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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount

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Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount
The astronomy enthusiast in your life would love it if you ordered them a subscription to Astronomy Magazine.  And, best of all, you can do so at discount right now! ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Through 5/24/19 (11: 59 pm EST), you can order a subscription to Astronomy Magazine for just $13.99 per year!  Enter the ... Read More about Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount The post Astronomy Magazine Subscription Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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My Favorite Cute Summer Tops for Women (all from Amazon!)

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

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

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

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

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Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine!
Today only, subscribe to Popular Mechanics Magazine for only $6.99 per year (83% off)! You can order up to 4 years at this price! Just enter coupon code PENNYPINCH Popular Mechanics is a magazine devoted to science and technology. Each issue is packed with informative articles on automotives, home electronics, science, technology, outdoors, world news, ... Read More about Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine! The post Low Price on Subscription to Popular Mechanics Magazine! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

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55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas! (Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!) We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe. I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage. When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them. What to Do With Ripe Bananas I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas! The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, plus some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon. Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!! Breakfasts: Homemade Breakfast Cookies Banana Walnut Oatmeal Fourth of July Toast Healthy Banana Pancakes Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole Pan-Fried Cinnamon Bananas 3-Ingredient Banana Pancakes Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes Breakfast Banana Split Banana Pancakes Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups Healthy No Bake Banana Bread Breakfast Bars Snacks: Chocolate Banana Roll-Ups Banana Coconut Pudding Breakfast Banana Pops Copycat Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas Baked Banana Chips Banana Chocolate Chip Energy Bites Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pops Nutella Banana Crepes Nutella & Banana Sushi Raspberry Banana Frozen Yogurt Popsicles Banana Ice Cream — 10 Different Flavors Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas Breads: Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Gingerbread Banana Bread Honey Cinnamon Banana Bread Scones Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Scones Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Chocolate Banana Muffins Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins Banana Crumb Muffins Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins Whole-Wheat Banana Coconut Muffins Smoothies: Clean Eating Banana-Coconut Smoothie Pick-Me-Up Smoothie Blueberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie Green Monster Spinach Smoothie Cinnamon Roll Smoothie Desserts: Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake No Bake Banana Split Cake 4-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies Double Chocolate Banana Cake Brown Sugar Banana Blondies Whole Wheat Banana Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Banana Fritters with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Chocolate Banana Tart What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments! #groceryTaglineMobile,#groceryMobileHeading,#groceryMobileHeadingSm {display: none;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_background.jpg) right bottom no-repeat; background-size: cover; margin: 30px auto; position: relative; font-family: "Open Sans", Helvetica, sans-serif;}#groceryImage { position: absolute; top: 0; left: -20px; width: 290px; height: 250px; background: url(https://img.moneysavingmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/5days_ebook.png) no-repeat; background-size: contain;}#groceryWordingWrap { position: absolute; top: 20px; left: 0; width: 100%; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding-left: 255px; padding-right: 20px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px; font-weight: 300; line-height: 1; letter-spacing: -2px; color: #4d841e; margin-bottom: 9px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 18px; color: #444; letter-spacing: -.5px; line-height: 1.3;}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 60px; bottom: 0; left: 0; box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; padding: 15px; background: rgba(220, 220, 220, .5);}#groceryBudgetSignUp form { text-align: center;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input { width: 34%; float: left; border-radius: 0;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="text"] { padding: 6px 10px; text-align: center; margin: 0 1.5% 0 0 !important; font-style: italic;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"] { background: #61a328; color: #fff; font-weight: bold; text-transform: uppercase; border: none; padding: 6px 10px; font-size: 12px; float: right; width: 29%; position: relative; bottom: -1px; cursor: pointer; transition: all .3s ease;}#groceryBudgetSignUp input[type="button"]:hover { background: #4d841e;}@media screen and (max-width: 1020px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 230px;}#groceryImage { width: 250px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 232px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 28px;}#groceryTagline { font-size: 15px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {#groceryImage { width: 290px;}#groceryWordingWrap { padding-left: 255px;}#groceryHeading { font-size: 36px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 700px) {#groceryHeading { font-size: 30px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {#groceryImage,#groceryWordingWrap { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { display: block; position: absolute; padding: 0 30px; bottom: 65px; text-align: center; letter-spacing: -.5px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.2; color: #444;}#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 275px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 480px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 255px;}}@media screen and (max-width: 400px) {#groceryBudgetSignUp { height: 260px;}#groceryMobileHeading { display: none;}#groceryMobileHeadingSm { display: block;}#groceryTaglineMobile { bottom: 70px;}#groceryTaglineMobile { font-size: 15px;}} Need to overhaul your grocery budget? I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now! function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(){var x=document.getElementsByName('FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114b');for(i=0;i<x.length;i++){x[i].EMAIL.style.display='block'; x[i].action='http://app.feedblitz.com/f/f.Fbz?AddNewUserDirect';}} function FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bs(v){v.submit();}FeedBlitz_534b9b3aef0911e688ea00259077114bi(); Want to take better control of your grocery budget? Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget! This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!) In this eBook, you’ll learn: How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances! New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store! How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come! Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook! Ready to get started? Just use the form above to sign up! medianet_width = "600"; medianet_height = "120"; medianet_crid = "568454786"; medianet_versionId = "3111299"; [...]
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AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mats, 2 pack only $8.38!

