Are You Getting the Best Deal on Amazon? Here’s an Automatic Way to Check

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Are You Getting the Best Deal on Amazon? Here’s an Automatic Way to Check
If you shop on Amazon — and who doesn’t? — we’ve found an incredibly easy way you can automatically save yourself money. It’s called Wikibuy, and it’s available as a browser extension or as an app. Once you click a button to install it, it instantly becomes your own personal heat-seeking missile for savings. That’s why 3.9 million shoppers are using it, and that’s why it’s highly rated in the Chrome Web Store. What is Wikibuy? We Use it to Find The Best Deals When you shop around on Amazon, Wikibuy pops up and becomes an automatic price-comparison tool. If you’re checking out a product like, say, a wireless speaker, Wikibuy searches thousands of other sellers, including Walmart and eBay, looking for a better price. It takes into account shipping, sales tax and availability, including size and color. It also tries coupon codes. If you like what you see, click the “Continue to Wikibuy” button that shows up automatically on Amazon, and place your order. Wikibuy even predicts when your order will be delivered. It Works Even if You’re Not Shopping on Amazon Let’s say you’re not shopping on Amazon. Instead you’re shopping online on a different site, like Best Buy or Target. When it’s time to check out, Wikibuy automatically searches online for any coupons or promo codes or discounts that it can apply to your order. It compiles data it collects from its millions of Wikibuy users. If a promo code worked for another Wikibuy user who bought a product before you, Wikibuy copies that code to save you money. Honestly, This is One of The Easiest Ways to Save If you’re not accustomed to browser plug-ins, then don’t let the term scare you away. It’s easy to download the thing, and it just automatically runs on top of your browser when you’re shopping. Simple. Wikibuy is available on the browsers Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox. It’s also available as an iPhone app. Wikibuy gets good reviews from users, mainly because it’s free, simple and automatic. The browser extension has a 5-star rating from 3.9 million users in the Google Play store. One final thing: You can also earn Wikibuy credits while you shop. You use those credits for gift cards. That’s just one more feature. Wikibuy’s main draw is the automatic savings. After a simple free install, see how it works for you. Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s turning into an Amazon guy. Wikibuy compensates us when you install Wikibuy using the links we provided. 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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Here’s a Legitimate Way to Get up to $5K in Free Cash When You Buy a House

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Here’s a Legitimate Way to Get up to $5K in Free Cash When You Buy a House
Are you thinking of buying a home? Maybe it’s time to stop renting and start owning — or you’re ready to trade in your current home for a bigger, better one in another location. If you’re ready to pursue the American dream of homeownership, there’s one important and surprising step you might want to take first — something you may not have thought of. You can actually get cash back on your home purchase — as much as $5,000. Unbelievable, huh? Normally when you think “cash back,” you think about getting a little bit of money back on your debit-card purchases or for certain items at the grocery store. Let’s think bigger — a lot bigger. We’ve found a rewards site called Cash Direct Club, and it’ll pay you some serious cash for major purchases. How to Get Paid Within 30 Days of Closing At first glance, Cash Direct Club appears to be similar to other cash-back sites. Namely, it allows you to get paid when you shop at more than 200 major online retailers. Look closer, though, and you’ll see a big difference. You can earn up to $5,000 if you buy a home through one of 20,000 top real estate agents across the U.S. in the club’s network. Trust us: It’s important to have a real estate agent you’re comfortable with, and that’s why this company has gone to great lengths to build a huge network of agents. It earns a commission for referring you — and shares it with you. “When you purchase a home, we then pass along part of those earnings to you as cash back,” the company says. “It’s that simple!” Here’s how to earn that $5,000 rebate when you buy a home: Fill out a quick and simple form on Cash Direct Club’s website.  Get matched with a real estate agent in your area.  Buy a house, and get paid within 30 days of closing. You’ll Find More Ways to Get Paid, Too If you want to buy a home, this looks like the best deal for you. Beyond that, you can keep earning by shopping (and saving) with Cash Direct Club. You’ll immediately earn $3 when you install its web browser button and another $3 if you download the app. You can also shop online directly through Cash Direct Club’s website, by clicking on the retailers listed there. And you’ll get a $20 bonus when you make your first purchase. Here’s what else it offers: Earn up to double cash back at many retailers when you spend at least $125 on a single purchase. Earn $100 cash back if you get a personal loan through the site. (Its partner lender offers loans of $1,000 to $50,000 for terms of three or five years.) Earn up to $10 when you refer a friend — $5 when they make their first purchase, and another $5 when they make a purchase of over $125. Now get house-hunting! Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He likes cash just as much as you do. 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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Serve Your Country While Tackling Student Loan Debt — Here’s How

