Category Archives: Tech

Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft, Data Breaches, and Scams

Data breaches and identity theft are becoming a regularly part of our lives. Learn how you can protect and secure your personal information!

How to Secure Your Info from Data Breaches

 Identity theft, data breaches, and scams are something that many of us are dealing with way too frequently.

Recently, I got a letter from the medical system that we use for doctor's appointments and, it, went a little, something like this:

Dear Valued Patient:

We're committed to improving the health and well-being blah blah blah

Earning and maintaining the trust of our patients is paramount and reflected in demonstrating transparency, accountability more stuff to soften what we have to admit

In support of these principles we are writing to let you know that information related to your use of our health portal may have been transmitted to a completely different and unrelated company in error.



Crazy thing is this isn't the first or worst notification we received about our data being possibly compromised or shared.

If you've ever shopped at a Target, been a T-Mobile user, or used Facebook, chances are you got notified about one.

I just named a few big ones, but basically you can check out sites like Wired to find what new data breach is in the news.

Protecting our personal information and identity is getting harder. You have scammers, and identity thieves getting smarter going beyond phishing emails.

They could be using skimming devices when you shop. Then there are hackers breaching company's databases or  an employee illegally accessing and dumping data like with what happened with Capital One

It's a lot to worry about. 

While nothing is foolproof and guaranteed, there are relatively simple steps you can take to make it harder for them to steal your information.

In this episode we'll get into:

  • how you can secure your information offline
  • protecting yourself online
  • resources to help you if you're a victim of identity theft

Alright, let's get started! 

Resources to Protect Your Personal Information and Finances

If you're looking to stay on top of your money and protect your personal information, here are some helpful resources to check out!

For freezing your accounts or putting an alert you need to contact the credit bureaus.

  • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-833-395-6938

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Photo Credits: Markus Spiske and Mikhail Nilov

Republic Wireless: Incredible Deals for Smartphones and Family Plans

Are you looking to save significant money with your cell phone bill today? I'll share who I use and how we're saving big without sacrificing great service!

Finding an Affordable Smartphone Plan with Great Phones and Service

After the year we had in 2020, I know many families -ourselves included -are reevaluating their finances, which means looking at their budget.

One lesson gleaned from the past year is making sure that our budget is optimized, not just for the essentials, but wherever we're spending that it's something that we truly enjoy.

There's no reason to keep subscriptions that you don't use frequently or pay too much for service that you're not getting.

So making sure that you review your bills once or twice a year can give you some significant savings and make sure that you're getting the best value.

One area where many families are overpaying is their smartphone bill.

Smartphones and family plans can be pricey.

Depending on which provider you go with getting an unlimited family plan for a family of four can set you back $180 to even $200 each month.

How would you like to cut that bill in half? It's completely possible and no, you don't have to settle for low quality cheap phones.

Innovation in the smartphone space has meant that there are some great alternatives and more affordable options where you can get the coverage at the big companies for a fraction of the price.

Today, I'm going to focus on one of my favorites and it's the one I use -Republic wireless.

I've been with them for around nine years and they have consistently given great service.

I've had the pleasure of speaking with Joel Kades to dig into how they're able to offer such a great deal with their plans.

We also get into their newest releases with phones, including the new Moto Gs.

I hope you enjoy!

Saving on Your Family Cell Plans with Republic Wireless

Elle Martinez: I appreciate you taking some time to talk with me about tech and how to get the best value, especially when it comes to smartphones.

Joel Kades: Thank you thank you for being a long-term member.

Republic wireless is in our 10th year. And I think you've been with us for most of those years. So it's great to be here.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. Not the very beginning, but I think shortly after. I've was immediately drawn by saving money. You guys have incredible rates for the plans, but what I especially appreciate and talking with a lot of families is getting the best value.

With tech, it is very easy to get into this cycle of spending a ton of money. Especially when you're talking about families, a big part of their budget can be their smartphone and their smartphone plan.

