How One Family Accepted — and Survived — the Pantry Challenge

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How One Family Accepted — and Survived — the Pantry Challenge
When my editor called me on the last day of my vacation to ask me to take on a Pantry Challenge, my first thought was: I wish I had gone grocery shopping first. But then, where would the challenge be in that? If you’re unfamiliar with it, a Pantry Challenge requires you to use what’s in your cupboard (and refrigerator and freezer) to create meals for one week. The only rule: no buying. If you’re like my family, you often pick up specific ingredients for a recipe, but don’t necessarily use all of them. You forget about the food, leaving it to languish in the back of the refrigerator until one day, it’s grown enough mold to qualify as your daughter’s science project. Then when it comes time for dinner, you default to stopping by the store for more ingredients or worse, ordering takeout. Neither option is good for the budget, and you end up wasting food. Just us? My husband, Chris, regularly cooks a delicious dinner — my culinary skills are mostly limited to chopping vegetables and reheating leftovers — so I figured we could accept a five-day pantry challenge without much trouble. (I got to skip the weekend portion due to the story’s deadline.) I announced our participation in the Pantry Challenge to Chris and our 10-year-old daughter, Gwen, Monday evening. Although neither seemed particularly excited, they humored me. How the Pantry Challenge Works Meal prepping is an essential component of the Pantry Challenge, since you’ll need to plan your meals using fresh produce before it goes bad and saving items like a frozen pizza for a break-in-case-of-emergency dinner. So after I talked to my editor, I shopped our refrigerator and pantry for inspiration. Inspiration quickly turned to perspiration as I realized we had no frozen pizza. Or eggs. Or apples. Or bread. Or gummy bears. I looked online for recipes from people who’d done the Challenge before me. One person suggested barbecuing banana peels. What had I gotten us into? We weren’t going to starve, but I did experience a moment of panic when I realized how little fresh produce we had and how gross it was turning before my eyes. We were going to have to dig deep (in the freezer). Here’s the daily play-by-play of recipes we came up with for creatively meeting the Challenge. Monday Dinner We based Monday night’s dinner on the produce. We had some nearly wilted lettuce, half a tomato and an inexplicable plethora of onions. That, along with the hamburger buns in the fridge had all the makings of a burger night.  Unfortunately, we’d used the remaining ground turkey last week. But my husband found a package of Asian-flavored soy burgers he’d bought months ago during our ill-advised attempt at vegetarianism. With plenty of ketchup, mustard and a leftover bottle of chipotle mayo, we decided they’d be the best companion for our paltry produce. We also discovered a couple leftover sweet potatoes from a bag we bought for a stew weeks ago. Those sweet potatoes were not getting any younger, so Chris cut around the less-than-desirable parts, tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika and baked them to a crisp. And to make sure we didn’t waste anything, I used up the rest of the chicken Caesar salad my daughter and I had split for lunch. The croutons were a bit soggy, but it was an easy way to add extra veggies to our meal. Reviews: There’s a reason those burgers collected ice crystals in the back of our freezer. My daughter ate half the sandwich and a few fries before claiming she was “full.” She wasn’t.  Tuesday Here’s the thing about the Pantry Challenge. In the evening, you have time to gather items and experiment, so cobbling together dinner from your pantry is a bit easier.  But in the morning rush, when I was in charge of making lunches, the Pantry Challenge became more of a Pantry Struggle. Breakfast was easy enough: We still had English muffins, bananas, frozen waffles and cereal.  But often when I pack our lunches, I use leftovers. And nobody was eating the sad, lonely veggie burger from last night (except maybe the dog, whose palate is decidedly less discerning).  But my teacher husband and daughter were headed to school to set up his classroom and I was headed to the office, so we needed to some kind of subsistence. I dug into the produce drawer and picked out the good pieces from a bag of deteriorating spinach, topping them with a cucumber that was on its last legs. (It hadn’t really grown legs. Yet.) To help keep our tummies full, I sent along bags of almonds, rice crackers and the last of the fresh cherries.  That covered vegetables, protein, carbs and fruits, so we’re good, right? Unfortunately, in my rush to pack lunches, I forgot to take the chicken thighs out of the freezer to defrost in the refrigerator for dinner.  Normally, that would have resulted in a trip to the grocery store for an alternative meal or maybe takeout. But tonight, we just delayed dinner a little while I figured out how to defrost solid chicken thighs in the microwave.  In case you were wondering, it takes about 20 minutes for 2 lbs. of chicken to defrost. And yes, they were a bit rubbery, thanks for asking. Chris cooked the thighs with a jar of Indian sauce (mostly to cover the rubberiness). Typically, we like to boost the dish with a colorful array of peppers, but there were no peppers to be found, so we settled for some chopped baby carrots.  Fortunately, we’re almost always stocked on rice, so we cooked extra to ensure we’d have enough for our lunches the next day. We completed the meal with steamed frozen broccoli. Reviews: Lunch was definitely a bust — the “meals” I sent with Chris and Gwen came back half eaten. I suspect they may have located pizza leftover from a staff meeting, but neither one was ratting out the other. Dinner was a bigger success, and I was proud of myself for sticking with the Challenge and defrosting the chicken rather than taking the lazy route to takeout. Bonus: Who realized the slightly browning bananas could be cut up and frozen for smoothies and snacks for the remainder of the week? This mom! FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Save Money, Mystery Shop! Free tickets, food, hotels, entertainment and more! 8/13/19 @ 2:27 PM Travel Tips, anyone have any to share? 8/13/19 @ 2:27 PM Traveling 1/26/19 @ 9:01 PM S Extra Job 7/30/19 @ 2:52 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question Wednesday Want to know the secret to the Pantry Challenge? Pasta. Oh sure, there are other secrets — like frozen produce, dried beans and canned soups — but at the end of the day, when you’re tired and hungry, pasta saves the day. Plus, you can make a ton of it at once for easy leftovers. And for a non-chef like myself, pasta is a godsend because you can serve it multiple ways without much culinary wizardry.  I can toss it with olive oil, fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese for a simple dish, with canned tomatoes, feta and olives for a Mediterranean flair or with canned tuna and cream of mushroom soup for a casserole.  But I didn’t have half of those items in my house. Instead, I found an open jar of spaghetti sauce in the fridge that was leftover from last week when my husband had only needed a c [...]
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Blow Your Budget? 5 Things to Do — and Not to Do — to Get Back on Track

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Blow Your Budget? 5 Things to Do — and Not to Do — to Get Back on Track
In budgeting, all it takes is one ill-timed expense to send the best-laid plans into a tizzy. Maybe you blew your budget for reasons out of your control: a sick pet, a car breakdown or a dreaded dental emergency.  Or maybe your shortfall happened because you made a mistake: You overindulged on your vacation, or you didn’t plan for an irregular expense that’s very much expected. Hey, it happens to the best of us. 5 Moves to Make After You’ve Blown Your Budget When you blow your calorie count by splurging on dessert, it’s tempting to say you’ve blown it for the day/week/month — even though the obvious solution is to cut back the next couple of days and schedule extra gym time. With budgeting, it’s the same. When you’ve spent too much, the worst thing you can do is give up and start plopping down the credit card just because you’re over budget. You can bounce back with a little self-reflection and discipline. Follow these five tips for how to get back on track with a budget. 1. Identify the Problem If your budget shortfall was the result of a one-time emergency expense, this one is so obvious. But if you blew your budget because you simply spent too much, or if blowing your budget is a regular occurrence, it’s time to take a hard look at your spending. Did you overspend on a one-time event, like back-to-school shopping or a birthday gift? Were impulse purchases a factor? Or maybe your budget has slowly been creeping up month after month, and you’ve just now realized you’re spending too much. We’ll discuss how to combat these budget-busting habits later. Your first step is to diagnose the problem. 2. Pay Off Your Bills Now, if You Can If you charged the expenses you didn’t budget for to a credit card and you can afford to pay it off now, do it. If that means you don’t add money to your savings account this month, that’s OK. Your goal is to get back on track.  If the expense was for a true emergency — meaning it was unexpected, urgent and necessary — and you have money set aside in a rainy day fund, you have our permission to tap into it if you need to. Of course, if you can make extra money on the side, pick up extra shifts or sell stuff online to cover your shortfall without touching your savings, that’s even better. 3. Adjust Your Budget if You Incurred Debt If you weren’t able to pay down your extra expenses immediately and have a lingering credit card balance as a result, you need a plan to pay it off as soon as possible. If you don’t have a monthly budget, it’s time to change that.  One of our favorite budgeting methods is zero-based budgeting, which makes you give every cent of income a job — whether it’s for needs, wants, saving, investing or paying off debt. Look at your past three months’ worth of bills to determine your normal spending habits and figure out where you can cut back to put as much toward paying off your credit card debt as you can. 4. Look at Past Spending to Find Overspending Patterns Let’s face it: A lot of times you blow your budget because you’ve developed bad habits. Looking back at your past spending can help you identify patterns. Here’s what to look for and how to curb your budget-busting behavior. Impulse Spending Look through your recent transactions for purchases you didn’t plan to make: the Uber Eats meals you ordered at the end of a long day, the shoes you had to have because they were 20% off, the trip to Target for paper towels that somehow turned into a $200 shopping spree.  If you find a lot of these, you’re probably prone to impulse buying, especially when you’re feeling anxious or down. The key is to make it harder for yourself to spend money on a whim. Delete shopping and food delivery apps. Unsubscribe from emails from your favorite store. If you want to spend money on something that isn’t a need, try a cooling off period of at least a week. If you still want the item after that and it won’t break your budget, then you’re allowed to buy it. Incomplete Budgeting Of course you know to budget for your rent or mortgage, car payment and groceries. But a lot of expenses occur regularly — but not monthly — and they’re easy to forget about when you’re budgeting. Your cat’s annual vet checkup, your driver’s license and tag renewal, and the hair cut you get every two or three months, to name a few. Here’s a complete list of 101 budgeting categories you can use to make sure you’re not leaving anything out.  Another common mistake: failing to account for variable expenses, i.e., the ones that fluctuate. If you live in a warm area, you probably need to budget extra for the summer months when your A/C is cranking. Lifestyle Inflation If your spending is slowly creeping up month after month, or if you see that your spending for each given month is significantly higher than it was for the same month last year, you may be succumbing to lifestyle inflation, which happens when you increase your spending as your income goes up. Some lifestyle inflation is inevitable, but it’s important not to put every cent of each pay raise or bonus toward upgrades like a fancier apartment or more dining out. You’ll only get ahead and prevent future budgeting mishaps if you divert some of that cash to savings. 5. Give Yourself Room to Make Mistakes If you want to never go over budget, you need to predict the future, have perfect luck and morph into a budgeting robot that never makes a mistake. Since that’s not happening, you need a safety cushion so that an unexpected expense or a little overspending doesn’t cause a crisis. The first goal to work toward is building an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses that you can dip into as a last resort. No, it’s not easy — if you’re not swimming in disposable cash, this is a long-term goal. Just remember if you get frustrated that even saving a few hundred dollars could stave off a crisis. For major expenses that you can plan for, you may want to start a sinking fund, which you contribute to over time to spread out the cost. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? 3/18/19 @ 12:42 AM Is there a particular budgeting booklet 8/19/19 @ 2:14 PM A Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question 5 Things Not to Do After Overspending The most important thing to remember when you blow your budget is that it’s a temporary setback. Your bank account will recover. But if you do any of the following, you risk making a short-lived problem into a long-term one. 1. Take Out a Payday Loan The annual interest rates for payday loans are often upward of 300%, and about 70% of borrowers need a second loan within a month. That means you’re likely to keep blowing your budget as you struggle to pay back the loan. 2. Get a Cash Advance The interest rate for the average credit card cash advance is about 6 percentage points higher than credit card interest rates, plus they usually have fees of about 5%. You’ll almost always pay less by charging a purchase to your credit card. 3. Borrow From Your 401(k) Not only will you miss out on potential g [...]
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Your Guide to Booking Award Nights With Hilton Honors

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Your Guide to Booking Award Nights With Hilton Honors
Hilton is one of the largest hotel brands, with more than 4,800 hotels around the globe. Its Hilton Honors reward program can be richly rewarding for its members. How many points are needed for a free night? Hilton Honors points can be redeemed for a free night for as little as 5,000 points for a Points... Lissa Poirot is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Your Guide to Booking Award Nights With Hilton Honors originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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African fintech migrates to Europe

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African fintech migrates to Europe
Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia. With less than 4 years of operations under its belt, ambitious African fintech, SME lender Lidya, has announced it will commence its expansion into eastern Europe. The venture backed […] The post African fintech migrates to Europe appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Derek Peth of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’: It’s OK to Talk About Money with Friends

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Derek Peth of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’: It’s OK to Talk About Money with Friends
Trying to maintain a social life while still paying the bills? That’s easier said than done. Bar tabs, brunches, vacations and birthday celebrations don’t pay down student loans or help you save for a down payment on a home. If you’re not a careful budgeter, your social spending can even put you behind on rent. But that doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Derek Peth, a financial executive who’s most known for stints on “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” suggests the opposite. Becoming more financially intimate — sharing your financial situation with your friends or significant other — can strengthen your relationships while protecting your budget. Peth, a senior vice president at the online lender Laurel Road, told The Penny Hoarder it’s time to remove the taboo around talking about money. “Your finances are a part of who you are,” he said. The people you love should be accepting of that, even if it prohibits you from going out and spending money as often as they’d like. Talking about your financial situation, however, doesn’t mean you have to dish out the explicit details of how much you make or how much debt you have to an acquaintance or someone you just started dating. Instead, Peth suggests sharing your goals and limits.  “You can say something like, ‘I’ve got a lot in student loans. I’m really trying to focus on that and my goals right now, and I’m kind of limited on what I can do. Here’s my limits,’” he said. “You don’t necessarily [have to] put numbers behind it, but at least start having the conversation.” While you’re being more open about your money situation, make sure to share your financial wins too. Paying off $10,000 of your student debt is worthy of the type of celebration you’d have if a friend was turning 30, Peth said. “Achieving something like paying off a large amount of debt and then celebrating it in a fun way is something that we should do more of,” he said. When you don’t have as much disposable income as your friends, it can be disappointing to say no to an invite. “FOMO is a real thing,” Peth said. True friends should accept the occasional “no thanks, I can’t make it” reply. If someone is constantly trying to push you outside your financial comfort zone or can’t accept your explanations as to why you can’t afford going out every weekend, Peth said it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship. “You don’t want to be begrudgingly doing something and you also don’t want to — if you’re real friends — be guilt-tripping someone into doing something either,” he said. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM Money management in general 9/17/19 @ 12:59 PM J Out on sick leave 9/19/19 @ 5:48 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question To avoid some of these situations, Peth advises taking the lead and being the one to plan the outing. You can come up with something enjoyable that doesn’t involve spending a bunch of money, like a backyard barbecue or a picnic where everyone chips in and brings a dish. Living in New York, Peth said some of his favorite things to do are hanging with friends on a rooftop or in Central Park, which are very low-cost. When it comes to dating, Peth suggests taking a note from the Bachelor franchise — with adjustments to fit your budget, of course. “There are multiple layers to their big dates,” he said. “Although they’re crazy expensive, you can start out somewhere that’s got nice drinks, grab one there, walk to another place that’s maybe lower cost to get tacos together and just laugh and chat, and then go through a final walk through some park.” Adding layers to a date involves a little more effort than just making reservations at a restaurant. Peth said it shows you value spending time with that person, and the change of scenery helps break up some first-date awkwardness.  “The first time you’re meeting somebody, mix it up a little bit,” he said. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Warren Buffett makes a surprise appearance at women’s investing conference

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Warren Buffett makes a surprise appearance at women’s investing conference
This is the Variant Perspectives Conference, happening in Omaha at the same time as this weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders event. It’s a conference about empowering female investors. And then Warren made a surprise appearance! Hat tip Paul. ... The post Warren Buffett makes a surprise appearance at women’s investing conference appeared first on The Reformed Broker. [...]
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Mother’s Day and 529 college savings plans

