Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before You Start a Ridesharing Gig

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before You Start a Ridesharing Gig

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Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before You Start a Ridesharing Gig
You have a vehicle. You need to supplement your income. Driving for Uber or Lyft may seem like a no-brainer. Since Uber’s 2009 launch (and Lyft in 2012) rideshare driving has become almost synonymous with side hustles and the gig economy. Lyft self-reports 1.5 million drivers in the U.S. Uber doesn’t share its numbers, but many drivers work for both apps, which tout flexible work and quick money.  But is ridesharing all it’s cracked up to be? Before you sign up, take some time to answer these sobering questions. 1. How Much Will I Really Be Making? Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, not employees. So earnings can get a little tricky. First of all, the companies don’t pay by the hour. They pay per fare. Even trickier, the pay is broken down into several parts: base pay (a guaranteed amount), plus bonuses, promotions and tips. Every part of that equation may fluctuate per ride — making hourly earnings nearly impossible to project. Still, on average, drivers can rake in decent dough. The Penny Hoarder analyzed self-reported wage data from Glassdoor and found that Uber drivers earned between $12 and $16 per hour, based on 461 wages. Lyft drivers took home $15 to $16 an hour, according to 394 drivers. But technically, as an independent contractor, you’re only getting paid if you’re en-route or already chauffeuring a passenger. The time you spend waiting for a fare or returning to a populated area after you’ve dropped off a passenger doesn’t count. All the while, you’re racking up mileage and burning gas, another expense that should be subtracted from your earnings. Jerry Brown, a library tech and former rideshare driver from Louisiana, started picking up on these “invisible expenses” when his bank account balance wasn’t what he expected. “I did a cost-benefit analysis,” he said. “The profit only ended up being $10 an hour when we broke down all the other expenses… I didn’t really think of that going in.” 2. Can My Vehicle Handle It? The first thing you need to determine is if you’re vehicle is eligible for ridesharing. In our Uber vs. Lyft guide, we break down the basic requirements. The biggest one being: Your car, truck or SUV needs to be a 2002 model or newer to drive for Uber and a 2006 model or newer to drive for Lyft.  Your vehicle must be able to fit at least four passengers for both services. It needs to be in good working condition, too. But just because it’s in good condition at first doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Besides gas, Brown said his maintenance costs piled up quickly. “I put almost 30,000 miles on my car,” Brown said. Those miles cost more than just gas and oil changes. They depreciate your car’s value, too. “I eventually decided to pivot away from Uber as a side hustle because it was too much wear and tear on my car,” he said. 3. What Are the Risks? The most dangerous part of driving for a rideshare company … is the driving part. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we as Americans do on any given day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, law enforcement recorded 6.5 million automobile accidents in 2018. Those accidents resulted in 36,560 deaths and 2.7 million injuries. In addition to the nature of the job, rideshare drivers and gig workers in general have a few other factors to keep in mind. While drivers have to go through background checks and submit government-issued IDs to the gig companies, passengers are often anonymous and untraceable. “The risks workers encountered are pretty extensive,” said Dr. Alexandrea Ravenelle, a gig economy researcher and professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina. “Workers don’t always know what they’re getting involved in” when they take a fare. In December, Uber released the extent of those risks in its first ever “US Safety Report.” The study analyzed fatal accidents, physical assaults and sexual assaults across 2.3 billion trips in 2017 and 2018. The company reported 5,981 incidents of sexual assault. An analysis of Uber’s data indicates that in almost 2,700 of those incidents, the driver was the victim. Twenty two drivers died in car accidents, and seven died from physical assaults. Lyft has not released similar statistics. 4. Are Dash Cams a Good Idea? If you are prepared to invite strangers into your car, a dash cam may be a good investment. Because of your independent contractor status, neither Uber nor Lyft will cover the cost of the camera, but it could be a lifeline should something go wrong during a trip. Dash cameras are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up. On Amazon, a standard HD camera costs between $30 and $100. Both Uber and Lyft offer complimentary insurance for drivers, but the policies are nuanced. Uber insurance coverage varies depending on if you are merely online, en route to a passenger, or have a passenger in your car. Lyft’s insurance policy works similarly. The biggest difference between the two is deductibles: $1,000 for Uber and $2,500 for Lyft. A dash cam provides legal backup in case an accident happens while you’re logged on. It may also strengthen your claim to receive reimbursement if a passenger damages your car. For example, if a passenger spills a box of greasy take-out all over your back seat, you’re going to have to stop taking fares and deep clean your upholstery. You can make an inconvenience claim to receive up to $250, but the hard part is proving who caused the damage. That’s where a camera comes in handy. Perhaps the biggest perk is the Hawthorne effect: When you have a camera clearly visible to passengers, they’re likely going to be on their best behavior. 5. What’s My Exit Plan? The gig economy offers easy entry compared to the traditional job market. It’s the leaving part where most people get stuck. It’s easy to start depending on the extra money from driving. But once that cash starts going toward rent or groceries, quitting puts your finances at risk. And that situation can easily snowball into never-ending work. To avoid that scenario, create a side hustle exit plan before you take on additional work. Compared to some side gigs, the startup costs to rideshare driving are relatively low. So your plan doesn’t have to be bound and laminated.  It can be something as simple as: I want to pay down my remaining $1,500 in credit card debt by driving for Uber on the weekends. Pro Tip Give yourself clear working hours. Having a cut-off point can go a long way. When Brown started driving for Uber, he had a clear financial goal in mind to pay off his car loan in six months. Even with that goal, he said the work sucked him in. “It was kind of addictive,” he said, telling himself “just one more ride, just one more ride.” Brown was indeed able to pay off his car, but his hustling wasn’t sustainable. He wanted to take better care of himself.  He realized, “I need to spend less time working so I can enjoy life.” Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. 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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Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one?

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Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one?
Everywhere people are dying, global lockdown and massive government intervention. The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global industries and supply chains, causing disastrous problems for businesses, consumers and the global economy. Just like the disease is killing older people at high rates, it is also about to kill mature western economies. Businesses are struggling to produce and distribute products and services, that consumers depend on. The coronavirus outbreak has limited our ability to produce and consume goods. Its financial ramifications are already severe and will only get worse. The COVID-19 pandemic will change this decade, just like 9/11 changed the 2000s. The impact from pandemic on global economy will be severe, but eventually the crisis will all end and life will resume. The question what direction will we follow and how prepared will we be when the next one comes along? Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com. When businesses are unable to make money, they can’t pay employee wages and operating expenses. As business revenues decline, employee layoffs accelerate, which eventually leads to people not being able to pay their rent, mortgage and loans, buy goods and services or spend money at restaurants, sporting events, vacations. This is not just a health pandemic, it’s a pandemic of fear and mistrust that is hitting advanced economies in Western Europe and the United States. Governments are announcing travel restrictions within their borders and from outside, and are shutting down businesses everywhere. In mature economies, when people become fearful for their lives, they withdraw and stop spending money on things they frequently do. Businesses that operate in face-to-face service industries, which usually dominate high-income economies, are the one’s that get hit the hardest, when people are in lockdown. This is not to minimize the damage the pandemic is causing to the global product supply chain. The production around the world is out of action for an indefinite period of time. We are already seeing shortages for things like auto-parts, electronics and products like iPhones, and Diet Coke and don’t be surprised when we see disruptions for food, condoms and so many other basic things we take for granted. In 2015, the year after West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, Bill Gates gave a TED talk called “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.” Gates saw the COVID-19 outbreak coming and he knew we weren’t prepared for it. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said during the Ted Talk. “Not missiles, but microbes.”     Authorities around the world are doing their best to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Disease outbreaks can happen at any time and anywhere, with little or no warning. These are events that have occurred in the past and will occur again in the future. We are facing an uphill battle, but blockchain can help. Blockchain will not prevent new viruses, but it can help create a first line of defense, through a network of connected devices with a single purpose: to alert us about disease outbreaks. The use of blockchain can help prevent pandemics by enabling early detection, fast-tracking drug trials, and impact management of outbreaks and treatment. Blockchain platforms could help connect local hospitals and health organizations. Local hospitals could record medical data about patients with flu- or virus-like symptoms. The data could be used by health organizations to predict the spread of the virus, to help them take preventive measures (increase medical staff, supply medical equipment) in the areas where the virus could spread. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), IBM and Oracle teamed up to create an open-data hub that will use blockchain technology to check the veracity of data relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Blockchain based livestock tracking could help to better trace an outbreak at the source, before it becomes impossible to contain. Deadly viruses have originated by contaminated livestock, that made it into our food supply. Imagine how many lives and resources we could save, if we could collect and analyze data to assess livestock risks for various regions. We could also improve the medical supply chain for products and vaccines. It’s vital to be able to track where things are and where they came from and ensure they are genuine. Researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical firms are racing against time to create the vaccine for this virus, as well as develop potential treatments for COVID-19. Blockchain based platforms could help vaccine development across various stages starting from exploration to pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory approval to production and distribution and continuous quality control & monitoring. Like the September 11 terrorist attacks, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event that will lead to permanent shifts in political and financial power. Many, fear the pandemic will strengthen state control and reinforce nationalism. Governments everywhere are adopting measures to deal with the health and financial crisis, and some governments will find it difficult to give up these new powers, when the crisis is over, similarly to what happened in the wake of 9/11, when civil liberties around the world were trampled. More than a hundred years ago, in the “The Machine Stops“, E. M. Forster wrote about a dystopian future where humans relied on a machine to provide food, clothing, shelter, and interaction with each other, using audio and visual devices. This story sounds like the present, and the pandemic is pushing us even more in that direction, to become more reliant on the “machine”. But the coronavirus pandemic is also causing everything to come to a grinding halt. Health care, government and business “machines” are breaking down and stopping. Maybe this is a wake up call, that pushes in the exact opposite direction, away from centralized machines and structures. The coronavirus global health crisis has the potential to massively disrupt our lives, both economically and socially. I can only hope, we move in the right direction. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the 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) The post Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one? appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020
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Stimulus Boosts Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits $600/Week

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Stimulus Boosts Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits $600/Week
Tucked in the sprawling $2 trillion federal stimulus package, which aims to stem the rampant economic damage caused by the new coronavirus, is a dramatic expansion of benefits available to workers who have lost work or income because of the pandemic. The measure, dubbed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday, cleared the House Friday and is expected to receive President Trump’s signature. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the expanded benefits as “unemployment insurance on steroids” because it provides an extra $600 a week to those who are out of work due to the coronavirus – with a 13-week extension to every state’s unemployment program for a maximum of 39 weeks. It also covers, for the first time, gig workers and freelancers who normally do not qualify for unemployment compensation. Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day. Here’s what you need to know about how the legislation can help if you’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus. How Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits Work The $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits comes in addition to current state-level benefits. Depending on the state, existing unemployment benefits can range from $213 to $546 per week, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The average weekly benefit is $385. The additional $600 comes from the federal government in direct response to the economic fallout of the pandemic. It may be included with the state unemployment benefit check or arrive separately, but it must come weekly.  Pro Tip The filing process for unemployment benefits varies by state. Use Career Stop One, a resource sponsored by the Department of Labor, to find out how to apply to your state’s program. The duration of unemployment benefits also varies by state.CBPP data show most states provide benefits for up to 26 weeks. The bill extends that timeframe by 13 weeks to a maximum of 39 weeks. Some states provide unemployment assistance for as few as 12 weeks. In that case, unemployment benefits – with the extension from the coronavirus bill – would be available for 25 weeks. Though once benefits expire, unemployed Americans may reapply. The CARES Act also widely expands the definition of “unemployed.” Any worker who was laid off, furloughed or has material proof of missed employment or income due to a variety of other coronavirus-related reasons is now eligible. This expanded definition includes freelancers, gig workers and part-timers, too.  Because gig workers’ income fluctuates week by week, it’s unclear how much states will contribute to the unemployment benefit, though unemployed gig workers can expect at least $600 a week if their normal weekly earnings exceed that amount. No one will receive unemployment benefits that exceed their normal weekly earnings. Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Initial claims were 3,283,000 for the week ending 3/21 (+3,001,000). Insured unemployment was 1,803,000 for the week ending 3/14 (+101,000).https://t.co/ys7Eg5LKAW — US Labor Department (@USDOL) March 26, 2020 What’s also unclear is how quickly states will be able to process the coming influx of unemployment claims. While the CARES Act removes red tape to expedite the process, unemployment offices across the nation were already slammed before the bill came to a vote. The Department of Labor reported 3.3 million new unemployment claims the third week of March, just days after Trump declared a national emergency. The CARES Act also includes direct monetary aid to most adults in the form of a $1,200 check. Here’s everything we know about the stimulus checks so far. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the surge in claims shattered the previous record, which was 695,000 weekly claims in October 1982 when the stock market crashed. “While the record number of claims is shocking, it is not totally surprising,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, in a statement. “For days now, we’ve heard how state systems were overwhelmed by the rush to file claims after people were separated from work.” While white-collar employees nationwide transition to remote work in droves, service industry, retail and gig workers by and large have fewer options. While some gig companies and retailers are ramping up hiring in response to a surge in demand for services such as grocery delivery, the impact on workers in industries like restaurants and hospitality is expected to be punishing.  That’s what makes their eligibility for unemployment compensation significant.  In a tweet, the EPI called the CARES Act “a good first step” for part-time and self-employed workers but noted that the unemployment expansion doesn’t go far enough in helping low-wage earners who may not qualify for assistance. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a good first step—expanding unemployment benefits to workers who are self-employed, are seeking part-time work, or do not have sufficient work history.#StimulusPlan #stimulusbill — Economic Policy Institute (@EconomicPolicy) March 26, 2020 Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. 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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10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

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10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
Hadrian / Shutterstock.com It’s hard to beat having things delivered straight to your door — even when you’re not stuck at home due to a pandemic. Amazon has made it easy for anyone to order just about anything and have it delivered to their doorstep. But just because you can purchase something on Amazon, it doesn’t mean you should. Following are some purchases that we don’t think you should ever... [...]
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How Gen X Can Start Tackling Its Credit Card Debt

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How Gen X Can Start Tackling Its Credit Card Debt
When writer Ada Calhoun started losing sleep over her credit card debt, she quickly realized she wasn’t the only one. “I had about $20,000 in credit card debt, and I had just had all this freelance work fall through. I had a plan to pay it off and that plan evaporated, so I was waking... Kimberly Palmer is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: kpalmer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kimberlypalmer. The article How Gen X Can Start Tackling Its Credit Card Debt originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Build a Cheap Home Gym for Less Than $100

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How to Build a Cheap Home Gym for Less Than $100
With gyms across the country closing to help combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, you’re probably wondering how you can keep up with your workout routine while also practicing for social distancing. Enter the home gym. Creating a home gym will not only help you stay in shape but could also save you money in the long run, considering the high cost of gym memberships and boutique fitness classes that can cost more than $20… for a single hour. TPH editor Caitlin Constantine is no stranger to workout-related expenses. As a triathlete, a huge chunk of her disposable cash goes toward racing fees and nutrition. She’s completed two Ironmans, seven marathons and even two ultramarathons. But those race fees add up, to say nothing of all the time and energy she spends on her extensive training. Why add in extra hours slogging back and forth to a gym? However, she knows staying in shape can lengthen and improve lives in every way from preventing injury to counterbalancing mental health issues — which is particularly important during these stressful times — so she’s passionate about deconstructing the myth that fitness has to be complicated and expensive. “It’s our birthright as human beings to be able to use our bodies and make the most of them,” she says.  So she was thrilled to share the details on the cheap home gym she built to help her cross-train cheaply and conveniently — all for less than $100. How to Build a Home Gym for Less Than a Benjamin To ditch the expense of her fitness membership, Constantine built a home gym for under $100.  If that still seems pricy to you, keep in mind: You might spend that for just five Pure Barre classes or a few months of a gym membership. That doesn’t count activation fees or the gas you’ll spend getting there and back.  Once you stock your home gym, it’s yours to keep — no membership renewal necessary. Here’s what’s in Constantine’s workout room, and how she uses it. Resistance Bands Cost: $10+ Exercises: Clamshells, leg lifts, almost any bodyweight exercise  You can amp up nearly every classic exercise you can think of by adding extra resistance.  The cheapest way to do that? Resistance bands.  Constantine found hers at a sports store for $12, but you can find them online starting for less than $10. They usually come in a set of different tensile strengths, so you can customize your workout. Constantine notes they’re a great addition to any runner’s fitness regime. “As a runner, I’m constantly trying to strengthen my hips,” she says. Doing resistance-assisted clamshells and leg lifts helps her accomplish that goal, and also helps with her running-related knee issues. Balance Ball Cost: $10-$30 Exercises: Jackknife, plank (not actually just for men, despite the video!), bridge, back extension Ah, the stability ball. Turns out it’s good for more than just replacing your office chair and making your colleagues feel lazy! “I like the exercise ball because it’s good for doing a lot of core work,” says Constantine.  And as awesome as the stability ball is for core work, you’ll find you can use it for everything from glutes to arms. Tons of full-body workouts require nothing but a properly sized stability ball.  Plus, they’re dirt cheap — starting at about $16 and going up to about $30, depending on the size and brand. Dumbbells Cost: About $20 apiece, depending on weight Exercises: Bicep curls, shoulder press, overhead triceps extension, flyes, deadlifts, the works! Full disclosure: This is the most expensive item on the list. Dumbbells can go for $8 or more each — and yes, that means a single dumbbell, not a set of two. That said, dumbbells are awesome. They’re one of the most versatile and long-lived pieces of equipment you can add to your home gym. Constantine sprung for two pairs — a 10- and 20-pound set, which she uses for everything from chest press lying on her stability ball to deadlifts. Hers cost about $20 each, but the lighter ones are slightly cheaper if you’re not on Constantine’s super-strong level quite yet.  If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure where you stand — or squat, as the case may be — you might consider snapping up a set of several dumbbells, or an adjustable version. That way, you’ll have a few options to choose from, and you can scale in either direction if things prove to be too heavy (or too light!). You can also find them (and anything else on the list!) pre-owned on Craigslist to cut your costs even further.  This even goes for bigger pieces of equipment if you have a special interest in weight training.  Constantine says you can find many online from hopefuls who purchased, and then never used, their weight racks. (“They ended up becoming an expensive clothes hanger” instead, she says.) Other Home Gym Odds and Ends Although you can craft an effective workout with any or all of the home gym equipment listed above, Constantine also picked up a few more odds and ends. Since she practices yoga to round out her intense training, she’s got a yoga mat. You can get one as cheap as $20 or get fancy — Manduka mats are pretty expensive, but they do offer a lifetime guarantee! And her next purchase? A doorway chin-up bar, as long as she can find a good place in her home to install it. They cost between $20 and $40 and work way more body parts than just your arms: core, back, shoulders, you name it. Staying Fit Might Be Hard, but It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated Since Constantine’s a capital-A Athlete, she supplements her at-home workouts with a strenuous training program involving long runs, swims and bike rides.  (“How long is long?” I asked. “Well, the long run I did on Saturday was like 12 miles,” she responded. So, yeah.) But you don’t have to be in a competitive sport to be fit and healthy — or to reap the life-changing benefits of a commitment to fitness. “All the triathlon stuff that I do, that’s way extra,” Constantine says. She considers it her hobby.  “If I was just trying to be healthy, I would just do some planks, do some push-ups, maybe walk for an hour around my neighborhood each night.”  “I feel like there’s this tendency to make fitness seem more complicated than it actually needs to be,” she says — partially because fitness is a huge and profitable industry. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM BEING THRIFTY DOESN'T MEAN CHEAP STUFF 1/22/20 @ 3:22 AM Baking bread 3/23/20 @ 3:13 PM Saving on vegetarian food 3/23/20 @ 2:18 PM M Saving at the Grocery Store 3/4/20 @ 2:43 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question But you don’t have to pay a coach or buy a gym membership to be healthy. No matter what, just do something that’s not sitting for at least an hour every day. It doesn’t have to be intense or unpleasant — in fact, it should be fun!  “There’s no one specific way to get fit,” Constantine says. “Mostly the body just wants to move.” So pick an activity — any activity — you enjoy and get moving. Yes, dancing around in your underwear or playfully chasing your toddler around the backyard both count. Ideally, you’ll get your heart rate up, do some weight-bearin [...]
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Fetch Rewards eReceipts: Earn points for online purchases!

