This time of year is meant to be happy and joyous – spending time with family, enjoying holiday parties, selecting presents for those you love. But these things, and a whole list of others, can also bring the holiday stress – turkeys may burn, malls will be crowded and families might have squabbles. How you react to the stress of these situations can either make things better or worse. Below are a few suggestions you might find helpful when dealing with the holidays.

  • Lower your expectations. As much as you may want a perfect holiday, it’s probably not going to happen. And by having high expections, you set yourself up for failure. Relax, focus on what’s realistic and enjoy the moment.
  • Don’t overload your calendar. As much as you may want to go to every party and event, pick and choose what’s really going to be fun to you and allow yourself time to rest and take it easy.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Try to stick to your regular diet as much as possible.  A huge part of the holidays is the food. Of course you’re going to eat special treats and holiday dinners, but don’t let it become a habit. It’s easier to stick to your regular diet than to have to make New Year’s resolutions.
  • Ask for help. Instead of having a resentment that you’re the only one trying to pull off a great holiday, ask for help with things like meals, shopping, errands.

This is just a small list of ways to help. There is a ton of information on the web and you can always ask other people how they handle stress.

Our services can help with holiday stress as well. With over 50 locations all over Tennessee we can help you conveniently pay a bill (FREE), get the cash you need, wire money to a loved one and much more. Stop by and see us. We’re here to help.

Photo Credit: Jim