As a smart shopper, you probably spend a lot of time searching for the best deals. However, some of those great finds aren’t really all that terrific. In fact, a lot of so-called “good deals” can actually be found for free. However, freebies are not the only way to save money. In this report, we look at some free things, but also highlight lower-cost options you might be... [...]
Nursing requires patience. (Get it? Patients? Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
But besides patience, it also requires a lot of money to complete a degree.
The average cost of tuition for an 18-month Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program is about $10,000 to $15,000 nationally. Registered Nurses (RN) who get an associate’s degree typically take two to three years at an average cost of $31,000. Those who get a bachelor of science or beyond can expect to reach six-digit price tags, depending on their school.
The good news is that there are options for student loan forgiveness for nurses. Here’s what you need to know.
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses
Consider this a lesson in supply and demand: The best option for receiving loan forgiveness is to work in an area where there’s a shortage of nurses.
Some programs are relegated to only registered nurses or those with an advanced degree, so know the requirements before you apply.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) administers two loan repayment assistance programs specifically for nurses: the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program and Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is designed to help nurses who can commit to two to three years of work where there is a critical shortage of nurses in the U.S.
Depending on your level of need and where you work, you can get up to 85% of your U.S. nursing education debt paid by this program.
The biggest downside to this loan: The award is taxable; however, federal taxes can be deducted from the amount.
Who’s Eligible for the Loan?
You’ll need to be a licensed registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse or nurse faculty to qualify.
The awards are tier-based, categorized by where there is the greatest shortage of nurses, and preference is given to those in most financial need.
For an initial two-year commitment to working in a Critical Shortage Facility or serving as nurse faculty in an eligible school of nursing, you can receive an award of up to 60% of your loan balance.
Depending on availability, you’ll have the option to extend to a third year to receive an additional 25% of your original balance.
Which Loans Are Eligible?
All federal loans and private commercial loans that covered tuition and reasonable expenses for your nursing education are eligible, so long as none has been in default.
You must be a U.S. resident and have attended an accredited school of nursing in a U.S. state or territory to be eligible for this program.
How to Apply
Submit your application through the Bureau of Health Workforce portal.
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program offers two big benefits that the NCLRP doesn’t:
The award is not taxable.
You’re eligible for the program if you work full time or part time.
However, the program’s eligibility requirements are fairly steep and employment is restricted to NHSC-approved service sites.
Who’s Eligible for the Loan?
For nurses, the program is limited to nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurse specialists and certified nurse mid-wives.
Like the Nurse Corps, this program is tier-based according to areas where there is a shortage of nurses. Working full-time at the highest tier can earn you up to $50,000 for two years of service, while part-timers can receive up to $25,000.
You must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national to be eligible for this program.
Which Loans Are Eligible?
Outstanding government (federal, state or local) and private student loans for undergraduate or graduate education are eligible.
How to Apply
The 2019 deadline has closed, but you can sign up to receive notification when the next application cycle begins.
Alternative Nursing Loan Forgiveness Options
Beyond the feds, other loan forgiveness options are available specifically to nurses. But again, these programs have restrictions and often require you to serve where there’s a shortage.
State- and School- Forgiveness Programs
Almost every state has at least one type of student loan forgiveness program that’s designed for those in public service fields, and most have loan forgiveness options specifically for nurses who are willing to work in underserved areas.
How to Apply
Check your state’s Department of Health website for eligibility and application requirements. You can also contact your college’s financial aid or alumni office to find out about forgiveness program options in your state and at your school.
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Employer-Driven Loan Forgiveness Programs
Some hospitals offer loan forgiveness awards to nurses, but eligibility requirements can include holding an advanced degree, having a specific loan type or working in a specialized department.
For instance, Duke University Health System’s Nursing School Student Loan Forgiveness Program awards full-time registered nurses up to $25,000 if they work in procedural areas.