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Fetch Rewards eReceipts: Earn points for online purchases!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Yay! Fetch Rewards just rolled out the ability to earn points for online purchases with their new eReceipts feature! {See my full Fetch Rewards review here. And don’t forget you can earn money for online purchases through Rakuten and Swagbucks!} In case you weren’t aware, I absolutely love using the Fetch Rewards app to save money on my groceries. (You can go here for my full Fetch Rewards review and to learn why I love it so much!) And I’m really excited because they just rolled out a new way to earn points in their app! Fetch Rewards eReceipts With their new Fetch Rewards eReceipts feature, you can now earn points for online purchases. Here’s how: Update to the latest version of the Fetch Rewards app. Tap the Blue eReceipt button. Connect your Amazon or email account. Tap the blue eReceipt button any time you have a receipt in your inbox to scan and you’ll earn points for your online purchase! That’s it! It’s super easy!! Never used Fetch Rewards? Go here to get started and get a special Fetch Rewards code worth a bonus 2,000 points. Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50. [...]
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COVID-19 supplants InsurTech – moving lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Business Needs

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COVID-19 supplants InsurTech – moving lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Business Needs
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*HOT* Up to 60% off Preschool and Educational Toys!

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*HOT* Up to 60% off Preschool and Educational Toys!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering up to 60% off preschool and educational toys! Here are some deals you can get… Get this Learning Resources 100 Piece Deluxe Building Set for only $14.45! Get this Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set for only $31.99 shipped! Get this Educational Insights Kanoodle Extreme for just $7.49! Get this Learning Resources Puzzle Globe for only $18.19! Get these Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Kidnoculars for only $10.96! Get this Learning Resources Money Bags Coin Value Game for only $10.79! Get this Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Bubbling Volcano Reactor for only $9.59! Shop the entire preschool and educational toys sale here. Valid today only, March 18, 2020, while supplies last. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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Let Hippo Home Insurance Save You 20% (Plus More Ways to Save)

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Let Hippo Home Insurance Save You 20% (Plus More Ways to Save)
If you own a home, homeowners insurance probably isn’t something you think about regularly. For most, you pay it alongside your mortgage payment, so it’s never really top of mind — just another bill you’ve got to pay. But, when you think about it, it’s probably one of your more expensive bills, with the average American paying an annual premium of $1,211 in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Here’s the thing, though: You’re probably paying too much for your current policy. When’s the last time you checked prices, anyway? You probably didn’t realize how many discounts are available.  We suggest taking 60 seconds to get a free quote from Hippo Insurance, an online insurance company. It saves users up to 20% on premiums. You can switch your policy at any time, for any reason, and Hippo Insurance will even help you with the paperwork. Plus, your old insurer should issue you a refund. (Check with them first!) Then, see if you can apply even more discounts to your bill by making these simple changes around your house this weekend. No, we’re not talking about installing a new roof (though that can help, too). We’re talking about easy and affordable tweaks: 1. Install Smart Home Devices to Save up to 15% Smart home devices are popular, but most of us consider them unnecessary. Do we really need the thermostat to adjust automatically? Or turn the lights on and off without, you know, just flipping a switch? But there are smart home devices that can actually make your home safer — and save you up to 15% on homeowners insurance. Think: Water-leak detectors, alarm systems and smoke detectors. Before you go out and buy these, you can get a full kit for free when you get home insurance through Hippo Insurance. Each Hippo Insurance policy comes with a free smart-home-device system to help protect your home against fire and water damage.  Hippo will automatically apply the discount to your policy. Easy. 2. Have a Fire Extinguisher on Hand and Save as Much as 5% Did you know you can get homeowners insurance discounts just for having a fire extinguisher in your home? Yup, you can save up to 5% on your Hippo policy. You can buy fire extinguisher at Walmart, Home Depot or even Amazon. We found multi-purpose extinguishers on Amazon for under $40. You should have one easily accessible on every story of your home. Remember: Most home fires start in the kitchen, according to the American Red Cross. And if you’re not sure how to use a fire extinguisher, you can always contact your local fire department for a free training. Don’t Forget to Check Your Savings Once you’re done, pull a new homeowners insurance quote from Hippo Insurance and see how much you were able to save. And, hey, now your home is now much safer! Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff 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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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)

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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)
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. Whew! What a wild week it’s been! In addition to everything surrounding COVID-19… school cancellations, church cancellations, sports cancellations, my parents cancelling their trip to come see us, Kathrynne being in Suriname while all this was going down*, and just figuring out how to navigate life in the middle of all of the unknown, we’ve also personally had some pretty HUGE things happen at our house this week… namely, we said yes to fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU. So, much of our week was spent at the NICU loving on this little baby and meeting with the social worker/DCS/the medical team and learning how to care for a medically fragile baby. I had never stepped foot in the NICU up until 4 days ago, so it’s been a whole new experience. And of all of the weeks, this was probably one of the most unique and weird weeks to be spending a lot of time at a hospital!! (They have a screening process just to get in the door and then to get in the NICU is a whole other level!) The nurses and staff and social worker and DCS have all been amazing throughout this process and they have taught me so much and walked alongside us so well through this new territory. Also, we are so thrilled that the baby is doing so well, has started to bottle feed a little this week, and maybe get to come home in a few weeks! (And yes, in case you’re wondering, this means that we’re planning to have two newborns at our house soon!! The kids could not be more excited!! Of course, this is foster care, so things could always change at any time… we’re just taking one day at a time and seeking to love well in this.) If you want to follow along with this journey, I’m sharing little peeks on my Instagram stories every day. *As of last night, Kathrynne is currently stranded in Suriname because they closed the borders just hours before she was supposed to fly back home today! Her school is working hard to get this situation resolved ASAP and get the girls back home. In the mean time, she has such a good attitude about it all. You can read more details here. Okay, enough of an update! Let’s talk about groceries! We checked our stockpile and realized it was lacking in a few areas, so we shored up those areas so that we have a 30-day supply on hand — even though not everything was on sale this week. I’m grateful that we did this earlier in the week, because our stores are pretty sold out of a lot of staple items now. Jesse ran by Kroger on Monday to pick up a few things we needed: Kroger Shopping Trip #1 Potatoes — $2.49 Milk — $2.99 Cheese — $2.29 4 yogurts — marked down to $0.39 each Total with tax: $9.91 And then he ran by Aldi later on in the week to get a few more staple items: Aldi Shopping Trip 10-lb. potatoes — $3.79 Eggs — $0.58 Black Beans — $2.45 4 boxes Mac & Cheese — $0.33 each Steel Cut Oats —  $2.99 Great Northern Beans — $1.69 Milk — $2.49 Total with tax: $16.07 (The bag of sugar had a small hole in it, so they gave it to Jesse for free!!) Psst! Have you checked out my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi? I’m glad we got potatoes, because our store was completely sold out of them by Friday! (Who knew potatoes would be the big thing to stock up on?? That one surprised me!) Kroger had some three-day sales that I wanted to try to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure whether they would have these items in stock when I went by on Friday night, but they did! In thinking of making sure we have a 30-day supply of food and household items, I made sure we had enough on hand to make 30 dinners with our freezer and pantry items. I always love to have a few frozen pizzas on hand — especially for a quick dinner on busy nights or if the kids have friends over at the last minute! Yay for them being on sale for just $3.14! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 Kroger Pizzas — $3.14 each with the three-day sale 2 bags of rice — $1.99 each 5 packages Kroger cheese — $1.29 each with the three-day sale Eggs — $1.19 3 packages strawberries — $1.67 each 2 bunches bananas — $2.71 total 5 packages Nathan Beef Franks — $1.99 each with the three-day sale Milk — $2.99 Apples — $3.99 Total with tax: $45.42 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Banana Muffins, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Yogurt, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Turkey Meatballs, Breaded Eggplant, Salad Tuesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Twice Baked Potatoes Wednesday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Banana Muffins, Veggies Thursday — Meatballs, Apple Crisp Friday — Leftover Meatballs, Leftover Twice Baked Potatoes, Steamed Veggies Saturday — Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Strawberries Total spent on groceries: $71.40 Cashback Earned: 75 points from Fetch Rewards and $1 from iBotta [...]
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How the Coronavirus Is Changing the Gig Economy

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How the Coronavirus Is Changing the Gig Economy
The new coronavirus is shaking things up in the gig economy. Gig companies and their workers are reacting to the spread of COVID-19 in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for employers and businesses, which recommend workers stay home when they’re sick or work from home if the company’s tech infrastructure permits. Due to being classified as independent contractors, gig workers typically don’t receive benefits – including sick leave. And because of the very nature of gig services, they can’t simply bring their work home. Over the past week, some well-known gig companies have announced changes to their policies and app features that are aimed at curbing the spread of illnesses — with some companies announcing paid leave under certain conditions. Here’s what’s changing. Delivery Gigs Delivery orders are surging nationwide. Grocery delivery company Instacart has seen a 10-fold increase in recent orders and 20-fold increases in California and Washington, Reuters reported. The company announced a “Leave it at my door” feature to limit interactions between the customer and delivery worker. Postmates and Doordash followed suit. “We know there are always people who, for health and other reasons, might prefer a non-contact delivery experience and we believe this will provide customers with that option,” Postmates said in an announcement of the feature. The bills don’t stop just because you’re ill. Here are six ways to make quick money if you need to take unpaid sick leave. The contactless delivery features are also appealing to some health-conscious ride-share drivers who would rather avoid having customers in their vehicle. For Uber drivers, the transition to food-delivery gigs is pretty seamless. Once workers are approved for the ride-sharing service, they’re eligible to start taking orders on Uber Eats using the same driver app. But there are also unforeseen hiccups. In advice groups on Facebook and Reddit, grocery delivery drivers have been venting frustrations about item shortages at grocery stores, saying that many customers’ orders include items that are out of stock. Freelance Gigs For freelancers, who are best suited for remote work, not a whole lot is changing. Projects may even increase in the short term. Several staffing agencies and freelance platforms, including TopTal and Outsize, told Forbes that freelance business is up. To stay productive, traditional businesses may turn to freelancers as they implement remote work policies and accommodate higher rates of sick leave. Pro Tip Uninsured or underinsured? Try one of these affordable health care options for freelancers (gig workers, too). Professional freelancers are also better in control of their workload and earnings than typical gig workers, and may have better luck negotiating deadlines if they fall ill. But they still don’t get paid sick days and have to foot medical costs themselves. Freelance photographers, however, are particularly vulnerable since the job often requires field work. How many freelance photographers have lost jobs due to the coronavirus? — Kacy Burdette (@KacyBurdette) March 9, 2020 Kacy Burdette, photo editor of Adweek, tweeted to her freelance photography followers, asking how the coronavirus is affecting their gigs. Scores of freelancers replied, reporting lost or delayed contracts – especially international- and event-related gigs – due to travel restrictions and cancelations of major conferences and festivals like SXSW. Ride-Share Gigs Ride-share apps and workers are perhaps most affected by recent developments with the coronavirus. Uber and Lyft encouraged their drivers and passengers to stay home if they contract the coronavirus, a potentially unworkable solution for drivers who can’t afford to go without a week or more of wages. Then, in an unprecedented development among gig companies, both ride-share providers announced that they will offer paid sick leave for quarantined or infected gig workers. “Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold,” Uber said in an announcement. Doordash announced a similar policy shortly afterward. In all three cases, drivers’ accounts are suspended until they recover. Several drivers told The Penny Hoarder they are concerned that the changes in people’s traveling habits will impact their earnings. Drivers who rely on airport fares seem disproportionately affected. Other drivers decried the cancellation of large events, which are usually ripe for picking up fares and increasing their earnings through surge pricing. Many colleges and universities are implementing online classes for the remainder of the semester, further impacting drivers’ income. “Here in New Orleans the mayor just cancelled all events this weekend,” ride-share driver June Erie said. “Drivers are worried about [the cancellation of] even bigger events coming up” such as French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. A fearless variety of ride-share drivers see the pandemic as an opportunity to earn more money, as some competing drivers in their area may decide to stay home. Some say the hype is to blame.  “No issues. No fear either. I’m just working as normal,” said Illinois-based ride-share driver Kristin Eiswert. Other drivers are fearful and keep driving nonetheless. Reports and videos depicting drivers in makeshift hazmat suits and bubble-like contraptions that separate them from their passengers are flooding ride-share advice groups. New York Lyft driver seals himself in airtight bubble to protect himself from the Coronavirus https://t.co/oIgHDVA3sa — Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 10, 2020 While most drivers share such photos for comic relief, the phenomenon seems to highlight a unique sense of unease for gig workers.  It’s true that the coronavirus may not directly impact their health. The effects on their bottom line are another story. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. 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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Buy One, Get One Free Vitamins on Amazon!

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Buy One, Get One Free Vitamins on Amazon!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Right now, Amazon is offering Buy One, Get One Free on select vitamins! Here are some deals you can score… Get 2 Nature’s Bounty Vitamin D3 Pills & Supplements (240 count) for just $15.05 shipped when you checkout through Subscribe & Save! That’s just $7.52 per bottle shipped! Get 2 Nature Made Super B Energy Complex Softgels, 60 Count for just $8.16 shipped when you checkout through Subscribe & Save! That’s just $4.08 shipped per bottle! Get 2 Nature Made Magnesium Oxide 250 mg Tablets, 100 Count for just $3.80 shipped when you checkout through Subscribe & Save! That’s just $1.90 shipped per bottle! Get 2 Liquid Mineral Iron Supplement, 16 ounces for just $8.44 shipped when you checkout through Subscribe & Save! That’s just $4.22 per bottle shipped! Shop the entire vitamin sale here. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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Freaking Out About the Stock Market? Read This

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Freaking Out About the Stock Market? Read This
If you think the recent stock market correction is terrible, you’re right. Watching your net worth decline by close to 20% in a couple of weeks is no walk in the park. But take a brief walk with me down memory lane and look at a bit of my work history. Maybe it can provide a little perspective that will help you make better decisions. It's not the usual blah, blah, blah. Click here to sign up for... [...]
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*HOT* Kindle Unlimited Trial: Completely FREE 2-Month Subscription ($19.98 Value!!)

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*HOT* Kindle Unlimited Trial: Completely FREE 2-Month Subscription ($19.98 Value!!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. If you’ve been wanting to try Kindle Unlimited, don’t miss this FREE 2-month Kindle Unlimited Trial! It’s a great opportunity to score some fantastic reads for free. This HOT offer has been extended through April 30th! Right now, you can sign up to get a FREE two-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited! And the best part is that you can take advantage of this deal even if you’ve signed up in the past! Since Kindle Unlimited is usually priced at $9.99 per month, this is a RARE savings of $19.98! This is a fantastic deal and we haven’t seen a FREE two-month Kindle Unlimited deal in a while. When you sign up for this deal, you’ll get access to over 700,000 ebooks and thousands of audiobooks — all for free! The available books change pretty often, but right now they have The Day the World Came to Town — a book I read last year and absolutely loved! I highly recommend reading it. Free 2-Month Kindle Unlimited Trial Interested in this deal? Here’s how it works: Sign up for a free 2-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited Click on the Kindle Unlimited tab in your Amazon bar to search for available titles (you can search individually or sort by genre). You’ll be able to add up to 10 titles to your Kindle Unlimited account at a time. Once you’ve finished reading a title, just return it and borrow another. You can read or listen to the titles on any device with the free Kindle app. Be sure to cancel your subscription before your 2 month subscription is up, otherwise, you’ll be charged $9.99 per month. Want some other suggestions of great titles to read that you can possibly read for FREE with your Kindle Unlimited Trial? Here are some other great reads that are currently available: Dear Bob and Sue — I read this book last year and loved it! And it inspired me to want to visit all the National Parks! Beneath a Scarlet Sky — This has been on my to-read list for over a year! Manage Your Day-to-Day — This one had some great inspiration in it. The Miracle Morning — A good title if you struggle with mornings. I’d Rather Be Reading — I enjoyed this short book by Anne Bogel. Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals — I’ve been wanting to read this new book by Michael Hyatt. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners — If you’re interested in trying a Keto diet, this might be a good resource! It’s the #1 ketogenic cookbook on Amazon. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life — If you have trouble saying “no” as often as you should, this looks like a really great read that has over 4,000 5-star ratings. I’d love to know what other titles you find that you can read on Kindle Unlimited with this great deal! Go here to sign up for your free 2-month subscription! [...]
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The $5 trillion ETF market has been tested

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The $5 trillion ETF market has been tested
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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)

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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)
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. We’ve been eating a LOT of cereal these days. Somewhat because I’m moving more slowly and am more tired now that I’m in the third trimester so it’s an easy snack/meal, but also because I keep getting great deals on it and cereal/milk are one of the few things that don’t give me heartburn! (I didn’t get a picture of these groceries before the kids already got into the cereal & milk!) Kroger Shopping Trip #1 1 gallon milk — $2.69 2 tubes Colgate toothpaste — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $4/2 Kroger digital coupon = free after coupons 1 box Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items 2 boxes Cheerios — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $1.49 each after coupons Total with tax: $8.49 I was so excited that Kroger had butter on sale for $1.99 again this week! We still have 4 pounds in the freezer from the last sale, but you can bet I went ahead and got 5 more pounds to stock the freezer! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 loaves Bakery French Bread — marked down to $0.89 each 1 bag of pears — marked down to $0.99 2 jars of cinnamon/nutmeg — $1 each 1 3-lb. bag of Navel oranges — $1.99 2 bags of frozen Broccoli/Cauliflower — $1/bag 5 packages of sausage — $1.88 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon 1 dozen eggs — $2.50 Milk — $2.99 5 pounds of butter — $1.99 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon Total with tax: $35.70 Since we had about $26 left in our grocery budget, I decided to run by Aldi on Saturday after Silas’ baseball practice. I was hoping to pick up some cereal and cheese. I let Silas add up the amount of the our purchases as we added things to the cart and he made sure we stayed within our budget. He did a great job of doing the mental math! Aldi Shopping Trip Chocolate Chip — $1.69 Dried Cranberries — $1.29 2 Cinnamon Crunch cereal — $1.39 each 3 boxes of Macaroni & Cheese — $0.33 each 6-pack of Peach Tea — $3.99 Eggs — $0.58 Baby Carrots — $0.89 2 Honey Crunch Oats cereal — $1.29 Milk — $2.49 Frosted Flakes — $2.29 2 packages cheese — $1.69 each Total with tax: $24.55 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Scrambled Eggs, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Frozen Pizza Monday — Quiche (used marked down pie crust, mixed veggies, ground beef, eggs, spices), Apple Turnover (used marked down pie crust) Tuesday — Instant Pot Apples, Pumpkin Waffles, Sausage Wednesday — Chicken Noodle Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Thursday — Parmesan Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Peas, Biscuits Friday — Leftover Buffet, Oranges (Jesse was out of town) Saturday — Frozen Pizza, Salad (Jesse was out of town) [...]
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Keep These Things in Mind So You Won’t Regret Buying a House

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Keep These Things in Mind So You Won’t Regret Buying a House
Your first home purchase is more than a major investment. It’s a rite of passage, right up there with your first job. In addition to checking an adulting box, buying a house means taking on a slew of financial responsibilities that can last for literal decades. It’s a big decision in every sense of the word — and unfortunately, it’s one that many first-time buyers end up regretting.  No Regrets: What to Think (and Re-Think) When House Shopping Some things you really do have to learn the hard way — but ideally not the ones that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you’re in the market for your first home, here are some things to think twice about. Keep Maintenance in Mind Given that few of us ever spend six figures on any other single asset, the base cost of a home is probably already enough to make you woozy. But ask just about any new homeowner and they’ll tell you the mortgage payment is just the beginning.  When you’re an owner (as opposed to a renter), you no longer have the benefit of simply phoning your landlord to come fix your toilet or tinker with your hot water heater. Now, all those little problems are up to you — and they can add up to big costs. In fact, the unexpected high cost of maintenance is often a top reason new homeowners say they regret the purchase of their first home.  So when calculating how much house you can afford, be sure to add in a substantial buffer for the “uh-oh” factor. It’s going to come, so don’t let it catch you off guard. Size Matters It’s important to think carefully about what size house will actually fit your needs.  If you’re a young couple planning on having a child or two, a 2/1 might not cut it for long. Or, if you’re retired and living on a fixed income, downsizing from the 3/2 with the garage and big yard where you raised your family could bring a welcome reduction in expenses. Although life is unpredictable, taking the time to think through these kinds of decisions while home shopping could keep you from having to shop for a home again sooner than you’d like. While it’s easy to be wooed by lots of space, does anybody really need a 3,000-square-foot behemoth? The larger your house, the more you’ll spend on heating, cooling and furnishing it — not to mention the time it takes to keep it clean.  In many metro areas, homes closer to downtown tend to be smaller (and often more expensive), while the suburbs are lined with bigger homes built for families. But keep in mind the potential tradeoffs, like a longer commute that costs you more in time and gasoline. Of course, smaller homes are generally cheaper — and with the nationwide median price of a new house hovering just under $300,000, some buyers may feel they have to go small to make buying accessible at all. Although the tiny house movement and its attendant mindful minimalism are on the rise, you might want to think twice before buying too small. According to Trulia’s 2017 Real Estate Regrets report, 17% of first-time buyers wish they’d chosen something larger—a figure that jumps to 29% among 18-34 year olds. And if you’re willing to do your research (and sink some money into repair work), buying a foreclosed home could mean lots of square footage at a fraction of the cost. Houses are Expensive Yes, this one sounds like a no-brainer. But when you’re caught up in the excitement of it all — and comparison shopping with the McMansion next door — $150,000 can start to look like a bargain. And it may well be. But it’s still $150,000, a sum that would take most of us years and years to save. Unless you’re able to buy the house in cash, you’re also going to be paying interest on that figure, as well as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and most likely other costs like PMI. So it’s not surprising that almost 10% of buyers say they wish they’d been more financially secure before they made the big decision — or that more than a third of Americans who haven’t purchased a home say the reason is the cost is too darn high.  Although building home equity can be a great financial benefit, sometimes, renting really does make more sense. (Here are some tips on how to tell whether renting or buying makes more sense in your case.) You could also consider alternative housing options, from sailboats to earthships. There are all sorts of ways to live in the world aside from four brick-and-mortar (or drywall-and-plaster) walls. Still Ready to Become a Homeowner? If you’ve given it lots (and lots) of thought and you’re ready to take the big leap into homeownership, don’t worry—we’ve got tons of resources to help you do it as effectively as possible. From buying with bad credit to choosing a mortgage, becoming a homeowner is all about making decisions armed with as much information as possible. Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com. 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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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020
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My Free Amazon Baby Box Came in the Mail!