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Mother’s Day and 529 college savings plans
Time to read: 2 min Sunday, May 12 is Mother’s Day, providing an opportunity for those everywhere to celebrate the special mothers in their lives. And when I say mothers, I do not mean just yours — I mean any wonderful woman in your world who is a mother. Someone who nurtures, provides and loves without hesitation or qualification. This could be your sister, daughter, best friend or even a cousin twice removed.   As you celebrate Mother’s Day, consider honoring these special moms in a way that will leave a lasting legacy. By contributing to a 529 plan for their children, you celebrate motherhood while helping build a future for the recipients. You can even put your contribution in mom’s name to celebrate all she’s done for her kids. Costs continue to rise According to the most recent figures, the cost of higher education is heading in only one direction — higher. The most recent data from The College Board reports the cost of room and board, fees and tuition as exceeding $21,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year for in-state, public institutions and $48,000 for private universities.1 When you consider the burden that student loans place on young graduates, a 529 contribution could be the perfect Mother’s Day gift because every dollar saved is one less to be borrowed. 529 savings plans are tax-advantaged, meaning that contributions are after-tax, earnings grow tax-deferred and qualified distributions are tax-free. 529 plans can be used to pay for qualified educational expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, equipment and school supplies at any eligible institution. In some states, 529 plans can be used to cover up to $10,000 per year of public, private or religious elementary or secondary school tuition.  A 529 plan can be opened for anyone with a valid Social Security number. There are no account minimums to get started and no income limits to contribute. Honor the moms in your life So this Mother’s Day, consider giving the gift of college savings. It honors the special mothers in your life while providing their children with a gift that lasts a lifetime. Interested in learning more about 529 plans? Visit CollegeBound529.com to explore helpful resources and tools to plan your own education savings strategy. Before you invest, consider whether your (or the beneficiary’s) home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s qualified tuition program. For more information about CollegeBound 529, contact your financial advisor, call 877-615-4116, or visit http://www.collegebound529.com/ to obtain a Program Description, which includes investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information; read and consider it carefully before investing. Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the distributor of CollegeBound 529. 1 Source: The College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2018 Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. Tax and other benefits are contingent on meeting other requirements and certain withdrawals are subject to federal, state, and local taxes. For beneficiary changes to occur without federal or state income tax consequences, the new beneficiary must be a family member of the current beneficiary. Important information Blog header image: monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto.com Thomas Rowley Director, Retirement and Education Strategies Thomas Rowley is director of retirement and education strategies and one of Invesco’s most frequently requested speakers. He provides analysis of the evolving retirement landscape and develops actionable strategies to help investors and financial advisors maximize their retirement-planning opportunities. Mr. Rowley regularly shares his insights online at invesco.com/us in addition to his speaking engagements. Mr. Rowley’s insights reflect more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry. He translates his comprehensive knowledge of retirement planning into lively, clear explanations of the complexities of legislative, investing, tax and social issues. Mr. Rowley shares his analyses of retirement-related issues through regular personal appearances, continuing education webinars and Web-based commentaries. [...]
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An overview of infrastructure and master limited partnerships

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An overview of infrastructure and master limited partnerships
Time to read: 4 min Infrastructure is a topic that has been in the news consistently over the past year. Importantly, everyone seems to agree that whatever infrastructure is, the country needs more of it. Given this rare moment of national consensus, I want to welcome you to the second installment of my blog series focusing on the different types of alternative investments. My last blog focused on real estate. Today, we will drill down into the infrastructure sector and a popular subsector, master limited partnerships (MLPs). Overview of infrastructure Merriam-Webster defines infrastructure as “the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly.” This definition is a good starting point as it links infrastructure to meeting the needs of society. Roads, bridges, airports, tunnels, power lines, water distribution systems, shipping ports and railroads are examples of infrastructure assets. On a global basis, there is a need for increased investment in infrastructure, both among emerging and developed economies. Emerging economies need infrastructure to support growth and increased urbanization. Developed countries need to make ongoing investments to maintain and upgrade existing infrastructure. For example, New York recently replaced the dilapidated Tappan Zee Bridge with the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, and is also in the middle of a multi-year redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of driving over the old Tappan Zee or flying through LaGuardia (as I have), you know those projects were desperately needed! As shown below, there is a global need (currently estimated at $49 trillion1) for sizeable investments in infrastructure. The challenge is how to pay for investments of such magnitude when global gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately $86 trillion.2 Global infrastructure investment need estimated at $49 trillion Map Source: Invesco Real Estate, IHS Global Insight, ITF, GWI, National Statistics, McKinsey Global Institute analysis. This is not financial advice or a recommendation to buy / hold / sell these securities. There is no guarantee that Invesco will hold these securities within its funds in the future. Chart Source: OECD; IHS Global Insight; GWI; IEA; McKinsey Global Institute analysis as of June 2018. $=US. OECD telecom estimate covers only OECD members plus Brazil, China and India. Energy estimate through 2023. There is no guarantee that these estimated needs will be funded. While many governments acknowledge their strong need to make infrastructure investments, resources are often limited due in part to ongoing budget deficits. For this reason, government investment in infrastructure has been falling as a percentage of GDP, as illustrated below: Despite need, global infrastructure investment has been declining as a percentage of GDP Source: Invesco Real Estate using data from World Bank and McKinsey Global Institute Analysis as of 2015. Latest available data. Europe is represented by the European Union. Infrastructure investment is defined by gross fixed capital investment as a percent of GDP. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Public-private partnerships Given the limited ability of governments to meet the need for infrastructure investment, private investors have rushed in to fill the void. For example, the LaGuardia Airport project is being built through a public-private partnership. While the use of private funds for infrastructure is viewed as novel within the US, it is actually quite common elsewhere. Most airports outside the US are publicly listed and generate significant earnings from their retail business tenants (in addition to airline passenger fees). During my recent trip to Spain, I was struck by how much the airports resembled shopping malls. Infrastructure investment options Investors looking to gain exposure to infrastructure have several options: Listed infrastructure securities (such as the equity of firms that own and operate infrastructure) Mutual funds that invest in listed infrastructure securities Unlisted infrastructure investments (either through direct asset purchases or shares of privately placed funds) Typically, only large investors such as institutions and high-net-worth individuals can access unlisted investments, whereas listed infrastructure securities can be purchased by anyone, either directly or through mutual funds. Overview of master limited partnerships (MLPs) MLPs represent a subset of infrastructure securities – these are publicly traded limited partnerships that are generally focused on energy infrastructure within the US. Pipelines, storage facilities and processing plants are all examples of assets that MLPs build, own and operate. MLPs are typically classified into three categories: Upstream MLPs are involved in the exploration, recovery, development and production of crude oil and natural gas. Midstream MLPs are involved in the gathering, processing, storage and transportation of oil and gas. Downstream MLPs are involved in the distribution of fuels to end customers such as residential, industrial and agricultural entities. MLPs are limited partnerships and, as such, do not pay federal income tax. Rather, MLPs pass income through to the limited partners who are then subject to income tax. Also, unlike many private limited partnerships with limited liquidity, MLPs are publicly traded and provide investors with the same liquidity as a publicly traded stock. Production gains create corresponding need for more infrastructure From 1980 through 2006, US production of crude oil and natural gas fell by approximately 20%.3 We believe this decline was primarily caused by the decreasing productivity of existing oil wells. Since 2006, the US has enjoyed strong growth in energy production and is projected to become a net exporter of energy in 2020.4 The growth in US energy production has been driven by new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing. This has allowed upstream producers to extract oil and gas from previously uneconomical locations. As production has increased and new technologies have come online, the geography of US energy production has changed. For example, the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana and the Marcellus formation that spans New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee has turned those states into energy producers. One of the biggest challenges in those regions is how to transport and ship all the oil and gas. For natural gas, this challenge can be seen in the illustration below. The challenge of getting natural gas to ports Sources: Invesco Real Estate Research and Bloomberg as of December 2018. For illustrative purposes only. The increasingly diverse geography of US energy production, combined with gains in overall production, has created a strong need for more energy infrastructure. The American Petroleum Institute estimates as much as $1.3 trillion in total direct investment of oil and gas transportation and storage infrastructure will be needed through 2035 to support US energy production levels.5 MLPs are expected to play an important role in providing the capital to build this infrastructure. The evolution of MLPs As the energy industry has evolved, so have MLPs. Today, most MLPs focus on midstream energy infrastructure with natural gas (rather than oil) as the primary focus. MLPs often favor midstream infrastructure because demand has been growing for the plumbing that transports and stores oil and gas. Furthermore, revenue from midstream infrastructure is based on the volume of oil and gas processed and tends to be insulated from price fluctuations. Gas MLPs have emerged as a popular investment for a number of reasons. The US is now the world’s top producer of natural gas with several compet [...]
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The smartest investment for your innovative insurance play just might be in cultural awareness

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The smartest investment for your innovative insurance play just might be in cultural awareness
It’s not just the tech concept… TLDR Having the correct idea for underwriting, distributing, selling, adjusting, or scaling insurance may not be the right idea if the scheme is introduced or sold where the customer understands the plan but simply doesn’t accept it in cultural context.  How and where one sells an idea in the connected global insurance industry might just be more important that what is being sold. I had a great discussion with a very clever InsurTech company this week, Uncharted, a digital insurance sales facilitation and distribution entrant focused on health benefits and business SME markets (check out their website in the link- I won’t do their concept the justice they can).  They are Singapore-based, building toward a global reach.  The firm’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mark Painter, held my attention regarding how the firm was building its sales and distribution tools with the intention of giving carriers and brokers options and efficiencies from point of sale right through home office underwriting, binding and admin of data.  Taking the teeth out of the unstructured data beast, so to say.  Mark (who’s a pretty savvy finance and insurance guy now working alongside Uncharted’s founder, Nick Macey) recounted a recent experience in introducing the Uncharted system into a southeast Asia market carrier’s system, excitedly advising that significant sales admin improvement for the thousands of field agents will or had been gained for the carrier.  That’s very cool. But my follow-up question was: If the carrier’s products are traditionally sold by agents say, working off of scooters, meeting with small shopkeepers over tea, or noodles, and with the bound policy traditionally taking a few weeks to present to the insured, will an ‘instant’ policy innovation resonate with the known culture of doing business in the neighborhood?  Will an app-based policy hold the same ‘worth’ to that analog customer? It might if the businessperson is comfortable with the growing use of digital ecosystems, it might not if the owner is not. How the customer expects to transact business is the key- are you practicing innovation from the customer backwards? Well this prompted a comparison discussion of what the firm is working with in Zimbabwe, where most residents/customers transact business through smart devices using EcoCash, a mobile payment platform hosted by local telco, Econet.  In this instance EcoCash has an approximate 80% market use penetration, and as such adding services to the ecosystem is an accepted practice.  A company looking to make inroads into the market would be wise to joint venture with or leverage the Econet ecosystem rather than try to make inroads through traditional agencies.  However- once established in the market the firm would be better able to bridge to traditional insurance channels for more complex covers, riding the market awareness built through use of local, accepted practices.  Know what and how the customer expects to transact business and go with that flow.  It ofttimes does not matter how wonderful your product or service is if the customers simply are not accustomed to how you market.  The correct answer is not always the best answer. There are plenty of examples of companies ‘growing’ their insurance products organically through other business relationships built through understanding local needs.  Take for example the relationship of ride sharing platform Go-Jek and one of its investor firms, Allianz X.  The ride sharing startup was a target of Allianz’s investment, but Allianz also recognized with Go-Jek that the drivers needed insurance, and the two firms collaborated within the bounds of the business model and driver culture to make insurance available within the local reach of drivers.  Don’t be surprised if a similar insurance partnership approach isn’t carried into east Africa’s burgeoning ride sharing environment as the pair of firms extends its reach with their investment into Uganda-based ride hailing entrant, SafeBoda  (a timely share by you, Robert Collins ).  Innovation and marketing developed from business and local culture needs. There are many examples of firms developing insurance innovations, many successful and many not so much.  The takeaway for the reader from this posting- the firms noted above are working to apply clever innovation based on good ideas, but also on integrating the ideas into what fits a respective market’s expectations, and what businesses and customers are accustomed to.  Ground-breaking innovation might succeed by circumventing that of which a market is accustomed, but in most cases a firm’s best investment is understanding what the locals want and how they want it, and simply following their lead.  Is your approach just a correct answer, or the right answer? Image source Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’. I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post. Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research). [...]
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Iwoca storms ahead in SME lending game

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Iwoca storms ahead in SME lending game
They say the night is darkest before the dawn – which is certainly how it can feel in fintech startup land. You’re always $1 away from disaster, or $1 of leverage away from disaster if you’re a fintech lender. Small books can be painful beasts to manage. Which is why it is all the more impressive to see Iwoca steam ahead of some big lenders with deep pockets in the UK market. The SME lender now has claim to 12% of all new business overdrafts, beating Santander at 9% and HSBC at 11% according to Forbes, who sourced the data from UK Finance. They aren’t far behind Barclays at 15% and Lloyds at 20%. While overdrafts are falling out of favour with businesses in lieu of the more attractive benefits business credit cards offer, they still represent an ‘understood’ cash funding entry point into the SME lending space. According to additional data from UK Finance, the average % acceptance rates for overdrafts is 82.6%, compared to 69.1% for business loans. Being a funding type that is ‘understood’ is half the challenge for new SME lenders, especially given hardly any businesses understand the types of financing they can access now. Not knowing what you don’t know is a problem in SME lending land, and could potentially be a large factor behind the estimated £3 billion to £9 billion funding gap SMEs face in the UK. SME owners rarely seek advice before seeking funding and UK Finance reports, ‘the time spent investigating options is woeful.’ With companies like Iwoca forming multi-million-dollar lending chests, along with other fintechs, the real opportunity isn’t necessarily in more Iwocas – most are probably nowhere near capacity – but in developing more pre-lending advisory services that can help SMEs navigate the plethora of choices. In 2017 it was reported that less than 1 in 5 SMEs sought advice on lending options, despite 45% of SMEs planning growth. This is a huge disparity, and one that someone with a smart, simple and cost-effective solution could solve. Traditional business brokers are probably not the answer, especially given their advice often comes coloured with the commission they earn in the background. It’s always tempting to solve the simple problem in front of your nose – market the product more – but the smart entrepreneurs in SME lending land need to be looking far-further up the funnel, for the marketing and sales arbitrage opportunities that exist in tangential digitised advice businesses. I’ve always considered a ‘get-finance-ready’ platform a great plug in to any SME, provided it could be done smartly and digitally. If you come across any in your travels – let me know! Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia. I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post. I was a previous employee at Tyro. Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) [...]
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FINRA Issues Warning on Imposter Website Threat

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FINRA Issues Warning on Imposter Website Threat
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued a notice warning member firms that there appears to be an increase in imposter websites designed to mimic firms’ actual websites. FINRA suggests that member firms take proactive steps to monitor for imposter websites, including registering URL name variations and using monitoring services to watch for imposter websites. FINRA also suggests that member firms take responsive action in event that an imposter website is discovered, including (among other things) calling local law enforcement, the nearest FBI field office and the relevant state’s Attorney General. FINRA’s notice is available here. [...]
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CFTC Chair Proposes Relief for Phase 5 Initial Margin Implementation

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CFTC Chair Proposes Relief for Phase 5 Initial Margin Implementation
On April 29, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo sent a letter to Randy Quarles, the Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which he proposed that the US regulators responsible for the administering the margin rules for uncleared swaps should collaborate in providing some relief to non-dealer swap market participants who may become subject to initial margin requirements in 2020. The specific relief would be the issuance of the same guidance issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in March (for more information, see the March 8, 2019 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest), which stated that in-scope parties do not have to put in place compliant documentation and custodial relationships if there is no expectation that the exposure associated with their swaps will actually exceed the regulatory threshold for posting initial margin ($50 million for the United States). The need for this relief is a result of the phase-in level for initial margin requirements dropping to zero in 2020. That change is likely to bring many financial end-user swap parties (“Phase 5 Parties”) into scope for initial margin because they trade with swap dealers and have material swaps exposure of $8 billion or more. The proposed guidance would simplify life for any Phase 5 Party that has a relatively low risk swap portfolio and save such parties from having to negotiate new initial margin and custody documents. The guidance would have no effect on Phase 5 Parties that do expect to have more than $50 million in aggregate swap exposure for initial margin purposes. A Phase 5 Party that benefits from such relief would have to monitor its exposures carefully, however, and be ready to satisfy all applicable requirements if it ever exceeds the posting threshold. Since the Federal Reserve is only one of the five banking regulators responsible for the margin rules applicable to swap dealers that are subject to prudential regulation (i.e., bank swap dealers), this proposal can only come to fruition if it is also agreed to by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The letter is available here. [...]
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11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Will Save You Money