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Serve Your Country While Tackling Student Loan Debt — Here’s How
If you’re looking for an easy way out of your student loan debt… this isn’t it. But if you’re ready to make a commitment to protecting and defending your country, you may find relief through a debt forgiveness program.  And you’d have plenty of company in your… company, since approximately 200,000 active duty members owe a collective $2.9 billion in student loan debt.  But as a service member, you have a few more options for wiping out your student loan debt than your civilian counterparts. So pay attention.  Military Student Loan Forgiveness If you’re ready to serve your country after graduating college, you have options for attacking your student loan debt. Although you can also qualify for other programs unrelated to your service, such as teacher student loan forgiveness or nursing school loan forgiveness, we’ll focus on the options that depend on your work in the military. National Defense Student Loan Discharge (aka Perkins Loan Forgiveness) If you served in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area, you qualify for the National Defense Student Loan Discharge, which is part of the Perkins loan cancelation program (the Perkins loan program ended on Sept. 30, 2017).   Loans are discharged according to the following classifications: Up to 50% for four years for borrowers whose active duty service ended before Aug. 14, 2008. Up to 100% for five years for borrowers whose active duty service includes or began on or after Aug. 14, 2008. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) This is probably the most well-known forgiveness option — although “notorious” might be a better adjective for it. Out of the approximately 76,000 PSLF applications that were processed by March 2019, only 518 applications were approved. For those who didn’t major in math, that’s less than 1%.  Pro Tip If you make too much to qualify for an income-driven repayment plan, don’t bother with PSLF since the standard payment plan will leave you with nothing to forgive after 10 years. And the program that was supposed to fix the problem — Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF)? Yeah, it turns out the acceptance rate for that one nearly matches the original. Be prepared for a long wait — it takes a minimum of 10 years to qualify — and to follow a lot of rules in regards to the type of loan, repayment program and employment eligibility. To help you navigate the process, check out these seven essential questions to ask about Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Total and Permanent Disability Discharge If you become totally and permanently disabled during your service, you’ll automatically have your student loan debt discharged. (Your student loans also get canceled if you die, but let’s not consider that as an option, OK?) Prior to August 2019, you still had to fill out the TPD Discharge application, but now the discharge is automatic for veterans. Veteran Affairs will alert the Federal Student Aid office as to your eligibility. The office will then notify you, at which point you will have 60 days to decide if you want to decline the loan relief.  Pro Tip If you think you may go back to school again some day, understand that accepting the disability discharge could make it more difficult to take out future student loans. Why would you decline? Although the discharge isn’t subject to federal taxes, the discharged amount may still be considered income for state tax purposes.  If you don’t decline, your remaining student loan balance will be discharged and you’ll be reimbursed for any payments made following the date of the discharge. Get more details about the total and permanent disability discharge (TPD) program here. Repayment Programs for Service Members As a service member, you’ll find multiple programs that will repay some of your debts, but none of these programs forgives the loan and interest in its entirety — and all of the forgiven amounts are taxable. Armed Forces Education Loan Repayment Program Following a complete year of active-duty service, you’ll become eligible for benefits available through most branches of the service (sorry, Marines).  Depending on which branch you choose, you’ll see the loan repayment programs referred to as College Loan Repayment Programs (CLRP) or Student Loan Repayment Programs (SLRP). Pro Tip If you’re rehabilitating a student loan in default, you’re allowed an interruption in the consecutive pay period until after your qualified military service is completed. All of the programs repay direct federal loans (subsidized and unsubsidized); other federal loans may be eligible, depending on the specific program. And each come with enlistment and/or testing qualifications, so ask your recruiter about specific requirements for your program: Air Force: Soaring with the Air Force Reserve for up to six years could really pay off. Annual payments will be $500 per each qualifying loan or 15% of the outstanding balance, whichever is greater, for up to $3,500 for each year of satisfactory service. Maximum amount: $20,000. If you’re taking the legal eagle route, the Air Force has a three-year student loan repayment program for you. You can qualify after completing your first year as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer. Maximum amount: $60,000 Army: The Army has multiple loan repayment programs to choose from, depending on your status. For active duty members, the maximum annual benefit is a third of the current principal balance or $1,500, whichever is greater, for each year of service up to three years. Maximum amount: $65,000. Navy: For active duty members, the maximum annual benefit is one-third of the current principal balance or $1,500, whichever is greater, for each year of service up to three years. Applicants must be approved before shipping to RTC, according to Terrina Driscoll with Navy Recruiting Command. Note: To be eligible for the loan repayment program and 100% of your Montgomery GI Bill benefits, you must reenlist for additional three years  or have a 6 year Active contract. Maximum amount: $65,000. Coast Guard: For six years of service, you’ll receive up to $10,000 per year to repay loans at qualified minority-serving institutions. Maximum amount: $60,000. National Guard: You’ll need to enlist for at least six years for annual disbursements through the National Guard repayment program. Maximum amount: $50,000. Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) If you’re a health professional with student loans to repay, providing your services to the military could help you out of debt.  Both Active and Reserve members of the Army can receive assistance through separate programs. For example, nurses in the Army Reserve are eligible for up to $50,000 toward student loan repayment over three years of service. For the Navy, you must be a commissioned officer enrolled in the final year of an approved residency program leading to specialty qualification in medicine, dentistry or osteopathic medicine. The maximum award is $40,000. And if you’re Air Force, you’ll receive up to $40,000 to cover your health profession education in exchange for at least two years of service. Additional Student Loan Benefits for Service Members Even if you don’t receive forgiveness of your loans, you can deploy these reduced interest and deferment programs as a member of the military. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Interest Rate Cap: Interest on student loans you took out prior to your military service is capped at 6% during periods of active duty. Military Service Deferment: You can postpone loan repayment during certain periods of active duty and while you prepare to go back to school following your active duty. 0% Interest: If you serve in a qualifying hostile area, you don’t have to pay interest for up to 60 months. HEROES Act Waiver: The Education Department waives many documentation requirements — think: updating your family size and income f [...]
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Here’s How to Lower Some of the Costs of Raising School-Aged Kids

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Here’s How to Lower Some of the Costs of Raising School-Aged Kids
The first few years of parenthood can be a sleep-deprived, money-sucking blur. You’re constantly counting down to the next stage of child-rearing when you anticipate expenses to ease up. Like when you’re done with formula and diapers, and you don’t have to buy a new set of clothes every three months. Or when your kid’s in school and you can finally stop paying for full-time child care. But as you reach what you think is the light at the end of the tunnel, you come to realize that raising a school-aged kid doesn’t exactly come cheap either. These 13 money-saving strategies can provide some financial relief when it comes to your children’s expenses. 1. Don’t Overspend During Back-to-School Season According to the National Retail Federation, shopping for school expenses is the second-highest annual consumer event (only falling behind winter holiday spending). Save money by comparing prices, shopping at discount stores, buying in bulk and taking advantage of back-to-school sales tax holidays.  It’s also imperative to budget for back-to-school expenses ahead of time. Take inventory of what you have, make a list of the essentials and price items to establish a spending limit.  Pro Tip Set up a sinking fund to save money over several months. Temporary side gigs, picking up extra shifts or participating in a no-spend challenge can help you pad your savings. 2. Buy Zero-Waste Alternatives for Disposable Goods You Frequently Purchase If you’re buying hundreds of plastic sandwich bags and juice boxes that your kids just throw away at the end of lunch, try going zero-waste. You’ll save money in the long run purchasing reusable products — like a couple of washable containers and a Thermos — once and using them all year. 3. Throw Affordable Birthday Parties Celebrate your child’s birthday on a budget by sending out free electronic invites, choosing a cheap venue like a park and making your own cake and goodies. Streamlining your guest list will also help reduce costs. 4. Save Money on Extracurricular Activities Your kid might want to sign up for piano lessons, gymnastics and basketball, but the cost of after-school activities can take a chunk out of a parent’s budget.  Nail down your child’s interests to one or two activities and see if any local government or nonprofit agencies — like your school system or the Police Athletic League — offer programs at a lower rate than private organizations. See if you can get discounts for enrolling more than one child or referring your neighbors to enroll their kids. Cut travel costs by carpooling and equipment expenses by buying secondhand.  FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ 8:40 PM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 12:24 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 6:00 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. Get Swim Lessons for Less Over 1,000 YMCA locations across the nation offer a program called Safety Around Water, which teaches kids about water safety and basic swimming instruction. Many branches have been able to offer these YMCA swim lessons program for free or reduced cost due to funding from the national organization or community fundraising efforts. Contact your local YMCA branch for more information. 6. DIY Your Kid’s Summer Camp Experience Paying weekly summer camp costs can be brutal. An alternate option? Form your own summer camp co-op.  Gather a bunch of parents together who can take turns playing camp counselor and watching the kids each week. Brainstorm low-cost activities to fill up the day, and collectively chip in for snacks and lunches. 7. Save Money on Your Next Trip to Disney For many parents, Disney is the big vacation mecca, but visiting Mickey and Minnie isn’t cheap. To save money at Disney World or visit Disneyland on a budget, find accommodations not associated with the park, make your own food and arrive at the park at least 30 minutes before gates open to avoid long lines and make the most of your day. Pro Tip Want to score a cheap Disney souvenir? Look for pressed penny machines, which turn your coins into theme-park memorabilia — usually for less than a dollar. 8. Don’t Blow Through Cash Entertaining the Kids The refrain of “I’m bored” grows old fast. This list of 100 free things to do — most of which are family friendly — is clutch when you need to fill time with something fun but don’t want to spend a bunch of money.  Host a game night or put on a talent show. Attend a local festival or pitch a tent at a free campsite. 9. Find Inexpensive Tutoring No one wants their child struggling in school, but tutors that charge upwards of $80 an hour can be tough for families to shoulder financially. Get low-cost or free tutoring online through sites like Khan Academy or by watching educational YouTube channels. Other ways to cut costs are asking your child’s teacher for help, seeing if there’s a peer tutoring program at school, checking for tutoring programs at your library or tapping into your social network for subject matter experts. 10. Eliminate Post-Holiday Gift-Giving Remorse Heed the four-gift rule. It conveniently rhymes so you’ll remember: Get one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they’ll wear and something to read. Other tips to save money on Christmas shopping are shopping online, using money-saving apps like Stash or Acorns and snagging deals year round. Pro Tip Set up a Christmas savings plan months before Dec. 25. Figure out how much you plan to spend and divide that amount by how many weeks you have left to shop to come up with your weekly savings goal. 11. Learn How to Take Professional-Quality Photos Go the DIY approach to avoid paying for pricy photo packages. Some professional photo tips one photographer (and mom of two) shared with us are to take advantage of the best natural light, find a good outdoor location and get multiple shots.  12. Be Frugal About Buying Clothes Host clothing swaps with other families in your neighborhood, repurpose old clothes as pajamas, shop at consignment stores and borrow one-time-use outfits. You can also ask family and friends to give clothes rather than toys as birthday gifts to save money on kids’ clothing. 13. Just Say No to Your Kids Sometimes you’ve got to lay down the hammer. Maybe after denying their requests a couple dozen times, they’ll stop bugging you to buy candy and toys at the register. According to psychologists, saying no to your kids can actually benefit your children by helping them grow to be better money managers. 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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Men: Need to Clean Out Your Closet? Here’s Where You Can Consign Clothes

