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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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, June 30

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, June 30
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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Don’t Toss Your Receipts. These 8 Apps Will Pay You for Them

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Don’t Toss Your Receipts. These 8 Apps Will Pay You for Them
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 got news: Your grocery receipts are a lot more valuable in your hand than in the trash.  Now, I’ll be honest… I’ve crumpled more receipts than I could ever count. I used to save them all, but the inside of my wallet started looking like something George Constanza would be proud of.  Once it got out of hand (like having years-old receipts…), I resorted to tossing them. Here’s why that was a mistake: Cash-back apps make it extremely easy to earn rewards for making purchases you were already going to make — and all you need is a receipt. 8 Apps That Will Pay You for Your Grocery Receipts  To give you an idea of how cash-back apps can make your life easier and your wallet a bit fuller, we tested a ton of them and narrowed it down to the best, top-rated apps that will pay you for your grocery receipts. Ready?  1. Fetch: Get Rewards for Any Purchase Fetch Rewards is an app for iOS and Android that will reward you for scanning your grocery receipt from any store. All you have to do is shop, snap and go.  Every time you scan a receipt that includes one of more than 250 participating brands, you’ll earn points — without worrying about matching specific product offers. No scanning barcodes; no searching for offers; no grocery store limitations.  Once you collect enough points, cash out for a gift card to retailers including Amazon, Airbnb, Best Buy and more. For example, 10,000 points will get you a $10 Sephora gift card. Or 3,000 points will get you a $3 Panera Bread card. If you’re feeling generous, the app also lets you use your points to make a donation to a charity of your choice.  Oh, and keep in mind you must scan your receipt within 14 days!   Pro Tip Enter the code PENNY to earn a $2 (2,000 points) sign-up bonus! 2. Ibotta: Earn Cash Back for Snapping a Photo (Plus a $20 Bonus!) Ibotta is traditionally known as a cash-back app for groceries — and you can still earn a heap of cash on your next haul — but you can also earn cash back on just about anything you purchase.  Whether you’re catching a Lyft, ordering something on Amazon or buying off-brand items at your favorite grocery store, you can earn cash back on a number of purchases in the store and online. Occasionally, you’ll find freebie offers in the mix, too. All you have to do is take a photo of your receipt or shop through the app.  Bonus: You’ll pocket a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming your first 10 offers within 14 days. Pro Tip To avoid overspending, make your list first, then see if the app has available offers for what you need. Hit $20, then cash out via PayPal or Venmo, or opt for a gift card to a popular retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, Target or Walmart. 3. Paribus: Find Your Hidden Money  You know those confirmation emails that inundate your inbox after you’ve done some online shopping? Yeah, you might want to stop deleting those. Here’s why: Paribus gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, this tool will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop. Pro Tip If your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated. Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide. 4. Drop: Get a $5 Head Start Toward Your Rewards for Shopping The best kind of savings are the kind where you don’t have to switch up your routine. Or even better, when you get rewarded for doing things you were probably going to do on your own… for free. That’s just one thing that makes Drop so appealing.  All you have to do is link your credit and debit cards (no coupon clipping or hoarding receipts!), and shop through the app. When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, even if you only hailed an Uber or ordered a pizza. The app also has a “Try Something New” section that showcases new offers for you to try, and you get paid just for testing them out. To qualify, you must be a new customer to the featured offers, and you have to sign-up through the app. Each offer rewards you in points (1,000 points = $1), which you can redeem for gift cards to your favorite retailers, like Amazon, Sephora, Hotels.com and more.  Pro Tip Get started with 5,000 free Drop points by signing up with code TPH through Dec. 31.  5. Receipt Hog: Turn Any Receipt Into Cash  Just take a picture and earn a reward — yup, that’s it.  Receipt Hog accepts receipts for nearly any in-store purchase from groceries, clothes, electronics and even gas. You can earn a variety of rewards: Coins (cash rewards), spins (earn bonus coins or other prizes) and sweepstakes (monthly cash prizes). Once your rewards balance is at least 1,000 coins, or $5, you can redeem your coins for cash or Amazon gift cards. U.S. participants can also redeem their coins for magazine subscriptions. 6. SavingStar: Double Your Rewards at Your Favorite Store You have a go-to. You know the aisles, when the bakery will have fresh bread and when your favorite deals will be available, because it’s your store.  The next time you go shopping, take the SavingStar app with you. It’s basically a perfect match for grocery store loyalists because, depending on where you shop with your store loyalty card, you can connect it to earn automatic rebates. If you frequent BJ’s, Family Dollar, Safeway or Walmart (to name a few), all you have to do is scan your store card to link and activate your rebates. Then you’re done! Saving Star takes care of the rest. Otherwise, just scan receipts to claim your rebates. Once you collect $20, transfer the money to your bank account, or cash out via PayPal. You can also choose to donate your earnings to charity. 7. Checkout 51: Let Your Receipt Get You Cash Back and Weekly Savings  Is your shopping style less about loyalty and more about wherever you can get the best deal? Same. In that case, Checkout 51 is a great cash-back option.  Redeem the app’s cash-back deals for specific products from any retailer (unless the offer specifies otherwise). If you prefer to shop online, Checkout 51 makes it easy to earn there, too. Just claim your offers by snapping a photo of your packing slip. No need to shop through a portal. Checkout 51 updates its offers each Thursday, giving you a week to get your shopping done. Oh, and the app tends to focus on name-brand items, so don’t forget to compare prices. Generic or store brands might be more affordable even without a rebate. Once you have earned at least $20, you can transfer your Checkout 51 rewards to cash in your bank account. 8. BerryCart: Score Cash Back for the Extra You Spent on Clean Eats If organic food is mostly what fills your grocery cart, BerryCart is perfect for you — it’s an app that specializes in finding you the best deals on gluten-free, organic and non-GMO food.  BerryCart works at more than 100,000 stores nationwide, including health-focused stores like Whole Foods, and also at everyday stores like Walmart and Target. As long as you have an itemized receipt that states which products you purchased, BerryCart will accept it. Keep in mind there may be a limited selection of offers, but depending on your shopping habits, the app can still be useful because it features products other apps don’t. Your cash back will be deposited into your account within 24 hours and can be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash with a minimum rewards balance of $5. Maximize Your Rewards With These Tips Cash-back apps are pretty simple, for the most part, but there are still some clever ways to make the most of your rewards. Here are a few tips to help you get started: S [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Friday, July 19

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Afternoon Deals: Friday, July 19
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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5 Things to Do When You Get the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

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5 Things to Do When You Get the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
You’ve applied for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card and were accepted. Once you receive it in the mail, what should you do next? 1. Plan your next vacation over dinner Cardholders receive 2 points per $1 on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar on other spending. Enjoy a leisurely dinner... Amanda Johnson is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 5 Things to Do When You Get the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Getting a Bonus? Here’s How Much You’ll Really Get After Taxes

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Getting a Bonus? Here’s How Much You’ll Really Get After Taxes
There’s nothing like a nice bonus to make you feel a bit better about your day job. Whether it’s the year-end check that makes holiday shopping a little less stressful or just a reward for your great performance, a bonus is always a welcome windfall. Of course, when you earn money, you almost always have to save some of it for Uncle Sam. So how are bonuses taxed, exactly? How Are Bonuses Taxed? Here’s What the IRS Says According to the IRS, that bonus of yours is “supplemental income,” a category that also covers commissions, overtime pay, prizes, retroactive pay increases and more. Supplemental income is subject to a slightly more convoluted withholding pattern than your regular wages, depending on how much of a bonus you earn and the way in which your boss disperses it. How Normal Bonuses Are Taxed In most cases, a bonus is paid and identified separately from your regular wage by your employer — and in that case, your employer can use a couple of different methods to calculate the tax withholding. Option 1: A flat 22% of your bonus is withheld. Pretty simple — and nice, if you earn enough money to put you in a higher income bracket overall. (Not so nice if you’re in the 10% or 12% brackets, though.) Option 2: If your bonus is added into a regular paycheck, your employer can use the aggregate method, which is a little more complicated. Basically, the withholding for the total check amount is calculated as it normally would be per your income bracket and W-4 information, and then your employer subtracts the amount that would be withheld on a regular paycheck.  For instance, if you get a check for $4,000 — a $3,000 bonus on top of your normal $1,000 wages — your employer would calculate the amount you’d be taxed for $4,000 in regular wages. Say that amount was $300, and you normally see $50 of your $1,000 check withheld. In this case, your employer would subtract the $50 from the $300 to get a total withholding of $250. How Bonuses Over $1 Million Are Taxed OK, this might sound unrealistic for most of us, but here’s the rule: If you earn more than $1 million in supplemental wages, the first $1 million will be taxed at the regular 22%, and then the remainder will be taxed in your regular income bracket… which in this case is 37%. Ouch. But then again, you’re earning a million-dollar bonus, so maybe you’re not that worried about it. FROM THE TAXES FORUM 401k contribution 4/17/19 @ 5:45 PM B Tax Settlement Firms - Legit? 4/11/19 @ 5:43 PM W Disability 4/4/19 @ 7:39 PM I've a question about Federal and State Taxes 3/30/19 @ 7:56 PM See more in Taxes or ask a money question Why You Could Get Some of That Money Back Keep in mind that if your employer doesn’t specify that the extra cash is a bonus and just lumps it all in with your regular pay, it’ll be taxed at the same rate your regular paycheck would be, without any fancy mathematical acrobatics.  And although the bonus is subject to specific tax rules when it’s paid, when Tax Day comes, it’s treated just like any other kind of income. That means you could earn some of your bonus back in the form of a refund if your tax return shows too much was withheld for your total taxable income level, after accounting for deductions and credits. No matter how it’s taxed, a bonus is basically free money you weren’t expecting. And you don’t have to worry about your bonus catapulting you into a higher tax bracket, either — because even if it does, only the money above that bracket threshold will be taxed at the higher rate. Although it can be frustrating to see part of that check disappear into the ether, focus on the positive: the sudden cash infusion! Jamie Cattanach is a writer whose work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Her focuses include personal finance, travel, body image and more. She writes to find (and share!) the best ways to live intentionally, adventurously and happily. 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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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s

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6 Ways to Save Money at Culver’s
Love Culver’s? Don’t miss out on these 6 easy ways to save money at Culver’s! {Also be sure to check out 16 Ways to Save More at Restaurants and our Master List of Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free!} Guest post from Bridgitte of BrigitteBrulz.com Ask anyone in my immediate family what their favorite restaurant is and Culver’s is the answer! It’s something we all agree on! What’s not to love about ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard? Well, if you are on a tight budget… possibly the price. On the rare occasion my family does go out to eat, we often end up at Culver’s. As a result, I have learned a few tips to save money on those Culver’s visits. 1. Buy kid’s meals. One of the easiest ways to save money at Culver’s is to eat kid’s meals. Even adults can purchase a kid’s meal at all of the Culver’s I have visited. Less calories, less cost, and enough to fill my belly (but not my husband’s who does order from the “adult” menu). Each kid’s meal automatically comes with a coupon for a free scoop of custard and a Scoopie token. Just don’t forget to take the coupon and token off the side of the kid’s meal bag before throwing it away! You can save ten Scoopie tokens to get a free kid’s meal later. You can also save the free scoop of custard coupon for a future visit. It’s nice being able to go out as a treat for just custard and not having to pay anything! I keep the coupons and tokens in an envelope in my purse (along with gift cards) until I am ready to use them. If you are automatically charged for a drink with the kid’s meal but prefer water, you can ask for a cup for water (free) and bring the carton of milk (included in the meal) home to use later. 2. Sign up for their e-mail list. If you want to save money at Culver’s, be sure to sign up for their email list! Those signed up for a free MyCulver’s account receive coupons, updates, a monthly flavor forecast, and coupons for free custard on each family member’s birthday by email. The monthly flavor forecast gives you a calendar of the “flavor of the day” for each day of the month for your local Culver’s. Just keep in mind those flavors are only for your local Culver’s. If you are traveling, you can find the flavor of the day for any other Culver’s on the Culver’s website or the Culver’s App. 3. Purchase Culver’s gift cards during the holidays. Culver’s typically runs a promotional deal on gift cards just before Christmas. For each gift card you purchase (at the amount required), you receive a free value basket coupon. You can keep the free value basket coupon for yourself and give the gift card to someone else for Christmas. You can also purchase the gift cards for yourself to use throughout the year (and still keep the free value basket coupons)! 4. Use expired coupons. One of my tricks to save money at Culver’s is to not throw away my expired Culver’s coupons! You may want to ask your local Culver’s if they will accept expired coupons, but all of the ones I have asked have accepted them. The birthday coupons for free custard typically state they expire in two weeks. The free value basket coupons received with the gift cards at the end of the year typically state they expire at the end of February. BUT, since my local Culver’s accepts expired coupons, I don’t have to use them (or throw them away) until we are ready to use them. 5. Fill out the survey on your receipt. Sometimes the receipts will have information about taking an online survey. If your receipt does, you can go online, answer the questions about your recent visit, and receive a code for a free scoop of custard. Write the code at the bottom of the receipt and bring it in the next time you want a a scoop of custard (possibly on a day that has your favorite flavor of the day). 6. Only go if you have coupons and/or gift cards. I typically purchase a set number of gift cards at the end of the year (when Culver’s has their gift card promotion) using money set aside for that. We also get Culver’s gift cards as gifts from others who know we enjoy Culver’s. Those gift cards and coupons last us for the entire next year of Culver’s visits. If we don’t have a gift card or free custard/free value basket coupons, we don’t go! What are your best tips to save money at Culver’s — or your favorite restaurant? Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of Reading Journals for kids, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com. [...]
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Green Toys Tool Set

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Green Toys Tool Set
Grab this toy set as a gift idea and save 33% right now! You can get the Green Toys Tool Set for only $20.11. You would usually pay $29.99 for this fantastic play tool set! Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change at any time! The post Green Toys Tool Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Gretchen’s Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 5