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AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mats, 2 pack only $8.38!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Yay! This deal on these popular AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mats is back! Amazon has these AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mats (2 pack) for only $8.38 right now – the lowest price on record! Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, Freebie Shark! [...]
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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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Piggy Banks vs. Banking Apps: Teaching Kids About Money in the Digital Age

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Piggy Banks vs. Banking Apps: Teaching Kids About Money in the Digital Age
When you buy food with a swipe of a card and pay bills with a click of a button, what are your kids learning about money? “It is getting harder and harder to teach our kids about money and finance in the digital world because there’s just not as much opportunity to interact with money,” said Liz Frazier, a New York-based financial planner and author of the upcoming book “Beyond Piggy Banks and Lemonade Stands.” In a world of neat budgeting apps and debit cards for kids, Frazier recommends sticking with the basics — at least initially. Start kids on the three piggy bank system — one for spending, one for saving, one for sharing. Frazier uses simple clear jars so they can see their money grow. Children also learn about money by watching their parents. While swiping a debit card at the store makes sense to you, kids don’t concretely view that transaction as spending money. “As parents, we should try to expose [children] to real money whenever we can,” she said. For those who don’t regularly carry around cash, this is easier said than done. Frazier recommends starting off with smaller purchases like coffee or lunch at a restaurant. Show your kids the bill, help them count out money for payment and ask them to check if they received the correct change. When you aren’t using physical money — like when you use a debit card for groceries or a check for a school fundraiser — treat those moments as opportunities to advance the money conversation. “Start explaining the differences between what payment method you’re using — the debit card, credit card and cash — as you’re using it,” Frazier said. “They’re not going to totally understand everything in the beginning, but you just want to get them comfortable with the product.” Once you feel your child has an understanding of money basics and has had plenty of interaction with physical cash, opening a bank account for your kid can serve as a good transition to working with online tools and digital transactions. Fight the temptation to start an online account from the convenience of home. Visiting a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union is a better learning experience, Frazier said. “Go to the bank together and have the banker explain to your child that you’re opening up an account,” she said. “At this point you can get a debit card and start using it together at the store or getting out money at the ATM. You can also look at the statements every month, or every week if you want to, and walk through what money you put in [and] what you took out.” Opening a savings account is a good opportunity to introduce your kids to the concept of interest — how their money increases when they let their savings sit. Pro Tip When introducing your kids to money management apps, Frazier recommends including them in the research to find one that is established, secure and engaging. Conversations about money lessons for kids should stay positive and focus on useful information. If money stresses you out, do your best not to convey that to your children. Instead focus on the lessons you’ve learned from your financial mistakes. And don’t forget to tell your kids about your success and what goals you have. It’s Never Too Late to Provide Money Lessons for Kids Speaking of financial mistakes, Frazier said exposing your kids to money at an early age allows them to make mistakes when they’re young enough that the consequences aren’t so weighty. Maybe they spend all their money on a trendy gadget that turns out to be a dud, or they give in to an impulse purchase that sets them back from saving for something they really want. The fallback from those choices isn’t as devastating as not having any savings when an emergency pops up as an adult. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Budgeting as a Couple 5/10/19 @ 7:21 PM How to get better coupons 4/30/19 @ 9:41 PM Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 9:58 AM Teacher Budgeting for the Summer 5/22/19 @ 9:18 AM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question If you’ve missed out on teaching your kids about money in kindergarten and now they’re in their teenage years, it isn’t too late to start having personal finance discussions. As a financial planner, Frazier sees the negative consequences that come from people not being taught about money. The Penny Hoarder conducted a financial literacy survey in March and found that adults who didn’t grow up learning about money made less income and had less savings than those who were exposed to financial literacy growing up. Teaching your kids about money is the best gift you can give your children, Frazier said. “They are going to learn it one way or the other so you want them to learn it the right way,” she said. Key Takeaways Give your children experiences with tangible money. Include your kids in conversations about financial decisions. Open a bank account for your kids to transition them to the world of digital finance. Share your personal lessons, successes and goals with your children. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She already talks to her 4-year-old about 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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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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Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee

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

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Paying Off Debt On One Income
Have you struggled with paying off debt — especially if you’re living on one income? These are some great tips and tricks on how to pay off debt in creative ways! {Need more encouragement? Read about finding contentment in the pit of debt, what to do when it feels like you’ll never get out of debt, how to overcome discouragement when you’re in debt, and how to stay motivated when you’re paying off debt.} Guest post from Ali of Meanwhile at Naptime: Debt is a killer. Unfortunately, our family has lots of it. We did a lot of things wrong our first few years of paying off debt… but this past year, we were able to pay off $32,000 (in addition to our mortgage payments), and it feels so good! How we got all that debt… Graduate school! The majority of our debt is student loans. We floundered a bit our first year or two after graduation, making minimum payments and telling ourselves it would all work out somehow. After a year of minimum payments, our debt was even higher as we couldn’t even keep up with the interest. We buckled down, made a plan and wrote up a budget. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt follow these tips to become debt free on a one income! Why We Decided to be a One-Income Family: I want to be a stay at home mom. I had a degree and a job, but once our daughter was born, I knew where I wanted to be. After moving across the country for graduate school, we had no family to watch our baby and childcare costs were so high that it just didn’t make sense for me to work anyway. We are both happy with this decision and we have been able to reach our financial goals on one income and here’s how we did it. How We Paid off $32,000 on ONE Income! If you’re interested in how to pay off debt, here are some of the tactics we used to help pay down our massive sum of debt… 1. We Implemented a Zero-Sum Budget You must have a budget. No way around this one. If you want to pay down your debt you have to tell your money exactly where to go. A zero-sum budget is simple, your income – expenses = 0. If you have any money left over at the end of the month you are not done. You must tell that money where to go. All our leftover money went to our student loans. 2. We Prioritized Our Debt Getting out of debt is our number one financial goal. We wrote down all our money goals — ALL of them. Then we prioritized and dropped those that wouldn’t fit in this year. We placed our student loans at the top. Sometimes when motivation started slipping we had to ask ourselves, would I rather go out to eat or be debt free? With that as our goal, we were able to keep ourselves on track each and every month. 3. We Put Our Entire Tax Return Towards our Debt We didn’t keep any of it — once that money came in, we threw it right at the debt! 4. We Used a Pay Raise to Increase Debt Payments With our budget in place, we knew how much money we spent on things like groceries and utilities. When my husband got a raise, the only numbers that changed were our debt payments and our savings. 5. We Put Any Bonuses Towards Deb Payments Any time we got a bonus at work, we put ALL of it toward our debts. 6. We Canceled Subscriptions When creating our budget, we had to make some sacrifices — subscriptions were one of the first things to go. For instance, I had been getting HGTV magazine for years. It was hard to say goodbye; but now, a year later I don’t miss it at all. Similarly, this year, we’re dropping Netflix to see how much closer we can get to our goal. 7. We Skipped Vacations We decided that we could have fun at home without a vacation. It was a tough decision but we saved hundreds of dollars by skipping the vacation this year. Create a family bucket list full of free or cheap ideas instead of a family vacation this year (see below!) 8. We Found Free Family Events Honestly, this one was one of our favorite “sacrifices”. By looking for free events we got to know our community quite well and saw how much our own city has to offer. Our local radio station has been a great resource for finding free events. We also checked with our local parks department, local schools, and we signed up for a community newsletter. As a result, we’ve been to museums, zoos, and even got a family caricature done for free! Take the time to look for free or cheap events and you won’t be disappointed. 9. We Sold Our Stuff Online Chances are there are plenty of things in your house that you don’t use or even need. Sell them online to make some extra money. We did… and as a result, we were able to refill our emergency fund and free up some cash for more payments! Final Thoughts on Paying Off Debt on a Single Income The hardest part is staying motivated. It’s hard to see your money go to payment after payment. We had to regularly remind ourselves of our desire to be debt free to keep us going. Now looking back, our year of paying off debt was actually a lot of fun — and SO worth it. We made many sacrifices, we followed a strict budget, and we prioritized our debt. We worked hard and found lots of ways to save money too — and as a result, we paid off $32,000 in just ONE year, living on ONE income! I am forever grateful I get to stay home with my babies every day. We’re still working on our debt, and hoping to do EVEN BETTER this year! What are your best tips for how to pay off debt on one income? Ali is a stay-at-home mom to three kids. She is mastering the art frugal living and helps stay at home moms learn how to control their finances while running a home. Read all about mom life and frugal living at Meanwhile at Naptime. [...]
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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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Roth IRA vs. 401(k): A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Retire Someday

