Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020

Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020
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My Honest Review of the Master Your Money Super Bundle

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My Honest Review of the Master Your Money Super Bundle
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Interested in purchasing the Master Your Money Super Bundle? I spent hours going through all of the resources in the bundle and I am sharing my completely honest review with you, including what I liked and what I didn’t like. The popular Master Your Money Super Bundle is back for two days only, through February 20, 2020! We haven’t see this deal in almost a year and this is $10 lower than last year’s price! If you’re curious about the bundle or wondering if it’s worth purchasing, keep reading for my completely honest review of this bundle! Should You Purchase the Master Your Money Bundle? If you have been considering buying the Master Your Money Super Bundle, I am here to provide you with a completely honest and biased review. I say biased because we all have bias. Which means that you are free to agree or disagree with my conclusions. But I want to share this honest review of the Master Your Money Super Bundle for those of you who are on the fence as to whether it is worth purchasing or not. So many of you loved my honest review of The Ultimate Productivity Toolkit and begged me to do honest reviews for each of the bundles from Ultimate Bundles. While it takes a lot of time and effort to go through each and every product in a bundle, because I love to help you spend your money wisely, I am happy to prioritize the time to do so. Why I Am Not a Contributor First off, I need you to know that I did use my affiliate links throughout this post. I am an affiliate for the Ultimate Bundles this time around, not a contributor. A contributor is someone who has included a product of their own in the bundle. As a thank you for the time and effort that you put into creating your product and allowing it to be part of the bundle, Ultimate Bundles pays you 70% of every sale made through your link. They also split a small percentage of the overall sales amongst all contributors. (This is usually a few hundred dollars or less). I have been a contributor to other bundles in the past (and will likely be one in the future!) I love the folks at Ultimate Bundles and love their heart for what they do. However, when they approached me about being one for this bundle, I decided against it because I felt that the price point of $37 was a little on the high side for my audience — especially since this bundle was on the topic of saving and investing money. I am typically only a contributor for a bundle if I feel like it is going to be a really, really good fit for my audience and something that you all will be super excited about. I just felt like many of you would not be excited about a bundle on money that cost $37, so I decided to decline the opportunity. Instead of being a contributor, I am an affiliate, which means I earn 40% of every sale through my link. I just wanted to put that out here in full disclosure. If you click through any of the links in this post and purchase the bundle, I will earn 40% of the sale. My Honest Review of the Master Your Money Super Bundle I spent hours going through every single ebook, video, and course in the bundle in order to bring you the most thorough and honest review that I can. Again, I’m biased, so please know you can wholeheartedly disagree with me. But whether you agree with my assessment of the bundle or not, I hope this is helpful to you as you think through whether purchasing the Master Your Money Super Bundle is worth it for you! The Negatives: Some of the products had an inflated price tag. I will say that I felt like many of the prices on the products in the Master Your Money Super Bundle were very realistic and fair for the value, I felt like most of the videos that had a value of $19 weren’t really a $19 value and about 5 other products in the bundle felt over-priced to me. With this in mind, even though they say the bundle is a $1200 value, I’d say that for the products I would use and felt were worth what they were priced at, to me the value would be more like $350 to $400 maximum. I didn’t like the videos at all. Okay, I sort of said this above, but I’m going to say it again: I just really didn’t like the 11 videos they offered as stand-alone products in this bundle. I know it was something new they were trying and I think it fell flat. In many cases, there was poor audio and the content didn’t seem like it was super valuable — at least for what I was looking for. Honestly, I barely watched any of all of the videos. (I watched a little bit of every single one just to do this review, but I found myself skipping ahead and quickly turning them off because I just wasn’t jiving with them at all. Maybe it was just me.) Some of the products were poorly designed. I know that we don’t always have the highest quality design on things we offer because of various reasons and I know sometimes you just do the best you can do, but I found that at least 30% of the ebooks were poorly designed and hard to read. I know that “content is king”, but if your ebook is hard on my eyes and unprofessional, it makes it a lot harder to really enjoy soaking up the wisdom in the content. There is quite a bit of overlap. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing as we need to hear things more than once and different people are going to resonate with different types of teaching styles, but for some people, the fact that there is quite a bit of overlap — especially in the areas of learning to budget and cutting expenses — could de-value this bundle. The Positives: I loved that there were so many different aspects of money management covered. This bundle covers everything from investing to paying off debt to how to make more money to ways to practically cut expenses to starting a side hustle to retirement. The bundle was very comprehensive and had a lot of valuable resources with actionable tips. Most of the products were more by everyday people instead of professionals. While some people would prefer to only get financial advice from certified professionals, I prefer to learn from people who aren’t just talking in theory, but who have actually lived what they are teaching (not to say that all professionals haven’t experienced some of what they share, but I think you understand what I mean). Instead of a theory on how to pay down debt, I much prefer to hear your story of how you actually did it. There’s a lot of that in the resources in this bundle and it makes it feel very accessible and doable. My bottom line opinion is that this bundle — if you buy it and actually go through the resources and take them to heart — could save you WAY more than the $37 price tag. I had prepared myself to be underwhelmed with the content, especially since I have been blogging and studying money and saving and making money for years. But I learned a lot of new things, loved how so many of the ebooks and courses were presented, and just overall felt that this was worth purchasing, if you will USE it and have the money in your budget to pay for it. (Please, for the love of all that is good and right, do not spend money you don’t have to buy the Master Your Money Super Bundle, okay?) My Favorite Resources Budgeting That Works — I love Caroline’s style of teaching and she breaks everything down step-by-step. She also has a great voice on audio that is interesting to listen to. In this course, she gives you the tools you need to really set up a budget and follow through with it. She comes across as a fun cheerleader. I loved her 30-7-30 rule that she outlines and she has some great printables at the end of the course, including a 160 Ways to Save Cheatsheet which I thought was very valuable. Fancy Serial Numbers For Fun & Profit — I had NO idea that people would pay big bucks for cash bills that had fancy or special or [...]
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12 Money-Saving Tips to Enjoy a Frugal Retirement

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12 Money-Saving Tips to Enjoy a Frugal Retirement
Adjusting to a fixed income in retirement can be a challenge — especially if you’re living off less money. Just because you stopped working doesn’t mean you can stop paying the utility bills and buying groceries. If you’re planning vacations or trips to the golf course — those are extra costs to budget for. “You could easily spend more money [in retirement] because you have more time you want to enjoy,” said Droucelle Ramage, a retiree living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Embracing frugality throughout her life, however, is one of the reasons Ramage was able to leave the workforce in her early 60s. “I used to say it’s against my religion to pay full retail,” she joked. Ramage continues to keep expenses low by shopping at thrift stores, attending free community events and choosing community acupuncture rather than going to a pricey private practice. “It’s $15 instead of $100,” she said. Volunteering at her church and local senior center is another way Ramage stays busy without spending money. When she travels, she’s able to get free flights, a benefit of working for American Airlines for over 20 years. Knowing how to cut costs is key to having a frugal retirement you can enjoy. Here are 12 ways to save money. 1. Get a Roommate or Two Loneliness in retirement can have a negative effect on your health and quality of life. Not only will live-in company help you feel less alone, but you’ll reduce housing costs. If you live alone, try sharing a place with a friend or family member who lives in the same town, or consider coliving with other retirees to save money. 2. Downsize to a Smaller Space Maybe your idea of a frugal retirement doesn’t include sharing your living space. You can cut costs by moving to a smaller home instead.  A small house has several financial benefits. You’ll pay less in rent or mortgage. Your utility bills will go down. You’ll have less home maintenance and repairs to worry about.  And when you downsize, you can sell all that furniture you don’t need for extra cash.  Pro Tip If you’re looking to relocate, here are 11 of the best places to retire. 3. Rent Out Your Kids’ Old Rooms If you don’t want to sell the family home or get long-term roommates, you can make money off your empty nest by turning unused space into short-term rentals. Your kids can get their rooms back when they visit for the holidays — or you could make them pay the daily rate.  This guide on how to become an Airbnb host will get you started. 4. Cut the Cost of Groceries Slashing your grocery spending is a high-impact way to help you have a frugal retirement that saves money every month. Clip coupons, buy generic products, start a garden and shop at stores that boast low prices, like Aldi or Trader Joe’s. For more tips, check out this story about saving money on groceries. Bonus: When you feel like eating out for a change, read up on these 25 ways to save money at restaurants. 5. Be Proactive About Your Health Your health is often intertwined with your wealth. Staying healthy in retirement means you’ll spend less on medical costs. When it comes to preventative care, a balanced diet and regular exercise can lower your chances of developing certain conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But you don’t have to drain your bank account paying for expensive health food or a pricey gym membership. These 10 ways to save money on organic groceries will help you eat healthy for less. Incorporate one of these gym alternatives into your routine, or build a cheap home gym for under $100.  Pro Tip If you’re 65 or older, enroll in Medicare. While Medicare coverage doesn’t eliminate out-of-pocket costs, you’ll pay less than with private health insurance. 6. Find Low-Cost Entertainment and Ways to Stay Social Keep busy in retirement without emptying your wallet. Fill your social calendar up with events at your local senior center, host potluck dinners with friends or start a murder mystery book club. Check out free offerings at your library, like sign language classes or museum passes.  Turn to this list of 100 free things to do when boredom hits. Volunteering is another way to make good use of your time, and it could come with neat perks, like free entry to a play when you usher at a theater. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Cheap Valentine's Day date 2/15/20 @ 11:15 AM S How I save money on pest control 2/4/20 @ 3:50 PM $4000 trip to Hawaii for $1500 2/13/20 @ 4:11 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 7. Save Money on That Bucket List Trip You can have a frugal retirement and travel. It just requires some smart planning and perhaps a bit of compromise — like avoiding the peak tourist season or driving instead of flying. These travel tips will help you keep costs low. 8. Take Advantage of Discounts Don’t be shy about sharing your age when it’ll result in sweet discounts. Dozens of companies — from retailers and restaurants to airlines and hotels — offer lower prices for seniors. Some offer discounts to customers as young as 50. Pro Tip Join AARP to enjoy a slew of discounts at a variety of places. 9. Continue Your Education for Free All across the country, there are opportunities for seniors to take free or reduced-price college courses. Be a life-long learner and take a class in a subject you’ve always wanted to know more about. 10. Shop Secondhand Instead of strolling through the mall for a new outfit or home decor piece, try thrift stores, consignment shops or online sellers to score a lower price. 11. Sell Unused Things You know that china set that’s been collecting dust? Stop telling yourself you’ll pass it down to your kids. Get cash for it instead, along with all the other unused items lying around the house. Organize a garage sale or register as a vendor at a local flea market. If you don’t feel like manning a card table for half a day, sell your stuff online on sites like eBay, OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace. This guide helps you figure out the best time of year to sell all your unwanted stuff. 12. Pay Off Lingering Debt The rewards are twofold when you become debt free sooner rather than later. You’ll pay less in overall interest when you pay off your debt early. You’ll also free up more cash once you no longer have that monthly financial obligation. Paying more than the minimum, negotiating a lower interest rate and making biweekly payments can help you lower your debt load. Here are additional helpful tips on paying off student loans in retirement and eliminating credit card debt in retirement. 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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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!

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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!
29 weeks!! And what a week it’s been! Highlights Well, this week has definitely been different than what I anticipated! Silas woke up with a high fever on Tuesday morning and all three kids ended up coming down with Flu B over the next two days. So we’ve been quarantined at home all week and Jesse has been playing round-the-clock nurse to all three kids. He’s been a saint and it’s been so hard for me to not be able to help do much to take care of the kids (it’s dangerous for a pregnant woman to get the flu). The kids have never all been this sick at the same time, but they’ve been such troopers. Jesse has them on this regimen of elderberry, vitamins, homeopathics, and baking soda baths + lots of fluids/rest + Tylenol/Motrin every time their fever spikes. They’ve all had such good attitudes despite being miserable. We’re so hopeful that they only have a few more days of fevers before this runs its course. So none of that was about highlights or pregnancy, but it’s where we are at this week. That said, the highlight has been that I only got a touch of a fever and between rest, fluids, and elderberry, I seem to be dodging the flu bullet so far. And also, I am SO grateful that Jesse has stayed well! Notable The baby has had the hiccups multiple times this week. I kept waiting for it to happen because I remember all my other babies often having them! Also, the movements are getting more pronounced and it seems like there’s constantly some baby body part poking out underneath my skin. It has made it that much more real and helped me connect with this child even moreso. Cravings Um, should I admit that almost all I’ve been craving is cheeseburgers?? I have no idea where *that* came from, but Jesse ran to Burger King last night because the cravings were getting pretty ridiculous and for some reason I really wanted a Burger King cheeseburger. Here’s the crazy thing: I don’t even know if I’ve ever had one before. I can’t even remember ever going to BK in the last decade, but man, the cheeseburgers (yes, I ate two!) tasted SO good!! Weight gain: 21 pounds Meet the newest member of the Paine family – Theodore Quiller. (AKA Theo.) We’ve taken at least 90 videos/pictures of him since we got him and he’s so active that he was basically a blur in most of them. So this was the best we got! We already love him so much and are excited to have another hedgehog again! (Theo’s middle name is in honor of Quill, our first hedgehog who died in December from Wobbly Hedgehog Disease.) [...]
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How to Turn an Idea Into a Business: A 7-Day Jump-Start

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How to Turn an Idea Into a Business: A 7-Day Jump-Start
Chances are you’ve daydreamed of what it would be like to run a business of your own. Perhaps you’ve thought of an idea that could be a real moneymaker. But you weren’t sure how to act, so those dreams faded to the background as you trudged through your day job(s). To get you back in entrepreneur mode, we’ve created a seven-day bootcamp to turn your idea into a business. We’ve paired each day with a strategy to help you chisel away at your goals. And what’s this? Feb. 15-22, is National Entrepreneurship Week? What timing! Chartered in 2006, the weeklong congressional initiative “encourages the implementation of entrepreneurship education throughout the United States.” Dreams, you’re back. That business you’ve always wanted to start: It’s happening. By the end of the week, if all goes well, your momentum should carry you into a future where every week is entrepreneurship week. Day 1: Brainstorm Ideas Business ideas don’t have to be glamorous. They just need to be realistic. They don’t need to be based on a genius invention, a scientific breakthrough or a Shark Tank-worthy smartphone app (though they certainly could be). At their core, good business ideas identify existing problems and offer solutions. Kathyrn Gratton is the president of the Hagerstown, Maryland, chapter of Score, a free small-business resource network and partner of the federal Small Business Administration. She spoke to The Penny Hoarder about coming up with a winning idea. “Where’s your interest? Where’s your passion?” she said, noting that your ideas need to be more than potential moneymakers: You should also enjoy the work. It’s OK if you can’t think of anything on-the-spot. The Penny Hoarder compiled nine business ideas to get your creativity flowing. Day 2: Choose a Winner Now that you’ve got a long (or not-so-long) list of potential business ideas, you’ve got to decide which one to run with.  Consider your own expertise. Use your insider experience and knowledge to pinpoint what’s original and novel about your idea. Start thinking about the connections you have, and how those people can help you get started. You may realize later that, actually, the idea you picked wasn’t a winner. You need to rethink it, or return to your list. That’s OK too. The point of this weeklong exercise is to make progress. And determining that the idea you’ve been mulling over for a while is unfeasible is progress. Day 3: Get Feedback Feedback is crucial in the early stages of business building. The more the better — and the more critical the better. While you might think you have a brilliant idea, sooner or later, your business is going to need to convince a ton of other people of the same thing. Within the constraints of day three, you’re not going to be able to test any markets or run any focus groups. Simply asking for constructive feedback from your neighbors, friends or family members will be tremendously helpful. Think you’re onto something? Read our comprehensive 10-step guide to starting a business once you’re ready to launch. Gratton recommends asking that one brutally honest friend we all have. You know, the one that’s comfortable with telling you if you’ve gotten fat over the holidays. “They are the best to run things by because you know they will tell you the truth,” she said. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Is there Really a way to make MONEY ONLINE? 2/14/20 @ 2:34 PM Earn well with little Money? 2/14/20 @ 3:06 PM Financial Fitness February: Day 7 (Big WIN) 2/8/20 @ 12:37 AM Make money from home 2/2/20 @ 12:47 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Day 4: Outline a Business Plan Don’t roll your eyes. Business plans are worth it. A 2016 study published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal found it indeed pays to plan: Entrepreneurs who wrote formal business plans were 16% more likely to “achieve new venture viability” (aka succeed) than those who didn’t.  While it’s true that you won’t be able to – and probably shouldn’t – draft an entire business plan in one day, you can spend your time creating an outline that will set you up for success. In the article-turned-book “How to Write a Great Business Plan,” Harvard business professor William Sahlman lays out the purpose of a business plan and exactly what to include in it. The People: Who’s running the show? Include yourself and everyone else you’ll need for operations to run smoothly. The Opportunity: Explain your product or service and who might buy it. Start thinking about price points, customer demographics and competitors. The Context: Consider all “factors that inevitably change but cannot be controlled by the entrepreneur,” Sahlman writes. That includes laws, regulations and economic trends that could impact your idea. The Risk and Reward: Describe the worst-case scenario, economically speaking, and how you plan to weather the storm. Use those four sections as a starting point for your outline. As you fill it out, you’re very likely to find some deeper insight into your business – or you may find it’s just not going to work. The sooner you learn from either scenario, the better. Day 5: Craft a Business Pitch You’ve done all the heavy lifting for the week. Hopefully that dream you thought was long dead is starting to come alive. Now it’s time to polish up your findings and start sharing the basic premise of your idea and why it’s destined to be successful. Or at least be ready when the opportunity strikes. To help you know what to include in a killer business pitch, The Penny Hoarder spoke to two former Shark Tank contestants who pitched their businesses in front of millions of viewers – nailed their performance – and now helm multimillion-dollar enterprises: Dawoon Kang, CEO of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, and Sara Margulis, CEO of the honeymoon-crowdsourcing website Honeyfund. “Succinctly stating what your business is, why it exists and why it’s better than everyone else is really important,” Margulis said. “Any time you talk about your company, you should be able to convey those things simply.” That succinct part is especially important. Here are Kang and Margulis’ other key nuggets of advice. Know your audience: No matter whom you speak to, your pitch should include the core elements Margulis mentioned, but you’ll need to tailor it slightly to different people. Is it a customer, an investor or a business partner? What does each of them need to hear? Include a call to action: Depending on your audience, the call to action should change. Suggest a clear next step, something more specific than: “Let’s stay in touch!” Practice: Pacing, enthusiasm and data are a lot to juggle. You won’t know what part of your pitch sticks with your listener unless you test it out. Apply feedback: Your business pitch is never truly finished. You may learn that people want to hear more about a detail you thought was unimportant. Hear them out, and make the changes to keep it fresh. “It feels like (I’m pitching) all the time … but what I’m realizing is it’s actually not enough,” Kang said. “There’s a saying: ‘Unless you’ve said it 10 times, you [...]
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*HOT* Adventure Academy Annual Subscription for just $3.75 per month!