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11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Will Save You Money
Odu / Shutterstock.com It was the mayonnaise trick that sold me. I have a grade-school daughter, and let’s just say she’s not always super careful about using coasters on our wooden coffee table. Let’s also say that we don’t have the money to run out and buy another coffee table just because her glasses of ice water left behind some ugly white circles. So, I did the modern thing: [...]
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8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

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8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
Buying a home is a complicated financial transaction, so it’s no surprise that there are quite a few myths that surround homebuying. Unfortunately, these common beliefs can be costly in the long run. They can cost you money or prevent you from getting a home. Before starting house hunting, make sure you aren’t falling prey to the following misconceptions. You may have heard that you... [...]
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How to Create an Amazing Life on a Single Mom Budget

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How to Create an Amazing Life on a Single Mom Budget
When Christina Rodriguez divorced four years ago, she had no idea how she was going to make ends meet. After all, during her marriage, she earned $38,000 per year as a visual designer, and even with her husband’s income, the couple lived paycheck-to-paycheck and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Rodriguez’s share of credit card debt was $10,000.  “Here I was struggling with two incomes, and now I was on one income,” says the 35-year-old mom of two. “It was scary.”  Like so many people, Rodriguez stayed awake at night, worried what she might do should she need to replace her car, especially if her credit were poor because of her debt burden. She spent her energy juggling bills and minimum credit card payments, barely staying afloat.   “I realized, ‘I can’t live like this. My children don’t deserve to live their life like this’,” Rodriguez says. “It was about figuring out how I could get to a place where I would truly feel free.”  Fast-forward four short years, and Rodriguez is debt-free, invested $22,000 in a home purchase and remodel, counts $7,000 in cash savings, and has increased her annual income from $38,000 to $128,000.  Themes of Rodriguez’s success story:  Cut back all extra expenses and focus on paying off debt. At the time of her breakup, Rodriguez had $10,000 in credit card debt. She also had a new, tricked out Chevy Malibu and regularly got her hair and nails done. “That was a huge part of my identity,” she says. “But it wasn’t more important than my kids having food on the table.”  Think big! You can only cut so many costs, but your income potential is infinite. “I realized I was taking on jobs that paid $300 or $400. Why wasn’t I taking on jobs that paid $3,000 or $4,000?” she says. “When I realized my time and skills are valuable — that is when everything changed for me.”  Put a dollar value on your time. Rodriguez’s income ballooned when she stopped taking low-paid side gigs, and started investing without guilt in child care and housekeeping.   Splurge on experiences, not possessions. Christina could easily afford to upgrade her Nissan Rogue, but chooses instead to travel with her kids. “My daughter says: ‘More meetings means more vacations!’” Rodriguez says.   Focus on setting up a life within her control. Rodriguez’s worries included rent increases, job instability, financial instability, depending on her kids’ dad, and a long commute which took her away from her children during the week. “I realized that the kids could only depend on me,” she says. Her focus on home ownership, high earning and self-employed income and a job close to home helped her regain power.   At the time, her budget breakdown was:  Rent $825  Car payment $450  Car insurance $155  Electric $130  Internet $65  Phone $125  Childcare $250 (her half)  Plus food, gas, entertainment etc  Credit card minimum payments $125   Nails and hair $75   Subscription services $8  Cable TV $149 monthly  Private school tuition $480 monthly  Upon her divorce, Rodriguez cut her cable, subscription services, nails and hair, and downgraded to less expensive car.   She then focused on both paying off debt and earning. Rodriguez got a new job where she earned $45,000 per year, and also built up her side business doing freelance graphic design work, carefully selecting jobs that paid a high hourly fee, and helped her reach her goals. “I only work side jobs that meet a specific goal financial goal, because if I was going to dedicate time away from my kids it has to be with purpose,” she says.  A couple years ago, Rodriguez saved up $15,000, quit her full-time job, and focused narrowly on building her design portfolio. Then, a local health care company near her Kissemmee, Fla., reached out via LinkedIn, and offered her a new job. Today, Rodriguez earns $77,000 salary, plus an annual bonus of $5,000, and last year her side business grossed $46,000, bringing her income to $128,000.    One of the biggest changes Rodriguez made with her new financial status is buying a 2,300-square-foot home in a gated community. She also purchased a 20-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy, and focuses on travel. She is looking forward to a trip to Paris soon, and she and her grade-school-aged son and daughter are 5 states into their goal of visiting all 50 before the kids graduate.   Rodriguez also hires a housekeeper twice per month — without any guilt at all.   Today, Rodriguez’s budget:  Mortgage, taxes and insurance $1471  HOA $216  Car payment $311  Car insurance $155  Electric $100  Water $49  Internet and cable $125  Phone $120  Disney annual passes $138  Childcare $340  Life insurance $38  Cleaning service $140  Says Rodriguez: “I’m still really frugal. But living a budgeted life works for me. I know where every penny goes and that allows for more opportunities, to make more memories. It also allows me to spend without buyer’s remorse. I think the best feeling though comes from teaching my kids about smart financial decisions like my parents did with me.” The post How to Create an Amazing Life on a Single Mom Budget appeared first on MintLife Blog. [...]
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Save on Pond’s Anti-Aging Products at Walmart!

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Save on Pond’s Anti-Aging Products at Walmart!
{This post is sponsored by Mirum. Opinions are 100% my own. Read our disclosure policy here.} One of the things I’ve realized as I’m in my later 30’s is that taking care of your skin is SO important — especially when it comes to moisturizing! If you’re looking for a line of affordable skin products, you might be interested to know that Walmart carries a line of Pond’s products created specifically with anti-aging benefits. Their everyday low price makes it much more affordable than other anti-aging product lines. Plus, you can use the $1.50/1 manufacturer’s coupon from yesterday’s 5/12 insert to save even more! Walmart carries three Pond’s anti-aging skin products: Pond’s Rejuveness Anti-Wrinkle Cream — This anti-wrinkle cream is suitable for daily use and visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines within two weeks. It’s formulated with collagen and vitamin E to help improve skin appearance. Available in 7 oz and 14.1 oz. Instructions for use: After cleansing, apply to face and neck twice daily. For delicate skin, wait 10-15 minutes after cleansing before applying. Pond’s Clarant B3 Normal to Oily Skin Dark Spot Corrector —  This moisturizer has vitamin B3, and it fights uneven skin tone and diminishes dark spots so that skin looks more radiant within four weeks of use. It is specially formulated for those with normal to oily skin types. Instructions for use: Apply daily to face and neck. For best results, apply during the morning (as a base for make-up) and then again at night. Pond’s Clarant B3 Normal to Dry Skin Dark Spot Corrector —  If you suffer from dry skin, this correcting cream moisturizes your skin to fight uneven skin tone and diminish dark spots so that your skin looks more radiant within four weeks of use. It is specially formulated for those with normal to dry skin types, and it also contains vitamin B3. Instructions for use: Apply daily to face and neck. For best results, apply during the morning (as a base for make-up) and then again at night. All of these products have been dermatologist tested, are hypoallergenic, and won’t clog your pores. You can go here to check out the Pond’s anti-aging product line at Walmart, but be sure to grab your coupon from yesterday’s newspaper to save even more in-stores! [...]
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Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer

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Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer
If you have a little one that loves Play-Doh, grab this deal for even more fun! You can get the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer for only $11.19. You will be saving 34% on this purchase because it is normally $16.99. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change ... Read More about Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer The post Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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HELOC: Understanding Home Equity Lines of Credit

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HELOC: Understanding Home Equity Lines of Credit
  A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a second mortgage that gives you access to cash based on the value of your home. You can draw from a home equity line of credit and repay all or some of it monthly, somewhat like a credit card. With a HELOC, you borrow against your... The article HELOC: Understanding Home Equity Lines of Credit originally appeared on NerdWallet.   [...]
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5 Reasons You Should Not Delay Retirement

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5 Reasons You Should Not Delay Retirement
Some people view retirement as something to that should be delayed as long as possible. They say that, for many older workers, waiting as long as possible to collect Social Security benefits is the prudent choice. Important as this advice is for many of us, it may not apply to you. If you are financially prepared, there are good reasons to consider retiring at the traditional age of 65... [...]
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IT Consulting Industry Outlook 2019

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IT Consulting Industry Outlook 2019
The post IT Consulting Industry Outlook 2019 appeared first on ONEtoONE Corporate Finance. [...]
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Verizon Announces Another Dividend Hike

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Verizon Announces Another Dividend Hike
It marks the 12 consecutive year in which the large wireless operator has hiked its dividend. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Monday, May. 13

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Afternoon Deals: Monday, May. 13
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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What Is an Origination Fee?

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What Is an Origination Fee?
An origination fee is an upfront fee lenders may charge to cover the cost of processing your loan. It might also be called an underwriting, administrative or processing fee, and it’s common on mortgages, student loans and personal loans. When shopping for loans, it’s important to compare origination fees and how they add to the... Steve Nicastro is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: steven.n@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro. The article What Is an Origination Fee? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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11 Budgeting Tips for Recent College Grads to Master Adulting

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11 Budgeting Tips for Recent College Grads to Master Adulting
College graduation marks the beginning of what adulting truly looks like. Bye bye, student discounts. Hello, full-priced everything. You had guidance from professors, support from your parents and the camaraderie of your fellow students in school. Now you’re on your own, and it may feel overwhelming to navigate post-grad life — especially when it comes to managing your finances. Don’t stress. We’ve got you. Time to throw out that old college budget and start anew. (You did budget in college, right?) The Penny Hoarder Academy’s Budgeting 101 course is a great stop to learn the nuts and bolts of creating a budget, but here’s the practical advice we wish someone had shared with us when we were fresh out of school. 1. Don’t Succumb to Lifestyle Inflation Hopefully you’re earning more money than you did in school. Congrats! But use that salary increase for good, not for financial destruction. Don’t give into the desire to buy all the things just because you’re making more money. Chances are you’ll also have more bills. And now’s a perfect time to get in the habit of saving money for the future (but we’ll get more into that later). As you settle into your life post-college, give yourself time to adjust. Don’t go out and purchase an apartment’s worth of new furniture all at once. The key is to live within your means — or even below your means in order to build a nice cushion of savings. It might take time to figure out what that looks like. If you fail one budgeting method, give another a try. This isn’t a graded exam. 2. Bill Due Dates Are the New Assignment Deadlines Gone are the days where you’d use loans or scholarship money to pay four months of room and board in full at the beginning of each semester. Now you’ve got multiple bills in one month, each to a different service provider. Keeping track of when each bill is due is vital. Automating the process — either by using your bank’s auto-pay service or opting into auto-pay with your utility company or cell phone provider  — can be very helpful. If you want to be more conscious of what’s going out of your checking account, set up calendar alerts to remind you of each bill’s due date and make the payment manually. Pro Tip Set up one calendar alert a couple days before the due date for advanced warning and another alert the day the bill is due as a backup reminder in case you forgot to pay. Make sure to factor in when you get paid. If your employer pays you weekly, biweekly or semi-monthly, a budget based on how you’ll manage your cash flow from each paycheck may be more useful than a monthly budget. 3. Get Used to Making Student Loan Payments If you borrowed money for college, it’s time to pay up. Your loan provider will likely give you a six-month grace period before you have to start paying back your student loans. This gives you time to plan how you’ll tackle the repayment, but if you want to start paying your student loans back immediately, that’s even better. When you’re setting up your post-grad budget, make sure you’re factoring your student loan payment as a necessary expense. Check with your loan provider to see how much your minimum payments will be. If the amount seems unmanageable, you might be able to get on an income-based repayment plan. You might also consider refinancing your loans under a lower interest rate. Check to see if you’re eligible. Pro Tip You could get your loans paid off if your job has a student loan repayment program as an employee benefit or through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if you work in the public sector. If you have trouble finding a job or otherwise fall into hardship, a loan deferment or forbearance will temporarily pause repaying your student loan. But interest on the loan still might accrue during that period and you’d be left with more to pay back. You should only choose this option as a last resort. 4. Use Credit Cards Responsibly Credit cards can be tricky. On one hand, they can help you build a positive credit score or earn rewards points. But use them irresponsibly and you can wind up in a hole of debt. A wise practice is to charge only what you know you can afford and pay your balance in full each month. You may want to start off with a secured credit card where you put down a deposit that serves as your line of credit. If you are paying off credit card debt, keep in mind those minimum payment amounts are not your friend. They’re the lowest you have to pay each month if you don’t want creditors hounding you, but they won’t get you out of the hole any time soon. Paying extra toward your debt, even if it’s just $20 more, can significantly reduce how much you’ll pay in interest. If you actually read through your credit card statements, you should see a “minimum payment warning” section that explains how making only the minimum payment will raise your total debt and prolong the time it takes to pay it off. To give a personal example, if I pay just $39 more than the minimum payment for my credit card, I could pay off my balance in three years rather than 19 and would save over $6,000 in the process. This premise of paying more than the minimum is true for paying off student loans, car loans or even your mortgage. 5. Have a Plan If You’re Moving Back Home In this day and age, there really isn’t any shame in moving back home after college. What you’ll regret, however, is moving back home without a plan. If you revert back to your high school days when Mom and Dad shouldered all the financial responsibility of day-to-day life, you could be setting yourself up for a more challenging transition when you do finally leave the nest. Discuss with your parents the expectations for covering household bills and expenses. If they insist on you not paying any rent, put aside what you would have paid to save up for your own place or build your emergency fund. Speaking of which … 6. You Need to Have an Emergency Fund No one likes to prepare for the worst, but having money saved up in the event of an emergency is a crucial part of being financially secure. Experts say you should have between three to six months of expenses saved in an emergency fund. But even just $1,000 could be a lifesaver if your car breaks down or you need to fly out of town to attend a funeral. You could automate your savings by directing a percentage of your paycheck to a savings account. Or you could use an app like Digit to save money without thinking. Digit’s algorithm analyzes your income and spending and determines safe amounts to transfer automatically to savings. Even if you just stash $5 bills in a jar, start saving for emergencies now. 7. Create Sinking Funds to Save Up for the Big Stuff A sinking fund is a pool of money you regularly add to over time to make a large expense more manageable. Don’t just limit saving to your emergency fund. When you’re ready to upgrade to a new laptop or you’re hit with your annual car insurance bill, you’re going to wish you had saved up for them gradually. Setting up sinking funds for those infrequent expenses will prevent you from scrambling. You may want to open separate savings accounts for your different short-term savings goals. If you’re saving all your money in one account, record how much you’re contributing and what the running balance is for each goal. 8. Save for Retirement Now I know you’re just beginning your career. Retirement is probably one of the last things on your mind. But the earlier you start saving for retirement, the better off you’ll be. A 22-year-old who saves $200 a month at a growth rate of 6% will have $371,428.72 by age 62. In comparison, someone who starts making those same retirement contributions at age 32 would have only $189,739.65 by age 62. That 32-year-old would have to be saving nearly $400 a month to have over $370,000 by age 62. That’s a significant difference. Start now. Opt [...]
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Walmart Grocery Service: $10 off any $50 purchase

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Walmart Grocery Service: $10 off any $50 purchase
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Planning to do a grocery pick up order at Walmart soon? You can score $10 off a $50 purchase right now! Walmart Grocery Service is currently offering $10 off any $50 purchase when you use the promo code LA9ARAAC at checkout! This is valid for new and existing customers. You can enter your zip code here to see if this service is available at your local Walmart. Valid through December 31, 2019. [...]
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How This Family of 4 Saves $3,600 a Year Living in a 200-Square-Foot Home