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My Free Amazon Baby Box Came in the Mail!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. If you are pregnant or adopting, you can get a FREE Amazon Baby Box when you create an Amazon Baby Registry! I just got mine a few days ago and was so impressed with what was in it! Psst! Looking for more baby freebies? You can also get a FREE Target Baby Registry Gift Bag! And be sure to check out all the great Baby Deals we’ve recently posted. If you’re pregnant or adopting and plan to create an Amazon Baby Registry, I don’t want you to miss out on this great FREEBIE! I just ordered my box and was so impressed with this free box. In order to sign up for it, just set up an Amazon Baby Registry, add some items to the registry, and order at least $10 worth of items from the registry. Since we’re currently collecting things for our baby stockpile, I wanted to have a bulk package of wipes. So I found a deal on them, added these to the registry, and then purchased them off the registry — thus qualifying for the free Amazon Baby Welcome Box. (Psst! I used an Amazon gift card I had earned for free from Swagbucks to pay for it!) Once you’ve purchased $10 worth of items off your Amazon Baby Registry, just click on your registry and go up to the section at the top of the page that says Welcome Box (see above). Click on it and follow the instructions to order your box. My box came within two weeks and was packed with goodies! Here was everything that came in my FREE Amazon Baby Box: 10-pack of WaterWipes Cetaphil Baby Wash sample size bottle Avent Nursing Pads Muslin Swaddle Blanket (I was especially excited about this!) Pipette Shampoo and Conditioner samples Draft Laundry Detergent sample Moon and Back Baby Onesie Avent Bottle Click here to order your own FREE Amazon Baby Box. P.S. Don’t forget to get your FREE Target Baby Registry Gift Bag, too! [...]
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10 Books You Can Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited

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10 Books You Can Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Did you see the news? Through March 1st, you can sign up to get a FREE two-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited! And the best part is that you can take advantage of this deal even if you’ve signed up in the past! Since Kindle Unlimited is usually priced at $9.99 per month, this is a RARE savings of $19.98! This is a fantastic deal and we haven’t seen a FREE two-month Kindle Unlimited deal in a while. When you sign up for this deal, you’ll get access to over 700,000 ebooks and thousands of audiobooks — all for free! Free 2-Month Kindle Unlimited Trial Interested in this deal? Here’s how it works: Sign up for a free 2-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited Click on the Kindle Unlimited tab in your Amazon bar to search for available titles (you can search individually or sort by genre). You’ll be able to add up to 10 titles to your Kindle Unlimited account at a time. Once you’ve finished reading a title, just return it and borrow another. You can read or listen to the titles on any device with the free Kindle app. Be sure to cancel your subscription before your 2 month subscription is up, otherwise, you’ll be charged $9.99 per month. I spent some time this afternoon going through a lot of the books that are available for free on Kindle Unlimited right now. Here are 10 that I recommend looking at downloading: Dear Bob and Sue Alrighty, this might brand me as super corny and with weird sense of humor, but I really loved this book! In fact, it was one of my favorite books I finished in May. It’s written as a series of letters to Bob and Sue from their friends, Matt and Karen Smith. Matt and Karen are a couple who set a goal to visit every single one of the US National Parks. I found their wit and sarcasm to be laugh out loud funny and their letters to be very interesting. Also, their teasing and poking fun at one another to be so much like Jesse and me. Needless to say, I loved the book… which shocked me considering I never once would have thought of myself as someone who would find a book of letters about visiting National Parks to be something I wouldn’t just tolerate but would enjoy. And guess what? They inspired me to want to visit all the National Parks, too. Or at least start visiting some of them — something I haven’t done in years (we visited some of them growing up but it’s not been on my priority list for vacations since Jesse and I got married). I told Jesse that after we finish our goals to visit all 7 continents and 50 states, maybe we can set another goal to visit all the US National Parks? The Next Right Thing This is a book you can go back to again and again and each time it will hit you in a new and fresh way. Each short chapter is heartfelt, thoughtful, powerful, and impactful… and leaves you with intentional but simple action steps to take and insightful questions to help you gain more clarity for right now and for your future. If you struggle to make decisions, you’re in the midst of a big life change, you’d just love some quiet guidance to be more intentional with your days, or you love Emily’s writing and podcast, this book is for you! Emotionally Healthy Spirituality A friend gave me this book and said it had really impacted her life. I hadn’t heard of it before and wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. Then I started reading… and within a few chapters, I knew it was going to be one of those really life-changing books. The book is all about how our emotional and spiritual health are so tied together and how we often overlook this. The author talks about how often we seem to think that our past and our baggage and all the things we try to pretend don’t exist or stuff down or not deal with won’t affect us in the long run… but it will! There are so many things I gleaned from this book and so many sections that challenged me in deep ways. I feel like I will be processing its message for a long time to come. One of the areas in the book that really encouraged me was to recognize how much the changes I’ve made in the last two years to slow down and savor life more. I realize how these changes have truly allowed me to become so much healthier as a person — physically, mentally, and spiritually. There were numerous quotes that I loved from the book, but one that I shared on Instagram was this: “True freedom comes when we no longer need to be somebody special in other people’s eyes because we know we are lovable and good enough.” In Christ, we are enough. We are loved. We are redeemed. We are forgiven. When we live in light of this truth, we can walk in amazing freedom and confidence — and we can love other people so much more deeply and authentically. Loving the Little Years This is not a book with lots of practical, hands-on advice, but it’s a book the deals with the heart issues we moms face. I didn’t agree with the author on all points (I’m not really sure that I ever do, though!) and think we have to be careful when reading parenting books because what works for one family or one child isn’t necessarily what will or should work for another family or child. That said, I was convicted, and inspired by Loving the Little Years. It made me really step back and re-examine my own heart and how I am responding to and discipling my children on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s easier (in the moment) to just slap band-aids and quick fixes onto behavior and attitude issues, instead of really taking the time to deal with the heart issues and struggles our children are facing. This book challenges moms to really delve down to the heart of the matter. As the author says, “The state of your heart is the state of your home.” Note: You can also get Rachel’s other two books, Fit to Burst and You Who? for free on Kindle Unlimited, too. Begin Again This book moved me at a deep level. While I felt like sometimes I wasn’t poetic enough to understand the depths of what was being communicated. It felt so raw and honest and vulnerable and yet so beautiful and rich and inspiring. I didn’t want it to end. Two of the quotes that were the most meaningful to me: “We don’t get to the truth while we’re deeply invested in what’s false.” “God’s story is a narrative of emancipation.” More Recommended Reads/Books I Want to Read: Anything –I read this years ago, but I remember it deeply impacting me! Maybe it’s time to read it again (especially since I realized that I didn’t write a review on it for the blog! The Sacred Enneagram — This is on my to-read-soon list as it’s been highly recommended to me! Beneath a Scarlet Sky — This one is also on my shelf and I’m really hoping to get to read it this year as I’ve heard rave reviews of it! The Green Ember — We enjoyed reading this book aloud when the kids were younger. God’s Smuggler — This was one of my favorite books as a teen. Did you know you can also access magazines for free — like HGTV magazine? I’d love to know what other titles you find that you can read on Kindle Unlimited with this great deal! Go here to sign up for your free 2-month subscription! [...]
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Intuit Muscles Up With Strategic Fintech Acquisition

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Intuit Muscles Up With Strategic Fintech Acquisition
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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet

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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet
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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)

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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)
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 excited to find some great deals at Kroger, be able to stock up on a few things, and stay under budget. Here’s what we bought this week: Kroger Shopping Trip #1: 4 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each with the digital coupon Duncan Hines Microwave Cakes (I thought these would be fun to have for a movie night) — marked down to $0.39 each Kroger Hashbrowns — $1.79 Fresh Salsa — marked down to $0.99 1 bag of apples — marked down to $0.99 4 jars Kroger peanut butter — $0.99 each after digital coupon 1 jar natural Kroger peanut butter — $1.79 Kroger cheese (16 oz.) — $3.99 Pillsbury Pie Crust — marked down to $0.99 3-lb bag of Gala apples — $3.99 2 lbs ground beef — marked down to $1.99 each 3 bottles Odwalla juice — marked down to $0.99 each 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Milk — $2.79 Half & Half — $1.99 Total with tax: $38.38 Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Hostess Cupcake Dessert Mix — marked down to $0.39 2 cans Chef Boyardee — marked down to $0.19 each Simple Truth Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39 4 bags Kroger Frozen Veggies — $1 each Lemi-Shine Dishwasher Tabs — marked down to $0.89 5 packages of Pampers wipes — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday digital coupon 2 Stayfree pads — $1.69 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $3/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.19 each 2 Suave shampoo/conditioner — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.49 each Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items Milk — $2.99 Simple Truth Eggs — marked down to $1.49 Total with tax: $29.86 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Yogurt, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners:  Sunday: Leftovers + Mac & Cheese Monday: Breakfast Casserole (recipe sent to me by a follower) Tuesday: Fend for yourself + leftovers Wednesday: Tyson Anytizers, Broccoli, Brown Rice Thursday: Chicken Tetrazinni, Green Beans, Bran Muffins Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon (Jesse & I went out to dinner with a gift card we were given by his parents — we’re trying to get in some dates before the baby gets here!) Saturday: Dinner out (Kathrynne had an out of town basketball tournament) [...]
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What is Woot and How Can it Save You Money?

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What is Woot and How Can it Save You Money?
Recently, my husband announced that he had finally purchased us a new robotic vacuum to help with cleaning around the house. I naturally assumed that he’d ordered it from Amazon and that I could expect it to arrive in two days with Prime. To my surprise, however, he mentioned that he purchased it from a ... Read More about What is Woot and How Can it Save You Money? The post What is Woot and How Can it Save You Money? appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Amazon: Get $10 off three household essentials

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Amazon: Get $10 off three household essentials
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Need to stock up on household essentials? Amazon is offering $10 off when you purchase three select household essential items. Amazon is currently offering $10 off your purchase of three select household essential items! Just choose your products from this page, add them to your cart, and the discount will automatically come off at checkout. Here are a couple of deal ideas… Buy 3 Tide Free and Gentle HE Laundry Detergent Liquid or Original Scent  – $11.97 each Get $10 off 3 select household essentials $25.91 shipped after discount = $8.63 per bottle shipped Buy 3 Swiffer Sweeper Dry Mop Refills – $11.37 each Get $10 off 3 select household essentials Choose to subscribe and save (you can cancel your subscription at any time after your order has shipped) $24.11 shipped after discount = $8.03 per box shipped Buy 3 Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack (3 pack) – $9.44 each Get $10 off 3 select household essentials Choose to subscribe and save (you can cancel your subscription at any time after your order has shipped) $18.32 shipped after discount = $6.10 per pack shipped *Note: For Subscribe & Save items, you can go into your Amazon account after your order ships and cancel your subscription if you don’t want recurring orders. [...]
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What to Know Before Laying Down Money for a Mattress

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What to Know Before Laying Down Money for a Mattress
Here comes Presidents Day, a time to celebrate Lincoln and Roosevelt — and blowout mattress sales. These holiday-weekend bargains can be a smart opportunity to shop for a mattress if you need a new one. But choosing the right bed in your budget can be tricky if you go into the decision cold. Do this... Laura McMullen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lmcmullen@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauraemcmullen. The article What to Know Before Laying Down Money for a Mattress originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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What To Do With Your Tax Refund? Make These 4 Smart Moves

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What To Do With Your Tax Refund? Make These 4 Smart Moves
Two thousand eight hundred dollars. That’s the average income tax refund these days. How would $2,800 feel in your pocket? You’re probably getting a tax refund in the next couple of months, because nearly 80% of U.S. tax filers will. The question is, what are you going to do with your financial windfall? It’s so tempting to spend, isn’t it? After all, life is short! Live it up! OR you could resist the urge to splurge. Instead, do something smart and strategic that’ll benefit you over the long term — even make you some extra money. Here are four suggestions: 1. Start an Emergency Fund Do you have an emergency savings? When your tire blows out on the highway, you fracture your ankle on vacation, or you get laid off, having an emergency fund can save you from sinking into debt. And funneling your refund directly into a savings account will help you avoid the temptation to spend it. Did you know you can have the IRS direct-deposit your tax refund in up to three different accounts? If you don’t have a designated emergency savings account yet, consider the Aspiration Spend & Save account. With the Aspiration Spend account, you can earn up to 5% cash back on your debit card purchases. With the Aspiration Save account (where you’ll funnel your tax refund), you can earn up to 11 times the average interest on your savings balance. (The FDIC reports that the average account earns just .09%.) It takes five minutes to sign up for the account. Then, use IRS Form 8888 to designate which accounts you want to send your refund to. 2. Pay Down High-Interest Debt  Credit cards can be dangerous, especially if you miss a payment or two and face high interest rates. So many of us are being eaten alive by credit card interest rates north of 20%.  If you’re paying that much in interest every month, it becomes difficult to pay off the actual money you owe, and you just start treading water financially. So use your income tax refund to pay down your highest-interest debt. You’ll be using the debt avalanche method, where you organize your payments by prioritizing debts with the highest interest rates first. This will save you money in interest over the long term. 3. Boost Your Retirement Savings Your retirement savings could always use a little love, and the miracle of compound interest will help your savings grow and accumulate over the years. Unfortunately, you can’t have your tax refund deposited directly into your 401(k) account, assuming you have one. But you can have the IRS deposit the money into an IRA instead. That’s an individual retirement account, which you can set up and put money into without going through an employer. There are tax advantages, too. Similar to a 401(k), you won’t pay taxes on any money you contribute to a traditional IRA. You can have the IRS direct-deposit your tax refund directly into your IRA. That way it’s out of sight, out of mind, and you won’t spend it on something you’ll regret later. 4. Get a Month Ahead on Rent (or Your Mortgage)  The rent is too high! It’s no secret that housing in the U.S. is becoming less and less affordable. Low-income folks are the worst off here, but middle-income families are also getting squeezed. If you’re like many of us, your selfish need to sleep indoors is eating up a big chunk of your income. With a tax refund, you can do more than keep up. You can get ahead. Use your refund to make an extra month’s rent or mortgage payment (or at least stash it for that purpose).  It’s a simple way to keep your peace of mind in case times get tough again. Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) 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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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020
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It’s Back!! Buy 2, Get 1 Free Books on Amazon {Includes Many of My Favorite Reads!}

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It’s Back!! Buy 2, Get 1 Free Books on Amazon {Includes Many of My Favorite Reads!}
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Wow! If you love reading, don’t miss this HOT deal on Amazon where you can score Buy 2, Get 1 Free books! Woohoo! This HOT deal is back!! For a limited time, Amazon is running a big Buy 2, Get 1 Free Sale on a huge selection of books! No promo code needed. Just add three books to your cart and one of them will automatically be free. This is a RARE offer and is a perfect time to grab some of your favorite books or a few to give as gifts! There are over 1200 book titles to choose from. The offer also includes movies, music, toys, and games. You can click on “books” on the left sidebar to see just the book titles. Looking for book recommendations? Here are some books included in the sale that I’ve read and enjoyed in the past: Before We Were Yours — This was one of my top 10 favorite reads from 2019. Daring Greatly — This book impacted me deeply and has forever changed how I think and live. Atomic Habits — This is one of the best books on habits that I’ve ever read. I listened to the audiobook for free on Libby and loved it so much that I bought a hard copy — something I rarely do! The Tattooist of Auschwitz — This true story really drew me in and was a beautiful and heart-wrenching story. Rhythms of Renewal — I loved this book enough to ask Rebekah Lyons (the author) to join me on a podcast episode! Wonder — This was one of my top 10 favorite reads in 2017. This book is such a worthwhile read! I read it in two days and can’t recommend it highly enough — especially if you have kids around ages 9-12 Parenting — I really enjoyed this book and appreciated the author’s strong emphasis on the Gospel as that is often missing in parenting books. The Giver — I absolutely loved this story and it was one of my top 10 favorite reads in 2017. Present Over Perfect — This book is one I savored slowly and it was the perfect book for me during my Year of Rest in 2018. The Road Back to You — If you’re interested at all in the Enneagram, I highly recommend this book as a starting place! Hillbilly Elegy — This was a really interesting read, if you can get through all the language. You can see my complete honest thoughts here. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up — I thought I was a minimalist. Then I read this book. And the question, “Does it spark joy?” really changed how I approached so much of life! Read more of my honest thoughts here. Uninvited — If you struggle with feeling lonely, left out, or like you don’t belong, please do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way — If you’re going through a difficult time in life, this book might be a real encouragement for you. Lilac Girls — This is a really compelling, tragic, and gripping story of the horrors of concentration camps. It was one of my top 10 favorite books from 2017. Crazy Love — If you’re a Christian, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I read it years ago, and it challenged me to pull out of my complacency as a follower of Christ. Big Magic — While I strongly disagree with much of the author’s worldview and some of her insights, her book really challenged me as a creative. I especially loved her thoughts on fear. All The Light We Cannot See — This is a well-written and deeply moving book. I really enjoyed it! The Jesus Storybook Bible — This is our family’s favorite children’s Bible story book. It’s accurate, doctrinally sound, and not filled with nonsense and fluff. We read it out loud to our children when they were younger over and over again. Here are some other popular books included in the sale: The 5 Love Languages The Total Money Makeover The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners The Whole30 Jesus Calling Magnolia Table The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Oh, The Places You’ll Go! The Giving Tree There are also several popular children’s books to choose from: Llama Llama I Love You The Very Hungry Caterpillar Giraffes Can’t Dance Are You My Mother? The Day the Crayons Quit The Pout-Pout Fish Press Here God Gave Us You Love You Forever Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection Go here to browse all the books included in this sale. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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Facts & Figures of Amazon lending and the Goldman Sachs X-factor

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Facts & Figures of Amazon lending and the Goldman Sachs X-factor
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Own Your Solo Act with These Financial Tips for Singles