So originally I was definitely drawn to the price, but I especially appreciate with Republic wireless.

You guys are all about the values. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and keep me updated with what's going on.

Innovating in the Cell Phone Space

Joel Kades: Oh sure. Really the whole origin of Republic was this combination of tech and savings.

It's like you started within a larger company called bandwidth. It's a big company in Raleigh that does it's more enterprise communications as a platform.

The founders said, you know, we make telecom technologies, can we do something to help save ourselves and other people money on their, on their cell phone bills?

So really where Republic started was this creation of what was the first and still the most efficient technology for putting your calls and your texts and of course your data onto wifi. Which was a novel concept at that time.

What that does is it takes it off the cellular network and puts it onto the broadband that you're already paying for. So kind of in a way you're not paying twice for that cell phone service, when you're at home and we pass those savings on to the members and use that technology to do so.

It evolved even further to how do we do the technology between the wifi and the cellular to how do we, how do we make smooth transitions? How do we bond those together to get better coverage for our members? We keep innovating and so that's really been the heart of the company.

It's how do we come up with innovations that help save people money?

I don't know even know if you're aware, Our most recent is old school home phones.

I see you have one in the back there.

Republic Wireless Extend Home

Elle Martinez: I had an interesting conversation with my nine-year-old. She wanted to know what was that what's a home line.

Joel Kades: Some of the origin of that was you know, for the nine year olds, a lot of times families don't want to get kids in that seven new 11 range a smart phone yet, and get them off the screens.

So we came up with this thing called extend home just over a year ago where we actually just with a small adaptor attached to a home phone.

Your unlimited home phone calls are part of your cell phone bill. So most people, most people quite honestly cut the cord, right?

So that's one way people have saved money, right?

So that was home phone bills. Even when they're bundled into your cable bill, they're still in there somewhere, you know, it's about 20 to $30 a month hidden in that bundle.

This allows you at no monthly cost.

It's included with the cell phone calls to actually extend your cell phone number to those other phones, those old school phones that you can pull them out of the closet or out of the drawer and there's little adapter to them.

It's like $49. After that there's no cost it's just included.

A nine year old might be home. You can call your own cell phone number. If you're way it'll ring on the home phone, they can pick that up. So it's really a nice innovation. They can also dial nine one one.

Yeah. If you're not home, which is easier. Other advantages, people just like forgot that they it's nice to have that home phone in different rooms and not be attached to your cell phone all the time.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know technology can be a double-edged sword sometimes. You have your smartphone with you, you can do everything and then you want to do everything anytime.

Slashing Your Family Plan in Half

Elle Martinez: I definitely love, as the years gone by how things have improved the services, but I want to go back to what you were talking about. How you guys are able to offer it so cheap, which is the technology with the using the wifi.

Even back then, I had pretty good service because we don't realize how much we're on wifi. It's all around and why not take advantage of that technology? It's significant savings.

I mentioned like price was a big deal for us. For us, I believe when it was just the two of us, we originally paid about a hundred a month was for two lines and then every year, it kept going up.

And so that was my original draw.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I think the average is around 90 or a hundred per person these days, which is insane. I mean, I've seen different studies that are different surveys that show different things. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It varies, but it's significant because I know everyone has their own cell phone plan, but for me, it was less than $40 for two lines.

You know, just based on usage because I'm using the wifi so much.

I did the one gig, my choice plan and then eventually I think I upgraded for an extra $5, two gigs, but like I'm on wifi so much. That is a considerable drop.

So if you're talking about a family that dropped or even a couple, a hundred dollars, and then you drop down to 40 that's 60 a month, seven 20 a year, You know, that's a big savings.

Joel Kades: And you're into the financial independence and wellness you apply that to the compounding that goes on and you get someplace really big.

We've estimated that we've saved our members throughout our history based on the differences. Compared to an average cell phone bill over a half, a billion dollars at this point and our 10th year.