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How This Family of 4 Saves $3,600 a Year Living in a 200-Square-Foot Home
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated. Several years ago, Andrew and Gabriella Morrison and their two kids lived in a 2,200-square-foot house in Ashland, Oregon. Andrew describes it as the perfect house on the perfect street in the perfect town — the American dream, really. On the outside, the family appeared to have everything. But on the inside, they were feeling increasingly stressed by their finances. “We started recognizing the financial and energetic cost of living there and how busy we were trying to maintain it,” Andrew says. So, the family of four decided to downsize — in a major way. Discovering Tiny Homes — Long Before HGTV Did The Morrisons’ decision to ditch their seemingly picture-perfect suburban lifestyle happened fast. Andrew describes it as an “aha” moment. In the midst of their frenzied days, Gabriella received an email from someone whose signature line read, “Tiny House Blog.” She’d never even heard of tiny houses before. So naturally, she did a quick internet search. “It was literally like dominoes,” she says. “We went down the rabbit hole and never looked back.” Within 30 minutes of researching the tiny-house lifestyle, Gabriella says everything became clear about why they were having issues and what needed to be done. The Ultimate Purge: Getting Rid of 80% of Their Belongings Gabriella learned the average U.S. household holds something like 300,000 items — everything from paperclips to armoires. That’s a lot. So the family created something they called a “365-day rule.” Each time someone went into a room with a drawer or cabinet, every single item was pulled out. With each item, they asked, “Have we used it in the last year?” If the answer was yes, then they could decide if they wanted to keep it. If the answer was no, it went in an ever-growing pile in their two-car garage. After a couple of months, that pile of cast-off items grew about two feet high. Once an item was in the pile, they decided if they still wanted to keep it or if they wanted to sell or donate it. “The more we did it, the easier it became and the more excited we got,” Gabriella says. When the pile dwindled to heirlooms and childhood tokens, the family took a breather. They put them in a small storage box to return to a few years later. Their inevitable solution for many of those items? Take photos of them or digitize them. For example, they’d transfer old photos to CDs and take photos of old trophies. The more we did it, the easier it became and the more excited we got. Then they’d purge. In the end, the family rid themselves of about 80% of their belongings. Including their home. Although it was their perfect home, the family was excited for their newest adventure: pop-up living on the shores of Mexico. Moving Into a Pop-Up Camper and Testing the Tiny Boundaries After purging material goods, the family decided to test out the tiny lifestyle by living in a pop-up camper for nearly five months on the beaches of Baja, Mexico. The couple continued to operate their business, Straw Bale, which focuses on homes made of straw bales. Their son, Paiute, was off at boarding school, so there was one less body in the newly adopted living space. However, it wasn’t all frolicking in the Sea of Cortez (though that did happen a lot). Gabriella remembers being “shocked and disturbed” during that first month in the camper. The emotional withdrawals from the lack of electronics and material goods were surprisingly intense for Andrew and Gabriella — even for their home-schooled daughter, Terra, who was 11 at the time. “Before, our lifestyles involved a ton of work — 10 hours a day, 7 days a week — and constantly being on screens, returning phone calls, receiving emails,” Gabriella explains. “Then, for our daughter, it was with the social media channels. They start pretty young these days.” At one point, the trio was so uncomfortable, they almost packed up and returned home. But near the 30-day mark of their adventure, Andrew woke up and “some switch went off,” Gabriella says. “He was able to see the incredible paradise we were living in and the incredible opportunity before us.” Gabriella and her daughter soon followed. Today, the Morrisons consider it the best experience they’ve ever had. Returning to Oregon to Put Down Some Tiny Roots After five months, the Morrisons returned to Ashland to scout out the perfect piece of land for a permanent tiny house. Although the ZIP code was expensive, the family resolved to stay where they’d already established a life. But the couple wasn’t willing to go into debt. So they waited. During that time, which ultimately lasted two years, they rented the smallest house they could find. Even then, the space wasn’t small enough. Andrew and Gabriella settled into the walk-in closet — about the size of a queen mattress. “It was our bedroom, it was our library, it was our hanging clothes closet,” Andrew says. “But even that was too big. We couldn’t find anything small enough for us.” Gabriella chimes in: “We weren’t comfortable being in a big space [anymore].” Finally, Andrew and Gabriella found what they were looking for: five acres in the Rogue Valley, amongst the mountains. There was even a creek cutting through the property. Although it posed some problems, like a lack of approval for a septic system and challenging access to the building site, Andrew was a former builder with ample experience, and he accepted the challenge. The Struggles of Constructing a Tiny House in the Dead of Winter Andrew and Gabriella moved back into their pop-up camper to start building their tiny dream home on their newly-acquired land. Rather than commuting from town each day — about a 30-minute haul — they figured they could be more efficient living right on the job site. But it was cold. “I can tell you that living in a pop-tent trailer in the winter in Oregon is not the same as living in a pop-tent trailer on a beach in Mexico,” Andrew says. “It got cold. We had snow. We didn’t have any running water. It was definitely a mistake.” The two returned to town to stay with a friend and resumed construction while Paiute and Terra were off at boarding school. It took about four months for Andrew to complete the 207-square-foot tiny home — plus 110 square feet for a sleeping loft. How Much Money Can You Save Living in a Tiny House? The biggest perk? They’re no longer financially stressed. Gabriella estimates that in about two more years they’ll have paid off their tiny home with the money they’ve saved by not having a mortgage. Utilities have been slashed, too. Heating a 207-square-foot home is a lot less expensive than a 2,200-square-foot home. They’re also technically off the grid, so their solar power is free and the water runs from a well. Their monthly bills have been shaved down to internet, phone and garbage. They pay their propane heating bill twice a year. They’ve also noticed a difference in their grocery bill. By American standards, their refrigerator is about half the size of a “normal” one. But because they don’t have any of those deep, dark corners, items can’t be tucked away and forgotten; every food item is in view and consumed. Andrew and Gabriella have also become more aware of their spending habits. Neither was ever a shopaholic, but impulse buying definitely happened. Now, they just don’t have room for it. They’ve even stopped taking freebies. Andrew shares a story about how he opted out of the “free” counterpart of a BOGO deal for pants. He had to explain to the cashier that he lived in a tiny home; he didn’t have room for another pair of pants. The couple laughs. “It’s taken our mindset to where, even if it’s free, if you don’t need it, cut it,” Andrew says. Gabriella suspects they’ve cut at least $300 from their spending e [...]
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5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom

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5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom
In a perfect world, nobody would have to worry about whether they have enough money to live the life they want. In reality, many of us do have that concern. When you reach the position of being financially free, you can live “without worrying about having enough income coming in or being able to pay for... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article 5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States

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Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States
Have you gotten to retirement with a fat nest egg? Congratulations! All those years of toil and saving have paid off. If you are exceedingly fortunate and plan to pass on a big inheritance to your children or a charity, you still have one big retirement-planning mission remaining: Protecting your wealth from disappearing into the coffers of state and federal governments. Depending on where you... [...]
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Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around

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Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around
Are you one of the thousands of households that started an allowance at some point in the last few years and it just kind of…fizzled out?   You’re not alone. Many parents have told me that they started an allowance that, just like Downton Abbey, ended for one reason or another. Sometimes they don’t even ... Read More about Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around The post Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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10 Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

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10 Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale
Planning to have a garage sale soon? I’ve had a number of successful garage sales over the years and these are my top 10 garage sale tips! {Looking for other creative ways to make some extra cash? Check out our big list of income-earning ideas and our favorite legitimate paid online surveys!} Since I’m a minimalist at heart, I’ve always loved to declutter, go through old stuff, and purge what we no longer need. Back in our law school days, I frequently had garage sales to earn a little bit of extra cash — because every little bit helped stretch our really tight budget during those financially lean years! Since I’ve had SO many garage sales over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to have a successful garage sale. If you’ve been thinking about have a garage sale soon, here are my top 10 garage sale tips! 1. Collect clutter year-round. Always have an ongoing Garage Sale stash you’re adding to. Try to regularly declutter and purge what you don’t need. When you come across something you no longer need or use, stick it in a box! Once that box fills up, start another box! And another. Without much effort at all, by the time your garage sale comes along, you’ll have multiple boxes of stuff you can sell! I used to do this throughout the year and then have an annual garage sale each year. It made things super easy, because I already had everything in one place to sell. I didn’t have to spend days going through items and figuring out what to sell. 2. Have a plan. A successful garage sale does not happen without organization. At least a week before your garage sale, I recommend going through your home top to bottom and clearing out any last-minute clutter that’s not already in the garage sale boxes. At least 2-3 days before the sale, set aside an afternoon to price everything out and organize your items. And then the day before the sale, devote a few hours to final organization — advertising on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, getting some cash together for change, making signs, etc. Do not wait until the last minute to pull off a garage sale. Either it will flop or you’ll run yourself ragged — or both. If you’re in a new location or you’re new to hosting a garage sale, I’d suggest that you start getting organized at least 3-4 weeks in advance. Getting organized for a successful garage sale: :: How are you going to display items? Do you need to borrow or make a clothes-rack? :: Do you have enough table space? If not, check and see if you can borrow tables from friends or put together some makeshift tables out of plywood and boxes. :: What signs will you be using and how many do you need? Where will you be displaying the signs to best direct traffic to your home? Drive the routes people will be using to find your home and decide on locations for your signs ahead of time. :: Who is going to put the signs out the morning of the sale? Designate someone for this ahead of time and let them know specifically where to place the signs. :: How much cash should you have on hand and how will you keep it in a safe location? :: Do you need to purchase a license for running a garage sale in your area? :: Do you have enough help? 3. Team up. One of my top garage sale tips is that you should never do them alone! Find friends or family to team up with. Not only does this arrangement mean you have a larger quantity and variety of items to sell, but it also means you have more help. Divvying up the responsibilities between 3 or 4 people makes a garage sale much more manageable. Plus, it just makes it more fun when you’re doing it with friends and family! 4. Location, location, location! If you want to have a garage sale that flops, pick a location that is off-the-beaten-path and hard to get to. That’s a surefire way to lose a lot of business. Don’t live near a busy intersection? Look for alternative locations like the home of a friend or relative. We always had really successful garage sales at our home in Kansas, because we lived right between two very heavily-trafficked streets. We put up some good signage and the crowds came! 5. Timing is everything (well, just about!). I don’t advise planning a sale in the freezing cold Winter or the blazing hot Summer. Choose a time of the year when the weather will be very pleasant and try to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure rain is not expected when you’re planning your sale. In addition, find out what days of the week are best for yard sales to run in your area. Fridays and Saturdays are usually really popular, but you’d be surprised to find that in some areas Thursdays are big days for garage sales! 6. Clearly mark your prices. It’s easy to want to just stick a big sign on a table saying that everything on that table is a quarter, but in the long-run it is much more efficient to go ahead and put price stickers on everything. Instead of having to make up prices on the spot, people will know exactly how much something is. In addition, some people are too shy to ask the price of an item, so you’ll lose a sale if an item isn’t marked. I’ve found it’s worth paying the few dollars it costs to buy pre-priced stickers for most items. It makes things SO simple and fast! I also recommend having a variety in pricing — with plenty of really inexpensive items. Often, when you have a lot of inexpensive items, people are more likely to pick up more items — and it will often help sell some of your larger-ticketed items in the long run! {Tip: If you are running a garage sale with multiple families, just put initials on all the price tags so that you can keep a tally sheet of who sold what. And you can even have two people working the money table — one to keep track of the tally sheet and one to handle all of the money transactions.} 7. Price things to sell. Of all my garage sale tips, this is one of the most important — and something that I have seen people miss the mark on time and time again with garage sales! When people come to a garage sale, they are expecting to pay garage sale prices. Keep this in mind when you price your items. While pricing can vary a bit depending on the area you live in, it’s really important to price things to sell. A good rule of thumb is to price things at what you feel would be a good bargain if you were buying that item at someone else’s garage sale. And it’s better to price something on the low end and have someone actually buy my item, than to have 25 people pick up the item and put it back down on the table because it is too expensive. 8. Advertise well. The marketing of your sale is usually the number one factor in how well your sale does. You can have great items, great prices, and a great location — but if people don’t know how to get to your house or can’t find it on their own, you won’t have a successful garage sale! So put some time and effort into making a number of quality, clearly-readable signs, and put them in conspicuous places that easily lead to your home. The brighter, bolder, and bigger the sign, the better! And don’t forget to advertise on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist! Both are free to advertise, so why not?! And remember — the more details you can put in your ad, the better. Mention specific items, brands, and sizes. Often times people are searching for really specific items on Craigslist or Marketplace, so even if they’re not looking at garage sales, they might see one of your listed items pull up in their search! The more descriptive you can be in the listing and title, the better. And be sure to use proper grammar and spelling, too. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference! 9. Mark items down on the last day. Things are usually pretty picked over by the last day of the sale. That&# [...]
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How to Start Trading Stocks for Free (and With No Minimum Balance Requirement)

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How to Start Trading Stocks for Free (and With No Minimum Balance Requirement)
We all have that friend. The one who’s constantly checking the stock market like it’s a game and mumbling things like, “Ugh, I should’ve traded that yesterday!” You roll your eyes, but you also wonder: What am I missing out on? Many financial experts encourage young people to invest in the stock market. Sure, it comes with risk, but it could pay out long term. The only thing is… where do you start? Lord knows you don’t want to ask that friend. Instead, you can start with as little as $1 and open fee-free account with SoFi Active Investing. Investing for Beginners: Don’t Pay to Play SoFi Active Investing leans into a “learn by doing” approach. That means you can experiment with buying and trading stocks — no fees and no account minimums attached. If you buy something and immediately regret it? You can trade it seconds later. No penalty. (Honestly, it’s perfect for those of us with commitment issues.) But maybe you have questions before you get to the whole buying and trading part… Take all the time you need to explore stocks through your SoFi dashboard. For example, maybe you’ve heard everyone abuzz about Roku stock. Search for it on your dashboard, and you’ll see that SoFi has outlined the stock’s market price, its performance history and even recent company news hits — everything you need to know to make an informed decision is right there. Pro tip: Add stocks you’re interested in to your SoFi watchlist. There, you can monitor their daily performances. Like what you’re seeing? Make a move as soon as you’re ready to buy. If you want some human input? Reach out to a SoFi financial adviser for free via phone, email or chat at any time. How to Open a Fee-Free Investing Account Are you ready to give this whole investing thing a try? Here’s how to start: Sign up here by clicking “Invest Now.” Connect your bank account. This will fund your investments. (There are bank-level layers of security, and SoFi won’t store your info, so you’re safe!) Ready to go? Click “Add Buying Power” to deposit money into your SoFi Active Investing account. Choose a one-time transfer or set up recurring monthly transfers. It’ll take up to four business days for this money to land in your SoFi account. From there, invest the money from your SoFi account into stocks of your choice. Don’t feel like you’re marrying these stocks. You can buy and trade fee-free at any time the market’s open, but remember: Some of the smartest investors suggest riding out the market’s ups and downs long term for the greatest gains. Oh, and if you want to really get serious? Download the SoFi app. Then, when that friend starts talking about stocks, you can add your two cents. Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her boyfriend inspired the character of that friend in this article. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Capital One Adds JetBlue to Airline Transfer Partners with Limited-Time Bonus

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Capital One Adds JetBlue to Airline Transfer Partners with Limited-Time Bonus
On May 1, 2019, Capital One added JetBlue to its list of airline reward transfer partners. To celebrate, Capital One is adding a 50% bonus to point transfers made through May 31, 2019. This boosts the redeemable ratio from 2 Venture Miles for 1 TrueBlue point to 2 Venture Miles for 1.5 TrueBlue points. In... Amanda Johnson is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Capital One Adds JetBlue to Airline Transfer Partners with Limited-Time Bonus originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Melissa & Doug Slice & Toss Salad 52 Piece Play Food Set

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Melissa & Doug Slice & Toss Salad 52 Piece Play Food Set
If your little ones love to play with play food, this would be a great deal to grab! You can get Melissa & Doug Slice & Toss Salad 52 Piece Play Food Set for only $18.96. You will be saving 37% on this deal because it is normally $29.99. Be sure that you grab this ... Read More about Melissa & Doug Slice & Toss Salad 52 Piece Play Food Set The post Melissa & Doug Slice & Toss Salad 52 Piece Play Food Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Fitbit Alta HR Large just $74.49 shipped (Reg. $130!)