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Gretchen’s Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 5
Dillons 2 Enlightened Ice Creams – $5.47 each, used $1/1 e-coupon and $5.99 Ibotta rebate AND $5.99 Kroger cash back rebate – Free plus $1.40 overage after coupons and rebates 1 Yoplait Gogurt – Marked down to $0.49 1 Sara Lee Loaf Bread – $2.49, used $1/1 e-coupon – $1.49 after coupon 2 bags Kroger Tortilla Chips – $1.25 each 5 bags Kroger Cheese – $1.99 each, used $0.50/1 e-coupon x 5 – $1.49 each after coupon 1 bag Apples – Marked down to $0.99 2 pkg Kroger Applesauce – $1.29, used $0.30/1 e-coupon x 2 – $0.99 each after coupon 1 Kroger Eggs – Marked down to $0.49 2 Mott’s Fruit Snacks – $1.99 each, used $1/1 e-coupon x 2 – $0.99 each after coupon 1 bag Kroger Flour – $1.59 1 Kroger Sour Cream – $1.39 1 bag Green Peppers – Marked down to $0.99 2 pkg Strawberries – $2.88 each, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $2.63 each after coupon 3.32 lbs Bananas – $1.63 2 Green Leaf Lettuce – $1.29 each 1 Stonyfield Yogurt – Marked down to $1.79, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $1.29 after coupon Received $0.10 Ibotta rebate Received $0.09 Coinout rebate (I’m loving this new app!) Total after coupons and rebates: $30.51 Aldi 2 bag Frozen Broccoli – $0.95 each 1 Half & Half – $1.59 1 pkg Butter – $2.88 1 bag Frozen Peas – $0.79 1 bag Frozen Chicken Breasts – $5.99 1 bag Baby Carrots – $0.99 1 pkg Cream Cheese – $0.99 1 pkg Taco Seasoning – $0.39 1 pkg Flour Tortillas – $1.19 1 box Cheese Crackers – $1.49 1 pkg Chocolate Chips – $1.89 1 can Refried Beans – $0.79 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup – $0.49 2 Cucumbers – $0.59 each 1 gallon Milk – $1.49 1 pkg Granola Bars – $1.59 Received $0.03 Coinout rebate Total: $25.60 Total for both stores: $56.11 Menu Plan for This Week We are still getting veggies from our garden which I will be using this week! Breakfasts Cereal, Toast, Eggs, Fruit, Oatmeal Lunches Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Tossed Salad Bar, Fruit/Veggies/Cheese, Cheese Quesadillas, Mac & Cheese, Leftovers Dinners Chicken & Noodle Casserole, Steamed Broccoli Dinner with Lifegroup (I’m bringing Chips and Bean Dip!) BBQ Meatballs, Rolls, Steamed Peas, Mashed Potatoes Pancakes, Eggs, Fruit Salad Out to dinner for our wedding anniversary Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Tossed Salad Taco Bar [...]
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Benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver

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Benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a no-hassle option ideal for minimalists or those who want easy-to-manage rewards. You don’t have to track rewards categories, spending limits or redemption thresholds with this $0-annual-fee card. It works well solo as a go-to option for all purchases, and it pairs well with other credit cards that offer... Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena. The article Benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, July 28

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, July 28
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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Great Deal on Consumer Reports Magazine!

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Great Deal on Consumer Reports Magazine!
Here is a magazine deal that we don’t see very often! You can get a hot deal on a subscription to Consumer Reports Magazine. CONSUMER REPORTS SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Now through 7/30/19 (11:59 pm EST), order a subscription to Consumer Reports magazine for as little as $17.49 a year.  That is a savings of 79% off the ... Read More about Great Deal on Consumer Reports Magazine! The post Great Deal on Consumer Reports Magazine! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach

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How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach
A data breach of Capital One, the nation’s seventh-largest bank by assets, compromised the personal information of approximately 100 million U.S. consumers and 6 million consumers in Canada, the bank announced Monday. The breach affected the information of two groups of people: Those who applied for Capital One credit cards between 2005 and 2019. The... Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ajayakumar@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ajbombay. Bev O'Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: boshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea. The article How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Tuesday, July 30

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Afternoon Deals: Tuesday, July 30
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 Have a Stronger Marriage

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How to Have a Stronger Marriage
Want to have a stronger marriage? In this episode, Jesse and I talk about our #1 tip for building a stronger relationship and having less conflict and disagreements. Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here. Jesse and I are so very, very different. And I love it so much (well, most of the time!) Case in point: Jesse and I went to Home Depot recently to pick out lighting fixtures for the bathroom renovation. I walked in, scanned the shelves, and picked the first fixture that was inexpensive and looked like it would match. Jesse, on the other hand, had spent at least an hour beforehand looking at multiple websites, researching brands, and comparing options. Then, in store, he analyzed the pros and cons, price, and durability of each potential lighting fixture. Even though our differences can sometimes drive each other batty, the longer we’ve been married, the more we appreciate how our unique perspective compliments the other. For instance, if I were the only one in charge of choosing a lighting fixture, my lack of research and hasty decision-making would land us with a lemon of a light fixture that wouldn’t work well and wouldn’t last. On the other hand, if Jesse were solely in charge of picking out a light fixture, he’d probably still be in Home Depot right now… because there’s always something else you need to research. And that’s why we need each other. He’s the slow down to my hurry up. And I love him so much! When we stop trying to change our spouse and instead appreciate the gift that their differences bring to our life, it transforms our marriage! In this episode, we share more about how learning to see, accept, and embrace our differences has changed our marriage in such a powerful way. And we share how this can apply to all relationships. In This Episode:  [00:26] – We’re back! Hear about our foray into fostering through respite care. [03:48] – What’s saving our lives? For Jesse it’s the YNAB app. For me? It’s Waze. [11:41] – Jesse talks about a book he just finished and I read a poignant excerpt of a book I just finished that goes hand-in-hand with our last episode. [16:33] – Today Jesse and I share about our number one tip for creating a stronger marriage (well, Jesse isn’t quite sure about that!) [19:20] – We discuss one of the things that has caused the most conflict in our marriage and how it has played out over the years. [22:09] – Trying to change your spouse never works… it only creates more conflict and tension. [22:55] – The secret to healthier, happier relationships? Recognize, own, and embrace your differences and see them as a gift. Links and Resources: YNAB app Waze app Backlash: A Thriller Preach to Yourself: When Your Inner Critic Comes Calling, Talk Back With Truth Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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How I Finished Graduate School Debt Free

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How I Finished Graduate School Debt Free
Guest post from Darya 0f A Mom From a Foreign Land Completing graduate school was one of my biggest accomplishments in life… and graduating with no school debt made the moment even sweeter! Before I started my master’s degree, I was terrified that I would graduate owing thousands of dollars and it would take me years to pay it back. I was also freaking out because I was pregnant and my baby was due in the middle of my first semester. I couldn’t imagine how we were going to afford it all. Gratefully, I had the support of my husband and a plan in hand. Three years later, I received my master’s in science and had no debt to repay. I went to NC State University in Raleigh, NC. The tuition and fees for one semester totaled to about $6,000 for in-state students. On average, a master’s degree at this school takes between 4 and 6 semesters (roughly $24,000 to $36,000!) Here are the things I did to finish graduate school DEBT FREE: 1. I worked at the university. The good thing about grad school is that you can often get an assistantship job and have your tuition covered. I also received a small stipend with it! I got a teaching assistantship that included assisting a professor during a class, grading homework, helping with attendance, and overly assisting with general administrative tasks. I had this job for 3 of my semesters — which meant no additional tuition costs for those 3 semesters! 2. I had another part-time job. I worked every Friday and Saturday night at a local steak house.This job gave me the flexibility and finances to earn my master’s degree. Occasionally, if my school load was lighter and my husband was available to watch our child, I would pick up an extra shift here and there. I made about 70% of my income at the restaurant. It was tiring and I had to work late but I needed the money. 3. I took some online classes. I didn’t want to take too many online classes, but taking a few helped me stay at home when I first had my baby. At the same time, I saved on gas (I had a 70-minute commute) and could work more hours at the restaurant. 4. I cut down on unnecessary expenses. We stopped eating out. On the days I went to school I brought my snacks, lunch, and coffee from home. I minimized social life and entertainment. I breastfed my daughter to save on formula. I kept clothes shopping to a minimal. 5. I earned a scholarship. I got a $1000 scholarship for working towards a Career in Conservation due to some volunteer work I did for a local environmental organization. 6. I made small payments on my loan while on grad school. My schooling lasted 6 semesters and (as I mentioned above) my tuition was covered for 3 of the semesters. In order to afford the other 3 semesters I had to get a loan. However, as soon as I got the loan though, I started making $50 monthly payment on it while still in school — even though I did not have to. Some months I could not afford to pay more, others I would pay extra. And once I started working full-time (see below), I started paying as much as I could. I ended up completely paying off my loan before I officially graduated! 7. I started a full-time job while still in school. I started working as soon as I finished all my classes, but I spent another 8 months working on my thesis. Working a full-time job and working on my paper was challenging. I had to devote my nights and weekends to writing, but I was happy to be able to get a job before I had officially graduated. Doing all these things took a lot of effort and dedication. I am so happy that I can now focus on paying off other bills and not worry about student loans. I believe that anybody that puts their mind to it, can do it too! Darya grew up in Eastern Europe, and has been living in the U.S. for over 10 years. To this day she still has trouble adjusting to the American culture, especially when it comes to raising a child. She lives with her husband and 3.5 year old daughter in Greenville, SC. While working a not-so-exciting governmental job, she still finds time to blog about motherhood, working mom life, healthy life, and recipes at A Mom From a Foreign Land. [...]
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Download FREE Sample Pages of Alpha Omega’s LIFEPAC Curriculum + Enter to Win a Full Course!

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Download FREE Sample Pages of Alpha Omega’s LIFEPAC Curriculum + Enter to Win a Full Course!
Interested in homeschooling? Don’t miss these FREE sample pages of Alpha Omega’s LIFEPAC student-paced curriculum! (Note: This post and giveaway are sponsored by Alpha Omega Publications. Read our disclosure policy here.) Did you know that Alpha Omega Publications offers print curriculum in addition to their popular Monarch online curriculum? AOP’s print curriculum, LIFEPAC, was actually their very first curriculum and it’s been a trusted curriculum among homeschoolers for over 40 years! The LIFEPAC curriculum offers more than 60 beautifully designed courses for children in grades kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. LIFEPAC is really unique because the full year of curriculum is broken up into 10 worktexts — which are portable, easy-to-use sections that combine textbook lessons with workbook exercises. This allows kids to learn at their own pace, build confidence gradually and consistently, and gain a sense of accomplishment every 3 to 4 weeks as each worktext is completed. The LIFEPAC curriculum comes in a variety of subjects: Bible, History & Geography, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Electives. (And there are tons of choices for Electives, including Health, Literature, Geology, Computer, Astronomy, Spanish, and so many more!) Plus, each LIFEPAC comes with removable self-tests for each unit, a final test to ensure mastery, a teacher’s guide, answer keys, and practical tips for teaching your children. Get FREE Sample Pages of LIFEPAC Curriculum! Interested in trying LIFEPAC homeschooling products? You can go here to download FREE sample pages of the LIFEPAC curriculum! Just fill out the short form and the samples pages will be emailed to you. Win a LIFEPAC Course! Want to try LIFEPAC for your kids? I have great news! Alpha Omega Publications is running a giveaway for one LIFEPAC course in any subject of your choice! The giveaway ends on August 14, 2019. Go here to enter the giveaway for your chance to win! [...]
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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money

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8 Subreddits to Follow If You’re Trying to Save Money
Looking for ways to save money? Don’t limit yourself to the ideas you think up on your own. There’s great benefit in joining a group of others who can share their tips, tricks and advice. That’s the reason we started The Penny Hoarder Community. Another resource where tons of ideas are shared is Reddit. If saving money is your aim, check out these eight Reddit forums, also known as subreddits, that’ll help you cut costs on food, travel, weddings and more. 1. r/Frugal Over 1 million members belong to the frugal living subreddit. Here, you’ll find a wide range of discussions about how to save money in your everyday life. There’s advice on reducing the costs of necessities like food and utilities as well as nonessentials like electronics and vacations. 2. r/budgetfood You can’t cut food out your budget, but there are so many ways to save. The 150,000 members in Reddit’s budget food community share ideas on meal planning, low-cost recipes, grocery shopping tips and more. 3. r/CordCutters Sick of your $100+ cable bill, but on the fence about canceling your service? The cord cutters subreddit is where to go to ask questions about various cable alternatives, so you can pay less while still enjoying what you love to watch. 4. r/NoContract We can’t live without our cell phones, but we can definitely do without being locked into pricy phone service contracts. Reddit’s no contract community is the forum to join if you’re interested in learning about cheaper phone service without a long-term commitment to a particular carrier. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving Money on a very fixed income 7/31/19 @ 2:14 PM Extra Job 7/30/19 @ 2:52 PM The Power of Saving Money || Where to save 7/30/19 @ 1:36 PM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. r/Shoestring The shoestring subreddit is where world travelers go to share advice and post questions about ways to travel on a budget. If you’re looking for cheap airfare, inexpensive lodging or ideas about low-cost things to do at your destination, this is the group to join. 6. r/BuyItForLife Saving money isn’t always about buying the cheapest thing out there. Sometimes it’s worth spending more initially for something of better quality that lasts for years and years. Reddit’s buy it for life forum is where folks go to show off their long-lasting purchases, share feedback on the durability of various products and seek advice about how to maintain what they own so they don’t need to spend money on a replacement. 7. r/Weddingsunder10k Planning a wedding but don’t want to go into debt getting hitched? The weddings under $10K subreddit has all the ideas about how to get married on a tight budget. Get inspiration from other brides or ask the group to weigh in on your upcoming nuptials. 8. r/MUAontheCheap If you’re looking to spend less on beauty items check out the MUA on the cheap subreddit. It’s full of announcements about sales and special deals for popular makeup brands, nail polish, skincare and more. 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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Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time)

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Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time)
American Express is offering a chance for new cardholders to earn extra cash back on top of the welcome offers for two co-branded airline cards: the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. Through Aug. 15, 2019, you can apply for either of these cards... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article Delta SkyMiles Cards Add Cash Back to Welcome Offers (Limited Time) originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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*HOT* Columbia Outerwear Deals!