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Own Your Solo Act with These Financial Tips for Singles
It’s all on you. When you’re single, you don’t have a spouse helping you pay bills or a partner nagging you to spend less and save more. How much money you make and what you do with that cash is up to you alone … and only you deal with the repercussions of your financial mistakes. To live your best life as captain of your own ship, you’ve got to commit to making the right choices. Here are 11 financial tips for singles to heed. 1. Build an Emergency Fund An emergency fund is your safety net when something goes wrong. It’s especially important to have a robust emergency fund as a single person because you don’t have someone else’s savings or salary to tap into if your car breaks down or you get laid off from your job. The common recommendation for an emergency fund is to have three-to-six months worth of expenses saved, but if you’re starting from scratch, develop a smaller-scale goal and work your way up to that amount. This guide on how to start an emergency fund can help. Pro Tip Prioritize your savings by paying yourself first. Setting money aside in a savings account when you get paid. By not letting it sit in your checking account, you’re less likely to spend that cash. 2. Save for Retirement The downside of being single: You don’t have a partner helping you add to your retirement accounts. The upside: You only need enough savings to support one person in retirement, not two. Regardless of your relationship status, contributing to a 401(k) or IRA early and often can help you build a comfortable nest egg for your golden years. We break down how to save money for retirement at various stages of life. 3. Create a Budget When your money isn’t merged with a significant other, you don’t have to worry about anyone questioning your spending decisions. Want to drop $300 on a pair of new shoes? Who’s going to tell you no? But just because you don’t have to answer to anyone doesn’t mean it’s okay to spend without a plan. That’s where having a budget comes in. Your budget will show you if you have enough funds to buy those pricey shoes or if that purchase would derail paying the bills on time. If you’re among the many, many Americans who aren’t in the practice of budgeting, check out these tips on how to budget as a beginner. While you’re establishing your various budget categories and spending limits, make sure to include room for a little fun money. It’s hard to stick to a budget that’s too restrictive and leaves you feeling deprived. 4. Stop Being Loyal to Service Providers You’re a free agent when it comes to dating whoever you want. Applying a similar mindset when it comes to service providers — like your cell phone company or car insurance provider — can help you save money. You don’t have to stay tied down to who you’re with today. Check rates and offers from competing service providers to see if you can get similar service for less. If you’re under contract with your current provider, ask the competition if they’ll pay the fee for you to jump ship. Another option: If you’re satisfied with, say, your internet service but find another company is offering lower rates, use that as leverage to negotiate a better price with your provider. Some companies will meet a competitor’s rate to avoid losing a good customer. 5. Vet Potential Roommates Carefully Taking on a roommate can be a great way to reduce housing expenses. But if your roommate ends up being a bum who’s always late with the rent, you’re in for a heap of trouble. Save yourself the headache and do your due diligence ahead of time by asking these screening questions for potential roommates. Pro Tip If you want the social and financial benefits of roommates without being on the hook if they’re short on rent, consider getting an individual room in a coliving space, like this woman did. 6. Embrace Meal Planning When you just have to worry about feeding yourself, it’s oh so convenient to order something on Grubhub or UberEats and call it a night. But do that multiple times a week and the expenses add up quick. Cooking at home is a more economical solution. When you meal prep, you can save time and money. Cook multiple servings of staples like chicken, rice or potatoes and wash and chop veggies in advance so you can quickly pull meals together throughout the week. Avoid prepping too far in advance, though, so your food doesn’t spoil. Meal planning also works for snacks too. Buy a bulk bag of your favorite munchies and divvy it into individual portions instead of spending more on a bunch of snack-size packages. 7. Be Mindful of Lifestyle Inflation When you get a big raise or unexpected windfall of cash, it might be tempting to go into treat-yourself mode. A new wardrobe. The latest iPhone. Weekly spa treatments. But you shouldn’t give into lifestyle inflation without being prudent and addressing things like debt and saving for retirement.  Does that mean you have to keep that ratty futon from college instead of buying a real couch because you’re still paying back student loans? Not exactly. It just means budget your extra money so you increase your student loan payments and have cash for that furniture upgrade. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM What gadgets have you purchased that you felt really saved you money? 2/11/20 @ 12:05 PM How I save money on pest control 2/4/20 @ 8:50 PM Financial Fitness February: Day 4 (And a Money Saving Tip) 2/5/20 @ 5:05 AM Extreme Couponing Tips to Add More Money Into Your Wallet 2/4/20 @ 12:20 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 8. Get an Accountability Partner for Debt Payoff Motivation Paying down debt can be a tedious process. It can help to have someone on your side, keeping you encouraged and steering you back on course when you struggle. An accountability partner does just that. Choose a friend or family member you can confide in about your goals and challenges. Your accountability buddy should be someone who’s not afraid to give you tough love when you need it but who’ll also be your cheerleader throughout your debt payoff process. 9. Have Multiple Sources of Income Losing your job or having your boss cut your hours can be financially devastating when you’re single. Having additional streams of income can ensure you still have money coming in if something happens to your main job. Consider picking up a side hustle, getting a second job or starting an entrepreneurial pursuit. Looking for a way to make more money? You could work from home. We post new job opportunities every weekday. Though you’ll boost your bank account, it requires a bit of juggling to manage more than one job. This woman shares her advice on balancing a side gig with full-time work. 10. Consider if You Need Life Insurance Being single you might think, why would I need life insurance? To be honest, paying into a life insurance policy may not be a priority for you. But if you have kids or have a loan that someone co-signed, getting a life insurance policy is a smart choice. You might also consider getting a policy if you’re a business owner or want to leave something behind for your loved ones. Here’s a run down of the types of life insurance and the best life in [...]
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Huge Savings on Succulents and Live Plants!

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Huge Savings on Succulents and Live Plants!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering huge savings on Succulents and Live Plants! Here are some deals you can score… Get this Pack of 20 Succulents for just $29.99 shipped! Get this Variety Pack Mini Succulents (6 count) for just $17.99! Get these Ionantha Hand Selected Variety Pack of Air Plants for just $11.99! Shop the Succulent and Live Plant sale here. Valid today only, February 7, 2020. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle only $22.49, plus more!

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YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle only $22.49, plus more!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Love YETI products? Check out these hot deals on Amazon right now! If you love YETI, don’t miss these RARE discounts!! Amazon has this YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle for just $22.49 right now (regularly $29.99)! Choose from Navy, Black or Stainless. You can also get this YETI Rambler Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Colster for just $18.74 (regularly $29.99)! Choose from Black, Clay, Navy, Peak Purple, River Green, Seafoam or Silver. Or get this YETI Rambler 36 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle for just $37.49 shipped (regularly $49.99)! Choose from Black, Brick Red, Charcoal, Clay, Navy, Peak Purple, River Green, Seafoam, or Stainless Steel. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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Make Money During the Super Bowl With These 8 Ideas

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Make Money During the Super Bowl With These 8 Ideas
When I was a kid, I was a big reader. Sorry — I meant to say “nerd.” I was a huge nerd and didn’t care about sports. Still, I watched the Green Bay Packers play every Sunday, because that’s what we did in my house. I just usually had a book open at the same time. Because of that ritual, the sound of a football game on TV is cathartic for me. I’d rather turn on the NFL Network than listen to a white noise app when I want to get work done. That’s why I’ll still tune into Super Bowl LIV. I enjoy the connection to the rest of the nation — while knocking out a blog post and making headway through a novel. If you’re in the same boat, use the day to make some extra money. Just make sure you take a break and tune in for the Halftime Show, so you know what everyone’s talking about on Facebook on Monday. While your family or roommates gather ‘round the TV this weekend, try some of these ways to make extra money. 8 Ways to Make Money During the Super Bowl 1. Drive With Lyft If you haven’t already signed up as a driver with Lyft, now’s a good time to do it. As a driver with Lyft, you can help Super Bowl party goers in your city safely get where they’re going and where they’re coming from. No driving drunk or walking in the cold! Plus, the higher demand before and after the game could mean a busy night and big bucks for you. You keep a portion of everything you earn as a driver, plus 100% of your tips. High Lyft traffic means peak hours, which might mean more money for you. Here’s a link to apply to drive with Lyft. 2. List Your Place or Spare Room Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know. So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks. Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area. Tonya Peters’ husband, Miles Rugh, was one of those skeptics. She wanted to list their Virginia Village basement apartment in Denver, Colorado, on Airbnb, but he wasn’t keen on welcoming strangers into their place. Finally, though, he agreed to give it a try. Now, three years later, the couple has hosted too many guests to count. And the extra income has been great for them. They plan to use it for some home renovations they’ve been wanting. “He’s definitely changed his tune,” says Peters, now an Airbnb Superhost. “And he loves having the extra income.” (Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.) 3. Take Stock Photos People dressed in their favorite team’s jersey and faces painted in celebration make for great photographs. Take advantage of the crowds of fans in your town to get some candid shots you can sell to stock photo sites. You don’t even have to give up your own fun to fill your stock photo arsenal. You can sell your smartphone photos via Foap, so don’t worry about keeping track of expensive equipment all afternoon. (Just keep your phone out of the toilet.) Note: Building owners or managers reserve the right to ask you not to take photos on their property. Otherwise, snap away, and make sure you understand whether your intended use of the photograph will require a model or property release. 4. Babysit Want to hang out with the nerdy kids like me, who don’t want to pay attention to the game? Offer to take them off their parents’ hands for the day. Make game day easier for family and friends by offering to watch the little ones while they go out. You’ll get to make $20 to $40 and skip the loud parties. Check out a site like Care.com to make yourself easy to find ahead of game day, and check out other tips on how to become a babysitter 5. Take Care of Pets Pick up pet-sitting or dog-walking work to relieve football fans from the need to look after pets during time-outs. If you can’t find pet-sitting gigs in your network, hop on DogVacay to connect with pet owners in your area. 6. Get Ahead on Freelance Work Holidays — even faux holidays — are great for side hustlers. Unless you want to chat with your clients about football, your inbox and social media will probably be quiet on Super Bowl Sunday. Take advantage of the radio silence to get some work done. If you’re a freelance writer, check out these tips on how to land your first bylines. And sign up for this free seven-day mini-course from ProofreadAnywhere.com to learn how to become a professional proofreader. Or, pick a passion project off the back burner. Work on a novel. Put the finishing touches on a painting. Format an ebook. If you’re just kicking off your side hustle in 2020, read our guide to getting started as a freelancer. 7. Get the Best Gigs If you haven’t, create an account with TaskRabbit. Here’s the strategy for earning money: Find gigs you can complete quickly that pay well for the amount of time you put in. With a lot of Taskers likely taking the day off, Super Bowl Sunday could be a great opportunity to get some of the best gigs. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Looking For Part-Time Job 1/30/20 @ 2:16 PM Q Extra money on the side 1/27/20 @ 1:48 PM S Gig Work Taking Property Photos in the US 1/17/20 @ 1:42 PM I have a question about those cash game apps from Google Play store? 1/14/20 @ 8:16 PM See more in Make Money or ask a money question 8. Get Paid $1,200/Year for Your Screen Time We’ve all been there. Netflix drones in the background as you scroll Instagram. What are you even doing?  But there’s a website that will pay you for all that screen time.  Yep. Swagbucks will pay you in free gift cards for taking surveys and other activities right on your phone.  We know what you’re thinking: You’ll probably just earn a few pennies for your troubles. But we talked to one Swagbucks user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year. And it’s no huge time commitment. Hendrickson takes her surveys in the morning before her full-time job. Even better? You’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 points within your first 60 days. Dana Sitar (dana@thepennyhoarder.com) is a former branded content editor 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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17 Amazon Finds Under $20 That Will Organize Your Life

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17 Amazon Finds Under $20 That Will Organize Your Life
A new year signals a fresh start, which means it’s the perfect time to get — and stay — organized. But first, you’re going to need a few low-cost tools. From the ultimate home organization manual to an annual planner with mass appeal, we’ve rounded up must-have products to help you get all your ducks in a row. Note that although the prices you see here will almost... [...]
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How to Organize Your Finances in 6 Simple Steps

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How to Organize Your Finances in 6 Simple Steps
Not all of us are born to be organizational wizards, but if you want to get ahead with your money, you’ve got to get it under your control. It’s the only way you’ll get any of the big stuff done, such as paying off debt, taking a real vacation, buying a house or saving for retirement. We get it, though. Not all of us keep everything neatly filed, color-coded, alphabetized and prioritized. And you don’t have to be. Here are seven things you can do — in seven days — to get your finances under control: Day 1: Make a Budget That Works for YOU Creating a budget is one of the best ways to organize  your finances, but it’s important to set up a budget that’s a fit for you. How else will you stick to it? One of our favorite budgeting methods is the 50/20/30 method. It’s one of the most straightforward budgeting strategies, and it offers a lot of flexibility. Here’s how it works: 50% of your income goes toward essentials. 20% goes toward financial goals. 30% goes toward personal spending. Once you get the hang of it, you can tweak the ratios to fit your specific situation. Some people like to put more toward their savings, while others need a bit more for expenses. Take some time to find what works best for you and your goals. Day 2:  Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…  And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help. If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances. The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month. AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster. Day 3: Add up to 300 Points to Your Credit Score When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. After all, it’ll play an essential role in any big purchase you want to make — whether that’s a home or a car.  So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame. Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one). James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.* “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said. Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up. Day 4: Secure Up to $1 Million in Life Insurance; Rates Start at $5/Month Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? It’s easy to procrastinate, but now’s a good time to start planning for the future by securing a life insurance policy. You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes — and you could leave your family $1 million with a company called Bestow. Rates start at just $5 a month, and you can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless. If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow. Day 5: Cancel Your Car Insurance Chances are, you know it’s entirely possible to find a better deal on some of your pesky monthly bills but what a hassle. Here’s an easy one to start with, though: Car insurance. You should be shopping your options every six months or so. It could save you some serious money. A company called The Zebra will do this for you. It makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices for the same exact coverage you already have. Plus, it makes canceling your current can insurance and switching plans a breeze. Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By using comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year. The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year. Wondering how much you could save? Head over to The Zebra, and link up your current insurance account (this is how it gets you that apples-to-apples comparison). Then, browse your options. It takes all of two minutes. Day 6: Have a Huge Bonfire You’ve probably got a bunch of boxes and folders filled with financial paperwork you don’t need anymore. Scan all of those docs, and save them in a secure file on your computer (this is important — you need these!). Then, eliminate all the physical and mental clutter… with a bonfire. It will feel good to burn those superfluous stacks, and you can also use it as an excuse for a fun get-together with your friends. Once you’re done, say goodbye to extra paper, and sign up for electronic statements on all your accounts to keep your life tidy and organized in the future. Day 7: Get Up to $500 in Free Stock If you feel like you don’t have enough money to start investing, you’re not alone. But guess what? You really don’t need that much — and you can even get free stocks (worth up to $500!) if you know where to look. Whether you’re got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood. Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use. What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments. *Like Buitureria, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days. Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits. Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) 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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Use a Five Dollar Challenge to Easily Grow Your Savings

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Use a Five Dollar Challenge to Easily Grow Your Savings
Here at The Penny Hoarder, we kind of have a thing for Abe Lincoln.  His face is profiled on our favorite coin after all. But as much as we love our pennies, we also like seeing Lincoln’s bearded mug on the front of the $5 bill. Because saving $5 bills is much more lucrative than hoarding pennies after all. How to Save Money With the Five Dollar Challenge The five dollar challenge is a simple money-saving strategy — one that doesn’t involve much thought or effort. You don’t have to do any math. You don’t have to review your past spending to figure out where to cut back. All this challenge requires is for you to stash away every $5 bill you get as change. That’s it. If you’re paying for something and the cashier hands you back a bill with Lincoln’s solemn face, don’t use it to buy coffee or a cheap lunch from the drive thru. You’ve got to commit that $5 bill to your savings. Depending on how long you participate in the challenge, you could end up banking a lot of cash. Five dollar bills can add up quickly. Just putting aside two $5 bills a week will give you $520 in savings after a year. And since the amount is fairly nominal, your savings can grow without even missing your $5 bills. Where to Keep Your Money Separating all your $5 bills from the rest of your spending money is key to succeeding in this challenge. Many folks who participate in the $5 challenge stash their cash in jars, envelopes or shoe boxes. You can keep a running count of your balance or just wait until the end of your challenge to be surprised by the total. If you don’t feel like keeping all that cash at home though, you can make weekly deposits into a savings account. Your savings will be insured, you’ll distance yourself from your stash and you can even earn interest — especially if you have a high-yield savings account. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Auto Ins based on usage 1/4/20 @ 10:15 AM K Saving for and with grandchildren 12/23/19 @ 6:52 PM M Super Easy Tips for Saving $1000 or More in 2020 12/31/19 @ 5:14 AM What kind of store bought pizza is almost or as good as pizza chains? 12/27/19 @ 9:06 PM M See more in Save Money or ask a money question Participating in the Challenge When You Don’t Use Cash If you’re used to swiping your debit card everywhere you go, that doesn’t mean the five dollar challenge isn’t for you. You’ll just have to do a little extra work. When you make a purchase, think about what change you would have received if you paid in cash. For example, if your Target run totals to $84.25, you’d likely get a $5 bill, a $10 bill and 75 cents back if you paid with a $100 bill. Before you pull out of the parking lot, log onto your online banking account to transfer $5 to your savings. To make it simpler, you could resolve to transfer $5 to your savings account every time you swipe your card. Or you could be more selective and only add $5 to your account when you make a specific purchase, like filling up your gas tank. Another option is to, well, make the switch to using cash — but do it just for your fun money expenditures. Stick with swiping your card to get groceries or stock up on toiletries, but pay with cash when you go to the movies or to the bar. Any $5 bill you receive in change goes — you guessed it — straight to your savings. Customizing the Five Dollar Challenge If squirreling away $5 bills doesn’t work for you, you can modify your money-saving endeavor while still sticking to the basic premise of the challenge. Save all the coins you get as change. (Piggy banks aren’t just for kids, you know.) Or you could put aside all the $1 bills you receive. Pro Tip Go digital with your challenge by using a micro-savings app. Here are a few of our favorite apps that help you save money little by little. However, going with a smaller denomination of money doesn’t mean you’ll be saving less. If you get several $1 bills back in change more often than you get $5 bills, you could end up saving more. Have a Goal for Your Savings Whether you plan to stick with this savings challenge for a couple months or the whole year, it’s good to have a plan for what you’ll do with the money you save. You could afford something nice for yourself, like taking a much-needed vacation or buying something on your personal wish list. Or you could use the money for something that reflects your financial goals, like making a nice dent in your student loan or credit card balance. However you decide to use your savings, having an end-goal in mind can keep you motivated to stay consistent — and to not dig into your stockpile before the challenge ends. 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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Decluttering Our Home (before and after pictures)

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Decluttering Our Home (before and after pictures)
Need some motivation to declutter your home? We’ve been working on decluttering our home this week and I wanted to share the progress we’ve been making: As I shared in my Weekly Goals post, this week, my goal was to declutter the house from top to bottom. I decided to focus on the biggest problem areas in our home for this week — namely the storage room, the Master Bedroom closet, the library, my bedside drawers, and my purse. The Storage Room I’m pretty embarrassed to show you these photos because this room has been neglected for so incredibly long. In fact, when we moved to this house — almost two years ago — we never unpacked or organized a lot of the boxes in here. We just stuck stuff in here and I hoped to eventually get to it. Obviously, it took quite awhile to get around to that “eventually” plan! There were hundreds and hundreds of school papers in here. I didn’t want to throw anything out  since this was theirs… so since they were on Christmas break, this was the perfect time to tackle the boxes of school papers. They pared them down to a few small tubs and recycled a TON of old papers! In the process, they loved getting to look back on how far they have come academically in the last few years! Jesse also went through a lot of his old law firm stuff and so many different old tech things. He ended up finding quite a few things he had forgotten we had or that he had wanted to find — including one item he’d been looking for for 4 years! The three pictures above show the final results. It took hours of work, but it was SO worth it! Our Master Bedroom Closet So our closet wasn’t near at all as messy as the storage room, but it still needed quite a bit of TLC. Both Jesse and I got rid of quite a few clothes, we pared down some other things, we moved some items to other parts of the house where they really belong, and we cleared out a space for the baby’s stuff. (We’re planning to have the baby sleep in our room for at least the first few months, probably longer. So I wanted to have the three drawers on my side of the closet plus some of the shelves available for the baby things.) I couldn’t believe how much stuff Jesse got rid of — including shirts that he’d had for 8-10 years!! My Bedside Drawers Next up, my bedside drawers. This has become a catchall for all sorts of random odds and ends. (Can you believe all of that was in there! Yikes!!) I thought about what I actually want to keep in my bedside table and couldn’t come up with much when it really came down to it! So here’s what it looks like now! The Library Okay, so the before and after pictures of the library aren’t as impressive, but this was a BIG project that I’ve been wanting to tackle for months. I finally took all of the books off the shelves and re-organized them in a really systematic way. And now we know where to put new books when they come in and where to re-shelf books when we put them back! It feels so amazing to have a system!! My Purse And last but not least, I went through my purse. I started by dumping all the contents out — yep, ALL of that was in my purse! Then, I threw out a lot of stuff, put some other things that didn’t belong in my purse away, and only put back what I really want and need in my purse. Now, every time I go to take my purse with me somewhere, it makes me smile to see how clean and organized it is! Let’s see if I can keep it this way! Did you do any decluttering this week? P.S. I love my purse! A number of people reached out via messages and asked where I got it. It’s from Amazon and it’s around $35-$37 there. I use it pretty much every day and have had it for almost a year. Other than a little wear and tear on the strap, it’s held up really well! Here’s the link to it. [...]
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‘America’s Got Talent’ Auditions Are Coming to These 4 Cities