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Roth IRA vs. 401(k): A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Retire Someday
When you’re trying to decide between a Roth IRA vs. 401(k), the personal finance gods often have an easy answer for you: Do both, they decree. Well, that’s easy if you’re swimming in so much cash that you can go on a retirement savings binge — yet don’t earn enough to disqualify you from contributing to a Roth IRA. In 2019, someone under age 50 would need to contribute $25,000 to reach the limits for both retirement accounts. Mere chump change, right? We get it: Most of us don’t have the resources to max out both a Roth IRA and a 401(k). So when you decide how to allocate your retirement dollars, you have to make tough choices. What Is a Roth IRA? A Roth IRA is a type of individual retirement account. That means you, Dear Reader, as an individual, open the account — whether it’s a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA — and decide how to allocate your investments. What makes a Roth IRA unique compared with traditional IRAs and most 401(k)s is that you fund it with money you’ve already paid taxes on. That means that when you withdraw it, typically once you’ve reached age 59 ½ and have had the account for at least five years, the money is yours tax-free. Another sweet feature of Roth IRAs: While you generally have to wait to access your earnings, your contributions are yours to take at any time. While we’d never recommend taking money out of a retirement account unless absolutely necessary — and no, a dream wedding or vacation doesn’t count — your Roth IRA contributions can be a source you tap in an emergency. What Is a 401(k)? A 401(k) is a retirement account that’s sponsored by an employer. You can’t open a 401(k) on your own. Unlike a Roth IRA, a traditional 401(k) is tax-deferred. That means you invest part of your paycheck before you’ve paid taxes on it and then pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. A growing number of companies are now offering a Roth 401(k) option, which shares most of the same rules as a traditional 401(k) but is funded like a Roth IRA, with money that’s already been taxed. What makes a 401(k) — either kind — especially attractive is that many employers will match your contributions — in whole or in part  — up to a certain percentage of your earnings. Whatever the amount, it’s basically free money to pad your retirement savings. Roth IRA vs. 401(k): The Ultimate Showdown At this point, the Roth IRA vs. 401(k) question is probably sounding complicated, because they both have some pretty sweet features. Now let’s see how they compare across six categories. 1. Who’s Eligible? While anyone can open a regular old investment account, not everyone can open a Roth IRA or 401(k). Here are the requirements. Roth IRA You don’t need a traditional job to contribute to any type of IRA, but you do need taxable income. A salary, wages, tips, bonuses, and freelance and self-employment income all count. If you’re married but don’t work, your spouse can also set up a spousal Roth IRA for you. While you can fund a traditional IRA no matter how much you earn, a Roth IRA has income limits. (We’ll get to the contribution limits next.) For single people, or if you’re head of household or married filing separately: If your income is under $122,000, you can contribute the maximum amount. If your income is between $122,000 and $136,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income. If your income is $137,000 or higher, you’re not eligible. If you’re married filing jointly: If your combined income is under $193,000, you can contribute the maximum amount. If your combined income is between $193,000 and $202,999, you can contribute an amount that becomes gradually less the higher your income. If your income is $203,000 or higher, you’re not eligible. 401(k) To contribute to a 401(k), you have to work for an employer that offers a 401(k). However, your employer can exclude you from participating in its 401(k) for certain reasons, such as if you’re under 21 or have worked for the company for less than a year. Unlike a Roth IRA, a 401(k) has no income limits. 2. How Much Can You Contribute? Both a Roth IRA and a 401(k) have limits on how much you can contribute — but the limits are much higher for a 401(k). Roth IRA The maximum contribution for 2019 is $6,000 if you’re under age 50, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. The limits are the same for traditional IRAs. Note that if you have both a Roth and traditional IRA, your total contributions to both accounts can’t be higher than $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re over 50. 401(k) You can contribute up to $19,000 to your 401(k) if you’re under 50, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older. Your employer can contribute up to $37,000 or 100% of your salary, whichever is less. But hold up, money bags: The most common employer match is 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary. Your employer may also make you wait to access the money it’s putting in your account, which is known as vesting. The money you contribute will always be yours, but if you leave your job before the vesting period is up, you may not be able to take the money your employer matched with you. 3. How Do the Tax Breaks Compare? Taxes are a major factor when you’re considering a Roth IRA vs. 401(k). Here are some key differences in how the accounts are taxed. Roth IRA If you were hoping to beef up your tax refund, a Roth IRA will leave you disappointed. But remember: Once you withdraw that money at age 59 ½, as long as you’ve had the account for at least five years, it’s all yours tax-free. 401(k) Suppose you earn $50,000 and contribute $5,000 to a traditional 401(k). Your taxable income for the year is now $45,000. Because you get the tax break upfront with most 401(k)s, you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw your money. Because you fund a Roth 401(k) with after-tax dollars, it won’t change your taxable income, but you can withdraw your money tax-free when you retire. Pro Tip If you expect to pay taxes in a higher bracket once you reach age 59 ½ or if you think tax rates in general will increase, maxing out your Roth IRA is smart because you lock in a lower tax rate. 4. How Do You Invest? A Roth IRA will give you more flexibility to choose your own investments, but a 401(k) gets points for convenience. Roth IRA You can open a Roth IRA through a brokerage firm or a robo-advising service. You could set it up in person if you opt for a brokerage with a brick-and-mortar location or by applying online. You can invest your Roth IRA money however you want — in mutual funds, individual stocks, bonds and annuities. If you prefer to choose your own investments, you’ll want to open a brokerage account. Consult with a financial adviser if you aren’t sure what investments to choose. If you prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach, you’ll probably prefer a robo-adviser, which uses super-smart software, instead of humans, to manage your investments. You can set up automatic transfers from your bank to make investing more convenient. 401(k) If your employer offers a 401(k), you may have to sign up for it or you may be automatically enrolled. Most companies let you enroll when you’re hired, though some smaller companies will make you wait as much as a year. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have to decide how much to invest and what you want to invest in. Your investment options will be limited compared with your options for a Roth IRA, but you can usually choose from several categories of mutual funds. You can change the amount you’re contributing and your investment allocations at any time. Pro Tip Find lower-cost mutual fund options by checking the fee disclosure statement, which your 401(k) plan is required to send you every year. 5. When Can You Withdraw Your Money? Your retirement accounts aren’t supposed to be a source of quick cash, so the rules around withdrawing money can get complicated. In general, the [...]
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*HOT* ReadingIQ Deal: Annual subscription for just $2.49 per month! {Silas loves this app!}