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*HOT* Columbia Outerwear Deals!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Love Columbia? Score some HOT deals on outerwear right now! For a limited time, you can get some really nice discounts on Columbia outerwear when you use the promo code 65SUM2019 at checkout! And shipping is FREE if you’re a Columbia Rewards Member (it’s free to sign up)! Here are some deals you can score… Get this Women’s Mountain Crest Fleece Full Zip Jacket for only $19.98 shipped after the promo code (regularly $50)! Choose from four colors. Get this Men’s Panther Creek Jacket for only $35.99 shipped after the promo code (regularly $90)! Choose from six colors. Get this Men’s Boulder Ridge Henley Hoodie for only $19.99 shipped after the promo code (regularly $60)! Choose from three colors. Get this Kids’ Mountain Side Lined Windbreaker for just $17.58 shipped after the promo code (regularly $45)! Get this Women’s Warden Lodge Pullover Hoodie for just $27.98 shipped after the promo code (regularly $80)! Hurry – these are selling out quickly. [...]
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Companies Pay Big Settlements Over Bogus Beer Ads, Harassing Calls

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Companies Pay Big Settlements Over Bogus Beer Ads, Harassing Calls
You’re in for a cool brew on Kona Beer if you bought the brand because you thought it was made in Hawaii. You also might benefit if you were the recipient of harassing phone calls or took a bogus supplement.  See if you qualify for any of this month’s highlighted class-action settlements. Kona Beer Hawaiian Origin Beer drinkers who thought they were drinking brew made in the tropical islands of Hawaii may be eligible for up to $20 from Kona Beer. If you bought a 4-pack, 6-pack, 12-pack or 24-pack of Kona Beer between Feb. 28, 2013 and June 14, 2019, you could be eligible for the following: $1.25 per unit for a 4-pack of Kona Beer $1.25 per unit for a 6-pack of Kona Beer $2 per unit for a 12-pack of Kona Beer $2.75 per unit for a 24-pack of Kona Beer Purchases of single cans or single bottles are not eligible for the settlement. The class-action suit alleged that Kona Brewing Company used imagery including surfers and Waikiki Beach to trick customers into believing the beer was brewed in Hawaii.  In reality, Kona beverages were brewed in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. Under the terms of the settlement, you can claim to up to $10 without a proof of purchase, or up to $20 with proof of purchase. For a full list Kona Beer varieties covered by the settlement and to submit a claim by the Oct. 7, 2019 deadline click here. Los Angeles Natural Gas Tax  If you were a customer of Southern California Gas Company and were charged a Los Angeles City Users Tax for natural gas use between Dec. 12, 2012 and April 12, 2019, you could be eligible for a portion of a $32.5 million settlement. The class action alleged Los Angeles residents were charged a 10 percent fee based on the amount of gas they used. The city allegedly began to base the fee on the amount also paid for other surcharges, which resulted in city residents paying more than $30 million in additional, unfair taxes. The city agreed to remove the additional tax amount, saving gas customers an estimated $6.18 million per year. The settlement fund will automatically be awarded to L.A. residents who were Southern California Gas Company customers by reducing their natural gas tax bill for 36 months between five and 10 percent.  Because the settlement fund will be automatically awarded, affected customers only need to make it known if they wish to object to or opt out by Aug. 19, 2019. For complete details, click here. FoodState Supplements (MegaFoods, Innate Response) Did you buy vitamin supplements by FoodState, including brands MegaFoods and Innate Response Formula, between Jan. 11, 2011 and Sept. 15, 2018? If so, you could be entitled to a portion of a $2.1 million class-action settlement regarding allegations of false advertising. FoodState was accused of falsely stating its supplements contained more nutrients from “whole foods” than they actually did. The company also allegedly included magnesium stearate in some supplements but did not include it on its list of ingredients. The compound, which may be found naturally in certain foods, can irritate the bowels of some consumers.  Class members who submit a valid claim by the Aug. 19, 2019 deadline will receive $25 per bottle, up to a maximum of $100. For the complete list of all the supplements covered by the settlement and to submit a claim, click here. National Holdings Telemarketing Did you receive a call from National Holdings Corporation between Nov. 11, 2010 and May 24, 2019, despite your number being registered with the National Do Not Call List? If so, you could be eligible for an estimated cash payment of $20. A higher or lower payment amount is possible depending upon the number of valid claims received. The calls, which allegedly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, were made by either National Holdings representatives or by Shampan Lamport on behalf of National Holdings.  Click here to file a valid claim by the Aug. 23, 2019 deadline.  PTZ Insurance Robocalls If you received unsolicited phone calls from PTZ Insurance, you could qualify for a portion of a $5.5 million class-action settlement. The calls used a pre-recorded voice to play a “Day 2” or “Day 6” message and were made between Oct. 16, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2016. The lawsuit alleged the calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The value of each claim will depend upon the number of valid claims received and could range from about $46 to $92.  Eligible consumers should have received a claim number and PIN to file a claim. For full details, click here and file your claim by Aug. 28, 2019. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM How I'm Making Money on Poshmark 12/31/18 @ 4:47 PM C Buying & Reselling On eBay 4/5/19 @ 2:52 PM Dumpster 7/27/19 @ 4:19 AM Selling stamp collection 7/31/19 @ 2:13 PM See more in Make Money or ask a money question New York & Company (California Only) Clothing store New York & Company will provide customers who bought items in California up to a $25 discount voucher to resolve claims the retailer used false prices to convince customers they were getting a great deal. If you purchased items at any California New York & Company outlet store between June 9, 2013 and May 23, 2019 or from a New York & Company retail store in California between Feb. 11, 2012 and May 23, 2019, you could qualify for a voucher. The lawsuit alleged the clothing retailer advertised its outlet merchandise prices as a certain percentage off of regular retail prices, but the “sale” merchandise allegedly never was sold at the listed retail price. Customers can receive a voucher worth $7.50 off of any purchase or 25 percent off a purchase up to $100. Click here and file your valid claim by Sept. 9, 2019.  CVS Algal-900 DHA Supplement If you bought a CVS-branded Algal-900 DHA dietary supplement that included a claim that it was “clinically shown to improve memory” or had “clinically shown memory improvement” on the label, you could receive a full refund or $7 in vouchers. The lawsuit alleged the claims about memory improvement were deceptive. CVS customers who bought the supplements between Nov. 15, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2016 could be eligible for a variety of different awards, based on the proof of purchase and whether a CVS ExtraCare account was associated with the purchase. For complete details and to file a claim by the Dec. 12, 2019 deadline, click here.   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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Kids’ Birkenstocks only $29.99 + shipping!

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Kids’ Birkenstocks only $29.99 + shipping!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Wow! Proozy is having a big sale on kids’ Birkenstocks right now! Need back to school shoes for the kids? Proozy is offering Kids’ Birkenstocks for just $29.99 when you use the promo code MSM2999 at checkout! There are lots of styles and colors to choose from! Pay $5.95 for shipping or get FREE shipping on orders over $50! (Go in with a friend for two pairs to save on shipping!) Valid through August 6, 2019. Psst! Want to save more on kids’ back to school clothing? Be sure to check out these great tips! Be sure to check out all of the Best 2019 Back To School Deals! Don’t forget you can also sign up for our daily email newsletter to get all of the best back to school deals emailed to you every week! And be sure to check out my post on 5 Simple Ways to Save on Back to School Deals. [...]
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Popular Science Magazine Subscription Discount

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Popular Science Magazine Subscription Discount
Today, you can pick up a subscription to Popular Science magazine for only $4.95 per year (89% off)! You can order up to 3 years at this price! Add this magazine to your shopping cart and then enter the coupon code pennypinch and then you will see the price drop!  This deal is good until  8/3/19 at 11:59 ... Read More about Popular Science Magazine Subscription Discount The post Popular Science Magazine Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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What Is a Student Loan Grace Period?

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What Is a Student Loan Grace Period?
A student loan grace period is a stretch of time, after you’ve graduated or left school, when you’re not required to make payments. Here’s what to know about your student loan grace period and how to make the best use of this time. » MORE: How to pay off student loans fast How long is... Brianna McGurran is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe. Ryan Lane is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: rlane@nerdwallet.com. The article What Is a Student Loan Grace Period? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, August 3

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, August 3
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 I Stopped Yelling at My Kids

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How I Stopped Yelling at My Kids
Want to stop yelling at your kids? In this post, I share what has helped me to stop yelling at my kids and practical ways to love more and yell less. How I Stopped Yelling at My Kids I thought I was a patient person… then I had kids. I said I’d never yell at my kids… and then I had kids. I pictured myself as a sweet, loving, always-cheerful mom… then I had kids. Motherhood has stretched me and humbled me. It’s brought out the best in me and the worst in me. About five years ago, I found myself snapping at my kids more and more frequently, which only served to frustrate me. The more I snapped at my kids, the more frustrated I was at myself. And the more frustrated I was at myself, the more I’d snap at my kids. It was a vicious cycle and I felt trapped. One night, I was up late thinking of the kind of mom I’d been and feeling so ashamed of my behavior and the example I was setting before my kids. I started praying and asking God to help me to love my children, to help me have patience with them, and to stop getting so angry with them. My 4-Week Commitment As I was praying, an idea birthed in my head. I decided to make a commitment to my husband for the next 4 weeks. I woke Jesse up to tell him my commitment (I have such a gracious husband — poor guy!). It was this: every time I was tempted to lash out at a child I would, instead, find a very practical way to love that child. It was a BIG commitment, but he agreed that he thought I could do it and said he was willing to hold me accountable. I went to bed resolving that, by God’s grace, I was going to change the tone in our home. It Was SO Hard The first day was very, very hard. One child in particular was pushing all of my buttons and seeming to make a game of trying to see how much they could annoy me. Well, the first few hours on that first day of my 4-week commitment, this child tried all their usual tactics. I didn’t get frustrated. I didn’t yell. I didn’t even raise my voice. Oh, it was very hard. But I’m a stubborn person and I was determined to stick with my commitment to my husband. Instead, of lashing out, I asked this child to come snuggle next to me. I poured love, love, and more love. The Change Was Amazing! Within a few hours, this child’s attitude had drastically changed. They were calm, happy, and asking what they could do to help me. I could not believe it! And this only continued for the next few days. Until finally, I felt like I almost had a completely different child living in my home. It was amazing! I decided my 4-week experiment was a smashing success. And I decided to extend it for another 40 years. Or something like that. 🙂 Five Years Later I wrote most of the above five years ago and I wanted to give an update for those who may have read my original post on this. I can safely say that this one change in me has changed the tone in our whole home. My children are more helpful and respectful. I am so much happier. Jesse is happier because we’re happier. And our home is much, much calmer. All because I’m choosing to love instead of lash out. Lean in and Love Now, let me be honest: I haven’t always done it perfectly and I occasionally revert back to my old ways of getting frustrated. But when I start to feel the frustration and anger rising, I remember my mantra, “Lean in and love.” When I want to lash out, lean in and love. When I want to express my frustration, lean in and love. When that child is getting on my every last nerve, lean in and love. Practical Ways to Love More Instead of Lashing Out 1. Invite your child to sit with you. I’ve noticed that when my children are frustrated and acting out, it’s often because they are craving attention and affection. Inviting a child to come sit next to me when they are getting on my every last nerve can be so hard for me to do. In fact, I usually want them to be as far away from me as possible. But distance is only going to make matters worse. Lovingly and gently asking my child to come sit next to me and be with me helps to calm both of us. It helps me to communicate love for the child (even if I don’t feel all that loving at the time) and it causes the child to feel special and cared for. 2. Stop, look, and listen. Moms, we can get so busy with life. We have places to go, things to do, messes to clean up, meals to fix… the list is never ending. Our kids don’t need our productivity. They need our presence. If a child is misbehaving, don’t shush them just so you can get back to what you were doing. Stop, look into their eyes, and gently ask them, “Is everything okay?” Or, “What’s wrong?” Really mean it. And then really listen to their answer. Taking time to do this — even in the middle of a very busy day — has made a world of difference in our home. 3. Pray With Your Child When Silas is struggling, I’ll often ask him if I can pray for him. He always says yes and then calms down while I pray with him asking God to help him be calm, obey, love his sisters, or whatever it is that he’s struggling with. Usually, by the end of my prayer, he’s calmed down and in a much better mood. I think, for him, my willingness to take time to pray with him helps him to feel loved. It also communicates to him that we need God’s help in our everyday life — especially when we’re struggling. Diana from My Humble Kitchen once shared me with that when she’s struggling to respond with kindness and gentleness to her children, she’ll ask them to gather around and pray for her. She said that it’s basically impossible to respond in anger after your children have gathered around you and prayed for you! I definitely plan to try this soon! 4. Go Outside & Take a Walk Together If you feel like things are about to explode inside the walls of your house, call everyone together and tell them you’re taking a walk in 5 minutes. (Or, make it a family bike ride if you have older children.) Exercise and fresh air can do wonders when things are uptight! Plus, a fresh change of scenery can provide a better setting for talking through issues in a calmer manner. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way, breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sunshine, and notice the beauty around you. This will boost your spirits for the tasks that lay ahead of you the rest of the day! 5. Share Three Things You’re Thankful For As I often say, “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” But sometimes we can get bogged down by all the problems, stresses, and struggles that we forget to count our blessings. In those moments when you want to yell and be frustrated with your kids, challenge yourself to stop, breathe, and call your children together and each share three things you’re thankful for. This might seem really difficult at first if everyone is at odds with everyone else, but force yourself to do this and it will most likely change the tone in your home. Plus, it might help you step back and gain some perspective: in light of all you have to be grateful for, the small things that someone is doing to irritate you won’t seem so upsetting.  6) Do Something Fun If you have young children, this can be especially helpful to do on a hard day. When things feel like they are falling apart, set aside your to-do list and plans for the afternoon or evening and have a tea party, a family game night, a family movie night, or go do something fun as a family. Sit down, smile, and just enjoy your children. Take time to laugh together, read a story (or tell stories!), and maybe also talk to them about how they are feeling about life, things they are struggling with, or even some encouragement for them in some areas they need to improve in. 7) Put Yourself In Your Child’s Shoes It’s so easy for us to forget that our kids are often carrying heavy burdens, too. Sometimes, we can [...]
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New Grad? This 6-Step Guide Will Help You Determine What You Owe in Loans