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Men: Need to Clean Out Your Closet? Here’s Where You Can Consign Clothes
There are plenty of places for women to make a buck off gently used threads, but ever wonder where men can do the same?  Well, we have a list of places for you. Here’s a list of both online and brick-and-mortar men’s consignment stores that we found. Online Men’s Consignment Stores No physical location, no problem. 1. Grailed Named as a nod to the Holy Grail — i.e., something priceless but hard to find — Grailed bills itself as “a curated community” where “each piece is sourced directly from the closets of like-minded fashion-conscious individuals.” If you’re a luxury wearer, the Grailed marketplace is the place for you.  But even if you’re not, you could sell your items in its other sections, which include streetwear, avant garde, vintage, tech wear and minimalist. Grailed offers PayPal buyer and seller protection, as well as its own appeals process for any disputed PayPal claims. It also offers a unique spin on the eBay bid site model: In addition to setting an asking price and accepting offers from buyers, you also have the option to accept multiple offers at once and ship to whoever pays you first.  Grailed takes a 6% cut of any profits after PayPal fees — by far the lowest commission of any other company on this list. That said, you set the price for your items, which may mean they take longer to sell than they would on a site that sets the price for you. 2. The RealReal As its name implies, The RealReal prides itself on authenticity. While all of the sites on this list forbid replicas and knockoffs of brand-name items, The RealReal takes it one step further by employing trained professionals — from gemologists to apparel experts — to ensure every item it offers is the real thing.  Your item must pass a rigorous inspection before the site will list it.  The more you consign with The RealReal, the more you earn: At the VIP level, you’re selling at least $10,000 a year and you’ll get 70% commission.  At the Icon level, you’re selling $1,501-$9,999 a year and getting 60% commission.  At the Insider level, you’re selling $0-$1,500 a year and getting 55% commission.  Learn more about the rewards program commission rates and item commission rates here.   3. Menswear Market Menswear Market touts itself as taking some of the guesswork (and legwork) out of reselling your items by offering services like photography and inventory management. Menswear Market may sell your pieces on its own website or through its selling account on eBay. Menswear Market offers free item pickup in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, or prepaid FedEx shipping for out-of-state sellers. You will receive 50% of the net sale price via a monthly check over your collection’s selling period. 4. Linda’s Stuff Don’t let the name fool you; Linda’s Stuff isn’t just for women’s clothing and accessories. It also has a sizeable men’s section with everything from jeans to shoes to swimwear..  This company strives to sell your luxury items at a price that will net you the most money and interest the most buyers. The team does most of the work itself, from photography, to research, to pricing, to authenticating. The company’s inventory team determines an item’s fair market value based on its age and designer, as well as its style, condition and designer. The company lists items for one year, but if they don’t sell in that time, it is the consignor’s responsibility to initiate the return process. Linda’s Stuff pays sellers monthly and takes a sliding commission based on how much you sell: 20% of sales over $5,000, 25% of sales between $1,000 and $4,999 and 40% of sales under $1,000.  Brick-and-Mortar Men’s Consignment Stores Prefer an in-person experience? Check out these stores. 5. Well Suited From the same people who brought you women’s consignment site My Sister’s Closet and home furnishings consignment site My Sister’s Attic, Well Suited has retail stores in Arizona and California. It also allows shoppers to browse items online and place orders by phone.  You can stop by a store with items you’d like to sell or follow these instructions to ship them to the company. To qualify for resale, your items should meet the “three C’s” My Sister’s Closet originally set forth: Cute (or, one could argue, “handsome” in this case): brand-name designer items, whether classic or trendy, that retail for at least $50 Clean: in like-new, ready-to-wear condition Current: stylish and no more than 4-5 years old You can receive 45% of the item’s sale price in cash or 55% in store credit. 6. Plato’s Closet Plato’s Closet focuses on teen and young adult clothing and accessories — for guys, this means clothing in the 28-40 waist size range in “current styles that are still in the mall.”  Check here to see if there are any locations in your area. If there are, you can stop by with your items and your ID, and a sales associate will review your stuff while you browse the store’s racks. (Plato’s Closet doesn’t have a ship-to-sell option.) Unlike other consignment stores that pay you when your items sell and take a cut as commission, Plato’s Closet buys your items outright and stocks them for resale — so once you receive and accept its quote, you walk out with either cold, hard cash or store credit.  According to consumer reviews, you may only get $2-$5 per accepted item, unless you have high-demand items. But if you’re looking for a quick, easy way to unload your unwanted stuff and get a few bucks, Plato’s Closet is worth checking out. Choosing store credit could get you a little bit more, too. 7. Buffalo Exchange Like Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange buys acceptable items upfront and pays you in cash or store credit. You can either drop your items off at one of its physical locations or send them by prepaid UPS shipping. Buffalo Exchange lists what each location is looking for here, but as a rule, it focuses on “designer items, popular mall brands, athletic war, current trends, everyday staples, vintage, and one-of-a-kind pieces.” You can call ahead to find out what your local store is looking for if you’re selling in person or go here to see its biggest sell-by-mail needs.  Accepted items typically net you 50% of the selling price in store credit or 30% in cash. Kelly Gurnett 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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Don’t Wait: Here’s Where to Get a Free or Low-Cost Mammogram This Month