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*HOT* ReadingIQ Deal: Annual subscription for just $2.49 per month! {Silas loves this app!}
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. If you have a child who struggles with reading, I highly, highly recommend this ReadingIQ app! And this is a GREAT discount! ReadingIQ is offering a RARE discount for Memorial Day weekend!! You can get 68% off their annual subscription — which means you’ll pay just $29.99 total for an entire year! That’s like getting eight months for FREE. You’ll pay just $2.49 per month!! ReadingIQ is a brand-new online digital library for kids that offers thousands of books for all reading levels. And I can’t sing the praises of this reading app enough! Silas had never been excited about reading until he started using this app a few months ago. This app has made him fall in love with reading — something I never thought would be possible after years of his struggle with reading. In the first 6 weeks of using it, he logged close to 600 minutes of reading on ReadingIQ… all on his own. And did I mention this was with almost zero coaxing or encouragement from me? When you sign up with ReadingIQ, you get: Unlimited access to thousands of books. Anytime. Anywhere. Accessible on desktops, tablets, and phones Popular titles and characters that children know and love All titles carefully curated for readers 12 and under Book recommendations for every child based on his or her level Ability to monitor your child’s progress Award-winning titles, including Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners Up to 3 children per account Guided Reading and Lexile® levels available for thousands of books Ability to preview the content your child is exploring More than 700 professionally voiced titles This is the first time I’ve seen them offer a discount like this, so definitely take advantage of it! This is a HUGE savings off the regular price of $7.99 per month! Psst! If you’re not sure you’re ready to purchase yet, you can still get a FREE one-month trial instead! After the first month is up, if you decide to continue your subscription, it’ll cost $7.99 per month. Go here to get this rare ReadingIQ discount. [...]
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How to Build a Backpacking Trip on the Cheap

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

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

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SEC Adopts Rules and Interpretations To Enhance Protections and Preserve Choice for Retail Investors
On June 5, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to adopt a package of rules and interpretations designed to enhance the quality and transparency of retail investors’ relationships with investment advisers and broker-dealers. Specifically, the SEC approved Regulation Best Interest. Regulation Best Interest creates an enhanced standard of conduct applicable to broker-dealers at the time they recommend to a retail customer a securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities. When making a recommendation, a broker-dealer must act in the retail customer’s best interest and cannot place its own interests ahead of the customer’s interests. The enhanced standard of conduct includes the following obligations: Disclosure Obligation: Before or at the time of the recommendation, a broker-dealer must disclose, in writing, material facts about the scope and terms of its relationship with the customer. Care Obligation: A broker-dealer must exercise reasonable diligence, care and skill when making a recommendation to a retail customer. Conflict of Interest Obligation: Policies and procedures must be reasonably designed: To mitigate conflicts of interests that create an incentive for an associated person of the broker-dealer to place its interests or the interest of the firm ahead of the retail customer’s interest; When a broker-dealer places material limitations on recommendations that may be made to a retail customer (e.g., offering only proprietary or other limited range of products), to disclose the limitations and associated conflicts, and to prevent the limitations from causing the associated person or broker-dealer from placing the associated person’s or broker-dealer’s interests ahead of the customer’s interest; and To identify and eliminate sales contests, sales quotas, bonuses and non-cash compensation that are based on the sale of specific securities or specific types of securities within a limited period of time. Regulation Best Interest will become effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, and will include a transition period until June 30, 2020 to give firms sufficient time to come into compliance. A Katten client advisory describing Regulation Best Interest will be forthcoming. The SEC’s press release is available here. [...]
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SEC Approves Amendments to FINRA’s Codes of Arbitration Procedure for Customer and Industry Disputes