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New Grad? This 6-Step Guide Will Help You Determine What You Owe in Loans
If you’re a recent graduate, the last thing you want to think about is the past, right? It’s all about the future. However, if you took out student loans, the time to look back is now (actually, it probably should have been sooner, but let’s not quibble over semantics). If you’re like most grads, you took out multiple student loans over your four(ish)-year career as a college student — consumers with educational debt had an average of 3.7 student loans, according to a 2017 Experian report.  Unfortunately, 11.4% of aggregate student debt was 90 or more days delinquent or in default in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. That means there are a lot of people not paying their student loans on time — or perhaps at all. But you won’t be one of them, right? You just need a little help figuring out who you owe… and how much… and when it’s due. Oh, and how long before these loans are paid off and out of your life (spoiler alert: you might get a temporary reprieve on payments if your loan has a grace period). Fortunately, you have The Penny Hoarder to help you organize your student loan debt in way to pay it off in a timely, cost-effective way so you can get back to that future thinking. How Much Do I Owe in Student Loans? It would be nice if you could put a simple, smallish figure down on paper and be done. But student loans can get complicated, and you should have all the essential information before you formulate a plan of attack for paying them off. We’ve come up with the list of questions you should be able to answer about both your federal and private student loans to truly know how much you owe. That could mean a few trips to the interwebs, a close reading of your loan agreement and/or a call to your lender. Let’s get started. 1. Who Is My Student Loan Servicer? There’s no sense in knowing how much you owe if you don’t know who you owe it to, right? Federal Student Loans  Dig out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) login and password to sign onto studentloans.gov. Here you will find a list with your federal student loans.  Each entry will also indicate the company hired by the federal government to service the loan — look for names like Navient, Great Lakes or FedLoan, three commonly used loan servicers. Any further interaction in regards to your loan should go through your loan servicer. If you need more info about your loans  — such as when your loan was disbursed — log into the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS.ed.gov).  “Use that same federal student aid login and password to login,” said Heather Jarvis, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in student loans. “That site is much less formatted and is less easy to read than studentloans.gov, but it does have more information.” Private Student Loans Private student loans are more difficult to track — especially if you accepted them without much thought as a 17-year-old … and you lost any paperwork four moves ago … and your loan’s been sold.  If you’re at a total loss for who to contact, start with your alma mater.  “The college admissions office is going to know who paid the tuition,” said Melinda Opperman, executive vice president of credit.org. She recommended asking for a duplicate copy of the loan agreement, which the college should have in its records.  “If they can’t provide that, at least [ask for] the phone numbers of who to get in touch with,” Opperman said. No luck with your college? There’s one more source that will have your private loan info: your credit report, which you can order online for free from annualcreditreport.com. “Look for all the education loans listed on your credit report, and then compare the loans on your credit report to the loans that you’ve identified as federal,” Jarvis said. “If there are any loans on your credit report that are not on studentloans.gov, it’s because they’re private student loans.  “And your credit report will list the name of the lender.” 2. What Is the Principal Amount? Regardless of the type of loan, it’s important to know two things about the principal:  What is the amount you initially borrowed? What is the current amount of principal you owe? If you’ve made any payments toward your loan, you should be aware of whether the payments were going toward interest or principal. These totals should reflect that. Knowing both the initial loan amount and current principal will be important for calculating interest. Federal Student Loans The fed’s information about your loan balance could be up 120 days old, so you should contact the lender directly for the updated amount.  Private Student Loans For private loans, it’s best to contact the lender directly for the current principal, although your most recent statement should also have this information. 3. What Is the Interest Rate? Knowing the interest rates can help you prioritize which loans to tackle first. Paying off in order of the highest to lowest interest using the debt avalanche method will save you money in interest over the long term. Federal Student Loans The feds don’t consider your college career collectively — each academic year you start anew. The same goes for your interest rates. “The interest rates set for federal student loans are set annually for the upcoming academic year, and they’re not always the same from one year to the next,” Jarvis said. “So people might have a variety of interest rates.” The good news about federal loans? Unless the loans were issued before 2006, your interest rate will be fixed. So that rate will remain the same over the life of the loan. Private Student Loans Private student loans are less likely to have fixed interest rates, so you’ll have a little more homework to do with them.  “Often, private loans are at variable interest rates, so they can change over time,” Jarvis said. “Everyone who has a private loan at a variable rate should know a couple of things: They should know how often the rate changes and they should know whether there’s any cap on how high the rate can go.” Pro Tip Making an extra payment—using a tax refund, perhaps—lowers the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Specify to your lender that the extra money should be applied to your loan balance. If your interest rate seems really high, that’s probably because it was based on your credit score — and lack of credit worthiness as a college student. Once you have a career with a steady income, you may consider refinancing your loans since you could qualify for lower interest rates.  4. What Are My Payment Plan Options? Now that you know the amount you owe and the interest rate, you should find out how to start paying it off.  Ask your lenders what the estimated payoff dates are to help set your goals and prioritize payments. Federal Student Loans If you let the government decide, it will automatically base your payments on the standard 10-year loan repayment plan. But that isn’t your only option. “Folks tend to have the misunderstanding that they have a monthly payment that’s the required payment on a student loan,” Jarvis said. “And with federal student loans, that’s not the case.” If you’re unable to make the proposed amount, you have four main options for lower payments that take your income and expenses into account: Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR) Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) Pay as You Earn (PAYE) Revised Pay as You Earn (RPAYE) You can learn more details about income-driven repayment plans in this article, but Opperman warns that these plans come with conditions that you should discuss with your lending service provider before you sign. “When the student starts making smaller payments, it’s going to take significantly longer for them to pay,” she said. “And the balance may be growing — much like what happened for some people with the to [...]
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Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Adventures, Space Robot Set

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Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Adventures, Space Robot Set
Have a little one that loves Thomas & Friends Adventures? This would be a great deal to grab now and use as a gift idea during the holidays! You can order the Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Adventures, Space Robot Set for only $10.67. You will be saving 57% on this purchase because it is usually ... Read More about Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Adventures, Space Robot Set The post Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Adventures, Space Robot Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It

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Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It
Collision insurance sounds pretty straightforward, but it won’t cover every bill after a crash. Collision coverage pays to repair your own car’s damage when you hit another vehicle or object such as a lamppost or fence. It may also pay if another driver hits your car and doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the... Lacie Glover is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lacie@nerdwallet.com. The article Collision Insurance: What It Covers and Who Needs It originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Prepare for the Budget-Busting Cost of Day Care

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How to Prepare for the Budget-Busting Cost of Day Care
Finding the right child care option for your family and your budget can feel like a Catch-22. You want the best for your kid — a friendly, well-qualified caregiver who will meet all your child’s needs. But the best of anything is expensive, and you don’t want to be working so much just to afford child care that you never have time to see your kid. This is where good budgeting comes in handy. You need the reality of your financial situation to match up with the costs you’ll have to pay. Whether you’re early in your pregnancy or nearing the end of maternity leave, here’s what you need to have in mind when setting your child care budget. Establish What You Can Afford for Your Child Care Budget Child care can take up a significant chunk of parents’ budgets. Last year, The Penny Hoarder surveyed over 1,200 adults and found half spent at least 15% of their income on child care. Unless you regularly have hundreds of dollars in surplus at the end of every month, finding the funds to pay for day care will require making changes. Pull out your budget — or if you don’t regularly budget, pull out bank statements and receipts from the past few months and calculate the average of what you spend in each category. Now go through your expenditures and see where you can make cuts. What nonessentials can you cut? See where you can reduce spending on dining out, entertainment, clothing and personal care. Pro Tip Using the cash envelope system can help you stick to your spending limits. Once the cash in your envelopes is gone, no more spending until the next pay day. Your essential spending isn’t off the hook either. Implement money-saving grocery shopping tips. Opt for a cheaper cell phone plan. Are you able to move to a more affordable home or downgrade to a less expensive car? Another place you’ll want to analyze in your budget is what you’re spending to reach your financial goals. While it’s certainly prudent to pay more than the minimum on your debt and to exceed your employer’s 401(k) match, now might be time to focus on your most immediate financial challenge. Of course, cutting your spending isn’t the only way to find room in your budget. Increasing your income is always a plus. Could you or your partner ask for a raise or secure a better-paying job? Are you able to pick up a side gig? If you can find a way to increase your income without increasing the need for more hours of child care, you’ll be ahead of the game. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Hi 8/1/19 @ 11:42 PM J Can Drinking Coffee Affect Your Finances? 3/25/19 @ 10:30 AM Apple iOS apps in Canada 6/28/19 @ 2:08 PM Budgeting tips 6/14/19 @ 8:36 AM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question Research Child Care Costs In Your Area Next, you need to get familiar with how much child care costs where you live. Try not to be intimidated by the scary claims that child care costs more than housing or college tuition. Yes, that can be true, but child care generally comes in a wide range of options at various price points.  Licensed caregivers who operate day cares out of their homes usually charge less than a formal child care center. Enrolling your little one in a center typically costs less than hiring a full-time nanny.  According to Care.com’s Cost of Care survey, parents in 2018 spent an average of $199 a week on in-home care, $213 a week for child care centers and $596 a week to have a nanny. However, costs vary greatly by region. What you pay can also depend on your child’s age. The younger your child is, the more expensive care generally will be. After deciding what type of care you prefer, start researching options in your area. Get recommendations from people you know. Check sites like Care.com, ChildCare.gov and Child Care Aware of America. Search Facebook and Nextdoor for local providers and parenting groups.  Local parenting publications may have information or advertisements about child care centers. Your school system might operate a program for preschoolers or at least have some insight about which preschools their kindergartners are coming from. When you’re vetting child care providers, you’ll want to ask a ton of questions to determine if they’d be a good fit. Cost isn’t the only important factor. However, when asking about the rates, make sure to ask about registration fees, if meals or snacks are included and if there are any additional costs like supplies or field trips. Ask about the price of wrap-around care if standard hours don’t cover your typical work day. Consider the transportation costs involved in getting your child to and from child care. Pro Tip Don’t forget to inquire about availability. It doesn’t matter that an option is perfect and affordable if families have to be on a waiting list for years. Figure Out a Plan that Works for Your Family Finding child care isn’t always as easy as determining how much you can spend and finding a place that fits your budget. Sometimes there just isn’t enough money to stretch. Depending on your income and family size, your family might qualify for child care assistance via programs like Head Start, a government subsidy or financial aid through nonprofits like the YMCA or the United Way.  Some employers offer benefits for working parents, such as tuition discounts at day care centers or dependent care flexible spending accounts. Other companies allow employees to work remotely or bring their baby to the office. Some parents in a pinch work out informal caregiving arrangements with grandparents or another family member. Plenty of parents find they have to make tough sacrifices, like quitting their jobs, working less hours or working schedules opposite of their partner so one parent is always home. Child care costs can have a huge impact on your budget — and your life — but at least it’s only a temporary aspect of raising a child. You’ll hit some financial relief once your kid starts kindergarten. Then you can switch your focus to saving money for college! 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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7 Incredible but True Inheritance Tales

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7 Incredible but True Inheritance Tales
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com Ever daydream about coming into a sudden fortune? It’s a common fantasy. And, while we shouldn’t count on it, this fantasy does come true on occasion. Through strange and sometimes bizarre circumstances, the poor are elevated to the ranks of the very wealthy. Following are true stories of people — and animals — getting rich from surprise... [...]
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FINRA Proposes to Ease Restrictions on Initial Equity Public Offerings and New Issues

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FINRA Proposes to Ease Restrictions on Initial Equity Public Offerings and New Issues
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is proposing to amend its Rule 5130 and Rule 5131 to ease certain restrictions on initial equity public offerings and new issue allocations and distributions. FINRA Rules 5130 and 5131 are designed to protect the integrity of the public offering process by, among other things, generally prohibiting FINRA members from selling a new issue to an account in which a “restricted person” has a beneficial interest in order to ensure that industry insiders, including members and their associated persons, do not take advantage of their insider position to purchase new issues for their own benefit at the expense of public customers. FINRA has proposed amending the Rules to remove certain impediments to capital formation deemed unnecessary to protect investors to address the impact of the rules on family offices, sovereign entities, foreign employee retirement benefits plans, foreign investment companies and executive officers and directors of charitable organizations. If adopted, the proposal would amend Rule 5130 to exempt foreign employee retirement benefits plans, exclude sovereign entities that own broker-dealers from the categories of restricted persons, and broaden the scope of “family investment vehicle” under the rule. In addition, the proposal would amend Rules 5130 and 5131 to exclude from the definition of “new issue” offerings that are conducted pursuant to Regulation S under the Securities Act of 1933 and other offerings outside of the United States and its territories. The proposal also would amend Rule 5131 to exclude unaffiliated charitable organizations from the definition of “covered non-public company.” The proposal also would make certain additional minor amendments to Rules 5130 and 5131 to make the rules more consistent. FINRA’s proposal is available here.   [...]
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Outside Magazine Discount

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Outside Magazine Discount
Snag big savings on a subscription to Outside Magazine!! OUTSIDE SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Now through 8/6/19 (11:59 pm EST), order a subscription to Outside Magazine for just $4.99 per year! That is a savings of 89% off the list price!  You can order up to 2 years at this low price.  Enter the coupon code PENNYPINCH ... Read More about Outside Magazine Discount The post Outside Magazine Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Back-to-School Shopping: Kids Influenced by Social Media Push Parents to Overspend

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Back-to-School Shopping: Kids Influenced by Social Media Push Parents to Overspend
Kids pushing their parents for the coolest in back-to-school gear is a late-summer tradition, and today, youngsters have some backup: social media influencers. Peer and social media influences on children are not news unto themselves, but it turns out these factors are affecting how parents spend their back-to-school dollars, according to a new NerdWallet survey... Elizabeth Renter is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @elizabethrenter. The article Back-to-School Shopping: Kids Influenced by Social Media Push Parents to Overspend originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Credit Freezes: A Powerful (and Free) Way to Fight Identity Theft