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Fitbit Alta HR Large just $74.49 shipped (Reg. $130!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. In the market for a Fitbit? Get this Fitbit Alta HR in Large for the lowest price on record! Amazon has this Fitbit Alta HR in Large for only $74.49 shipped right now! This is the lowest price on record! Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, ChaChingOnAShoestring! [...]
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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact

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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact
Millions of Americans depend on Social Security as the financial foundation of their retirement. Yet, nearly 70% percent of older people cannot correctly identify the age at which they are eligible for full retirement benefits. That finding — courtesy of a recent survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute — has profound implications for how well people will live in retirement. [...]
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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something

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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something
The resurgence of Pokemon — thanks to a new movie and video game set for release soon  — has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards. And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune. The 1997 Japanese anime-turned-trading-card-game-turned-video-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte, 31, collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world. “I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings. Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million. Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Pokemon Cards Worth Selling The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition. In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur. A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card. The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of. If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth. According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000. So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated. “It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.” In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering. “There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia. Especially so online. Where to Sell Pokemon Cards After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell. “The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.” The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top. As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight. “It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says. Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare. Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.” “If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.” But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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5 Books I Finished in April

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5 Books I Finished in April
Want to know what books I finished in April? In 2019, I’m sharing the books I read each month and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.) 5 Books I Finished in April I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here). By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress! And I’ve been ahead on my goal for the last month! I finished 5 books in April — yay! Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. 1. Troublemaker This book had been highly recommended multiple times. When I found it available on Libby, I “checked it out” and started listening to it. Honestly, I almost didn’t keep listening because she has such a strong and brash personality. But I’m glad I stuck with it because her story was fascinating and sad… but worth listening to/reading. I really had no understanding of what Scientology was before this book and while I know that this is just one person’s story, it was shocking to hear of her experiences in the Church of Scientology, what she was required to do, how she was mistreated, and how much money she paid into the Church as a member. Note: There is strong and crass language in this book. Verdict: 3 stars 2. The Glass Castle After I read Hillbilly Elegy, multiple people said I had to read The Glass Castle. Again, I found it was available on Libby, so I checked it out. It’s one of those stories that I don’t know how to describe. It was engaging and thought-provoking, but also incredibly sad and haunting. It’s the story of a woman who grew up in a very dysfunctional and poor family… and yet, despite the dysfunction, there’s also this layer of mystique that she paints her parents in. Like, you want to really dislike them, but you can’t fully allow yourself to because they also have these likable traits, too. The book left me wishing I could have a conversation with the author and her siblings. It was also one — like Hillybilly Elegy — that I wished I would going through in a Book Club setting so I could discuss my big and sometimes disparate feelings about the book. Note: There is language in the book and also some various details and stories that could be triggering, depending upon your background. Verdict: 3 stars 3. Point of View This book is part memoir, part self-help. Elisabeth Hasselbeck shares lessons she learned from being on Survivor, being on The View, being fired from The View, being co-host on Fox & Friends, and ultimately deciding to leave television and focus on being a wife and mom. I appreciated her candid honesty about her struggles with pushing herself too hard, trying to do too much, and not acknowledging her limitations and capacity. I also loved the behind-the-scenes stuff she shared about being on the various shows she’s been on. My complaint with the book is that I wanted more. 🙂 I would have loved to hear even more details on what it was like to be on Survivor, be on The View, co-host Fox & Friends, be wife to a NFL player, and come home full-time to be a mom. Verdict: 3 starts 4. As Many Reps As Possible I wanted so much to like this book. I loved Chasing Excellence and was hoping this would be a similar book. It’s written by CrossFit Games Winner, Jason Khalipa, and the premise of the book is promising. He encourages you to live life with the AMRAP mentality. (If you’re not familiar with CrossFit terms, AMRAP means As Many Reps As Possible. It’s basically where you push yourself as hard as you can go.) I enjoyed some of the personal stories and inspirational tidbits he shared, but I felt like the book was sort of all over the place, not well edited, and it was hard to follow because it kept jumping from one part of his story to another and then back again. In addition, I struggled with figuring out what he was inferring when he encouraged people to live with the AMRAP mentality. How does this actually look in real-life? He talks about being fully present when you are working on, or working on your business, or hanging out with your family, but I would have loved for him to unpack that a lot more. Clearly, most people disagreed with me on this because it has 72 reviews and every single one of them is 5 star! So yeah, you might completely disagree with me on this one! Verdict: 2 stars 5. Before We Were Yours This was — by far — the best book I finished in April! Many of you told me you thought I should read it as soon as possible and you were so right. It’s the tragic and true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals and how they played out in the lives of the children who actually went through this horrific experience. Truth be told, I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals before listening to this book — and I live in Tennessee! I have asked multiple people who live here and they haven’t heard of it either. It’s heart-wrenching and horrible and I think a powerful reminder of how money can cause people to make terrible decisions that can hurt people in devastating ways. The book is well-written and engaging and appears to be very well-researched historical fiction. It is also the beautiful story of sibling love and how trauma and devastation doesn’t have to define your future. Note: There are a lot of situations in the book when it comes to abuse that could be very triggering to people, depending upon your life experience and trauma. The book doesn’t give nitty-gritty details, but it’s enough that it could be very triggering. Verdict: 4 stars What have you been reading recently? Any books you think I really need to read soon? I’d love to know! [...]
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What Is Medicare?

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What Is Medicare?
Medicare is the government health care program for people 65 and over, and its coverage plays an important role in containing medical costs as you age. But Medicare benefits don’t pay for everything. As you approach age 65, you’ll need to decide how to deal with some of those coverage gaps. For now, knowing the... Liz Weston is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston. The article What Is Medicare? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set
Grab this hot deal while it is available! You can get the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set for only $56.99. You will be saving 56% on this purchase because it is usually $129.99. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change at any time! The post Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards

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5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards
The AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®, both issued by Barclays, will reward users who book a lot of travel on American Airlines. In fact, American Airlines purchases are the only way to earn double AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on the Aviator® Red — for every other purchase,... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article 5 Things to Know about the AAdvantage Aviator Red and Silver Mastercards originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light

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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light
Night lights are so much fun for kids, and this one looks really awesome! You can get the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light for only $8.47. You will be saving 47% on this purchase because it is normally 14.99. This night light provides a soft red glow while projecting a Mickey Mouse ... Read More about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light The post Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee

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Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee
I mentioned that I no longer drink coffee on Instagram Stories recently. And because I’ve gotten SO many questions about it since then, I decided it was high time I write a post about my journey with quitting coffee! Why I stopped drinking coffee Let’s be clear. This is not something I ever wanted to do and I never ever dreamed I’d be a non-coffee drinker! {So there’s still hope for all you coffee drinkers out there who would like to try giving up caffeine but can’t imagine a world without your coffee!} I started working with a nutritionist in August 2016 in hopes of clearing up my eczema and acne, and one of the first things he told me was that I had to stop drinking coffee. I immediately replied to him and said, “Hold up. I’ll do anything else that you say, but I can not give up my coffee.” He told me to just give it a try, trust him, and see what happens. So I did (reluctantly). Giving up coffee wasn’t easy Prior to that I had been drinking two BIG cups of coffee every single day for a really long time — and even three cups on the really rough days. And let me tell you, it was really, really hard to think of giving it up. I ended up deciding to stop drinking coffee cold turkey, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that method. I started drinking a gallon of water every day, and I was also doing a cleanse at the time — eating only greens and then slowly adding foods back in. The first 8 days were awful. I had a horrible headache and I craved coffee like crazy. I missed it SO much. Mostly, though, I missed the routine of my morning coffee. I had a ritual of getting up and pouring my cup of coffee. I didn’t know what to do without having that. I loved savoring my morning over a cup of coffee. It was something that was really cathartic for me. Because of not being able to drink coffee and having such a horrible headache, I was extremely lethargic and all I wanted to do was sleep nonstop. I was sleeping about 10 hours every night in the beginning (which is a lot more than normal for me, since I typically only need about 7 hours for a really good night’s rest.) But you know what was happening? My body was finally trying to get caught up on all the sleep I had missed because my body was so dependent on coffee for so many years! I didn’t even realize this until I stopped drinking coffee, but I had been masking my exhaustion and lack of energy with caffeine. How giving up coffee was life-changing for me It did take a few months for me to stop craving coffee. (And honestly, every once in a while — even after two years — I still crave it! But it’s not worth the headache I immediately get even if I just have a few drops of caffeine!) Over time, it got easier and easier, and I slowly started noticing significant health changes from not drinking coffee. And I learned I can actually survive without drinking coffee — something I never thought would be possible for me! Giving up coffee was a radical choice for me, but the radical results and changes were totally worth it: I finally felt rested. For the first time in months, I felt caught up on sleep. I was getting enough sleep every night and wasn’t getting tired in the middle of the day! I was happier. I had SO much more energy and was way less irritable. All around, I was just in a much better mood every day. It helped my anxiety. I didn’t realize giving up caffeine would help my anxiety, but this was a life-changing result I wasn’t expecting. I’ve now realized I am extremely sensitive to caffeine, and I can immediately feel the effects even if I have a tiny bit. Not drinking coffee has helped me feel calmer on a daily basis. It improved my overall health. This — combined with drinking more water and eating better — really helped improve my overall physical health. Also, it’s been really empowering for me to realize that I’m not dependent on coffee anymore and I have the energy to get through my days without it! What I drink instead Since the morning ritual was what I missed most about coffee, I had to replace those habits so that I could still enjoy waking up and savoring a hot beverage first thing in the morning. Because I’m highly sensitive to caffeine, I don’t drink caffeinated teas. So I’ve replaced my cup of coffee with a huge cup of strong herbal tea. I typically use two bags of tea so that it’s super strong, I add lots of cream (just like I did when I drank coffee), and I add honey to sweeten it. This strong cup of herbal tea with lots of cream and honey has become a great alternative for me without sacrificing my morning ritual. If you’re looking for some tea ideas, you can check out my favorite Decaf Chai Latte recipe or this list of my favorite decaf teas to drink. [...]
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Capital One Spark Miles for Business Adds Precheck/Global Entry Perk

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Capital One Spark Miles for Business Adds Precheck/Global Entry Perk
Capital One is enhancing one of its popular business credit cards with a cardholder benefit that pays for federal trusted-traveler programs aimed at helping flyers get through airport security lines quicker. Learn More Starting May 21, 2019, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business will reimburse cardholders for the cost of applying to TSA Precheck or Global Entry programs, which... Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart. The article Capital One Spark Miles for Business Adds Precheck/Global Entry Perk originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

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21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com Dollar stores lure us in with rock-bottom prices. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but often the things they sell are good products at a tremendous discount — a real bargain. Here’s what bargain-shopping experts say are among the best buys at dollar stores. [...]
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This New Video-Game Freelance Marketplace Pays Gamers to Play

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This New Video-Game Freelance Marketplace Pays Gamers to Play
An online video-game marketplace is adding to the many ways gamers can make serious money from their hobby. Gameflip recently announced the launch of “Gigs,” a freelance platform for gamers. It’s still in beta testing and works, in many ways, like other freelance websites. Users can create a free profile, write a bio with their experience or niche skills and then list their services for a price. The platform offers “gamers a way to make money doing what they love,” says Gameflip’s Marketing Associate, Steve Caracappa. “Experienced gamers can teach new players strategies and techniques to help them improve or play dedicated roles in groups to assist lower-level players.” Buyers can search through an index of those services, and choose what they need. When a purchase is made, Gameflip takes 20% of the listing price as a fee and gives 80% to the seller, almost identical to the fee structures of most other freelance platforms. The gigs available during the beta test are split into four main categories. Carry — In gaming lingo, “carries” are the allstars. They’re so good that they carry their team to victory. This gig is for people who have serious competitive skills and can help other players rack up wins. Coach — Coaches show new players the ropes and get them familiar with basic verbiage and objectives, or they can teach complex strategies to people trying to up their game. Create — This gig is for video-game related services. Graphic designers can sell logos and artwork that serious gamers can display on their Twitch streams and YouTube channels, while programmers can code bots for Discord (an instant-messaging app geared toward video games). Entertain — Entertainers don’t necessarily have to be good at games to get paid. If they’re funny enough, people will pay to play with them. And sometimes, people just need a healer to balance out a team. No one likes to play healers. According to Capacarra, changes are to come after the beta test later in 2019. Is Gameflip Legit? For years, gaming enthusiasts have used Gameflip to buy and sell video games, in-game virtual items, gift cards and more through a bustling marketplace that boasts more than 3 million users. The company strives to position itself as a serious contender to GameStop. The new Gigs feature introduces yet another way to make money playing video games. And as with most online marketplaces, that opens more opportunities for scammers. The platform is run by users with aliases who have been screened on the backend by Gameflip via linked bank accounts and/or government IDs. Because funds and bank account information are stored on the site, users need to be extra careful with their personal information, never sharing passwords or usernames with anyone. Pro Tip Be sure to check the website address before logging on. Scammers create fake websites that look real. When you try to log in on their fake websites, they steal your username and password information. To curb trading scams, the company implemented a Gameflip Guarantee, which “protects both buyers and sellers with a 100% cash-back guarantee,” Carcappa says. “Until the buyer agrees that the transaction was completed successfully, the funds are held in escrow.” Potential scams aside, the website itself is a legit side hustle opportunity for gamers. In a Twitter thread, Gameflip asked how much their users save or earn on the site. Some reported $100 here, $1,000 there. Others use the site to pay off their student loans. So much money thousands of dollars. Need to earn $200 more dollars and I will have paid my off my college loan. I absolutely love selling things on gameflip. — TheUnarmedMan (@PfuntnerR) January 29, 2019 While Caracappa says a “completely overhauled platform” is on its way, getting in early during the beta has its perks: 10% cashback on all gigs, up to $1,000. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Clean Eating Magazine Discount

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Clean Eating Magazine Discount
We found a great deal for you on Clean Eating Magazine! CLEAN EATING SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT You can subscribe for only $7.99 per year (up to 2 years). Use our coupon code PENNYPINCH and save! Hurry though as this offer is valid through 5/22/19 at 11: 59 pm EST! ABOUT CLEAN EATING MAGAZINE Clean Eating is ... Read More about Clean Eating Magazine Discount The post Clean Eating Magazine Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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The Lowdown on New Tools to Jump-Start Your Credit

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The Lowdown on New Tools to Jump-Start Your Credit
The rules for achieving a decent credit score haven’t changed much since credit scoring was invented: Pay all your bills on time, don’t use too much of your available credit and build a long history of responsible behavior. But credit novices and those looking to rebuild after missteps now have two new tools they can... Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ajayakumar@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ajbombay. The article The Lowdown on New Tools to Jump-Start Your Credit originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Bicycling Magazine Subscription Discount

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Bicycling Magazine Subscription Discount
Do you love to bicycle? We have the magazine deal for you!  Get a hot deal on a subscription to Bicycling Magazine! BICYCLING SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Hurry on over and subscribe to Bicycling Magazine for only $4.99 per year (up to four years).  Enter the coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout to get this great deal! While ... Read More about Bicycling Magazine Subscription Discount The post Bicycling Magazine Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Social Security Q&A: Am I Taking My Benefit Too Soon?

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Social Security Q&A: Am I Taking My Benefit Too Soon?
Welcome to “Social Security Q&A.” You ask a Social Security question, and our guest expert provides the answer. You can learn how to ask a question of your own below. And if you would like a personalized report detailing your optimal Social Security claiming strategy, click here. Check it out: It could result in receiving thousands of dollars more in benefits over your lifetime! [...]
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Natural Calm Magnesium Gummies, 240 count for just $29.99 shipped!!