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SEC Approves Amendments to FINRA’s Codes of Arbitration Procedure for Customer and Industry Disputes
On May 30, the Securities Exchange Commission approved amendments to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s customer and industry arbitration rules to expand the time period for non-parties to respond to arbitration subpoenas and orders of appearance of witnesses or production of documents. FINRA’s Codes of Arbitration Procedure for Customer and Industry Disputes (Codes) allow parties who seek discovery from a non-party to request that the panel issue an order of appearance of witnesses or production of documents if the non-party is subject to FINRA’s jurisdiction. Arbitrators are also authorized to issue a subpoena if the non-party is not subject to FINRA’s jurisdiction. If the panel decides to issue the order or subpoena, FINRA will transmit the signed order or subpoena to the moving party to serve on the non-party. If a non-party receiving an order or a subpoena objects to the scope or propriety of the order or subpoena, they may file written objections through the director of the Office of Dispute Resolution within 10 calendar days of receiving the order or subpoena. The amendments extend the response time for non-parties to object to an order or subpoena from 10 calendar days of service to 15 calendar days of receipt of the order or subpoena. In addition, first-class mail is excluded as an option to serve documents on the non-party and as an option for the non-party to file the objection to the scope or propriety of the order or subpoena. Lastly, the amendments codify the current practice that the director send, at the same time, objections and responses to the panel after the reply date has elapsed, unless otherwise directed by the panel. The amendments are effective for cases filed on or after July 1. FINRA’s regulatory notice is available here.   [...]
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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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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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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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The 14 Most Dangerous Cars on the Road

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The 14 Most Dangerous Cars on the Road
If you own a Mitsubishi Mirage, you might want to be extra careful the next time you back out of your driveway and take to the road. The Mirage is the most dangerous car to drive in the U.S., according to a recent study by automotive research firm and car search engine iSeeCars.com. The Chevrolet Corvette and the Honda Fit round out the top three cars with the most frequent occupant fatalities. [...]
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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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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, May 26

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

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An Insider Explanation of Programming vs Coding: Jobs, Salaries and More
Coding and programming are often touted by career advisers as ways to future-proof your job. In movies, these tech pros are portrayed by keyboarding-clanking, socially reclusive geniuses who have the divine gift of speaking the language of computers and work in tech hubs like San Francisco. The message being: You either get it, or you don’t. The reality is much more nuanced. It doesn’t help that the terms “coding” and “programming” are often used interchangeably. There are a few key differences, and knowing them is crucial in understanding the career prospects in the field — and how coding will inevitably affect most of our professional lives in the future. Coding vs Programming: What Are the Differences? In the simplest terms, coding is the act of writing computer languages. The most popular ones include: Java, HTML, Python, C++ and Ruby on Rails. Like spoken language, the basics of code are fairly easy to pick up — just as a beginning French student can repeat basic words and sentences. But, like French students, coders aren’t fluent yet. Programming, on the other hand, is the bigger picture. Programmers certainly know how to code, but they also understand the context and environment the code is in. Think French novelist versus French student. The novelist is creating the setting, the plot and the characters, while the student is applying the basic rules of grammar to form sentences. “Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square,” says Arshad Wala, a distinguished faculty member at General Assembly, a school that trains working professionals in data, design, programming and digital marketing. How to Become a Programmer or Coder There are several ways to break into computer programming: self-directed study, coding bootcamps and formal college education. Each method comes with its own perks. Coursera and other online education platforms offer free coding courses that cover the basics and can be completed on any schedule at any time, and there are several free coding apps to keep your skills fresh. The “hacker mentality” is still accepted in the industry, Wala says, meaning companies don’t really care how the coder was educated — all that matters is that they can write code. Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is not a square. But it’s hard to learn a language alone. That’s where boot camps like General Assembly come in. Boot camps offer hands-on training in a classroom environment and are usually taught by working professionals in the field. There are campuses across the country with programs designed to equip students with the basic skills to get a new job ASAP. Some programs last as little as 10 days and are fast-tracks to landing coding gigs. To become a programmer, however, it usually takes seniority as a coder or a college degree in computer programming or computer sciences. “You either got to prove yourself,” Wala says, “or come in with some formal education.” That’s because the responsibilities for a programmer are higher-stakes. In addition to writing some code, programmers take a more managerial approach in planning an application, program, website or feature as a whole. They may also determine which programming language a project requires, which would affect what kind of coders are needed. Career Prospects for Coders and Programmers For the time being, both programming and coding jobs are hot and the salaries are high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest data, computer programmers are making much more than the average American: $45,640 more. Computer programmers make a median salary of $84,280. Coders aren’t in that league, but they can earn a good living with little formal education. Even the lowest paid coders earn more than $48,000 — well above the national median income of $38,640. On the job front, programming opportunities are expanding outside Silicon Valley. While California still has the highest employment levels, Texas was a close second, beating out New York. Illinois and Florida also made the top five. “You go back 15 years, it was San Francisco,” Wala says. “But it’s truly everywhere… and that’s the exciting part.” Job prospects will be best for programmers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher and knowledge of a variety of programming languages. – Bureau of Labor Statistics If you’re considering a career as a coder, there are some coming trends to consider before applying to the nearest coding bootcamp. Namely: automation and saturation. By 2026, programming industry employment is slated to decrease by 7%. And the hammer is going to fall harder on coders than programmers. Wala foresees code becoming a part of our everyday lives, sort of like typing and other basic computer skills. In the not-too-distant past, typists were well-paying jobs. People used to list their words per minute on resumes. But as almost every school in the nation incorporated typing classes into the curriculum, the job became unnecessary. The same goes for coding. Add in the coming wave of computer-automated coding, and the 7-point drop in employment becomes the tip of the iceberg. “You should all learn coding, but this as a career is going to be dead,” he says. “The focus on coding [as a job] should be secondary.” Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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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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Backpacker Magazine Subscription Discount

