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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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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Walmart Grocery Service: $10 off any $50 purchase

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Walmart Grocery Service: $10 off any $50 purchase
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Planning to do a grocery pick up order at Walmart soon? You can score $10 off a $50 purchase right now! Walmart Grocery Service is currently offering $10 off any $50 purchase when you use the promo code LA9ARAAC at checkout! This is valid for new and existing customers. You can enter your zip code here to see if this service is available at your local Walmart. Valid through December 31, 2019. [...]
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8 Ways to Pay for College Without Student Loans or Your Parents’ Help

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

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

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Make Your Money Work for You: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Financial Goals
Saving money is all well and good in theory. It’s pretty hard to argue having more cash in your pocket could ever be a bad thing. But what are you saving for? After all, money is just a tool. If you don’t have solid financial goals, all those hoarded pennies might end up floating in limbo when they could be put to good use. Figuring out where your money should go might seem daunting, but it’s actually a lot of fun. You get to analyze your own priorities and decide exactly what you think you should do with your hard-earned cash. Talk about adulting, right? But to make the most of your money, follow a few best practices while setting your goals. After all, even if something seems like exactly what you want right now, it might not be in future-you’s best interest. And you’re playing the long game… that’s why they’re called goals! What to Do Before You Start Writing Your Financial Goals To keep yourself from deciding your financial goals are “buy the coolest toys and cars, get deeply into debt and watch my credit score plummet” — all super easy to do — we’ve compiled this guide. It’ll help you set goals and create smart priorities for your money. That way, however you decide to spend your truly discretionary income, you won’t leave the 10-years-from-now version of you in the lurch. First Things First: How Much Money Do You Have? You can’t decide on your short- or long-term financial goals if you don’t know how much money you have or where it’s going. And if you’re operating without a budget, it can be easy to run out of money well before you run out of expenses — even if you know exactly how much is in your paycheck. So sit down and take a good, hard look at all of your financial info. A ton of great digital apps can help you do this — here are our favorite budgeting apps — but it can be as simple as a spreadsheet or even a good, old-fashioned piece of paper. It just takes two steps: Figure out how much money you have. It might be in checking or savings accounts, including long-term accounts like IRAs. Or, it might be wrapped up in investments or physical assets, like your paid-off car. Assess any debts you have. Do you keep a revolving credit card balance? Do you pay a mortgage each month? Are your student loans still hanging around? Take the full amount of money you owe and subtract it from the total amount you have, which you discovered in step one. The difference between the two is your net worth. That’s the total amount of money you have to your name. If it seems like a lot, cool. Hang tight and don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket. We’re not done yet. If it seems like… not a lot, well, you’re about to fix that. Keep reading. Create a Budget Once you’ve learned your net worth, you need to start thinking about a working budget. This will essentially be a document with your total monthly income at the top and a list of all the expenses you need to pay for every month. And I do mean all of the expenses — that $4.99 recurring monthly payment for your student-discounted Spotify account definitely counts. Your expenses probably include rent, electricity, cable or internet, a cell phone plan, various insurance policies, groceries, gas and transportation; and other looser categories like charitable giving, entertainment and travel. Pro Tip Print out the last two or three months of statements from your credit and debit cards and categorize every expense. You can often find ways to save by discovering patterns in your spending habits. It’ll depend on your individual case — for instance, I totally have “wine” as a budget line item. See? It’s all about priorities. Start by listing how much you actually spent in each category last month. Subtract your total expenses from your total income. The difference should be equal to the amount of money left sitting in your bank account at month’s end. It’s also the money you can use toward your long-term financial goals. Want the number to be bigger? Go back through your budget and figure out where you can afford to make cuts. Maybe you can ditch the cable bill and decide between Netflix or Hulu, or replace one takeout lunch with a packed version. You don’t need to abandon the idea of having a life (and enjoying it), but there are ways to make budgetary adjustments that work for you. Set the numbers you’re willing to spend in each category, and stick to them. Congratulations. You’re in control of your money. Now you can figure out exactly what you want to do with it. How to Set Your Financial Goals Before you run off to the cool-expensive-stuff store, hold on a second. Your financial goals should be (mostly) in this order: Build an emergency fund. Pay down debt. Plan for retirement. Set short-term and long-term financial goals. We say “mostly” because it’s ultimately up to you to decide in which order you want to accomplish them. Many experts suggest making sure you have an emergency fund in place before aggressively going after your debt. But if you’re hemorrhaging money on sky-high interest charges, you might not have much expendable cash to put toward savings. That means you’ll pay the interest for a lot longer — and pay a lot more of it — if you wait to pay it down until you have a solid emergency fund saved up. 1. Build an Emergency Fund Finding money to sock away each month can be tough, but just starting with $10 or $25 of each paycheck can help. You can make the process a lot easier by automating your savings. Or you can have money from each paycheck automatically sent to a separate account you won’t touch. You also get to decide the size of your emergency fund, but a good rule of thumb is to accumulate three to six times the total of your monthly living expenses. Good thing your budget’s already set up so you know exactly what that number is, right? You might try to get away with a smaller emergency fund — even $1,000 is a better cushion than nothing. But if you lose your job, you still need to be able to eat and make rent. 2. Pay Down Debt Now, let’s move on to repaying debt. Why’s it so important, anyway? Because you’re hemorrhaging money on interest charges you could be applying toward your goals instead. So even though becoming debt-free seems like a big expense and sacrifice right now, you’re doing yourself a huge financial favor in the long run. There’s lots of great information out there about how to pay off debt, but it’s really a pretty simple operation: You need to put every single penny you can spare toward your debts until they disappear. One method is known as the debt avalanche method, which involves paying off debt with the highest interest rates first, thereby reducing the overall amount you’ll shell out for interest. For example, if you have a $1,500 revolving balance on a credit card with a 20% APR, it gets priority over your $14,000, 5%-interest car loan — even though the second number is so much bigger. Pro Tip If you’re motivated by quick wins, the debt snowball method may be a good fit for you. It involves paying off one loan balance at a time, starting with the smallest balance first. Make a list of your debts and (ideally) don’t spend any of your spare money on anything but paying them off until the number after every account reads “$0.” Trust me, the day when you become debt-free will be well worth the effort. As a bonus, if your credit score could be better, repaying revolving debt will also help you repair it — just in case some of your goals (like buying a home) depend upon your credit report not sucking. 3. Plan for Retirement All right, you’re all set in case of an emergency and you’re living debt-free. Congratulations! We’re almost done with the hard part, I promise. But there’s one more very important long-term financial goal you most definitely want to keep in mind: retirement. Did you know almost half of Americans have abs [...]
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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet

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9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care for Your Pet
One day I noticed my puppy was acting strangely. She walked a few steps, stumbled, fell over and slowly got back up, only to fall over again. I realized her tummy was extremely bloated. I rushed her to the vet. The vet examined her for a few minutes and started to chuckle. Then my puppy let out a bellowing burp, and the vet actually started to laugh. When he asked me if I had left dog food out... [...]
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8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

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

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What to do if you win the lottery
Today I’m going to teach you what to do if you ever win the lottery, a massive inheritance, or any other huge infusion of cash. 1/3 of lottery winners go bankrupt and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen to you. So just listen and do what I say, please. RULE #1: Shut The Hell Up Shut your mouth right now, seriously. Do not tell anyone. Do not tell your boss, your loud-mouthed cousin with the mustache, or even your kids. You can tell 1 person: your spouse. And then tell them this: Shut The Hell Up. This is your new motto for the next 6 months. Lotto winner Mavis Wanczyk (who won the 758.7 million Powerball) did not follow this advice and decided to tell her boss, the press, and therefore the whole world. Immediately after, random people came out of the woodwork and the police have had to watch her house. Here are the scariest people who will try to find you, in descending order: Kidnappers who will hold you for ransom Scammy “wealth managers” who will bleed you dry Uncle Joe, who wants you to invest in his dumb idea for a themed bar DON’T DO IT. You can always choose to reveal your new wealth later once you have the proper precautions set up. But once the genie is out of the bottle, you can never put it back in. Be quiet and tell no one for now. RULE #2: You have 2 new best friends: your lawyer and your financial advisor I get it, you don’t have a lawyer. Now you do. You call up the biggest, most white-collar law firm in the country (just google “highest paid law firm”) and tell them you want a lawyer to help with taxes and trusts. When they ask why, tell them “I’ve recently come into some money and I’d like someone to coordinate my affairs.” They will charge you $500 or $600/hour. Pay it, happily. This lawyer is now your conduit with the outside world. Who contacts the lottery to tell them about the winning ticket? Not you (see Rule #1). Your lawyer will handle that. Who do they make the check out to? Is it to you? Oh hell no. Your lawyer will set up an anonymous trust for you. Your other new best friend is your financial advisor. Considering I hate most financial advisors and most of you don’t need one (see page 153 of my book for why), this might seem unusual. However, you just received millions of dollars out of the blue. It’s worth a few thousand bucks to get set up. Go to napfa.org to find a fee-only financial advisor who can guide you through the next few months of setting up your new financial systems. I have a list of questions to ask financial advisors in my book and signs to watch out for. The one thing you want to look out for — the one sign you’ve chosen a salesperson, not a real advisor — is if they take a percentage of your assets. DO NOT sign up with some nutty wealth advisor who sweet talks you with a beautiful British accent. Just follow my directions from the book and your advisor can help you with the rest. RULE #3: Do not change anything (with 3 exceptions) You know all those movies about how a group of criminals gets away with a heist, but one idiot gets the entire crew caught because he goes out the next day and buys a fur coat and a $200,000 car? Do not do that. For 6 months, don’t change anything. No new car, no extravagant trips, don’t quit your job. Your lawyer and financial advisor will help you get set up. This falls under Advice Everyone Says But Nobody Takes: When someone dies or you get a huge amount of sudden money, do not change anything for 6 months. If you really need to quit your job, when people ask what you’re doing now, your line is, “I’m doing some consulting.” However, if you were a cashier at 7-11, I’m not sure if people are going to believe you’re a consultant. Anyway, your call. I know most of you won’t follow this advice, so I came up with a list of acceptable things to spend money on: Extra guac at Chipotle Taco Bell Mexican Pizza I also hereby authorize you to buy every product from iwillteachyoutoberich.com/products After 6 months? Just don’t spend it all in one place. If you haven’t won the lottery (yet…) Let’s be real, 99.999999% of you reading this right now have not and will not ever win the lottery. But luckily, winning the lottery isn’t the only way to make a lot of money. If you want to live a rich life, you can build it for yourself — with much better odds than Powerball. My team and I have worked hard to create a guide to help you do just that: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money. In it, I’ve included my best strategies to: Create multiple income streams so you always have a consistent source of revenue. Start your own business and escape the 9-to-5 for good. Increase your income by thousands of dollars a year through side hustles like freelancing. Download a FREE copy of the Ultimate Guide today by entering your name and email below — and start blowing up your net worth today. What to do if you win the lottery is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. [...]
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11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Will Save You Money

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

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Vogue Magazine Discount
Today, you can pick up a subscription to  Vogue Magazine at the lowest price we’ve seen in some time! VOGUE SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT You can order a subscription to Vogue magazine for just $5.99 per year!  That is a savings of 83% off the cover price.  If you happen to already subscribe, you can renew at this ... Read More about Vogue Magazine Discount The post Vogue Magazine Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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36 Things That Will Soon Be Obsolete

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36 Things That Will Soon Be Obsolete
Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com When’s the last time you popped in a cassette tape? Rented a movie at a video store? Wrote a check for groceries? Maybe you still do some — or all — of these things. But chances are good you’ve replaced many of what used to be common, everyday activities with more technologically updated trends. It can be tough to believe that many of the... [...]
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Iwoca storms ahead in SME lending game

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

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FINRA Issues Warning on Imposter Website Threat
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued a notice warning member firms that there appears to be an increase in imposter websites designed to mimic firms’ actual websites. FINRA suggests that member firms take proactive steps to monitor for imposter websites, including registering URL name variations and using monitoring services to watch for imposter websites. FINRA also suggests that member firms take responsive action in event that an imposter website is discovered, including (among other things) calling local law enforcement, the nearest FBI field office and the relevant state’s Attorney General. FINRA’s notice is available here. [...]
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New $3/1 Motrin or Bengay Printable Coupon = Moneymaker at Target and Walmart!