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*HOT* Adventure Academy Annual Subscription for just $3.75 per month!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Whoa!! Do you have elementary or middle school aged kids who love online gaming? Be sure to check out this HOT deal on an annual subscription to Adventure Academy!! Psst! You can also get HUGE savings on ReadingIQ and ABCmouse right now!! As a special Presidents Day deal, you can currently get an annual subscription to Adventure Academy for just $45 — which is like paying just $3.75 per month! This deal is valid through February 17, 2020. They’ve only offered this low price a couple other times! Regularly priced at $110, so this is a HUGE savings! It’s like getting 5 months for free at the regular price. Adventure Academy is a brand new MMO game created specifically for kids in elementary and middle school. It features thousands of enjoyable learning activities that kids can discover on quests through an interactive virtual world. Developed by the top video gaming designers and crafted by a team of curriculum experts, Adventure Academy is a highly engaging and creative platform that focuses on building critical knowledge and skills in language arts, math, social studies, science, and more! Adventure Academy features thousands of educational learning activities, such as videos, reading experiences, games, quizzes, and many other interactive elements— all within the frameworks of U.S. (and international) curriculum standards. I checked it out and it plays a lot like an adventure game (think Zelda!) but within an educational framework. It’s really cool! Go here to take advantage of this RARE deal on Adventure Academy. [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020
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This News Is Big!

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This News Is Big!
Earlier this year, I had fun with an April Fool’s prank with all of you.  I joked that I had sold the website and was moving on from Penny Pinchin’ Mom. This time it’s no joke. It is now real.  I have sold Penny Pinchin’ Mom. Don’t panic!  This is a good thing for everyone! ... Read More about This News Is Big! The post This News Is Big! appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom. [...]
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Save 25% on filing your taxes with H&R Block!

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Save 25% on filing your taxes with H&R Block!
Want to save money on filing your taxes? Don’t miss this deal to get 25% off with H&R Block this tax season! {This post is sponsored by H&R Block. Read our disclosure policy here.} Save Money & Time on Tax Prep This Year It’s hard to believe, but tax season is already upon us! If this time of year tends to overwhelm you, be sure to check out H&R Block’s online tax services. H&R Block’s goal is to make filing your taxes easier, less time consuming, and more affordable. And you can use their services on a regular computer or even on your smartphone! Not only are H&R Block’s tax services at least $10 less than TurboTax, but they’re also offering an exclusive discount for Money Saving Mom readers to save an extra 25% off any of their services right now! Choose from four of their affordable, easy-to-use tax solutions: H&R Block Free Online (FREE + Free State Filing) — Designed for people with less complex filing situations, including clients who have W-2 income, kids and rent, as well as students and first-time filers. More people can file for free with H&R Block vs. TurboTax, including parents and students. H&R Block Deluxe Online ($29.99 $23.99 with discount) — Designed for homeowners, people who’ve made charitable donations, and those with HSAs. This version includes six years’ access to tax returns, Deduction Pro® to optimize deductions, and chat support for technical questions. H&R Block Premium Online ($49.99 $39.99 with discount) — Designed for freelancers, contractors, investors, and rental property owners. This version includes all Deluxe features as well as the ability to import expenses from popular expense-tracking apps. It also features cost-basis calculation using advanced filing calculators to help determine the cost basis of your home sale, dividend, and gift and inheritance assets. H&R Block Self Employed Online ($79.99 $63.99 with discount) — Designed for self-employed individuals and small business owners with a home office and/or employee. This version includes all Premium features as well as an improved guided Schedule C interview to ensure a better experience for complex clients. With any of these paid versions of H&R Block, you can add on a state filing for an extra $36.99 cost. You can also opt to utilize their H&R Block Online Assist that offers access to highly trained tax experts to provide the level of help you want or need — with an H&R Block tax expert, IRS enrolled agent, or CPA. And one of H&R Block’s highest priorities is transparency — so you’ll always know upfront exactly how much you’ll be paying for your online tax preparation. If your price changes for any reason during the tax preparation process, you’ll immediately be notified. Save On H&R Block Tax Services Want to try H&R Block tax preparation services this year? I’ve got an exclusive discount for you! H&R Block is offering MoneySavingMom.com readers a 25% discount on any of their tax solutions. Just click here to browse the options and find the right fit for you at a discounted price! [...]
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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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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)

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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Here are the two books I finished last week… The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships If you enjoy all things Enneagram, I definitely recommend this book. It’s an in-depth at each number on the Enneagram and how that number relates and differs with other numbers. I found it insightful, enlightening, and just downright interesting. And while I’d studied a lot about the Enneagram, I learned quite a few new things — especially when it comes to how to better relate with other numbers, communicate with them, and help them to feel seen and valued. It also definitely, definitely confirmed what I already knew to be true: I’m an Enneagram 8 through and through! Also, it sparked some great conversations between Jesse and me about how we interact, how certain things I do can make him want to shut down (he’s a 5), and how we’ve both grown so much healthier as people in the last 10 years. The only thing I will mention is that if you’re new to the Enneagram, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. Instead, I’d start with a book like, The Road Back to You. Verdict: 4 stars Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message I’ve been to one of Donald Miller’s Story Brand workshops before and it made an indelible mark on how I approach marketing and communication with customers in our business. This book was a good refresher to listen to. If you are a blogger, a business owner, an online entrepreneur, or have any say in the marketing or oversight of the company you work for, I would highly recommend this book. It will likely challenge the way you think when it comes to marketing and change the way you approach doing business. The best part is that this book gives you a really clear-cut action plan and walks you step-by-step through out to implement it. So you don’t just read about the great ideas; you actually know how to put them into practice in your business! Two things I did want to mention: 1) I think this book would be better to read a physical copy of than to listen to as it’s more hands-on and has projects for each chapter. 2) I was a little turned off by the multiple promotions for Story Brand products and services. I understand that the goal was likely to get people to want to invest into some of the higher priced products that Story Brand offers, but I found it to be a turn-off — and it almost merited me bumping the rating of the book down to 3 stars. Verdict: 4 stars Book I Didn’t Finish The Atomic City Girls — Unfortunately, this book was a big disappointment to me. I had high hopes for it, but within an hour or so of listening, I quickly discovered it seemed more focused on the romantic story and details of that than the actual historical details of Oak Ridge. Yes, there were some historical details, but the book continued to sound more and more like a soap opera or tabloid and started going into details about the character’s loves lives that felt too edgy/raunchy for me… so I ended up quitting it. Does anyone have a book to recommend about Oak Ridge that is interesting but also much more historically rich? Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched the 1950’s Disney version of Treasure Island. Both girls had read this book in school, so they found that made the movie more interesting. It was a little slow and long (even though it was only 1 hour and 35 minutes, it felt long), but overall we mostly enjoyed it. I will say it’s probably been one of our least favorite classic movies so far. What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket only $58.98 shipped (Reg. $150!)

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Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket only $58.98 shipped (Reg. $150!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. This is a fantastic deal on this Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket! Columbia has this Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket for just $58.98 shipped right now! Be sure you are logged in to your account (it’s free to join) to get this price! This is regularly $150 and has amazing reviews so this is a hot deal. Choose from four color options. [...]
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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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My 9 Goals For This Week

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My 9 Goals For This Week
(All dressed up for Silent Disco Night at camp!) I could look at last week’s goals list and be discouraged at how little it feels like I crossed off. But then, I look at all that actually happened last week and I can remember that maybe it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but I focused on people versus projects and being present versus being productive… and I realize that it was a really good week. Last week’s goals: Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. (I decided to stop listening to this book because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. More details on that on my book review post this week.) Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (I only ended up reading aloud once and we made it through 10 pages. Hey, that’s something, right?) Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript.(I only got a chance to work on the book a few times last week between my friend’s funeral and being out of town helping at Youth Group camp all weekend. Here’s to hoping I make more progress this week!) 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched Treasure Island. Review coming later this week!) We have what looks to be a calmer week this week. We are actually home three evenings out of seven — I can’t remember the last time that has happened! And we don’t have any big things happening this week… well, anything that I know of yet! 🙂 So I’m planning 9 goals and we’ll see how it goes! 2020: Week 6 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Counterfeit Gods. Listen to Eat That Frog! and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. 3. Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Home/Family Goals 4. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 5. Research strollers, baby carriers, and car seats. Decide what we’re going to purchase. 6. Complete 4-hour Foster Care Training. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 8. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 9. Go to a movie with Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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How Ignatica is tackling the legacy systems innovation logjam with new technology

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How Ignatica is tackling the legacy systems innovation logjam with new technology
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SEC Proposes Amendments to Financial Disclosure in Regulation S-K and Issues New Guidance

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SEC Proposes Amendments to Financial Disclosure in Regulation S-K and Issues New Guidance
On January 30, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to propose amendments to certain financial disclosure requirements in Regulation S-K, in an effort to modernize and simplify such requirements. The SEC also issued new guidance relating to key performance indicators and metrics. The SEC has proposed the following amendments and guidance to Regulation S-K: Elimination of Items 301 Selected Financial Data and 302 Supplementary Financial Information To simplify disclosure requirements in light of modern technological developments and reduce the repetition of non-material information, the SEC proposed eliminating the requirements that registrants provide 1) five years of selected financial data and 2) two years of selected quarterly financial data. Amendments to Item 303 Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations The SEC proposed various amendments to Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A), including: adding a new Item 303(a) to succinctly state and clarify the principal purposes of MD&A and streamline the instructions; eliminating the specific requirement to discuss the impact of inflation and price changes, though a discussion of such matters would still be required if the trend shows they have had or are reasonably expected to have a material impact on net sales, revenue or income from continuing operations (Item 303(a)(3)(iv) Results of Operations (Inflation and Price Changes)); replacing the requirement that a registrant discuss off-balance sheet arrangements with a requirement to integrate disclosure of off-balance sheet arrangements within the broader context of MD&A (Item 303(a)(4), Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements); eliminating the requirement to provide a contractual obligations table (Item 303(a)(5) Contractual Obligations); permitting registrants to compare the most recently completed quarter to either the corresponding quarter of the prior year, as currently mandated, or to the immediately preceding quarter (Item 303(b) Interim Periods); and requiring disclosure of critical accounting estimates. Other proposed amendments to MD&A would require disclosure of known events reasonably likely to cause a material change in costs and revenues; codify existing interpretive guidance requiring the discussion of reasons underlying material changes in net sales or revenues and require disclosure of material cash requirements (including capital expenditures commitments); and the anticipated source of funds and general purpose of such material cash requirements. Amendments Relating to Foreign Private Issuers The proposed revisions include parallel amendments to Forms 20-F and 40-F relating to foreign private issuers (FPIs), intending that MD&A requirements for FPIs continue to mirror the substantive MD&A requirements in Item 303 of Regulation S-K. Guidance The SEC also issued new guidance providing that, where registrants disclose key performance indicators or metrics, they should also consider the extent to which additional disclosure relating to the metrics is necessary in light of existing MD&A requirements and to ensure that the presentation of the indicators or metrics, in light of the circumstances under which they are presented, is not misleading. The guidance further provides a reminder for registrants to consider whether they have effective controls and procedures in place to process information related to the disclosure of key performance indicators and metrics to ensure consistency and accuracy. Commenters have 60 days following publication in the Federal Register to submit comments to the proposed amendments, which is available here. The guidance is available here. [...]
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12 Things That Are Cheaper in 2020

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12 Things That Are Cheaper in 2020
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com What goes up must come down, right? For some prices, yes. Money Talks News analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index data, which is for December 2019, to find out which things actually cost less going into 2020 than they did one year prior. Overall, the price of all things overall rose by 2.3% over the course of 2019... [...]
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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020

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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020
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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, February 8

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Afternoon Deals: Saturday, February 8
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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How to Afford Being a Stay At Home Mom