How to Apply
In addition to asking the HR department at your hospital, you can check out this directory of hospitals with loan forgiveness programs.
Other Loan Forgiveness Programs for Public Service
Some of these programs aren’t restricted to nurses, but they are typically reserved for those in some type of service profession (like teachers or firefighters).
Perkins Loan Cancellation
The Perkins Loan Program ended on Sept. 30, 2017, but nurses and medical technicians with outstanding Perkins loans may still qualify for cancellation.
A visit to your tax accountant is worth the investment if you’re considering loan forgiveness, since your net worth is typically the deciding factor as to whether the forgiven amount is taxable.
As a nurse you can qualify for up to 100% for five years of eligible service, depending on the type of loan you have and the date of the loan.
How to Apply
Contact the school where you obtained the Perkins Loan to learn its specific rules and application process.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness has gotten a lot of press lately because many of the early applicants found out they didn’t actually meet the requirements — the acceptance rate is hovering around 1%, according to a recent NPR report.
However, we’ve covered which questions you need to ask to make sure you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. And the good news is that the Public program does not restrict nurses to a specific program or area — you will need to be employed by a government or non-profit organization, though.
The terms “forgiveness” and “cancellation” essentially mean the same thing: You are no longer required to make payments on your loan because of your job.
You’re eligible to qualify for loan forgiveness after 120 payments, and you’ll need verification from your employer for each year of qualification.
How to Apply
Login to the Federal Student Aid site and use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness tool to determ [...]
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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.
But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income.
You can share a spare room — or list your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation.
Hollis Giammatteo, a writer and Airbnb Superhost in Seattle, has been listing her downstairs guest suite since 2015. She says it’s a great way to earn extra money — and to capitalize on living in a city that’s so popular with tourists.
Seattle has come a long way from the slow-moving port and manufacturing town Giammatteo remembers it being when she first moved there in 1979. Today, it’s known for its big businesses and major tourist attractions — something she says works in her favor as an Airbnb host.
With Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and professional sports galore, there’s always a demand for space. In fact, Seattle is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of hosts.
If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, see how much money you could make by listing your place.
How Much Could Your Place in Seattle Fetch?
First things first: list your property on the Airbnb website. You’ll want to create a listing that stands out from others so potential guests will take notice.
You can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently.
Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting and see if you like it — if you’re curious, it’s worth a shot.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.
We’ll walk you through the process with some insider tips from Giammatteo.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Seattle
The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.)
We’ll show you everything you need to know to make your place stand out from others, with some added insight from Giammatteo.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities
To set up your listing, you’ll start by answering some basic questions, such as how many guests your space can accommodate and what amenities are included.
It’s fine if you don’t have an entire house or apartment available for guests. You can rent out one floor or even just a room. Giammatteo has made her downstairs area available as a guest suite, which gives people the feeling of having a one-bedroom apartment to themselves.
Set the Scene with Photos
Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would you want to see in the photos of an Airbnb listing?
The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.
Of course, you’ll want to include pictures of the bedrooms, kitchen and backyard. But Giammatteo knows from experience that guests also like photos of items that may seem like small details but can actually be game changers.
“Guests typically want to know about such amenities as washer/dryer, ironing board, Wi-Fi, parking,” she says.
Think about the details that make your home inviting. Maybe you own a nice ironing board guests can use, or you boast both a drip coffee maker and a Keurig. Capture those amenities. People might not take the time to read about them, so providing pictures could capture guests’ attention.
Write a Description
Now that you’ve provided stellar images for potential guests, it’s time to describe your place. You’ll want to highlight what makes it unique.
Do a little market research by browsing Superhosts’ listings in your area to see how they describe their places. (They’re Superhosts for a reason, right? Their descriptions draw guests to their homes!)
Giammatteo’s main advice? “Never be too wordy.”
She has a point — this is the internet, after all. People like to skim.