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Natural Calm Magnesium Gummies, 240 count for just $29.99 shipped!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for a deal on the Natural Calm Gummies that I take every day? Check out this great deal! Vitamin Shoppe is running a buy one, get one 50% off sale on select supplements right now! This sale includes my favorite Natural Calm Magnesium Gummies that I take every day! Many of you have asked me to share if I ever find a deal on these, so I was excited when a follower messaged me on Instagram about this! Here’s the deal you can grab on them: Buy 2 Natural Calm Magnesium Gummies, 120 count – $19.99 each Buy One, Get One 50% Off Sale Shipping is FREE Pay $29.99 shipped after sale! I’ve taken a variety of different magnesium supplements over the years, but these are my very favorite! And this is a really good price (I typically pay $20 per 120-count on Amazon!). Not only do they taste yummy, but when I take them I can tell a significant difference in my sleep and in my overall feelings of being a little more calm and relaxed. I take the highest dose (4 gummies) at night. If you’ve never taken magnesium before, I’d recommend starting out with the smallest dose, seeing how that works for you, and then gradually working up to a higher dose. Sale is valid through May 26, 2019. Go here to grab this deal on Natural Calm Gummies. [...]
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5 Things You Should NOT Buy at Dollar Tree

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5 Things You Should NOT Buy at Dollar Tree
Since you all loved my list of what NOT to buy at Aldi, I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of what NOT to buy at Dollar Tree! What You Shouldn’t Buy at Dollar Tree Wondering what you shouldn’t buy at Dollar? Well, I’ve got you covered in this post! Now, before you think I’m here to disparage Dollar Tree, let me be clear: Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to shop at. And I’m thrilled that I passed that love on to my daughter! I mean, what’s not to love about Dollar Tree? Everything in the store is a dollar or less. If you’re wondering what I think you should buy at Dollar Tree, be sure to check out my HUGE list of the best things to buy at Dollar Tree. I go to the Dollar Tree for Valentine’s Day gifts. We have a family Christmas tradition where we all go to Dollar Tree and buy each other stocking stuffers! I even think it’s a great place to save money on groceries! But just like any other store, there are definitely some things I think you should not purchase at Dollar Tree because they aren’t great deals. I put together a list of my top five things below: (Psst! Did you see my list of 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Aldi?) 1. Cheap Plastic Toys Okay, so if you want to buy the cheap plastic toys, you totally can — especially if they will give your kids a lot of enjoyment. (Hey, if a cheap plastic toy for $1 will buy you 30 minutes of peace and quiet, I’m all for that!) And full disclosure, we have totally have bought the games, puzzles, activity books many times over the years (especially for road trips), but we try to be careful that we’re not buying cheap toys that won’t work and are just going to break in a few minutes. 2. Boxes of Cereal While they do have name brand cereals, they are small boxes and the price per ounce isn’t a great deal — especially compared to what you’d pay for cereal at Aldi. 3. Mac & Cheese I’ve told you that my kids are big fans of the boxed Mac & Cheese at Aldi — and it’s less than $0.50 per box! Also, there are often deals on Annie’s Mac & Cheese where you can get it for $1 per box or less! Looking for a really delicious homemade mac & cheese recipe. I highly recommend this one. 4. Chips/Pretzels If you don’t have a Kroger or Aldi, the prices on tortilla chips and pretzels could be a good deal for you. The packages are smaller than a typical bag of chips or pretzels at the grocery store. Aldi has the larger bags for $1.19 and Kroger often has larger bags on sale for $1. 5. Hand towels and wash cloths I had to include these because of all the things you can buy at Dollar Tree these are one of the few things I think you should never buy. Why? Because they are basically scratchy, non-absorbent rags. I mean, if you want to buy them for rags, be my guest. But I think you’d be better off using leaves off your backyard trees to clean up a mess than these “towels”. 🙂 Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but still, just don’t buy these! Wait until Kohl’s has a deal and a coupon code, and then spend $1-2 per hand towel and wash cloth to buy something that actually works! Do you agree with my list? Is there anything you would add to it? I’d love to hear! Related Links: My 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Dollar Tree 21 Valentine’s Day Deals at Dollar Tree 23 Stocking Stuffer Ideas from Dollar Tree My 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi 5 Things You Should NOT Buy at Aldi [...]
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Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount

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Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount
The astronomy enthusiast in your life would love it if you ordered them a subscription to Astronomy Magazine.  And, best of all, you can do so at discount right now! ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Through 5/24/19 (11: 59 pm EST), you can order a subscription to Astronomy Magazine for just $13.99 per year!  Enter the ... Read More about Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount The post Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Roth IRA vs. 401(k): A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Retire Someday

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Roth IRA vs. 401(k): A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Retire Someday
When you’re trying to decide between a Roth IRA vs. 401(k), the personal finance gods often have an easy answer for you: Do both, they decree. Well, that’s easy if you’re swimming in so much cash that you can go on a retirement savings binge — yet don’t earn enough to disqualify you from contributing to a Roth IRA. In 2019, someone under age 50 would need to contribute $25,000 to reach the limits for both retirement accounts. Mere chump change, right? We get it: Most of us don’t have the resources to max out both a Roth IRA and a 401(k). So when you decide how to allocate your retirement dollars, you have to make tough choices. What Is a Roth IRA? A Roth IRA is a type of individual retirement account. That means you, Dear Reader, as an individual, open the account — whether it’s a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA — and decide how to allocate your investments. What makes a Roth IRA unique compared with traditional IRAs and most 401(k)s is that you fund it with money you’ve already paid taxes on. That means that when you withdraw it, typically once you’ve reached age 59 ½ and have had the account for at least five years, the money is yours tax-free. Another sweet feature of Roth IRAs: While you generally have to wait to access your earnings, your contributions are yours to take at any time. While we’d never recommend taking money out of a retirement account unless absolutely necessary — and no, a dream wedding or vacation doesn’t count — your Roth IRA contributions can be a source you tap in an emergency. What Is a 401(k)? A 401(k) is a retirement account that’s sponsored by an employer. You can’t open a 401(k) on your own. Unlike a Roth IRA, a traditional 401(k) is tax-deferred. That means you invest part of your paycheck before you’ve paid taxes on it and then pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. A growing number of companies are now offering a Roth 401(k) option, which shares most of the same rules as a traditional 401(k) but is funded like a Roth IRA, with money that’s already been taxed. What makes a 401(k) — either kind — especially attractive is that many employers will match your contributions — in whole or in part  — up to a certain percentage of your earnings. Whatever the amount, it’s basically free money to pad your retirement savings. Roth IRA vs. 401(k): The Ultimate Showdown At this point, the Roth IRA vs. 401(k) question is probably sounding complicated, because they both have some pretty sweet features. Now let’s see how they compare across six categories. 1. Who’s Eligible? While anyone can open a regular old investment account, not everyone can open a Roth IRA or 401(k). Here are the requirements. Roth IRA You don’t need a traditional job to contribute to any type of IRA, but you do need taxable income. A salary, wages, tips, bonuses, and freelance and self-employment income all count. If you’re married but don’t work, your spouse can also set up a spousal Roth IRA for you. While you can fund a traditional IRA no matter how much you earn, a Roth IRA has income limits. (We’ll get to the contribution limits next.) For single people, or if you’re head of household or married filing separately: If your income is under $122,000, you can contribute the maximum amount. If your income is between $122,000 and $136,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income. If your income is $137,000 or higher, you’re not eligible. If you’re married filing jointly: If your combined income is under $193,000, you can contribute the maximum amount. If your combined income is between $193,000 and $202,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income. If your income is $203,000 or higher, you’re not eligible. 401(k) To contribute to a 401(k), you have to work for an employer that offers a 401(k). However, your employer can exclude you from participating in its 401(k) for certain reasons, such as if you’re under 21 or have worked for the company for less than a year. Unlike a Roth IRA, a 401(k) has no income limits. 2. How Much Can You Contribute? Both a Roth IRA and a 401(k) have limits on how much you can contribute — but the limits are much higher for a 401(k). Roth IRA The maximum contribution for 2019 is $6,000 if you’re under age 50, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. The limits are the same for traditional IRAs. Note that if you have both a Roth and traditional IRA, your total contributions to both accounts can’t be higher than $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re over 50. 401(k) You can contribute up to $19,000 to your 401(k) if you’re under 50, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older. Your employer can contribute up to $37,000 or 100% of your salary, whichever is less. But hold up, money bags: The most common employer match is 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary. Your employer may also make you wait to access the money it’s putting in your account, which is known as vesting. The money you contribute will always be yours, but if you leave your job before the vesting period is up, you may not be able to take the money your employer matched with you. 3. How Do the Tax Breaks Compare? Taxes are a major factor when you’re considering a Roth IRA vs. 401(k). Here are some key differences in how the accounts are taxed. Roth IRA If you were hoping to beef up your tax refund, a Roth IRA will leave you disappointed. But remember: Once you withdraw that money at age 59 ½, as long as you’ve had the account for at least five years, it’s all yours tax-free. 401(k) Suppose you earn $50,000 and contribute $5,000 to a traditional 401(k). Your taxable income for the year is now $45,000. Because you get the tax break upfront with most 401(k)s, you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw your money. Because you fund a Roth 401(k) with after-tax dollars, it won’t change your taxable income, but you can withdraw your money tax-free when you retire. Pro Tip If you expect to pay taxes in a higher bracket once you reach age 59 ½ or if you think tax rates in general will increase, maxing out your Roth IRA is smart because you lock in a lower tax rate. 4. How Do You Invest? A Roth IRA will give you more flexibility to choose your own investments, but a 401(k) gets points for convenience. Roth IRA You can open a Roth IRA through a brokerage firm or a robo-advising service. You could set it up in person if you opt for a brokerage with a brick-and-mortar location or by applying online. You can invest your Roth IRA money however you want — in mutual funds, individual stocks, bonds and annuities. If you prefer to choose your own investments, you’ll want to open a brokerage account. Consult with a financial adviser if you aren’t sure what investments to choose. If you prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach, you’ll probably prefer a robo-adviser, which uses super-smart software, instead of humans, to manage your investments. You can set up automatic transfers from your bank to make investing more convenient. 401(k) If your employer offers a 401(k), you may have to sign up for it or you may be automatically enrolled. Most companies let you enroll when you’re hired, though some smaller companies will make you wait as much as a year. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have to decide how much to invest and what you want to invest in. Your investment options will be limited compared with your options for a Roth IRA, but you can usually choose from several categories of mutual funds. You can change the amount you’re contributing and your investment allocations at any time. Pro Tip Find lower-cost mutual fund options by checking the fee disclosure statement, which your 401(k) plan is required to send you every year. 5. When Can You Withdraw Your Money? Your retirement accounts aren’t supposed to be a source of quick cash, so the rules around withdrawing money can get complicated. In general, the [...]
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Surf’s Up, Wheels Up: Your Guide to Airlines’ Surfboard Fees

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Surf’s Up, Wheels Up: Your Guide to Airlines’ Surfboard Fees
Catching a wave after your flight? If you’re planning to bring your own surfboard to your destination, you could face some hefty checked bag fees that usually can’t be avoided, even with an airline-branded credit card that offers free checked baggage. Let’s cut to the chase: The best airlines for surfers are American Airlines and Alaska... Meghan Coyle is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mcoyle@nerdwallet.com. The article Surf’s Up, Wheels Up: Your Guide to Airlines’ Surfboard Fees originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Beckham Hotel Collection Sheets

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Beckham Hotel Collection Sheets
If you have been looking for a great deal on sheets, grab this deal! You can get the Beckham Hotel Collection Sheets for only $31.75. You will be saving 68% on this purchase because it is usually $99.99. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change at any time! The post Beckham Hotel Collection Sheets appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help

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8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help
Parents aren’t perfect. Shocking, I know. So even though you may have been planning out your college career, your family’s financial situation may not have kept up with your dreams of campus life. On average, 34% of college costs were paid from parents’ income and savings, according to a national study by Sallie Mae. But families who have a limited income and haven’t been saving may not be able to help cover a higher education price tag. Including tuition and applicable fees, the cost per credit hour at a four-year institution is $301.23, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of National Center for Education statistics. If an average bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours, the total price comes to $36,148 — not including room and board. Whether it’s by necessity or by choice, your parents could end up saying you’re on your own if you want to go to college. But that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to a mountain of student loan debt or to skipping college altogether. But you do need a plan of attack, which is where we come in. How to Pay for College Without Your Parents’ Help You may not want to hear this right now, but paying for your own college education can actually be good for you (just like brussels sprouts or liver). Taking on the responsibility can teach you budgeting techniques and saving strategies that you might not have learned if your parents were picking up the tab. You can start saving on college by choosing a less-expensive school — here’s our list of the best college bargains by state. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, check out these eight ways to pay for college without money from your parents — or student loans. 1. Scholarships and Grants From Your School Already have a college in mind? Then the first place to start looking for scholarship money is the school’s financial aid office. If you’re still in high school, ask your guidance counselor for their help reaching out to the college. It’s important to know what money is available, so ask the financial aid officials about deadlines for applications, opportunities for need- vs. merit-based funding and options for renewable scholarships and grants. Pro Tip Some schools won’t consider you for any of their scholarships until you’ve submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Transferring from another college? Whether you started at another four-year institution or you’re continuing your education after completing your associate’s degree at a community college (a great way to save money, BTW), transfer scholarships offer a niche option. Here are 25 transfer scholarships we’ve found. 2. Federal Pell Grant Federal Pell Grants are need-based awards that are awarded on an annual basis (meaning you need to reapply every year). Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply — here’s a step-by-step guide for filling out FAFSA. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,195 for the 2019–20 award year (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020). The amount you get will depend on the four following factors, according to the Federal Student Aid office: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The cost of attendance at your school and your specific program. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. If you plan to attend school for a full academic year or less. Filling out FAFSA requires your tax information, and unless you’re no longer a dependent, that means you’ll need your parents’ most recent tax returns. Providing this information doesn’t leave them on the hook for your college bill, but it could affect your financial aid package. Pro Tip To avoid debt, don’t take more money than you need. Accept free money (scholarships and grants) and earned money (work-study) in your financial aid package first, then student loans only as needed. If your parents won’t provide these details, there are a few options that you can explore. One option is to claim yourself as an independent, but that’s typically only allowed if you are over 24 years old, are married, have kids, are a veteran or can claim special circumstances. 3. Grants From Your State States use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state financial aid, so you get a two-for-one with that application (actually, it’s more like a three-for-one, since your school will probably use it, too). But some states require additional documentation, and their deadlines are not always the same as the federal ones. Note that most state grants are only applicable for in-state schools, but there are some state grants and scholarships you can use for out-of-state tuition. Check out your state’s FAFSA requirements for rules and deadlines. 4. Work-Study Program Federal aid doesn’t stop with scholarships and grants. If you’re able to work on campus part time while attending classes, you can apply for federal work-study (FWS), which is essentially federal aid you receive for working. Pro Tip IRS Publication 970 outlines 10 tax benefits that students can claim to reduce the income tax they owe. Read more about it on irs.gov. Work-study jobs typically allow you to earn extra money without having to leave campus — that’s helpful if you’re without a car or if making the hike from campus to a job would be cost prohibitive. But don’t expect a work-study program to cover all your costs. Under the FWS program, students typically work no more than 20 hours a week during a semester. And you won’t be allowed to exceed the allotted hours from your financial aid award, so don’t bank on overtime to cover extra costs. Learn more about on-campus job opportunities here. 5. Other Scholarships After you’ve talked to your college’s financial aid office and filled out your FAFSA, it’s time to get a little creative in your scholarship search. Start with your intended career. Corporations and professional associations often offer grants and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in related fields. As a bonus, researching and contacting these organizations early in your college career will help you make connections that can come in handy when you’re applying for jobs when you graduate. Pro Tip Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so start applying during the summer between your junior and senior years. Also check out nationwide databases like Career One Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and The Penny Hoarder, which has its own compilations of awesome scholarships — and weird scholarships. 6. Part-Time Job On-campus work isn’t the only way to make extra cash — and off-campus jobs don’t require you to qualify for federal work-study.   Among the other benefits of an off-campus job is the potential to earn more money than at a FWS job since you can work more hours and keep the job year-round. Additionally, you can potentially turn a part-time gig into a job upon graduation. Here are six tips to help you move from part-time to full-time employee. And if you don’t want to leave campus but still want to earn part-time or full-time money, check out our handy work-from-home portal for legit ways to make money from your dorm. 7. Paid Internship Internships provide on-the-job experience, which can help bolster your resume as your college career draws to a close. Not only does a paid internship offer the same potential experience as an unpaid version, it could actually improve your chances of finding a post-graduation job. Among the 2019 graduates who had an internship, 66.4% of paid interns received a job offer, while just 43.7% of unpaid interns were offered a job, according to the survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. You can start your internship search at your own college, whether it’s contacting the career services department, attending on-campus career fairs, reaching out to your alumni network or asking professors within your o [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, May 26

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, May 26
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap

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How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap
You might be looking at your belongings in your new backpack and the balance in your bank account with the same question: Is this enough for the weeks- or the monthslong journey ahead? In all likelihood, you overpacked and you’ll ditch half of it at the next hostel. Then, a week into your life-changing trip, you’ll realize... Meghan Coyle is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mcoyle@nerdwallet.com. The article How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Ranger Rick Magazine Discount!

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Ranger Rick Magazine Discount!
This was one of my favorite magazines growing up! We’ve found a hot deal on Ranger Rick Magazine. RANGER RICK SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Hurry on over and order a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine for just $14.99 per year!  Enter the coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout to get the discount. But, you need to hurry as ... Read More about Ranger Rick Magazine Discount! The post Ranger Rick Magazine Discount! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Summer Movies for Kids | 2019 Discounts and Deals!