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Don’t Wait: Here’s Where to Get a Free or Low-Cost Mammogram This Month
If you couldn’t tell by all the pink everywhere, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And one of the best ways to stop breast cancer in its tracks? Early detection (it works). Though every woman should do breast self-exams each month, women over 40 should also consider getting a mammogram — an X-ray that examines breast tissue — every one to two years. (Here are specific guidelines.) If you’re younger than 40 but have risk factors for breast cancer, you might need mammograms, too; ask for your doctor’s recommendation. But whatever your age, don’t avoid mammograms because of their cost. 6 Places That Offer Low-Cost or Free Mammograms Women today have a bounty of ways to get free and low-cost mammograms. Here are six options. 1. Your Doctor If you’re 40 or older, the Affordable Care Act requires your insurer to cover screening mammograms with no co-payment. More information is available here. Medicare and Medicaid also cover the cost of mammograms. 2. The National Breast Cancer Foundation The National Breast Cancer Foundation partners “with medical facilities across the country to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to underserved women.” Click here to search for a location near you. 3. The Susan G. Komen Foundation This organization has affiliates in 120 American cities.   According to its website, its affiliate network “is the nation’s largest private funder of community-based breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs.” To learn what resources are available in your area, search for your local affiliate here. Prefer to speak to someone? Call the organization’s breast care helpline at 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636), and the representatives will help you find low-cost options in your area. 4. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program “provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women across the United States.” To qualify for this screening, you should be between the ages of 40 and 64, have no insurance or insurance that fails to cover screening exams, and live at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. You can find out more information about your state or territory here. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM For those Who do not drive, what is the cheapest way to get around? 8/16/19 @ 1:55 AM M Saving money on pet meds 9/11/19 @ 3:41 PM Acorns 8/14/19 @ 6:00 PM How to save when grocery shopping 8/15/19 @ 2:43 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 5. The YWCA Some YWCA chapters provide breast cancer screening and education to women who have no insurance or who are underinsured. Contact your local YWCA to see if it offers affordable mammograms.   6. Your Local Imaging Center According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, many imaging centers offer reduced rates during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can search for a local mammography center on the FDA website. You might be wondering why Planned Parenthood isn’t on the list. These popular clinics provide clinical breast exams, but not mammograms; if an abnormality is detected during your exam, the doctor will refer you to a provider of low- or no-cost mammograms like the ones above. To learn more about mammograms — including how they work and how to prepare — check out this PDF from the Komen Foundation. Whatever you do, don’t wait! Susan Shain is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Former SEO analyst Jacquelyn Pica assisted with research. 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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So You’re Ready to Open a Bank Account? Here’s Exactly What You Need

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So You’re Ready to Open a Bank Account? Here’s Exactly What You Need
Regardless of where you are in life, you will likely need to open a bank account at some point.  But what do you need to open a bank account, exactly? Whether you’re a total newbie or just haven’t opened one in a long time, the process of opening an account can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Prepare yourself before you head to the bank, and the process will go much more smoothly. What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account? Usually, you can open an account online or in person at a local bank branch. If you go in person, make sure you collect all your documents ahead of time to avoid delays. (We’ll discuss what you need to bring later on.) No matter how you open your bank account, you’ll need to fill out an application. This will include personal information like your name, address and Social Security number. If you’re applying online, you’ll need to enter your photo ID number so the bank can verify that you are who you claim to be. How to Determine if You’re Eligible to Open a Bank Account Each bank has different eligibility requirements, so it’s a good idea to do some research before choosing a bank. But all banks have certain eligibility requirements mandated by law. First, you need to be at least 18 years old to open a bank account on your own.  If you’re under 18, you may be able to open a joint account with a parent or legal guardian. You might also check with your bank to see if they offer accounts designed for minors.  Opening a bank account at a young age can help you learn how to properly manage your money, making the transition to adulthood an easier one. Many banks will look at your financial history before allowing you to open an account. So if you have a history of overdrafts or have had accounts closed by the bank before, you may be ineligible. Some banks will work with you even if you have a bad history, so it’s worth doing your research if this applies to you. In some circumstances, banks will only allow you to open an account if you’re a U.S. citizen. What to Bring When You Open a Bank Account Once you’ve chosen a financial institution where you want to open a checking or savings account, you’ll need to make sure you show up with the right documents to ensure a smooth process. Here’s what to bring. Photo ID When opening an account for the first time, you will need to bring some form of photo ID. The most common form is a state-issued driver’s license, but a passport will also work.  If you don’t drive and don’t have a passport, you can get a state ID from your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. To get an ID, you’ll need to provide the DMV with your birth certificate and proof of address. Social Security Card You may need to show your Social Security card to open an account, so it’s a good idea to bring it along just in case.  If you don’t have a Social Security number, you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification number. You can get one by submitting Form W-7 to the IRS. Proof of Address You will need to bring some sort of proof of your address, such as a utility bill or mortgage statement. You can also provide a lease agreement that lists your address. Deposits Most banks require you to make an initial deposit when you open a new account, so make sure you ask what the minimum deposit is and have that amount of money with you when you go to open the account. FROM THE BANKING FORUM Social security Representative Payee bank account 9/26/19 @ 5:16 PM L How to find a checking account that displays scheduled transaction on account activinty view? 9/4/19 @ 2:05 PM ONLINE BANKS 8/26/19 @ 6:54 PM Best bank to use? 7/12/19 @ 2:52 PM See more in Banking or ask a money question What Happens After You Apply for a Bank Account? Once your application is complete, the bank will review it and check your history with bank accounts, if applicable. If you’re approved for the account, you will receive the account number and routing number so you can begin using it immediately. This is when you will pay your initial deposit.  If you’re opening the account in person, you can use cash, a check or an electronic transfer. If you’re opening the account online, you should be able to use all of the above options, with the exception of cash. After a few days, you’ll receive a checkbook, deposit slips and a debit or ATM card in the mail. The card will include instructions on how to activate it, which you’ll typically do over the phone or online. Make sure you sign the card or it could be considered invalid. Once you have your bank account details, you can set up a direct deposit for your regular monthly income, whether that’s a paycheck, retirement funds or other benefits. Direct deposits make it easy to access your money each month and avoid the extra step of having to cash a check. Next, you can set up online access to your bank account. Make sure you choose a password that you’ll remember but that isn’t too easy to guess. Some banks have different login methods for additional security, so make sure you choose one that won’t be too hard for you to use to access your funds. Opening a bank account, whether for the first or 50th time, can be daunting. But by making sure you have everything you need ahead of time, it can be quick and easy. Catherine Hiles is a writer, mother, runner and avid reader. She enjoys cooking (and eating), good beer and spending time with her husband and two young children. 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 Perkins Loans? Here’s How 5 Years in Public Service Could Wipe Them Out