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Backpacker Magazine Subscription Discount
  Snag a subscription to Backpacker Magazine for only $4.99 per year (86% off)! You can order up to 3 years at this price! Add this magazine to your shopping cart and then enter the coupon code pennypinch and then you will see the price drop! Magazine of wilderness travel offering practical “you can do it–here’s how” advice to ... Read More about Backpacker Magazine Subscription Discount The post Backpacker Magazine Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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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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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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Shopping Around for a Mortgage Could Make You $30K Richer

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Shopping Around for a Mortgage Could Make You $30K Richer
When you purchase a home, the wheeling and dealing typically begins when you put an offer in. But home buyers who think the only opportunity to save big comes during those negotiations may miss a relatively effortless way to pay significantly less. Comparing lenders is something just 50% of home buyers do, according to our... Elizabeth Renter is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @elizabethrenter. The article Shopping Around for a Mortgage Could Make You $30K Richer originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How Couples Can Maximize Social Security Benefits

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How Couples Can Maximize Social Security Benefits
Marriage changes a lot of things, including how you should consider claiming Social Security benefits. Married couples have more options for claiming Social Security than single people. Spouses may start benefits at different ages and may be eligible for spousal benefits that can be up to half of what their partner receives. People who earn... Liz Weston is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston. The article How Couples Can Maximize Social Security Benefits originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Calvert Homeschool Giveaway | Enter to win $1,000 in homeschool curriculum and $1,000 in cash!

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Calvert Homeschool Giveaway | Enter to win $1,000 in homeschool curriculum and $1,000 in cash!
If you’re a homeschooling family, you don’t want to miss this Calvert Homeschool Giveaway! {This giveaway post is sponsored by Calvert Education. Read our disclosure policy here.} Calling all homeschooling families! Through June 30th, you can head over and enter the HUGE Calvert Homeschool Cash and Curriculum Giveaway for a chance to win $1,000 in homeschool curriculum AND $1,000 in cash!! Calvert Homeschool offers self-paced learning for students and seamlessly integrated teacher manuals for parents. Colorful print curriculum is available for grades K-2, and interactive online courses for grades 3-12 allow parents to customize learning for each child. To celebrate the legacy of Calvert Homeschool and to mark the launch of Calvert’s Curriculum Re-Imagined, Calvert is hosting its biggest giveaway ever! One lucky person will win both $1,000 in Calvert homeschool curriculum PLUS $1,000 in cash!! Go here to enter for your chance to win! [...]
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Animal Tales Magazine Subscription Discount

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Animal Tales Magazine Subscription Discount
If your kiddos love animals, they will love this magazine subscription! ANIMAL TALES SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Until 6/5/19, you can subscribe to Animal Tales Magazine for only $13.49 per year (50% off)! Just enter coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout to get this offer. If you are a current subscriber, you can extend or renew your subscription ... Read More about Animal Tales Magazine Subscription Discount The post Animal Tales Magazine Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Aldi, Sprouts, Big Lots, and Kroger Shopping Trips + Our Weekly Menu Plan

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Aldi, Sprouts, Big Lots, and Kroger Shopping Trips + Our Weekly Menu Plan
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. I finally made it to Sprouts on a Wednesday!! If you’re unfamiliar with Sprouts’ sales cycles, they have overlapping sales on Wednesdays — which means you can get the sales from the last week + the sales from the coming week on Wednesdays! They had some great produce deals that I stocked up on: Sprouts Shopping Trip 6 packages of strawberries — $1.25 each 3 Cantaloupe — $0.99 each 2 Pineapple — $0.98 each Sprouts Chocolate Chip cookies — used free coupon Total with tax: $13.24 Did you get your freebies from Sprouts? If not, be sure to sign up for them here. I was SO excited to find so many good clearance deals at BigLots when I went on Wednesday!! My biggest score? Boxes of Kodiak Cakes for $0.75 each!!! Jesse loves these and he was super thrilled at this score! Big Lots Shopping Trip 4 boxes of Kodiak Cakes — marked down to $0.75 each 5 packages of bread, bagels, & English Muffins — $1.40 each (I stuck these in the freezer.) 1 can of Split Pea Soup — marked down to $0.25 3 cans of corn — $0.25 Total with tax: $11.74 Aldi Shopping Trip: Honey Crunch Oats — $1.59 All Purpose Flour — $1.89 2 packages of hot dog buns — $0.85 each Milk — $2.49 Cream Cheese — $1.29 Cheddar Cheese — $1.99 Eggs — $0.73 10 lb potatoes — $3.49 Watermelon — $2.99 Total with tax: $19.39 Have you read my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Purchase From Aldi. And 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Aldi. Kroger Shopping Trip #1 Eggs — marked down to $1.39 All Egg Whites — $4.99 2 loaves of bread — marked down to $0.89 and $0.99 1 bag of apples — $0.99 1 bag of grapefruit — $0.99 Total with tax: $11.36 Kroger Shopping Trip #2 Bush’s Baked Beans — $0.99 each with the Weekend Only deals This past week, we got to host three college girls from Pine Cove all week long who were here leading a Camp in the City for local kids. We provided breakfast every morning for them. Then, we got to have dinner with them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (they had dinners elsewhere the other nights). Just for fun, we invited extra friends over on Wednesday and Friday night. I was excited that we were able to do all of the entertaining and still stick with our $70 grocery budget! Oh and we ate a lot of leftovers this past week because we had a lot of extra food. 🙂 (I always want to make sure there is a enough food when we have guests, so that means I tend to plan a lot more food than we actually need! But hey, it means dinner is taken care of the next night!) 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, Bagels, Toast, Waffles, Fruit, Yogurt, Bacon, Sausage, Banana Bread, Apple Muffins Lunches:  Leftovers, Salad, Mac & Cheese, Turkey, Fruit Snacks: Fruit, Popcorn, Cookies, Banana Bread Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Dinner with our guests: Spaghetti with Meatballs, Green Beans, Fruit, Salad, French Bread Tuesday — Leftovers Wednesday — Dinner with our guests and some other friends: Barbecued Meatballs, Twice Baked Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Brussels, Fruit Salad, French Bread Thursday — Leftovers Friday — Dinner with our guests and some other friends: Brats/Hot Dogs, Squash Casserole, Salad, Fruit Salad, Homemade Mac & Cheese. Saturday — Leftovers $70 Grocery Budget Totals Total spent on groceries: $61.23 Cashback earned this week: 625 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $0.10 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards. [...]
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Low price on Esquire Magazine Subscription