In fact, in Giammatteo’s listing, her description is a mere two sentences. She explains how guests can relax and rejuvenate in various parts of the spacious suite. She’s obviously pinpointed her audience: people who want to take it easy on vacation.
Another big tip? “Be as honest as possible about the glories, and limitations, of your space,” Giammatteo says. “Don’t oversell, and don’t omit.”
If the master bedroom has a window with a great view of the Space Needle, let potential guests know. On the other hand, if sound carries throughout the house, give readers a heads up. You don’t want a negative experience to surprise them, resulting in a bad review.
Giammatteo’s home was built in 1948, so there are lots of squeaks and creaks. She lets guests know ahead of time that they will hear her when she walks around upstairs.
Name Your Listing
“Like choosing a color for your new car, naming your space is a tortuous journey,” Giammatteo says. She’s right — naming your Airbnb listing might seem like a shallow detail. But it matters.
When guests scroll through places to stay on Airbnb, the first details they see are the pictures and name of your property. The title should provide an accurate description of the space, catch people’s eye and draw them in.
Giammatteo recommends combining information about both your listing’s location and atmosphere. Her accommodation is listed as “Secluded Spa Retreat with Woodland Garden Deck in Queen Anne.”
“Our space was designed to be a sanctuary, really — to envelop guests in the comfort of high-quality materials, plentiful lighting and a spa/luxury bathroom,” says Giammatteo.
Think about what type of traveller would enjoy your home. (You might better pick up on this once you have your first few guests.) Is it set in a quiet part of town where people won’t be disturbed? Is it in the middle of everything, perfect for thrill-seekers?
Giammatteo also made sure to include Queen Anne in the name, because the neighborhood is walking distance from downtown and a prime spot for festivals and trendy shops.
Think about what your home’s location offers guests. Is it close to a lot of high-end restaurants? Does it provide a view of Mount Rainier? Is it near a Light Link Rail stop or the Seattle Art Museum? Let your guests know.
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, no smoking allowed, and no events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
Giammatteo sets pretty standard rules for her guests, such as banning smoking and requiring people clean up after their pets. Like many Seattleites, she takes recycling seriously, so she requires guests to read and follow her recycling instructions.
Set Up Your Calendar
You’ll arrange a calendar of when guests can stay at your listing. This step is important, because Airbnb will charge you a fee if you cancel after guests have booked time at your home.
Here are some questions you’ll answer:
How often do you want to have guests?
How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
How far in advance can guests book?
What time can guests check in?
How long can guests stay?
You can change your calendar settings down the road, so you aren’t married to the dates and times you set now.
Price Your Space
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool. If you choose to use this, Airbnb will automatically adjust your pricing based on demand. For example, if the system notices that a lot of music lovers are booking Seattle spots for Bumbershoot or tourists are flocking to town in August in attempts to avoid the rain, it will likely increase the price of your listing at these times.
You can set a price minimum and maximum so your h [...]
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Despite years of adding “lose some weight” to my list of New Year’s resolutions, I have yet to join a gym.
Not to make excuses (well, let’s be real — everyone who wants to avoid the gym is making excuses), but I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to spending money on myself.
Except when it comes to food.
But getting in shape requires making a decision and a commitment to putting in the work. And it takes an investment — in time and often in money.
With so many options out there, how do you pick the best gym membership for you?
Our Guide to Finding the Cheapest Gym Membership
Let me start by saying choosing a gym is a very personal decision.
Size might be a significant factor. Location might be also important to you — maybe if you pass the gym along your normal commute, you won’t be going out of your way.
Well, to help make your decision a bit easier, we compiled information from six national workout chains so you can compare availability, costs and features.
Some gyms provide free trials, so be sure to take advantage of those offers before signing up for a membership.
Writer’s note: Individual membership costs are published as listed online as of May 17, 2019, and they are subject to change. Rates may vary based on location and current promotions.