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Got Perkins Loans? Here’s How 5 Years in Public Service Could Wipe Them Out
The Perkins loan program may be history, but that doesn’t stop it from haunting your present. Perkins loans were student loans designed for undergraduate and graduate students who showed exceptional financial need — the loans charged 5% interest, and you had 10 years to pay them off.  The program ended on Sept. 30, 2017, but you’re still on the hook for paying off any of the Perkins loans you took out.  But if you’re working in public service, you could potentially have your Perkins loans canceled.  Like other student loan forgiveness programs, obtaining Perkins loan forgiveness is not an easy or quick process. But if it could mean the difference between paying back thousands of dollars in student debt, it could be worth your effort. How to Find Out If You’re Eligible for Perkins Loan Forgiveness To be eligible for Perkins loan cancellation, you must be working full time in a qualifying public service role (we’ll explain the discharge option a little later) and your loans cannot be in default. To default on federal loan repayment means you’ve failed to make your monthly payment for 270 days (nine months). Additionally, if you refinance or consolidate your Perkins loans, you are not eligible for this forgiveness program. We’ve broken down the options into categories based on how much of your loan can be forgiven and type of service. 1. Up to 100% Forgiveness The most comprehensive in terms of job options is for up to 100% loan cancellation for five years of service. The amount forgiven is granted in increments: 15% for the first and second years. 20% for the third and fourth years. 30% for the fifth year. This category includes the following professions: Teacher. To qualify for the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation, you must either teach at a low-income school or teach one of the following subjects: mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual, special education or another subject area that is facing a shortage of qualified teachers in your state. Employee at a child or family services agency. Faculty member at a tribal college or university (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008). Firefighter (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008). Law enforcement or corrections officer. Librarian with a master’s degree working at a Title I-eligible elementary or secondary school or at a public library that serves Title I-eligible schools (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008). Nurse or medical technician. Professional provider of early intervention disability services. Public defender (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008). Speech pathologist with master’s degree working at a Title I-eligible elementary or secondary school (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008). If you’re an educator at a pre-K or licensed childcare program (for service that began on or after Aug. 14, 2008) or a Head Start program, it will take seven years to forgive the loan, which is granted in the following increments: 15% for the first six years. 10% for the seventh year. 2. Up to 70% Forgiveness AmeriCorps VISTA or Peace Corps volunteers can get up to 70% of their loans forgiven for four years of service. Cancelation is also granted in increments: 15% for the first and second years. 20% for the third and fourth years. 3. Forgiveness for Military Service Those who serve in the U.S. armed forces in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area qualify for Perkins loan cancellation according to the following classifications: Up to 50% for four years for borrowers whose active duty service ended before Aug. 14, 2008. Up to 100% for five years for borrowers whose active duty service includes or began on or after Aug. 14, 2008. 4. 100% Discharge Discharge and forgiveness essentially mean the same thing — they wipe out your student loan — but a discharge is due to circumstances, while forgiveness is dependent upon your line of work. The following conditions are eligible: The school closed before the borrower could complete the program of study (applies to loans received on or after Jan. 1, 1986). The borrower is totally and permanently disabled. The borrower died. (Read more about a student loan death discharge here.) The borrower filed for bankruptcy — but only if the bankruptcy court rules that repayment would cause undue hardship. (That’s rare.) FROM THE DEBT FORUM Credit card debt 7/29/19 @ 5:18 PM F How to pay off medical bills? 8/29/19 @ 2:39 PM N Student loans!! 8/9/19 @ 1:07 PM J Payday loans - essential or evil? 2/27/19 @ 4:52 PM F See more in Debt or ask a money question How Do I Apply? To qualify for a Perkins loan cancellation or discharge, you’ll need at least one year of professional experience before applying (or one academic year for teachers).  Because your school is considered the lender (the federal government subsidizes the loan), you should contact your school (or its loan servicer) to obtain the forms and instructions for your Perkins loan forgiveness. Pro Tip Schools must automatically defer loans during periods when you are performing service that will qualify for loan cancelation — you do not need to apply for concurrent deferment.  Every school has its own application, but in general, you’ll need to fill out your personal information, your type and length of service, and certification from your employer. What Happens if I Receive Forgiveness? If you’re approved for Perkins loan forgiveness, the principal amount of your loan will be canceled incrementally according to the schedule associated with your forgiveness classification. Any interest that the loan accrued during that year will also be forgiven. What Happens if I Don’t Receive Forgiveness? If you’re denied Perkins loan forgiveness, all is not lost, particularly if you have other federal loans to consolidate. Consolidation disqualifies your loans for the Perkins loan forgiveness program, but by consolidating your Perkins loans, they then qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. However, keep in mind that your Perkins loans must be paid in 10 years, so there’s a good chance you’d have your loans paid off before you reached the 10 years of service the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires.  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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How Much Should You Spend on Essentials? Here’s What the Experts Say

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How Much Should You Spend on Essentials? Here’s What the Experts Say
Unless you treat budgeting like a book club and openly discuss your spending habits with your friends, you may not realize you’re overspending — or underspending — in certain categories. Budget recommendations can help you better assess how you manage your money. We turned to government sources and industry leaders for those recommendations in four major categories: housing, food, debt and retirement. These budget percentages — which you can tweak to fit your situation — can help you determine where your dollars should go. Don’t Spend More Than 30% on Housing It might be difficult if you’re in a city with a high cost of living and you don’t have roommates, but try to keep your housing expenses under 30%. Government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, consider households cost burdened if they spend more than that. If your annual income is around $30,000, you shouldn’t spend more than $750 a month on housing. If you make $50,000 a year, your monthly housing costs shouldn’t exceed $1,250. Individuals and families bringing in $75,000 annually can increase their housing spending threshold to $1,875 a month. Keeping this threshold in mind isn’t just good for your financial well-being; it can also affect your ability to find housing. Leasing agents and housing lenders compare housing costs to your income to determine whether to approve a rental or mortgage application. Keep Food Costs Between 10 and 15% Food spending can vary drastically from one household to the next based on family size, dietary needs, food preferences and other factors.  Still, one way to assess your spending is to turn to the United States Department of Agriculture’s monthly food-cost guide, which is based off government recommendations for a nutritious diet and food prices from the early 2000s that have been updated to reflect current dollars.  The guide focuses on costs for food prepared at home. (Don’t include your Uber Eats expenses when comparing your spending to the recommendations.) The USDA’s chart breaks down food costs in dollar amounts based on four spending levels — thrifty, low-cost, moderate and liberal. It’s further broken down in terms of age, gender and family make-up.  The recommended spending for a moderate-cost plan generally takes up between 10 and 15% of the budget for a middle-income individual or couple. According to the chart, a woman under 50 should spend $257.20 a month on a moderate-cost food plan. If she made $30,000, that would be about 10% of her monthly budget. A man under 50 on a moderate plan should spend about $302.20, which is 12% of a $30,000 annual salary. A couple in the same age bracket following the same food plan is recommended to spend $615.30 a month on groceries. If that couple earned a combined $50,000 a year, 15% on their budget would go to food expenses. If they earned $75,000, they’d be spending 10% of their monthly income on food. Certainly, having kids increases the cost of food. According to the USDA, a moderately-spending family of four should spend $892.40 monthly with children under age 6, or $1,065.20 a month if their kids are between ages 6 and 11. That means a family earning $75,000 a year would spend 14% of their budget on food if they had young kids or 17% if they had older kids. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? 3/18/19 @ 12:42 AM Is there a particular budgeting booklet 8/19/19 @ 2:14 PM A Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question Debt Payments Shouldn’t Make Up More Than 43% Ideally, you want none of your income going toward repaying loans. But if you’re like most American adults, you probably owe money in the form of credit card debt, a mortgage, a car note, student loans or medical bills. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the 43% debt-to-income ratio is the standard most lenders will use to determine whether a borrower can be approved for a qualified mortgage. Borrowers whose monthly debt payments (including their mortgage) make up more than 43% of their monthly gross income would have a harder time qualifying for a loan. To think of this budget percentage in real dollars, an individual with an annual household income of $30,000 shouldn’t have over $1,075 in total monthly debt payments. Someone with an annual household income of $50,000 shouldn’t exceed $1,792 per month, and those who earn $75,000 a year shouldn’t put more than $2,688 a month toward paying off debt. If your minimum debt payments exceed 43% of your income, consider asking creditors for a lower interest rate, refinancing or consolidating your loans or opening a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory interest rate. Another option is increasing your income with a regular side gig or second job. Of course, if you have room in your budget to spend more than 43% of your income in order to make extra payments and get rid of your debt quicker — more power to you! Aim to Save 15% (or More) for Retirement Saving and investing in your working years allows you to have money to draw from when you no longer have a paycheck coming in. How much you ought to put aside will depend on a few factors, like age, income level and your estimated cost of living once you hit retirement.  A rule of thumb from investment firm Fidelity is to start saving 15% of your income (including employer contributions) at age 25. If you make $30,000 annually, you should save $4,500 per year or $375 a month. If you have an annual salary of $50,000, try saving $7,500 a year or $625 monthly. If you’re getting a later start saving for retirement, you’ll need to up that contribution. Fidelity recommends saving 18% if you start at age 30 or 23% if you start at 35. Our guide to retirement planning outlines what you need to know when it comes to saving for your golden years. And if you’re hoping to retire before the wrinkles set in, check out this article on how to retire early. Guidance For Your Other Spending Your monthly spending likely falls into other budget categories as well. To see what other Americans spend in categories like apparel, transportation, health care, entertainment, personal care, education, insurance and more, check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual consumer expenditures survey. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey also shares popular budget percentage recommendations on his EveryDollar site. Know that what’s recommended for budgeting — whether it’s from government sources or a trusted personal finance personality — should be seen as a guideline, not as a mandate. A blanket percentage can’t account for everyone’s unique financial situation. So go ahead and customize your budget as it fits for your life. As long as your budget meets your needs (and allows you to save for the future), you’re doing something right.  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 Penn [...]
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Citi Just Lost a Minor Transfer Partner. Here’s Why It Matters