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‘America’s Got Talent’ Auditions Are Coming to These 4 Cities
Ready to propel yourself from relative obscurity to a stage in front of millions of viewers? Here’s your chance to shine on NBC’s hit TV show “America’s Got Talent.” The audition crew is on the road to find the diamonds in the rough for season 15. Open-call auditions will be held in four more cities in January and February. America’s Got Talent Season 15 Audition Dates and Locations Auditions have already taken place in San Diego; Louisville, Kentucky; New York; Dallas; and Miami. But there are other opportunities to prove yourself. Las Vegas, Nevada: Jan. 7, 2020 Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California: Jan. 18, 2020 Detroit, Michigan: Jan. 21, 2020 Los Angeles, California: Febr. 1, 2020 If you don’t live near any of these cities, don’t worry. You can submit a video audition instead. How to Apply to ‘America’s Got Talent’ There are a few steps involved before you can show the world what they’ve been missing. Even if you have signed up and auditioned with the show before, you will need to do so again for the latest season.  Eligibility Requirements Nothing is worse than being discounted on a technicality. Make sure you’re eligible to participate before you sign up. The good news is that we’ve read the fine print, so you don’t have to.  The big takeaways: You must be a United States citizen, legal permanent resident or hold a current employment authorization card at the time of the audition. Minors may audition, but they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Also, you can’t be currently running for public office… thankfully. We don’t need politics interrupting our time with Simon Cowell, right? You must agree not to run for public office until a year afterward, too. Sorry in advance if you were looking to “America’s Got Talent” to jump-start your campaign. Audition Registration Process If you fit the bill so far, you’ll need to head over to the ”America’s Got Talent” audition website to create a “performer profile” for season 15. For applicants interested in auditioning in person, you will need to register for the nearest city and fill out some paperwork on the type of performance you’re planning. Solo fire juggler? K-pop dance group? Or maybe you yodel while shepherding of a flock of corgis? Whatever your act entails, you’ll need to bring the appropriate paperwork with you, along with a valid ID. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM 2020 Financial Goals 12/31/19 @ 1:31 AM Selling My Things 1/2/20 @ 8:12 AM Work from Home Opportunities 12/29/19 @ 11:13 PM buying "boxes" from AmazonI 12/30/19 @ 9:26 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Tips to Nail Your Audition The “America’s Got Talent” website has some general guidelines to make sure your act is worthy of public berating by Simon Cowell. Here’s some advice to set you apart: Singers, be ready to belt your heart out. There are no mics in the audition rooms. Make sure your act is fit to perform at a theatre in front of thousands of people. For dancers, one or two full songs are best for performances. It’s difficult to secure rights to medleys for broadcast. Bring any relevant equipment with you, and have your music files downloaded. Don’t stream your music. Be fearless and original, and make sure to dress to impress. And a personal tip, if you want to shake it up: Consider the winners of recent seasons — a music-themed magician, a ventriloquist and a ukulele-playing singer-songwriter for seasons 13, 12 and 11, respectively. Maybe your talents are more fit for other shows? Here’s how to apply to nine of the most popular game shows that are open to applicants.  Good luck, Penny Hoarders! Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He lives off a diet of stale puns and iced coffee. Read his ​full bio 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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If You Live in Maine, Here’s an Easy Way to Get a Free $25 Amazon Gift Card

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If You Live in Maine, Here’s an Easy Way to Get a Free $25 Amazon Gift Card
Who couldn’t use an Amazon gift card? I mean, seriously, you can get everything on there.  Get this: A company called Arcadia Power is handing out a free $25 Amazon gift card when you try out its free service. (It’ll help relieve some of your guilt about that lamp you decided you needed.) How to Get a Free $25 Amazon Gift Card in 2 Minutes (Seriously!) Energy-saving company Arcadia Power wants to help Maine residents use cleaner energy and save money on their electric bills. All you have to do is connect your utility account, and Arcadia will tell you if it can lower your electric bill. Financial services worker Rebecca Rindler signed up for Arcadia Power. She didn’t think much of it then, but about three months later, she got an email from Arcadia that it found her a better deal. “Basically, I did nothing,” she says. She estimates she saved $120 on her electric bill in a year. Even better? Right now, when you activate your free account, Arcadia Power will send you a free $25 Amazon gift card. Hello, Wish List.   This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Make Owning a Car a Little Less Expensive With These Tips

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Make Owning a Car a Little Less Expensive With These Tips
When it comes to wants and needs, having a car falls solidly in the needs category for most people. You need to get to work. You need to go to the grocery store. You need to chauffeur your kids everywhere. But just because your car’s a necessity doesn’t mean you have to accept high monthly payments that bust your budget. It doesn’t mean you have to fall deeper into debt each time you take it to the shop. Here are several ways to save on cars so you’re not broke — or broke down. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM What kind of store bought pizza is almost or as good as pizza chains? 12/27/19 @ 9:06 PM M Saving for and with grandchildren 12/23/19 @ 6:52 PM M What has been your money epiphany? 2/22/19 @ 10:59 AM Saving money 2/8/19 @ 6:59 AM M See more in Save Money or ask a money question Save on Cars — New or Used According to the valuation analysts at Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new car was $38,393 in November 2019. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn’t mean you can’t save money if your heart is stuck on something new. These tips on cutting costs on a model-year vehicle will have you basking in that new-car smell. Or if you choose to lease instead of buy, here are 12 tips to help you negotiate your car lease. But you’ll almost always snag a better deal if you  purchase a used car instead of a brand new one. Our guide to buying a used car runs down the best time to buy and where you should shop — as well as what you should look out for when deciding which car is right for you. When shopping around, don’t just check traditional dealerships. You might be able to snag a good deal from a car-buying website like Carvana or Vroom or at an auto auction. Save on Cars by Saving Up Give yourself time to save up for a car before your current vehicle is on its last legs. Figure out what you can comfortably afford, and put aside money each month in order to have a solid down payment — or enough to pay for the vehicle in full. Pro Tip Set up a sinking fund, a pool of money you contribute to over time, specifically to save up for your car purchase. If you’re financing your car, limit your auto loan debt by taking steps like improving your credit score and getting an auto loan preapproval.  Slash Regular Auto-Related Expenses Owning a car involves a bunch of expenses aside from the purchase price. There’s gas, insurance, repairs and maintenance just to name a few. Finding ways to reduce these costs will give you more money to spend on the stuff you actually want to buy. Joining a fuel rewards program, using a rewards credit card and filling up early in the week are just three of our 20 ways to save money on gas. Read the entire list to find out how changes to your driving habits and your car’s condition can lower how much you spend on fuel. Having adequate car insurance is a must. Learn how to shop around for the best deal in this guide to buying car insurance. If you plan to have your car for more than a year or two, chances are you’ll run into the need for repairs. At the very least, your car requires regular maintenance, like oil changes, to keep it running in good shape.  Do minor auto maintenance jobs yourself to avoid paying a mechanic’s labor costs. If you lack vehicle know-how, DIY auto repair videos and a repair manual specific to your car’s make and model can help. Of course, there will still be work you’ll want to leave up to the professionals. Budgeting and saving up for future maintenance and repairs will keep you from swiping your credit card at the auto shop — and paying more in interest over time.  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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The Top 10 Books I Read in 2019

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The Top 10 Books I Read in 2019
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Want to know what my Top Favorite Books were that I read in 2019? In this post, I share my Top 10 Favorite Books from 2019. I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books would be books I already own. I ended up only finishing 65 books and reading 20 books I already owned. But I read and listened to some great books, so I’m going to call that a win — even if I fell short of my goal! This was my first year to use GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress and to have a one-stop place to see all the books I read + my star rating of them. Of the 65 books I read in 2019, I picked 10 favorites. These were the 10 that impacted me the most, that I enjoyed the most, that resonated with me deeply, and/or are the ones that I will carry lessons from for years to come. #1: Deep Work This book is actually one I had planned to read in 2018, but I’m really glad I saved it for the beginning of 2019 because it was the perfect book to kick off the year. Deep Work is a little more scholarly than most books I read, but I’m so happy I stuck with it because it really challenged me to think of how I’m approaching life and work and whether I’m investing time every day in what the author refers to as “deep work” — that kind of work that is meaningful and really makes a difference. In this book, Cal Newport encourages you to have periods every day where you are completely offline and not distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of life to allow for this “deep work”. If you struggle to focus or get things done, if you wish you could be more structured in your day, or you’d like to look back on your week and guarantee that you devoted time to work that matters, I’d definitely recommend reading Deep Work. Note: I was privileged to have Cal Newport on my podcast. You can hear our interview here. #2: Eat Cake, Be Brave I listened to this book on the Libby app for free and I loved hearing this in the author’s voice. I felt like it made the book come alive and seem so much more authentic. The author, Melissa Radke, has gone through so much in her life from weight struggles, to infertility, to infidelity, to losing a child, to rejection. And almost all women will be able to relate in some way to her story and her bravery will inspired you. I found myself want to jump up and down and yell “preach it” as I was listening… and I’m not even a very charismatic sort of person. I loved the book so much that I ended up buying a copy from Amazon after I finished listening to it since I wanted to have it in my library so I could re-read parts of it and loan it out to others. Note: I was honored to have Melissa Radke on my podcast. You can listen to our interview here. #3: Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors I picked up this book on the recommendation of a blog reader. And then I put it on my list of 40 books I plan to read — and so many of you commented and said I MUST read it right away so I bumped it to the top of the list. The subtitle for the book is How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids. I love that… because it feels like it’s actually doable and not like a book that is going to make me feel like I’m just not measuring up as a mom. Jami’s humor and candidness in this book was a breathe of fresh air to me. Her writing is so down-to-earth, so raw, and so real. She makes you feel less alone, but she also does such a good job of pointing you to Jesus and encouraging you to lean in and love your kids — even when it’s really hard. If you are looking for a parenting book that isn’t about formulas or perfection and doesn’t make you feel like you need to overhaul your schedule and life and chore charts in order to be a better mom, definitely check out Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors. This book reads more like a memoir, but it’s packed with powerful truths, too. Note: I loved getting to have Jami Amerine on my podcast. You can listen to our interview here.  #4: Killing Lincoln If you’ve listened to The Crystal Paine Show this past year, you know that Jesse and I both really enjoyed this book this past year. (Jesse read it first and his review of it on the podcast intrigued me! So I ended up downloading it on Libby.) While I thought I was pretty familiar with the Lincoln assassination, this book brings history to life. I learned so many intriguing details that I never knew before. Plus, having more historical context made the story so much more compelling. From what I could tell, it was very well-researched and historically accurate. I appreciated that it didn’t seem politically motivated/biased but just very facts-based. If you enjoy history, this is a must-read/must-listen. A big thank you to Jesse for inspiring me to listen to this one! #5: Killing Kennedy After listening to Killing Lincoln and really finding it fascinating, I added this one to my list to listen to it (I got it free from the Libby app.) It was really good, as well, and I learned so many details of history that I didn’t know. I will say that it did have some details that were definitely not appropriate for young ears. (Jesse and I were listening to it while on a road trip and had to turn it off since the kids were in the car!) As I said with Killing Lincoln, “I learned so many intriguing details that I never knew before. Plus, having more historical context made the story so much more compelling. From what I could tell, it was very well-researched and historically accurate. I appreciated that it didn’t seem politically motivated/biased but just very facts-based. If you enjoy history, this is a must-read/must-listen.” #6: Before We Were Yours This was one of those books that I couldn’t stop talking about. Many of you told me you thought I should read it as soon as possible and you were so right. It’s the tragic and true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals and how they played out in the lives of the children who actually went through this horrific experience. Truth be told, I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals before listening to this book — and I live in Tennessee! I have asked multiple people who live here and they haven’t heard of it either. It’s heart-wrenching and horrible and I think a powerful reminder of how money can cause people to make terrible decisions that can hurt people in devastating ways. The book is well-written and engaging and appears to be very well-researched historical fiction. It is also the beautiful story of sibling love and how trauma and devastation doesn’t have to define your future. Note: There are a lot of situations in the book when it comes to abuse that could be very triggering to people, depending upon your life experience and trauma. The book doesn’t give nitty-gritty details, but it’s enough that it could be very triggering. #7: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society I read this book a number of years ago and loved it. Then, I watched the Netflix movie they did based upon the book. Well, after watching the movie and enjoying it, I realized I couldn’t remember enough about the book to compare the movie and the book. So, in an uncharacteristic move, I decided to read the book again. Only this time, I listened to it (thanks to getting the audiobook for free from the Libby app). I loved that the audiobook is narrated by multiple voices. It’s so well done. And I ultimately decided that the book is great, the movie is good, and the audiobook is very well done. So I highly recommend all three. By the way, this novel is written entirely in the form of letters and telegrams. Considering that this book and Dear Mr. Knightley are two of my top favorite books and both are written in letter form, apparently I’m a big fan of that style of writing! #8: Everybody, A [...]
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These 9 Free TV Apps Let You Watch Your Favorite Shows — Without the Bill

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These 9 Free TV Apps Let You Watch Your Favorite Shows — Without the Bill
As cable subscription prices rise higher and higher and customer satisfaction ratings dive lower and lower, cutting the cable has never been more popular.  Sure, there are the usual big names in streaming services available for a monthly fee, but it’s possible to kick subscription fees entirely. Luckily, there are more options than ever for replacing your traditional cable setup.  Many free streaming services have stepped up to offer access to content overlooked by subscription-based services.  Of course, there are some rather shady options out there that stream pirated content. But there are plenty of free, legal streaming apps that provide no-strings-attached cable cutting solutions. 9 Free TV Apps That Will Help You Cut Cable Check out these free TV apps that will help you cut the cord but still let you enjoy your favorite TV shows. 1. Crackle Crackle is one of the go-to names not just in free streaming but in streaming video in general. The cost-free service has a variety of content, ranging from classics like “Bewitched” and “All in the Family,” as well as the newer “Snatch” series. It also has hundreds of films from major studios.  For a free streaming service, Crackle’s library is truly impressive. Crackle even has a handful of original series to its name. Best of all, Crackle works on nearly all mobile devices, streaming boxes, and smart TVs. 2. Tubi TV Tubi TV has deals with major studios like Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Lionsgate. It also features lots of foreign and independent productions.  Tubi TV’s library is updated regularly, and the service claims to add new content every week. The Tubi TV app works on Android and iOS devices, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV. To be honest, when I first heard of Tubi TV, I was skeptical because I always viewed apps like it as having the movies no one wanted to see. However, I was pleasantly surprised — the library is solid. Since the service is ad-supported, you can expect to watch a couple minutes of ads every ten minutes or so. The experience is pretty similar to watching normal television.  3. Pluto TV Pluto TV stands out in the free streaming crowd in that the service offers channels of linear content much like a cable package. There are dozens of movie channels, sports channels, news — and even some highly curated streams of niche content.  Pluto TV boasts a large list of supported devices including iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TVand Chromecast devices and Android TV.  Like Tubi TV, Pluto TV has advertisements. It’s pretty similar to the ad load of normal TV.  4. NewsON Streaming video isn’t always just about entertainment. For the more serious-minded cord-cutters out there, the NewsON app provides hundreds of local and national news streams.  Both live and on-demand news broadcasts can be streamed from over 275 local news affiliates in 160 markets. The broadcasts are available for up to 48 hours after they air.  Users can then select which news segments they want to watch from categories like sports, weather or entertainment. NewsON is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Roku. I find NewsOn particularly useful when I don’t want to deal with hooking up an antenna. As far as local programming is concerned, the news is really all I need.   FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM What kind of store bought pizza is almost or as good as pizza chains? 12/27/19 @ 9:06 PM M Saving for and with grandchildren 12/23/19 @ 6:52 PM M What has been your money epiphany? 2/22/19 @ 10:59 AM Saving money 2/8/19 @ 6:59 AM M See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. Funny Or Die Funny or Die is without a doubt the go-to streaming app for comedy programming. Founded in 2007 by contemporary comedy giants Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, it has since grown to be a full-blown production house featuring original content from some of the biggest names in show business. It also has syndicated content In 2018, the platform began publishing on Vox Media’s Chorus and now uses the YouTube Player. Content on the app must be streamed and cannot be downloaded.  As for my personal experience, I’ve honestly spent quite a bit of time laughing my butt off at the videos. Funny or Die is easy to use and great for finding new hilarious content. 6. PBS Kids Kids need free streaming content, too. Luckily, PBS has a PBS Kids Video app that provides hundreds of hours of educational and enriching content just for the youngest members of any family. The app has a colorful, child-friendly interface, which makes it easy for kids to take control themselves.  Videos from many of PBS’s most popular series are available for streaming including “Curious George,” “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” and “Sesame Street.” The PBS Kids app is supported for Android, Windows and iOS phones and tablets.   7. Crunchyroll Anime and manga fans are likely already familiar with Crunchyroll. The sushi-inspired name stems from the fact that Crunchyroll specializes in mostly Japanese content, but it also features films and series from all over the world. Crunchyroll boasts a library of thousands of anime films and series, many of which are hard to find on other streaming services.  There is a paid premium feature, but the free Crunchyroll service has thousands of hours of popular series like the “Dragon Ball” franchise, “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto” and “One Piece.” The Crunchyroll app is supported by Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as by gaming consoles, Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku.  Crunchyroll is a great app for anyone with an interest in anime. Of course, when it comes to anime content, you have to be watchful with your younger children, as a lot of it is geared towards teens (and sometimes even adults).  8. Twitch For anyone with even a passing interest in gaming and esports, Twitch is the go-to free streaming service.  Twitch hosts user-created channels and streams focused on video games and other esports. It features a built-in chat feature, so users can chat with other streamers in real time.  While there are thousands of free streams, Twitch also features premium features for a monthly subscription. Twitch apps are compatible with PCs, iOS and Android devices, game consoles, Chromecast and Fire TV. While Twitch is popular with children, parents should beware: Twitch streams are somewhat unregulated and can sometimes contain adult language or content. 9. YouTube Yes, YouTube. No list of cost-free streaming video services would be complete without it. YouTube apps are compatible with just about every device out there that has a screen, and the service features videos to choose from on nearly any topic imaginable.  Most of those videos are not exactly premium content, but there are still plenty of full-length films, documentary series and curated channels that provide cost-free entertainment for the whole family.  While there are ways to download YouTube content for offline viewing, proceed with caution: Many of these sites and apps are full of malware. With so many free streaming options out there, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord an [...]
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How I Earned 112 Swagbucks Today (in just a few minutes!)