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Credit Freezes: A Powerful (and Free) Way to Fight Identity Theft
Another day, another massive data breach.  Equifax, Capital One, Marriott … the list seems endless.  And as more of our personal information is digitized, the risk of it ending up in the wrong hands rises, leaving us increasingly vulnerable to identity theft and trashed credit. But while the scope of these data breaches can seem overwhelming (1.1 billion identities were exposed in 2016 alone), the reality is that you are not powerless. You can defend yourself, and you don’t have to go off the grid and hide out in a bunker in New Zealand. One of the most powerful ways to defend yourself is a credit freeze. Setting it up is simple, and best of all, it’s free. What’s a Credit Freeze? Credit Sesame defines a credit freeze as “a process which locks down your credit file and prevents identity thieves and cyber criminals from opening credit in your name.” Basically, access to your credit file is inaccessible to everyone except you.  Creditors, such as banks and credit card companies, ask to see credit report before opening new accounts. Since they won’t be able to see your credit history, they won’t be able to extend you a line of credit. Makes sense, right? And no, it won’t negatively affect your credit score. When Should You Freeze Your Credit? Many people freeze their credit after their identities have been stolen, which is fine. However, you’re basically in a race against the criminal. Who can get to your credit report first? Steven Weisman, a Bentley University professor and author of the fraud and identity theft blog Scamicide, suggests freezing your credit now — and always. He thinks of the tool as a “preventative medicine.” “This is the single best thing someone can do to protect themselves from being a victim of identity theft,” he says. “Even if your Social Security number was in the hands of an identity thief, you’d still be protected.” If you’d rather not put your credit on perma-freeze, then you should also consider it under the following circumstances: You’ve been the victim of a data breach. (At this point, that’s nearly all of us.) You believe you may have become a victim of identity theft. You want to protect your child’s credit. Once your credit is frozen, you will still have access to your credit report, as will current creditors and debt collectors.  Employers — both current and potential — have limited access to your credit report, as do some government agencies.  What Does a Credit Freeze Cost? Credit freezes now cost nothing, thanks to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which became effective in September 2018. Prior to the law’s passage, credit freezes used to cost between $5 and $15 to set up, with a second charge to unlock the freeze.  (Victims of fraud were typically exempt from paying these costs.) This is the single best thing someone can do to protect themselves from being a victim of identity theft. The law also allows you to unfreeze and refreeze your credit at any time, at no cost. How to Freeze Your Credit It will take a bit of legwork on your part. You’ll need to request a credit freeze from each of the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each bureau has a slightly different process.  1. Contact the Three Major Credit Bureaus Have information like your Social Security number, birth date and most recent addresses on hand when you make your request. You can freeze your credit by mail, by phone or online. How to Freeze Your Credit With Equifax Online: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/ Phone: 800-685-1111 Mail: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348 How to Freeze Your Credit With Experian Online: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html Phone: 888‑397‑3742 Mail: Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 How to Freeze Your Credit With TransUnion Online: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze Phone: 888-909-8872 Mail: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016 Note: All three credit bureaus say requesting a credit freeze by mail is the slowest method, and so if time is of the essence, you should consider requesting the freeze over the phone or online. If you do opt to request a credit freeze by mail, make sure to include your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, last two addresses, a clear copy of a government-issued identification card and a clear copy of a utility bill, bank statement or other form of proof of address. 2. Receive Your PIN and Keep It Safe The credit bureaus will set you up with a PIN, which will allow you to manage your credit freeze. Once you receive this number, make sure you keep it in a safe place where you can always find it. You will need to use it if you ever need to unfreeze — or “thaw” — your credit, like if you decide to apply for a mortgage or open a new credit card. 3. Manage Your Credit Freeze Your credit freeze should be active one business day after you make the request online or by phone. (The time frame for mail requests is three days.) You can manage it by logging into the bureau’s site using the credentials you established when you requested the credit freeze. If you want to make any changes via phone or mail, you’ll need to have that PIN on hand. How to Unfreeze Your Credit The time may come when you will need to unfreeze your credit — say, to apply for a credit card or shop for a loan. To do so, go to the credit bureau’s website and use the credentials you set up to request the thaw.  The freeze should be lifted within an hour, as required by federal law. (If you choose to request your credit thaw by mail, your wait time will be considerably longer — at least three business days from the receipt of the request.)  You can also request to have the freeze lifted temporarily, which is especially helpful if you are looking to rent an apartment or applying for a job, and then want to go back into lockdown. Pro Tip If you know which credit bureau your future landlord, creditor or employer will be contacting, you can save yourself some time by requesting the freeze be lifted for only that credit bureau. Pros and Cons of Credit Freezes The pros of having your credit frozen are pretty straightforward: It prevents anyone from opening new accounts in your name. It won’t affect your credit score. Best of all, it’s free. However, there are some possible pain points you should consider before requesting a credit freeze: Requesting and managing credit freezes through three credit bureaus can be a pain. You’ll need to lift the freeze if you want to apply for a new credit product. It doesn’t protect your existing accounts. FROM THE CREDIT FORUM REBUILDING CREDIT AFTER BANKRUPTCY 3/24/19 @ 1:56 PM savings account 8/5/19 @ 1:35 PM C Were you affected by the Equifax Data Breach? 7/31/19 @ 4:42 AM Effective Methods to Get The Best Credit Rating 6/27/19 @ 1:01 PM See more in Credit or ask a money question What Else Can You Do to Protect Your Credit? As we said earlier, a credit freeze can be an incredibly powerful and effective tool to protect your identity and your credit, but you shouldn’t allow it to lull you into a false sense of secur [...]
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Truman’s Non-Toxic Household Cleaners Starter Kit for just $7.50 shipped!

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Truman’s Non-Toxic Household Cleaners Starter Kit for just $7.50 shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Interested in non-toxic household cleaning options? Check out this deal on Truman’s Household Cleaners!! Have you heard of Truman’s? It’s a relatively new subscription service that delivers non-toxic household cleaners to your doorstep! Each Truman’s delivery includes four different cleaners for your kitchen, floors, bathroom, and glass surfaces. (And the kitchen spray is also an all-purpose cleaner!) You receive the spray bottles and cleaners on your very first delivery and then cleaner refill cartridges on each subsequent delivery. Each delivery of cleaners should last you 6 months, but you can pause, skip, cancel, or change your subscription at any time. And right now you can get 50% off your first subscription with code SUMMER at checkout. Here’s how: Head over to this page. Click on “Get Your Starter Kit.” Choose the $15 option. When you choose this option, you’ll be signed up for automatic subscriptions but you can pause, skip, or cancel your subscription at any time after your first order ships out. Click through to checkout. On the page where you enter all of your information, look on the right side of the page where it says “Have a discount code? Enter it here.” Use code SUMMER to get 50% off! You’ll pay just $7.50 and shipping is FREE. If you love Truman’s cleaning products and want to continue with your subscription, you’ll be automatically charged at the regular price of $15 for your subsequent deliveries. (Note: The next delivery ships out after 45 days, so be sure to go in and change that since each delivery lasts for 6 months!) If you don’t want to continue after your first discounted starter kit, just go in and cancel before your next shipment. Super simple! This seems really cool! Have any of you tried it yet? I’d love to hear in the comments! Go here to get your Truman’s Starter Kit for $7.50! (Just use code SUMMER.) [...]
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EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra Fine Tip (8 count) only $5.80!

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EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra Fine Tip (8 count) only $5.80!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Grab a set of these EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra Fine Tip for this great price! Amazon has these EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra Fine Tip (8 count) for only $5.80 right now! This is a great deal on these markers! 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. Looking for more Back to School Amazon deals? Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, Large, 12 Count for just $4.29 Ticonderoga Pencils, 96-count for just $9.96 Thermos Funtainer 10 Ounce Food Jar in Teal for only $9.03 EXPO Low Odor Dry Erase Markers, Chisel Tip (16 count) for only $10.94 Learning Resources Calendar & Weather Pocket Chart for only $17.63 BIC Xtra Smooth Mechanical Pencils (40 count) for only $6.63 Skip Hop Zoo Kids Unicorn Insulated Lunch Box for just $8.88 Westcott School Left and Right Handed Kids Scissors (12 pack) for only $9.98 when you clip the $2.50 off e-coupon! Elmer’s All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Washable, 60 Pack for just $14.87 Crayola Washable Gel Pens, 14 count for only $7.94 Be sure to check out all of the Best 2019 Back To School Deals! Don’t forget you can also sign up for our daily email newsletter to get all of the best back to school deals emailed to you every week! And be sure to check out my post on 5 Simple Ways to Save on Back to School Deals. Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher! [...]
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6 Tips for Making Home Repairs Without Getting Hurt

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6 Tips for Making Home Repairs Without Getting Hurt
Making repairs around the house can save you money — but that will be of little comfort if an injury forces you to take time off work or to seek medical care. The tools you use for home repairs — hammers, saws, nails, shovels, ladders and power tools — can be dangerous if you don’t handle them properly. Even careful people have accidents. If a task seems too dangerous... [...]
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This week in FinTech

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This week in FinTech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of Authors who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech revolution. Once a week Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts for the time challenged to give you a peek at what you […] The post This week in FinTech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Treat Yo’ Self… for Pennies: 24 Spa Treatments You Can Do at Home

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Treat Yo’ Self… for Pennies: 24 Spa Treatments You Can Do at Home
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. Want to know a secret? I’ve never had a professional massage. I totally get why they’re appealing, but they’re just not my jam. Manicures, on the other hand?  Heck, yeah. My tombstone will read, “How do my nails look?” I’m not gonna lie, getting my nails done every two weeks or so costs a pretty penny (or 6,000, to be exact), but it’s the one luxury I budget for even if it means using cheap body wash or mascara. For all other spa-type treatments, though, I’m strictly a DIY gal. Here are some of my favorite ways to indulge myself easily right in the comfort of my own home — without spending a fortune. 14 Ways to Get Your DIY Spa Day On 1. Everything you’ve heard about coconut oil is true. Skip the expensive body lotion and deep conditioner and use this low-cost alternative instead.  Cost: An entire jar of coconut oil costs about $6 and will last for months. 2. Apply an avocado or egg mask to your hair at the beginning of your spa routine, then wrap your head in a warm towel. Let it work its magic for at least 20 minutes while you give yourself a lip scrub.  Cost: One egg will set you back 10 cents, and an avocado is between $1 and $1.50. 3. Korean sheet masks make your skin look amazing, but they can be awfully pricy. I picked up a handful at my local dollar store for a buck each and discovered they work just as well as the expensive brands. If you buy in bulk, you can save even more pennies.  Cost: Sheet masks can be found online or in dollar stores for as little as — you guessed it — $1. 4. Speaking of masks, if you use Lush cosmetics or know someone who does, hang onto those little black pots and bottles the products come in. You’ll score a free face mask when you turn in five clean empties. That’s a savings of at least $11.95! Cost: The cost of the five products (To be fair, Lush products can be pretty pricy – but they smell so gooood.) 5. Clear up blemishes and reduce fine lines with a container of plain, generic-brand yogurt! Whether you use it alone or jazz it up with extras like a dash of honey or oatmeal, your pores will thank you. Cost: A small container of plain yogurt can cost anywhere from 60 cents to $1. 6. After rinsing off the mask, I like to give myself a five-minute face massage. It’s surprisingly relaxing. Cost: Totally free! 7. If you’ve got a few dollars a month to spare, sign up for a Sephora Play! subscription. You’ll get a box delivered right to your door filled with deluxe product samples and a bonus fragrance. Cost: $10 per month 8. This homemade eucalyptus sugar scrub is both energizing and effective. You can make a batch to slough off dry, dead skin, leaving behind a tingly clean that smells luxurious. Cost: Less than $1 worth of sugar, coconut oil and salt, plus around $10 for eucalyptus essential oil.  9. For a change of pace, I like to mix things up and exfoliate my skin with this three-ingredient coffee body scrub that you can make with the (free!) used coffee grounds left over from your morning brew. It reportedly also reduces the appearance of cellulite. (Don’t tell me if that’s just an old wives’ tale — I don’t want to know.) Cost: Free, if you’re a coffee drinker. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Extra Job 7/30/19 @ 2:52 PM Saving Money on a very fixed income 7/31/19 @ 2:14 PM The Power of Saving Money || Where to save 7/30/19 @ 1:36 PM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 10. Sometimes my skin just isn’t up for a harsh scrub down. That’s when I whip together this gentle scrub that rinses off easily with warm water. (I’ve tried it without wheat germ, and it still works great.) Cost: About $7 for the oat bran, $7 for the essential oil and $5 for the almond oil – and you can use all of these for other purposes too. 11. If you plan to shave during your spa time, try dry brushing first to prevent ingrown hairs and razor-burn bumps. Cost: A good dry brush costs around $10. 12. If I’m going to sport beautiful nails, the rest of my hand better keep up appearances, too. This lemon-sugar hand scrub is so easy to make and smells amazing. After you rinse it off, slather on some hand lotion and take a minute to admire your, er, handiwork. Cost: A lemon costs about 50 cents, and you probably already have sugar and oil in your pantry. 13. Do you know why every spa scene in a movie or on TV depicts someone with cucumber slices on their eyes? Because they work! You can use the leftovers for cucumber-infused water to really amp up that luxe “I’m in a spa” feeling.  Cost: About $1 for a cucumber. 14. Treat your feet to a nice soak with whatever gentle bath wash you have on hand. Follow it up with a homemade foot scrub. Simply stir one part coconut oil into two parts sugar and scent with a few drops of essential oil. A dash of lemon juice adds extra oomph. To kick (ha!) things up a notch, slather on some lotion and cover your tootsies with thick socks while the moisturizer works its magic. Cost: Peppermint essential oil costs about $9, or you can just use the eucalyptus oil you bought earlier. The rest of the ingredients are likely in your pantry. 10 Easy Ways to Spa-ify Your Surroundings While planning your day of indulgence, don’t forget to design your own relaxation grotto. Give your bathroom a deep clean and then: 1. Splurge on a soft, thick towel. 2. Pick up some pretty containers from the dollar store to hold all the scrubs and potions you make. 3. Scour thrift shops for a fluffy bathrobe to wear while relaxing. 4. Get some inexpensive candles to create ambience during bath time — or make your own. 5. Set a plant or vase of flowers in the bathroom, because greenery makes everything better. 6. Cover your bathroom window with frosted contact paper to diffuse bright sunlight that might harsh your mellow. 7. Put a few sprigs of eucalyptus on the corner of the bathtub to create a clean, refreshing scent when you run the hot water. 8. Buy a bathtub overflow drain cover so you can fill the tub extra deep and soak all the way up to your chin. 9. Queue up this chill Spotify playlist. 10. Use the cucumber you bought for your eyes to make some cucumber-infused water to sip as you spa. Want even more DIY spa ideas? Check out how to make your own sea salt spray, body lotion and more. Disclosure: We don’t hesitate to pick pennies off the sidewalk when we spot them. But the affiliate links in this post help our earnings grow even quicker. Plus, it’s a lot cleaner than sidewalk money. 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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Low Price on Elle Magazine Subscription!

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Low Price on Elle Magazine Subscription!
Here’s a great deal for the popular Elle Magazine, get it for only $4.99 per year. That’s a savings of 89%! Just enter coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout and watch the price drop! Elle Magazine is the ultimate shopping and lifestyle guide for today’s modern woman. Devoted to the sophisticated and well-traveled woman, Elle features the hottest ... Read More about Low Price on Elle Magazine Subscription! The post Low Price on Elle Magazine Subscription! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card

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5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card
Virtual window shoppers who use Rakuten.com — formerly known as the cash-back shopping website Ebates — could be earning even more cash back on their purchases with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card. Image courtesy of Synchrony In 2019, Ebates rebranded as Rakuten, but the $0-annual-fee credit card’s rewards structure remained the same. The new name, which means... Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena. The article 5 Things to Know About the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, August 10

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, August 10
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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Our Visit to Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery

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Our Visit to Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery
Have you checked out Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery in Ozark, MO? In this post, I share about our recent trip there, the deals I found, and my honest thoughts on the store. Visiting Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery Our family met up with all of my extended family this past week in Lampe, MO for our annual week at the lake trip. On our way home, we stopped at Lambert’s Cafe in Ozark, MO for lunch. I had mentioned this on Instagram stories and one of my followers messaged me and said we had to check out this discount store that was close to Lambert’s called Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery. (Note: they don’t seem to have an actual website that I could find. They do have a very regularly-updated Facebook Page.) It just so happened, that we were at the gas station right down the road when I read the message and it just so happened that we had some wiggle room in our day. So I asked Jesse if we could run into the store to check it out. I Was So Impressed With the Deals! Honestly, because of all of the great deals I often find at my local stores, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to grocery deals. And when we first walked in and I looked at some of the prices, I figured that this might have a few good deals but probably most of the prices weren’t anything to get too excited about. But then I kept looking and I started getting more and more excited. I should have known one of my followers wouldn’t steer me wrong! I picked up a few boxes of $0.49 cookies and crackers and then a few more. Pretty soon, when I started dropping things because my arms were full, Jesse looked at me and said, “Um, I think you need to get a shopping basket.” That was the point when I knew that I wasn’t going to make it out of this store with “just a few purchases” as I had initially planned on. I was quickly falling in love with Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery. There were SO many, many good deals! I was especially impressed with the prices on crackers and cookies. They had boxes and boxes and boxes of name brands that were $0.49 to $0.99! Also, I discovered that if you kept looking, there were many that were marked down to half price! The Best Deals Were on Snack Items Some of the prices were more than what I’d pay at my grocery stores when pairing coupons and sales. However, most of the snack prices were less expensive than I can ever find. For instance, Jesse was thrilled to find Sunflower Seeds for $0.49/bag! All of the protein bars — including RXbars — were $0.50 each!! They even had this medicine area with $0.49 items! I found a number of organic items at great prices, too! And the candy prices were so good. My kids just couldn’t believe it! So much for buying just a few things! How Much I Spent at Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery Jesse laughed as he saw me walking towards him with my precariously balanced basket. I couldn’t fit one more item in so I knew it was time to call it quits. (We didn’t have a lot of extra space in the car, otherwise I probably would have purchased 2-3 times as much!) Guess how much we paid for this entire basket full of stuff? $14!!! Basically, I felt like we were shopping at Dollar Tree! That said, since so many of the items were just $0.49 each, it felt even better than Dollar Tree! If you are ever in or near Ozark, MO, I highly recommend checking out Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery! [...]
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How To Train Your Dragon: 3-Movie Collection

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How To Train Your Dragon: 3-Movie Collection
If your family is a fan of the How To Train Your Dragon movies, this would be a super deal to grab. You can order the How To Train Your Dragon: 3-Movie Collection for only $24.99 right now. You will be saving 50% on this purchase because it is usually $49.98. Be sure that you ... Read More about How To Train Your Dragon: 3-Movie Collection The post How To Train Your Dragon: 3-Movie Collection appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Instacart: $10 off a $35 Aldi Order!