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Summer Movies for Kids | 2019 Discounts and Deals!
Looking for some frugal fun for the kiddos this summer? Be sure to check out this round-up of all the best discounts on summer movies for kids! {Looking for other fun summer deals? Don’t miss our round-up of the best Summer Reading Programs! Plus, kids can bowl for free and skate for free at many participating locations this summer! And don’t forget to stop by Sonic after 8 p.m. for half-price ice cream shakes!} Summer Movies for Kids 2019 If you’re looking for a great way to have some frugal fun with your kids this summer, then be sure to check out this list of discounts on kids’ movies! Regal Cinemas — Each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m., participating Regal Cinemas are offering moviegoers of all ages a selection of G or PG-rated films for just $1! Valid through September 4, 2019. Cinemark Theaters — Participating Cinemark theaters are offering a 10-Week Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse promotion. If you purchase in advance at the Box Office, then you can get up to 10 tickets to select G- or PG-rated movies for just $5 — which makes it just $0.50 per movie! Valid from May 27 – September 8, 2019. AMC Theaters — AMC Theaters will be offering a kid’s movie ticket and AMC KidsPack for just $4 every Wednesday at 10 a.m. over the summer! The KidsPack includes kid’s popcorn, fountain drink, and FrootiTooti fruit snacks. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema — Kids ages 3+ can enjoy family favorite films for just $1, $3, or $5 – your choice! Movies screen daily at 10:30am. Cineplex — Participaint Cineplex Theaters are offering family favorite films each Saturday morning at 11 a.m. for just $2.99 per film! Classic Cinemas — Watch PG-rated films for just $1 at 10 a.m. every Wednesday! Also, be sure to arrive early at 9 a.m. so you can meet some of your favorite characters and join in on the fun games & activities! Valid June 5 – August 7, 2019. Marcus Theaters — View your favorite family flicks for just $3 on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, June 16 – August 14, 2019. Additionally, popcorn and fountain drinks will be just $2.75 each! Studio Movie Grille — Escape the summer heat and watch $1 screenings of recent, popular, children films through August 30, 2019. Harkins Theaters — Kids can enjoy a movie each week for 10 weeks, for less than $1 per film. Price varies by the theater, but ranges from $5 to $7 for the whole summer. Paragon Theaters — Enjoy free kids movies at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from June 11 – August 8, 2019. Metropolitan Theatres — Summer Kids Film Series will be taking place on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. for just $2 per movie. Paseo Nuevo and Metrolux 14 also have shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m., and Camino Real has shows every Thursday. Cobb Theatres — Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10 a.m. kids can enjoy free movies! Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and tickets are valid for same day only. Megaplex Theatres — Megaplex Theatres is offering young fans and their families a fun summer filled with a movie pass! See 10 movies for just $10. Bowtie Cinemas — Kids can see a free movie on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. from June 25th through August 21st. Phoenix Theatres — See a free movie each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10 a.m.. Doors open at 9 a.m. and all age groups are welcome. In addition, they will be offering a special Kiddie Meal! Georgia Theatre Company — Participating Georgia Theatre Company locations are offering a Summer Kid Show Series at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in June and July! Admission is just $1.50! Also, get drinks and popcorn for just $1.50 each! Ultra Star Cinemas –– Kids can see a movie Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. for just $1 per film! Do you know of any other discounts on summer movies for kids? Let us know if we missed any! Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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7 Pharmacist Loan Forgiveness Programs

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7 Pharmacist Loan Forgiveness Programs
Several programs forgive or repay a portion of your pharmacy school loans if you meet the requirements, such as working in the public sector or in an underserved area for a certain amount of time. A pharmacist loan forgiveness program may be the right option if your career plans align with one of these program’s... Teddy Nykiel is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: teddy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @teddynykiel. The article 7 Pharmacist Loan Forgiveness Programs originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over

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12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com Sometimes, shopping trips can feel like deja vu. Are we really out of dish soap already? Where did all the paper towels disappear to, anyway? Here’s a shopping secret: More and more products now come in reusable versions. Buy once, and you’re set for months or years. Not only is it better for your budget to buy reusable items, but you&#8217. [...]
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Walgreens: Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Only $1.48

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Walgreens: Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Only $1.48
Walgreens Shoppers, you can pick up a CHEAP deal on snacks for your family this week! Until 6/1, you can get Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps for just $1.48! Here’s How: Buy 2 Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps – $1.99 Use (1) $1.00/2 Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Printable Coupon Get Back: 30 Everyday Points Final Price: $1.48!! The post Walgreens: Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Only $1.48 appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget (+ what we ate)

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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget (+ what we ate)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here. This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget I told you we were doing a 100 Days of Summer Fun Challenge this summer. We’re currently on Day 10 and it’s been so good. This photo was taken at the top of Fort Negley in Nashville. We went there as a family to have a picnic dinner one night this past week. It was my idea — and well, let’s just say, the kids weren’t as excited about it as I was. (You can read more about our evening there here… and hopefully it helps you remember that we’re far from perfect over here!) I bought some marked down salmon a few weeks ago and it was a fun addition to my daily salads this past week. Yum! On Tuesday evening, I made a big batch of Pizza Hot Pockets. I used the basic idea from Ham & Cheese Pockets, but I used pasta sauce, browned ground beef, and cheddar cheese. I made two pans and it was enough for two nights (plus some extras for lunch) and these were a hit! Kroger Shopping Trip #1 Kroger Half & Half — $1.79 Cupcakes — marked down to $1.99 Appletini Drink Mix — marked down to $0.59 Milk — $2.79 Honey Nut Cheerios — free with coupon Kroger sent me Salad Kit — marked down to $1.49 Spinach — marked down to $0.99 2 bags of peppers — marked down to $0.99 each Baking chocolate — marked down to $0.50 2 loaves of bread — marked down to $1.79 each 2 salad bowls — marked down to $0.50 each Water — $0.89 Quaker Granola Bars — free with coupon Kroger sent me 8-pack Soda — marked down to $1.29 Chocolate Milk — $1.99 Olive Oil Cooking Spray — $2.69 Total with tax: $25.31 I loved the $0.50 salads. The second day, I added some of the cooked salmon to it and it tasted amazing! Did you download your free Sprouts coupons?? Sprouts Shopping Trip I got both of these for just $0.20 out of pocket at Sprouts! Note: I accidentally picked up the non-organic peppers. I realized my mistake at the register when the coupon didn’t come off! I offered to go get the organic peppers so I could exchange them with these and the cashier said, “Oh, don’t worry about it! I’ll just take those off your order!” If you missed my post from last week and you love Dollar Tree, be sure to check out my thoughts on 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree Shopping Trip While I was at Dollar Tree taking photos for the above post, I also picked up 4 bottles of lemon juice (for my Gallon of Lemon Water a Day habit) and I picked up some Coconut Oil cooking spray to try out. I asked on Instagram if anyone had tried the coconut oil cooking spray. Some of you said you loved it. Some of you said it didn’t work at all. So I guess I’ll just have to try it for myself and see! 🙂 And of course, we had to stop by Sonic for their $0.50 corn dogs on Thursday! I was so excited about the fun deals at Kroger for Memorial Day weekend! (And the kids were super excited about sweet tea, cookies, and ice cream bars!) Someone told me that they use the Deluxe Grahams for s’mores! We’ll have to try that! These are so great to have on hand for hosting people over the summer! Kroger Shopping Trip #2 5 packages of Keebler cookies — $0.99 each with the Weekend Digital coupon 1 pack of Snapple — $1.99 with the Weekend Digital coupon 5 boxes of ice cream bars — $0.99 each with the Weekend Digital coupon 5 packages of hot dog buns — $1.19 each 4 boxes Cinnamon Frosted Flakes — marked down to $1 each 2 bags of avocados — marked down to $0.99 each 1 package Butterscotch chips — marked down to $1 2 packages turkey — on closeout for $2 each Pickle relish — $0.79 Kroger pickles — $1.59 Mustard — $0.49 Dijon mustard — $1.25 3 salad kits — marked down to $1.49 each Total with tax: $39.79 Practicing Hospitality on a Budget A question I often get is how we can afford to practice hospitality with a $70 grocery budget. We love opening up our home and I love finding creative ways to do it frugally. (See my post here for some ideas for hospitality on a budget.) Some friends from India were in the states and we wanted to have them over along with a few other families. I knew that our Indian friends actually enjoy real American food so I thought a traditional cookout would be fun! We had about 20 packages of beef hot dogs and beef brats in the freezer — that I’ve picked up when they’ve been on great sales over the past 3-6 months. So I invited everyone to come and said we’d provide the hot dogs, brats, buns, and condiments. Everyone else brought a side and/or drink. This made it easy for everyone and also really simple to pull off! It was such a wonderful evening of games, laughter, and good conversation! Headed on a Road Trip! On Saturday morning, we left for a quick family road trip to visit three states we haven’t all visited before (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa). We brought snacks for the road, some food for some meals, and we are staying at hotels with free breakfasts. We love to splurge on one meal out at a local restaurant each day on our trip. (Follow along on Instagram stories to see what we’re doing, seeing, and eating in these states!) What We Ate On Our $70 Grocery Budget This Past Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Our Menu Plan Breakfasts: Cereal, Pancakes, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Toast Lunches: Ham Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges, Salads, Leftovers, Cookies (We also got a few $0.50 corn dogs at Sonic in the afternoon.) Snacks: Fruit, Peppers, Popcorn, Cookies, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cereal, Granola Bars, Chocolate Milk Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Grilled Beef, Twice Baked Potatoes, Hawaiian Rolls, Oranges Tuesday — Homemade Pizza Pockets, Oranges Wednesday — Leftover Pizza Pockets, Peppers, Creme Brulee Thursday — Pancakes Friday — Cookout with five other families at our house (we provided all of the Brats/Hot Dogs — I had these stockpiled in the freezer from recent deals — plus the condiments and buns. Everyone else brought a side/drinks.) Saturday — We stopped at McAlister’s on our way to Madison, WI. $70 Grocery Budget Totals Total spent on groceries: $70.64 Cashback earned this week: 100 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $0.75 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards and buying snack bars + a snack. [...]
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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Transit Spending

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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Transit Spending
More than three-quarters of Americans commute by car, but millions of people also use public transit and other shared forms of transportation to get to work. Whether it’s bus/train/cab fare, rideshares, tolls or parking, you may spend hundreds of dollars a month just getting around. Thankfully, several credit cards offer bonus rewards specifically on those costs. Even general travel cards that... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Transit Spending originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Taste of Home Magazine Discount Offer

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Taste of Home Magazine Discount Offer
One of my favorite magazines is Taste of Home.  So, when I find a deal on this title, I want to make sure I pass it along to all of you!   TASTE OF HOME MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Now through 5/30/19 (11:59 pm EST), you can save more than 79% off the list price of ... Read More about Taste of Home Magazine Discount Offer The post Taste of Home Magazine Discount Offer appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Paying Off Debt On One Income

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Paying Off Debt On One Income
Have you struggled with paying off debt — especially if you’re living on one income? These are some great tips and tricks on how to pay off debt in creative ways! {Need more encouragement? Read about finding contentment in the pit of debt, what to do when it feels like you’ll never get out of debt, how to overcome discouragement when you’re in debt, and how to stay motivated when you’re paying off debt.} Guest post from Ali of Meanwhile at Naptime: Debt is a killer. Unfortunately, our family has lots of it. We did a lot of things wrong our first few years of paying off debt… but this past year, we were able to pay off $32,000 (in addition to our mortgage payments), and it feels so good! How we got all that debt… Graduate school! The majority of our debt is student loans. We floundered a bit our first year or two after graduation, making minimum payments and telling ourselves it would all work out somehow. After a year of minimum payments, our debt was even higher as we couldn’t even keep up with the interest. We buckled down, made a plan and wrote up a budget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt follow these tips to become debt free on a one income! Why We Decided to be a One-Income Family: I want to be a stay at home mom. I had a degree and a job, but once our daughter was born, I knew where I wanted to be. After moving across the country for graduate school, we had no family to watch our baby and childcare costs were so high that it just didn’t make sense for me to work anyway. We are both happy with this decision and we have been able to reach our financial goals on one income and here’s how we did it. How We Paid off $32,000 on ONE Income! If you’re interested in how to pay off debt, here are some of the tactics we used to help pay down our massive sum of debt… 1. We Implemented a Zero-Sum Budget You must have a budget. No way around this one. If you want to pay down your debt you have to tell your money exactly where to go. A zero-sum budget is simple, your income – expenses = 0. If you have any money left over at the end of the month you are not done. You must tell that money where to go. All our leftover money went to our student loans. 2. We Prioritized Our Debt Getting out of debt is our number one financial goal. We wrote down all our money goals — ALL of them. Then we prioritized and dropped those that wouldn’t fit in this year. We placed our student loans at the top. Sometimes when motivation started slipping we had to ask ourselves, would I rather go out to eat or be debt free? With that as our goal, we were able to keep ourselves on track each and every month. 3. We Put Our Entire Tax Return Towards our Debt We didn’t keep any of it — once that money came in, we threw it right at the debt! 4. We Used a Pay Raise to Increase Debt Payments With our budget in place, we knew how much money we spent on things like groceries and utilities. When my husband got a raise, the only numbers that changed were our debt payments and our savings. 5. We Put Any Bonuses Towards Deb Payments Any time we got a bonus at work, we put ALL of it toward our debts. 6. We Canceled Subscriptions When creating our budget, we had to make some sacrifices — subscriptions were one of the first things to go. For instance, I had been getting HGTV magazine for years. It was hard to say goodbye; but now, a year later I don’t miss it at all. Similarly, this year, we’re dropping Netflix to see how much closer we can get to our goal. 7. We Skipped Vacations We decided that we could have fun at home without a vacation. It was a tough decision but we saved hundreds of dollars by skipping the vacation this year. Create a family bucket list full of free or cheap ideas instead of a family vacation this year (see below!) 8. We Found Free Family Events Honestly, this one was one of our favorite “sacrifices”. By looking for free events we got to know our community quite well and saw how much our own city has to offer. Our local radio station has been a great resource for finding free events. We also checked with our local parks department, local schools, and we signed up for a community newsletter. As a result, we’ve been to museums, zoos, and even got a family caricature done for free! Take the time to look for free or cheap events and you won’t be disappointed. 9. We Sold Our Stuff Online Chances are there are plenty of things in your house that you don’t use or even need. Sell them online to make some extra money. We did… and as a result, we were able to refill our emergency fund and free up some cash for more payments! Final Thoughts on Paying Off Debt on a Single Income The hardest part is staying motivated. It’s hard to see your money go to payment after payment. We had to regularly remind ourselves of our desire to be debt free to keep us going. Now looking back, our year of paying off debt was actually a lot of fun — and SO worth it. We made many sacrifices, we followed a strict budget, and we prioritized our debt. We worked hard and found lots of ways to save money too — and as a result, we paid off $32,000 in just ONE year, living on ONE income! I am forever grateful I get to stay home with my babies every day. We’re still working on our debt, and hoping to do EVEN BETTER this year! What are your best tips for how to pay off debt on one income? Ali is a stay-at-home mom to three kids. She is mastering the art frugal living and helps stay at home moms learn how to control their finances while running a home. Read all about mom life and frugal living at Meanwhile at Naptime. [...]
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8 Things Private Equity Firms Look for in Companies

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8 Things Private Equity Firms Look for in Companies
The post 8 Things Private Equity Firms Look for in Companies appeared first on ONEtoONE Corporate Finance. [...]
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Crayola Colored Pencils (120 count) only $15.37!