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How I Earned 112 Swagbucks Today (in just a few minutes!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Want to earn some free gift cards to cover some of your Christmas expenses? I highly recommend signing up for Swagbucks. Swagbucks is one of my favorite ways to earn free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Target, and more! There are lots of ways to earn — printing coupons, watching videos, signing up for offers, taking surveys, and more. Go sign up for Swagbucks here and then check out my extensive post here on how to earn more Swagbucks fast. I earned 112 SBs (these are points you can redeem for free gift cards) + a daily bonus today in just a few minutes. I earned most of these by clicking on the Earn 2 SBs offer at the bottom of the Swagbucks homepage, letting the video/ad run, and then clicking on it. I usually do this on my laptop while I’m in the middle of something else. I just go click every minute or so and earn 2 more SBs. Today, I did this while I was getting ready for the day and doing some work on my phone. This is such a simple way to earn points to cash in for free gift cards! And you always know exactly how much you going to earn! 2 SBs might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly and it requires almost zero extra work. How many SBs did you earn today? What are your favorite ways to earn SBs? Looking for more ways to earn free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards from Shopkick and Fetch Rewards. And here are 15 More Ways to Earn Extra Money. [...]
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Not the Right Gift? These 6 Stores Offer Extended Return Policies

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Not the Right Gift? These 6 Stores Offer Extended Return Policies
Getting stuck with a gift you don’t want is one of the most frustrating parts of the holiday season. It may seem ungrateful, but we’ve all been there! Some gifts just won’t fit right, aren’t the model we needed or simply weren’t a good choice for us. Unfortunately, you could ultimately be penalized if the giver of your ill-fitting gift planned too far ahead. Typical store return policies often require an item to be returned within about two weeks of purchase. That’s pretty tough to do when your aunt starts shopping in July! Thankfully, many retailers understand this dilemma and have extended return policies to accommodate unwanted holiday gifts. Here are the special holiday return policies for some of the most popular retailers this season. 6 Popular Retailers With Extended Holiday Return Policies  1. Amazon You can return items Amazon shipped between Nov. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019 for a full refund until Jan. 31, 2020.  Items shipped from other sellers should fall under this policy, unless otherwise noted in the seller’s Return Policy. 2. Walmart Items at Walmart have varying return policies: 15 days, 30 days or 90 days.  For items purchased between Oct. 24, 2019 and Dec. 25, 2019, here’s the deadline breakdown: Jan. 10, 2020 for items with a 14-day return policy. Jan. 25, 2020 for items with a 30-day return policy. No change for items with a 90-day return policy. 3. TJ Maxx With an extension to the typical 30-day return policy, you can return purchases made between Oct. 13, 2019 and Dec. 24, 2019 until Jan. 25, 2020. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving for and with grandchildren 12/23/19 @ 6:52 PM M What has been your money epiphany? 2/22/19 @ 10:59 AM Saving money 2/8/19 @ 6:59 AM M SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 9:31 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 4. Best Buy The store’s extended its return period through Jan. 14, 2020 for purchases made between Nov. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019.  This excludes cell phones, tablets, wearables, major appliances and AppleCare monthly plans. 5. Sears Items purchased between Nov. 1, 2019 and Dec. 24, 2019 have a return period that extends through extended through Jan. 31, 2020 — including sales with or without gift receipts. 6. Lululemon The yoga-wear retailer makes an exception to its return policy for the holidays.  For purchases between Nov. 4, 2019 and Dec. 24, 2019, you’ve got until Jan. 24, 2020 to make a return.  Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a former branded content editor at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

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7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. Even if you don’t plan to have a traditional retirement, it’s a good idea to consider how you’ll manage income as you age. “I’d like to work until I’m dead because I love what I do,” says Stacy Johnson, the founder of Money Talks News. “But I’ll want to cut back at some point... [...]
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Cancel Free Trials Before You Start Getting Charged. Here’s How

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Cancel Free Trials Before You Start Getting Charged. Here’s How
Free trials aren’t really meant to be free. The goal is to introduce you to a product or service and then hook you so you decide to keep it (and pay for it) beyond the trial period. Either that or the company is hoping you just forget to cancel so they can automatically start charging you for it. Ever wonder why you have to provide your credit card information to sign up for something that’s free? That’s why. If you don’t want to become an unintentional paying customer, it’s vital that you know how to cancel free trials. Consider the Cost Before Signing Up for a Free Trial Signing up for a free trial is a great way to test out a product or service without spending any money. Curious how YouTubeTV works but aren’t ready to sign up? Feel like binge-watching your favorite animated classics without forking over the $69.99 Disney+ annual subscription? Free trials can give you a sneak peek. But they can end up costing you if you’re not careful. Even if you think you’ll definitely cancel the service before your free trial is over, be cautious about signing up for something that doesn’t fit into your budget. You don’t want to fall in love with a service only to have no choice but to cancel it because you can’t afford it. And you don’t want to overdraft your account in the event that you don’t end up canceling in time. In addition to hoping you don’t cancel, companies also want to make sure they can actually get paid. Though a free trial shouldn’t cost you anything, you may see a pending charge or pre-authorization on your account, which is basically the company’s way of verifying that your account is legit. Avoid Paying When Your Free Trials End One way to avoid going past a subscription’s free trial period is to cancel right after signing up. You won’t have to worry about remembering to do it at the end of the week or month or whenever the trial ends.  However, it’s important to note: Only do this if the company will continue providing the service through the end of the trial period. Some don’t and will cut you off as soon as you submit your cancellation. Then you’ve wasted the opportunity to test out the service. Using a virtual credit card is another tactic to avoid paying for subscriptions past the trial period. Virtual credit cards are credit card numbers issued by some banks, credit card companies and independent financial companies. (You don’t actually get a physical card.) These virtual cards often are restricted to a one-time use or have a short expiration period, which makes them favorable to people signing up for free trials. The startup DoNotPay has a similar service that generates virtual credit card numbers you can use for free trials. The card numbers can’t be charged again after a trial period ends, and they aren’t tied to your bank account. Then there’s always the strategy of simply canceling your free trial right before it ends. Set a reminder (or two) to cut your ties with the service before payment becomes due.  Most companies aren’t going to send you a reminder that your free period is about to be over. (Though Mastercard requires some merchants to do so.) Mark your calendar, set an alert on your phone or do whatever you need to remember to cancel. Pro Tip Regularly review your monthly bank statements or credit card statements so you can catch any unexpected charges — like a subscription you forgot to cancel. Make sure you read over the cancellation policy when you sign up for a free trial. Some companies require you to submit cancellation requests a day or two before the start of the first billing period. Generally, when you log into your account, there’s an option to cancel under the section for billing or subscription management. There will probably be multiple prompts to convince you not to cancel, but don’t let them sway you. How to Cancel 12 Popular Free Trial Offers We browsed the cancellation policies of several popular services to get instructions on how to cancel their free trials. In every case, make sure you complete all the steps to confirm your cancellation. Lots of companies send email confirmations. These guidelines are based on canceling directly through each service. Canceling a trial you acquired through a third party — for example, a free HBO trial you signed up for through your cable provider — may require different steps. 1. How to Cancel an Adobe Free Trial Here are the steps to cancel a free trial of Adobe. Go to www.adobe.com and log into your account. Find your plan and click “Cancel Your Plan.” Select the reason you want to cancel and hit “Continue.” 2. How to Cancel an Amazon Prime Free Trial According to the terms and conditions for Amazon Prime, you have three business days from when your free trial converts to a paid membership to get a full refund, provided you haven’t used any of the Prime benefits during that three-day period. However, to cancel your trial before it switches to the paid version, visit this page and click the “End Membership” button. 3. How to Cancel an Ancestry Free Trial According to Ancestry Support, your free trial ends automatically once you cancel it, even if additional days were remaining in the trial period. Cancel Ancestry’s free trial by following these steps. Log into www.ancestry.com. Select your name or username in the top right corner and click on “Your Account.” Go to the section for “Subscriptions” and click “Cancel Subscriptions.” 4. How to Cancel an Audible Free Trial Here’s how to cancel your free trial of Audible. Log in to your account at www.audible.com. Go to “Account Details” and then “Account Settings.” Click on “Cancel my Membership.” 5. How to Cancel an Avast Internet Security Free Trial An article from Avast’s support page states the company will send an email notification to remind users before their trial period ends and auto-payment starts. See the steps below to cancel your free trial before you get charged. Log into your account at my.avast.com. Click “Unsubscribe” for the subscription you want to cancel. Select “Unsubscribe from Future Renewals and Let my Subscription Expire on MM/DD/YYYY.” Make sure the date indicates the end of your trial period. Click “Confirm” and then click “Got it” at the next prompt. See here for additional instructions on how to cancel if you signed up using a different order distributor. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving for and with grandchildren 12/23/19 @ 11:52 PM M What has been your money epiphany? 2/22/19 @ 3:59 PM Saving money 2/8/19 @ 11:59 AM M SAVING MONEY ON A FIXED INCOME 6/7/19 @ 1:31 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 6. How to Cancel a Disney+ Free Trial According to the terms in its subscriber agreement, you can cancel at any time during your free trial and still enjoy the service through the end of that trial period. Follow these steps to cancel your free Disney+ trial from your web browser. Go to www.disneyplus.com and log in to your account. Click on your profile in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on “Account” and then “Billing Details.” Choose “Cancel Subscription” and then hit “Complete Cancellation.” See here for more [...]
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29 Last-Minute Gift Ideas

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29 Last-Minute Gift Ideas
Need some last-minute gift ideas? I put together a list of 25 gifts that would not only be appreciated by almost everyone, but that can be easily made or purchased at the last minute! For more ideas, be sure to check out my post on 20 Quick and Easy Neighbor Gift Ideas. 29 Last Minute Gift Ideas 1. A Christmas ornament (Here are 25 different DIY Ornament ideas.) 2. A gift card for take out 3. A homemade meal or freezer meal 4. A movie theater gift card 5. Homemade Sugar Scrub 6. Fancy hot chocolate mix 7. An easy to care for house plant 8. Winter accessories gift basket with a cute hat, gloves, scarves, and lip gloss 9. Car stuff in a wash bucket 10. Stove Top Potpourri (here are some creative ways on how to gift it) 11. A gift subscription to a magazine 12. Fresh flowers 13. Make a donation to a charity in their name 14. A local coffee shop gift card 15. Homemade Bath Salts 16. Whipped Body Butter 17. Homemade Fudge 18. Homemade Lip Balm 19. Homemade Banana Bread or Muffins 20. Homemade Bath Bombs 21. Gingerbread House Kit 22. DIY Ice Cream Sundae Kit 23. Cookie Mix in a Jar 24. Homemade Marshmallows 25. DIY Personalized Mugs 4 More Ideas from Followers 26. We love to give Party Mix! My husband makes several gallons and I put it in small goody bags! Everyone who comes to our door gets one! Also the neighbors, friends, and church staff! -Rebecca (Here’s a super easy recipe for Christmas Trail Mix.) 27. My favorite last-minute gift idea is to create calendars and photo magnets from the Walgreens photo department. They have same day pick up and run really great deals. -Kelly 28. I like to put together a little gift basket or box with a bag of microwave popcorn, movie candies ($1 or less at the store), and a $10 Amazon gift card for a movie night. -Karissa 29. I buy pretty containers and fill them with homemade peppermint bark, peanut brittle, and turtles. This year, I found some cute glass jars with metal latches at Dollar Tree and I found a recipe for Chai Latte Mix to fill them up. -Robin What are some of your favorite last minute gift ideas? [...]
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How I’m Changing the Way I Set Goals in 2020

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How I’m Changing the Way I Set Goals in 2020
Note: I said in the episode that next week we’d be talking about foster care next week. Well, I completely forgot that next week was Christmas! Whoops! We’ll be taking next week off for Christmas but then we’ll be back the week of New Year’s with an episode on our Word of the Year for 2020. And then the following week, we promise to do the foster care episode! Thank you for your grace! We’re nearing the end of the year and it’s time to reflect on this year to prepare for next. This is the time of year that Jesse and I sit down and review the past year. How did we do on our goals? What worked? What didn’t? What did we learn?  In this episode, we talk really candidly about our goals we set for 2019 and what worked, what didn’t work, what we learned, and how we’re changing up our goal-setting for 2019. If you’d enjoy a personal peek into what goal-setting has looked like for us, what we’ve learned about goal-setting, and how I’m completely changing the way I set goals in 2020, you don’t want to miss this episode. Psst! You’ll also get some first word news on a little of what you can expect on MoneySavingMom.com in 2020 (I think you’re going to like it — especially if you love my personal posts and enjoy my book posts and goal-setting posts!) We also give you a framework to reflect on your past year and how to use this as a reference point for setting goals. And by the way, even if you really despise the idea of setting goals, I think you’ll still enjoy this episode! In This Episode:  [00:49] Jesse and I are skipping our usual segments to dive straight into goal setting for the new year. [01:34] We share what our goal setting process looks like now versus in previous years. [03:27] Learn the three questions I ask myself as I reflect on the prior year. [03:50] Why should you set goals each year?  [05:36] Make sure your goals are serving you. [06:42] Jesse and I share the goals that worked in 2019. [13:44] Next we ask ourselves, what didn’t work for the year? [17:34] The third question I like to ask is, what did I learn?  [26:57] The last focus of goal setting for me is to think about what I hope for in the new year. [29:11] My two big goals for 2020? Have a baby! … and write a book. Plus, why I’m not setting yearly goals in 2020 and what I’m doing instead. Links and Resources: Michael Hyatt – The Full Focus Planner Choose Faith: Men’s Gratitude Journal Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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3 Strategies to Tackle Last Year’s Holiday Debt Before This Year’s Piles Up

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3 Strategies to Tackle Last Year’s Holiday Debt Before This Year’s Piles Up
Your kids may have forgotten about the gifts you got them last year, but there’s a good chance your credit card companies have been reveling in your generosity all year long.  That’s because a quarter of all parents reported they’re still paying off debt from last year’s holiday gift purchases, according to a YouGov Parent Survey. And yes, your kid may have ignored the toys in favor of the boxes they came in, but you shouldn’t ignore last year’s credit card bills if you’re piling additional expenses on the January statement. But there’s no need to go all Grinch when it comes to a payment strategy. We’re getting festive with three wintry ways to pay down your debt so that the Christmas spirit — not the debt — lasts all year long.  3 Strategies for Paying Off Holiday Debt  Do you want to tackle last year’s holiday debt before Santa slides down your chimney this year? Then let it snow! 1. Debt Avalanche Method If debt payoff is at the top on your Christmas list this year, the Debt Avalanche Method (aka debt stacking method) could be the best present under your tree. For this strategy, you’ll prioritize paying off the debt with the highest rate first. After paying the minimum payments for each card, put any additional money toward the card with the highest interest rate, then tackle the next highest and so on down the list. Pro Tip When making a list of your debts, leave off any that are outside of the statute of limitations (it varies by state). Creditors can’t sue you for old unpaid debt, aka zombie debt. Because you’ll save money in interest over the long term, Avalanche offers the most bang for your Rudolph. (Get it? male deer = buck. I’ll stop.)   2. Debt Snowball Method Let’s face it: If you’re paying off last year’s holiday debt, there’s a good chance you like the immediate gratification — that’s what holiday cheer is all about, right?  You can get the same kind of debt payoff joy without delay by using the Debt Snowball Method.  Here’s how it works: Pay off your credit card balances in ascending order, throwing any extra money beyond the minimum payment toward the credit card with the smallest balance first. As soon as you pay off one bill, you put all that extra money toward the next highest balance. Snowball isn’t quite as financially advantageous as Avalanche, since you may end up paying more in interest (although the amount is rarely significant). But knocking out a balance more quickly may be the incentive you need to keep plowing through last year’s holiday debt. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Eliminating Credit Card Debit - Take out personal loan with low interest rate 12/4/19 @ 2:28 PM L Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 6:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 3:56 PM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 2:17 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 3. Debt Snowflake Method OK, we get it: Putting a big dent in last year’s holiday debt is tough when you still want to enjoy this year’s holiday season. So instead of making grand plans, consider thinking small — like, snowflake small. For the Debt Snowflake Method, anytime you can save money on a purchase, use that “savings” to pay down your debt.  For example: Instead of buying your usual extra-large peppermint latte for $7, downsize to the smaller version for $4. Before you make another purchase, put that $3 in savings toward your credit card debt.   Pro Tip If you’re using the Snowflake method, continue making your normal monthly minimum payment in addition to the extra mini payments. Those smaller payments can really pile up, so long as you use the money for a debt payment immediately — before the savings melt away into another purchase. Snowflake is usually best used in conjunction with other methods, since it’s unlikely you’ll pay off thousands of dollars in debts with only tiny payments.  However, it could be the easy way to help you start paying off debts this holiday season, setting up good habits that you can ho-ho-hold over into the new year. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor 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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*HOT* $10 off any $25 Purchase of Sharpie, Papermate, EXPO and more!

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*HOT* $10 off any $25 Purchase of Sharpie, Papermate, EXPO and more!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. If you need new markers and pencils or pens, this is HOT deal! Right now, Amazon is offering $10 off when you purchase $25 in select Sharpie, Papermate, EXPO and more products! This is HOT deal and a great time to grab some stocking stuffers for cheap or stock up on pens and markers. Here are a couple of great deal ideas… Prismacolor Soft Core Colored Pencils 48-Pack – $25.99 (regularly $28.99) Less $10 instant savings at checkout $15.99 shipped after deal Dymo Label Maker with 3 Bonus Labeling Tapes – $29.58 Less $10 instant savings at checkout $19.58 shipped after deal Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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These 14 Strategies Will Help You Save Big on Your Universal Orlando Trip

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These 14 Strategies Will Help You Save Big on Your Universal Orlando Trip
While theme parks are high on the list of favorite vacation destinations, they can get really expensive really quickly when you factor in extras like hotels and food.  Here at The Penny Hoarder, we believe in a healthy balance between work and play. So if you can afford it, take that dream vacation and enjoy every second of it — just make sure you don’t completely abandon your penny hoarding ways.  If you’re headed to Universal Orlando Resort — home to the incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter — check out the insider tips I’ve developed as an Orlando native and former witch at Universal’s Diagon Alley. You’ll save money in the parks without sacrificing any of the fun.  Find Tickets for Less Your savings can start before you even step through the turnstiles — check out these ideas for cutting the cost of park admission! 1. Buy Your Tickets Ahead of Time The simplest way to save on Universal Studios’ prices for park entry is to buy your tickets before you get to the gate. You can save up to $20 per person when you buy multiday tickets online. If you’re traveling with a family of four, that’s $80 in savings already.  2. Use Your AAA Membership to Your Advantage Prices vary, so make sure to ask about discounted Universal tickets at your local AAA office. You can save 15% or more when you buy through AAA. 3. Buy the Lowest-Tier Ticket and Upgrade Later As long as you purchase your tickets directly through Universal Studios, you can upgrade your tickets at guest services at any point during your trip.  This is a good idea for anyone traveling with kids — they get sick, burned out and do not care if you spent a hundred extra dollars on a three-day ticket.  If you come to find everyone is up for an extra day, you can upgrade your tickets by paying the difference — as long as you do so before you leave the park. Once your tickets expire, you’ll have to pay for new ones.  4. Shop Around Carefully Orlando is riddled with sleazy ticket vendors promising half-price theme park tickets.  But beware — even if the tickets you purchase are real, these vendors may be selling them illegally. These tickets often come from park employees or locals who work special events and receive complimentary passes. Universal does not permit the sale of these passes.  If you get caught at the gate, you’re out of luck — and money.  Still, there are some reputable ticket sites out there. Just make sure to do your research on the seller before buying. Travel and Accommodations After tickets, the hotel and travel fees are the biggest items in your vacation budget. Here are some strategies for saving on these expenses. 5. Book Everything in Advance If you’re a seasoned Penny Hoarder, you probably already know this tactic: Purchasing plane tickets and reserving your hotel room ahead of time are the easiest ways to get the best rates. 6. To Resort or Not to Resort? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here: It’s going to take some number crunching on your end to figure out which hotel situation is right for you. There are less expensive hotels (or Airbnb rentals!) if you leave the Universal Resort property, but you may end up paying more in the long run because you’ll miss out on some pretty sweet perks at the parks.  To keep it brief(ish), here’s a cost-effectiveness breakdown: Select Universal Resort hotels include shuttle transport to and from the airport and the parks. So staying on the property could save you on transportation costs, plus the $25/day parking fee you’d pay if you were driving. But more importantly, and something to consider if you had planned to buy Express Passes anyway: Certain resort hotels throw in free Universal Express Unlimited passes for each member of the family — a $129 value per person per day. (Think: Family of four spending four days in the parks. $129 times four people times four days = $2,064.)  Another bonus? Universal Resort hotel guests get early entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and parts of Volcano Bay: You’ll get a whole hour to explore each morning before the major crowds come pouring in. Whew. Did you catch all that? Great, because I have one final point to make: If you go the Universal Resort hotel route, and you take advantage of those Express Unlimited passes, you could feasibly cut a day off your in-park time and a day off your trip (which means one less day paying for tickets and a hotel.)  If you’re not concerned about crowds, wait times or transportation (maybe you’re driving in to save on airfare!), then a cheaper, off-property hotel might be the right answer for your family. I’m just trying to show you all the options, friends! Making the Most of Your Time By making the most of your time, you can hit more attractions without shelling out for extra days inside the gates. 7. Decide if Express Passes Are Right for You If you’re still on the fence about whether to secure Express Passes for your trip (and you’re not going the resort hotel route), here are some points to consider. Visitors can often package Express Passes with admission tickets, lowering the overall cost significantly.  However, if you’re a serious Harry Potter fan, you should know that Express Passes are not valid for some attractions in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Here’s a really helpful guide that breaks down Express Passes along with the rides and attractions they work on.  If you decide you don’t need to skip the lines all day every day, you could buy each member of your family a one-day Express Unlimited pass. You can knock out a pretty hefty list of attractions that day, then go at a more leisurely pace for the remainder of your trip. 8. Plan Your Vacation Around Peak Season Check this handy crowd calendar from Orlando Informer (a seriously great resource for all things Orlando and theme parks) to figure out which days will be the least crowded. Smaller crowds mean less wait time; less wait time means you can spend fewer days in the parks; and fewer days in the parks means you save on tickets.  Attendance is lowest on weekdays, particularly in late fall and late winter. If your family can afford the time off work and school, you’ll get the most bang for your buck at these times. Save on Universal Studios’ Prices Inside the Park While most of your savings will come from big-ticket items like park entry and the hotel, the little things can add up quickly.  9. Use the Lockers Bring everything you think you’ll need with you, and rent an all-day locker for about $10 per day. You get unlimited opening privileges, unlike the timed and complimentary lockers, so you can use your locker as a home base to return to when you need to reapply sunscreen, change into dry clothes or grab a sweatshirt for the evening chill (yep, even in Florida).  Even though you’re paying $10 a day, you’re saving money by not shelling out for $40 sweatshirts for the whole family when the sun goes down.  10. Avoid Paying for Pricy Food Theme park food is expensive. On your way to your hotel, purchase breakfast food (if your hotel doesn’t offer free breakfast) and portable snacks. The parks allow small snacks that don’t require heating or refrigeration — and while you can’t bring a picnic lunch, the rules are a little fuzzy as to what constitutes a “small snack,” so you can probably make a case for many items. Avoid buying expensive sodas and bottled water inside the parks — you can bring in sealed or empty water bottles to refill throughout the day.  Now, while this Penny Hoarder would usually recommend bringing all the snacks, splitting meals four ways, and avoiding expensive alcohol and novelty treats, I do have one caveat: If you’re primarily there for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter experience, consider investing in a dining plan. Even if you just purchase one, your whole party will be able to sample the fun Wizarding World treats — and if butterbeer i [...]
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Your Guide to Citi’s 48-Month Rule

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Your Guide to Citi’s 48-Month Rule
Citi has an impressive lineup of rewards credit cards with generous welcome bonuses. Whether you’re looking to stock up on transferable Citi ThankYou points or AAdvantage miles, Citi has multiple cards to choose from. The downer? Citi has also begun restricting the welcome bonuses on some of these credit cards. In some cases, if you’ve... Ariana Arghandewal is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Your Guide to Citi’s 48-Month Rule originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Stop Waiting Until Your Kids Are Teenagers to Talk to Them About Money!