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Instacart: $10 off a $35 Aldi Order!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Love to shop at Aldi? Get $10 off a $35 Aldi order right now! Right now, Instacart is offering $10 off your first three Aldi orders of $35 or more when you use the promo code SHOPALDI19 at checkout! Here’s how to snag this offer: Go here and choose Aldi as your store to shop (Ignore the pop-up offer that says you can sign up for Aldi Express for 2 Weeks – just choose NO THANKS.) Load up your cart with Aldi deals Use code SHOPALDI19 on the payment page (in the lower right hand side) See $10 come off your total Note: If you have Instacart Express, you’ll get FREE delivery and not have to pay shipping since your order is more than $35. Otherwise, shipping is between $3.99-$7.99. There is also always a service fee and suggested tip when you use Instacart. Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher! [...]
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Marriott Plans to Add More All-Inclusive Resorts

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Marriott Plans to Add More All-Inclusive Resorts
Currently, Marriott Bonvoy members have pretty limited options if they’re looking for a Sandals-type vacation where the price of food and accommodations are rolled into one. Type in “all-Inclusive” to the search bar on the Marriott Bonvoy website and you get only two resorts to choose from: a Westin in Costa Rica and a Sheraton... Meghan Coyle is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mcoyle@nerdwallet.com. The article Marriott Plans to Add More All-Inclusive Resorts originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Easy Meals for 25 People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 27 People

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Easy Meals for 25 People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 27 People
Need some easy meals for 25 people…or maybe just some easy recipes for large groups? Here’s how we fed 27 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities. Be sure to also check out my post from earlier this year on Our Vacation Menu Plan for a Crowd + last year’s Big Family Vacation Menu Plan! Easy Meals for 25+ People Last week, we drove to Lampe, MO to spend a week at Table Rock Lake with almost all of my extended family. (This time around it was my parents, 2 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids. My youngest brother couldn’t come because he’s working at the Wild’s camp this summer). My dad rented Caboose Junction Resort for us all (it has a main house and then 6 caboose that have been turned into small “cabins”). In addition to spending lots of time skiing, boating, and swimming, we ate a lot of yummy meals. But in order to feed 27 people without it being too much work, we not only stuck with easy meals for 25+ people, but we also all pitched in and helped with the food. Since you all loved my large group menu plan posts, I wanted to, once again, share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 25+ people.   How We Planned and Divvied Things Up Like last time, my sister planned the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd and sent out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of. (A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.) Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking. We also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that one person didn’t have to do a bunch of the clean up and everyone could enjoy plenty of time for fun! Easy Breakfasts for 25+ People Here’s what we served for breakfast: Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Sausage, Eggs, Orange Juice Baked French Toast, Bacon, Eggs, Orange Juice Baked Oatmeal Sausage, Eggs, Orange Juice Biscuits & Gravy, Eggs, Orange Juice Homemade Granola with fruit and yogurt Easy Lunches for 25+ People For lunch, we had our usual huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner. Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Croutons, Dressings Simple Dinners for 25+ People If you’re looking for some really easy meals for 25+ people, here’s what we made for the dinners: Spaghetti Pie, Lettuce Salad, Garlic Bread, Green Beans, Fruit Southwest Rollups (Toppings: Shredded Lettuce, Sour Cream, Salsa), Mexican Rice, Fruit Pizza & Soda Pop (We ordered from a local pizza place — we ordered it online and then my dad went and picked it up.) Baked Potato Bar & Five Cup Salad (The toppings we had: Baked Potatoes, Taco Meat, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, Chopped Green Onions, Shredded Cheese, Bacon, Salsa, Chopped Tomatoes, Broccoli.) Grilled Chicken, Lettuce Salad, Homemade Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Fruit Salad, Steamed Veggies,  Twice Baked Potatoes. (I used the leftover baked potatoes to make these.) Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Homemade French Fries, Veggie Tray, Leftover Corn on the Cob, Leftover Fruit Salad It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help! What other ideas of easy meals for 25+ people or easy recipes for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear! Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50. [...]
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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending

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8 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You Into Overspending
When you open a menu, you’re looking at a marketing tool that’s designed to steer you toward choices that increase profits for the restaurant you’re visiting. Like all businesses, restaurants exist to make money. The goal of menu design is to draw attention to the items they are most eager to sell. Typically, these are the costliest choices. So, knowing the techniques of menu... [...]
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Architectural Digest Magazine Discount

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Architectural Digest Magazine Discount
Grab this great deal on Architectural Digest magazine for only $5.95 per year (90% off)! You can order up to 3 years at this price!  You will also receive a digital download of each issue! Add this magazine to your shopping cart and then enter the coupon code pennypinch and you will see the price drop!  This deal ... Read More about Architectural Digest Magazine Discount The post Architectural Digest Magazine Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Thousands of Jobs For the 2020 Census Are Now Open. Here’s How to Apply

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Thousands of Jobs For the 2020 Census Are Now Open. Here’s How to Apply
The 2020 census requires a massive, temporary workforce to get every American counted. A job that once involved clipboards and file boxes now utilizes mapping software and smartphones. All together, the census will employ more than 500,000 temporary and part-time workers. Hiring has already begun. And get this: pay ranges from $13 to $30 an hour. Pay rates vary by position and location, but you can find the ranges for your state and county via this electronic form on the census site. If you speak a second language, you’re even more in demand. The census is looking for bilingual workers and those who live in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations so that “our census takers look like the neighborhood we’re counting,” Jeff Behler, regional director of the Census Bureau’s New York Regional Office, said in a story on Census.gov. If this sounds like the gig for you, fill out the online application.  To be eligible for the jobs, which include census takers, office staff and recruiting assistants, you must meet the following qualifications: Be a U.S. citizen who’s at least 18 years old. Have a valid Social Security number and email address. Pass a criminal background check, including fingerprinting. Have the flexibility to work days, evening and weekends. If you’re a male born after Dec. 31, 1959, you must be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption. Be able to count to 329,402,583. Just kidding — that’s a little census humor for you. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder who covers interesting careers and job benefits. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed reporting. 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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How He Maximized Chase Points for a Weekend Hyatt Getaway

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How He Maximized Chase Points for a Weekend Hyatt Getaway
Adam Sterling used points earned on his Chase Sapphire Reserve® and transferred to Hyatt for a Saturday night stay at the beachfront Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara. A $400 room in the boutique hotel with local flair cost only 15,000 points. » Learn more: Chase Sapphire Reserve® review: A first-class premium travel card The cardholder Name:... Rosemarie Clancy is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article How He Maximized Chase Points for a Weekend Hyatt Getaway originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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FINRA Proposes TRACE Reporting Obligations for U.S. Dollar-Denominated Foreign Sovereign Debt

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FINRA Proposes TRACE Reporting Obligations for U.S. Dollar-Denominated Foreign Sovereign Debt
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is proposing to expand TRACE reporting requirements to include transactions in U.S. dollar-denominated foreign sovereign debt securities. Under the proposal, this transaction information would be reported for regulatory purposes and would not be publicly disseminated. Comments on the proposal must be submitted to FINRA by September 24, 2019. More information is available here. [...]
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Family Handyman Magazine Subscription Deal

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Family Handyman Magazine Subscription Deal
Are you a DIY-er? Do you want to be a better one?  You can score a great deal on a subscription to Family Handyman Magazine!   FAMILY HANDYMAN SUBSCRIPTION DEAL Now through 8/15/19 (11:59 pm EST), you can save 77% off a subscription to Family Handyman Magazine!  That makes it just $8.99 per year (get ... Read More about Family Handyman Magazine Subscription Deal The post Family Handyman Magazine Subscription Deal appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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These Are the 20 Best Hospitals in the U.S.

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These Are the 20 Best Hospitals in the U.S.
When people think of the best medical facility in the U.S. — if not the world — one institution typically comes to mind: the Mayo Clinic. That reputation for excellence is well-deserved, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest Best Hospitals rankings. The publication says the Rochester, Minnesota-based facility is the best hospital in the nation. It's not the usual... [...]
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Trying to be more productive? Grab this $1500 bundle of eResources for just $37!

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Trying to be more productive? Grab this $1500 bundle of eResources for just $37!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Do you wish you could be more productive and use your time intentionally? If so, you’ll definitely want to grab this productivity bundle that’s on sale right now! This bundle was SO popular earlier this year when it was offered, and they’ve brought it back as a flash sale for two days only!! Hurry and grab it for just $37 before the end of tomorrow, August 15th! This Productivity Bundle has everything you need to conquer your to-do list, be more productive, free up more time for yourself, and reach your goals — and you can get it for just $37!! It contains $1506.90 worth of eBooks, printables, eCourses, and membership sites…and all you pay is $37 for all 46 resources! These resources are designed to help you: Set clear goals and priorities so you’ll use your time wisely Create routines to help you be more productive so you won’t fall behind Get started with tasks instead of procrastinating Deal with distractions instead of getting sidetracked Find the energy to be productive all day instead of burning out If you feel overwhelmed or stuck when it comes to your productivity and time-management, this Productivity Bundle will help give you the practical tools and tips you need to take that first step! Go here to grab your Ultimate Productivity Bundle for just $37. [...]
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My Completely Honest Review of The Ultimate Productivity Bundle

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My Completely Honest Review of The Ultimate Productivity Bundle
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Wondering if The Ultimate Productivity Bundle is worth buying? Read my honest review below, and you can decide for yourself! If you are on other blogger’s email lists, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten some emails or seen some blog posts or social media posts yesterday and today about The Ultimate Productivity Bundle. I know a number of you have already purchased this bundle, but if you haven’t purchased The Ultimate Productivity Bundle yet this year, here are two things you need to know: 1) It is back again through midnight tonight for a Flash Sale! This is your last chance to grab it at this huge discount! 2) I went through every single resource in the bundle and went through it so I could give you my completely honest review. Yes, you read that right. I literally signed up for every.single.course and downloaded every ebook and printable. My poor computer put in a lot of work! While I didn’t read every word or listen to every single minute of video (that would have taken me a LONG time!), I went through and at least skimmed every single resource and decided to share my really honest thoughts… Here were my honest thoughts: The Negatives: Some of the products had an inflated price tag. This is a pet peeve of mine. Don’t put $29 on a product just to make it sound more impressive. While The Ultimately Productivity Bundle is supposedly valued at $1500, I’m going to be honest and say that I felt at least 25% of the products had an inflated price tag. And I likely wouldn’t use at least 60% of them, so for me, the value would be really and truly more like a few hundred dollars, not $1500. There weren’t as many products in it as I was expecting. I was surprised that there weren’t more like 60-70 products in it (there are only 46 products in it). I think I’m used to them having that many when it’s the Homemaking Bundle, so I thought the options weren’t as plentiful as I was hoping for. I wish there had been more ebooks. While courses are great, I often prefer ebooks because they are easier for me to read and digest — especially since I’m a fast reader and sometimes skim (Shh! Don’t tell anyone!). There are only 5 ebooks in this bundle and the rest of the products are printables or courses. Some of the printables were poorly designed. I know that we don’t always have the highest quality design on things we offer because of various reasons and I know sometimes you just do the best you can do, but I found that at least 30% of the printables were ones I would never consider using because they just looked like they were designed by someone who didn’t have a lot of design experience or it just was not my style at all. A few products felt very clunky to download. I noticed there were a number of .zip files as well as some courses that seemed to require multiple hoops to jump through to get them to download. It felt like it sort of flew in the face of productivity to have to go to quite a bit of effort to download a product in order to be able to use it. The Positives: There were a number of really helpful and well-designed printables. I was impressed with how many different styles of printables this bundle offered. If you love printables, you will just adore this bundle! So many great options to choose from! I loved that many of the resources were created by people who aren’t naturally organized. It seems like many times, productivity classes and courses and ebooks are created by naturally organized people. This was not the case with many of the products in this bundle — many of the creators said they were more of a Type B, laid back personality —  and that’s why I feel like it has much wider appeal. The bundle offered a variety of printable planners. If you are looking for a planner for yourself and you’re okay with printing it yourself, you’ve got a wealth of choices in this bundle! There were some really high quality products. There were some really high quality products in the bundle that I felt would make it worth the price tag ($37) if you would use these and they would help your life be more organized. Like I said, I went through each and every product to pick out the ones I felt were the highest quality and value and something I would personally use or that I thought would be really helpful to other people. Here were my top 4 favorites: Family Chore Planner: The Complete Home Management System for Families ($17 value) This PDF download not only offers some great tips for getting your kids to help around the house and suggested chore ideas for different ages, but you get customizable rotating chore chart systems for your family! Child, It’s Time to Get Off Your Butt ($7 value) This may have been one of my favorite resources in the bundle. It’s an inspirational ebook with very practical tips on how to get your kids to go from being couch potatoes to being assets in your home — without having some rigid system that was designed for Type A moms. There are lots of helpful charts and hands-on examples in the book, like this: If you’re frustrated that your kids aren’t more disciplined and diligent but you just don’t know where to start, you’ll find a lot of fantastic help in this short but highly actionable ebook. Brilliant Baby Steps: Productivity Course ($47 value) This course was one of the most beautiful and value-packed courses in the bundle and I couldn’t believe all you got for the price. It definitely was not one of the products that I felt had an inflated price tag. One of the best parts of it is where Beth Anne shows you just how much you can get done in 10 minutes. She’s not a Type A personality, so her advice will work for pretty much every personality type. How to Organize Your Life With Trello ($47 value) Okay, so full disclosure here: I am not a Trello person and I don’t think I ever will be. BUT, I do believe that it can be an amazing organizational system for many people and I wanted to highlight this course because it was so well done and helpful for those who are looking for a better way to organize their life and thoughts and projects. If you haven’t purchased The Ultimate Productivity Bundle yet, and you are still interested in purchasing after reading my honest review, you can click here to purchase it for just $37 through August 15, 2019! You’ll get access to these 4 products + 42 other resources including a number of printable planners and other time management and organizational and goal-setting resources! Go here to read more. Click here to purchase The Ultimate Productivity Bundle. Remember, this special flash sale price is only good through midnight tonight (August 15, 2019)! P.S. Have you purchased The Ultimate Productivity Bundle? If so, I’d love to hear your honest thoughts on it! [...]
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Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘N Fun Set