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New $3/1 Motrin or Bengay Printable Coupon = Moneymaker at Target and Walmart!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Hurry and print this new $3/1 Motrin or Bengay coupon! There is a new $3/1 Motrin or Bengay coupon available to print! You can use this coupon to score Motrin for free plus overage at Target and Walmart! Here’s how: Target: Motrin General Pain Reliever 20-Count Capsules – $3.99 Use the 20% Off Motrin IB Cartwheel Offer (exp. 6/08) Use the $3/1 Adult Motrin or Bengay coupon found here Get back $1.50 from Ibotta when you buy one select Motrin items 20-count or larger (exp 6/15; limit 5) Free plus $1.30 overage after coupons and rebate Walmart: Motrin Liquid Gels 20-Count Capsules – $3.98 Use the $3/1 Adult Motrin or Bengay coupon found here Get back $1.50 from Ibotta when you buy one select Motrin items 20-count or larger (exp 6/15; limit 5) Free plus $0.52 overage after coupon and rebate Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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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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Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States

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Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States
Have you gotten to retirement with a fat nest egg? Congratulations! All those years of toil and saving have paid off. If you are exceedingly fortunate and plan to pass on a big inheritance to your children or a charity, you still have one big retirement-planning mission remaining: Protecting your wealth from disappearing into the coffers of state and federal governments. Depending on where you... [...]
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Noom: The Gift I Gave Myself this Mother’s Day

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

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Everything You Need to Know to Become an Airbnb Host in D.C.
Have you thought about becoming an Airbnb host in D.C.? In a city that’s so expensive, home sharing can be a great way to supplement your income. Thousands of Airbnb hosts list places in the District, according to data from the home sharing platform. “Part of what makes Airbnb so successful for me is the city,” says Snyta Keeling, a 43-year-old Airbnb Superhost. “D.C. is great for home sharing because there’s something going on at every time of year.” Between the cherry blossoms in the spring, the Fourth of July in the summer and the elections in the fall — which draw businesspeople, students, lobbyists, sports fans and activists — there’s certainly a demand for space. How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in D.C. The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to list your place. The process itself is simple, but you’ll want to exercise tact, so your space stands out from others. We’ll walk you through the process, plus share some pro tips from Keeling, a federal government employee and attorney who hosts guests in her three-bedroom townhome in Southeast D.C. She quickly rose to Superhost status when she started hosting back in 2015. Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything from an apartment, an extra bedroom or house to a campsite, yurt or RV, depending on your local laws. Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities. Pro Tip If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room. That’s what Keeling, a D.C. Superhost, does. At first she was worried guests would be uninterested, but she’s found they love the hospitality. Set the Scene With Photos Keeling compared Airbnb listings to dating profiles — and she’s so right. If you come across someone who’s posted a bathroom selfie with the flash on, you’ll probably move along — even if they do rescue puppies and own a private jet. The same idea goes for Airbnb; photos are everything. The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective. In addition to internal photos, Keeling emphasizes the importance of external photos as well. “It’s important to do external photos, so you guide a person through how they’ll approach the home and what the surrounding community looks like,” she says. “If you live close to a metro stop, you’ll want to have a picture of that, for example.” Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. In addition to metro stops, you might also include photos of the nearby neighborhood, any tourist attractions (ahem, the National Mall), or even a photo of the closest grocery or convenience store. Write a Description Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description. Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight. Keeling has a few tips you can follow when crafting your description: Manage expectations. “You know the idea of putting your best foot forward?” Keeling asks. “No! What you do is put the blemishes out there, so your guests will have set expectations.” Turn negatives into positives. Keeling’s townhome is located in a residential area on the easternmost point of D.C. That means it’s not central; you have to take a metro to get to the closest grocery store, which could be a downside for some guests. However, in her listing, she emphasizes the perks of free parking, which is difficult to come by in D.C. It’s also a quiet retreat after you’ve spent the day in crowds. Add an element of surprise to your space that you don’t mention in your listing. For example, Keeling has a high-end Tuft and Needle mattress with nice pillows. Because she doesn’t mention it in the listing, guests are surprised and are more likely to rave After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that. For example, Keeling quickly realized she’s not attracting club-goers and partiers; she gets guests who are looking to get away from the bustle of the city and value their sleep. Name Your Listing This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space. For Keeling, one of the most appealing aspects of her listing is the free parking — a rarity in D.C. Her space is also green; it’s decked out with solar panels, rain barrels, vegetable gardens and composts. This is a unique draw, so she emphasizes it in her listing title. It also attracts like-minded guests, which is important when you’re sharing your space. Set House Rules Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking allowed, and events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules. “Don’t go crazy with the rules, but come up with some core rules that are important for you,” Keeling says. Keeling, for example, maintains a shoeless house. That’s partially cultural, but it also just makes the space easier to clean. She also emphasizes no smoking of any kind, and no eating in the bedrooms. Set up Your Calendar Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee. A few questions you’ll answer include: How often do you want to have guests? How much notice do you need before a guest arrives? When can guests check in? How far in advance can guests book? How long can guests stay? Pro Tip When starting out, Keeling suggests limiting guests’ length of stay to a couple of nights. That way you can get guests in and out and start racking up reviews, which will build your ratings. Keeling allows for at least one day between bookings, so she can have time to reset the spaces, and she doesn’t let guests book more than three months in advance, in case something comes up. You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you. Price Your Space Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand during the Cherry Blossom Festival or Fourth of July spikes, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically. You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Keeling urges new hosts to do their own research. Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers: Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements. Be realistic. “People tend to have an inflated view of their place,” Keeling notes. Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in, accumulate reviews and work your way to that Superhost status, which will help increase bookings in the long run. Note Your Local Laws You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws. In December 2018, the D.C. Council passed a set of regulations that would limit some kinds of short term rentals. Check with the District if you have questions about current laws or when (and if) the pending regulations will come into force. Also Consider… In addition to hosting laws, you’ll al [...]
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How This Family of 4 Saves $3,600 a Year Living in a 200-Square-Foot Home

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

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

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

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

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How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy!
I get asked all of the time, “How can I make money at home?”  While blogging is what I do, I know that is not always the answer for everyone. If you happen to be creative, why not sell your stuff on Etsy?  Using Etsy can be a great way to make money! I’m one ... Read More about How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy! The post How You Can Make Money at Home Selling on Etsy! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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*HOT* JCPenney: Buy 1, Get 2 Free Women’s Sandals

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*HOT* JCPenney: Buy 1, Get 2 Free Women’s Sandals
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Do you need new sandals for summer? JCPenney is currently offering Buy One, Get Two Free on select women’s sandals! JCPenney is offering Buy One, Get Two Free select women’s sandals! There are over 100 styles to choose from! No promo code is needed. Just add three pairs to your cart and you’ll see the discount at checkout. Choose in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs. Valid through June 26, 2019. Thanks, Freebie Radar! [...]
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Save on Pond’s Anti-Aging Products at Walmart!

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

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CFTC Chair Proposes Relief for Phase 5 Initial Margin Implementation
On April 29, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo sent a letter to Randy Quarles, the Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which he proposed that the US regulators responsible for the administering the margin rules for uncleared swaps should collaborate in providing some relief to non-dealer swap market participants who may become subject to initial margin requirements in 2020. The specific relief would be the issuance of the same guidance issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in March (for more information, see the March 8, 2019 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest), which stated that in-scope parties do not have to put in place compliant documentation and custodial relationships if there is no expectation that the exposure associated with their swaps will actually exceed the regulatory threshold for posting initial margin ($50 million for the United States). The need for this relief is a result of the phase-in level for initial margin requirements dropping to zero in 2020. That change is likely to bring many financial end-user swap parties (“Phase 5 Parties”) into scope for initial margin because they trade with swap dealers and have material swaps exposure of $8 billion or more. The proposed guidance would simplify life for any Phase 5 Party that has a relatively low risk swap portfolio and save such parties from having to negotiate new initial margin and custody documents. The guidance would have no effect on Phase 5 Parties that do expect to have more than $50 million in aggregate swap exposure for initial margin purposes. A Phase 5 Party that benefits from such relief would have to monitor its exposures carefully, however, and be ready to satisfy all applicable requirements if it ever exceeds the posting threshold. Since the Federal Reserve is only one of the five banking regulators responsible for the margin rules applicable to swap dealers that are subject to prudential regulation (i.e., bank swap dealers), this proposal can only come to fruition if it is also agreed to by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The letter is available here. [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Monday, May. 13

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

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5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom
In a perfect world, nobody would have to worry about whether they have enough money to live the life they want. In reality, many of us do have that concern. When you reach the position of being financially free, you can live “without worrying about having enough income coming in or being able to pay for... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article 5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Social Security Q&A: Am I Taking My Benefit Too Soon?

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Social Security Q&A: Am I Taking My Benefit Too Soon?
Welcome to “Social Security Q&A.” You ask a Social Security question, and our guest expert provides the answer. You can learn how to ask a question of your own below. And if you would like a personalized report detailing your optimal Social Security claiming strategy, click here. Check it out: It could result in receiving thousands of dollars more in benefits over your lifetime! [...]
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Which Fitness Chain Has the Best Gym Membership for Your Budget?