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Citi Just Lost a Minor Transfer Partner. Here’s Why It Matters
The hits just keep on coming with Citi ThankYou points, most recently with the loss of Garuda Indonesia as a ThankYou points transfer partner. This won’t impact most people, but Garuda did provide some interesting niche redemptions, ran irregular (but spectacular) mileage sales and provided access to first class inventory on SkyTeam airlines. Will the... Caroline Lupini is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Citi Just Lost a Minor Transfer Partner. Here’s Why It Matters originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Checking vs. Savings Account: Here’s Exactly When to Use Each One

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Checking vs. Savings Account: Here’s Exactly When to Use Each One
When it comes to our finances, it can feel like our list of decisions is never-ending. Should I start saving for retirement now? How should I file my taxes this year? Do I need homeowners and flood insurance? To make any decision about money, it helps to have all the pertinent information. When deciding whether to open a checking or savings account, you should start by knowing how they differ. Checking vs. Savings Account: What Are the Differences? Here are the major differences between a checking vs. savings account to consider before depositing your money. How They’re Designed to Be Used A checking account is designed to store the money you plan to spend, while a savings account is meant to hold your money for a relatively long time. Checking Accounts Use the money in this account for small and/or everyday purchases, such as buying groceries, going to the movies and filling up your gas tank. Savings Accounts Ideally, you don’t spend this money in the short term. You’d use it to build an emergency fund for, say, unexpected house repairs, or save for something big, like a car, wedding, house or college. You don’t invest through a savings account, nor do you save for retirement here. You’ll want to open a separate retirement account to save for the future and invest. How to Access Your Money It’s typically easier to access your money through a checking account than it is through a savings account.  Checking Accounts You can spend or withdraw money in your checking account by: Using a debit card: Paying with a debit card is the same as paying with cash; the money is withdrawn directly from your checking account.  Writing a check: Although paying with paper checks is becoming less common, you can often make payments from your checking account with a check, too.  Withdrawing cash from an ATM.  Savings Accounts Accessing money in your savings is a bit more difficult than acquiring cash from your checking account. You can: Transfer money from your savings account to your checking account online: Even if your checking and savings accounts are at different banks or credit unions, it’s still possible to transfer money from one institution to another. Withdraw from your savings account at an ATM: Using your debit card, you can withdraw money from your savings account at an ATM if your accounts are at the same bank or credit union. Just select “savings” instead of “checking” when the ATM prompts you to choose which account to withdraw from. Withdrawal Limits Unlike checking accounts, savings accounts have limits on the number of withdrawals you can make. Checking Accounts Checking accounts don’t have limits on how often you can withdraw money. You should be able to do so as many times as you want per month, provided you don’t overdraw your account.  However, many accounts do have restrictions on how much you can withdraw from an ATM or spend with your debit card in a single day. These limits vary by banking institution and can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Savings Accounts Federal law says you can only withdraw money six times per month from your savings account. However, this rule only applies to certain transactions, such as transferring money from your savings to your checking account and sending wire transfers to someone else. When you’re withdrawing money from your savings account at an ATM or your bank, the limit does not apply. Fees and Deposit Requirements Fees and minimum deposits for both checking and savings accounts vary by institution.   Checking Accounts Some institutions have a minimum deposit to open a checking account, usually ranging from $25 to $100. It is possible to find a bank that doesn’t have a minimum to open an account, though. Some banks and credit unions also charge monthly maintenance fees for checking accounts. However, if you also open a savings account with the same bank and/or maintain a minimum balance, many will let that monthly fee slide. There are a few other fees associated with a checking account. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to pay: Overdraft penalties.  Card replacement fines. Incoming/outgoing wire transfer fees. Out-of-network ATM fees if you withdraw cash from an ATM that isn’t operated by your bank. Savings Accounts Many banks have a minimum to open a savings account. They also sometimes charge a monthly fee, but as with a checking account, they might waive it if you meet certain criteria, such as maintaining a minimum balance and/or having another account with the bank. Remember the aforementioned limit of six withdrawals per month for saving accounts? Well, if you exceed that, you’re charged a fee. It’s usually under $15, but if this becomes a regular occurence, a bank may convert your savings account to a checking account. FROM THE BANKING FORUM Aspiration 4/30/19 @ 9:08 AM Best bank to use? 7/12/19 @ 10:52 AM Women's Month 3/11/19 @ 9:34 AM Home Equity Loans / Lines of Credit 7/3/19 @ 12:12 PM e See more in Banking or ask a money question Interest Savings accounts usually pay slightly higher interest rates compared with checking accounts. Checking Accounts Checking account interest rates are notoriously low, with a national average of 0.06% as of Aug. 12, 2019, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). To clarify, that means you’d earn 6 cents per year on a $100 balance.  There are accounts that offer interest rates that are higher than the national average known as high-yield checking accounts. Usually, though, those interest rates are still minimal, so to find an account that offers higher interest rates, most people focus on savings accounts. Savings Accounts Savings accounts are known for having higher interest rates than checking accounts, but they still aren’t much: The national average is 0.09% as of Aug. 12, 2019, or a mere 9 cents per $100.  Because you theoretically leave money in a savings account for a long time, that money could build a decent amount of interest if you strategically choose a high-yield savings account.   Checking Accounts Savings Accounts Designed For Spending Saving for emergency funds or financial goals Accessibility Debit card Checks ATM Withdraw money at the bank Transfer funds to a checking account ATM Withdraw money at the bank Withdrawal Limits None Six times per month Fees Fee to open account (sometimes) Monthly maintenance fee (sometimes) Overdraft fee Card replacement fee Wire transfer fee Out-of-network ATM fee *some fees may be waived Fee to open account (sometimes) Monthly maintenance fee (sometimes) Withdrawal limit fee Out-of-network ATM fee *some fees may be waived Interest Minimal to non-existent; rates vary Higher than checking; rates vary Checking vs. Savings Account: Which Should You Open? Ideally, you would have both a checking and a savings account. In your checking account, you’d keep money for small or everyday purchases, while in your savings account, you’d store money for emergencies and short- or long-term goals. It’s worth considering whether you should open both accounts with the same bank or credit union. There are a few pros to keeping them at the same institution. For example, some places wi [...]
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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications