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Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘N Fun Set
Play-Doh always makes for a fun time and makes for a great gift idea as well. You can score a great deal on the Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘N Fun Set right now. You are able to order this set for only $12.55. You will be saving 50% on this purchase because it is usually $24.95. ... Read More about Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘N Fun Set The post Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, ‘N Fun Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Southwest Launches New Wave of Flights to and Within Hawaii

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Southwest Launches New Wave of Flights to and Within Hawaii
Southwest Airlines is expanding its route network to and within the Aloha State. The low-cost carrier has added daily flights from Sacramento to Honolulu to its schedule, as well as additional routes from elsewhere in California to Kauai and the Big Island. These new flights are scheduled to take off starting in January 2020, but you can... Meghan Coyle is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mcoyle@nerdwallet.com. The article Southwest Launches New Wave of Flights to and Within Hawaii originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Two Good Greek Style Yogurt only $0.50 at Target!

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Two Good Greek Style Yogurt only $0.50 at Target!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Headed to Target? Pick up Two Good Greek Style Yogurt for just $0.50! You can get Two Good Greek Style Yogurt for just $0.50 at Target! Here’s how: Buy 2 Two Good Greek Style Yogurt 5.3 oz Cups – $1.25 each (regularly $1.49) Use $0.50/2 Two Good Yogurt 5.3 oz cups printable coupon Submit 2 $0.50 cash back via Ibotta (Limit 5) $0.50 each after coupon and cash back Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask

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14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask
Feeling sticker shock every time a phone, cable or internet bill arrives? Depending on which company provides the service, lower rates may be just a phone call away. LendEDU recently analyzed data from Truebill, a personal finance tracker, budget planner and bill reminder app that helps people manage their subscriptions, to determine which service providers are most likely to drop their prices if... [...]
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American Pie 4-Movie Collection

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American Pie 4-Movie Collection
There are some great online deals right now for DVD sets. You can order the American Pie 4-Movie Collection for only $17.79. This 4-Movie Collection Box Set is normally $22.98. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change at any time. The post American Pie 4-Movie Collection appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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How to Access American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges

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How to Access American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges
Lounge access is lovely before your flight or on a layover. You get free snacks and beverages, generally comfortable seating, high-speed Wi-Fi access and outlets to charge your devices. American Airlines is the largest domestic carrier, and it has Admirals Club lounges in airports around the world. Customers can even access lounges in airports American... Rosemarie Clancy is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article How to Access American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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These 6 Stores Buy Used Clothes. Here’s How to Get the Best Cash Offer

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These 6 Stores Buy Used Clothes. Here’s How to Get the Best Cash Offer
Do me a favor and take a quick look in your closet. Overflowing, right? Well, there’s a solution to that problem: selling your used clothes.  It’s a win-win, and you don’t have to wait for a spring-cleaning binge to get started. In fact, you should do it seasonally to stay in vogue.  So tear a page from the Marie Kondo playbook and make one big pile of all your clothes. Yes, even your winter gear from the living room closet. Definitely the swimsuit collection. And all the baby shower clothes that you never even used, too. You may surprise yourself with the amount of clothes you have once you get them all in one place. Kondo recommends that as you sift through your stuff, you ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” Nope? Then sell it.  Where to Sell Used Clothes Plenty of apps and websites like Poshmark, Threadflip, Etsy and eBay allow you to sell used clothes online. But maybe you don’t have the technical know-how (or the patience) to do it yourself. Don’t fret. There are several other brick-and-mortar places to pawn off your used clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories — even baby clothes, toys and supplies — to get cash in your pocket by the end of the day. Uptown Cheapskate Want to pop some tags? Uptown Cheapskate is your place. It’s located in 21 states and is a cross between a trendy boutique and a thrift store for young adults. You can sell or trade in men’s and women’s clothes at any of its locations. Trade-ins get 25% bonus store credit.  Brands that do well at Uptown Cheapskate include Urban Outfitters, Levi’s and H&M. If you’re unsure if your clothes will fit in style-wise, visit its website for more info on trending brands and styles. Buffalo Exchange Founded back in 1974, Buffalo Exchange has remained family owned as it has expanded to 18 states and the District of Columbia. The company is a firm believer in reusing and recycling clothes to reduce waste and pollution (and save cash). Each store also partners with local charities.  Pro Tip If you don’t live near a Buffalo Exchange, the company also has a sell-by-mail program. Buffalo Exchange accepts a wide array of clothes for both men and women — vintage, athletic wear, plus sizes and more. Contrary to its name, it does not accept bison at this time. Sorry in advance. Clothes Mentor Clothes Mentor is a one-stop shop for fashionable women’s clothing sized 0 to 26 and maternity wear. It’s a hub for those who want designer brands without designer price tags. Clothes that sell well include Armani, Banana Republic, Saks Fifth Avenue, White House Black Market and others. Shoes, accessories, jewelry and handbags are also accepted. Clothes Mentor has 136 stores across 30 states and, at certain locations, offers personal shoppers who tailor outfits to suit your tastes. Plato’s Closet Ah, the ole standby, Plato’s Closet. You may not have known this was a clothing exchange store, but it’s likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of one of its more than 480 locations in North America — probably tucked between your local Chinese buffet and the grocery store. Plato’s is Winmark Corp.’s most successful clothing exchange franchise, and it’s aimed at teens and young adults. Everyday styles from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, H&M, Nike and Obey are typically in demand.  FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Extra Income 4/10/19 @ 11:01 AM B This mom needs work! 8/12/19 @ 9:14 AM L Anyone have experience doing an Air B N B? 8/11/19 @ 8:16 AM Passive Income 8/9/19 @ 9:07 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Plato’s Closet also buys athletic wear, shoes and accessories.  To see if your wardrobe surplus is a good fit for Plato’s, browse its website for other brands and styles that sell well. Style Encore Another solid option from Winmark Corp. is Style Encore. It’s like Plato’s sibling, only slightly older and more sophisticated. Style Encore accepts women’s clothing from brands like Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach and Kate Spade. Like Clothes Mentor, Style Encore has personal stylists to help you look like a million bucks (without spending a million). It’s Winmark’s newest clothing exchange brand, so locations aren’t as comprehensive as Plato’s. Double-check the store locator to find the closest one to you. Once Upon a Child Last but not least in Winmark’s clothing resale portfolio is Once Upon a Child.  It’s no surprise that child care expenses are a budget buster, but this store can help keep costs down when it comes to baby clothes, supplies and even furniture.  In addition to children’s clothes sized preemie to youth 20, Once Upon a Child will buy used cribs, cradles, strollers, baby electronics, halloween costumes and toys. Even more good news for parents: You won’t have to look very far. Once Upon a Child has more than 380 stores across the U.S. and Canada. Local Consignment Shops If none of the above stores fit the bill, you can always try your nearest consignment shop.  These shops work a little differently than clothing exchanges, because consignment stores may not pay you until your item sells. That means it’s unlikely you’ll walk out with a pocketful of cash. It’s also difficult to predict what brands they will buy, because most local stores don’t have databases and metrics to go off of. Sales are often based on personal taste or season. But hey, anything is better than leaving unused clothes tucked away in the furthest corner of your shelf for years to come.  How to Get the Most Cash From Your Clothes Some things are guesswork when trying to sell your clothes. Stock and styles change, so it’s hard to say for sure which brand or outfit will sell. However, there are a few things you should always take into consideration, no matter the item or the store.  Following these few guidelines will ensure you get the best quote possible. Clean and Fold Your Clothes If it seems like I’m wagging my finger, it’s because I’m wagging my finger. Almost every store listed above recommends washing your clothes before taking them in. Since your payout is based on an associate’s quote after they carefully check each item, you don’t want dirt or food caked to your shirt. It’ll definitely go in the “no” pile. Pro Tip In general, to keep colors bright, you can soak your clothes in salt. Only wash them as needed — inside out and in cool water to avoid fading. Likewise, super wrinkly clothes come across as unwashed, and you don’t want to give that impression. So be sure to fold them neatly before taking them in. Use a Nice Basket or Hamper to Carry Your Clothes Quick! What do you think of when you see trash bags? Trash, right? Not clothes.  Presentation matters. The associates checking your clothes don’t want to sift through trash bags. So after you’ve washed all the clothes you want to sell, fold them and place them in a basket, hamper or box that you can take to the store.  Check for Damage or Pit Stains If you were a shopper, would you buy a shirt that had pit stains or a missing pocket? Didn’t think so. The stores work the same way. They don’t want damaged, stained or heavily faded clothing. Before you take your clothes in, examine [...]
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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

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7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
fizkes / Shutterstock.com Retirees usually have a limited amount of money to spend during their golden years. Unfortunately, some people make costly mistakes that can deplete their nest egg prematurely. From giving away cash indiscriminately to refusing to embrace lifestyle changes, here are some surprising ways retirees waste their hard-earned savings. The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need... [...]
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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget + Menu Plan

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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget + Menu Plan
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. Because of our traveling the last 4 weeks, I haven’t posted our grocery budget + menu plan posts. It feels good to be back to it now that school has started and we’re back into the swing of a more normal routine. Speaking of school starting, here’s a real-life photo from the first day: Kathrynne headed out to a 4-day back to school camp (her school starts with an all-school 4-day camp!), Silas all ready for his first day in his uniform, and Kaitlynn sporting a thermometer because she had a low grade fever and had to stay home. I couldn’t believe this HUGE cart full of egg noodles marked down to $0.69 each at Kroger this week! But I didn’t buy them because Kroger has Private Selection on pasta for $0.50 when you buy 5 participating items. Kroger Shopping Trip #1: Kroger breakfast links — free with coupons from Kroger mailer 2 canisters of breadcrumbs — on closeout for $0.47 each Kroger peanut butter — free with coupons from Kroger mailer A&W Cream Soda — free with coupon mailed to me Quest bar — free with Freebie Friday coupon 1 can Kroger green beans — marked down to $0.29 2 cans of hominy — marked down to $0.29 each Turkey Hill Tea — marked down to $0.39 Kroger broth — marked down to $0.69 3 boxes of Kroger toaster pastries — marked down to $0.59 each 1 bag of peppers — marked down to $0.99 1 cantaloupe — marked down to $0.99 1 bag of onions/avocados — marked down to $0.99 1 can Simple Truth green beans — marked down to $0.49 1 package of egg roll wraps — marked down to $0.49 2 bags of Blue Corn chips — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 1 package of Oscar Mayer hot dogs — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 2 bags of Goldfish — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 4 packages of Private Selection pasta — $0.50 each when you buy 5 participating items 1 box of oatmeal — used $0.40/1 Kroger digital coupon = $1.09 after coupon Total with tax: $18.95 Kaitlynn and I flew to Portland, Maine for me to speak at the Food Allergy Blogger’s Conference. One of the best parts of speaking at food blogging conferences? The BEST gift sacks full of yummy food and snacks from sponsors! Kroger Shopping Trip #2 Kroger whole wheat flour — marked down to $1.69 Brown rice — marked down to $1.19 3 packages of Eckrich sausage — $1.69 each when you buy 5 participating items 5 packages of cheese — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deal 2 boxes of Cheerios — $1.49 when you buy 5 participating items — used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.99 each Bag of grapefruit/lime juice — $0.99 Tub of lettuce — marked down to $1.79 1 dozen cage-free eggs — $2.50 1 back to school brownie bites — marked down to $2.49 Total with tax: $25.09 Sprouts Shopping Trip Bartlett Pears — $0.95 3 18-oz. cartons of blueberries — $1.98 each Peaches — $1.09 Water — $1.98 Total with tax: $10.64 BigLots Shopping Trip 2 bags of chips — $0.25 each 2 double packs of English Muffins — $1.40 each 4 packages of Keebler cookies — $0.25 each 4 to-go cups — $0.25 each 4 bags of peanuts — $0.25 each Total with tax: $7.26 I couldn’t believe the great deals we found at BigLots! It reminded me of the Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery last week! What We Ate 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. Breakfasts: Cereal, Homemade Granola, Toast, Cantaloupe, Yogurt Lunches: Ham Sandwiches, Granola Bars, Yogurt, Capri Sun, Salad, Leftovers, Fruit, Snacks: Cookies, Popcorn, Ice Cream, Go-Gurts Dinners: Sunday — Chicken Noodle Soup, Oyster Crackers Monday — Fend for Yourself Tuesday — Chick-fil-A Wednesday — Smoked Ribs Thursday — Chicken Noodle Soup, Bran Muffins Friday — Chicken Rice Casserole, Cantaloupe, Roasted Broccoli Saturday — Leftovers Total spent on groceries: $61.94 Cashback earned this week: 308 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards [...]
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5 Moves to Make If Your Kids’ Extracurriculars Are Busting the Budget