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Which Fitness Chain Has the Best Gym Membership for Your Budget?
Despite years of adding “lose some weight” to my list of New Year’s resolutions, I have yet to join a gym. Not to make excuses (well, let’s be real — everyone who wants to avoid the gym is making excuses), but I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to spending money on myself. Except when it comes to food. But getting in shape requires making a decision and a commitment to putting in the work. And it takes an investment — in time and often in money. With so many options out there, how do you pick the best gym membership for you? Our Guide to Finding the Cheapest Gym Membership Let me start by saying choosing a gym is a very personal decision. Size might be a significant factor. Location might be also important to you — maybe if you pass the gym along your normal commute, you won’t be going out of your way. Well, to help make your decision a bit easier, we compiled information from six national workout chains so you can compare availability, costs and features. Some gyms provide free trials, so be sure to take advantage of those offers before signing up for a membership. Writer’s note: Individual membership costs are published as listed online as of May 17, 2019, and they are subject to change. Rates may vary based on location and current promotions. 1. Youfit Health Clubs Where: Youfit Health Clubs has more than 100 locations in 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. How Much: The base membership fee is $10 a month. The premium tier (known as “Lime Card” access) costs $21.99 a month. When you sign up for the base membership, you’ll also pay for first and last month dues. Initiation fees vary depending on the membership package. What’s Included: Depending on location, these clubs include top-of-the-line equipment, free weights, group fitness sessions, express circuits, personal trainers, tanning beds and childcare. Premium members can also bring a free guest with them for every visit and can visit any YouFit location. Try It: Get a free guest pass for one-time use. 2. Planet Fitness Where: Planet Fitness has over 1,800 locations in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic. How Much: Monthly dues are $10 for just one location or $19.99 to use any location. Annual fees are $39.99 and the start-up fee is $1. The $10 membership has no commitment. What’s Included: These gyms include cardio and weight-training equipment, plus fitness training programs for all members. Some locations include massage chairs and tanning services. Many locations are open 24 hours a day. Try It: Find the location nearest you. 3. Crunch Fitness Where: Crunch Fitness has more than 300 locations for its regular gyms and 30 locations for its Signature gyms (which include more classes, upgraded amenities and more). Its gyms are located in 30 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and four Canadian provinces. How Much: A base membership is $9.95 a month, a Peak membership is $21.95 a month and a Peak Results membership is $24.95 a month. Enrollment fees vary from $10 to $49.99 depending on your membership level. The annual fee is $78, prorated at $6.50 a month. What’s Included: Depending on what type of membership you choose, you can take advantage of multiple perks at this gym, including a training orientation with a fitness expert, group fitness classes, online video workouts, tanning and Hydromassage. The Peak and Peak Results memberships can be used at multiple locations. Try It: Try a free one-day trial. 4. LA Fitness Where: LA Fitness has more than 675 locations in 27 states, Washington D.C. and Canada. How Much: Monthly fees start at $24.99 for single-club access or $29.99 for multiple clubs within the same state. Initiation fees are $89. What’s Included: Gyms include state-of-the-art equipment and cardio areas, group fitness classes, indoor heated pools, whirlpool spas and saunas. Some have kids’ clubs, juice bars and basketball and racquetball courts. Try It: Find your local club to request a guest pass online. 5. 24 Hour Fitness Where: 24 Hour Fitness has over 400 locations in 13 states — California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. How Much: Monthly fees start at $29.99, but can vary based on location and membership level. Members pay a one-time initiation fee, which starts at $29.99, and there’s also a $49.99 annual fee. What’s Included: Gyms include studio and cycle classes. Most facilities also have an indoor lap pool and a Whirlpool. Members can take advantage of personal and group training. Get access to digital workouts you can complete at home without stepping foot in an actual gym. Parents of children ages 6 months to 11 years can drop their kids off for supervised fun time at nearly every location. Try It: Use this three-day free pass. 6. Anytime Fitness Where: Anytime Fitness has more than 4,000 locations in all 50 states and 36 countries across six continents. (That’ll likely soon change, as the chain recently announced plans to expand to Antarctica.) How Much: Membership starts at $29.99 per month, but prices vary depending on location and current promotions. According to Anytime Fitness’s spokesperson, the average membership is $40 a month. Members also pay one-time initiation and key activation fees, which vary depending on the franchise. What’s Included: Members have access to cardio machines, weights and strength training equipment, as well as classes and wellness programs. Some locations offer tanning and personal training. They are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Try It: You can get a free seven-day pass. Other Alternatives to Popular Chain Gyms If none of these chain gyms suit your fancy, you could always join your local YMCA or set up a home gym to get your workouts in. You could also incorporate fitness into your daily routine by trying one of these nine inexpensive gym alternatives. Running is one of the options on that list; this post on tips and tricks for finding discounted running shoes can help ease your stride. Or you could lace up those shoes and march right into the gym! Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She sympathizes with the struggle of getting in shape.  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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Entrepreneur Magazine | Low Price!

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Entrepreneur Magazine | Low Price!
Great magazine for all you entrepreneurs! ENTREPRENEUR SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Until 6/6/19, subscribe to Entrepreneur Magazine for only $4.95 per year (91% off)! You can order up to 4 years at this price! Just enter coupon code PENNYPINCH when you get to check out. If you already subscribe, you can extend your current subscription at this ... Read More about Entrepreneur Magazine | Low Price! The post Entrepreneur Magazine | Low Price! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set
Grab this hot deal while it is available! You can get the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set for only $56.99. You will be saving 56% on this purchase because it is usually $129.99. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change at any time! The post Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Old Navy Flip Flop Sale 2019

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Old Navy Flip Flop Sale 2019
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Woohoo! The Old Navy Flip Flop Sale is BACK again this year! Get ready to score flip flops for just a buck, plus there are some fun twists this year!! {Looking for more summer flip flop fun? Don’t forget about Tropical Smoothie Flip Flop Day, too!} Old Navy Flip Flop Sale 2019 Mark your calendars! Old Navy will once again be having their incredibly popular $1 Flip Flop Sale this year on Saturday, June 15, 2019. You’ll be able to get select styles of solid color flip flops for just $1 in-stores or online. There’s a limit of 10 pairs when you shop in-store and a limit of 5 pairs when you shop online. If you’re shopping in-stores, I recommend getting there early, because they usually sell out super fast! Free Flip Flops with Purchase But that’s not all! If you make a $24+ purchase before 12 p.m., you’ll get a FREE pair of flip flops! Just make sure you make your purchase before noon local time in-stores and before noon PST online. Find The Golden Flip Flop It looks like they’re adding some extra fun this year for a bit of a twist on their traditional flip flop sale. This year, they’ll be hiding golden flip flops throughout each store and within the pages of their online site. If you find a golden flip flop, you get a 24% off coupon online or a $24 coupon in-stores. You’ll also be entered to win $24,000 in a sweepstakes giveaway. Go here to get some tips on finding the golden flip flops. Will you be grabbing flip flops at Old Navy this year? We’d love to hear in the comments! [...]
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Up to 90% off Tarte Cosmetics (Collector’s Sets, Palettes, Lip Paints, and more!)

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Up to 90% off Tarte Cosmetics (Collector’s Sets, Palettes, Lip Paints, and more!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Love Tarte Cosmetics? You can get up to 90% off collector’s sets, palettes, lip paints and more right now! Right now, Tarte Cosmetics is offering up to 70% off select items! Plus, you can get an extra 20% off sale prices when you use the promo code CYBER at checkout! Even better, each purchase includes two free samples at checkout. Here are some deals you can score… Get this Tarte Limited-Edition Magic Star Collector’s Set for just $28 after the promo code ($290 value)! Get this Tarte Party Pouts Lip Set (includes 5 full size lip paints) for just $20 after the promo code ($100 value)! Get this Tarte Limited-Edition Make Believe in Yourself Eye & Cheek Palette for just $13.60 after the promo code (regularly $40)! Get this Tarte Passport to Paradise Collector’s Set for just $32 after the promo code ($291 value)! Get this Tarte Pineapple of My Eye Collector’s Set for just $33.60 after the promo code ($354 value)! Get this Tarte Sweet Escape Collector’s Set for just $32 after the promo code ($364 value)! Valid through July 29, 2019. Shipping is free on orders of $40 or more. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget (+ what we ate)

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

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This Week’s $70 Grocery Shopping Trip (I was under-budget!)
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. I was out of town for two days this week at a blogging conference where I helped lead small group discussions in Instagram and also met with a number of different brands who are interested in working with me. So once again, I didn’t end up writing down what all we ate this week. I had to laugh at my frugal ways though, because I managed to only spend $0.53 on food while I was on the road (I used a small Starbucks gift card to buy a few things one of the days and it didn’t quite cover everything so I owed $0.53!) Some of our friends were out of town this week, so they offered us their share at a local farm since they wouldn’t be in town to pick it up. And they wouldn’t let us pay them for it! So we had roasted broccoli, cabbage and sausage, fresh strawberries, and lots of salads with fresh greens! And then I found some great deals at Kroger on Friday: Kroger Shopping Trip 5 boxes of Go-gurts — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deal 2 packages of Turkey Breast — on closeout for $2 each 5 packages of Danimals Smoothies — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deal 8 bags of frozen veggies — $1 each 1 bag of Chex Mix + 1 bag of Bugles — $0.99 when you buy 5 participating items, used $0.50/2 Kroger Digital coupon = $0.74 each 2 bottles of Aussie shampoo/conditioner — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $2/2 Kroger Digital coupon = $0.99 each 1 Simply Popped Popcorn — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 2 boxes of Earth’s Best French Toast Sticks — marked down to $0.79 each 3 bags of Simple Truth Dried Mango — marked down to $1.12 each 3 Kroger Greek Yogurt — marked down to $0.49 each 2 Kroger yogurt — marked down to $0.25 each Turkey Jerky — marked down to $0.99 each Parmesan Cheese — $2.19 10 1/2 pounds marked down bananas ($0.39/lb.) — $4.09 Simple Truth Eggs — $2.79, used $0.50/1 Kroger Digital coupon = $2.29 Half & Half — $1.79 3 pounds ground sirloin — marked down to $3.79 each Kroger milk — $2.99 Turkey Hill Tea — $1.34, used $0.75/1 Kroger Digital Coupon = $0.59 1 bag of peaches — marked down to $0.99 Total with tax: $67.68 Last week, I was a few dollars over-budget (intentionally), but I promised I would be under budget this week — and I was! Of course, we got our FREE Krispy Kreme donuts on Friday + Silas got free donuts for his A’s on his report card. (Note: They said that they have a limit of 6 free donuts per report card. Also, I’ve heard that some stores no longer offer this.) [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, July 6

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, July 6
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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Chase Launches Student Credit Card in Branches Only

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Chase Launches Student Credit Card in Branches Only
If you’re a college student who isn’t ready to throw a graduation cap into the air just yet, take a look at the hat Chase just tossed into the ring. A few months ahead of the new semester, the issuer has launched Chase Freedom Student, a credit card designed for those still in school. As of June 9,... Melissa Lambarena is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena. The article Chase Launches Student Credit Card in Branches Only originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Benefit