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How to Afford Being a Stay At Home Mom
Want to be a stay at home mom, but worried about the financial implications of transitioning to one income? This post is full of practical advice and helpful encouragement on how to afford being a stay at home mom! Guest post by Kristine of SurvivingMoms.com: Giving up a full-time or part-time salary isn’t easy, but my sisters and I wanted to stay home with our kids. To make it happen we knew we needed to get creative with lowering our monthly expenses. Here are 19 things we did (and still do) to save money: We Cut Hair Ourselves: Even at Walmart a haircut for a child costs $12 — and that doesn’t include tip! Instead of going to the hairdresser, we ordered some nice clippers off Amazon and now we cut everyone’s hair at home as often as we need to. We Use Grocery Pick-Up: We love using grocery pick-up! It is convenient and saves us money as it helps us avoid impulse shopping. We also love that every time we add an item to our cart, we can see the total go up; this allows us to decide if we really need that item this week or if it can wait. We save an average of $20 per week by using pick-up only! We Don’t Eat Out: Eating out can blow a monthly budget really quickly! We plan a weekly or monthly menu for our family and stick to it. We try to cook our meals at home no matter how good take-out sounds. We also try to get the whole family involved by giving each kid a job to do. Dinner tastes so much better when you are proud of what you have made — and that goes for kids, too. Psst! Check these extra tips to help you stop eating out! We Buy Used Clothing: We buy gently used clothes for our children. Shops like Once Upon a Child, Goodwill, Facebook Marketplace, and garage sales are great places to start! See if there is a friend or family member that you can swap clothes with. This has been a huge blessing to our family. We Sell Outgrown Clothing: We sell our outgrown clothes at a local kids’ consignment shop and then get store credit, which usually offers more money to buy the next size up for our kids. We Use the Honey Extension: We installed Honey on our computers and it will alert us when items get marked down and if it’s a good time to buy. You are able to see the price trends and if there are available promo codes you can use. We love using Honey! We Watch for Christmas Deals Year-Round: Rather than shopping for Christmas presents in November and December, we look for deals all year. It is easy to get pulled into impulse buying with all the advertising during the Christmas season. We Buy Used Items off Amazon: When we find an item we want to purchase off Amazon, we check to see if they have the same item “Like New” or “Used, Very Good.” These items were typically opened and returned. We have had great success finding brand new items marked down this way! We Ask Before we Buy: Shopping online is SO easy… maybe a little TOO easy! To reduce impulse purchases, we wait and talk to our spouses before we purchase something. This makes us aware of what we are spending our money on, plus it allows us to say whether or not we think it is the right use of our money. We Make Our Own Baby Food: Baby food is expensive. Pinterest has lots of recipes for making your own healthy baby food at a fraction of the cost of buying it from the store. We Canceled Cable and DirectTV: This is an expensive monthly bill that isn’t necessary. We have used Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus instead of cable, so we can still enjoy our favorite shows and movies while paying significantly less. We Switched to an Off-Brand Cell Phone Service: We have our cell phone bill down to $50 a month for two smartphones with 5 GB of data each. Honestly, the service isn’t as good. We do drop calls frequently. We mostly text though, and it was worth the annoyance to lower our monthly bills. {Psst! Looking for an inexpensive option? Twigby has phone plans that start as low as $9 per month!} We Implement Meatless Monday: Meat is one of the biggest expenses in a grocery budget. Having a meal once a week without any meat allows us to lower our grocery budget significantly. If you need some inspiration, try one of these great meatless meal ideas! We Share One Vehicle: When possible, we share a vehicle with our spouse. This cuts down on gas, car insurance, and other car-related expenses. It’s hard at first but worth it when we look at the savings. We Always Look for Free Activities: We take advantage of free classes/activities offered by our local libraries. Hiking, visiting National Parks on free days, and bike trails are other activities we regularly have on our schedules. We Make Coffee at Home: We make coffee at home instead of buying one at the local coffee shop. Even using a Keurig at home only costs 26 cents per cup compared to almost $2 per cup. This adds up when we start each day with six cups a cup of coffee. 😉 We Look for Coupons: We compare ads and use coupons or store apps when grocery shopping. We also plan our menus based around meat that is on sale that week. We Use Groupon: We shop Groupon in advance to buy tickets and get the best deals. We used Groupon to get a great deal on tickets to Sky Zone for the whole family. We Use Cashback Sites: We use cashback sites like Rakuten to stretch our shopping budget by getting money back on online purchases. These are just a few of the many ways we save money every single day. These little (and big) savings all add up to allow my sisters and I to stay home with our children! What are some of your favorite tips on how to afford being a stay at home mom? Katie, Nicole, and Kristine are sister-in-laws with eight kids between them. They now blog at SurvivingMoms.com about mom survival tips, what is helping them get through their days with their kiddos, and how their true hope and encouragement comes from knowing their Savior, Jesus Christ. [...]
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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched

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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. The Year of Less Full disclosure, I’d never heard of this book until I happened to see it on Libby. The subtitle (How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store) intrigued me so I downloaded it. I almost turned it off during the first few chapters, but I’m actually happy I went ahead and finished listening to it. Why? Because the author is so different than me and it was truly insightful to help me understand more what it’s like to be a spender or to have an addiction to shopping/spending. (I could not relate to most of any of her struggles, but it really gave me such a helpful look into what it’s like to feel such a need to shop/spend money.) The book shares a lot of the author’s story and background, so some people might not enjoy the memoir-ish parts of it if you’re just looking for practical advice and encouragement to live with less. However, if you enjoy reading about how someone is seeking to make radical changes in their life and the resulting struggles, temptations, and triumphs, this might be a good read. Verdict: 3 stars Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World This is a much more head-y and data-driven book that I usually enjoy. But I’m glad I listened to it because it made me think deeply about various aspects of my life. There are so many different things I could share from the book, but a few that really stood out to me were: The conversation about how birth order can affect whether you are a rebel or a conformist. The author’s insights on how procrastination can actually be a positive, helpful thing. (Yes, for real!) The section on how it’s important to produce a lot of work if you want to produce a few really great works. And the encouragement to acknowledge cynicism people would feel versus trying to pretend it doesn’t exist (this was in the context of a business pitch, but it could apply in many realms. Verdict: 3 stars Not So Perfect Mom A lot of this book was repeat material I’ve read/heard elsewhere, so I didn’t get many new insights from it. I also felt like it stayed rather surface-y in sections (which surprised me considering the author is a licensed counselor) and bordered on being a little legalistic in others. That said, I did appreciate the author’s insights on how a mother’s love can deeply affect her child in such positive ways. I also gleaned from her encouragement to really invest in your kids when they are little and how that impacts the rest of your child’s life. One of my favorite quotes was: “You cannot have lifelong, heart-connected relationship with someone if they feel like they are a failure when they are with you.” (Such a good reminder and it goes along with something I’ve been trying to practice in my parenting.) Verdict: 2 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original That Darn Cat movie. I had never heard of it, but a bunch of you recommended it, so I figured we’d give it a try. Now here’s the full disclosure on it: I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie. Not because it was boring, but because I was exhausted. However, our kids + the 10-year-old girl we were fostering last week all enjoyed it. And the parts I saw had some genuinely funny moments. I want to watch the newer movie (well, after I go back and actually stay awake through the original one!), but I heard from some people that it wasn’t as good. Have you seen it? Would you recommend it? What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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Buy Now Pay Later Player OpenPay Diversifies Revenue As Regulatory Headwinds Increase For Sector

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Buy Now Pay Later Player OpenPay Diversifies Revenue As Regulatory Headwinds Increase For Sector
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iRobot Roomba 677 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum only $211.99 shipped (Reg. $400!)

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iRobot Roomba 677 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum only $211.99 shipped (Reg. $400!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Wow! This is a great price on this highly rated iRobot Roomba 677 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum! You can get this iRobot Roomba 677 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum for just $211.99 shipped at Kohl’s right now! Here’s how: Buy Roomba 677 Vacuum – $329.99 (Reg. $399.99) Use code HOMEGOALS for $10 off $50 Use code TAKE15 for 15% off Get FREE shipping Pay $271.99 out of pocket, Get back $50 Kohl’s Cash + $10 Yes2You Rewards Like paying $211.99 shipped after codes, cash and rewards Thanks, ChaChingOnAShoestring! [...]
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My 6 Goals For This Week

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My 6 Goals For This Week
Psst! I’m giving away this stack of books on Instagram tomorrow morning. If you’re not following me there, you should be so you can enter to win! I didn’t accomplish a whole lot off my goals list last week, but I did accomplish a lot that mattered — investing in the kids/Jesse, investing in my local community, doing respite care for a 10-year-old girl while her foster mom was out of town, launching my 4-Week Blog Coaching Program, working on my book, making family memories, and making sure to take care of my health. So I’ll call it a win — even if it doesn’t look like it on paper. Some weeks are like that, aren’t they? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. This week is another full week. We have something going on every night, we have some extra things going on during the day, and I’m headed to camp with Kaitlynn and the rest of my 8th grade girls’ group from Youth Group this weekend. I’m also noticing that I am having to slow down and rest a lot more now that I’m entering my third trimester. My energy just isn’t what it usually is and I need more sleep and naps. So, once again, I’m keeping my list short! 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, February 2

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, February 2
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed

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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed
27 weeks! And I feel like I’m carrying really low — can you tell that here? (Aside from the pelvic pressure, I’m not complaining one bit because it means that I actually still have some space underneath my lungs!) Highlights This past week was a super full week. In addition to the usual routine of working full-time and writing my book, we had activities every night but one night, Kathrynne celebrated her 15th birthday, and we did respite care for a sweet 10-year-old girl all week whose foster mom was out of town. So I think the highlight for me was just making it through with a smile still on my face. I worked hard to prioritize rest and down time, because I need 2-4 times the amount of downtime that I usually do right now or I just end up completely exhausted. Notable I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea this week, we got a crib from friends, got our pack-n-play/bassinet in the mail, and got a box of diapers. It’s really starting to get real!! My chiropractor has been such a Godsend as I’ve been having back and shoulder pain (to be expected as my belly grows larger!) and she’s helping me with different things to minimize it. This is my first pregnancy to regularly go to a chiropractor and I’m a huge fan! Cravings I’ve been eating a lot of cereal with whole milk. In fact, I usually have two bowls every morning. It hits the spot and it doesn’t give me heartburn! Weight gain: 19 pounds Random question: Do you think the 3rd trimester starts at week 27 or week 28? I feel like the internet and baby sites/trackers are very conflicted on this! Did you see what I got in my FREE Target Baby Gift Registry Bag? In case you missed it, I did an in-depth post on the 5 books I finished last week + my honest reviews. This past week, we posted what has quickly become one of our most popular podcast episodes to date. Have you listened to Secrets to a Happier Marriage yet? Just a quick reminder — registration for my 4-Week Blog Coaching Group closes on Tuesday morning. If you are a beginning or intermediate blogger who wants to take your blog to the next level, don’t miss this. [...]
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How to Help Kids Pay for College Without Going Into Debt

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How to Help Kids Pay for College Without Going Into Debt
You’d love to save your kids from student loan debt, but how can you help them pay for college without sinking your own financial ship? After all, the average in-state tuition at four-year public colleges reached $10,440 this year — and that doesn’t include room and board, books or personal expenses. So it’s understandable that you’re not sure how to help your kids pay for college. But of the $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, people age 50 and older owe 20% of it — $289.5 billion. You could end up having to delay your retirement if you’re still paying off your kid’s tuition. Strategizing how to pay for college doesn’t have to be a solo decision, though. Here’s what to discuss with your kids in order to help them pay for college. How to Help Your Kids Pay for College Without Going Into Debt Yourself Parenting isn’t always fun — but if you have a nearly college-age kid, you already knew that, right? So breaking it to them that you won’t be able to completely pay for college may not be the most pleasant conversation you’ve had with them. But surprising them with that news as they’re moving into their dorm room isn’t a suggested alternative.  Pro Tip If you’re getting an early start on covering college costs, we have a whole slew of ways to save money for your kids’ future. By helping them understand what you can contribute, you can both plan accordingly and graduate with as little debt as possible — if any.  1. Be a Realist If you went used car shopping and your kid fell for a Tesla they really wanted to drive to their part-time job bussing tables, would you blow your budget and fork over the extra $40,000? No. The same goes for your child’s choice of school. If your kid dreams of an Ivy League school but you’re just scraping by, it might be time for a reality check. “Don’t go broke to put your kid into a name school,” said Jamie Dickenson, Certified Educational Planner. “Check your ego at the door and get serious about what’s a good fit for your student academically, socially, emotionally and financially.” She related the story of a West Virginia family she counseled when their daughter wanted to go to Clemson University in South Carolina to major in elementary education. “This was a family that made $80,000 a year,” Dickenson said. “Out-of-state tuition at Clemson is nearly $35,000 year — or $140,000 total bill — for a job that starts at $36,000.” Don’t go broke to put your kid into a name school. By starting the college budget discussion early in the search process — like, before junior year of high school — you can help your children develop realistic expectations about school and expenses.  Then help them choose where they can get the best education for the least amount of money.  You might even convince them to consider saving money by starting out closer to home — a community college transfer could save $12,000 or more on a bachelor’s degree. 2. Go on the College Tour With Your Kids Yes, you may have to walk six steps behind them (because, ugh, it’s so embarrassing being seen with your parents), but when your kids are ready to tour colleges, don’t let them go alone. Why? Consider the thought and research you put into major purchases, like a house or car. Your kid could potentially spend that much money on college. Having a second pair of eyes and ears during the college tour can let them focus on what’s important to them without forgetting to ask the practical questions.  Pro Tip Depending on the college, you may need to fill out both the FAFSA and the College Scholarship Service Profile to qualify for financial aid. Here's what you need to know about the CSS Profile. Before you go on a tour, set up an appointment with the financial aid office for the same day so you can connect with a real person and have a contact for follow-ups. Bring along these financial aid questions to the appointment to guide you when asking about scholarships, student loans and living expenses.  When your child receives their acceptance letters and financial aid award packages, they can reach out to that same financial aid officer to ask questions about their specific financial aid award package to help them compare the offers. 3. Avoid Paying Tuition by Investing Early  Instead of taking out loans to pay for your kids’ college, why not invest in their education earlier (when it’s a little cheaper)? Shelling out a few hundred dollars for ACT or SAT preparation courses now could pay off when your kids begin applying for financial assistance. “Look at [your] kid’s grades and test scores because that’s where the majority of money for college comes from these days — merit-based aid,” Dickenson said. If you’re concerned that your kid won’t qualify, call the college financial aid officer and ask what the cutoff is for merit-based scholarships, advised Amy Irvine, a Certified Financial Planner and founder of Rooted Planning Group. “Maybe you’re only three points off from something, and you could re-sit for the SATs,” she said. Another option: Advanced Placement classes. By encouraging your kids to sign up for AP classes in high school, they can take the exam for that subject and potentially receive college credit for it.  Although the AP exam costs $94, it’s a deal compared to the $301.23 sticker price for one credit hour at a four-year institution (including tuition and applicable fees), according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of National Center for Education statistics.   And the fewer courses they need to take, the smaller their tuition bill. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Emergency debt 1/30/20 @ 10:14 AM Low income high debt 1/15/20 @ 9:36 AM Debt relief program 1/30/20 @ 2:16 PM How do I build my credit with a credit card? 1/27/20 @ 8:42 AM See more in Debt or ask a money question 4. Understand How Your Decisions Affect Their Financial Aid When your child fills out the FAFSA, they must include information from your tax statements from the previous year — for the 2020-21 FAFSA, you’d use your 2018 tax returns.  So it’s important for you to consider financial-altering decisions that could decide whether they receive financial aid. That can mean delaying a big life change — Dickenson said she advised a client to delay marrying her wealthy fiance who didn’t want to foot the bill for his stepson’s college — or a one-time income boost — Dickenson suggested you might ask your employer to defer a year-end bonus until the following year. You should also consider how the money you already have is counted toward the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The majority of the EFC is based on income, but any assets the child owns are counted against them at a higher percentage than the parents’ assets when determining financial aid awards. That means your child is more likely to qualify for financial aid if you keep the money in your name rather than building up a savings account in your child’s name.  Helping your kids strategize ways to cover college — without either of you going into debt — could be your biggest parenting win of all. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her [...]
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This Week in Fintech 31 January

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This Week in Fintech 31 January
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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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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020
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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. Okay, I’m absolutely giddy to tell you that I finished 15+ books in January. Honestly, I am pretty shocked by this number! I think some of it has to do with setting weekly goals and some of it has to do with prioritizing audiobooks again (and the fact that they no longer make me nauseous now that I’m further along in my pregnancy, reading aloud again, and switching from being on my phone (answering comments/messages) while on the treadmill to reading/praying while on the treadmill. It seems like tiny tweaks and additions have added up to big results. And this is so encouraging to me. No promises that I’ll keep up this pace for the rest of the year! However, considering how full January has been, it seems like it truly might be possible to at least keep reading 2-3 books/week most weeks. We’ll see! If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Before and After I was so excited about this book as it’s the real-life stories of the children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. (If you have read or listened to Before We Were Yours, you’re familiar with that heart-breaking story.) While I think these stories need to be told and while I found some of them fascinating, the book as a whole was a let down when compared to Before We Were Yours. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more cohesiveness in the book as opposed to a lot of individual stories with only what felt like a thin plot string holding them together. If you loved Before We Were Yours, you might enjoy this book for more real-life biography/backstory for the novel. However, if you’re only going to read one of the two books, definitely read Before We Were Yours. I decided to give this book 3 stars because 2 stars felt like I was doing a disservice to the families and children and lives that were wrecked by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. But for the writing and overall level that the book engaged me, I’d probably only give it two stars. Verdict: 3 stars 100 Ways to Love Your Husband + 100 Ways to Love Your Wife If you are looking for some practical ideas and inspiration for ways to love your spouse, these small books are a great starting place. They are filled with 100 different ideas to speak love to your spouse. Now, I’ll say that not all of these ideas will work for every couple. There are some that would most definitely not really be our “thing” at all. But there were other ideas that I hadn’t thought of before that provided some highly motivating and inspiration sparks of inspiration for ways I can practically show Jesse love. If you need more encouragement, be sure to check out this week’s podcast episode with the authors, Matt and Lisa Jacobson! Verdict: 3 stars Live Love Now I was sent a pre-release copy of this book in order to write an endorsement. Rachel Macy Stafford’s books have deeply impacted me and it was an honor to get to write an endorsement for her. Here was what I wrote: If you are the parent or grandparent of a pre-teen or teen or if you have any interaction at all with teens or tweens, you need to read this book. It is packed with powerful reminders of how our words, actions, attitudes, and availability (or lack thereof), leave indelible marks on the next generation. I was inspired, convicted, and challenged by Rachel’s gentle message of how to guide, encourage, and impact young adults to live with less stress and more joy. And I took away so many practical applications I plan to immediately implement in our home and parenting. Note: I likely would have given this more than 3 stars, but I felt like the writing was a big choppy at times and it sometimes felt more like reading a collection of essays or blog posts. However, the underlying concepts in so many of the chapters were really, really good. Verdict: 3 stars The Whole-Brain Child This was, by far, my favorite book this week. I honestly cannot stop talking about it. Poor Jesse has had to listen to me rave again and again about it all week long! 🙂 This was highly recommended to by one of our kids’ counselors and and one of their therapists in the past few years and I finally read it. It is packed with great suggestions and strategies for helping our kids process the world, relate better with others, and feel more loved and secure. It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I found the sections on brain science to be fascinating and really enlightening. If you are a parent or work with kids in any capacity, I highly recommend this book to help you better love, understand, teach, and nurture the kids in your life. Note: I would have given it 5 stars, but I disagreed with some of the points (and felt a few were not entirely Biblical) so I only gave it a 4-star rating. Verdict: 4 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie. I had seen it once before but it’s been a long time! While it’s a little slow moving and ends on a sad note, it has some genuinely funny moments throughout it. By the way, the movie is loosely based upon the real-life story as told in the book by the same name. I read it years and years ago and remember liking it. Have you read it before? I was wondering if it would be worth reading to the kids or not? I can’t remember it well enough now! What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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Bloggers: Want to hire a coach?