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Low price on Esquire Magazine Subscription
We have found another deal for you!  This time it is for Esquire Magazine! ESQUIRE MAGAZINE DISCOUNT OFFER Now through 6/11/19 (11:59 pm EST), you can get Esquire Magazine delivered to your mailbox for just $4.95 per year!  That is a savings of  88%!! Make sure you enter the coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout to get ... Read More about Low price on Esquire Magazine Subscription The post Low price on Esquire Magazine Subscription appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins

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Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins
Looking for some really easy 4th of July recipes? These Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are SO good and super simple to whip up in a pinch! {Looking for 4th of July desserts? Check out this Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream — so much fun for the whole family!} The 4th of July is right around the corner and will be here before we know it!! If you’re looking for creative 4th of July recipes to take to an Independence Day potluck or family gathering, try these fun Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins! These Patriotic Muffins are ridiculously easy to whip up and they’re seriously some of the BEST muffins I’ve ever tasted! They’re super moist and delicious — and it’s difficult to eat just one! You might want to make an extra batch just in case. 😉 If you’re looking for easy 4th of July recipes, these Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are really versatile! You could use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snack/dessert! I’d think they’d also be perfect for a brunch gathering! You can eat them cooled or warmed, but I recommend them warm and slathered in butter. YUM! I love the extra flavor twist that the strawberries add to the traditional blueberry muffins taste. But if you love the tart taste of raspberries, you could always substitute the strawberries for raspberries and still have a fun patriotic-themed 4th of July recipe! The best part of these Patriotic Muffins? They freeze really well! Make them ahead of time a few days or even a week before you need them, and then all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer a few hours before serving them! Eat them as-is or pop them in the microwave to warm them up. Oh — and if you’re looking for a dairy free version, just substitute the yogurt with your favorite brand of dairy-free vanilla yogurt. Voila! Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins Eggs, 4 large Sugar, 2 cups Vegetable Oil, 1 cup Vanilla Extract, 1 teaspoon All-Purpose Flour, 4 cups Salt, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, 2 teaspoons Vanilla Yogurt (I used dairy-free), 2 cups Fresh Blueberries, 2 cups Fresh Chopped Strawberries, 2 cups Beat eggs in a bowl, and then gradually add in the sugar. While beating, slowly pour in the oil. Next, add vanilla and then stir in the yogurt. Combine all dry ingredients and then add it to the egg mixture. Gently fold in blueberries and strawberries. Spoon into muffin tins lined with paper muffin liners (I used patriotic ones). Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Yields: 25-30 Muffins Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, June 8

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, June 8
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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Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Highchair

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

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

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7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
There are all sorts of places you can save money for retirement if you don’t have a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan: savings accounts, brokerage accounts, money under your mattress. However, few can compare with an individual retirement account. IRAs share some key features — such as tax advantages and the ability to invest your savings — with certain other types of... [...]
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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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Crayola Brush Markers, 16 count only $6.99 shipped!

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Crayola Brush Markers, 16 count only $6.99 shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. These Crayola Brush Markers are perfect for writing, lettering, sketching, drawing, and adult coloring. Amazon has these Crayola Brush Markers (16 count) for only $6.99 right now – the lowest price ever on record! These are perfect for hand lettering, sketching, journaling, coloring and more! Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, SwagGrabber! [...]
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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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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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Car and Driver Magazine Subscription Discount

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Car and Driver Magazine Subscription Discount
Know a car enthusiast?  Get a subscription to Car and Driver Magazine at a super low price! CAR AND DRIVER SUBSCRIPTION DISCOUNT Now through 6/25/19 (11:59 pm EST), you can save 89% on your Car and Driver Magazine subscription!  Enter the coupon code PENNYPINCH at checkout and drop the price to just $4.95 an issue ... Read More about Car and Driver Magazine Subscription Discount The post Car and Driver Magazine Subscription Discount appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Earn Cash Selling Clothes From Your Closet With These 6 Online Resale Shops