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10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Benefit
Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com You’ve worked hard for Social Security retirement benefits, and you probably want every dollar you’re entitled to receive. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that there are reasons why your Social Security payments could decrease. Many are in your control, but some are not. Keep reading to find out how your monthly check could get dinged for everything from... [...]
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Making the Most of the Capital One Savor or SavorOne

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Making the Most of the Capital One Savor or SavorOne
The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card are about food and fun. You earn accelerated rewards on dining in or dining out, and it’s probably your go-to card when paying for entertainment. If you already spend a lot in those areas, you’ll earn rewards pretty effortlessly. But using... Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: gkarp@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @spendingsmart. The article Making the Most of the Capital One Savor or SavorOne originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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*HOT* Free $5 Starbucks Gift Card with $25 Gift Card Purchase

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*HOT* Free $5 Starbucks Gift Card with $25 Gift Card Purchase
Love Starbucks? Get a free $5 gift card when you purchase a $25 Starbucks gift card. Today only, you can score a free $5 Starbucks Bonus eGift Card when you purchase ANY Starbucks eGift Card worth $25 or more in the Starbucks mobile app! Just log in to the mobile app and check your inbox to find this offer. If it’s still available, you can click on the “buy now” button to get this deal. This is only available for the first 150,000. Limit of one per account. Psst! You should also check and see if you got the limit access Starbucks deal on Groupon today!! Thanks, Freebie Shark! [...]
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CVS: Deals for the week of June 16-22, 2019

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CVS: Deals for the week of June 16-22, 2019
Looking for all the best weekly CVS deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week! Here are the best deals at CVS this week, with a big thanks to Passionate Penny Pincher for her help in compiling them: Buy 2 Maybelline Eye Brow Liner – $4.99, Get $6 ECBs (Limit 1) Used (2) $3/1 Maybelline Eye Product printable will need to sign up can get 2 coupons when signing up Pay $3.98 out of pocket, Get $6 ECBs Free plus $2.02 moneymaker after coupons and ECBs Buy 1 Colgate Total TS or Max Toothpaste at $3.49, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 2) Use $1/1 printable Pay $2.49 out of pocket, Get $2 ECBs $0.49 after coupon and ECBs Buy 1 Hershey King Size at $1.88, Get $1 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $1.88 out of pocket, Get $1 ECBs $0.88 after ECBS Buy 1 General Mills Cereal at $2.88, Get $1 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $2.88 out of pocket, Get $1 ECBs $1.88 after ECBS Buy 1 Physician Formula Make Up Staring at $9.99, Get $7 ECBs Pay $9.99 out of pocket, Get $7 ECBs $2.99 after ECBs Buy 2 Scott Toilet Paper (18 roll) at $7.99, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) Use $0.55/1 Scott Bath Tissue printable Pay $14.88 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $4.94 each after coupons and ECBs Buy 1 Coppertone Sunscreen at $9.99, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1) Use $2/1 printable Pay $7.99 out of pocket, Get $2 ECBs $5.99 after coupon and ECBs Buy 1 Finishing Touch Flawless Face or Brow at $19.99, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $19.99 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $14.99 after ECBs Spend $20, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) *Deal Idea* Buy 2 Charmin Toilet Paper (6 Mega Roll) or Bounty Paper Towels (4 rolls) – $6.99 Buy 1 Tide Pods (12 -16 ct) – $4.94 Buy 1 Dawn Dish Soap – $0.99 Use $2/1 Tide App coupon or $2/1 Tide coupon from the 5/26 P&G insert Pay $17.91 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $4.30 each after coupons and ECBs OR Buy 3 Tide Pods (12 -16 ct) – $4.94 Buy 1 Charmin Toilet Paper (6 Mega Roll) or Bounty Paper Towels (4 rolls) – $6.99 Use $2/1 Tide App coupon and (2) $2/1 Tide coupon from the 5/26 P&G insert Pay $15.81 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $2.70 each after coupons and ECBs Spend $25, Get $7 ECBs (Limit 1) *Deal Idea* Buy 2 Huggies Diapers at $12.49 (Buy 1, Get 1 50% OFF) Buy 2 Pampers Wipes – $2.99 Use (2) $1/1 printable Use $0.50/1 Pampers Wipes App coupon Pay $22.21 out of pocket, Get $7 ECBs $7.60 each after coupons and ECBs Deals In Ad M&M Candy (9 oz) – $2.50 Use $1/2 coupon from the 6/16 SmartSource insert Use $1/2 CVS coupon from CVS machine $1.50 each after coupons Tide Simply Laundry Detergent (40 oz) – $2.94 Use $1/1 App coupon $1.94 after coupon New to shopping at CVS? Be sure to check out my CVS 101 post that gives you the full scoop on how to get the best bargains at CVS. See the full list of deals at CVS here. [...]
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5 Books I Finished in April

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

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Budget You Can Actually Stick to
If you’re anything like me, you’re perpetually swinging between vowing to cut all unnecessary spending cold turkey and humming “Treat Yo’self” as you order your third UberEats meal in 12 hours. Which one you’re doing depends on the day — and how long it’s been since your last paycheck. The result: a pitiful savings account balance, scrimping to pay the minimum on your credit card and feeling like you’re still living paycheck to paycheck even though your income has come a long way since your first job out of college. You know there is a way to solve this problem. You know that if you just create a budget — and by some miracle, stick to it — you could finally get the financial freedom everyone else seems to have already figured out. You also know budgeting is a buzzkill. But if you give it a genuine shot, we promise that we will, too. We’re in this together. How to Budget in 4 Easy Steps Creating a budget doesn’t have to be a grueling process. If you take some time to prepare and learn how to budget in a way that makes the most sense for your lifestyle, you can start on the road toward controlling your personal finances in no time. We’ve laid out exactly what you need to do in four pretty simple steps. Step 1: Know How Much You Make and Spend Before you can make a budget that works, you need to know your numbers. We like to focus on a monthly budget, since most bills are due once a month. Pro Tip Exporting your statements to a spreadsheet or using highlighters on printed statements can help you see patterns in your income and spending habits. Log in to your bank account online, and grab your last couple months’ worth of bank statements. While you’re at it, grab your credit card statements, too. How to Figure Your Monthly Income First, write down your monthly income. This should be your take-home pay for the month. That’s the money you earn minus deductions for taxes, Medicare, Social Security, health insurance contributions and allocations to retirement accounts like your 401(k) or Roth IRA. This is easy if you have a full-time, salaried job. If you are paid by commission, work hourly or have some other kind of irregular income (like freelancing), use an average of the last six months to get a rough idea. Self-employed budgeters can benefit by taking a step back each quarter to examine their income. “If you’re paying quarterly taxes anyway, you have this natural stopping point to look,” says Lillian Karabaic, CEO of Oh My Dollar! “It’s a good way to check on the health of your business.” But don’t just stop there. Add any extra money that comes in from your side hustles. Child support payments. Recurring bonuses or stipends. Financial aid payments. Include it all. How to Figure Your Monthly Expenses Your next step is the painful part: It’s time to log your monthly expenses. Start with the recurring monthly stuff, which may include: Your rent or mortgage Car payment Car insurance Cell phone bill Internet, cable TV and other monthly subscriptions (think: Netflix and Spotify) Utilities Debt payments Don’t forget to include non-monthly but recurring expenses, like the following: Vehicle registration fees Credit card fees HOA fees Professional association dues Annual subscription renewals To incorporate these non-monthly but regular expenses into your monthly budget, add up the total cost for a year, then divide that number by 12 to find out how much they cost each month, according to Bridget Todd, COO of The Financial Gym. “You might open a separate bank account for your annual expenses,” Todd said. “Then when the bills come, you don’t have to adjust your spending. It’s similar to saving for Christmas shopping” throughout the year. From here, you’ll want to start adding up your discretionary expenses. Analyze your spending habits. How much are you spending on shopping, eating out and drinks with friends? To get a full picture, you can put these things in categories. For example, movies, concerts and museum visits can all go under entertainment. Your gym membership, yoga membership and the drop-in rate on that one CrossFit class can all go under fitness. Look at a few months of statements to get an average for this part, too. That will give you a more accurate picture of your finances. Step 2: Set Your Financial Goals If you’re going to succeed at this budgeting game, you need to have an idea of what you’re hoping to accomplish. It can be a simple short-term savings goal like funding a vacation with your college besties. Or a long-term one, like learning to budget so your kid can go to college without student loan debt. And don’t forget about funding your retirement savings goal. Set a goal, and make it a motivating one — your financial plan could be the only thing that stops you from swiping your debit card to buy yet another pair of shoes this weekend. Next, get your priorities in order — literally. Write them down in order from most to least important to get an idea of where you want your money to go. You might not get your priorities right the first time, and that’s ok. It’s challenging to choose one option over another, and if the first list doesn’t work well, you can always rework it. Work to find a balance between “fun” and “responsible” spending. Pro Tip If you see any areas where your spending is out of line with your goals, now’s the time to fix it by outlining a new budget that directs more of your income to your top priorities. I take it a step further and mix my financial goals with my personal ones. For example, I tend to overspend on restaurant meals. But budgeting less for eating out means I cook more healthy meals at home, so I save while staying on track to accomplish my weight loss goals, too. Then, I can use the money I save to build up my emergency fund or pay down debt a bit faster and continue toward my goal of becoming debt-free. Step 3: Find Your Favorite Budgeting Method Once you have a complete picture of your finances, it’s time to pick the budgeting method that works best for you. The one you choose will depend on how much time and energy you have to devote to it. If you feel comfortable creating an old-fashioned budget worksheet in Excel, you can do that. We’ve got a few super simple ideas you can try if charts make your eyes glaze over. But even after you’ve picked your favorite budgeting method, don’t be afraid to bend it a little to fit your financial situation. Bare-Bones Budget You don’t have to spend several hours each month working on a budget. The easiest way to budget is to grab a pen and paper and simply write down how much you make and how much you need to spend on the essentials — like housing, utilities, food and debt repayment. You save the rest. Pro Tip When you make a budget, keeping it on a sheet of paper somewhere visible to you will remind you to rein in your spending. That’s it. You’re done. Need a little more motivation than a blank sheet of paper? Here are five ideas for creating a bullet journal budget. Zero-Based Budget The zero-based budget takes the bare-bones budget one step further. The goal here is to get to zero at the end of each month. It helps you account for each dollar on the way. Write down how much you make, and divide it to cover all your bills, savings and discretionary spending until you hit $0 at the end of the month. Although this plan encourages you to get down to nothing, the idea isn’t to spend without regard; it’s to make sure every dollar goes exactly where you intend for it to go every month. 50/20/30 Budget This takes all the guesswork out of deciding which expenses should stay in your budget and which ones need to go. With the 50/20/30 plan, 50% of your money goes to essential expenses like housing, utilities and your car payment. From there, 20% will go to financial goals like savings and investments. The final 30% is yours to spend [...]
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Travel for Only $1: How to Score the Cheapest Fares on BoltBus and Megabus