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Bloggers: Want to hire a coach?
I receive so many emails from bloggers asking for personal coaching and help. While I wish I could take on lots of individual coaching clients, I just don’t have the bandwidth to do that regularly. However, I have a really special opportunity for those of you who would love to hire a blog coach — and it’s super affordable, too! I’m opening back up my wildly popular 4-week Private Blog Coaching Group again for the month of February. This is something so many people have asked for and I’m excited to offer it after months and months of having it closed! What is the 4-Week Blog Coaching Group? The 4-Week Blog Coaching group is a group designed to help you grown and succeed as a blogger. It’s an intensive program where I teach you the lessons I’ve learned from failure and success, share secrets I’ve uncovered for building traffic and monetizing your blog, give you encouragement and motivation for when you’re feeling exhausted and burnt out, and provide accountability and cheerleading to help you live out the purpose for which you were created. This program is for you if you are: A newbie blogger who wants to learn how to monetize your blog, produce consistent and inspiring content, and grow your readership. An intermediate blogger who wants real, actionable advice to help you increase your income and develop a more effective social media strategy, all while having a great work-life balance. Any blogger who is stuck in a blogging rut and paralyzed by the overwhelming noise of advice from “online experts” — who wants clarity and tangible steps to move forward and reach their blogging goals. What Do You Get When You Sign Up? This is NOT another blogging eCourse where you absorb tons of information, but have no way to actually turn the information into real, applicable steps. This is an opportunity to interact with me and a network of like-minded bloggers and get answers to the pressing questions that matter to you and your business. In this coaching group, you’ll… Get direct access to me via our weekly LIVE 1-hour online workshop where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the topics you are struggling with the most. Interact with me and other bloggers in the daily discussion threads designed to help you set and meet your goals, find accountability, develop friendships, and network with other bloggers. Learn how to increase your income through affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored posts, brand partnerships, and digital & physical product creation. Develop an intentional social media strategy that boosts your traffic, generates revenue, and builds long-term momentum. Discover proven techniques for planning and writing successful blog posts that are engaging and compelling for your audience. Design an effective overall plan for significant email list growth and long-lasting relationships and trust with your subscriber base. Create a manageable and realistic system for daily blogging tasks and to-do’s that allows you to have sustainable work-life balance. You get all of that for just $97 total — which is much less than the price that most coaches charge for just one hour of their time! Ready to join? Read all about it here. Hurry! Spaces are limited and registration closes on February 4, 2020! P.S. Any questions? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer it promptly! [...]
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Independent Contractor Taxes: A Painless Beginner’s Guide

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Independent Contractor Taxes: A Painless Beginner’s Guide
Zero alarm clocks. Working from the couch. A full-time yoga pants wardrobe. Freelancing certainly has its perks. Filing taxes is not one of them. Whether you’re considering making the big leap into the world of freelancing or you’re already in the deep end, your tax situation doesn’t have to be that complicated — we promise!  Here’s what you need to know to keep Uncle Sam happy as you navigate your entrepreneurial venture. How Do You Pay Taxes as an Independent Contractor? The advice below will vary if you’ve chosen a business structure like an S-Corp or an LLC. Since sole proprietorships are the default for most freelancers, we’ll focus on what those taxes look like. First thing’s first: making quarterly payments. Estimated Quarterly Taxes: How Much Do You Need to Set Aside? When you earn money as a freelancer, the transaction is direct: You name a price, you perform the service and your client pays you — without withholding any money to cover taxes or benefits. Of course, the government still wants its cut even if you’re self-employed — which means it’s your responsibility to dole out that portion. A good rule of thumb: Set aside about 30-35% of every paycheck you make to cover your federal taxes.  This will include both federal income tax — which is organized by brackets and will likely run between 10-24%, unless you’re doing exceptionally well — and self-employment tax, an additional tax levied on independent contractors currently totalling 15.3%. Instead of having these taxes withheld from each paycheck, you’ll ship them off on a quarterly basis using Form 1040-ES. Quarterly tax payments are due in January, April, June and September, and they’re super easy to file online. However, you can also pay by phone or snail mail; the address will vary depending on your location. Keep in mind that the 30-35% you set aside may not cover state or local taxes, which vary depending on your location. For example, along with its regular state income tax, New Mexico charges small business owners a gross receipts tax for “the privilege of doing business” here — which ranges from 5.125% to 8.6875% depending on your county.  More on Self-Employment Tax Although often decried among freelancers as punitive, self-employment tax is actually designed to cover independent contractors’ contributions to Social Security and Medicare.  As you may have noticed on your paystubs, however, the percentage withheld for these programs is only 7.65% when you work a traditional job. That’s because your employer is paying the other half.  Independent contractors — so long as they earn more than $400 in freelance income — are required to pay the full 15.3% to cover their full contribution.  Yes, freelancers, it doesn’t just feel like you pay more taxes. You actually do pay more because you don’t have an employer splitting the bill with you. Sorry. The good news is, this percentage is levied against your net income… which means you calculate it after you take out your deductible expenses. (More on that in a minute!) The Dreaded April Tax Return Just like a “normal” worker, you’ll still need to file a tax return if you’ve made at least $400 in freelance income. So long as you’ve kept up with your quarterlies, this shouldn’t be too painful — but if you’ve missed payments or neglected the self-employment tax, you may find yourself owing the IRS.  Your April return should report the sum of your earnings, which is used to calculate your tax bracket and total tax burden. Of course, for freelancers, this means you’ll need to be diligent about recording every single penny you earn.  Calculating Your Total Income Each client who pays you more than $600 in a year’s time must file a form 1099-MISC in your name, which you’ll receive at tax time in place of a W-2. It lists your earned wages but not any withheld taxes — because, again, as an independent contractor, that’s your responsibility.  Pro Tip Even if you earn less than $600 from a client, that income still counts toward your annual total, which means you need to include it on your return. By the way, although it’s tempting to under-report your income in an effort to pay less in taxes, there’s good reason not to — namely, hefty penalties. And seriously, do you really want to go through the hassle of an audit? Save yourself time and money in the long term and just cough up what you owe. Do You Still Get a W-2? Freelancing isn’t exactly renowned for its reliability or, you know, health insurance, so a lot of freelancers work part-time for someone else in addition to their side hustle.  If that’s you, your employer will still need to file a W-2 for you. You’ll receive it sometime in February in anticipation of the big day in April, and you’ll need it to file your return. It displays your earned wages, Social Security contribution, withheld federal income and Medicare taxes, and more.  This will affect your overall tax burden, and may be a good reason to hire professional help. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Subscriptions 1/22/20 @ 9:28 PM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 12:27 PM How do you get great deals at Thrift Stores? 1/20/20 @ 9:58 AM going on a holiday 1/22/20 @ 11:02 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question What Can You Deduct as a Small Business Owner? Now for a tax topic we can all love: deductions! One cool thing about freelancing: as a small business owner, you’re eligible to make certain business-related deductions, which can lower your overall tax burden and help keep your enterprise cost-effective to run.  Pro Tip The IRS language on deductions is pretty open-ended: “To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary.” So you can make an argument for deducting an array of costs. Some of the most common deductions for freelancers include the cost of your home office, office supplies and travel expenses related to work. But you can also deduct meals and entertainment — within reason — that are related to client meetings, as well as professional services, like those of an accountant. Speaking of which…  Should You Hire an Accountant? As soul-sucking as it can be to live in an all-digital world, the internet has made filing taxes a whole lot easier. Even freelancers can take advantage of the sophisticated software from companies like TurboTax or H&R Block, which are both low-cost and easy. But in some cases, hiring professional help is well worth the money. Such as when… 1. You have a W-2 job (or three) alongside your freelance business. Because working a traditional job means you’ve already contributed some of what you owe for Social Security and Medicare, it can complicate your self-employment return substantially — and that’s doubly true if you’re holding down several gigs to make ends meet. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)  An accountant can help you work out exactly how much you actually owe, which can end up saving you money, even after you factor in their charges. 2. You’ve elected a more convoluted business structure, such as an LLC with the S-selection. While most freelancers operate as sole proprietorships, there can [...]
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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)

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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)
(By the way, I did, indeed, move the rug from in front of the toilet to in front of the sink. I thought that the hundreds of you who wrote in grossed out by this would be happy to hear that!) Last week was a really productive and great week. And I’m continuing to be so happy with my choice to set weekly goals instead of yearly goals in 2020. It seems like it’s keeping me a lot more accountable and making me more motivated! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals for last week… 2020: Week 4 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife,The Whole-Brain Child, and Live Love Now. Finish listening to Before and After. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. (I almost hit this goal, but fell short a few days.) Home/Family Goals 6. Get new shower curtain, rug, and towels for upstairs bathroom. 7. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 8. Get a crib and bedding. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Finish chapter 2 and write chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Take Kathrynne out on a date for her birthday. 12. Light candle and write notes to our Compassion children. I’m only setting 5 goals this week. We are doing respite care for another foster family this week so we’re hosting a sweet 10-year-old girl all week long, we have activities/commitments every night, Kathrynne turns 15, and I’m launching another 4-week Blog Coaching Group.  So I decided I’d be very realistic in my goal-setting for this week and not try to bite off more than I could chew! That’s the beauty of taking things week by week, isn’t it? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance

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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 26 weeks!! This past week FLEW by and I can’t believe it’s time for another pregnancy picture and update. Highlights I’m continuing to feel so well overall. Yes, there are the normal uncomfortable parts and the fact that I have to lay down and rest/nap and move more slowly than my usual pace, but I cannot believe how well I’m doing compared to previous pregnancies! It just goes to show that prioritizing healthy food, sleep, hydration, and exercise really can make a difference! (It may also help that every day has a lot going on so I not have a lot of time to sit around and think about how I feel!) Notable My belly is definitely popping out more and the baby is kicking a lot stronger and harder these days! It’s still so surreal for me… but feeling the elbows and knees protruding out make it more and more real. Cravings My diet is pretty limited these days in order to avoid heartburn triggers, but some of my standby’s right now are cereal/milk, apples with peanut butter, and a big salad with chicken and hard boiled eggs. This basically makes up most of my eating right now — and I’m grateful that it tastes good, is nourishing, and doesn’t make me sick. Every day that I’m not experiencing extreme acid reflux like I did in my previous pregnancies is a gift. Weight gain: 18 pounds Check out my honest reviews on the 5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 Classic Movie We Watched). Did you see how we spruced up our upstairs bathroom on a budget? See the before and after pictures here. The podcast episode this week on 10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive was one of our most-downloaded episodes in a long time. Have you listened to it yet? [...]
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6 Situations Where a Budget Can Reduce Financial Stress

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6 Situations Where a Budget Can Reduce Financial Stress
Some of the best things in life are… expensive. Milestones like going off to college, buying a house or starting a family can drain your bank account — which can lead to some major financial stress. Advance planning, however, can combat some of that anxiety. Budgeting can help you prepare for the big — and little — things life throws your way. After all, a budget is just a plan for your money. Here are six situations where budgeting now can reduce financial stress for you later. 1. Going Away to College Repeat after me: Student loans are not free money. It’s easy to use your refund check to fund all the hidden costs of college, like extracurriculars and decorating your dorm. But you’ll be kicking yourself when you’re struggling to pay back those student loans 10 years later. Take a step toward adulting and make a budget in college that’ll give you a realistic view of whether you can afford that spring break trip or if you would be better off picking up extra shifts at your part-time job.  2. Moving Into Your First Apartment Moving into a new place takes a lot of upfront cash. There are application fees, security deposits and first and last months’ rent to fork over before you can get a set of keys — and then you’ve got to pay the movers. This guide on saving up for your first apartment lays out what you need to consider before moving out on your own. It’ll help you decide what you really can afford. Pro Tip Having a roommate can help lower your living expenses, but here’s how you should screen potential roommates before signing a lease together. 3. Buying a House Buying a house is not something you just do on a whim. It’s an entire process, part of which involves saving up a large sum of money. Give yourself time to save for a house, setting aside room in your budget to add to your down payment fund each month. And don’t just focus on the money needed to get you in your home. There are a bunch of ongoing homeowner expenses to consider, like maintenance and HOA fees. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM A reminder NOT to spend. 1/6/20 @ 7:55 PM Changing my eating habits is changing my finances 1/8/20 @ 9:56 AM Pennyhoarders: Do you return Christmas gifts to the store...regift...or make use of it? 12/30/19 @ 11:28 AM M Just sharing some numbers from my 2019 budget 12/27/19 @ 1:58 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question 4. Having Kids Oh baby, kids can be expensive. And while it feels awkward putting a price tag on your plans for a family, it’s wise to go into parenthood knowing you have the adequate financial resources. Our guide to budgeting for a baby runs down the many costs you can expect in the first year — from a crib to child care.  As your baby grows up, your expenses will change. You’ll need to adjust your budget to keep up. Turn to these tips to help you save on children’s expenses, especially if you’ve got multiple kids. Pro Tip Help your children avoid taking on mountains of student loan debt by saving for your kids’ college education. 5. Career Changes Having a budget can help you through the ebbs and flows of your professional life.  If you’re dealing with a period of reduced income (like if you lose your job or take time off from the workforce), you’ve got to determine how much money you need to cover the basics. Look to see what unnecessary spending you can cut out of your budget. Conversely, if you get a raise or a new job with a better salary, budgeting that extra money instead of mindlessly blowing it will set you up for a better financial future. 6. Retirement No one wants to get to retirement age only to realize they don’t have enough money saved up to sustain them in their golden years. That’s why it’s crucial to add retirement contributions to your budget now so you’re not worrying about your savings (or lack thereof) when it really matters. Reduce financial stress by getting an early start on retirement planning, so you have more time to let compound interest work to your best advantage. But if you missed your chance at adding to a 401(k) plan in your 20s, don’t fret. This advice about how to save for retirement at every age will get you closer to saying goodbye to your working days with confidence that your money will last. 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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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020
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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)

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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)
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. Last week, I only spent $60 on groceries, so I went a little bit over this week. Here’s what we bought… Kroger Shopping Trip #1 2 bags of apples —  marked down to $0.99 each 5 bags of Chicken Breasts — $4.99 per bag with Kroger digital coupon Total with tax = $28.61 Kroger Shopping Trip #2 4 tubs of lettuce — marked down to $0.99 each 3 bags of apples — marked down to $0.99 each Promised Land Chocolate Milk — marked down to $0.99 Rice Bitz cereal — marked down to $0.79 Cage-Free eggs — marked down to $1.39 Milk — $2.89 Total with tax: $13.80 Kroger Shopping Trip #3 2 Tyson Anytizer Chicken — $3.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon 3 dozen eggs — marked down to $0.39 each Strawberries — $1.67 Carrots — $0.99 1 bag avocados — marked down to $0.99 Milk — $2.89 Cage-free eggs — marked down to $1.29 Tortillas — $1.50 2 Private Selection Chips — $0.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — marked down to $0.49 4 jars Pace salsa — $0.99 each when Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — $0.79 Total with tax: $28.89 Dinners This Past Week Frozen Pizza, Popcorn Slow Cooker Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Biscuits, and Apples Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Apples Roasted Potatoes, Roast in the Crockpot, Instant Pot Apples, Roasted Broccoli Italian Chicken, Salad Leftovers Dinner Out By the way, what are your best tips for keeping lettuce fresh? I don’t want all the lettuce I bought to go to waste before we can use it, but it will probably take us at least 5-7 more days to eat through all that. Any great suggestions? [...]
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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan
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Jobs With Tips: Here’s How to Find the Best Paying Ones