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ESL Teachers: Here’s What You Need to Know About TEFL Certifications
English is the language of the global business world, which means demand for English teachers is high while requirements to teach remain relatively low, especially so abroad and even more so online. In recent years, scores of online certification companies have sprouted up to train soon-to-be English teachers, offering credentials in what’s called Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). For our purposes, they’re interchangeable. “This is a very, very rapidly growing industry,” said Jessie Smith, a former English teacher in South Korea and Vietnam who now works at the International TEFL Academy. “The demand can’t really be put into words.”  Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online is a welcomed side gig for many. Teachers get to set their own schedules, connect with students around the world and rake in between $15 and $25 an hour teaching premade lessons.  Not bad for a part-time, entry-level position. But before you sign up — and pay — to obtain TEFL certification online, here’s what you need to know. What to Consider Before Getting a TEFL Certification Online You might be ready to start shopping for TEFL providers, but do this first: Determine your goals as an ESL teacher. “You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher,” Smith said. “You need to be prepared professionally, mentally.” Why Do You Want to Teach ESL? Do a quick pulse check. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish as an ESL teacher. Do you want a career change? A lucrative side gig? To travel and work in other countries? Your answer will determine what type of TEFL certification you’re going to need.  For career changes, proper education is always a good idea. Colleges and universities are big providers of TEFL certifications, and some degrees even include them. If you don’t have a degree in TEFL, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College provide the most comprehensive certifications — referred to as the CELTA and the Trinity, respectively. These programs are only offered in-person. (Full disclosure: I earned a CELTA before teaching English abroad. It was the most intense program I’ve ever experienced.) But if you’re eyeing a temporary side gig, you may not want to shell out the money for an expensive, in-person certification to teach ESL online. Almost all accredited TEFL certifications will require an in-person component, usually a 20-hour teaching practicum at a local language center or school. However, as members of ESL advice forums will tell you, most online employers don’t check or require accredited certifications with in-person practicums (for now). Lastly, one of the most effective ways to earn money while traveling is by teaching English abroad. Requirements vary by country, though it’s good to have a bachelor’s degree plus an accredited TEFL certificate with a teaching practicum. Latin American and Southeast Asian countries have laxer rules and may not require a degree or a TEFL certification. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Private tutor 8/20/19 @ 1:27 PM How Can Someone Living in the Heart of Africa Make Money Online? 8/20/19 @ 1:23 PM Passive Income 8/9/19 @ 1:07 PM Extra Income 4/10/19 @ 3:01 PM B See more in Make Money or ask a money question What Does it Take to Become TEFL-Certified? The majority of programs simply require that applicants are 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma. Native English fluency isn’t required, as TEFL certifications are popular credentials for foreign English teachers as well. But a high level of English fluency is required to participate in top-tier programs (C1 or IELTS Band 7, for the ESL nerds). Programs may vary slightly, but quality programs should include at least 120 hours of coursework with 20 hours dedicated to hands-on teaching to foreign-language-speaking students. These lessons should be observed by a qualified ESL professor. CELTA and Trinity programs are graded on a pass/fail basis while some online hybrid programs may include quizzes and a passing score of 60%.  How Much Do TEFL Certifications Cost? Depending on what program you choose and what your goals are as a teacher, costs will range widely. A fully online TEFL certification can run for $9 on Groupon, but you should know that it’s unaccredited. Online ESL teachers tend to purchase Groupon programs simply for a certification code that they add to their job applications, which can boost hourly pay toward the $25 mark. But if you plan to teach in person or long-term, skip the bargain bin programs. Pro Tip Plan to teach English in person? Get a TEFL certification with an in-person practicum to boost your confidence and gain real-world teaching experience.  The “brand name” TEFL certifications, aka the CELTA and Trinity, run between $2,000 and $3,000. These programs are internationally recognized and are more suited for career ESL teachers. Most accredited TEFL programs are usually half that price: around $1,100. “A true, university-level TEFL class could not possibly run under $1,000,” Smith said. How Do You Know If a TEFL Certification Online is Legit? Online TEFL providers are everywhere. They’re quick. They’re cheap. And most of the time, they’re unaccredited. Some companies aren’t transparent in their accreditation, which means they probably aren’t legit. In some program listings, you’ll see the words “self-accredited,” Smith said. “Which — needless to say — means just about nothing.” Price is another factor. The cheaper the price, the higher the chance the program is unaccredited. That doesn’t mean, however, that expensive programs are automatically legit. Shady providers can just as easily charge more money to give an air of quality. If the program costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, confirm that it’s run by an experienced professor and that the company holds a recognized accreditation.  The most popular accrediting bodies for TEFL programs are: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) British Council Chartered College of Teaching (formerly College of Teachers) Training Qualifications U.K. (TQUK) The World TEFL Accrediting Commission Popular accredited TEFL providers include: Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) International TEFL Academy International Open Academy University-run TEFL programs, including the CELTA and Trinity You owe it to your students to be a good teacher, to be a trained teacher. You need to be prepared professionally. The list is by no means exhaustive. If you stumble upon a program that you’re unsure of, search the website for an accreditation seal or license number. Still unsure? Contact the accrediting body directly to confirm that the provider is legit. If you’re only shelling out $9, you may decide it’s not worth your time. But if you come across an expensive TEFL program that isn’t mentioned above, be sure to check for accreditation.    Most accrediting bodies require TEFL providers to include a practicum to receive accreditation. One notable exception is International Open Academy’s TEFL program, which is fully online. The Penny Hoarder confirmed with [...]
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These 6 Stores Buy Used Clothes. Here’s How to Get the Best Cash Offer