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Travel for Only $1: How to Score the Cheapest Fares on BoltBus and Megabus
If you live in a major city, you’ve likely heard of BoltBus and Megabus, as well as their rock-bottom $1 bus tickets.  Both companies make money by charging more for premium schedules, meaning you can score a deal on seats they are trying to fill during off-peak times. How to Get $1 Bus Tickets But how do you get your hands on one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-them bargain fares? Follow these tips to grab the lowest-priced tickets.  1. Pick Your Route Before you start saving, make sure these carriers take you where you want to go. Megabus offers stops in 34 U.S. states. It also offers a route between Toronto and Montreal in Canada.  BoltBus has routes along the East Coast and West Coast. On the East Coast, it stops in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  Its West Coast routes include stops in Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. 2. Book Your Ticket as Early as Possible To get the best chance at the cheapest fares, book your seats as far in advance as possible. If you can book months in advance, you’ll have a better shot at snagging a $1 ticket than if you wait until a few days before your trip. Each scheduled trip will offer at least one $1 fare, according to the BoltBus FAQ. This unicorn of a deal is “generally within the first handful of seats sold. The earlier you book your ticket, the greater your odds are of grabbing a seat for a buck.” Pro Tip If you're not sure exactly when you'd like to travel, sometimes it makes sense to get a deeply discounted ticket just in case — and if you don’t wind up traveling, you’re only out a buck. Be at the front of the line for Megabus, too. The company only gives $1 fares to “the first or initial customers that purchase a ticket for that trip,” according to its terms and conditions As seats fill up, prices increase. Even if you don’t get a $1 fare, booking early can help you snag a $5 seat, which is still a steal. 3. Time Your Trip Right Since routes offer only a few $1 fares, you’re more likely to score a cheap ticket if you can be flexible with your travel dates. Skip Friday and Sunday travel, as well as holidays and busy weekend times, to get the best deal.  The popularity of the route also goes into the pricing equation, as Megabus notes in its terms. While these routes still might only have a single $1 fare, less-popular trips may well have other low-priced tickets. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 7:38 PM What to buy (and not buy) from Fourth of July Sales 2019 6/27/19 @ 1:00 PM M Airfare 6/24/19 @ 5:19 PM SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 1:31 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 4. Look for Special Offers  From time to time, both companies run special offers and promotions. Following them on social media is a great way to stay on top of these deals and jump on newly announced trips.  You can also search for promo codes online on sites like RetailMeNot and WanderU, a bus and train travel site.  5. Sign Up for Bolt Rewards BoltBus offers a frequent rider program called Bolt Rewards.  The deal is very simple: Travel eight times on BoltBus trips that you pay more than $1 for and your ninth one-way fare is free. It doesn’t matter how long the routes are — just travel eight times and your ninth ride is on them. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 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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Allowance Not Going Well? 3 Ways to Turn Your Kid Allowance System Around

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

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Give Your Kids the Gift of a Good Credit Score by Adding Them to Your Card
Teaching your kids how to fail is one of those underrated parenting skills. By making mistakes in a controlled, safe environment, kids can learn coping skills before they incur real-world consequences. That’s particularly true when it comes to teaching kids about finance. Those lessons can have an important impact on your child’s future. A Penny Hoarder survey found that one-third of adult respondents did not grow up discussing basic personal finance topics, such as credit scores or debt. The result? For those with no early financial literacy, 40% had no savings at all, compared to 17% for the group that did discuss finances. One important lesson that you can teach your kids is how to use credit responsibly — before they get credit cards of their own.  Wondering if you should get your pride and joy a credit card? Here’s why and how to do it so they can learn how to handle credit responsibly. Should Your Kid Get a Credit Card? Although it might not seem like a priority, getting your child a credit card helps them build credit history. Pro Tip You can help protect your child’s credit score from identity theft by checking their score periodically, or at least by the time they turn 15, when the score may become more relevant. Credit history makes up 15% of your credit score, which will become important to your kids in the future if they want to finance a car, buy a house or possibly even get a job. And unlike other factors — like credit utilization or credit mix— there’s no way to improve your credit history other than with time.  But simply allowing your child to sign up for a credit card presents two problems:  They may not be ready for the responsibility of handling credit and could end up thousands of dollars in debt, thus wrecking the credit score you wanted them to build. They probably can’t qualify for a card … because they don’t have a credit history. That’s where you come in. You can cosign on your child’s credit card or even consider adding your child to your credit card to build credit. Which one should you choose? Should You Be a Cosigner or Make Your Child an Authorized User? Choosing between becoming a cosigner or making your child an authorized user starts with their age — you cannot apply for a credit card until you’re at least 18 years old, so that’s the earliest age you could be their cosigner. But becoming a cosigner on your older teen’s credit card makes you legally responsible for the debt if they miss a payment, according to Todd Christensen, an Accredited Financial Counselor and education manager with MoneyFit.org.  “The problem is, cosigners are not usually 100% involved in the billing process — they do not see, typically, the monthly bill,” he said. “So often, a cosigner will be contacted six to 12 months after a payment is missed, and then be requested to make all the back payments plus fees, and this is in the meantime hurting their credit.” Pro Tip The CARD Act of 2009 made it more difficult for people under 21 to get a credit card. However, there are plenty of cards that are marketed specifically to college students who can prove they can pay. Adding your child as an authorized user means they aren’t receiving the privileges (or reward points) of having their own card — they’re essentially just carrying your card. For most issuers, an authorized user doesn’t even get a separate credit card number. That also means your kids are depending on your credit history to build theirs. If your payment record isn’t so great or you have concerns about your ability to keep up with your credit card balance, you way want to consider the cosigner option when your kids get older. But if you’re ready to teach your kids by showing them what a responsible card holder looks like (that’s you), adding them as an authorized user is the better choice. Here’s why. Adding Your Child to Your Credit Card to Build Credit  By adding your child as an authorized user on your card, they can learn to handle a credit card in a low-risk way.  “It’s a great opportunity to build credit,” Christensen said. “It doesn’t cost [parents] anything. It doesn’t affect their credit at all.” The minimum age for adding your child to your credit card depends on your credit card company — many have no minimum age requirements at all — and some premium cards charge a fee for adding an authorized user, so check your issuer’s terms and conditions before adding your child. Pro Tip Seven years is typically the amount of time needed to establish a good credit history, so adding a very young child as an authorized user won’t do much to help their score. “I typically recommend it especially in the late teens,” Christensen advised. You can track your child’s spending instantaneously by setting up text alert messages for all credit card transactions or less frequently by checking your account activity daily. Still unsure if you can trust your kid with the plastic? You don’t actually need to tell them they’re getting the card.  “I’ve done that with my own kids,” Christensen said. “I had them as an authorized user on my wife’s and my card for several years, and they never knew it until they turned 18.” FROM THE DEBT FORUM Travel Trailer Debt 6/25/19 @ 5:31 PM Suze Orman says CAR LEASES are always a BAD financial move - do you agree? 4/18/19 @ 3:47 PM debt from a scam/fraud 6/18/19 @ 6:57 PM C credit card trouble again 6/24/19 @ 5:20 PM a See more in Debt or ask a money question Even though his daughter wasn’t aware she was building her credit history, Christensen noted that she ended up reaping the benefits of having that credit history. “When my daughter went to apply for a car loan after she moved out, one of the credit ratings had her in the 700s because she was an authorized user on our accounts,” he said. Additionally, if you’re using the card to teach your older kids about handling credit cards responsibly, by allowing them to be authorized users on your card, they can reap the benefits of building credit — and make a mistake without putting your own score in danger. Pro Tip As long as your child uses the card responsibly, don’t remove them as an authorized user until they get their own credit card and have had a few years to build that credit history. “If their credit goes south, it should not make it onto [your] credit rating,” Christensen said. “But even if it did, a simple dispute online will have it removed.” Ready to give your kids the chance to learn but aren’t sure where to start? Check out The Penny Hoarder Academy’s Credit Cards 101 course and this post on how to use a credit card as guides for teaching them about using credit in a responsible way. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln. 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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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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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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Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer

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Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer
If you have a little one that loves Play-Doh, grab this deal for even more fun! You can get the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer for only $11.19. You will be saving 34% on this purchase because it is normally $16.99. Be sure that you grab this deal soon because the prices can change ... Read More about Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer The post Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Spinning Treats Mixer appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Free Summer Reading Programs 2019

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Free Summer Reading Programs 2019
If you’re looking for summer reading programs for kids, this is our comprehensive list of all the completely FREE programs! {Looking for other fun summer deals? Kids can bowl for free and skate for free at many participating locations this summer! And don’t forget to stop by Sonic after 8 p.m. for half-price ice cream shakes!} Believe it or not, it’s almost that time of year again — when school is out and summer reading programs abound. Yay! (Well, some of you might not be saying “yay!”, but we do because my kids LOVE them some summer reading programs!) Free Summer Reading Programs 2019 Do your kids love to read, too? If so, this is our big list of all the FREE summer reading programs that are available nationally! Amazon — Kids who read any eight books this summer can bring their list of books read to the nearest Amazon Retail Store to receive a Star Reader Certificate and their choice of a free book. Audiobook Sync — SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads per week for teens 13+. Sign up to get notifications when the free audiobook downloads are available. Barnes & Noble — Earn a free book through the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program for kids in grades 1-6. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español ). Tell them which part of the book is your favorite, and why. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between August 1st and August 31st, 2019. Choose your free book from the books listed on the back of the reading journal. Books-A-Million — Read any four books from the Summer Reading Adventure section in-store or online and receive a free drawstring backpack (while supplies last). Half Price Books — Kids 14 or younger can read 15 minutes per day to reach a total of at least 300 minutes. After that, they can take their completed reading log to their local store to earn Bookworm Bucks before August 29th. (In addition, they have a summer reading program for teens.) Lifeway Stores –– Read six books over the course of the summer and memorize six Scripture verses. Then, complete your journal and the online form to redeem your prizes (Choose from one of nine books, plus receive a free Bible, while supplies last). This program is geared toward grades 1 through 6 and even toddlers, ages 1 to 5. However, all are welcome to join in the adventure! Scholastic — Kids can enter their summer reading minutes online to unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content. Showcase Cinemas — Bookworm Wednesdays entitles kids to free admission to a select children’s film when they present a book report at a participating Cinema de Lux, Showcase, or Multiplex Cinemas box office. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six years of age receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report. Local Libraries — Above all, don’t forget about your local library! Most of them offer fun summer reading programs with prizes and more. Psst! Don’t forget about the Pizza Hut Book-It Program that runs each school year! Do you know of any other Summer Reading Programs we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments! [...]
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2019 Goals: July Update