That's a lot you the plan that you were on, the one gig plan, which comes with unlimited talk and text and all the data and everything over wifi, one gig of cellular wifi that is about more than 60% of our members are on that. Okay. The average of one of our members is $20 a month.

So you were right in that zone.

Almost a quarter of our members use the unlimited talk and text for $15 a month. No cellular data.

They just game the wifi and or they're just working at home or they are just hardcore with the wifi users.

Believe it or not my 17 year old games, the wifi now she came to Republic. She looks at that as a challenge. Whereas most kids are just like one on limited data and they're streaming all the time. She downloads her videos. She downloads her podcasts when she's on the wifi and then, uses it outside the home when she's not on my phone.

So she's really come around and a lot of our members have that kind of attitude.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like gamifying and having fun with it.

Full Featured Phones That Are Still Affordable

Elle Martinez: I know one concern when I talk with people is, okay, do you get good coverage? I know for me, most of the time I'm here based in Raleigh, but business trips around the country, we have family everywhere.

I haven't had a problem with service, but one thing I liked about this, and maybe you can explain a little bit more . You also for the cell have two networks it's sprint and I forgot the other .

Joel Kades: Mobile. They were both T-Mobile now, but there are still these two networks out there and they had very complimentary no.

You know, different strengths. If you're one of our members and if you ever have issues with coverage where you are most of the time we'll send you that other SIM to try. So you're gonna have coverage when you're not

Elle Martinez: yep. When you're not on the wi-fi, but yeah, like it's I guess it's been eight, nine years since I've been [with] Republic Wireless, really hasn't been an issue. Another concern, but something you've guys have really excelled at is the amount of options for folks.

I know for some people my husband's in this camp, like there are specific phones. He is a pixel guy.

Some people have very strong feelings, , they love Samsung's the galaxies. I, myself am a Motorola girl.

I like those things are so durable, but you guys have just released, some new Motorola's in the series.

Joel Kades: Yes. We support a range of Android phones and that our wifi technology and our special technology that we build works with Android.

We're not apple at this point.

Motorola is by far one of the most popular of the brands in terms of offer and as you said, we just relaunched the whole line of the GS and These are full featured, very high quality smartphones and the range of one 49 to three 49. And

Elle Martinez: those are great prices.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I don't think our member's mindset is, Oh, I need to have a thousand dollar iPhone. I think a lot of people are changing in that regard these days, too. So with these Motorolas, there's different ones have different strengths. One of them has a bigger screen.

The power has longer battery life. There's the motor one 5g Ace 5g capability and a really pristine screen. So there's some something in that line to fit everybody.

We support the Samsung galaxies. Both the, a series and super high-end S series.

We just launched the S 21, which is the new kind of flagship one. So, but that's a different, that's a different group, right?

Elle Martinez: You have that choice, which I think is incredible. I think a lot in our community is about value. It's not a status symbol; at the same time you know, if we're going to buy a phone, I want it to last for years.

I'm testing out the Moto G stylist, the one that came out because I'm working from home. I have a laptop, but then when you have kids, you're doing the remote learning during the day plus you're trying to get your stuff done with work.

That stylist has been incredibly helpful. I've been testing it out and it's a very affordable price. But it doesn't feel like a cheap phone. It is a great value with that.

Joel Kades: Yes. That stylists, you know, some people it's about creativity and capturing ideas and for other people, it's just easier to do that.

Yeah, my daughter loves the stylist phone and she's more in that creative side and just always capturing something. They're wonderfulphones.

Once again, like, even on the Samsung, I mentioned the S 21, but then we also sell the A21, which is the second line galaxy phones are high quality, but only $249 instead of, you know, pushing up towards the $800 phones.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It's finding that value for you. We have members that are they're diehards galaxies S series but they hold onto it until it breaks.