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Stop Waiting Until Your Kids Are Teenagers to Talk to Them About Money!
“When do you start talking to your kids about money and how old should they be before you talk to them about it?” We get this question often and we decided to tackle it head on in today’s podcast episode. And by that, I mean we talked about a number of things that might be a little be controversial. 🙂 We approach the conversation of money with our kids much like we approach anything else in our parenting — with the desire to lead by example and raise future adults. In this episode, we share when we begin talking about money with our kids, why we think it’s important to let your kids handle money from a young age, why we involve our kids in financial conversations and decisions, how we offer our kids opportunity to earn money, and why we are okay with letting our kids make mistakes with money. In This Episode:  [01:14] What’s saving our lives? It’s all about Christmas decorating,  [06:14] Off the bookshelf: A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff and Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen. [13:57] Learn four strategies to help kids learn how to think about and handle money. [14:58] Strategy number 1: Set a Great Example. More is caught than taught. [18:22] The second strategy: Start Teaching From a Young Age. It’s never to early to begin! [21:39] Strategy number 3: Involve Your Kids as Much as Possible. Make it a family conversation and work together to achieve your financial goals! [24:42] The fourth strategy: Let your kids make mistakes. Save them the $3000 and $30,000 mistakes later by letting them make $3 and $30 mistakes now. [28:12] Why we let our kids earn and handle money and what this looks like for us. Links and Resources: A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen Why We Pay Our Kids For Doing Chores Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat: 4 Tips to Limit Debt When Buying a Car

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Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat: 4 Tips to Limit Debt When Buying a Car
Ready for a new (or new-ish) set of wheels? Before you set foot in a dealership or start picking out the trim, you should prepare your bank account for a hit — the average price for a mid-size car was $27,968 in October 2019, according to Kelley Blue Book.  For people who don’t have an extra $30,000 lying around, that means taking on auto loan debt — and plenty of us do. Outstanding debt balances on auto loans rose $18 billion in the third quarter of 2019, ballooning to $1.3 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. For comparison, credit card debt rose $13 billion in the same period to $880 billion.  But just because you need a vehicle doesn’t mean you have to dig a huge financial hole you’ll spend years climbing out of. We’re here with strategies to help you get behind the wheel with the least amount of debt. 4 Ways to Limit Auto Loan Debt Ready to hit the open road? Before you rev your car-shopping engines, put your finances in park and check out these four ways to avoid taking on any more auto loan debt than necessary. (And in return, I promise to stop with the car puns.) FROM THE DEBT FORUM Eliminating Credit Card Debit - Take out personal loan with low interest rate 12/4/19 @ 2:28 PM L Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 6:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 3:56 PM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 2:17 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 1. Set a Budget Here’s the thing about budgeting for a car: You’re not just budgeting for a car (or at least you shouldn’t be). You’re also paying for the tax and title, the gas, the oil changes, the insurance and the inevitable nail-in-a-tire-costs-me-how-much moment. So before you let a dealership lure you in with the promise of a low monthly payment (while glossing over the fact that it’s for a seven-year loan), do your homework.  Set a budget that you can comfortably live with each month for the car payment plus the regular maintenance — the average maintenance and repair costs for a small sedan are 8.53 cents per mile, according to AAA — and other expenses associated with owning a vehicle. Better yet, before you start figuring out how big of a loan you’ll need, consider ways you can save money to buy a car. A bigger down payment — or, gasp, paying for that ride in cash — means you’ll fork over less of your hard-earned money for interest on the loan. 2. Know Your Credit Score Before you drive, you should know where you stand.  Knowing your credit score can help you figure out how much a car loan will cost since. Your credit score is calculated by a number of factors, including whether you pay your bills on time — and thus can be trusted with lower interest rate on a loan.   If you’re a superprime (800s) kind of borrower, you can expect to pay thousands less in interest over the life of the loan than the deep subprime (300 to 500) borrower.  So what if you’re in the less-than-prime territory? Consider ways to improve your credit score before you buy, shop for a more affordable (perhaps used) set of wheels or find a co-signer who has good credit. 3. Get an Auto Loan Preapproval Once you know your credit score and how much car you can afford, it’s time to get a loan. And although the dealership may seem like a convenient place to finance your vehicle, it’s also likely the costliest (dealers often make more money on the finder’s fee for your loan than they do on the car itself). Instead, start shopping online for an auto loan preapproval — a financing offer that includes the maximum loan amount, interest rate and terms of the loan. By shopping online, you can compare offers from multiple lenders without a dealer pressuring you to make a decision on the spot. Pro Tip Just because you can get approved for a loan doesn’t mean you need to take the full amount — stick to what your original budget dictated you can comfortably pay monthly. An auto loan preapproval letter gives you leverage when it comes time to discuss financing — simply present the letter to the dealer and ask them to beat your lender’s offer. Having a preapproved auto loan could end up saving you thousands in interest and gives you the power to search for the best price on the vehicle rather than being shackled to whichever dealer will offer you financing. 4. Break Free of the Underwater Auto Loan  All of these tips are great if you’re starting fresh with an auto loan, but what if you’re still paying for your old car — and you owe more than it’s worth (also known as negative equity)? You have a number of choices for getting out of an underwater auto loan. There are the easy-but-unwise options like rolling over your negative equity, which probably puts you underwater immediately on your new auto loan. Or you can choose the tough-but-sensible options, like holding onto your old hunk of junk until you get your loan back above the waterline. Breaking the cycle of auto loan debt lets you save on the interest you pay and eventually own your wheels outright. Eliminating that extra debt will put you in the driver’s seat to decide where to spend all that extra cash. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor 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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Our December Bucket List for This Year

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Our December Bucket List for This Year
One of the most requested podcast episodes has been for us to talk about our Christmas traditions, what Christmas looks like for our family, and how we do gifts for our immediate and extended family. In this episode, we sat down with Kathrynne, Kaitlynn, and Silas and had a discussion on our favorite Christmas memories, why we make a December Bucket List, what we chose for our bucket list this year, some things we’re doing differently for Christmas this year, how we do gifts, and what Christmas Eve and Christmas Day look like for our family. One of our biggest goals for each December is to keep things simple, not over-commit, and focus on memory-making and shared experiences. We sit down at the end of November and talk about what we want to prioritize for the Christmas season and then we make a list and block out days and times on the calendar to make these priorities happen. We’re excited about some new things we’re trying this year and we’re looking forward to another special December season of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and spending lots of time together as a family! In This Episode:  [01:58] We kick off the show by each sharing one of our favorite Christmas memories. [07:29] Want to know what’s on our December Bucket List this year? [11:16] Hear about our Dollar Tree stocking tradition and why we’re stepping it up this year. [13:16] How we do presents at our house. [15:45] Giving is something that is always a big priority for us, thanks to the kids’ initiative in this area! [18:00] What does our actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration look like for our family? [21:38] The kids share our quirky wrapping tradition. Links and Resources: Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffers Jesse Tree Ann Voskamp She Reads Truth He Reads Truth Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle

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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Why toss things in the trash when you can repurpose or recycle them?  In addition to diverting items from the waste stream and keeping them out of landfills, you can also make extra money or help out worthy causes. From scrap metal to ink cartridges, bullets to construction materials, you can recycle a huge variety of items in exchange for cash or goodwill. Ready to see all the different things you can recycle for money? Find a Collection Point To find a recycling center near you, head over to Earth911.com and plug in the item you’re looking to recycle along with your location. The site lists collection locations for everything from antifreeze to ammunition. Of course, not everything pays, but it’s important to properly dispose of potentially hazardous items.  Prepare Items for Recycling Check with your local collection point for specific rules for preparing your recyclables for the collection center. Some centers require you to remove bottle caps, rinse and bag bottles in certain increments, or sort and tie together cardboard. Checking the rules before you go will save you time later on.  Be sure to properly bag items that may make a bit of a mess. Even if you thoroughly rinse all your bottles and cans, there might be water and other residue on them, so be sure to transport them in bins or bags to protect the interior of your car. If you’re donating a cell phone or other electronic item, be sure to clear your personal information from it, including contact lists, voice mails, text messages, photos, passwords, downloads and anything else that you wouldn’t want random strangers to access. Back up your information on your new phone, your computer or a cloud-based service, then restore your phone to factory settings before recycling it. 7 Items You Can Recycle for Money Depending where you live, you can get paid to recycle certain items. Here are some common recyclables and how to recycle them. 1. Scrap Metal Scrap metal is one of the more profitable materials to recycle. For this reason, scrap metal theft is not uncommon. Many local recycling programs fund their programs through scrap metal collection, so be sure to check your local rules or laws about collection. Copper, steel and aluminum are just a few of the scrap metals that you can recycle for money. Google your local area and “scrap yard” to find a facility that takes whatever metals you have and learn their procedures for drop off. Once you have rounded up your metal, find out if it is ferrous or non-ferrous by seeing if a magnet sticks to it. If it does, the metal is ferrous and likely a common metal like steel or iron. These items typically aren’t worth much, but it’s still worthwhile to recycle them. If the magnet does not stick, you likely have copper, aluminum, brass, bronze or stainless steel on your hands. These metals are more valuable.  You can make money recycling a variety of these metals. Copper is one of the more profitable metals: Some scrap yards offer over $2 per pound. Aluminum typically earns between 40 and 70 cents a pound, yellow brass can yield $1.40 per pound, and die-cast metal goes in the 30-cents-a-pound range, though local prices vary.  2. Bottles and Cans One Penny Hoarder writer made $1,500 cashing in soda cans he collected at work. You, too, can make money by rounding up bottles and cans, whether from work, friends and family, at events, or just the recyclables you use at home. California offers 5 cents for most plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans smaller than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for 24-ounce or larger containers. It’s technically a bottle deposit, but many people don’t bother to collect their refunds, so it’s easy money for bottle and can collectors.  Michigan has a 10-cents per bottle recycling rate, which has prompted people to illegally smuggle in empty bottles purchased out of state to cash in. (This was even the plot of one Seinfeld episode!) Many states have similar deposit programs, so check what’s available where you live. 3. Car Batteries Advance Auto Parts offers a $10 store gift card to customers who bring in their used car batteries (light-duty truck batteries are also accepted). If the company doesn’t have an outlet near you, call your local auto parts stores to see whether they offer similar deals. 4. Ink Cartridges A number of office supply stores, including Staples and Office Depot accept used ink cartridges for recycling. Staples offers $2 back per cartridge, with a maximum of 10 returns per month, and you have to spend at least $30 on ink or toner within 180 days of recycling.  Office Depot also gives you $2 back in program rewards for each ink or toner cartridge you recycle, up to 10 cartridges per month. But you must also purchase ink from them the same month. There is no limit on the number of cartridges you recycle, but you will only receive points on the first 10 per month. You can use your points toward a number of different perks and discounts.  5. Electronics Eco-Cell is one of many companies that offers cash for old cell phones and other electronics. The company accepts working or broken phones, tablets, rechargeable batteries, circuit boards and a variety of other electronics. Even if an item is broken or was submerged in water and is unusable, Eco-Cell will accept it in order to divert electronics from landfills and properly dispose of their toxic components and metals. Many cell phone providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have trade-in programs where you can receive a voucher, gift card or other reward for turning in your old phone. Amazon Trade-in is another way to earn gift cards. A number of charities also accept cell phones, whether to re-purpose or sell and use the funds for a charitable purpose. Cell Phones for Soldiers refurbishes and sells your old phone to active-duty military members and veterans. If a phone is too old or broken, Cell Phones for Soldiers sells it to recyclers who strip it for parts and dispose of its metals responsibly. The proceeds from the sales go to purchase international calling cards for troops and provide emergency financial assistance to veterans. And of course, you can always sell your old phone yourself. 6. Junk Cars Your rusted old jalopy? You can recycle it for money. There are companies that pay cash for broken down cars.  Junk Car Medics is one, and you can sell your car to them online or over the phone. You enter details about your vehicle, such as condition and mileage, and quickly get an offer. If you accept it, you’ll have to provide proof of ownership and a few other details before you get paid. The company says most transactions are same-day, and they take the car away for you. 7. The Rest of Your Unwanted Stuff You can “recycle” belongings you no longer want on a variety of apps and platforms and get a little something back for them. ThredUp and Poshmark are popular second-hand clothing apps where you can sell your wares.  ThredUp will send you a free shipping label and apply credits for anything that sells to your own account, but it’s often not a lot of money. Poshmark offers bigger potential payouts, but you have to put in more work to make your items move. Letgo is a second-hand site where you can buy or sell just about anything you no longer use. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!

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Up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering up to 64% off PlayMonster Games and Toys! Here are some deals you can score… Get this PlayMonster 5 Second Rule Game for only $7.99! Get this The Game of Things for only $8.99! Get this Relative Insanity Party Game for only $7.99! Get this MOLUK Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy for only $9.02! Get this Patch ProductsToss-Up Dice Game for only $5.05! Get this MOLUK Bilibo in multiple color options for just $20.99! Shop the PlayMonster sale here. Valid today only, December 4, 2019. Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon. [...]
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All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!

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All the Best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Still Available!
Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the best Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals with this round-up! This year has had a CRAZY amount of Cyber Monday Deals and Black Friday Deals, so we thought we’d round them all up in one post for you! Crystal’s Top 10 Picks: Get a year of Hulu at just $1.99 per month! Chromebook Cyber Monday Deals | Acer Chromebook for $124.99 shipped, plus more! Denise Albright 2020-2021 Planner Bundle for just $19.95 + shipping! Get over 50% off one of my favorite sweaters for Cyber Monday!! Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Electronic Power Rechargeable Battery Electric Toothbrush for just $89.94 shipped (Originally $250)! Old Navy: Sherpa Pullovers for the Family only $10 today! *HOT* The Children’s Place: Fleece Pullovers and Pants just $4.99 shipped! Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker only $49.99 shipped! DaySpring Hand-Thrown Mugs for just $2.80 each! *HOT* TaoTronics Essential Oils Diffuser for just $6.99!! Cyber Monday Deals Still Available: Get 50% off ALL of my courses! Hypoallergenic Shredded Memory Foam Pillows for just $14.99 each, shipped! Amazon FreeTime Unlimited | 3 Months for just $0.99! {$29 Savings!!) Shark Vacuum Cyber Monday Deals *HOT* 61-Piece 3D Magnetic Building Tile Play Set only $19.49 (Reg. $100!) MUK LUKS Anais Moccasin Slippers only $12.99 shipped! Target: 40% Off Bedding and Bath! T-Rex & Triceratops Dinosaur Bump & Go Toy Cars (Set of 4) only $14.99 shipped! Ring Video Doorbell with Echo Dot 3rd Generation only $79.99 shipped (Reg. $150!) *HOT* Free $5 Starbucks Gift Card with $20 Gift Card Purchase {Limited Quantity!} Carter’s: 7-Pack Baby Bodysuits only $10 shipped! 50% off Hydro Flask Bottles at REI! Carter’s: Toddler & Girl’s Leggings only $5 shipped! Cricut Explore Air 2 only $179.99 shipped, plus more! Dreamworks Holiday Collection DVD for just $6.99! HOT Deals on Marvel Action Figures! HOT Discounts on Play-Doh Sets, Playskool Toys, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Baby Alive Dolls! *HOT* HUGE Savings on Monopoly and Hasbro Games! HOT Cyber Monday Deals on LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Tegu Blocks, K’Nex, Playmobil, and Tinkertoys!! *HOT* Up to 50% off Nerf Toys! Keurig K-Mini Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker for just $42.49 shipped (Reg. $90)! Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones for just $139 shipped!! Dinosaur Racetrack for just $16.99 shipped! Men’s Croft & Barrow Festive Microfleece Sleep Pants only $3.99! Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High & Low Top Sneakers only $25 shipped! Black Friday Deals Still Available: Holiday Doormats and Accent Rugs as low as $3.99! Dick’s Sporting Goods: 25% off Hydro Flask Bottles and Tumblers! Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Kit for just $260.99 shipped (Reg. $750)! Robotic Vacuum Black Friday Deals Apple Macbook Air for just $649.99 shipped (Reg. $999)!! Gift an Amazon Prime membership at 10% off! Women’s Sweaters only $7.99! Muk Luks Women’s Bootie Slippers for just $7.99 shipped! Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Kit only $4.99! LEGO Classic Creative Fun Box for just $20! Dick’s Sporting Goods: Extra 25% off YETI Tumblers, Coolers and Mugs! *HOT* Sam’s Club Membership Deal | $50 in Savings! Echo Show 5 for just $49.99 shipped! Echo Dot 3rd Generation for just $22! HOT Deals on Dinosaur Toys!!! Matching Family Pajamas 60% Off! Get two holiday graphic shirts as low as $14.98 each, shipped! Women’s Boots only $19.99 at JCPenney! Royal Luxe White Goose Feather & Down Comforter (Any Size) for just $50.99 shipped!! *HOT* Pura Vida Bracelets Black Friday Sale | 50% Off Plus Free Shipping! LEGO Minifigures Series 19 Building Kit only $2.99! Nike Men’s Running Shoes only $29.99 shipped (Reg. $60!) Mega Bloks Building Basics Let’s Get Learning 150-Piece Set only $12.97! ABCmouse Deal: Annual subscription for just $3.75 per month! American Explorer Hardside Luggage for just $39.99 (Reg. $180)! *HOT* Roku Streaming Stick+ only $29! Kindle Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* Adventure Academy Annual Subscription for just $3.75 per month! Starbucks Black Friday Deal: Free Coffee & Tea in January with Tumbler Purchase Amazon Fire TV Cube for just $89.99 shipped! Black Friday Deals on Sony and Beats Headphones at Target! Fire Tablet Black Friday Deals | Lowest Prices on Record! *HOT* ReadingIQ Deal: Annual subscription for just $2.49 per month! {Silas loves this app!} *HOT* Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for just $19.99! Step2 Modern Cook Kitchen Set for just $34.99! KiwiCo Promo Code: Get a box for just $7.98 shipped! We hope you grabbed some great deals over the past week! Also, be sure to sign up for our Hot Deals newsletter and join our Deal Seekers Facebook group so that you don’t miss out on any of the hottest, time-sensitive deals as soon as they go live throughout the rest of the holiday season! [...]
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It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon

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It’s Cyber Monday: Here Are the Best Deals at Amazon
Not to worry if you missed out on any deals on Black Friday. Cyber Monday — today — brings plenty of second chances. In fact, on Amazon, you will find many discounts that are at least as steep as they were on Black Friday — as well as deals that weren’t even available on Black Friday. Just take a look at the hundreds of deals on Amazon’s Cyber Monday site. Or... [...]
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Pack Your Swimsuit for a Layover at These 3 Airports