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2019 Goals: July Update
Did you set goals for 2019? Here’s an update on how I did on my 2019 goals in June. It’s August 5, 2019. And it’s time to check in on our goals! How are you doing on the goals you set for 2019? I spent some time today reviewing July and reflecting on the blessings of the past month and the lessons I learned. I also looked at my goals and how I was doing in each area. (If you missed My Goals for 2019 post, read it here.) In order to keep myself accountable (and because I know some of you really enjoy these posts) I’m sharing a goals update post at the beginning of each month. I hope that this will not only motivate me to be focused and intentional this year, but I hope it might also inspire you in the goals you set for 2019. So here’s my goals update for July 2019: Personal Goals 1. Read 40 books I already own. (I’m using GoodReads to track my reading this year!) Update: I finished 6 books in July — and three of them were from my list of books I already own and wanted to read this year. Look for a Book Update in the next week! 2. Slowly read through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible reading plans. Update: I finished 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, and James 3. Listen to 2 audiobooks per month. (I use the Libby app to get these for free.) Update: I finished to 3 audiobooks in July. 4. Complete all of the Organize in 5 Diary tasks to get our home more organized and set up better organizational systems. (Psst! Did you get yours? It’s just $9 right now.) Update: I have been keeping up with this. (You can see two posts I did on some of my organizing projects in January and February: Cleaning Out the Cookbooks & Organizing My Purse & Bathroom.) 5. Stay offline for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. (I share more about why I chose this goal here.) Update: I did a pretty good job of this in July. 6. Leave my phone in the basement every night. (I talk more about what inspired me to make this goal here.) Update: So, honesty here: Ever since I took email off my phone at the beginning of May, I haven’t really felt such a need to not have my phone by my bed and I’ve sort of slipped out of this habit. But I want to get back to it and hope to start this in August. 7. Go to bed before 10:30 p.m. 5 days per week. (I’m using this little spreadsheet I made to track most of my personal goals) Update: I did a much better job of this in July — yay! Marriage Goal 8. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids. Update: We went on an incredibly fun trip to Destin, FL! Jesse and I drove by ourselves to FL and then we met up with two other couples there. We stayed in an AirBNB and split the cost three ways. Since it was off season, it made for a very inexpensive trip and we had the BEST time! Motherhood Goal 9. One-on-one time with each child at least 3 times per week. (I am planning to dedicate 40 minutes per child after dinner each evening at least three nights per week to hang out and spend time with each child individually.) Update: I did a pretty good job of this in July. Family Goal 10. Take the kids to at least two continents and 4 states we haven’t traveled to. (We’re hoping to travel to Europe in the summer and South America at some other point during the year.) Update: We went to Iceland (Europe) in June and also to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to cross another continent off our list this year… I’m still hoping to find a really good deal on flights/travel, but we’ll see. Financial Goals 11. Pay cash to redo our room and renovate our bathroom (we have to pull out the shower and put in a new one because it was installed incorrectly and is leaking and ruining the floor/wall and we want to do a few renovations while we’re at it + we want to finally decorate our room — we left it really bare when we moved in and decided to wait to prioritize it in the budget). Update: We finished the bathroom renovation at the end of July! We still need to work on our room. 12. Pay cash to paint the walls in the main floor of our home. 13. Fully fund our Emergency Fund. Update: This is DONE! YAY! Business Goals 14. Redo/set up a much more intentional customer acquisition experience for all three of our email newsletters. Update: We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes working on this and made some good progress in July. 15. Finish launching the rest of our beginner Your Blogging University courses. (If you want to start a blog, be sure to check out my other site, Your Blogging Mentor.) Update: I’m working on my next course, Monetize Your Blog, and it’s going to be a bigger/more comprehensive course than I’ve ever done but I’m continuing to make good progress. (Some of the bloggers from my Mastermind group got together for a one day event in July! It was such an amazing day!) 16. Launch a Blog Coaching/Accountability Group membership. (I’ll be opening this up to a very limited number of people in January of 2019. Stay tuned!) Update: We opened this up to new members in April and I’m just loving leading this! Interested in being the first to find out when we open up to new members again? Be sure to join the waitlist! How are YOU doing on your goals for 2019? I’d love to hear about your successes and struggles. Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Here’s a Less Expensive Alternative to the Beach for Summer

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Here’s a Less Expensive Alternative to the Beach for Summer
Here in Florida, we’ve got more than a few options for quick, inexpensive trips to waterfront destinations (seriously — you’re almost never more than an hour or two from a beach). But while we love a good beach trip, the real hidden gems of Florida are the natural springs that dot the landscape from the panhandle down through the center of the state. If you’re headed to Florida, consider putting the springs — any springs — on your “must-see” list. If you’re not headed to Florida anytime soon, there’s probably a great water feature (a lake, a river or even a natural spring) near you that would make for a fun, inexpensive weekend getaway. Not convinced? Last year, three of us Penny Hoarders took an overnight trip to a natural spring located near Gainesville, Florida — about a two-hour drive north from The Penny Hoarder offices in St. Petersburg. The grand total? $137.57. Split three ways, that means we each got to take an exciting (and we even managed to make it relaxing!) overnight adventure for just $45. Want to take a waterfront (or, well, maybe water-adjacent) vacation of your own on the cheap this summer? Here’s exactly how we did it. How We Prepared Our plan: A 36(ish)-hour road trip to Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park (which was only turned into a state park in 2017 — for the better part of a century, it was privately owned and passed down through a family before being sold to the state). On a Wednesday morning, two of my coworkers and I packed a red SUV with a cooler, two tents, three sleeping bags, two day’s worth of food, a few flashlights, a camp stove and various camping and cooking supplies. Between the three of us, we already had the tents, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, cooler and flashlights. We borrowed the camping stove from a friend and picked up a small tank of propane for it (a 2-pack for $6.24 at Walmart). Additionally, we bought a can of bug spray and a citronella candle to keep the infamous Florida mosquitoes at bay ($5.89 and $5.29 at Target, respectively). We also bought food for the four meals we’d be eating on our trip, but we’ll come back to that. Total so far: $17.42 How We Got There Road trip! With its mild weather, flat, seemingly unending landscapes and straight-shot interstates, Florida makes road trips an easy decision. We were driving from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, located just north of Gainesville — a 168-mile drive. We budgeted $60 for gas, and while the round trip itself only cost us about $47, we did quite a bit of driving around town while we were there, so our estimate was pretty accurate. If you’re renting a car to take a day trip to break up a Disney World vacation or are traveling from out of state, your transportation costs might be higher. But that’s all the more reason to find a natural hot or cold spring, lake or river in your state that would allow for a quick day or overnight trip from your own home. Total so far: $77.42 Where We Stayed After checking out the park’s onsite campground, a couple of motels in the area and a few listings on Airbnb, we opted for an Airbnb campground facility. Affectionately dubbed Bowman’s Landing, the sprawling 12.5-acre wooded property on the banks of the Santa Fe consists of a main house, several standalone “tiny” cabins and a handful of primitive tent camping sites, one of which has a six-person tent already set up for those who don’t own one or want to buy one on their way in. We chose the primitive tent camping sites and paid $15 per person per night for a total of $45, but we were able to use two tent sites. A night in one of the five rustic mini cabins (these sleep between two and five people — the layouts vary) will cost you between $55 and $62, depending on which you choose. A night in the main house will run you $135, but it sleeps eight people — so if you’re splitting the cost with a group, it’s not a bad option at $16.88 per head. The overnight campsite rental also comes with access to kayaks and canoes for puttering around the riverfront, free firewood for your campfire and the option to pay an additional $15 per person for a personal river cruise and tour. We opted for the Airbnb listing for the chance to see a bit more of the Santa Fe river and surrounding areas, but we could have stayed onsite at Gilchrist Blue Springs for just $18 total for a tent or RV camping spot (which accommodates up to eight people and at least a couple of tents). Total so far: $122.42 What We Ate We ate as cheaply as we could, and ended up spending just $15 on food for the entire trip. We each ate breakfast before leaving home in the morning, so we needed food for lunch and dinner, and then breakfast and lunch the next day. We picked up a loaf of bread ($2.39), a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly ($2.29 and $2.09), a box of pasta and a jar of sauce (99 cents and $1.89) and protein muffins (homemade, but we estimated $2.50 to make). We also stopped for coffee at a gas station before our morning swim, which added $3 to our total. All in all, we paid about $15.15 for food for three people eating four meals. Total so far: $137.57 What We Did There are a surprising amount of fun things to do at and around Gilchrist Blue Springs — and around most Florida springs parks — despite their often remote locations. It costs $6 per vehicle or $2 per person (pedestrians and cyclists) to enter Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park with a day pass — a pretty significant difference from the $10 a head the park charged when it was privately owned. (The park attendant on duty when we arrived early that morning gave us free entry — otherwise, our final trip total would have come out to $143.57.) Once you’re inside the gates, how you spend your day is (largely, anyways) up to you! There’s a rental station inside the park (other springs parks have similar services) that offers inner tube, canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, as well as the option to purchase a mask and snorkel. Pricing varies from $45 for an all-day canoe rental to $7 for an all-day inner tube rental, while a mask and snorkel set will cost you $20. You’re also welcome to bring your own boogie board, inner tube (you can purchase inner tubes and other pool floats at most dollar stores) and mask-and-snorkel sets. You can bring your own canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board, too, but if you want to catch the shuttle up or down river, you’ll still have to pay the shuttle fee. We opted to stick to masks and snorkels (which we brought with us), so we could take in everything below the surface and explore freely without worrying about keeping track of a tube or boat. In the main pool, a diving platform situated over the spring head lends itself to hours (and hours) of fun, with a constant line of people waiting their turn to jump off it into the chilly water below. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 9:31 AM Savings tips I implemented while traveling 5/30/19 @ 10:57 AM Over Couponing 4/15/19 @ 12:43 PM B Saving on Hair Salon services 5/28/19 @ 12:54 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park also has a network of h [...]
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12 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over and Over