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Crayola Colored Pencils (120 count) only $15.37!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. These Crayola Colored Pencils are perfect for coloring! Amazon has these Crayola Colored Pencils, 120 count for only $15.37 right now! This is the lowest price on record! A great gift idea! Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, ChaChingOnAShoestring! [...]
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5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun

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5 Ways to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun
The temperature is rising, but that doesn’t mean your spending level should go up, too. The long, hot summer months, when the kids are out of school and there’s lots of idle time to fill, can feel like a giant cash trap. But they don’t have to be. Here are five ways to save money this summer. Go Camping Instead of booking airfare and a hotel, save money by spending your vacation in the wilderness. Camping provides a great opportunity to unplug and unwind. Borrowing or renting equipment can help you shave down the cost of your adventure. Anything you cook over a campfire will be cheaper than a restaurant, so plan out your meals, avoid the fancy outfitter stores and be strategic about when you visit campgrounds. Don’t forget the marshmallows — and bug spray! Be Mindful of Utility Use Electricity bills can run high during the summer months when you want to keep cool. Save on your bills by being conservative about your usage. To avoid a high electric bill, adjust your thermostat at different points of the day. Turn it up when you leave in the morning — but avoid setting the temperature too high so your system doesn’t have to work harder to cool down your home once you’re there. Blackout curtains and fans can reduce the need to blast the A/C. Keep your air vents clean and swap out dirty filters to improve your air conditioning unit’s function. Check if your electric company offers the option of letting you pay the average cost of your usage throughout the year rather than getting stuck with super expensive bills in the summer. Join a CSA to Enjoy Summer Produce The summer sun makes for a bountiful harvest of berries, watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, bell peppers and more. A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program can help you save money on fresh — often organic — fruits and vegetables. You may have to pay upfront for the entire season’s worth of produce, but buying directly from local farmers means you don’t have packaging, shipping and grocery store overhead costs tacked onto the price. If you find the weekly haul too plentiful, you can split your share (and the cost) with a friend, or freeze or can the produce to enjoy later. Find Fun Things to Do at No Cost Whoever said you had to pay to have fun? Now’s the time for free summer concerts and outdoor movies at the park. Take advantage of the good weather and go on a walking tour of your city. Or spend your free time indoors playing video games or reading a book from the library. If you think you can’t come up with enough creative free things to occupy your time, check out this list of 100 free summer activities. Work Out for Free Outdoors Take a break from all the A/C and head outdoors to sweat this summer, instead of paying money for a gym membership. Get your heart pumping by using workout equipment at your local park, taking a run around the neighborhood or swimming in the pool at your apartment complex or subdivision — or a friend’s. If you already belong to a gym, ask if you can pause your membership plan for a couple months. Some fitness centers (such as LA Fitness) may still charge you while you’re away but at a lower rate than the regular monthly fee. That way when you want to return when the weather turns cold, you don’t have to pay an initiation fee as if you had canceled your membership. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Noom: The Gift I Gave Myself this Mother’s Day

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Noom: The Gift I Gave Myself this Mother’s Day
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Noom. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties. I love Mother’s Day!  And it has nothing to do with the cards or the gifts.  I love it because of what it means.  It is about the greatest blessings in my life – ... Read More about Noom: The Gift I Gave Myself this Mother’s Day The post Noom: The Gift I Gave Myself this Mother’s Day appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas! (Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!) We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe. I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage. When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them. What to Do With Ripe Bananas I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas! The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, plus some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon. Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!! Breakfasts: Homemade Breakfast Cookies Banana Walnut Oatmeal Fourth of July Toast Healthy Banana Pancakes Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole Pan-Fried Cinnamon Bananas 3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes Breakfast Banana Split Banana Pancakes Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups Healthy No Bake Banana Bread Breakfast Bars Snacks: Chocolate Banana Roll-Ups Banana Coconut Pudding Breakfast Banana Pops Copycat Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas Baked Banana Chips Banana Chocolate Chip Energy Bites Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pops Nutella Banana Crepes Nutella & Banana Sushi Raspberry Banana Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Banana Ice Cream — 10 Different Flavors Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas Breads: Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Gingerbread Banana Bread Honey Cinnamon Banana Bread Scones Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Scones Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Chocolate Banana Muffins Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins Banana Crumb Muffins Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins Whole-Wheat Banana Coconut Muffins Smoothies: Clean Eating Banana-Coconut Smoothie Pick-Me-Up Smoothie Blueberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie Green Monster Spinach Smoothie Cinnamon Roll Smoothie Desserts: Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake No Bake Banana Split Cake 4-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies Double Chocolate Banana Cake Brown Sugar Banana Blondies Whole Wheat Banana Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Banana Fritters with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Chocolate Banana Tart What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments! #groceryTaglineMobile,#groceryMobileHeading,#groceryMobileHeadingSm {display: none;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_background.jpg) right bottom no-repeat; background-size: cover; margin: 30px auto; position: relative; font-family: "Open Sans", Helvetica, sans-serif;}#groceryImage { position: absolute; top: 0; left: -20px; width: 290px; height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_ebook.png) no-repeat; background-size: contain;}#groceryWordingWrap { position: absolute; top: 20px; left: 0; width: 100%; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding-left: 255px; padding-right: 20px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px; font-weight: 300; line-height: 1; letter-spacing: -2px; color: #4d841e; margin-bottom: 9px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 18px; color: #444; letter-spacing: -.5px; line-height: 1.3;}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 60px; bottom: 0; left: 0; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding: 15px; background: rgba(220, 220, 220, .5);}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { text-align: center;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input { width: 34%; float: left; border-radius: 0;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="text"] { padding: 6px 10px; text-align: center; margin: 0 1.5% 0 0 !important; font-style: italic;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"] { background: #61a328; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; text-transform: uppercase; border: none; padding: 6px 10px; font-size: 12px; float: right; width: 29%; position: relative; bottom: -1px; cursor: pointer; transition: all .3s ease;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"]:hover { background: #4d841e;}@media screen and (max-width: 1020px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 230px;}#groceryImage { width: 250px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 232px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 28px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 15px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {#groceryImage { width: 290px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 255px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 700px) {#groceryHeading { font-size: 30px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {#groceryImage,#groceryWordingWrap { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { display: block; position: absolute; padding: 0 30px; bottom: 65px; text-align: center; letter-spacing: -.5px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.2; color: #444;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 275px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 255px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 400px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 260px;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeadingSm { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { bottom: 70px;}#groceryTaglineMobile { font-size: 15px;}} Need to overhaul your grocery budget? I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(){var x=document.getElementsByName('FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114b');for(i=0;i<x.length;i++){x[i].EMAIL.style.display='block'; x[i].action='http://app.feedblitz.com/f/f.Fbz?AddNewUserDirect';}} function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bs(v){v.submit();}FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(); Want to take better control of your grocery budget? Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget! This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!) In this eBook, you’ll learn: How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances! New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store! How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come! Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook! Ready to get started? Just use the form above to sign up! medianet_width = "600"; medianet_height = "120"; medianet_crid = "568454786"; medianet_versionId = "3111299"; [...]
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10 Purchases You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

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10 Purchases You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com Many credit cards offer a slew of incentives to consumers who use them — from cash back and other rewards to zero liability in case of fraud. But credit cards are not always your best form of payment, especially if you aren’t great with debt. In many cases, you are better off keeping the plastic tucked away. For some readers, this advice comes too late. [...]
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Gold Delta SkyMiles AmEx Elevates Welcome Offer to 60K Miles

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Gold Delta SkyMiles AmEx Elevates Welcome Offer to 60K Miles
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express can now take your air travel further. Learn More As of May 30, the card has a more generous introductory offer for new cardholders: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a... Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena. The article Gold Delta SkyMiles AmEx Elevates Welcome Offer to 60K Miles originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Be Prepared: 5 Strategies for Building a Budget-Friendly Emergency Kit

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Be Prepared: 5 Strategies for Building a Budget-Friendly Emergency Kit
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. We’ve officially entered hurricane season, meaning it’s time to evaluate — or create — your emergency kit. Are you ready for the worst if faced with a hurricane or if another disaster strikes? Preparing doesn’t have to be expensive. These five tips will help you get ready without spending a lot. How to Build Your Emergency Kit for Less Sure, you could plunk down more than $200 or so on a one-size-fits-all emergency kit filled with stuff you probably won’t need. Or, try the budget-friendly option: Build your own customized, cost-effective kit. Here’s how. 1. Decide What You Need First of all, know what you need. The Red Cross suggests keeping bare essentials like water, non-perishable food, clothes and medicine on hand.. You definitely need a stash of those. But what other goods make sense for where you live? In my part of Florida, I can’t think of a disaster scenario that would necessitate the hand chain saw or rope in the $200 kit I mentioned, but maybe I’d feel differently if I had to deal with tornadoes or earthquakes, or if I lived in a wooded area. Figure out what your kit needs and prioritize those items. And don’t get carried away — you probably just need to be able to feed yourself for a week or so, not build a shelter on a desert island. 2. Prep for Free Some of your preparation won’t cost you a dime. It’s all about gathering stuff you already have, like important documents, cell phone chargers, maps and spare emergency cash. Instead of buying it by the flat, consider bottling your own water. Use bleach-purified, leftover two-liter bottles and treated municipal water. Just don’t use milk or juice cartons, which can harbor bacteria. Date your bottles and replace them every six months, and you’re good to go. If you’ll need water for hygienic purposes, clean your bathtub, then fill it with cold water. It won’t be potable, but you can use it to flush toilets and keep yourself clean. Don’t forget your protein! Beef jerky is a great survival snack — but it isn’t cheap. You could dehydrate your own and save money and sodium content. Plus, you get to make your beef jerky the way you like. Check yard sales or Craigslist to find a dehydrator on the cheap. Whenever you’re doing your own food prep, make sure you’re meticulous. Items undergoing long-term storage can get contaminated if they’re not perfectly sanitized and sealed — and you don’t want to discover your food stash is useless when an emergency arises. 3. DIY to Save In my area, hurricane shutters are important, but expensive. The good news is you can make your own out of plywood or polycarbonate from Home Depot — just make sure to factor in the cost of waste when you’re doing your comparison. You may not be able to find much use for raw material scraps once you cut out shutters. 4. Collect Cost-Effective Items When you have to buy items, use coupons and your penny-hoarding knowledge to your advantage: Shop on the right day, use cash-back sites to earn rebates and use hacks to get the best deals at stores like CVS and Walmart. When you pick up batteries, hydrogen peroxide, bleach and bandages, make sure to buy generic — they’ll work just as well as the brand-name stuff. Check out the dollar store for these items, and while you’re there, pick up some emergency entertainment: crayons and coloring books for the kids and a pack of cards for adults. You probably already know how much you can save by buying in bulk. Emergency rations of paper towels, toilet paper, canned goods, batteries and bottled water are a perfect opportunity to take advantage of those savings. Finally, consider battery-free emergency additions, like wind-up flashlights and weather radios. If you’re going to be without electricity, you’ll definitely want a handheld cell phone charger, which you can keep charged and prepared beforehand. 5. Plan Ahead One of the best ways to save money on disaster preparedness is to play the long game: Look for sales in your day-to-day life and stock up, way before your storm season approaches. Cans of tuna on BOGO? Put your “get-ones” into your stash. The more you can avoid a last-minute disaster-prep rush, the better: Vendors do price gouge. Here in Florida, the price of canned goods and gallons of water goes up in June and falls steeply in December, after hurricane season ends. In case you do need a last-minute item, include disaster prep in your savings budget. Set aside $20 a month or so, and consider it part of your emergency fund — because that’s exactly what it is. Stay safe, Penny Hoarders — and don’t forget your can opener! Jamie Cattanach is a freelance writer whose work has been featured at Ms. Magazine, BUST, Roads & Kingdoms, The Write Life, Nashville Review, Word Riot and elsewhere. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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My Favorite Cute Summer Tops for Women (all from Amazon!)

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My Favorite Cute Summer Tops for Women (all from Amazon!)
Looking for some cute summer tops for women that are inexpensive and durable? Here are 3 of my favorite summer tops from Amazon that I have worn over and over again in the last year! 3 Cute Summer Tops From Amazon As you likely well know, I love finding great clothing deals at great prices on Amazon. And I love sharing those great finds with you all! In today’s post, I want to share 3 summer tops for women I purchased from Amazon and absolutely love! All of these have held up well to multiple washings, are very comfortable, are inexpensively priced, and fit well. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. 1. Amazon Essentials V-Neck T-Shirt These tees come in a two-pack for $18.50 shipped (Less than $10 each shipped!) and they are some of my favorite v-neck tees! They are soft, fit well, but aren’t too tight. You can wear them tucked in or left out. I prefer to tuck them in and wear them with a belt or to do a half tuck. I got the navy/turquoise set (see the two pictures above). This particular set is currently out of stock, but they have a lot of other colors available in this same style and price. 2. Made By Emma Short Sleeve Chambray Shirt I adore this shirt and usually always wear it at least once a week! It’s lightweight, soft, and so comfortable. You can wear it untucked for a casual look, tucked in for a more tailored look, or with a cardigan or jacket. Many of the reviews on Amazon say that it runs small. I have on a small here and that’s the size I usually wear. It’s possible that some of the larger sizes aren’t as true to size. The only drawback of this shirt is that Amazon doesn’t offer free returns on it and it’s $14.97 + $4.99 shipping.   3. WLLW Crew Neck Sleeveless Shirt This is another shirt that I wear almost weekly! And it’s just $15.99 shipped or less (depending upon what size and pattern you choose). It comes in a number of different patterns and colors. One thing I wanted to mention is that some of you have ordered this and some of you said your shirt was a bit darker than mine was and you felt like the material looked different than mine does. The good news? This shirt has free returns, so if you order it and don’t like it, you can easily return it — completely free (Amazon will email you a shipping label to return it). Note: Many of you asked about the shirt I have on underneath this tank. It’s this halter top bralette and I really love it for halter top tanks! How to Search for Clothes on Amazon Be willing to dig. It’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for at first. Sometimes, you have to put in specific search terms to find exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t give up within a few tries; it’s probably there if you’re willing to dig! Use as specific of search terms as possible. If you know a brand name and specific type of what you’re looking for, be sure to include those details in the search terms. Amazon carries a LOT of brands and you might be surprised what you find and the prices they are offering. Look at the related searches. If you find an item you love, be sure to scroll down on the page to see the “Related Searches” items + the “People Who Bought This Also Bought” selections. In both cases, I’ll often find some great options there that I might not have found just by searching. What To Check For Before Making a Purchase Check if they offer free returns. Many clothing items on Amazon offer free returns. This means that if you don’t like the item for any reason, you can go on Amazon and request to return it. They’ll send you a free shipping label so you can return it and get your money back. Read the reviews. I learn so much by looking at the reviews. You can often also see pictures of the actual item on someone. This is really helpful! Always check the shipping price. Many clothes ship free to Amazon Prime members. Make sure you check the shipping price before falling in love with something — because sometimes it won’t be free and might be as high as $5-$6. Look to see where something is made/ships from. Some of Amazon’s clothing ships from China and takes 4-6 weeks to arrive. Be aware of this when you are looking at items — especially if you are hoping to get them within in a few days. Two other tops that didn’t make it to my top 3 list, but that I also love and wear often are the two above shirts: FOMANSH Color Block Tee (this one looks a tad different than the one I have on above but Amazon says it’s the one I have — it has free returns in case it shows up looking different!) Vemvan Striped Block Tee (comes in a number of different colors and is just $15.99!) Other Places to Get Great Deals on Clothes Your Closet — Don’t run out and get something new because “you have nothing to wear” without first checking your closet. There might be a dozen items in there you’ve not worn for awhile just because you forgot about them! Save yourself a trip to the store plus the money for new clothes by making sure you’re wearing what you already own! Thrift Stores — Thrift stores are a gold mine of deals, if you have the patience to dig and look. Approach it like a treasure hunt, have strict guidelines for what you are looking for, and make sure Swap Meets with Friends — Get your group of girlfriends together and have everyone bring what they no longer love, need, fit into, or wear and swap out clothes. This is a fun way to freshen up your closet — for free! TJ Maxx — I’ve found lots of great deals at TJ Maxx over the years. You never know quite what you’ll find, but it’s a great place to find deals on basics like camis, socks, scarves, and workout clothes. Target — Target often releases great coupons through their cartwheel app that can be paired with items from the Clearance Racks. This can make for great deals! Zulily — This is an online daily deal site that has lots of sales on ladies’ clothing. If you like certain name brands like Under Armor or Tom’s, check out this site for their regular sales. Note: The shipping tends to be high on this site and it takes quite awhile for you to receive your items in the mail. What are YOUR best tips for finding great deals on clothes? I’d love to hear! Other Related Links: How I’ve Simplified My Wardrobe The Outfit Formulas That Changed My Life My Completely Honest Review of Stitch Fix Putting Me Together (no-fuss fashion for moms) Get a FREE Month of Rocksbox Jewelry [...]
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Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair

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Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair
If you have a little one and do a lot of traveling, this would be a great deal to grab! You can get the Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair for only $28.43 right now. You will be saving 43% on this purchase because it is normally $49.99. Be sure that you grab this ... Read More about Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair The post Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Pinecone Research is accepting applicants!

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Pinecone Research is accepting applicants!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Pinecone Research is open to applicants again! But hurry — spots always fill up quickly each month. Pinecone Research has some openings available for new applicants! If you’ve tried in the past and haven’t been able to get in, you might be able to this time around, as they’ve opened their doors to more of a general population for a limited time only. Pinecone Research is one of my very favorite survey companies and one that I found offered the most surveys for the best pay. You’re not going to get rich taking surveys, but you can earn a nice little stream of income from it. Apply here to get started. Looking for more opportunities to make money from home? See my list of recommended survey companies here. [...]
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An Insider Explanation of Programming vs Coding: Jobs, Salaries and More

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An Insider Explanation of Programming vs Coding: Jobs, Salaries and More