I'm one of those that I don't mind when it comes out to get to get a new phone, but I'm expecting it to last for years.

So there's a great option for different price points because with technology, you don't want to overpay for things that you don't use.

That's what I love about Republic wireless is that you guys have great plans, different price points for how you use it.

Now you have so many different phones at different price points.

Joel Kades: And you can always bring your own phone if it's an unlocked phone. You know, the unlocked Android.

You can go to our site, there's a bring your own page that has a list of all the compatible phones in the model numbers for those to make sure that it's the right compatible one that works with our service.

With those, all you have to do is go to the settings on your phone, look at about this phone and the model number is going to be there.

You can check it really long list of phones that are going to be compatible with the service.

The other thing that we have, that's a little bit newer and is a huge trend you know, more since COVID, but it really started a few years before and all about savings was kind of following the model of automobiles, which were pre-owned automobiles became a bigger, more high quality thing.

That's come to the cell phone world. We've partnered with a a company called

That's one of the highest rated of these, you get a quality product and if you go to our site under stuff, you'll see a page for SWAPO.

So you can go to swap phones and link from our page and it'll take you to a store within SWAPA. So only the compatible Android phones that work with Republic will be there.

For new members, you also can get a free SIM card with when you buy the phone on swap, I'd get a month free. There's a lot of different ways to save money on smartphones and still get a quality full feature phone. That's going to serve all of your needs.

You know, is it going to be the flashiest showpiece that doesn't tend to be our members. You know, much more independent minded , concerned about their budget and their finances more.

So we try to serve that market and really understand that market.

Elle Martinez: Joel, I really appreciate you sitting down and chatting with me and updating me.

Guys if you're listening and watching this, I'm going to include in the show notes and link below information about Republic wireless, their plans and their phones.

Like I said, I use them and I've been happy with this service, both for my own personal line and also for work.

And if you pay attention on Instagram, all through March, I'm going to be using the motor G stylist so if you're one of those photography nerds and love seeing if that's gonna fit your bill just keep an eye out at simplifying and enjoy.

Joel. Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate it.

Joel Kades: Hey, thank you for having me and thank you for being a long-term member.

Whatever provider you choose. I want you to make sure that you're getting the best value and service.

Turn Off Notifications and Detox

Welcome to the 20 Habit Challenge, where we break down key habits that can help you simplify and transform your money, home, and life!

Have you ever felt like you just can't get into the groove? Or it's hard to follow the conversation because your mind is wandering?

It seems like one the most useful pieces of tech – smartphones – has made us more distracted and added more stress to our lives.

Mastering your Smartphone

Our smartphones are credible pieces of technology and they can be so helpful with us organizing or calendars keeping things right there by us.

That strength is also a weakness when we feel like we are tied to our phone.

There have been times where I and my friends have felt uncomfortable when we've forgotten our phones.


We feel like we're missing out on something and a big part of that is the flood of notifications.

Even if they are benign things like games, almost every app makes has them on by default.

And that can take a toll on us.

Today’s habit is about stopping that cycle of checking your phone every 5 minutes.

Turn Off Notifications on Your Smartphone

I want you to turn off all those needless notifications on your phone.

Sounds easy, but doing it can be difficult.

Are you already trying to justify why you need to have them on?

If you need to keep tabs on certain things (like email for work), leave them on.

Go ahead and start with less crucial ones, like your games.

I had two games that enjoyed that sent notifications through the day. One was less intrusive since it vibrated, but there other was loud.

I didn't realize how much they were controlling my attention until I turned the notifications off.

Still, have them, but now I have a set time where I play. They're fun, but they're not taking over my day.

Need Help with Notifications?

If you're stuck on how exactly do this, one of my favorite sites, Break the Twitch, has a quick video on how to do that.

Your Take on Doing a Digital Detox

I'd love to hear from you and get your take. which apps do you absolutely need to keep notifications on? Which ones drive you nuts?