1. Youfit Health Clubs
Where: Youfit Health Clubs has more than 100 locations in 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
How Much: The base membership fee is $10 a month. The premium tier (known as “Lime Card” access) costs $21.99 a month. When you sign up for the base membership, you’ll also pay for first and last month dues. Initiation fees vary depending on the membership package.
What’s Included: Depending on location, these clubs include top-of-the-line equipment, free weights, group fitness sessions, express circuits, personal trainers, tanning beds and childcare. Premium members can also bring a free guest with them for every visit and can visit any YouFit location.
Try It: Get a free guest pass for one-time use.
2. Planet Fitness
Where: Planet Fitness has over 1,800 locations in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.
How Much: Monthly dues are $10 for just one location or $19.99 to use any location. Annual fees are $39.99 and the start-up fee is $1. The $10 membership has no commitment.
What’s Included: These gyms include cardio and weight-training equipment, plus fitness training programs for all members. Some locations include massage chairs and tanning services. Many locations are open 24 hours a day.
Try It: Find the location nearest you.
3. Crunch Fitness
Where: Crunch Fitness has more than 300 locations for its regular gyms and 30 locations for its Signature gyms (which include more classes, upgraded amenities and more). Its gyms are located in 30 states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and four Canadian provinces.
How Much: A base membership is $9.95 a month, a Peak membership is $21.95 a month and a Peak Results membership is $24.95 a month. Enrollment fees vary from $10 to $49.99 depending on your membership level. The annual fee is $78, prorated at $6.50 a month.
What’s Included: Depending on what type of membership you choose, you can take advantage of multiple perks at this gym, including a training orientation with a fitness expert, group fitness classes, online video workouts, tanning and Hydromassage. The Peak and Peak Results memberships can be used at multiple locations.
Try It: Try a free one-day trial.
4. LA Fitness
Where: LA Fitness has more than 675 locations in 27 states, Washington D.C. and Canada.
How Much: Monthly fees start at $24.99 for single-club access or $29.99 for multiple clubs within the same state. Initiation fees are $89.
What’s Included: Gyms include state-of-the-art equipment and cardio areas, group fitness classes, indoor heated pools, whirlpool spas and saunas. Some have kids’ clubs, juice bars and basketball and racquetball courts.
Try It: Find your local club to request a guest pass online.
5. 24 Hour Fitness
Where: 24 Hour Fitness has over 400 locations in 13 states — California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey.
How Much: Monthly fees start at $29.99, but can vary based on location and membership level. Members pay a one-time initiation fee, which starts at $29.99, and there’s also a $49.99 annual fee.
What’s Included: Gyms include studio and cycle classes. Most facilities also have an indoor lap pool and a Whirlpool. Members can take advantage of personal and group training. Get access to digital workouts you can complete at home without stepping foot in an actual gym. Parents of children ages 6 months to 11 years can drop their kids off for supervised fun time at nearly every location.
Try It: Use this three-day free pass.
6. Anytime Fitness
Where: Anytime Fitness has more than 4,000 locations in all 50 states and 36 countries across six continents. (That’ll likely soon change, as the chain recently announced plans to expand to Antarctica.)
How Much: Membership starts at $29.99 per month, but prices vary depending on location and current promotions. According to Anytime Fitness’s spokesperson, the average membership is $40 a month. Members also pay one-time initiation and key activation fees, which vary depending on the franchise.
What’s Included: Members have access to cardio machines, weights and strength training equipment, as well as classes and wellness programs. Some locations offer tanning and personal training. They are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Try It: You can get a free seven-day pass.
Other Alternatives to Popular Chain Gyms
If none of these chain gyms suit your fancy, you could always join your local YMCA or set up a home gym to get your workouts in.
You could also incorporate fitness into your daily routine by trying one of these nine inexpensive gym alternatives. Running is one of the options on that list; this post on tips and tricks for finding discounted running shoes can help ease your stride.
Or you could lace up those shoes and march right into the gym!
Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She sympathizes with the struggle of getting in shape.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]