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5 Moves to Make If Your Kids’ Extracurriculars Are Busting the Budget
Extracurricular activities are great for children. They help kids learn new things and perfect their skills. They provide opportunities to bond with peers and a constructive use of time. They look great on college and scholarship applications. But all that enrichment comes at a cost. And these nonessential additions to the household budget can be expensive to keep up with — especially when you have multiple children with multiple interests. Huntington Bank and Communities in Schools’ 2019 Backpack Index estimates extracurricular fees average about $150 for elementary students, $250 for middle school students and $350 for high school students. Of course, there are parents who spend much more. A 2017 Capital One poll found that over a third of those surveyed planned to spend more than $1,000 per kid on extracurricular activities for the school year. If the cost of after-school activities concerns you, consider these ways to make them more affordable. 1. Turn to Government or Nonprofit Programs Before signing your kids up for private music lessons or a traveling sports league, check to see if there are similar offerings located at or sponsored by your local: School Church Library system YMCA Boys and Girls Club Police Athletic League Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts United Way Salvation Army City or county parks and recreation department Community college 2. Ask About Discounts Be thrifty and save where you can by asking the activity provider about discounts. Is there a trial period where you kid can take a class or two for free before signing up for the season? Can you get a discounted rate for being a returning participant, enrolling more than one child or recommending another family to sign up? Some programs offer a reduced rate if you register before a certain date, if you sign up for a package of sessions or if you volunteer to coach. Others offer scholarships or set their prices on a sliding scale based on income. You might want to ask if the organization will allow you to set up a payment plan rather than requiring all the money upfront. Pro Tip Check discount sites like Groupon or Living Social for current deals on activities. 3. Reduce the Associated Costs of After-School Activities The cost to enroll your child in an activity is rarely the only expense you’ll encounter. Equipment, supplies, uniforms, fundraisers, travel and performance tickets can greatly increase your investment. Find ways to lower these additional costs whenever possible. Arrange a carpool with team members. Buy secondhand equipment and attire. Limit the family members who attend smaller performances throughout the year, and save up so everyone can attend the major show at the end of the season. 4. DIY Your Extracurriculars Your kid can get the benefits of participating in an activity without it being a formal program that you pay for. Consider your children’s interests and figure out how to pursue them on an individual scale. If your kid is into music, hit up YouTube for free tutorials. There are tons of cooking blogs with detailed recipes for those who want to master baking. Your library may provide free access to software to learn a foreign language. Tap into your network of family, friends and neighbors to expose your child to different pursuits. Commit to teaching their kids about a skill you’ve mastered in exchange. It might be a bigger investment in time, but you can save a lot of money by creating your own means of developing your child’s interests. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Travel Tips, anyone have any to share? 8/13/19 @ 10:27 AM For those Who do not drive, what is the cheapest way to get around? 8/15/19 @ 9:55 PM M How to save when grocery shopping 8/15/19 @ 10:43 AM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 2:00 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. Talk to Your Kids About Making Sacrifices There may be times where you simply have to say no to your kid’s request to enroll in another extracurricular activity. If you don’t have the funds and you’d have to charge expenses on a credit card, you should reevaluate things. Parents never want to put financial stress on their kids, but it’s okay to be up-front about the limitations of your budget. This might mean having your kids choose one sport to commit to rather than two, or asking if they prefer dance lessons over vacationing at the beach next summer. If you have teenagers, get them to contribute to their extracurricular expenses with money from babysitting, mowing lawns or a part-time job. Depending on the activity, you can challenge your child to turn their hobby into an entrepreneurial pursuit — like selling handmade bracelets at local festivals or giving piano lessons to younger kids. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a parent who’s always looking for ways to save money. 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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6 Things to Know About United Lounges

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6 Things to Know About United Lounges
When it comes to airport lounges, there are many options for travelers. If you’re evaluating which lounge will be the best for you, here’s what you need to know about United Airline lounges. 1. United lounges are everywhere It’s not hard to find a United Airlines-associated lounge, especially if you’re flying first or business class... Amanda Johnson is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article 6 Things to Know About United Lounges originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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7 Books I Finished in July

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7 Books I Finished in July
Want to know what books I finished in July? 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.) 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 7 books in June —- yay! Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books: Becoming Mrs. Lewis I am so conflicted on what to say about this book. On the one hand, it was a very well-written story that was pretty captivating, but on the other hand, I struggled to like it. It’s the unconventional love story of C.S. Lewis and his wife. It was both beautiful and tragic and not at all what I expected. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t. Some of that was because I think there was too much fiction woven in and I didn’t know what was fact and what was fiction — and that bothered me. Some of it was because I was concerned with Lewis’ relationship with Joy when she was still married. If it were true, from my vantage point, it felt like it crossed some lines of emotional attachment that shouldn’t happen between two people when one of them is married. If I could tie up this review with a bow, I would. But I can’t. Because I just don’t know what to say or think about this book. Have you read it? If so, please let me know what you thought of it. And please let me know if you disagree with me and why! I really wish I could be persuaded to like it. Verdict: 3 stars Begin Again This book moved me at a deep level. While I felt like sometimes I wasn’t poetic enough to understand the depths of what was being communicated. It felt so raw and honest and vulnerable and yet so beautiful and rich and inspiring. I didn’t want it to end. Two of the quotes that were the most meaningful to me: “We don’t get to the truth while we’re deeply invested in what’s false.” “God’s story is a narrative of emancipation.” Of all the books I read in July, this was my favorite… thus, the 4-star verdict. Verdict: 4 stars Preach to Yourself I wanted to love this book and I did love many parts of it. But I felt like it was hard to slog through at times. Some of the chapters felt really long and drawn out. And yet, some of the sections were so powerful and so important. For instance, this passage is GOLD: “Many of us — maybe all of us — don’t live what we say we believe… We say we depend on God, but we act like we’ve got to make it happen on our own. We say we believe God can heal, but we’re walking around with decades-old wounds. We say we believe God is at work, but we’re asleep at the wheel of the one life He’s given us.” So, despite some of the chapters feeling longer than necessary, this book has some very valuable stuff and is worth the read. Verdicts: 3 stars Last Christmas in Paris This book had been recommended to me as one to read since I loved The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It’s the love story of a soldier at war and his friend’s sister at home. They began writing letters just to keep each other company. But slowly, ever so slowly, it morphed into more. It’s a fairly slow-developing story, but there is a lot of history woven throughout and I learned quite a bit about World War I. (I realized I have read a lot about World War II, but very few books about World War I.) The book is epistolary, which means the story is told through letters and telegrams. I found it fascinating in the afterward to discover that the authors wrote the bones of this book as actual letters back and forth. Verdicts: 3 stars It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way Lysa always has a way with words to penetrate your heart and challenge you, while also drawing you in with her funny and authentic story-telling. For some reason, though, unlike her others books I’ve read, I felt like this book was missing something. I’m not sure if it’s because she wrote it while still very much in the midst of the story that is a big story arc for the book or if it was something else. I couldn’t put a finger on it. I do feel like the book would be a real encouragement to someone who is going through a difficult time when life feelings overwhelming, hard, and just doesn’t make sense. Verdict: 3 stars Kind is the New Classy This is a quick read (or listen) and definitely had some valuable content. However, I have to admit that I was sort of turned off by how the author seemed to drop in unnecessary details that just felt kind of prideful. I know that we all come at things differently and only God knows someone’s heart, however, I hadn’t said anything to Jesse about this and was listening to the book when he was in the room and he picked up on this same thing, too. I think there is a lot of helpful inspiration in this book, I just struggled to love it because I kept getting hung up on the presentation. Verdict: 3 stars Beauty Maker Monica asked me if I would write an endorsement for her brand-new book. Since I love her work, I said yes! Here was the endorsement I wrote after reading it: In Beauty Maker, Monica invites us on a journey to cultivating more beauty — in our surroundings and in our souls. Her words inspired me to prioritize taking time to create more beauty in our home and to prioritize taking time to be a noticer of the beauty that is all around me. My favorite part of the book? The rich and yet simple photos that showcase how Monica lives out her message in her everyday life. Verdict: 3 stars Important & Super Honest Note: I’m kind of not wanting to hit publish on this post. Why did I ever commit to writing honest reviews of all the books I read anyway?? I want to be truthful, but I also want to be kind and gracious… and I struggled with how to strike that balance well in my reviews today. I want you to know that I’m not going to sugarcoat my feelings, but I also know that authors are real people who have put so much effort into their books that it’s hard for me to write reviews that feel like they lean toward being negative. Ugh. This is the part of my job that is so hard sometimes. If you felt I didn’t communicate graciously or you are the author of any of these books and you felt hurt by what I wrote, please let me know. This is an area where I’m still a big work in progress and I don’t want to offend or hurt anyone if I can help it! 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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5 Important Industries to Watch Now

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5 Important Industries to Watch Now
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com Investing can be a great way to build wealth over time. The trick is figuring out where those investment dollars will do the most good. There are no sure things, but it’s possible to add a little growth to your portfolio by looking a sectors that are doing well, have future potential or even just have some good buzz. One way to take advantage of current and... [...]
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Your Guide to the American Airlines Award Chart

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Your Guide to the American Airlines Award Chart
When it’s time to cash in your AAdvantage miles for an award flight, you’ll want to understand how to make your rewards go farther. Here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of all those hard-earned miles. Award types Before we dig into the details of American Airlines’ various award charts; one important caveat: The... Alisha McDarris is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Your Guide to the American Airlines Award Chart originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications

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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications
English is the language of the global business world, which means demand for English teachers is high while requirements to teach remain relatively low, especially so abroad and even more so online. In recent years, scores of online certification companies have sprouted up to train soon-to-be English teachers, offering credentials in what’s called Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). For our purposes, they’re interchangeable. “This is a very, very rapidly growing industry,” said Jessie Smith, a former English teacher in South Korea and Vietnam who now works at the International TEFL Academy. “The demand can’t really be put into words.”  Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online is a welcomed side gig for many. Teachers get to set their own schedules, connect with students around the world and rake in between $15 and $25 an hour teaching premade lessons.  Not bad for a part-time, entry-level position. But before you sign up — and pay — to obtain TEFL certification online, here’s what you need to know. What to Consider Before Getting a TEFL Certification Online You might be ready to start shopping for TEFL providers, but do this first: Determine your goals as an ESL teacher. “You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher,” Smith said. “You need to be prepared professionally, mentally.” Why Do You Want to Teach ESL? Do a quick pulse check. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish as an ESL teacher. Do you want a career change? A lucrative side gig? To travel and work in other countries? Your answer will determine what type of TEFL certification you’re going to need.  For career changes, proper education is always a good idea. Colleges and universities are big providers of TEFL certifications, and some degrees even include them. If you don’t have a degree in TEFL, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College provide the most comprehensive certifications — referred to as the CELTA and the Trinity, respectively. These programs are only offered in-person. (Full disclosure: I earned a CELTA before teaching English abroad. It was the most intense program I’ve ever experienced.) But if you’re eyeing a temporary side gig, you may not want to shell out the money for an expensive, in-person certification to teach ESL online. Almost all accredited TEFL certifications will require an in-person component, usually a 20-hour teaching practicum at a local language center or school. However, as members of ESL advice forums will tell you, most online employers don’t check or require accredited certifications with in-person practicums (for now). Lastly, one of the most effective ways to earn money while traveling is by teaching English abroad. Requirements vary by country, though it’s good to have a bachelor’s degree plus an accredited TEFL certificate with a teaching practicum. Latin American and Southeast Asian countries have laxer rules and may not require a degree or a TEFL certification. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Private tutor 8/20/19 @ 1:27 PM How Can Someone Living in the Heart of Africa Make Money Online? 8/20/19 @ 1:23 PM Passive Income 8/9/19 @ 1:07 PM Extra Income 4/10/19 @ 3:01 PM B See more in Make Money or ask a money question What Does it Take to Become TEFL-Certified? The majority of programs simply require that applicants are 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma. Native English fluency isn’t required, as TEFL certifications are popular credentials for foreign English teachers as well. But a high level of English fluency is required to participate in top-tier programs (C1 or IELTS Band 7, for the ESL nerds). Programs may vary slightly, but quality programs should include at least 120 hours of coursework with 20 hours dedicated to hands-on teaching to foreign-language-speaking students. These lessons should be observed by a qualified ESL professor. CELTA and Trinity programs are graded on a pass/fail basis while some online hybrid programs may include quizzes and a passing score of 60%.  How Much Do TEFL Certifications Cost? Depending on what program you choose and what your goals are as a teacher, costs will range widely. A fully online TEFL certification can run for $9 on Groupon, but you should know that it’s unaccredited. Online ESL teachers tend to purchase Groupon programs simply for a certification code that they add to their job applications, which can boost hourly pay toward the $25 mark. But if you plan to teach in person or long-term, skip the bargain bin programs. Pro Tip Plan to teach English in person? Get a TEFL certification with an in-person practicum to boost your confidence and gain real-world teaching experience.  The “brand name” TEFL certifications, aka the CELTA and Trinity, run between $2,000 and $3,000. These programs are internationally recognized and are more suited for career ESL teachers. Most accredited TEFL programs are usually half that price: around $1,100. “A true, university-level TEFL class could not possibly run under $1,000,” Smith said. How Do You Know If a TEFL Certification Online is Legit? Online TEFL providers are everywhere. They’re quick. They’re cheap. And most of the time, they’re unaccredited. Some companies aren’t transparent in their accreditation, which means they probably aren’t legit. In some program listings, you’ll see the words “self-accredited,” Smith said. “Which — needless to say — means just about nothing.” Price is another factor. The cheaper the price, the higher the chance the program is unaccredited. That doesn’t mean, however, that expensive programs are automatically legit. Shady providers can just as easily charge more money to give an air of quality. If the program costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, confirm that it’s run by an experienced professor and that the company holds a recognized accreditation.  The most popular accrediting bodies for TEFL programs are: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) British Council Chartered College of Teaching (formerly College of Teachers) Training Qualifications U.K. (TQUK) The World TEFL Accrediting Commission Popular accredited TEFL providers include: Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) International TEFL Academy International Open Academy University-run TEFL programs, including the CELTA and Trinity You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher. You need to be prepared professionally. The list is by no means exhaustive. If you stumble upon a program that you’re unsure of, search the website for an accreditation seal or license number. Still unsure? Contact the accrediting body directly to confirm that the provider is legit. If you’re only shelling out $9, you may decide it’s not worth your time. But if you come across an expensive TEFL program that isn’t mentioned above, be sure to check for accreditation.    Most accrediting bodies require TEFL providers to include a practicum to receive accreditation. One notable exception is International Open Academy’s TEFL program, which is fully online. The Penny Hoarder confirmed with [...]
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Old Navy: Kids Uniform Polos only $3.40, plus more!

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Old Navy: Kids Uniform Polos only $3.40, plus more!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Still needing some school clothes? Old Navy has kids uniform polos for only $3.40! Right now, Old Navy is offering up to 60% off kids back to school clothes! Plus, today only, you can get an extra 15% off your order when you use the promo code EXTRA at checkout! Here are some deals you can score… Get Boys or Girls Uniform Polos for just $3.40 after the promo code! Get Boys Jeans for just $6.80 after the promo code! Get Girls Jeans for just $6.80 after the promo code! Choose free in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs. Valid today only, August 21, 2019. Thanks, The Krazy Coupon Lady! [...]
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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