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

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

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Grocery Shopping in Iceland
Want details on grocery shopping in Iceland? We went to Bonus — a discount grocery store — on our trip to Iceland. Here’s a little peek into our shopping trip and what the prices were. You might also like my post: Grocery Shopping in South Africa. Grocery Shopping in Iceland One of the things I heard over and over again as I researched how to save money when visiting Iceland was that the price of food was really high. So we prepared accordingly by bringing an entire suitcase of packaged food with us (you get a free checked bag per person when you fly internationally). This suitcase of packaged food saved us at least $700 to $1000 in food costs while we were in Iceland because we only ate a few meals out (and we went to really inexpensive places). We also booked an apartment instead of a hotel so we could cook our own food. Shopping at Bonus On the first day we got there, we walked to Bonus — a discount grocery store in Iceland. I had heard that this was one of the best and cheapest grocery stores to shop at there. This store was located in a pretty touristy part of Reykjavík and was a smaller store. It kind of reminded me of a mix of Aldi + the Indian grocery stores I went to. They had a lot of American brands — especially when it came to cereal. And there were a lot of things written in English, too, which made it really helpful when shopping! 🙂 One of the coolest features was that all of the refrigerated items were in a big refrigerated room. (You can see a video of it if you look on my highlights on Instagram stories.) Were the Prices Really High? Well, compared to paying for a meal at a restaurant, it was much cheaper to go buy groceries and make your own food. However, compared to what I am used to paying at a discount grocery store (or by combining coupons with sales), most things were at least 2-3 times the price I would typically pay. Here’s what we ended up buying: 1 dozen eggs Loaf bread Head lettuce Bunch of bananas 3 bottles of Coke (the kids get to drink soda pop once a week on Saturdays and we were there on a Saturday, so you better believe they bought their Coke! ;)) 1 large bottle of water (for my sinus rinse) 12-pack of bottled water (you can drink the tap water in Iceland, so we bought these to just refill throughout the week) 1 carton cream (for my tea) Our total was 2,997 ISK — which is around $24 USD. What We’d Do Differently Next Time Around If you ever head to Iceland, I highly recommend bringing a lot of your own snacks and food. I also would recommend shopping at Bonus. We brought trail mix, nuts, dried fruit and veggies, granola bars, beef jerky, and some protein bites and bars. So we had toast and eggs and bananas for two of our meals and I made salads with the lettuce and topped with a little trail mix and beef jerky. And we ate a lot of jerky and trail mix and dried fruit for snack-y meals. If we did it again, we would definitely bring oatmeal packets and a few other types of things that we can add hot water to in order to make hot food. The kids got pretty tired of cold packaged food after two days! 🙂 [...]
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5 Reasons You Should Not Delay Retirement

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

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

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A Peek Into Our Week (+ Sprouts & Kroger Shopping Trips)
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. Well, it was another week of travel and adventures — so I didn’t track what we ate in order to share in a post. But I did make it to Kroger twice and Sprouts once and got some great deals. I thought it would be fun to share a little peek into our week + what I bought at the grocery store. For Father’s Day, Jesse wanted to try out this new brunch restaurant in town. It was delicious and we had fun celebrating this man we love so much! We also ran by Kroger and Sprouts to pick up some deals. Sprouts was having their weekend deals and I didn’t want to miss them. Sprouts Shopping Trip Sweet corn — 6 for $1 (weekend deal) 3 dozen cage free eggs — $1.88 per dozen (weekend deal) 1 Coconut Bliss “ice cream” — used free coupon (I got the Peanut Butter Chocolate and it is good!) — I forgot to take this out of the freezer to put in the photo! Total with tax: $7.49 I also wanted to get to grab a few of the Kroger Buy 5, Get $5 off deals on Sunday since I knew I was going to be out of town for the next few days. I especially wanted to get 5 boxes of the $0.99 Quaker Granola bars. Kroger Shopping Trip #1 5 boxes of Quaker Granola Bars — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 2 bags Jef Puffed Marshmallows — marked down to $0.69 each (I’m going to stick these in the freezer for rice krispy treats.) 3 packages of Hillshire Sausage — $1.88 each with weekend deal Private Selection Barbecue Sauce — used free coupon (no longer available) 1 bag Kroger Pot Roast — marked down to $5.49 5 bags of produce — marked down to $0.99 per bag 2 packages of ground turkey — marked down to $2.69 each Izzio Multigrain Bread — marked down to $1.29 Spinach — marked down to $1.79 5 packages of Goldfish — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items Kroger Private Selection ice cream (not pictured — I forgot to take it out of the freezer for the picture!) — used free coupon (no longer available) Milk — $2.69 Kroger oatmeal — $1.59, used $0.40/1 coupon Kroger mailed to me = $1.09 Total with tax: $42.12 I left on Monday morning to fly to Dallas for my mom to have surgery. My Time in Kansas I rode back to Wichita, KS with my parents on Monday evening after my mom’s surgery and I stayed with them through Wednesday evening. I got to hang out with my mom and help take care of her during the day while my dad went to work. In addition to getting to spend lots of time talking with her, I helped a little with my brother’s eBay business (my Mom and sister are running the business for him while he’s away serving as a counselor at the Wild’s camp in NC), and make yummy food for my mom and me (she’s the one who first inspired me to love salads so much!) Kaitlynn’s Birthday I flew back to TN on Wednesday night — just in time to celebrate Kaitlynn’s birthday on Thursday! Can you believe she is 12? I wrote a letter to her here that shares some of my thoughts on her life and the joy and spark she brings to us. I always take each child out on a birthday date of their choosing. Kaitlynn chose to go to a place that makes rolled ice cream and Bubble Milk Tea. It was my first time to have both of them and we had such a fun outing together! Our Trip to Iceland As many of you know, it’s our family goal to visit all 7 continents and 50 states by the time Kathrynne turns 18. We had planned to visit Europe this summer but prices to places like London and Rome are crazy during June and July. However, I found some cheap tickets to Iceland and jumped on them! So we packed up on Friday morning to head to Iceland… but not before hitting the Friday-Saturday Kroger deals (I couldn’t pass up $0.99 cheese!) Kroger Shopping Trip #2 4 bags of Kettle chips, 1 bag of Snyder’s pretzel’s — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 5 packages of Kroger cheese — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 5 bottles of Pace salsa — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 1 package bacon — $2.99 with Friday-Saturday deals Total with tax: $18.96 Grocery Totals: $68.75 Cashback Earned: 375 points back from Fetch, $0.06 from CoinOut, Want to follow along with our Iceland trip and get tips for how we are doing it on a budget? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram this week! [...]
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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact

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70% of Older Adults Don’t Know This Key Social Security Fact
Millions of Americans depend on Social Security as the financial foundation of their retirement. Yet, nearly 70% percent of older people cannot correctly identify the age at which they are eligible for full retirement benefits. That finding — courtesy of a recent survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute — has profound implications for how well people will live in retirement. [...]
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Got Credit Card Debt? Paying Biweekly Could Save You Hundreds on Interest

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Got Credit Card Debt? Paying Biweekly Could Save You Hundreds on Interest
It happens every month: The credit card bill is due. You dutifully send your minimum payment on the due date — but watch the balance grow ever larger. But what if you could pay half that amount every two weeks instead of one payment every month? More payments, you say? Thanks, I’ll pass. But what if the new payment schedule could save you hundreds of dollars? Biweekly payments are a simple way to reduce your balance and the amount you pay in interest. Here’s what you need to know. How Do Biweekly Payments Work? You may have already heard of — or received offers for — biweekly payment plans for debts like your mortgage. Here’s how one works: Let’s say your monthly payment for a debt is $500. If you pay that amount each month, you’ll make 12 payments each year for a total of $6,000. If you make biweekly payments, you pay $250 every two weeks. But because there are 52 weeks in a calendar year (thanks to that wacky Gregorian), you’ll make 26 half payments or 13 full payments each year, for a total of $6,500. That reduces your principal by $500 in one year and thus reduces the amount of interest you’ll pay on the remaining balance. Depending on how much you owe and how your debt is structured, you could shave months or years off of a payment plan. An amortization schedule is a table listing regular payments for the life of a loan. Each amount includes a little more toward principal and a little less toward interest as your balance goes down. You can check out your loan’s amortization schedule and online biweekly payment calculators to see just how much you’ll save by paying off principal early. How to Decide if a Biweekly Payment Plan Is Worth It There are three questions to ask about your debt before switching to a biweekly payment plan, according to Brian Walsh, Certified Financial Planner and manager of financial planning at SoFi, a personal finance company: 1. What is the interest rate on the debt? Before you start planning out a new payment schedule, you should first know if it’s worth your effort. That starts with knowing how much interest you’re being charged on a debt. “We consider good debt as anything with an interest rate below 7% and bad debt, anything with an interest rate above 7%,” Walsh said. Rather than paying off  “good debt” early, you can often put your money to better use by investing in IRAs, 401(k)s and other accounts that offer a higher interest rate than the one you’re paying. Pro Tip Considering biweekly payments for a student loan? Current interest rates on direct federal loans for undergraduates is 5.05%, while Direct PLUS Loans for parents or graduate students is 7.6%. So if you have a mortgage charging 5% interest and an IRA earning 8%, you’ll make more money in the long term by continuing with your current monthly debt payment plan and putting that extra money toward your IRA. But if you have an auto loan charging 9% interest, you should consider a biweekly payment plan to pay down that debt faster. 2.  Are there any prepayment penalties associated with the debt? Before starting a biweekly payment plan, review loan contracts to be sure it doesn’t include a prepayment penalty. If it does, you’ll be charged extra for paying off a loan or a large portion in a single payment, which could offset any benefits you reap in interest savings. 3. Can you apply the extra payments toward principal? This question typically requires you to simply tell your lender — via phone, email or letter — that you want extra payments applied toward your principal amount, not the interest. That allows you to pay down the debt faster and avoid paying extra in interest. When it comes to meeting all three criteria, there’s typically one debt that’s a clear winner, according to Walsh. “Whenever we come across credit cards, to me, that’s a no brainer,” Walsh said. “People should be setting up biweekly and more frequent payments when it comes to a credit card.” Why You Should Set Up Biweekly Credit Card Payments If there’s ever a chance you’ll carry over a balance from month to month on your credit card, biweekly payments can save you hundreds in interest, according to Walsh. A grace period is the time between when a statement closes and the due date. The 2009 Credit Card Act requires that if a credit card company offers a grace period, it must last at least 21 days. The problem with credit card debt is that unless you pay off the full balance every month, you lose the grace period credit cards typically offer and start accruing interest on a daily basis. By making biweekly payments, you’ll not only knock out more of the balance, you’ll avoid accruing additional interest in those 14 days between payments. Why Biweekly Mortgage Payments May Not Be Worth It So credit card biweekly payments may sound all well and good, but what about knocking out most people’s biggest debt, the mortgage? Not so fast, say the experts. Using a biweekly payment plan to pay down your mortgage typically isn’t the best financial decision, according to Jason B. Ball, a certified financial planner with Ball Comprehensive Planning in West Linn, Oregon. To illustrate this, Ball offered a scenario using the example of a house purchased for $300,000 with a down payment of $50,000 and an interest rate of 4.2%:   Traditional Monthly Payment Biweekly Payment Payment Amount $1,256.97 $628.49 Total Interest Paid $182,510.84 $153,169.81 Pay-off Date 30 years 25 years, 8 months Here’s how much you can expect to save by making a biweekly payment as opposed to a traditional monthly payment: Interest: $29,341.03 Time: 4 years, 4 months “In our example, it looks to save about four years,” he wrote in an email. “It is also interesting to note that most people do not live in their home that long. The typical buyer could be expected to stay in a single-family home roughly 12 years before moving out.” Yes, you’d save on interest (although not as much if you move out before you finish paying off the mortgage), but Ball notes that at 4.2%, you could put your extra payments to better use by investing that money in higher yielding investments like a 401(k). And although it might make you feel better about not having a mortgage hanging over your head (and there are other benefits to paying off your mortgage early), there’s a good chance a paid-off house won’t help you out that much financially even if you do decide to stay there when you retire. “If you put all your money into your mortgage, you may be house rich at retirement, but you need to look at how you will turn that asset into a monthly paycheck at retirement,” Ball wrote. “Typically, pre-paying the mortgage yields a lower probability of retirement success than other options.”   FROM THE DEBT FORUM What is the best way to consolidate my credit cards into one payment 6/5/19 @ 7:03 PM My townhome is just a money pit 6/4/19 @ 4:48 PM Senior Couple drowning in debt 1/22/19 @ 9:44 AM B Great Student Loan payoff apps. 5/8/19 @ 4:44 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question Should You DIY Biweekly Payments? So you’ve weighed the pros and cons, and you’re ready to put yourself on a biweekly payment plan. Now what [...]
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5 Hidden Features of 401(k) Plans That You Should Know About

