Spread holiday cheer without draining your bank account

By on December 19, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

Homemade GiftsThe holidays are upon us – time to spread our joy…and open our wallets. Thinking of the amount of money that will be coming out of my bank account gives me some anxiety. But not much, because I am fabulous on a budget and ‘tis the season to save. Read on for some glad tidings of savings and more.

I am girl who loves technology, so I stay on top of the latest and greatest apps, websites and toys. When I found out about the Christmas Gift List app and Honey (Google Chrome extension), I was jumping with holiday joy.

Christmas Gift List helps me stay organized and on budget as I contemplate holiday gifts. Set a gift budget for each person and mark the gift as purchased as you do your shopping! This app is Android-based, but there are similar apps for all mobile operating systems.

Calling all online shoppers! Have you heard of Honey? Install this extension to your chrome browser and it will automatically apply coupon codes to your shopping cart. This service is a holiday miracle. I could spend a lot of time trying to find coupon codes on various sites, but Honey saves me that time! #SAVING

My favorite way to save money, though, is to get my craft on! Sites like Pinterest and Buzzfeed will help bring your inner elf out. (Warning: It can be a challenge to tear yourself away from these sites/apps and actually do the work.) If you can make the same gift for several people, you can save a little more. You can buy your material in bulk at your local wholesaler (i.e., Costco). Here are some of my favorite crafting gift ideas:

  • Personalized CDs for your friends.
  • I love to make my own “best of” edible items: Everyone loves some yummy holiday snacks or sweets, so whip up your favorite batch of cookies or snack mix, and share with your friends and family.
  • Goodness in a jar: Mason jars are quite popular right now, and using a mason jar to hold the ingredients to cookies, drinks or a family recipe. You can decorate the jar and include the recipe for the goodie inside for a wonderful and inexpensive gift.
  • Gift kits: These can be inexpensive and witty. Select a theme and two or three items that go with it. Decorate the package and add a printable label to give it your personal touch.
  • Homemade decorative mug/cup: Bring out your inner artist and make a custom print coffee mug. Buy a plain mug in a single color and decorate it with porcelain paint pens. Simply bake the mug and, just like that, you have a unique gift for someone special.
  • Homemade candles: Candles are a simple gift that everyone uses; choose from the many scents available, or you can even make your own unique fragrance.
  • Candleholder: If you want a gift that will last longer that a wick, you can make a decorative candleholder. You can decorate a holder using a process similar to the one for a ceramic mug or make your candle in a mason jar.
  • Hand-warmers: To warm a person’s heart, start with their hands. This craft does require a little sewing, but that lets you have fun with the shape of the warmer. You take two pieces of fabric, such as flannel, and sew them together with a gap so you can add flax seed, rice, barley or hulled corn inside and then finish stitching the warmer up.
  • Homemade ornaments: These can be made by people of all ages and for anyone, so they make a great family project. Simple and priceless, and any number of designs can work.

The possibilities of homemade gifts are endless. You can find these ideas and many more, as well as other holiday saving tips and free printable labels, on the ‘Tis the season to save Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/lafrish/tis-the-season-to-save/

Enjoy the season!

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Protecting your identity: the holiday gift that keeps on giving

By on December 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Posted in: Safety and Insurance Issues, Sales and Service

identity protectionMost of us will go about our annual routine this holiday season, looking to buy that perfect gift for our loved ones, oblivious to some of the potential threats we face. For example, did you know that each time you use your credit, debit or store card, you leave behind a trail of information for companies (let’s call them Big Brother) looking to capture, warehouse and sell consumers’ personal information to the highest bidder?

Big Brother collects and sells your personal information for a profit without your consent. Sounds fishy, but it’s definitely legal and it’s not stealing by any means – and it’s a big business. And as your precious personal information is passed along from point A to point B (and C and D), all without your knowledge, it is susceptible to data breaches, as we have seen happen on so many occasions in recent years. Once that happens, your information has been compromised, and you don’t have a clue who has access to it.

How do companies get your information? Remember when you signed up for the store credit card to receive 10 percent off your purchase? You thought it was a good deal at the time, didn’t you? Companies also use clever in-store marketing promotions to gather information on customers.

Every purchase you make with a credit, debit or store card provides valuable data that information brokers can use like pieces of a puzzle to build a profile of you. Once they think they have you tabbed as a member of a specific demographic, they will then try to sell you products and services based on your past purchases. So the next time you receive an email promotion saving you 25 percent off of those skinny jeans that you like so much, now you know why.

You can’t always avoid using a card for big purchases, but if you want to minimize Big Brother’s opportunities, use cash when you can. And you might not want to sign up for any in-store promotions where they ask you to share your personal information.