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Earn Cash Selling Clothes From Your Closet With These 6 Online Resale Shops
Truth time: My wardrobe embarasses me. It’s not because I dislike the things I wear — it’s because I have so many things I don’t wear. Since cleaning out my closet and attempting a capsule wardrobe experiment a few years ago, I’ve unfortunately regressed to my old ways — and by “old ways,” I mean my closet is overflowing with things I just don’t wear often enough. In fact, I would guess that at this point, about 60% of my wardrobe is simply taking up space. But I’m ready to simplify again, and, in the process, I’m hoping to make a little extra money. So, I’m heading to the internet (because my local consignment shops are — shall we say — choosy) and selling my clothes in an effort to earn back some of the money I’ve carelessly funneled right into my closet (again). 6 Places to Sell Clothes Online These are the sites I’ll use to try and make a few extra bucks as I clear out my wardrobe. 1. Poshmark Poshmark touts itself as a “fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion.” And while “fun” may be an accurate descriptor, “simple” really isn’t — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You see, Poshmark is more than just an online platform for selling clothes — it’s a “social marketplace.” Rather than being a place where sellers can list an item, hope it sells and move along, Poshmark is powered by buyers and sellers who share fashion ideas and styling tips, browse each others’ “closets” and generally connect over clothing and fashion. What Poshmark isn’t? A set-it-and-forget-it type of site. In order to make sales on Poshmark, you need to upload quality photos, write thorough descriptions, offer style guidance, “attend” buying and selling events within the app, share and promote listings and interact with other users. Pro Tip Some successful Poshmark users recommend investing in nice packaging or thank you cards to keep your ratings up and your listings more visible. Buyers are allowed to negotiate prices, but you can choose to decline or accept an offer. For sales under $15, Poshmark takes a flat commission fee of $2.95. For sales of $15 or more, you’ll keep 80% of the profit. Once a sale is made, Poshmark will provide you with a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping label. All in all, Poshmark is a good option for anyone who’s willing to do a little (virtual) legwork. 2. thredUP ThredUP is an online consignment and second-hand shop focusing on brand-name clothing for women and children — and it couldn’t be easier to use. If Poshmark is the most involved clothing selling site on the market, thredUP might just be the least. Sure, your return may not be quite as big as if you steamed, photographed and listed each piece individually all while liking, commenting and sharing other people’s items, but for the lazy among us, thredUP couldn’t be more convenient. Debra Wallace, the woman behind the blog Zero, also notes the small return as a con of selling on thredUP. “Used clothing is not worth much,” she writes. “So if you’re looking to make more money, you’ll have to put in more effort” using other sites or brick-and-mortar stores. For anyone who’s still on board, thredUP’s process is pretty simple: Go to the “Clean Out” tab on thredUP’s website and select “Order a Kit.” You can then choose whether you’d like to receive a standard clean out bag or an expedited one. (There’s also an option to just donate a bag of clothing, if you’d prefer to do that.) ThredUP will then send you a bag that you’ll fill with clothes, seal up and return for free with a prepaid shipping label. ThredUP will then sort through your clothes, list the keepers on the site and, depending on which clean out option you chose, either recycle or return the unwanted items to you. Depending on whether your items are highly trendy and in season or have a little more longevity to them, thredUP will determine whether to give you the money up front or when the item sells on consignment. Once your payout becomes available, you have to cash out via PayPal. 3. Swap.com Swap.com is similar to thredUP in a lot of ways, except it also accepts and sells men’s clothes and even kids’ toys and a few household items. To sell your unwanted clothing on Swap.com, you can either request an “inbound box” or simply print a prepaid shipping label to use for sending in your items. Once the company receives your items, it will price them, upload them to the site and send you your payout after your items sell. Similar to thredUP, any items not accepted for resale will either be sent back to you or donated, depending on which option you choose. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Sell photos 6/24/19 @ 3:40 PM Earning Money 6/24/19 @ 1:18 PM A Make Money Asking Questions On Quora 4/26/19 @ 12:28 AM Employment in the trades 6/20/19 @ 11:41 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question 4. Instagram If you’re an avid Instagram user, you’ve probably stumbled across more than one person selling their “closet” on the popular app. And while it’s a clunky interface for buying and selling (sales are done through the comments under photos and via direct messages), the return is pretty good because no commissions or fees are shaved off the top. Still, selling your clothing on Instagram will take a bit of legwork on your part. You’ll have to know how to work the system (lucky you, we have some tips right here!), and you’ll have to go through the trouble of steaming (it helps), photographing and listing each piece individually. You’ll also have to be totally in charge of collecting payments and shipping the items. All in all, though, it’s a great option for those who are willing to go the extra mile to make the extra dollar. 5. Tradesy If you want to sell your clothes on a platform that’s just a little bit more seller friendly, (but still not quite as involved as Poshmark) Tradesy is the way to go. Tradesy says it deals primarily in designer and luxury items, but technically you can sell any brand from Xhilaration for Target to Gucci — and any item from purses to wedding gear. To sell on Tradesy, all you have to do is take a few photos of an item (Tradesy will even do a little editing for you to make it look better), add a description and input a price. (Again, Tradesy is pretty helpful and will suggest a selling price if you’re at a loss.) When an item sells, you can use one of Tradesy’s complimentary shipping kits to ship the item at no cost. Tradesy’s flat commission fee is a little steep: The company takes $7.50 of any item sold for under $50. If an item sells for $50 or more, Tradesy takes 19.8%. The process is a little more involved than just loading up a bag and sending it off in the mail, but with a little bit of work, your payout can be pretty good — as long as you’re selling at the right price point. 6. eBay You thought we were going to leave eBay off this list for a second there, didn’t you? But we couldn’t do that! Even though it’s been around for quite some time (and sometimes has a reputation for being unwieldy or a little outdated), eBay is still a valid option when you’re selling clothing — especially when you’re looking to make a few bucks on so [...]
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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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Crayola Colored Pencils (120 count) only $15.37!

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Crayola Colored Pencils (120 count) only $15.37!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. These Crayola Colored Pencils are perfect for coloring! Amazon has these Crayola Colored Pencils, 120 count for only $15.37 right now! This is the lowest price on record! A great gift idea! Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, ChaChingOnAShoestring! [...]
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Gold Delta SkyMiles AmEx Elevates Welcome Offer to 60K Miles

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