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Jobs With Tips: Here’s How to Find the Best Paying Ones
Whether you’re looking for full-time income or part-time work, you might want to consider jobs that offer the chance to earn tips.  The minimum wage for tipped positions is $2.13 per hour in more than 17 states. Seven states require that employers pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before tips. The remaining states require employers to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage above $2.13 an hour. But more relevant than your local minimum wage is the fact that you can consistently make good money from tips. Not all tipped jobs are lucrative, though, so how do you choose the right job and earn the most tips? Find the Best Jobs for Tips Tipping is expected and common in many jobs, but clearly some will be better than others for total pay. Here’s a partial list of traditionally tipped positions:  Waiter Casino dealer Taxi driver Pizza delivery driver Cruise steward Bartender Room service waiter Golf caddy Busboy Tour guide Hotel room cleaner Ski instructor Naturally, you’ll enjoy and be more qualified for some jobs over others. Use these preferences to help narrow down that list.  Then, look for the positions where you’ll make the most money. If cleaning hotel rooms and waiting tables are both still on your list, go for the restaurant job.  Remember that to earn the most money, you should seek out employment where tips and base wages are above average. Increase Your Base Rate Many employers pay a base rate of minimum wage. If you’re interested in moving, you could go to a state that has a higher minimum wage for tipped employees.  For example, the minimum wage in Idaho is just $3.35 per hour, while next door in Washington it’s $12.00 per hour and in Oregon it’s  $10.75 per hour. Of course, even in a state with a $2.13 minimum wage, some employers will pay a higher base rate. Ask about the pay before applying. Tips are usually what matter most, but making an extra $5 or $6 per hour on your base rate can help a lot. Work at Expensive Venues One of the most important factors affecting tips, especially in the food and beverage industry, is the size of the average bill. Customers tip according to the bill amount more than anything else.  The average tip in U.S. restaurants is now 18.1%, according to a 2018 Zagat survey. So, as a waiter, if you serve a dozen $40 tables in an evening, you’ll average nearly $87 in tips, but if the bills are $90, you’ll take in more than $195. This is true for other tipped positions as well. Ask any bartender who has worked in both a dive bar and a high-end pub. Work for pricy places when possible.  Work in Busy Locations Even a restaurant with expensive meals might not be a great place to work if you wait on just three tables per shift. Serving twice as many customers usually means you earn twice as much in tips. Look for busy businesses. Pick the Right Employer Once you decide what kind of job you want, pick which state you’ll work in, and identify some expensive, busy places, it’s time to investigate specific employers. Start by asking about the base rate, as mentioned.  Tip income varies widely by employer, even those with similar businesses and price levels. One employer might let you keep all of your tips, while another makes employees share them. For example, I once worked at a pizza place where it was policy to split large tips (over $5) with all employees. And it’s common for wait staff to “tip out” busboys and hosts with 10% or more of what they take in. For large employers, you can often find the relevant pay information on Glassdoor. Otherwise, get friendly with employees of prospective employers so you can ask about their wages. Also check with your friends and family members who happen to work as waiters, casino dealers, bartenders and so on.  Ask how tips are handled and how much they usually amount to. Listen carefully to employees, but don’t place much importance on stories about one-time tips or memorable shifts. In fact, ask about the worst days. You might get lucky and discover a job where the worst tip days are still pretty good. You want an average, and most employees don’t bother to calculate that accurately. But if you ask for examples from ordinary shifts and bad shifts, you can put together a relatively safe guesstimate of the tips you’ll make at a given job. Then you can calculate what you’ll make with the base rate included. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM I have a question about those cash game apps from Google Play store? 1/14/20 @ 8:16 PM Selling My Things 1/2/20 @ 8:12 AM I am working part time any suggestions 1/9/20 @ 1:40 PM Being a Match Maker. 1/7/20 @ 12:33 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question   What If You Lack Experience? If you lack experience, you won’t qualify for the best positions and may not get hired at the best places. In that case use a longer-term strategy. For example, caddy at a slow golf course as a resume builder so you can get hired at a better place.  Use a position as a busboy as a temporary stop on the way to being promoted to waiting tables. Take a job in a restaurant kitchen only if your employer says you can join the wait staff as soon as you prove yourself. There are always opportunities to build your resume or places where you can quickly advance. For example, many bars won’t hire an inexperienced bartender, but will hire you as a bar-back.  Once you have a job where you make good tips, you can move on to part two of your plan: Implementing strategies for making even more tips. 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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My Goals for This Week

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My Goals for This Week
This year, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. And I’m thrilled to report that it’s going so well! In fact, even though we had activities almost every evening last week and a very full week, I got so much done — and had breathing room and rest time, too! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals last week… Last Week’s Goals Update Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook.  3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. (You can read my Completely Honest Review of Butcher Box here.) 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. I’ll share our thoughts on it on my book update post on Wednesday.) 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse.  I cleaned out the sock basket when I worked on the laundry room. Can you believe that in this overflowing basket of mismatched socks that had come through the laundry in the last 6-8 months there was not one single match?? This Week’s Goals This week, I’m setting more personal goals because, as I wrote in my pregnancy update, I’m wanting to really prioritize earlier bedtimes and more hydration. If you’re wondering why I have such a long list of books to read, that’s because 4 of the books are ones I’m reading in preparation for a podcast interview and another one is a book I’m reading in order to do an endorsement for a friend. So it looks like a lot, but 4 of them are super short and I’m over halfway through two of the books on my list. It’s not as impressive as it might look! 🙂 2020: Week 3 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 53,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear, Live Love Now, and No Better Mom for the Job. Finish listening to Killing the Rising Sun. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. Home/Family Goals 6. Decluttering: Boxes of mementos, under bathroom sinks, and kitchen cupboards. 7. Finish reading Great Escapes of World War II aloud as a family. 8. Buy hats and coming home outfit for baby. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Write chapter 2 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go to a movie with Jesse. 12. Go out to dinner with friends. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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National Park Free Days: When to Plan Your Next Trip in 2020

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National Park Free Days: When to Plan Your Next Trip in 2020
If you’re already looking ahead to road trips or family vacations this year, here’s one way to do it on the cheap. While most of the 417 national parks in the U.S. are free to use anytime, 125 of them charge an entrance fee.  To encourage travelers and campers to visit new places, the National Park Service will waive these fees for five days in 2020: Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day April 18: The first day of National Park Week August 25: National Park Service Birthday Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day Nov. 11: Veterans Day Some of the nation’s most popular parks are among those that normally charge a fee, making fee-free days an opportunity to see places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Death Valley and Crater Lake. Not the outdoorsy type? Even some national historic sites, like Vanderbilt Mansion in New York, are included. If you’re interested, you can find all participating parks by state or search through the full list of national parks, including those that are free anytime, to find one near you (or your next destination). Note: You may still encounter fees for things like camping, parking, reservations or concessions. The fees waived on fee-free days include entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. If you plan on camping, here are a few tips for camping on a budget. More Ways to Use National Parks for Free If you can’t make it to a national park on one of the fee-free days, you may be able to get free or discounted entrance to national parks year-round some other way. The National Parks Service offers an $80 annual pass that covers entrance to national parks, lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and other sites. Military members can get the annual pass for free. Through the national Every Kid in the Park program, fourth-graders can get a free annual pass for their families. Educators can also get involved through this program, obtaining free passes to take students on a national park field trip. Seniors age 62 and older can buy a lifetime pass for $80 or an annual pass for $20. Senior passes require proper documentation and may be purchased in person at a federal recreation site, online or through the mail. People with disabilities can get a free pass in person, or through the mail or online with a $10 processing fee. Both the senior pass and the access pass offer a 50% discount on some amenities like camping, swimming, boat launching and specialized interpretive services. Volunteer with participating federal agencies for at least 250 hours, and you’ll receive a free volunteer pass that is valid for 12 months. If you want to learn while you travel, you can apply for an Artist-in-Residence program with the National Park Service and stay at a participating park for free while you work on your next project. However you do it, consider including national parks or historic sites in your 2018 travel plans. For families — and curious travelers of all ages — it’s a fun, educational and affordable way to spend a vacation. With more than 400 to choose from, there’s probably one not far from you! 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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Got a New Year’s Debt Resolution? Here Are 5 Tips to Keep It

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Got a New Year’s Debt Resolution? Here Are 5 Tips to Keep It
When it comes to debt, hindsight is 2020 (like I wouldn’t go there).  Sure, you could have skipped that shoe shopping spree or turned down that loan to cover spring break — we all make mistakes. But whatever errors you made in the past, you’ve resolved that this is the year you’ll eliminate your debt. But it’s been a few weeks, and you’re still not sure where to start. Your resolve is starting to waver. Your approach to debt doesn’t have to be a one-payment-fits-all strategy. In fact, depending on the type of debt you owe, your method could be key to paying off the debt faster. We’re here with five common types of debt and ways to conquer them this year. Five Strategies to Keep Your New Year’s Debt Resolution To see success with a resolution, you should start by setting specific goals. And the best way to decide on your debt-free goals is to base your strategy on the type of debt you want to tackle.  Here are five common debts and strategies for wiping them out. 1. Crush the Credit Card Debt If you’re prioritizing your financial goals this year, paying off the double-digit credit card debt should be at the top of your list.  Why? Let’s look at an example: You bought a $1,000 laptop and have been making a payment of $25 per month on a credit card that charges 18% interest. At that rate, you’ll pay $539 in interest and it will take you more than five years to pay off the laptop. Moral of the story: Putting a dent in the credit card debt — or eliminating it completely — can save you a bundle in time and money. Pro Tip Want to maximize your debt payoff strategy? Think small. Here’s how the debt snowflake method lets you pile up tiny payments to make a big dent in your debt. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start by figuring how much credit card debt you have by adding up the balances across all your credit cards. Then, it’s a matter of picking your debt payoff strategy.  We reviewed five methods for paying off your credit card debt — along with ways to determine which strategy is right for you based on your lifestyle, your personality and your current financial situation. Pick your weapon of choice and set your plan of debt attack in 2020. 2. Vanquish the Student Loans Make 2020 the year you tackle your student loan debt so you can stop beating yourself up for using your loan check to trick out your dorm room. Why prioritize paying off student loans? A student loan is almost never dischargeable in bankruptcy, which means those loans — and the debt collectors — will follow you forever or until you pay them off (but there are other options for getting your federal student loans forgiven). Pro Tip If you’re nearing retirement and still paying off student loans — whether for yourself or your kids — check out these specific strategies for paying off student loans when you’re over 50. If you’re a recent grad — or you’re just not sure where to start — finding out who you owe money to is the first step. If you took out multiple loans over the course of your college career, here’s a guide to figuring out how much you owe in student loans.  And if you’re making the debt payoff your mission this year, check out these 11 strategies for paying off student loans that you can start now. 3. Ditch the Underwater Car Loan There’s no use staring in the rearview mirror at how you should have bought that used subcompact rather than taking out a long-term auto loan for the brand new SUV.  If it helps (and I know it doesn’t), you’re not alone. With ever-climbing prices on vehicles, more people are lengthening their loan terms to lower their monthly payments. New car loan terms between 85 and 96 months (that’s seven- to eight-year car loans) increased 38% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018.  Here’s how to calculate the equity in your vehicle: Value of your vehicle – loan payoff amount = equity But if you’re ready to dump that clunker before you pay off the loan, there’s a good chance you owe more on the car than it’s worth (consider: New cars lose around 20% of their value the moment they leave the lot, according to AAA).  If you owe more than your car is worth, paying off that underwater car loan should be your priority. How do you do it? There are smart ways, such as hanging onto the car and paying off the negative equity. Then there are less financially savvy options, like rolling over the amount you still owe into another auto loan so that you’re already underwater on the new car loan.  We explain your options in this guide to getting out of your underwater car loan. 4. Kill the Medical Debt Medical debt can be particularly frustrating because it’s often due to health issues that are out of your control.  But making paying off medical debt a priority in 2020 can not only improve your financial outlook but also leave you feeling less stressed about the old debt (and thus reduce your chances of piling on more bills for stress-related medical issues — bonus resolution!). We have seven ways to deal with medical debt that will help you identify how much you owe, negotiate for a lower price and ask for help if you can’t afford the bills.  By tackling your medical debt step by step, you can make 2020 the year you feel better — both physically and fiscally. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Personal loan vs Cash Advance to pay off credit card 1/10/20 @ 5:32 PM Suze Orman says CAR LEASES are always a BAD financial move - do you agree? 4/18/19 @ 11:47 AM Where does debt go? 1/10/20 @ 12:48 PM n Son has gotten himself into a credit card mess! 1/3/20 @ 9:49 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question 5. Kick Your Mortgage to the Curb You may have heard that mortgage is a “good debt.” That’s because on average, returns in the stock market are higher than mortgage interest rates, so in theory you can make more money in the stock market than you’d save by paying off the mortgage. Of course, that also assumes you can pick winning stocks. But interest on mortgages are indeed at historically low rates, so if you have other, higher interest debts — like credit card bills — it’s best to prioritize paying those off before diving into your low-interest mortgage. However, if you don’t have other debts and your goal is to live the debt-free life, this can be the year you can tackle the mortgage debt.  Wondering where to start? There are multiple strategies — from refinancing to making extra payments. This video about how to pay off your mortgage early explains your options. With your debt payoff goals in sight, it looks like 2020 could be your year of financial freedom. 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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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan
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My Completely Honest Butcher Box Review

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My Completely Honest Butcher Box Review
Looking for really honest Butcher Box reviews or searching for ways to save money high-quality meat? This is a really comprehensive post on what you can expect from Butcher Box and how to get the best deal when ordering. Note: This post is sponsored by Butcher Box, but all opinions are my own. Read our disclosure policy here. Have you been wanting to try out Butcher Box but are wishing someone would do an honest review for you beforehand. Well, I gotcha covered today! Butcher Box reached out and asked if I’d be willing to try out the service and write an honest review of my experience. As you well know with my honest review posts, I try to do my very best to give you a comprehensive overview of the product and service and my truthful thoughts on whether it is a good deal. For those who might be unfamiliar with Butcher Box, they are a subscription service that sends a box of high quality meat to your door every month. How Butcher Box Works When you first sign up with Butcher Box, you can choose what kind of box you’d like for them to send. We’ve tried out a few different boxes in order to get a good feel for the type and quality of meat they offer. You can choose between five different types of boxes: A custom box A mixed box (includes chicken, pork, and beef) A beef and pork box A beef and chicken box An all beef box I recommend doing a custom box because it allows you to customize the meat that they send and you are able to get exactly what you know you will use. Once you choose which box you’d like, then you pick your monthly box size. You can choose between a Classic Box ($128-$149/month) or a Big Box ($238-270/month). The price varies depending upon which type of meat box you chose. After you’ve chosen your box size, then you can customize exactly what they will send you. I like that you can see exactly what your options are and you can figure out how to get the best bang for your buck! Then, just input your payment information and you’re done. (Psst! You might wait a bit on the payment page, because an offer should pop up to add free bacon to your box if you do!) Is Butcher Box Meat High Quality? Butcher Box is very committed to offering some of highest quality meat on the market. They pride themselves on having some of the highest standards for sourcing, sustainability, and taste. No meat from Butcher Box will ever have added hormones or antibiotics. (Note: Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in pork and the use of hormones or steroids in poultry.) In addition, Butcher Box animals are only humanely raised. Here are some more details on the packaging in our latest box… Is Butcher Box Meat Fresh? I have gotten three different boxes from Butcher Box and, each time, the box has showed up in good condition and the meat is still frozen almost solid when it arrives. As you can see from the box below, Butcher Box sends their meat in very sturdy boxes and it’s packaged well with dry ice. My Overall Thoughts on Butcher Box We really loved the meats we tried out from Butcher Box and were very impressed with our experience. We especially thought that beef seemed exceptionally better than store bought beef. That said, we typically buy our meat at Kroger when it is on a great sale and/or is marked down. And, as you likely know, we currently only spend $70/week on groceries for our family of 5. From this vantage point, the price of Butcher Box is really expensive for us compared to what we typically pay for meat. However, we also usually stick with very inexpensive meat cuts that are definitely nowhere near the quality of Butcher Box meat. While Butcher Box is much more expensive than buying meat when it’s marked down at the grocery store, the overall quality is much higher. If you are looking for a source for quality, humanely-raised meat, Butcher Box might be a good option for you to consider. Is it Easy to Cancel Butcher Box? If you want to cancel your subscription or pause it, you can easily do so at any time. You don’t need to call or email them about it. You can just go into your account and do it — easy-peasy! Is There a Butcher Box Discount Code? Looking for a Butcher Box coupon code? I have a very limited time discount offer for you that you won’t want to miss! Through January 12, 2020 only, if you sign up for Butcher Box through this link, you will automatically get the following meat added to your first box — completely free! One pack of delicious uncured, no-nitrate bacon  2 lbs. of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon 4+ lbs. of heritage-breed pork butt That’s right,  you’ll get 6+ pounds of bacon, salmon, and pork butt added to your first box at no additional cost. Just order by January 12, 2020 to get this deal. To get this Butcher Box deal, just click on this link, type in your email address, and order your first box. Have you tried out Butcher Box before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience with it! [...]
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American Eagle: Men & Women’s Parkas and Puffer Jackets only $29.99!