Big Brother’s tactics may be legal, but crooks are also on the lookout for opportunities to take advantage of you. That’s not a strictly a seasonal phenomenon, but the more shopping you do, the more care you need to take when using credit cards.

You can’t eliminate all of these risks, but you don’t have to face them alone, either. Consider identity theft protection services, which can help monitor your financial accounts, credit reports and personal information, and restore your identity if you do become a victim.

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Holiday sweaters, cookies and gingerbread houses keep us cozy

By on December 16, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends, Working at GEICO

cookiesThe holidays are full of traditions and, here at GEICO headquarters in Washington, D.C., my corporate communications colleagues and I recently renewed ours: a cookie throwdown. With 18 different cookies to sample and vote on, everyone left with a sugar buzz, a smile and a bag full of cookies to take home.

Chocolate peppermint cookies, almond bars, peanut butter kiss cookies, shortbread and many more varieties covered the table with deliciousness! One crafty baker entered four different types of cookies to up his odds of capturing top honors – to no avail, as it turned out! Sorry, Willie!

Wasting no time trying out GEICO blogger Rachel’s cookie recipe, public relations director Chris took home the grand prize in the taste test with the chocolate snowball cookies!

Some of my colleagues even donned festive sweaters. Robin, Willie and Karen (pictured) really captured the holiday spirit, don’t you think! Which holiday sweater is your favorite?

Gingerbread HouseWe were pretty proud of ourselves until we heard about the pricing and product management department’s gingerbread house competition. The beautiful, intricate confections looked too good to eat. They weren’t, but the amazing gingerbread model of our office building you see here survived – so far!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

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New Year, new career: If you’re into IT, GEICO might be right for you

By on December 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Posted in: IT @ GEICO, Working at GEICO

By guest blogger Hope Buehler, human resources

ITAre you looking to kick off the new year with a boost to your IT career?

GEICO – a proven online and mobile industry leader – seeks IT pros skilled in .NET, Java, Guidewire, SQL DBA/DB2, UI / UX, TomCat, Apache, Middleware, Big Data Administration, and iOS and Android technologies to join our dynamic team.

With more than 2,000 associates working in IT at GEICO, not only are we a top employer for tech pros, we’re also at the cutting edge of our industry. We’re utilizing emerging technologies to drive results, enhance our customers’ online experiences, and improve bottom-line results. As our CEO often says, “There’s never been a better time to be a GEICO associate.”

Are you ready to join our team?

You can check out the opportunities we have for IT pros on the Careers site at geico.com. And if you can be in the Washington, D.C., area on Thursday, Jan. 8, you’ll want to come to the Sheraton Hotel in Reston, Virginia, where you can meet with recruiters and IT managers and be considered for on-site interviews. The event lasts from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel located at 11810 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston, within walking distance of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro stop on the Silver Line. RSVP at ITcareers@geico.com and attach your resume. Refreshments will be served and there will be a raffle for a fantastic prize!

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Giving Tuesday, GEICO style: Recycled Ride eases single mother’s hardships

By on December 9, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends, Working at GEICO

By guest blogger Michael Young, public relations

RecycledRideI hope you all survived this year’s post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza. Maybe, like me, you even brought home a couple of sweet Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. But let’s toss aside the shopping for now and focus on what I call the crown jewel in this string of days: Giving Tuesday.

GEICO stepped up on Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday), providing a restored ride to a family in need in the Greater Seattle Area. This donation was made possible through our partnership with Recycled Rides, a program launched by the National Auto Body Council that completely restores totaled vehicles for families who are in dire need of reliable transportation.

Alicia Stout, a single mother of three children with special needs, received a fully refurbished 2007 Ford Edge from Recycled Rides at GEICO’s office in Renton, Washington. Stout, who until recently was homeless, often had to take up to seven buses in a day to go to work, buy groceries and take her kids to appointments.

Stout said receiving the Ford Edge was the best early Christmas present ever. “It’s unspeakable; I don’t have words,” she said of the generosity. “I just say thank you to God and everybody involved who helped to make it happen.”

I’m a relatively new GEICO associate, and it’s inspiring to see my employer work alongside other companies to make a profound impact in somebody’s life. It also reminds me not to take it for granted that I can pick up the keys, hop in the car and drive off on my merry way.

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Delicious desserts make for a sweet holiday season

By on December 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

ChocSnowballsThe holidays are a wonderful time to spend with your family and friends, and if you’re like me, your favorite way to spend that time is beside a warm fire with hot cocoa in one hand and your favorite holiday dessert in the other. So, if you haven’t nailed down your holiday dessert list yet, here are a few of my favorites that you might want to add:

Pumpkin pie – This might be the first dessert that comes to mind when thinking about the holidays. Try this recipe during the holiday season, you’ll be sure to accumulate a few more fans of your baking.