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Pack Your Swimsuit for a Layover at These 3 Airports
Having access to airport lounges can completely change the way you travel. The complimentary refreshments, Wi-Fi and comfortable places to rest are great perks, but did you know that some airports have places to swim? If you could use a refreshing dip between flights, here are a few airport spaces to check out the next... Caroline Lupini is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Pack Your Swimsuit for a Layover at These 3 Airports originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Repay Student Loans When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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How to Repay Student Loans When You Don’t Know Where to Start
If you graduated from college this year, congratulations!  Also, your first student loan payment is due. (Cue sad trombone.) If you borrowed federal student loans to cover your college expenses, you get a six-month grace period from Uncle Sam before he starts pestering you for payment. If it’s any comfort (I know, it isn’t), you’re not the only one who owes. Outstanding student loan debt clocked in at $1.48 trillion in the second quarter of 2019, according to the New York Federal Reserve. It’s easy enough to feel overwhelmed — you just graduated, started that first job (hopefully), moved out of your parents’ place and into your own (maybe).  But besides the obvious benefit — getting out of debt — making on-time student loan payments will reflect well on your credit score, which will follow you long after your dorm life memories have faded.  Ready to tackle that student loan debt? Good, let’s get started. A Guide to Student Loan Repayment  When you’re ready to start repaying your student loans, it’s best to create a plan to avoid wasting time, money and energy. Here’s what you need to do before you make that first payment. 1. Know How Much You Owe and Who You Owe If you’re like most grads, you took out multiple student loans over your multi-year college career — the average borrower has 3.7 student loans, according to a 2017 Experian report.  So it’s best to start organizing by figuring out who you owe, how much you owe and when it’s due. Oh, and interest rate is important, too. Need some help figuring it all out? Then check out this article that explains how to find out how much you owe in student loans. 2. Pay Off Your Interest Before the End of Your Grace Period If you have the cash, pay off at least the accrued interest on your federal student loans before your grace period runs out. It can save you a bundle of money by helping you avoid interest capitalization — when the interest gets lumped in with your principal amount and you start getting charged interest on the total amount. Wondering where to find extra money before the deadline? Consider taking up a side hustle to make some extra cash to throw toward the payment. 3. Come Up With a Plan… a Repayment Plan Didn’t land that six-figure job — or maybe any job? Rather than sticking your head in the sand and avoiding your student loan payments, you need to ask for help. That means getting yourself on an income-driven repayment plan. These plans cap your monthly payment typically somewhere between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income. Contact the loan servicer for your loan to find out which plans you can qualify for. 4. Think About Forgiveness It’s possible that you can get your student loans forgiven. But it’s not easy or fast… or likely (cue the second sad trombone). But if you work in specific fields — like teaching or nursing — you could be eligible for loan forgiveness after a set number of years. There are typically a lot of hoops to jump through — including making sure your loan repayment program and your employer qualify — so be sure you know the requirements of your forgiveness program. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 6:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 3:56 PM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 2:17 PM Debt collections 11/23/19 @ 5:57 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 5. Avoid Delinquency and Default Remember that part where I told you not to stick your head in the sand? This is why: If you miss your payment by even one day, your federal loan becomes delinquent. If you’ve missed payments on your Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or direct student loan for 270 days, your loan is considered to be in default. If you can’t afford your monthly payment due to unemployment or an approved economic hardship, you might qualify for deferment or forbearance. You can also qualify for deferment if you’re enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program. During deferment, you won’t owe monthly payments on your federal loans and your subsidized loans won’t accrue interest (but all the rest will).  A high or good credit score allows you to qualify for better loans and credit cards with lower interest rates and more favorable terms. A poor credit score may not even qualify you for a loan. If you don’t qualify for deferment, the other option is forbearance, during which your lender allows you to stop making payments or reduces your monthly payments for up to one year. However, during forbearance, interest will continue accruing on all of your loans. Both options are only temporary fixes, and you’ll probably end up owing more money in the end. But at least you won’t wreck your credit score. 6. Consider Life After College (and Student Loans) It can be tough to see beyond that soul-crushing debt, but remembering that there is more to life than student loans is important for your financial future. First, while throwing every available dollar at your student loan might help you feel like you’re making progress in that arena, don’t sacrifice your present financial state by pillaging your emergency fund (you have one, right?). It’s there to cover those unexpected expenses — like a new set of tires or unexpected vet bill — without sending you into credit card debt.  Additionally, you shouldn’t sacrifice your future for today’s debts. Instead of paying every dollar toward student loans, start saving for your retirement now. With plenty of years to go, you’ll be able to build an impressive nest egg future you will thank you for.  Bonus: Socking away your money in a 401(k) or IRA reduces your taxable income. So if you do decide to apply for an income-driven repayment plan, the federal government won’t count the money you’re saving for retirement. Cue the big brass band. You deserve it. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor 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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Never Leave These 9 Things in a Car

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Never Leave These 9 Things in a Car
It’s fine to keep many things in your car. In fact, our cars can become storage areas for clothes, sports equipment and even snacks. But some things are likely to cause problems if left in a vehicle. They won’t respond well to extreme temperatures, or may attract thieves who break into vehicles. What follows are nine examples of things you should not leave behind after parking your car. [...]
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6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages

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6 Easy Ways to Outsmart Porch Pirates and Protect Your Holiday Packages
The porch pirates got me good one holiday season.  I arrived home after a long day at work to find two empty packages on my front stoop. The thermal sweatshirt that was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my dad? Gone. The pricy face cream I bought for myself? Gone. And the townhouse I was living in, which was on a residential street, didn’t have security cameras.  There were plenty of places to tuck the packages out of sight, but the delivery person was either too busy or had done so only to be foiled later by the thieves. That was years ago. Now I can simply install a smart lock on my front door and have Amazon or Walmart deliver items directly to my living room. Thieves can’t steal your packages if there’s nothing on your doormat to yoink. But what if you’re trying to receive packages and deliveries without allowing our e-commerce big brothers to let themselves in on a regular basis?  6 Ways to Stop Porch Pirates Once and for All In a 2017 report, insuranceQuotes estimated that 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep that year. And across the United States, 36% of consumers have reported having a package stolen at least once, at an average cost of $109.  Don’t want to be a part of that very sad group of people? Try one or more of these methods to deter package thieves when you’re doing your online holiday shopping.  1. Make Delivery Requests Some online ordering systems allow you to make delivery requests, like putting the package in a secure area. Making a request doesn’t guarantee that it will be met, but you may be surprised at how attentive delivery people are when dropping off your goods. “Leave on basement steps” or “upstairs neighbor can sign” are simple instructions that can help ensure your package gets to you. If you happen to run into your regular local USPS, UPS or FedEx carrier, you may be able to make requests in person. But keep in mind that your neighborhood delivery person may have the best intel on which bushes are ideal for concealing packages. 2. Work With a Neighbor If you know your neighbors — come on, go meet your neighbors — you can work together to thwart package theft. If you have alternating or overlapping schedules, swiping a package off their stoop — for good, not evil — means you can make sure it gets into their hands after dinner or whenever they get home.  3. Get Packages Delivered to Your Workplace Not every employer will welcome your holiday shipments with open arms, so check with your office manager to see if they’d mind signing for packages you don’t want to risk having delivered at home.  Hauling items home can be cumbersome later, but if you want eyes on a package ASAP, your workplace may be your best bet. 4. Pay for a Package Receipt Service This isn’t the cheapest option, but it may be the most secure. Some businesses offer to receive packages for customers for a small fee.  I once lived around the corner from a dry cleaner that always had a line at the counter. Why so popular? Not only did it offer quick cleaning services, but you could pick up your dry cleaning and your packages in the same trip — and the hours were convenient, too. 5. Get Your Stuff Delivered to an Amazon Locker It’s not quite as convenient as home delivery or the corner store, but if you’d rather have your Amazon package delivered to a secure location, add an Amazon Locker location to your account.  Amazon will deliver the package to the locker and when it’s ready for pickup, you’ll receive an email with a six-digit code to pick up the package from the self-service kiosk. Lockers are located in stores, apartment buildings and malls across the United States, which offers you convenient times to pick up packages on in the evenings or on weekends. And if you’re a Prime member, you get to use the lockers for free.  6. Watch Your Tracking Info Like a Hawk Ah, the beauty of technology. I can see the exact moment my package went from a warehouse plane to another warehouse and onto a truck. And I can see the moment it finally lands at my home. Tracking services may not prevent you from losing packages to theft, but the available tools can help you stay up to date on its path and estimated arrival so you can plan accordingly.  Frequently, you can sign up for text or email updates on your package’s journey, and if you miss a delivery you need to sign for, you can sometimes have the package rerouted to a shipping service center, like the UPS Store, so the delivery person doesn’t spend three days knocking on your door.  Pro Tip If you have the Ring doorbell camera, sign up for reports on the Neighbors App, where you can share info about package thieves if they hit your area. The postal service even offers Informed Delivery, which sends you images of small pieces of mail that are on their way to your mailbox that day. If you’re willing to make a bigger investment, home security systems like the Ring can also let you monitor your front door — and the police department can use the footage to track down the porch pirates. If the worst-case scenario happens, detailed tracking information and video can help make a case to your credit card company, which may reimburse you for lost or stolen packages, or it could help you get a replacement item from the retailer. Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer and producer 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 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday

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5 Ways to Buy Discounted Gift Cards So You Can Save Big on Black Friday
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. The concept of buying discounted gift cards is simple enough. You “stack” your savings by combining Black Friday sales with discounted gift cards as payment.  And most retailers let you use their cards in-store or online.  Here are five ways you can buy gift cards for less than face value. 1. Online Gift Card Vendors Sellers that specialize in gift cards normally sell them at face value, but they do have sales.  Typically, quantities are limited and the deals sell out fast, so check often. You can sign up on Doctor of Credit to receive phone notifications of these types of deals. 2. Discounted Gift Card Sites Many websites help you buy discounted gift cards with unused balances. Discounts vary according to demand, and from site to site.  Gift Card Granny currently shows that a Cold Stone Creamery gift is available for 14% off and a 1800Flowers gift card is available for 8% off.   3. Local Store Promotions I once bought gift cards for several retailers at Dollar General for 15% off. To find these deals, check weekly ads online for various stores near you. Gift card promotions are usually on or near the last page.   Gift cards at Sam’s Club (online and in-store) often sell at a discount, but the selection is limited and the best deals are usually for restaurants. You can currently get two $25 cards for Olive Garden, Subway or Starbucks — a total value of $50 — for $39.98 online. 4. Use a 5% Cash-Back Category Reward If you have a credit card that pays 5% cash back on certain categories, you can use it to get 5% back on gift cards for non-category retailers.  For example, Discover’s 5% categories currently include Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target. Discover doubles your cash back after the first year, so you actually get 10% back if you’re a new card holder. Chase Freedom is another card with rotating 5% cash back categories (new ones every three months). Just remember that with both Chase and Discover, you have to activate your 5% bonus online at the beginning of each quarter. 5. Use Amex Offers If you have an American Express card, take advantage of Amex Offers to get discounted gift cards. Just watch for offers at places that sell gift cards. For example, my offers (each account theoretically gets different ones) once included a $10 statement credit for spending $50 at JCPenney. I can go to JCPenney, find their gift card rack, buy a $50 card for some other store, and get $10 back.  American Express says they’ll credit your account within 90 days, but it has never taken more than two weeks for my credit to appear.  You might even get gift cards for free. I used an offer of $10 back for any purchase at Newegg to buy a $10 Home Depot gift card — three times. There was no shipping charge, so I got $30 in Home Depot cards for free.  Get Ready for Black Friday   To prepare for Black Friday, you may have to guess where you’ll spend the most money, and how much, in order to buy the right gift cards in advance.  If you’re uncertain, just buy cards for places where you usually shop. That way, you can easily “liquidate” them after Black Friday if you haven’t used them all. If you wait until the last moment (or are reading this on Black Friday), you can still buy digital gift cards as necessary and print them out at home. Most vendors say it takes up to a day to email you the link to print your “card,” but I’ve always received it within two hours.   If you’re a scientific shopper, you’ll prepare a list of doorbusters and other items you plan to buy, and where. Then you’ll find the necessary gift cards at the best discounts available. You’ll also use… More Advanced Gift Card Strategies Paying for Black Friday purchases with discounted gift cards is a simple way to “stack” your savings.  But you can save even more if you add additional savings tactics, like using the right rewards credit card. Here are some examples of how to really stack up those savings. Example #1 Suppose Gap and Old Navy gift cards are currently on sale for 20% off at Staples. Buy a $50 card with a Chase Ink or American Express Simply Cash Business card (I have both), to get $2 cash back on the $40 purchase (5% back at all office supply stores).  Spend $50 on half-priced gifts on Black Friday, and pay with the gift card for a total net cost of $38 for things that would normally cost $100.  That’s how you stack three savings tactics: a sale, credit card cash back and a discounted gift card. Example #2 You plan to spend $140 on gifts at Michaels, so you do this: Go to Cashback Monitor and enter Raise to see which cash-back portal pays best for shopping at that discount card vendor. At the moment, the best rate is 5% from Mr. Rebates. Go to Mr. Rebates and set up an account, because they offer 5% cash back if you shop at Raise through their link. Use the Mr. Rebates portal link to go to Raise. Search through the many Michaels gift cards. As I write this, a card with a balance of $202.25 is listed for $174.95, a 13.5% discount. Buy the gift card with a credit card that gives you cash back, like Citi Double Cash (2%) or Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard (1.5%). Buy stuff at Michaels for at least 50% off on Black Friday. Here’s the breakdown on what you would save on the first $140 of purchases, if you buy only Black Friday deals that are 50% off: Half-off sale savings: $140.00 Gift card discount: $27.91 Portal cash back: $3.36 Credit card cash back: $2.24 By stacking four savings tactics, you save $173.51, and pay just $106.49 for gifts that would have cost $280 at the regular prices. Example #3 Add a coupon to the last example to use five savings tactics for one purchase. I once a five-level stack recently (not for Black Friday).  I earned portal cash back (1) when I bought a discounted gift card (2) with a cash-back credit card (3), and then I used the gift card and a coupon (4) to buy items already on sale (5) — all just to get cheap cat food at Petco in that case, but the strategy can also work at all of your favorite Black Friday stores. Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far). 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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10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30

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10+ Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $30
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Looking for the best eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas this season? We have you covered with this Eco-Friendly Gifts Guide — and they’re all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! This Eco-Friendly Gift Guide was thoughtfully put together by Meg on the MoneySavingMom team — who is very passionate about making healthy and eco-conscious life choices. Do you know somebody who is striving to live an eco-conscious, lower impact life by choosing more sustainable products in their everyday life? Check out this list of fun eco-friendly gift ideas that are sure to excite that person in your life! Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas 1. Essential Oils Diffuser — A diffuser is a great gift idea for someone wanting to replace candles with essential oils to avoid polluting the air in their home. There are lots of great diffusers less than $30 on Amazon that come in all shapes and sizes! 2. Beeswax Food Wraps — One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic use is to stop using plastic baggies for food storage and transportaion. These Beeswax Food Wraps are the perfect replacement solution, and you can get them in all kinds of really fun designs! 3. Bamboo Toothbrush — Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable, so it’s a great option to replace plastic toothbrushes! I personally love the ones with activated charcoal for an added whitening effect! 4. Stainless Steel Straws — For someone who loves using straws at home, a stainless steel straw is an excellent option to help reduce plastic use. Straws are one of the biggest plastic pollutants, and it’s such an easy replacement! I use these inexpensive straws in my YETI every day and love them. 5. Reusable Produce Bags — These mesh produce bags are a great way to reduce plastic bag use when you’re at the grocery store. I have this set and love them! And they’re easily washable. 6. Ella+Mila or Zoya Nail Polish — If you know someone who loves doing her nails, this is a great eco-friendly gift idea! Zoya Nail Polish is 10-free and Ella+Mila is 7-free. These are two of my all-time favorite nail polish brands, because not only are they more eco-friendly than other brands but they’re also quality polishes that go on nice and opaque and have beautiful finishes to them. 7. Starbucks Reusable Cup with Gift Card — Do you know someone who frequents Starbucks? Consider buying them a Reusable Starbucks Cup! It saves on plastic and also gives them a $0.10 discount each time they use it. Stick a Starbucks gift card inside for a nice little surprise! 8. Mason Jar Lids and Straws — This is such a fun, eco-friendly way to hydrate! Gift someone this set and they can just re-use mason jars that they already own. This works great for on-the-go hydration — perfect for water, infused fruit drinks, lemonade, teas, and more! 9. Lush Body Care Products — Lush has worked really hard to almost completely eliminate plastic use in their packaging products. Many of their products are “naked” without packaging and the rest are made from recycled and recyclable/compostable materials. To encourage recycling even further, you’ll receive a free face mask when you bring in 5 empty Lush pots. They have tons of beautiful gift ideas, including luxurious bath bombs and yummy lotions. (This Sleepy Lotion is my FAVE.) 10. Reusable Grocery Bags — This is an idea that’s been around for a long time now and has become more mainstream, but it can be fun to give cute and different reusable grocery bags as a gift! Amazon has lots of fun options! Maybe even add a gift card to a whole foods grocery store! 11. Organic Cotton Socks — For someone who loves socks, organic cotton is a great sustainable option, because it doesn’t use any chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Plus, they’re extra cozy! 12. Tarte Cosmetics — All of Tarte’s products are made without harmful parabens, mineral oil, or sulfates. They also have an entire line called Rainforest of the Sea that are made from entirely plant-based ingredients. Be sure to check out their sale section for lots of options under $30. 13. Succulents — Plants are a go-to gift idea for someone who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle. And succulents are so much fun and easy to take care of! 14. Zero Waste Home Book — For someone interested in reducing waste and lowering their environmental impact, this book would be a great gift! It’s full of all kinds of easy and creative ideas. Bonus Ideas (Over $30) Have a little extra wiggle room in your Christmas budget and willing to spend a bit more? Try one of these bonus recommendations for eco-friendly Christmas gifts: 15. YETI or Hydro Flask — This is another easy way to hydrate in a plastic-free way! I love my YETI and Hydro Flask and use both almost every day for different uses (YETI for everyday water drinking and Hydro Flask for yoga or working out). Both are quality brands that will last forever and keep water super cold. 16. Pela Phone Case — These phone cases are really cool because they’re 100% compostable! Choose from lots of different colors and fun designs! I’ve been eyeing these for a while now, but haven’t splurged to buy myself one yet! This is a really unique gift idea for the eco-conscious person on your gift list! More Holiday Gift Guides Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these: Beauty Gift Guide Tweens Gift Guide LEGO Gift Guide Outdoor Gift Guide Gluten-Free Gift Guide Little Boys Gift Guide Expectant Mothers Gift Guide Psst! Be sure to sign up for our hot deals newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the hottest deals each day this holiday season! Can you think of any other great eco-friendly Christmas gifts? Let us know in the comments! [...]
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Feel like a failure?

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Feel like a failure?
What do you do when you experience failure in your life or your business? One of our wonderful listeners asked how you get back up and keep going after failure, and Jesse and I had a lively and honest discussion around this in this week’s episode of the The Crystal Paine Show. Failure is a part of life, but it shouldn’t define who we are. For instance, for a long time, Jesse identified as a lawyer and that title made up his identity in many ways. If he failed or if he perceived a failure, that lack would directly impact his identity.  For many others, they don’t feel like they are good enough. When this is the case, it’s so easy to see failure and setbacks as defining you as a failure personally. The truth is that true failure only occurs when you stop trying and give up. Until you stop trying, you haven’t failed! So keep moving and learning and growing from your mistakes. Also, don’t forget to stop and celebrate your wins. It’s so easy to focus on what we’re doing wrong instead of recognizing what we’re doing right. In This Episode:  [01:23] What’s saving our lives? Under Armour hoodies and my Sole F80 treadmill. [07:36] I’m reading Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian. [12:25] Jesse shares how he gets up and does the next thing after a big fail?  [16:03] So many people identify as “failures,” how do you separate the act of failure from your overall identity?  [19:01] Everyone fails and each failure is a lesson learned. [21:51] True failure is when you stop taking action. Just keep moving forward. Links and Resources: Zulily Under Armour hoodies Sole F80 Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian Crystal’s Favorite Things on Amazon CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com Crystal’s Instagram account (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!) Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: crystal@moneysavingmom.com How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show The podcast is available on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.) Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app. Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! [...]
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Don’t Trash These 11 ‘Disposable’ Items — Reuse Them

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Don’t Trash These 11 ‘Disposable’ Items — Reuse Them
Many products that are considered to be disposable can be reused in surprising ways that will reduce waste and save you money. Before putting things in garbage or recycling bins, consider how they could be used again. If you’re willing to get creative, you’ll find that numerous things can enjoy a second life. What follows are examples of everyday items you can reuse rather than throw... [...]
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Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!

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Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap for just $1.94 each, shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Stock up on dish soap with this Seventh Generation deal! Amazon has this Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap 6-Pack for just $11.65 shipped when you clip the 20% off e-coupon and check out through Subscribe & Save. That’s like paying just $1.94 per bottle, shipped! This is such a great stock-up deal for this brand. Note: Once your order ships, you can go into your Amazon account and cancel your subscription if you don’t want recurring orders. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!

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This Week’s Kroger Shopping Trip + Amazon Order = $63 spent!