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American Eagle: Men & Women’s Parkas and Puffer Jackets only $29.99!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. If you’re in the market for a new coat, American Eagle has Men’s and Women’s Parks and Puffer Jackets for a great price! American Eagle has Men’s and Women’s Parkas and Puffer Jackets for only $29.99 right now! No promo code needed. Get this AE Women’s Satin Parka for just $29.99 (regularly $149.95)! Get this AE Women’s Shiny Puffer Jacket for just $29.99 (regularly $89.95)! Get this AE Men’s All-Weather Parka for just $29.99 (regularly $149.95)! Get this Men’s AE Elevated Puffer Jacket for just $29.99 (regularly $149.95)! Get this Women’s AE Long Puffer Jacket for just $29.99 (regularly $129.95)! Shop all the jackets here. Get free 2-day shipping on orders of $25+ with ShopRunner (sign up here for free)! Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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Ulta: Jumbo Size Hair Care Products as low as $12.49 each (Matrix, Paul Mitchell, Redken, and more!)

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Ulta: Jumbo Size Hair Care Products as low as $12.49 each (Matrix, Paul Mitchell, Redken, and more!)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Wow! This is a great time to stock up on hair care products including brands like Matrix, Paul Mitchell, Redken and more! Right now, Ulta is hosting their Jumbo Shampoo & Conditioner Sale Event both in-store and online including brands like Matrix Biolage, Paul Mitchell, Redken and more! Plus, you can save $3.50 off a $15+ order when you use the promo code 713039 at checkout! And for every jumbo hair care item you purchase, you can grab a liter pump for just $1 (regularly $3) – price will automatically adjust at checkout. Limit 4 per transaction. Check out these deal ideas… Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo or Conditioner 33.8 oz – $19.99 (regularly $34) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $16.49 after code Or you can get this for $19.99 on Amazon. Paul Mitchell Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo or Conditioner – $19.99 (regularly $37) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $16.49 after code Or you can get this for $19.99 on Amazon. Redken All Soft Shampoo 33.8oz – $19.99 (regularly $36.50) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $16.49 after code Redken All Soft Conditioner 33.8oz – $15.99 (regularly $33.50) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $12.49 after code Matrix Biolage Volumebloom Shampoo or Conditioner 33.8 oz – $15.99 (regularly $28) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $12.49 after code Or you can get this for $15.99 on Amazon. Matrix Biolage Colorlast Shampoo or Conditioner 33.8 oz – $15.99 (regularly $30) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $12.49 after code Or you can get this for $15.99 on Amazon. Bedhead Urban Antidotes Recovery Shampoo 50.7oz or Conditioner – $19.99 (regularly $33.99) Use promo code 713039 ($3.50 off $15+ purchase) $16.49 after code Choose free in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs. Thanks, Hip2Save! [...]
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Can industry changes soften a hard property insurance market in California?

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Can industry changes soften a hard property insurance market in California?
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4 Expiring Tax Breaks Extended Through 2020

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4 Expiring Tax Breaks Extended Through 2020
Federal budget legislation enacted in late December did a lot more than fund the government for another year. As we’ve recently reported, this bill package included provisions that tweak everything from retirement accounts to cable TV bills, for example. It also extends several tax breaks for individuals that had expired already or were about to expire, making them available for your tax... [...]
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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)

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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. In 2020, I decided not to put together a list of all the books I plan to read like I did the past few years. In the spirit of keeping my goals smaller and in bite-sized chunks, I decided to just pick the next few books I’m planning to read instead of trying to sort of plan out the whole year! And then I’m planning to do a book update post every week or every other week here with reviews and thoughts on the books I finished. It’s very possible that some weeks I won’t finish any books, so I’m giving myself permission to skip a week here and there if I don’t have anything to report! 🙂 Full disclosure, I did pick out a bunch of books I really would love to read this year and put them on three of the shelves in our library. And I plan to mostly pick the books I’m reading next from those shelves. I also picked out about 25 books on parenting that I plan to read while I’m writing my book. (My manuscript is due in July 2020 and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to read one parenting book per week. I’ve been reading 1-2 chapters every morning on the treadmill while I’m walking and, at that rate, it’s pretty easy to get through a book per week. We’ll see if I can keep it up!) If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Here are the books I finished last week: 1. An Invisible Thread This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by people I respect, so I figured I should get a copy and read it! An Invisible Thread is the story of a seeming chance meeting between an 11-year-old pan handler and a busy executive and how it changed both of their lives. This book is written from the perspective of the busy executive, Laura Schroff, and her thoughts on how this young boy impacted her life in ways she couldn’t have dreamed. I thought it did a good job of fleshing out some of the very real problems and struggles with children born into poverty. I think so many of us live very sheltered and safe lives that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up and never know where you’ll be living, to have to figure out how to fend for yourself from a young age, to always be hungry, and how hard it would be to break the cycles of poverty and drug addiction when that’s all you know. On the flip side, I cringed at some of the decisions Laura made and how hurt this young boy — often with her being completely oblivious. It made me examine my own life and thought processes over things and decisions, especially in light of fostering. One of the parts of the book that I didn’t expect was that it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow and it didn’t have a perfect Hallmark movie ending. But I appreciated that it was real and gritty and the author was honest about her struggles. That said, I felt like the author shared a lot more about her background and life than maybe was necessary and sometimes it felt more like her memoir than the story that is promised in the subtitle. In some ways, it felt like she was trying to fill a word count for her manuscript. And yet, some of her story was very interesting and insightful. Verdict: 3 stars 2. The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi I had seen this book advertised or mentioned so many different places, but I had no idea what it was about. I was looking for some new books to listen to on my Libby audiobook app and it was available to borrow from the library, so I started listening to it. Honestly, it seemed a little dry in the beginning and the introduction was kind of long and drawn out. But I’m glad I kept listening, because I learned so much and it opened so many passages in Scripture in a new light. Kathie Lee Gifford shares her journey of traveling to Israel and learning under a Messianic Rabbi. He helped her write many parts of the book and, as someone who has read the Bible from cover to cover many times in my life, I couldn’t believe how much I learned. I think that it helped that I visited Israel a few years ago and had gone to many of the places mentioned in the book so I could picture them in my mind as I was listening. And it made me anxious to go back again!! If you haven’t been to Israel, I think you’ll still find this book insightful, it just might not come alive as much if you can’t picture the sites and places in your mind. (However, this book might make you really want to visit there!) Verdict: 4 stars 3. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family I can’t tell you how many times people have recommended this book to me! Since I’m working on a book on the topic of parenting right now, I figured I should really read it. It was interesting to me how much of the book mirrored some of the lessons and journey God has had me on as a parent in the last 3 years. Much of it was refresher type of encouragement, but it was so good to read. I appreciated the author’s strong emphasis on the Gospel as that is often missing in parenting books. It’s so easy to focus on prescriptive parenting tactics instead of getting to the heart — pointing our kids to Jesus. In addition, I loved the underlying message that we won’t doing this parenting thing perfectly and that’s the point. If we were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Jesus! While I didn’t agree with every tiny little thing in the book and I truly was irritated by the layout of the book, I am very glad I read this and think it’s a worthwhile read for every Christian parent! (A note on the layout: I think it needed more spacing and better breaking up of paragraphs, maybe some callout quotes, and possibly a different font? Yes, I’m weird in that book layouts can really make or break my reading experience. I’ve even been known to not read a book just because I felt like the layout was so poorly done!) Verdict: 4 stars 4. A Single Shard We’ve had this book on our shelf for a few years and I finally picked it up to read aloud to the kids. It’s the fictional account of a master potter, a homeless boy, big dreams, dashed hopes (literally), and how perseverance pays off. Truth be told, I really enjoyed the story and found it pretty engaging (even though I had mostly guessed what the ending was going to be!),  but the kids didn’t enjoy it. They said it was hard to follow and not super engaging. I think some of the was likely due to the fact that we’ve gotten way out of the habit of reading aloud (should I confess that it’s been almost two years — I think! — since we’ve read a book other than a devotional or the Bible out loud together??) and it’s going to take some time to get back into it. I also think that they’ve changed so much in the few years since we stopped reading aloud, that it’s going to take some trial and error to figure out what kinds of books will engage them now that they are older. Regardless of it not being a big hit, I’m going to celebrate that we read it, finished it, and learned some things about potters and ancient pottery and 12th century Korea. That’s a win, right?? 🙂 Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Wa [...]
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3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make

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3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make
Retirement planning is an important part of long-term financial wellness. For women, the process can be especially fraught. In general, women tend to make less money and live longer than men. This combination can lead to lower Social Security benefits and other issues. Let’s take a look at some of the costliest Social Security mistakes that women might make. Deciding to take Social Security... [...]
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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)

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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. As I told you last week, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. We’re only a week into the new year, but I can already tell you that I am loving this approach and couldn’t believe how much I got done last week. (Okay, it probably helped that the kids were out of school, we had very few extra commitments, and it was an overall quiet week. We’ll see how it goes this week when we’re back to our usual schedule and pace and we have commitments and plans every evening!)  Before I share this week’s goals, here’s an update on how I did on last week’s goals… Last Week’s Goals (progress update) Personal Goals 1. Get in 50,000 steps total. 2. Finish reading Parenting and An Invisible Thread. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. (I hit this goal every day but Monday.) Home/Family Goals 4. Declutter the entire house. (See the pictures of our progress here. (Note: We did all the big projects this week, but I came up with a list of little areas I want to declutter and I’m planning to tackle one small project every week day fo r the next few weeks.) 5. Finish reading aloud A Single Shard together. 6. Start a new family devotional book together. (We decided to go with The Ology since we already had it and had been wanting to go through it.) Work/Blog Goals 7. Spend 12 hours on my manuscript outline. (My outline is done — yay!! This next week I get to start writing!) 8. Open up the blogging Mastermind to new members. 9. Get everything ready for our big $4 course sale next week. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch a movie as a family. (We watched Swiss Family Robinson and the kids really enjoyed it!) 11. Take Kaitlynn out shopping. (See details on our shopping trip here.) 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write thank you notes. I was SO excited to see all those things crossed off the list! YAY!!! A Word About My Baby To Do List You’ll start to notice baby items on my goals list each week. A few weeks ago, I sat down and made out a list of everything I needed to do/buy/get before the baby is born (I’m due April 30). I divided this list up into weekly tasks so that I could slowly chip away at it instead of waiting until the last few weeks and feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to do. This makes the countdown more exciting and it also is in line with my word for the year — because it’s going to let me savor this special time even more instead of feeling sort of rushed with to-do’s. 2020: Week 2 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.) 2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. (Any great suggestions??) 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 23 weeks!! And I officially “popped” this week. I kept waiting for it to happen and this week it totally did. In fact, Jesse walked in while I was walking on the treadmill and took one look at me and said, “Whoa!” when he saw my belly. And then he realized that he had said it out loud… and I started dying laughing, because it’s exactly what I feel every time I look down or look in the mirror. Highlights We cleaned out our master bedroom closet to make space for the baby’s things (we’re planning to have the baby sleep in our room for the first months, possibly longer). It’s getting real now that we have baby blankets and baby things sitting in our closet! Notable This was a rough week. I struggled with a lot more nausea and had a lot more fatigue than usual. In fact, at least half of the day most days, I could only manage to be up for 5-15 minutes at a time and then needed to lie down. I think I maybe overdid it the last few weeks (+ I was sick) and we were traveling and I think my body just got completely worn down. I tried to take it really, really easy the past few days and I’m feeling a lot more energetic. I’m so grateful! It was a good reminder to me that this is a season to make sure to really pace myself and take time to rest. Cravings Very little this week, since I was nauseous most of the time. But I’m so grateful that the nausea isn’t anywhere what it was like in my first trimester. Also, I keep thinking about so many people who feel sick all the time and it’s not for a good cause nor does it have an end in sight. Weight gain: 15 lbs. This Week at Our House We drove back from Kansas last weekend (it’s about an 11 to 12-hour drive). Silas asked if he could wear his jammies on the drive… he is such a PJ-lover and I wonder if he’ll ever grow out of loving wearing PJs as often as possible! 🙂 On the drive home, I worked on planning for 2020, including planning out my Weekly Goals for this past week. (Did you see my post on why I’m not setting yearly goals and am setting weekly goals instead?) Last week, I asked for ideas on Instagram to help with my lingering hacking cough that was keeping me up at night. I got so many great ideas! As a result, I started taking elderberry syrup (thank you, Four Mothers Elderberry!) and putting Vick’s on my feet with socks every night and it’s really made a difference. I’m still not 100%, but I’m so much better than I was last week! You all are the best! One of our biggest projects for the week was decluttering all the majorly-neglected spots in our home. (You can see all of the before and after pictures here.) We had multiple birthday parties to attend this past week (I guess it’s a popular week for birthdays??). I loved the way my friend, Fran, chose to celebrate her birthday — with a TAK PAK Party. We all brought specific items and then packed backpacks with these items for teen girls who are entering foster care. (Read more about TAK PAKS here.) From My Heart… “I’m at my wit’s end! I can’t seem to connect with my daughter at all! It’s like she just doesn’t want to have a relationship with me!” A distraught mom confided this to me recently. My heart went out to her and I asked some more questions about the situation. Two things I asked were, “What does your daughter like? What is she interested in and passionate about?” After the mom listed off some things, I said, “What would it look like for you to step into her world and be interested in those things with her?” The mom abruptly responded, “Oh! I couldn’t do that! That’s just not me!” Here’s the thing I’ve learned from doing it all wrong: We can’t expect our kids to love all the same things we love and get excited about all the same things we get excited about. I used to get frustrated because my kids were so different than me. But then, I began seeing that their wildly different interests were an opportunity for me to learn and grow and expand my world. My kids have taught me so much about so many subjects that I used to have zero clue about. They have helped me develop new interests and new skills. And they’ve stretched and pushed me outside my comfort zone. And it has made my world so much richer and interesting! Want to Deepen a Relationship? For instance, Kaitlynn absolutely adores Bath & Body Works, so she’s teaching me all about how to get the best deal there. I’ve learned all about their scents and sales and money back guarantee. And she and I went one night this past week with her well-researched list and gift card and $10/$40 coupon and she floored me by getting two bags full of stuff for only $10.80 out of pocket — and saving $98!!! As I watched her strategically shop last night, I thought: 1) She needs to start her own blog (but she’s not interested in blogging, and that’s okay!) and 2) I would have missed this had I not been willing to get out of my little, “I don’t like to shop or go to the mall” mentality and jumped in and embraced something my daughter loves. Want to deepen a relationship with someone? Care about what they care about. Be interested in what they are interested in. And let them open up a whole new world of ideas and insights and inspiration to you! [...]
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How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020

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How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020
It’s a new quarter, a new year and a new decade. That means it’s also time for new 5% bonus categories for the Chase Freedom® and select Discover cards including the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Student Cash Back. From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2020, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up... Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: srathner@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @sarakrathner. The article How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it for Q1 2020 originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate

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10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate
FGC / Shutterstock.com Nobody wants to be labeled a cheapskate. But sometimes, it makes good financial sense to purchase a cheaper option if you can. A high price tag doesn’t necessarily make something better. Often, low-cost items will serve your needs just as well. Or, the higher-quality option might not be worth the extra money. Other times, there’s little or no difference in... [...]
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Get interactive 2020 Organizing and Goals Diaries for just $9 total!!