Red velvet cupcakes – Cupcakes might not be a traditional dessert for the holidays, but they sure are delightful – especially red velvet cupcakes. These light and fluffy desserts are sure to be a winner at the family gathering, and I have found a wonderful recipe for you to use.

Chocolate snowball cookies – One of my all-time favorites to make during the holidays, these treats go well with the winter weather outside. These cookies please the eyes with their pretty crackled snowy tops and fudge peeking out from underneath – and they’re delicious! Check out this recipe; your guests will be awed by your baking skills.

No matter what desserts you choose to have during the holiday season, we hope you have a wonderful time enjoying them with family and friends. Happy holidays everyone!

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Going Publick: The GEICO Gecko Series brings theater to Maryland students

By on December 2, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Posted in: Marketing & Communications

TheaterGeckoWhen he’s not on our TV screens, the GEICO Gecko can be found handing out high-fives at some of our charitable events around the country. Once a month through May 2015, the Gecko will be at the Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Md., greeting Prince George’s County Title One students for the GEICO Gecko Series of educational musical theater.

Supported by a grant from the GEICO Philanthropic Foundation, the series’ eight shows are free to qualifying schools and students. With a different show each month, the series combines fun and learning with subjects like American history, math and science, and much-loved children’s books.

TheaterGroupIf you’ll be in the D.C. area any time soon, and you want to take in some educational theater, performances are at 10:15 a.m. and noon, and the schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014: “Holiday Tales”
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2015: “Classroom Character: The Road to Success”
  • Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 : “Coretta Scott King”
  • Friday, March 20, 2015: “Berenstain Bears Live!’
  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015: “Slim Bodyology: Fantastic You”
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015: “Dog Loves Books”

For tickets and information, call the Publick Playhouse at 301-277-1710.

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Memory of the Month: ‘I was born a Ramblin’ Man …’

By on November 28, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends, Working at GEICO

RambleRama

Each month, we share an image from GEICO’s past and invite you to exercise your caption-writing skills.

OK, maybe I wasn’t born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus, rollin’ down Highway 41, like it says in the Allman Brothers’ song, but I did spend chunks of my “formative years” in the back seat and “way-back” of my parents’ Rambler Ambassador station wagon. The one you see here was an earlier version of the trusty family vehicle in which I was often a passenger, and later a driver.

The scene depicted here – I’m guessing it’s from the late 1960s – is an example of GEICO’s fondness for partnering with local businesses and charities to build community. This display of the latest Rambler models gave a local dealership a chance to show off its wares for hundreds of potential customers to see as they entered or exited the corporate headquarters.

The Allman Brothers just retired, and Rambler went out of business years ago, but that patio at our headquarters is still there, and is often used for warm-weather cookouts and other special events. And our penchant for giving local organizations opportunities to visit us and market their products or recruit volunteers remains as well. Helping local businesses and charities thrive AND offering our associates convenient, on-site access to them – that’s a winning proposition for all concerned.

What cars – or songs – remind you of your youth? Tell us in the comments.

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Appreciation abounds at GEICO

By on November 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends, Working at GEICO

November is a time to reflect upon what we’re thankful for, and we continue the tradition with this month’s GEICO Careers Now video. If you were ever curious about what it’s like to work at GEICO, you’ll see what a few of my colleagues at our corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C., had to say about that.

These six associates tell us exactly what they’re thankful for at GEICO.  Check out the video, hosted by my fellow blog author Rachel, and learn more about the goings-on at GEICO.


 

LINDSAY (marketing) – “I’m grateful that GEICO gives you the opportunity to change career paths.”

BRANDON (event marketing) – “It’s really just a whole big family and bunch of friends.”

JOEL (human resources) – “I’m thankful for the amazing culture of teamwork and community.”

FARISHTA (event marketing) – “You see a lot of things unfold, and it’s pretty magical.”

CHRIS (communications) – “I’m grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people and made some really great friends.”

MIKE (public relations) – “What I’m most thankful for so far is Warm Cookie Wednesday. Need I say more?”

I just can’t believe no one mentioned the irresistible access to the best shopping in D.C. right outside our office! Maybe that’s because it seriously tests financial willpower. Personally, I’m thankful for the opportunities and encouragement to define my own career path within the company. It’s a true culture of support. Check out GEICO’s Careers site to browse open positions in our offices around the country.

Pushin’ it with Salt-N-Pepa

By on November 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Posted in: Marketing & Communications, On the Web

What do you do with a lawnmower or a blocking sled? Well, you push it. If you’re Salt-N-Pepa, you tell people to push it real good. And if you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO. It’s what you do!

Check out the second spot in GEICO’s “It’s What You Do” campaign below:

If you have this stuck in your head all day, you won’t be alone!

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