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5 Hidden Features of 401(k) Plans That You Should Know About
When it comes to 401(k) plans, you may be missing out on benefits that you don’t know about. Your 401(k) plan doesn’t have to offer all the tax-savings provisions that the IRS allows for 401(k) plans. So, not all plans have every possible 401(k) feature, which means there are features you might not realize exist. The only way to find out what options your 401(k) offers is to ask your... [...]
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2019 Goals: June update

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2019 Goals: June update
Did you set goals for 2019? Here’s an update on how I did on my 2019 goals in June.  It’s July 6, 2019. And it’s time to check in on our goals! How are you doing on the goals you set for 2019? I spent some time today reviewing June and reflecting on the blessings of the past month and the lessons I learned. I also looked at my goals and how I was doing in each area. (If you missed My Goals for 2019 post, read it here.) In order to keep myself accountable (and because I know some of you really enjoy these posts) I’m sharing a goals update post at the beginning of each month. I hope that this will not only motivate me to be focused and intentional this year, but I hope it might also inspire you in the goals you set for 2019. So here’s my goals update for June 2019: Personal Goals 1. Read 40 books I already own. (I’m using GoodReads to track my reading this year!) Update: I finished 6 books in June — and one of them was from my list of books I already own and wanted to read this year. Look for a Book Update in the next week! 2. Slowly read through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible reading plans at the beginning of each chapter. Update: I finished Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians in June. 3. Listen to 2 audiobooks per month. (I use the Libby app to get these for free.) Update: I finished to 2 audiobooks in June. 4. Complete all of the Organize in 5 Diary tasks to get our home more organized and set up better organizational systems. (Psst! Did you get yours? It’s just $9 right now.) Update: I have been keeping up with this. (You can see two posts I did on some of my organizing projects in January and February: Cleaning Out the Cookbooks & Organizing My Purse & Bathroom.) 5. Stay offline for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. (I share more about why I chose this goal here.) Update: I did a pretty good job of this in June. 6. Leave my phone in the basement every night. (I talk more about what inspired me to make this goal here.) Update: So, honesty here: Ever since I took email off my phone at the beginning of May, I haven’t really felt such a need to not have my phone by my bed and I’ve sort of slipped out of this habit. But I want to get back to it! 7. Go to bed before 10:30 p.m. 5 days per week. (I’m using this little spreadsheet I made to track most of my personal goals) Update: I bombed this goal in June. But we traveled a lot and were in different time zones + it’s summer, so I’m not beating myself up over it. But I do want to get back to this in July! Marriage Goal 8. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids. Update: We went on an incredibly fun trip to Destin, FL! Jesse and I drove by ourselves to FL and then we met up with two other couples there. We stayed in an AirBNB and split the cost three ways. Since it was off season, it made for a very inexpensive trip and we had the BEST time! Motherhood Goal 9. One-on-one time with each child at least 3 times per week. (I am planning to dedicate 40 minutes per child after dinner each evening at least three nights per week to hang out and spend time with each child individually.) Update: I spent a lot of time with the kids in June because of all of our traveling, but I didn’t spend as much one-on-one time with them. It was a lot of all together family time. I’m looking forward to getting back to this in July. Family Goal 10. Take the kids to at least two continents and 4 states we haven’t traveled to. (We’re hoping to travel to Europe in the summer and South America at some other point during the year.) Update: We went to Iceland (Europe) in June and Utah to meet up with all of my extended family at the very end of June. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to cross another continent off our list this year… I’m still hoping to find a really good deal on flights/travel, but we’ll see. Financial Goals 11. Pay cash to redo our room and renovate our bathroom (we have to pull out the shower and put in a new one because it was installed incorrectly and is leaking and ruining the floor/wall and we want to do a few renovations while we’re at it + we want to finally decorate our room — we left it really bare when we moved in and decided to wait to prioritize it in the budget). Update: We started on the bathroom renovation at the very end of June. 12. Pay cash to paint the walls in the main floor of our home. 13. Fully fund our Emergency Fund. Update: This is DONE! YAY! Business Goals 14. Redo/set up a much more intentional customer acquisition experience for all three of our email newsletters. Update: We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes working on this and made some BIG progress in June. 15. Finish launching the rest of our beginner Your Blogging University courses. (If you want to start a blog, be sure to check out my other site, Your Blogging Mentor.) Update: I’m working on my next course, Monetize Your Blog, and it’s going to be a bigger/more comprehensive course than I’ve ever done but I’m continuing to make good progress. 16. Launch a Blog Coaching/Accountability Group membership. (I’ll be opening this up to a very limited number of people in January of 2019. Stay tuned!) Update: We opened this up to new members in April and I’m just loving leading this! Interested in being the first to find out when we open up to new members again? Be sure to join the waitlist! How are YOU doing on your goals for 2019? I’d love to hear about your successes and struggles. Tell us in the comments! [...]
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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap

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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap
Interested in homeschooling but afraid it might break your family’s budget? Read this post for some really great tips on how to homeschool for free — or very close to free! {Don’t miss our weekly round-up of all the best FREE homeschool curriculum & resources! And you can also check out my Top 10 Favorite Free Homeschool Sites here.} Guest post from Jessica of Where’d My Sanity Go: Yes! It is possible to homeschool for free or cheap! Once you dig into all the homeschool curriculum products available, it can be overwhelming. When you check out the prices on those bad boys, it can get scary. Don’t worry though, there are a lot of ways to give your child a great education at an affordable price. Some of the homeschool lessons and curriculums we use are completely free! So if you’re wondering how to homeschool for free, here are my top tips… Use what you’ve got: Search your home for any books you may have forgotten about. When I started out, I had no idea how I was going to afford all the things I thought I needed. Luckily, my son had a ton of nature and science books already. I used these to build a few of my lessons for him, and we had a set of dictionaries we used for spelling lessons and other subjects. Borrow: If you already know of other homeschool families in your are, ask them if they have any old schoolbooks or homeschooling curriculum books they aren’t using and that you might borrow for a while. If you’re not familiar with any other homeschool families in the area, look on Facebook for local homeschool groups or ask your friends and family, your church, or even your local schools. When I pulled my son out of public school, they were kind enough to give me some information about local homeschool programs. Shop for used books: Check local garage sales, used bookstores, and other local stores for discounted items. Join a few Facebook groups where people are selling their used homeschool books for dirt cheap. I have saved so much money by doing this and hardly ever purchase anything brand new. Before buying anything, I always first search for used homeschool supplies or books. Utilize free homeschool resources There are tons of free online homeschool curriculum options out there. You don’t have to stick with just one either, you can take different lessons from multiple online curriculums to fit your educational outline. A few popular free curriculums: Easy Peasy – All In One Homeschool – 180-day lesson plans for PreK-8th. (this is one of our favorites) Khan Academy – Free online lessons for just about any subject. K12.com – Independent teacher-led courses for homeschoolers. YouTube — there are a ton of educational YouTube channels out there that are perfect for supplementing your homeschool curriculum. You can find different channels that range from preschool to high school subjects. Finding affordable or free homeschool educational materials or curriculum is not as hard as you think! I recommend scouring the internet to find out what’s available. Join local homeschool groups, find local Facebook groups, etc. Several of our local homeschool families often get together for different field trips — many places even offer homeschooling families a discount on tickets! Do you have any other advice on how to homeschool for free? I’d love to hear in the comments! Jessica Fuqua is the owner/editor of Where’d My Sanity Go, where she often writes about family, parenting, and homeschooling. [...]
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The Lowdown on New Tools to Jump-Start Your Credit

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

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My Favorite Cute Summer Tops for Women (all from Amazon!)
Looking for some cute summer tops for women that are inexpensive and durable? Here are 3 of my favorite summer tops from Amazon that I have worn over and over again in the last year! 3 Cute Summer Tops From Amazon As you likely well know, I love finding great clothing deals at great prices on Amazon. And I love sharing those great finds with you all! In today’s post, I want to share 3 summer tops for women I purchased from Amazon and absolutely love! All of these have held up well to multiple washings, are very comfortable, are inexpensively priced, and fit well. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. 1. Amazon Essentials V-Neck T-Shirt These tees come in a two-pack for $18.50 shipped (Less than $10 each shipped!) and they are some of my favorite v-neck tees! They are soft, fit well, but aren’t too tight. You can wear them tucked in or left out. I prefer to tuck them in and wear them with a belt or to do a half tuck. I got the navy/turquoise set (see the two pictures above). This particular set is currently out of stock, but they have a lot of other colors available in this same style and price. 2. Made By Emma Short Sleeve Chambray Shirt I adore this shirt and usually always wear it at least once a week! It’s lightweight, soft, and so comfortable. You can wear it untucked for a casual look, tucked in for a more tailored look, or with a cardigan or jacket. Many of the reviews on Amazon say that it runs small. I have on a small here and that’s the size I usually wear. It’s possible that some of the larger sizes aren’t as true to size. The only drawback of this shirt is that Amazon doesn’t offer free returns on it and it’s $14.97 + $4.99 shipping.   3. WLLW Crew Neck Sleeveless Shirt This is another shirt that I wear almost weekly! And it’s just $15.99 shipped or less (depending upon what size and pattern you choose). It comes in a number of different patterns and colors. One thing I wanted to mention is that some of you have ordered this and some of you said your shirt was a bit darker than mine was and you felt like the material looked different than mine does. The good news? This shirt has free returns, so if you order it and don’t like it, you can easily return it — completely free (Amazon will email you a shipping label to return it). Note: Many of you asked about the shirt I have on underneath this tank. It’s this halter top bralette and I really love it for halter top tanks! How to Search for Clothes on Amazon Be willing to dig. It’s not always easy to find what you’re lo