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Get interactive 2020 Organizing and Goals Diaries for just $9 total!!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Get Organized Gal is running a BIG sale on their 2020 Diaries right now! You can get both the Organize in 5 Diary and the Priorities and Goals Diary for just $9 total! That’s a $20 savings!! Both of these diaries are interactive — meaning you can type in them, save them, and print them with your information filled out. The Organize In 5 Diary is an interactive diary with a 5-minute decluttering, simplifying, or organizing task for every day of the year. Each day, you read your Organize In 5 task. The action is described in simple steps — easy and achievable. The daily tasks cover home, work, closet, computer, health, finances, time management, relationships, family, and even relaxation. Next, set the timer and go. Just 5 minutes and you’re done! The Goals & Priorities Diary is a structured diary for advancing your goals and getting your most important tasks done every day. Each day you’re guided to focus on the things that matter most — freeing you from overwhelm while allowing you to make progress on goals. The structure leads you to set yearly and monthly goals, then to translate those goals into daily tasks. Every day you’re prompted to identify your top three priorities and do these first. It’s a systematic, stress-free way to advance your goals. Go here to get both diaries for just $9 total! [...]
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My Word for 2020

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My Word for 2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. You all had such great guesses on my Word of the Year for 2020. Surprisingly, only one of you got it right (at least, I think it was only one of you!) Like usual, as 2019 started winding down and we headed in November, I began contemplating what over-arching theme I want to pursue in the following year. My word for the year came pretty easily to me, as it often does. I sat with it for a few weeks to make sure I really loved it. And then I asked Jesse for his thoughts. He agreed that the word seemed fitting for 2020. So without further ado, my word for 2020 is: Savor. What Does Savor Mean? There are a variety of definitions for savor, but the basic definition is, “to taste or smell with pleasure.” I decided to expand my own personal definition of savor to encompass slowing down and fully experiencing life through my senses. I love how Vocabulary.com defines it: Whether it’s a feeling of joy or a piece of pecan pie — when you savor something, you enjoy it to the fullest. When you savor something, you enjoy it so much that you want to make it last forever. With that in mind, savor carries a connotation of doing something slowly. If you savor that flourless chocolate tart, then you eat it slowly, bit by bit, deliberately picking every last crumb off the plate. The word is often applied to eating, but you can savor any pleasurable experience, whether it’s the winning touchdown or your moment in the spotlight. Why Did I Choose This Word? My personality is one that doesn’t tend to do life slowly. I usually have an end goal in mind with almost everything and I can put my head down, my blinders on, and just aim straight for that objective. While there are good things about this tendency, it also means that I often miss a lot of beauty and experience along the way. This year, I want to take the time to really stop and savor life, to experience the richness of the everyday, and to notice what I’m tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, and feeling. I plan to not only be aware of this as I go throughout each day, but I also am going to set 2-3 goals per week that are focused on helping me use my senses to more fully experience life. To hear more about this word and why I chose it for 2020, be sure listen to this week’s podcast episode where I share more about choosing a word for the year, a book I just finished, a remedy that’s helping with my hacking cough, and more about weekly goal-setting versus yearly goal-setting. In This Episode:  [01:07] Happy New Year! It feels like it has been forever since we’ve recorded a podcast! Listen in for a quick recap of our holiday! [05:36] Vicks VapoRub with socks is saving my life this week! [07:33] I finished An Invisible Thread on the drive home. [10:15] Why choose a word of the year and what was mine from 2019? [11:33] My word for 2020 is Savor. I share more about choosing this word. [14:13] How do I plan to live this out? [16:35] My goals for week 1 – January 2020 are… [19:31] What is your word of the year? How are you setting your goals in 2020? Links and Resources: Vicks VapoRub An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park My Word for 2019 Why You Should Choose a Word for the Year Free Printable Word of the Year Ideas My Word of the Year for 2018 One Word for 2016 CrystalPaine.com MoneySavingMom.com YourBloggingMentor.com My 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 here. 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. Did you choose a word for 2020? If so, I’d love to hear what it is and why you chose it! [...]
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Why I’m Not Setting Yearly Goals in 2020

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Why I’m Not Setting Yearly Goals in 2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. In a very big and bold move, I decided to not set yearly goals in 2020. That might seem super out of character for someone like me who has long been a huge proponent of goal-setting. And it is very unusual. But I feel so happy about this change for this year. Here’s why: I’m writing a book, having a baby, and we’re likely taking in at least one (if not multiple) kids who are in foster care for longterm placement this year. And those are just the things I know are on tap for 2020! Because of this, I decided not to set yearly goals (especially considering how all the unexpected played into my goal-setting in 2019) and I’ll be setting weekly goals instead. I’ll be sharing these goals every Monday here on the blog. I’m guessing that there will be somewhere between 6-12 goals each week, depending upon the week and how much is on my plate that week. Even though it’s not quite 2020 yet, I decided to jump in and start weekly goal-setting today. Here’s my list of goals for this week: 2020: Week 1 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 50,000 steps total. 2. Finish reading Parenting and An Invisible Thread. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Home/Family Goals 4. Declutter the entire house (This has needed to be done for months! Follow along on Instagram stories this week as I’ll be sharing more behind-the-scenes of my decluttering!) 5. Finish reading aloud A Single Shard together. 6. Start a new family devotional book together. (Any great suggestions for this?) Work/Blog Goal 7. Spend 12 hours on my manuscript outline.  8. Open up the blogging Mastermind to new members. 9. Get everything ready for course sale next week. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch a movie as a family. 11. Take Kaitlynn out shopping. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write thank you notes. *Note: I’ll be sharing my word of the year for 2020 tomorrow. Any guesses as to what it is, based upon goals #10-#12 above? Want to join me in weekly goal-setting? I’d love for you to check in every Monday and share how you did on last week’s goals + your goals for the coming week. Leave your goals for this week in the comments below! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 22 weeks!! And this week’s pregnant belly picture is brought to you from our Starbucks bathroom road trip pit stop (we drove back from Kansas yesterday). HIGHLIGHTS I’m so grateful to be feeling great overall! It was such a blessing to be able to enjoy Christmas! I only had two days where I felt pretty nauseous and one really bad night. Besides that, other than moving at a slower pace than usual and lingering congestion and cough from my recent head cold, I am feeling so good!! NOTABLE This trip to Kansas to visit family for Christmas was our last big planned trip before the baby arrives. That’s pretty surreal to realize — that the next time we’re in Kansas, we’ll have a baby with us (and maybe another child or two from foster care, too!) It seems like the time is flying by right now and I’m trying to soak it up! CRAVINGS I was able to enjoy most all the Christmas food, including one of my mom’s amazing Peanut Butter Bon-Bons! Weight gain: 14 lbs. We traveled to Kansas to spend Christmas with both of our extended families. (We’re so blessed that they live about 5 minutes from each other!) My dad — ever the practical one! — buys a live evergreen tree for their Christmas tree each year. They only keep it in the house for two days and then he plants it on their land afterward. We all got matching blinking light hats for Christmas! We’re getting ready to celebrate 17 years of marriage — oh how I love this man! My dad usually does a scavenger hunt for the kids with their gifts, complete with poems that take them all over the house to find their gifts! Christmas morning with Jesse’s side of the family always starts with group pictures in jammies. Jesse with his siblings… this was the best picture I got as they were all giving each other a hard time and then only half of them would be looking at the camera at once. (Jesse’s face here is all, “Are we done with pictures yet??”) My nephew was SO excited about this Batman costume he got! We finished out the day like usual — with stockings. The kids were so anxious to tear into theirs, but they waited patiently so we could snap another picture! 🙂 In Case You Missed It: All the details on our family Christmas celebration Maybe you needed this reminder this Christmas? Why I Failed on My Goals for 2019 The Top 10 Books I Read in 2019 [...]
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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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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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Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon (32 count) only $6.83 shipped!

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Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon (32 count) only $6.83 shipped!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. This is a GREAT price for Pop-Tarts! This popular deal is back again! Amazon has these Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon (32 count) for only $6.83 shipped when you check out through Subscribe & Save! This is a great stock up price. Note: Once your order ships, you can go into your Amazon account and cancel your subscription if you don’t want recurring orders. Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher! [...]
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Why I created this blog

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Why I created this blog
Editor’s Note: this is the second post on Daily Fintech (way back in 2014).  To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply  repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! I sold a lot of software to banks, but that Traditional Fintech game got old. Emergent Fintech makes it fun again. Media likes to talk about “disruptive fintech”, but I preferto think of this more simply as “Fintech for the rest of us”: Customers don’t care about disruption. Customers care about good service at the right price. Banks will be partners with born-digital ventures. This is different from Banks as our only source of financial services. For all the talk of disruption and battles (good for page views and conferences) the more usual change is evolutionary and driven by partnerships. I started this blog because I could not find anything that covered this patch/space/beat/territory the way that I wanted. Most blogs monetize through advertising, so there are lots posts that riff off a hot news story. I want more background analysis, which you cannot monetize through advertising. I am an entrepreneur. I blog in order to get my thoughts straight and to connect with people who are fishing in the same waters. Many blogs that do cover Fintech miss the big disruption coming from people outside the current financial system. This is because most blogs are written by people who are over-banked. For example, few blogs cover the huge opportunity among the 70% of the global population that have no bank account at all (the “unbanked”). I won the genetic lottery, I was born in the developed world, but I have lived and worked for enough time in the developing world to have some appreciation of the needs of the unbanked. It is not just the unbanked in the developing world. There are plenty of people in the West who have been left in the cold by the current financial system. Consider the 25% of Americans who have no FICO score and so find it hard to borrow. Or ask a small business owner how much they like using Factoring or pledging their home as collateral in order to get working capital. Or ask any consumer or small business how much they love paying a lot of money to change currency. Daily Fintech is about making money by empowering people, not just papering over the cracks of the existing system. All I want to do is learn more and connect with others who also want to learn more. The monetisation opportunities will flow from those conversations; the Emergent Fintech opportunity is so massive that there will be plenty of monetization opportunities.   As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! The post Why I created this blog appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020

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How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020
As New Year’s resolutions go, “maximizing points and miles” might not be on the top of everyone’s list. But making a plan for how to earn and use points and miles in the coming year can make the difference between a stress-free travel year and an overwhelming one. Everyone has different reward travel plans and... Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif. The article How to Plan Your Travel Rewards Strategy for 2020 originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020

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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house Not a trader was trading, not even a mouse; The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Saint Nicholas and Trezor were there; Investors were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of Bitcoins danced in their heads; The sell orders were posted on exchanges with care, In hopes that a Bull Rally soon would be there; More rapid than lightning, the rallies they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; “Now Bitcoin! Now Litecoin! Now Ether and Ripple! If Monero can double, then you can triple; The mining rigs hummed in the cellar with clatter, In hopes that new bitcoins would soon be there; From Papa John’s pizza all the way to the moon, You all will be riding the rocket ship soon; I heard him exclaim as he checked coin market cap, Merry Crypto to all and HODL for now! Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com This year, 2019 was a decent ride picking up steam after the first quarter, while 2020 doesn’t seem ready to slow down or put on the brakes. Instead 2020, might be a breakaway year, especially after the halving in May. Who would of guessed that Libra’s wheels would come off? That Wyoming would be the only US state with friendly regulations for digital assets and digital-banking? That Bitcoin would have triple-digit gains since December 2018, when the market bottomed out? That cyberattackers compromised the Binance and made off with $41 million in Bitcoin? That Wall Street moved in with J.P. Morgan rolling out their own coin? That China went from a complete ban of cryptocurrencies to a highly publicized all in attitude on the blockchain? That crypto index funds and ETFs, among other things, would show us that with crypto, wealth building is for everybody? Nevertheless, 2020 is swiftly approaching and it’s time to start the crypto predictions. #1 Libra: Will go live, but with limited functionality Governments worldwide work overtime to regulate the rapid emergence of cryptocurrencies and companies in the industry. Facebook has faced enormous hurdles from regulators across the globe, for Libra. It’s not even certain whether the project will be launched at all, if regulators are fully in line with it. But iteration is part of Facebook’s core fabric. Nine years ago Zuckerberg said at a press conference, “We’re trying to be innovative and iterative with our development”. I think this will be how they approach the regulatory problems. An iterative approach can result in ever-closer approximations of a solution, as accuracy improves with each step. Most likely, Libra will go live in one jurisdiction and with very limited scope, partners and functionality, as Facebook iterates everything. #2 Digital yuan to be followed by digital euro and dollar While in recent years, China has moved to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, it has been avid supported of blockchain and has been developing its own digital currency, that it will launch in 2020. There has been a consensus among central banks that they need to control money. Mark Carney of the Bank of England, was probably the first leading central banker to talk about the importance for the West to embrace crypto and digitally-enabled money. Christine Lagarde, the ECB chief and former Managing Director of the IMF, thinks a digital euro is a good thing for the EU. It is very likely that Steve Mnuchin, US secretary of the treasury, will announce the digital dollar in 2020, continuing his past narrative about tracking cryptocurrencies. #3 Developing nations will embrace Bitcoin While the big global economies are working on the their own versions of fiat backed cryptocurrencies, there are three billion people around the world that don’t trust in their government issued money. Across developing nations in South America and Africa (Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe etc) , we’ve seen rapid adoption for Bitcoin. I expect that across many developing nations in the world, people will want to have a form of digital money that they can rely on. #4 Stablecoin heaven The stablecoin trend will continue. While stablecoins are still in the discovery stage, they have become the holy grail, with dozens of projects trying to develop a digital currency with low-volatility, that can withstand speculative attacks and debasement. In 2019, the stablecoin market cap grew from $3.3 to $5 billion. In 2020, the stablecoin market will exceed $20 billion, as we see the launch of Libra and a few others and multi-collateral DAI, accepting BTC and other assets as collateral. #5 The Lightning Network will do great things The existence of the Lightning Network on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, already enables cheap, private and instant transactions and payments. The current number of nodes are 10,861 and the number of channels is at 35,000, with the network capacity at 859 BTC (or $6.5 million). In December 2019, Bitfinex announced that their exchange would support Lightning Network transactions. Now even Airbnb allows customers to book stays using the Lightning Network via the Fold App. In 2020, we will see an increased number of applications like the Breez app, created on the Lightning Network. The new year, we will see crypto and blockchain move from away from something that’s trying to disrupt the old, into mainstream and becoming a bigger part of daily lives. With China’s digital currency set to be rolled out in 2020, digital money will come to the front and center stage. As global governments embark on a new moon race, to launch their own cryptocurrencies, mainstream adoption is set to accelerate. 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 Five Crypto Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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View Our 2020 Proxy Season Update Webinar

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View Our 2020 Proxy Season Update Webinar
On December 12, Katten partners Lawrence Levin and Mark Reyes, together with panelists from Ernst & Young and Meridian Compensation Partners, participated in a webinar discussing key developments and trends impacting public companies in the 2020 annual reporting and proxy season. To request access to a replay of the webinar, please click here. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 21 weeks!! Full disclosure: I just woke up from an accidental hour-long nap before this was taken so if I look extra tired and groggy it’s because I was.😉 I had planned to do an outside picture this week, but it was already dusk when I woke up! Oh well! HIGHLIGHTS Baby has been moving like crazy this week! I feel like I’m finally starting to believe this is really and truly happening… in fact, I told Jesse yesterday, “We are having a BABY in less than 19 weeks!” In honor of the fact that I am beginning to believe this is really happening, I actually wrote out a list of to do’s that need to happen before April 30th (my due date). And I was a little surprised to see how many things were on the list! I don’t think I’m going to be bored these next 19 weeks — especially since I’m planning to write a 60,000-word manuscript in that timeframe, too! 😉 NOTABLE I’ve started to be able to see the baby kicking from the outside. The kids think it’s pretty much the coolest trick ever. They are all crazy in love with this child and it is so fun to witness as a mom. CRAVINGS Water, water, and more water. Plus, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Weight gain: 13 pounds Our church took all of the youth group leaders to GLOW Nashville one night this past week. It was c-o-l-d, but we had such a fun night, regardless! As we talked about on a recent podcast episode, one of our traditions for December is to create a family Bucket List where everyone gets to choose 1-2 things they want to do during the month of December. This year, Silas wanted to go back to the Gaylord Opryland — something we had done a few years ago. It’s a HUGE hotel that they decorate beautifully for Christmas. While there, we also went out to dinner at one of our favorite family restaurants — the Caney Fork Restaurant. We got Tableside S’mores — which is something the kids have talked about ever since they went there last time a few years ago! I went to get my hair done one day this past week and my hair guy did Christmas-themed foils… so I had Kaitlynn (who was with me) take my photo. Only after she took my photo did we realize the hilarious placement of the plant behind me! 🙂 We did our annual Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffer run on Saturday morning. (Read more about it here.) We are headed to Kansas tonight and will be there all week, so we celebrated our family Christmas with just the five of us today (Sunday). The kids helped plan the day and the menu — and then we all went shopping together! It’s so fantastic when your kids are not only old enough to help you plan your Christmas menu, but then they make some of the recipes, too! This girl got all dressed up on Saturday to go to her friend’s quinceanera. And then Sunday morning started bright and early with Silas and Kaitlynn waking us up by jumping on our bed because they were so excited about our family Christmas celebration! We all wore our matching Christmas jammies (Kaitlynn’s Bucket List item — she picked the jammies out, too), opened gifts, then had Cinnamon Rolls, bacon, and orange juice. Then we decorated a Gingerbread house, played a game together, and watched a Christmas movie. We also had yummy snacks — each person got to pick their snack choice for the snack spread. Now we’re getting ready to have a yummy Smoked Turkey that Jesse made with Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Layered Jello, Rolls, and Broccoli (everyone chose one of the recipes for our dinner, too!) and then open stockings together. And then we’re packing up and leaving to drive to Kansas! What a fun day! The aftermath after we opened presents this morning. A few thoughts on marriage from my heart… When we got married, I used to get so annoyed by him because I felt he was lazy and undisciplined. I tried so hard to fix and change him. I thought it was my job as a good wife to help him “improve”. So I nagged, I passively aggressively shared Scripture, I prayed hard for him to change, and I carried around constant frustration that he was never living up to the standard I had set for where I thought he needed to be. Yes, I was a model wife like that. Slowly, ever so slowly, God started changing my heart to stop trying to fix him and to start focusing on my own struggles and issues and short-comings. Guess what happened?? The more I focused on growing as a person, the more I began to see my husband in a different light. I began to see his differences not as problems, but as strengths. For instance, he doesn’t care so much about following a rigid schedule because he cares more about living fully in the moment and loving people well. That used to grate on my every last nerve. Now I see how God knew I needed to learn so much in this area from my husband. Today, I look at this man with new eyes of admiration and appreciation. I see how he is exactly the counterpart I need. I see how we balance each other out so well. And also, I see a man who constantly sacrificially loves his family and others. I see a man who is servant-hearted and fiercely loyal, a man who lays down his own needs for the needs of others, who cares deeply about others, and who always puts people above projects and to do lists. I see a man who is God’s greatest gift to me. ❤️ [...]
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5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP

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5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP
Many people believe that claiming Social Security benefits as early as possible — which generally is age 62 — is inherently bad since claiming before your full retirement age means smaller monthly payments. However, the reality is that everyone’s circumstances are different. For some retirees, it makes sense to start claiming benefits as soon as possible. [...]
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Lost Bag? Overbooked Flight? 3 Air Passenger Rights You Didn’t Know You Had

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Lost Bag? Overbooked Flight? 3 Air Passenger Rights You Didn’t Know You Had
Domestic and foreign air travel in the U.S. has reached an all-time high. That means airports are more crowded, and flights are frequently delayed or overbooked. And the worst part? Not knowing what to do when your reservation is affected.  You feel like the airline should compensate you for your delayed flight, but the gate agent is saying it won’t. Who’s correct?  Airline passenger rights are complicated, and even frequent travelers don’t know all of them. (I sure learned a few things while researching this article!) Don’t wait until you’re at the airport, fuming, frustrated and running out of options. Learn your rights now and know what you’re entitled to when — er, if — the airline screws up your holiday travel.  Airline Passenger Rights You May Not Know About Having a problem with your flights?  Per the rules and regulations listed in the Department of Transportation’s Fly Rights, here’s what to do when…  Your Flight Is Delayed or Canceled Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t require the airline to do anything for domestic delays or cancellations. If you’re traveling internationally, you may be able to file for reimbursement under Article 19 of the Montreal Convention.  Still, many airlines will offer some form of compensation in the name of good customer service. If the delay is caused by weather, they usually won’t give you anything — but if it’s a mechanical or scheduling issue, they might.  Here’s what to ask for:  Vouchers: If you’re stuck at the airport for a few hours, be sure to request food vouchers so you can eat at the airport restaurants. If you’re delayed overnight, ask for hotel and/or taxi vouchers.  Airline miles: If you have a frequent flyer account with the airline, ask for extra miles for the inconvenience. I’ve successfully done this on a few occasions. Lounge passes: If you have to be at the airport for several hours, ask the agent for a lounge pass. I don’t know if this works, but it’s worth a shot! In addition to the airline, look at your credit cards for compensation, too.  Pro Tip Some hotels jack up prices as soon as they find out about travel troubles. The moment you know you’re going to be stuck overnight, book a room to snag better rates. If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, and you paid for at least a portion of it with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for example, Chase will reimburse you up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses like food and lodging. To avoid delays and cancellations in the first place, book flights leaving early in the day, and look for direct routes. If you must have a connection, stay away from airports that are really busy or notorious for weather delays (e.g. Chicago O’Hare).  Your Flight Is Overbooked Airlines regularly overbook (sell more tickets than there are seats) flights to make up for no-show passengers. Though this isn’t illegal, it can cause problems if more people show up than expected.  When this happens, airlines ask for volunteers, offering incentives like vouchers and upgrades to entice passengers to give up their seats. If not enough people volunteer, airlines are forced to bump some passengers against their will.  Though it’s a huge bummer to get involuntarily bumped, keep cool and remember your rights; you could end up with a pretty nice chunk of change.  Here’s what you’re owed if you arrive…   Within an hour of your scheduled time: $0 One to two hours late: Double the price of your ticket, up to $675 More than two hours late: Quadruple the price of your ticket, up to $1,350  Some airlines may try to take advantage of you and offer airline credit in exchange for the inconvenience. Don’t accept this offer. And don’t sign any paperwork, as it could remove your right to further compensation.  Stand your ground and, if necessary, cite this Department of Transportation page.  Want to reduce the likelihood of being bumped before you even get to the airport? Check in to your flight early (you can do so 24 hours before your scheduled departure) and add your frequent flyer number to the reservation. The airline is less likely to bump loyal travelers. Your Baggage Gets Lost Standing at baggage claim and never having your bags show up is not fun.  Your first stop should be your airline’s baggage office. Sometimes luggage comes in on an earlier flight or is accidentally placed in the oversize luggage area.  Still not there? Time to ask for compensation.  Airlines are required to compensate passengers for reasonable expenses for loss, damage or delay in the carriage of passenger baggage, according to DOT rules. Pro Tip To help prevent lost luggage, put an address label in your bag’s clear external pocket and attach a luggage tag. Each airline interprets this differently, but in general, expect a stipend of at least $50 per day to spend on necessities like toiletries and clothing. Just be sure to keep your receipts so the airline can reimburse you later.  Also, if you paid for your ticket or fees with a credit card, check its benefits. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, offers a stipend of up to $100 per day for clothing, toiletries and charging cables when your baggage is delayed by six hours or more.  If your luggage gets lost permanently, then you’ll need to file a second claim. The airline must compensate you for the value of your luggage, up to $3,500.  Something’s Gone Wrong, and You’ve Hit a Dead End The first thing I do when I’m not getting the help I need? Jump on social media. I use Twitter to explain my situation — and @mention the airline — and often the company will address it right away.  You can also call the airline’s customer service line from the airport. Sometimes its phone reps will give you a different answer than the gate agents, which gives you leverage when resolving your issue.  And please, as difficult as it can be sometimes, always treat the gate agents with respect and patience. Airline mishaps usually aren’t their fault, and they have to deal with a lot of cranky people. Not only that, but you’d be surprised how far they’ll go to reward someone who’s nice.  Pro Tip To find the quickest way to speak to a live agent, simply Google “gethuman” plus the airline’s name. If you do receive great service, don’t forget to return the favor by submitting a comment form on the airline’s website. Alternatively, you can submit complaints about rude or unhelpful agents. I’ve actually complimented and complained about different agents in the same message!  Be sure to write down information — agent names, dates and flight numbers — while it’s fresh in your mind. You can refer back to this if you need to contact the airline later; providing details always strengthens your case.  If your trip is over and your complaint hasn’t been resolved, try AirHelp, a company that lobbies airlines on behalf of passengers who were involuntarily bumped. Or check out Service, a company that helps resolve customer service issues at no cost to the customer.  Whatever you do, don’t let this holiday travel season get the best of you. Stay calm, remember your rights and seek the compensation you deserve!  Susan Shain is a contributor to 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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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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Add Student Loan Payments to Your Holiday Wish List Through This App

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Add Student Loan Payments to Your Holiday Wish List Through This App
Is your grandmother still asking you what you need for Christmas? How about the gift of freedom from student loan debt — available for the low, low price of $30K? Just kidding (sort of). Student loan management app Pillar has launched a new feature, a gifting platform called Boost, which allows friends and family to make contributions directly into your student loan accounts. (This is particularly helpful if the $25 Nana usually gives “disappears” into pizza night.) It’s probably for the best that the money goes directly to an account anyway — Grams probably doesn’t have a box big enough to contain outstanding student loan debt, which stood at $1.48 trillion in the second quarter of 2019. If you go the gifting route, you’ll need to set up a free account on Pillar, where you’ll add all of your student loan account and bank info. The app also recommends student loan repayment plans based on your income and spending info. Then you’ll need to set up a Boost profile page with your photo, bio and the amount received so far — it looks similar to the donation pages for those fundraiser walks, except here the fundraiser is you. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Eliminating Credit Card Debit - Take out personal loan with low interest rate 12/4/19 @ 9:28 AM L Balance transfer credit card 11/27/19 @ 1:39 PM Credit card Debt 11/19/19 @ 10:56 AM Student loans 11/20/19 @ 9:17 AM See more in Debt or ask a money question But you’ll have to set up your profile in a hurry — the gift platform only lasts from Dec. 17 through January 7. And through Dec. 23, PIllar will give some users special holiday surprises of additional payments ranging from $25 to $250, which could make your holidays even happier. Don’t feel like setting up a crowdfunding page but are still facing a pile of student loans? Check out our tops ways to pay off student loan debt. After all, debt-free living is the gift that keeps on giving. Memaw would agree. 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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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019

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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019
Looking for all the best weekly Rite Aid deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week! Here are the best Rite Aid deals this week, with thanks to Hip2Save for their help in compiling them. Buy 2 Scunci No Damage Ponytail Holders 18 ct at $2.19 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One 50% off Get $2 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $0.64 each after cash Buy Advil Cold & Sinus 10 ct – $8.29 Use the $2/1 Advil Cold & Sinus coupon found here Use the $2/1 In-Ad coupon $4.29 after coupons Buy 2 Nature Made Zinc Tablets 30mg 100 ct at $5.49 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One Free Use the $2/1 Nature Made Vitamins coupon found in the 12/15 SS (exp 1/15) $1.74 after coupon Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers 15-34 ct, Pull-Ups 12-25 ct or Goodnites 11-14 ct – 2/$18 Use two $1.50/1 Pull-Ups coupons found here Pay $15 Get $5 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $5 each after coupons and cash Buy 2 Johnsons Baby Wipes 25 ct at $a2.99 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One 50% off Get $1 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $1.74 after cash Purex Laundry Detergent 45-50 oz, 19 ct or Crystals 15.5 oz – $1.99 Use the $1/1 Purex Unit Dose coupon found here $0.99 after coupon See the full list of deals at Rite Aid here. [...]
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Get two months of Adventure Academy for just $5!

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Get two months of Adventure Academy for just $5!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Do you have elementary or middle school aged kids who love online gaming? You might want to check out Adventure Academy!! Adventure Academy — a new educational MMO game created specifically for kids in elementary and middle school — is currently running a limited time special! You can get two months for just $5 right now — which is a savings of 74% off the regular monthly price! Developed by the top video gaming designers and crafted by a team of curriculum experts, Adventure Academy is a highly engaging and creative platform that focuses on building critical knowledge and skills in language arts, math, social studies, science, and more! Adventure Academy features thousands of educational learning activities, such as videos, reading experiences, games, quizzes, and many other interactive elements— all within the frameworks of U.S. (and international) curriculum standards. I checked it out and it plays a lot like an adventure game (think Zelda!) but within an educational framework. It’s really cool! If you wish to continue with the service after two months, you’ll be billed at $9.99 per month. If you do not wish to continue with the service, be sure to cancel your subscription before the first two months ends so that you avoid any future charges to your credit card. It’s very easy to cancel at any time by logging in and clicking “my account.” {If you’d rather try it for free, you can still sign up for a free 30-day trial here. You just won’t be able to take advantage of this introductory two month offer. You’ll be billed $9.99 per month after the free trial, if you wish to continue.} Go here to sign up for two months of Adventure Academy for just $5. [...]
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5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income

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5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed a lot of rules, but one thing remains the same: It is exceedingly difficult to evade the long reach of the taxman. That’s even true of Social Security benefits. Many people know that if you work while collecting benefits before reaching your full retirement age, it can result in a reduced benefit. But earn too much money — even by simply making... [...]
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Spend One Minute Doing This to Earn 5 Cents/Gallon in Points to Save on Gas

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Spend One Minute Doing This to Earn 5 Cents/Gallon in Points to Save on Gas
There are a lot of ways to save money on gas. You can drive across town to find the cheapest gas station. You can obsess over finding the quickest route. Or you can spend one minute downloading an app that automatically earns you points to save money when you fill up your tank. Sound easier? We think so, too. With the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app, you automatically earn points to save money every time you fill up at Exxon or Mobil stations. Until February 2020, you can earn 5 cents per gallon, compared to the app’s usual offer of 3 cents. It also lets you pay easily and securely through the app — without swiping a card.  Watch Your Savings Pile Up With the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ App If you’re consistent about it, that nickel discount really adds up.  Consider this: The average American driver goes through roughly 650 gallons of gas per year. At a current average price of about $2.30 per gallon, that means your typical American spends about $1,500 a year on gas. At that rate, this app could save you $32.50 per year — free money that you could pocket or that you could spend on whatever you want. Oh, you’re a two-car family? That’s $65 in the bank. If you drive a lot, you’ll save even more. You’re a VIP at 11,500 Stations It’s easy to be consistent about using the app whenever you get gas, too. That’s because Exxon and Mobil have about 11,500 gas stations scattered across the North American landscape. Seriously, they’re everywhere. You can earn points to automatically get discounts at all of those stations. Even if you’re not the kind of driver who actively hunts for a particular kind of gas station, the odds are good that, wherever you are, you’ll find an Exxon or Mobil station nearby. Just Google it. There’s probably a station, like, one minute from you. The Easiest Way to Save on Gas It takes just a minute to download the app on Apple or Android and connect your payment information (credit, debit or Apple Pay). Once you’re parked next to a gas pump, you just press a button in the app, and the app turns the pump on. Plus, doing everything through the app means you won’t risk subjecting your credit card to illegal skimmers attempting to steal your credit card information.  Here are some nitty-gritty details about the app: When you buy gas with the app, you earn rewards points. Once you have 100 rewards points, you can start redeeming your points on gas purchases. Until February 2020, you can earn points to save 5 cents per gallon on gas this way. That’s a temporary increase from the typical 3 cents per gallon with this app. So if you’re thinking about signing up, the sooner the better. If you’re filling your tank with premium gas, you can earn points to save 10 cents per gallon through February 2020.   We can’t think of an easier way to save on gas. If you’re ready to start earning and saving at the pump, download the app and get started.  Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He drives a lot and would love to save on gas. 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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bill.com IPO not the end of its global growth story in B2B invoicing

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bill.com IPO not the end of its global growth story in B2B invoicing
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Up to 65% off Disney Toys, Apparel, and more!

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Up to 65% off Disney Toys, Apparel, and more!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Today only, Amazon is offering up to 65% off Disney Toys, Apparel, and more! Here are some deals you can get… Get this 21-Piece Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk for only $22.41! Get this Disney Ideas Hardcover Book: More than 100 Disney Crafts, Activities, and Games for just $12.36! Get this Melissa & Doug Disney Mickey Mouse Wooden Character Magnets for only $4.75! Get this Fisher-Price Disney Mickey & the Roadster Racers for only $16.67! Get this Sofia the First Royal Family for only $5.36! Get this Lionel Disney’s Frozen Battery-powered Model Train Set for only $34.99 shipped! Get this Toy Story Disney/Pixar Pet Patrol Playset for only $10.49! Shop the Disney sale here. Valid today only, December 11, 2019, 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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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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This Man Told Us How He Turned Christmas Lights Into a Lucrative Business

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This Man Told Us How He Turned Christmas Lights Into a Lucrative Business