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These 6 Stores Buy Used Clothes. Here’s How to Get the Best Cash Offer
Do me a favor and take a quick look in your closet. Overflowing, right? Well, there’s a solution to that problem: selling your used clothes.  It’s a win-win, and you don’t have to wait for a spring-cleaning binge to get started. In fact, you should do it seasonally to stay in vogue.  So tear a page from the Marie Kondo playbook and make one big pile of all your clothes. Yes, even your winter gear from the living room closet. Definitely the swimsuit collection. And all the baby shower clothes that you never even used, too. You may surprise yourself with the amount of clothes you have once you get them all in one place. Kondo recommends that as you sift through your stuff, you ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” Nope? Then sell it.  Where to Sell Used Clothes Plenty of apps and websites like Poshmark, Threadflip, Etsy and eBay allow you to sell used clothes online. But maybe you don’t have the technical know-how (or the patience) to do it yourself. Don’t fret. There are several other brick-and-mortar places to pawn off your used clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories — even baby clothes, toys and supplies — to get cash in your pocket by the end of the day. Uptown Cheapskate Want to pop some tags? Uptown Cheapskate is your place. It’s located in 21 states and is a cross between a trendy boutique and a thrift store for young adults. You can sell or trade in men’s and women’s clothes at any of its locations. Trade-ins get 25% bonus store credit.  Brands that do well at Uptown Cheapskate include Urban Outfitters, Levi’s and H&M. If you’re unsure if your clothes will fit in style-wise, visit its website for more info on trending brands and styles. Buffalo Exchange Founded back in 1974, Buffalo Exchange has remained family owned as it has expanded to 18 states and the District of Columbia. The company is a firm believer in reusing and recycling clothes to reduce waste and pollution (and save cash). Each store also partners with local charities.  Pro Tip If you don’t live near a Buffalo Exchange, the company also has a sell-by-mail program. Buffalo Exchange accepts a wide array of clothes for both men and women — vintage, athletic wear, plus sizes and more. Contrary to its name, it does not accept bison at this time. Sorry in advance. Clothes Mentor Clothes Mentor is a one-stop shop for fashionable women’s clothing sized 0 to 26 and maternity wear. It’s a hub for those who want designer brands without designer price tags. Clothes that sell well include Armani, Banana Republic, Saks Fifth Avenue, White House Black Market and others. Shoes, accessories, jewelry and handbags are also accepted. Clothes Mentor has 136 stores across 30 states and, at certain locations, offers personal shoppers who tailor outfits to suit your tastes. Plato’s Closet Ah, the ole standby, Plato’s Closet. You may not have known this was a clothing exchange store, but it’s likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of one of its more than 480 locations in North America — probably tucked between your local Chinese buffet and the grocery store. Plato’s is Winmark Corp.’s most successful clothing exchange franchise, and it’s aimed at teens and young adults. Everyday styles from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, H&M, Nike and Obey are typically in demand.  FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Extra Income 4/10/19 @ 11:01 AM B This mom needs work! 8/12/19 @ 9:14 AM L Anyone have experience doing an Air B N B? 8/11/19 @ 8:16 AM Passive Income 8/9/19 @ 9:07 AM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Plato’s Closet also buys athletic wear, shoes and accessories.  To see if your wardrobe surplus is a good fit for Plato’s, browse its website for other brands and styles that sell well. Style Encore Another solid option from Winmark Corp. is Style Encore. It’s like Plato’s sibling, only slightly older and more sophisticated. Style Encore accepts women’s clothing from brands like Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach and Kate Spade. Like Clothes Mentor, Style Encore has personal stylists to help you look like a million bucks (without spending a million). It’s Winmark’s newest clothing exchange brand, so locations aren’t as comprehensive as Plato’s. Double-check the store locator to find the closest one to you. Once Upon a Child Last but not least in Winmark’s clothing resale portfolio is Once Upon a Child.  It’s no surprise that child care expenses are a budget buster, but this store can help keep costs down when it comes to baby clothes, supplies and even furniture.  In addition to children’s clothes sized preemie to youth 20, Once Upon a Child will buy used cribs, cradles, strollers, baby electronics, halloween costumes and toys. Even more good news for parents: You won’t have to look very far. Once Upon a Child has more than 380 stores across the U.S. and Canada. Local Consignment Shops If none of the above stores fit the bill, you can always try your nearest consignment shop.  These shops work a little differently than clothing exchanges, because consignment stores may not pay you until your item sells. That means it’s unlikely you’ll walk out with a pocketful of cash. It’s also difficult to predict what brands they will buy, because most local stores don’t have databases and metrics to go off of. Sales are often based on personal taste or season. But hey, anything is better than leaving unused clothes tucked away in the furthest corner of your shelf for years to come.  How to Get the Most Cash From Your Clothes Some things are guesswork when trying to sell your clothes. Stock and styles change, so it’s hard to say for sure which brand or outfit will sell. However, there are a few things you should always take into consideration, no matter the item or the store.  Following these few guidelines will ensure you get the best quote possible. Clean and Fold Your Clothes If it seems like I’m wagging my finger, it’s because I’m wagging my finger. Almost every store listed above recommends washing your clothes before taking them in. Since your payout is based on an associate’s quote after they carefully check each item, you don’t want dirt or food caked to your shirt. It’ll definitely go in the “no” pile. Pro Tip In general, to keep colors bright, you can soak your clothes in salt. Only wash them as needed — inside out and in cool water to avoid fading. Likewise, super wrinkly clothes come across as unwashed, and you don’t want to give that impression. So be sure to fold them neatly before taking them in. Use a Nice Basket or Hamper to Carry Your Clothes Quick! What do you think of when you see trash bags? Trash, right? Not clothes.  Presentation matters. The associates checking your clothes don’t want to sift through trash bags. So after you’ve washed all the clothes you want to sell, fold them and place them in a basket, hamper or box that you can take to the store.  Check for Damage or Pit Stains If you were a shopper, would you buy a shirt that had pit stains or a missing pocket? Didn’t think so. The stores work the same way. They don’t want damaged, stained or heavily faded clothing. Before you take your clothes in, examine [...]
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Thousands of Jobs For the 2020 Census Are Now Open. Here’s How to Apply

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Thousands of Jobs For the 2020 Census Are Now Open. Here’s How to Apply
The 2020 census requires a massive, temporary workforce to get every American counted. A job that once involved clipboards and file boxes now utilizes mapping software and smartphones. All together, the census will employ more than 500,000 temporary and part-time workers. Hiring has already begun. And get this: pay ranges from $13 to $30 an hour. Pay rates vary by position and location, but you can find the ranges for your state and county via this electronic form on the census site. If you speak a second language, you’re even more in demand. The census is looking for bilingual workers and those who live in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations so that “our census takers look like the neighborhood we’re counting,” Jeff Behler, regional director of the Census Bureau’s New York Regional Office, said in a story on Census.gov. If this sounds like the gig for you, fill out the online application.  To be eligible for the jobs, which include census takers, office staff and recruiting assistants, you must meet the following qualifications: Be a U.S. citizen who’s at least 18 years old. Have a valid Social Security number and email address. Pass a criminal background check, including fingerprinting. Have the flexibility to work days, evening and weekends. If you’re a male born after Dec. 31, 1959, you must be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption. Be able to count to 329,402,583. Just kidding — that’s a little census humor for you. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder who covers interesting careers and job benefits. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed reporting. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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The 60/20/20 Budget Puts Needs Before Wants. Here’s How to Try It

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The 60/20/20 Budget Puts Needs Before Wants. Here’s How to Try It
I always thought the right budget breakdown was the tried-and-true 50/30/20 method, where 50% of my monthly take-home pay goes toward living expenses, 20% toward savings and 30% toward whatever I want.  But when I finally got a financial advisor, I was surprised to hear that his recommendation wasn’t 50/30/20 after all — it was the 60/20/20 budget.  During our first meeting, we discussed all of my finances. I explained to him that I own a home in a costly state (hello, New Jersey), commute to work in New York City, aim to save a large amount every month and have little debt.  With all of this and more in mind, his recommendation of the 60/20/20 budget made perfect sense. I immediately became a huge fan of how the money I save and spend on whatever I want is equal — each 20%.  Plus, knowing I was allowed 60% of my monthly budget for my living expenses, I had a little more flexibility over my fluctuating bills like groceries and electricity.  How Does the 60/20/20 Budget Work? Let’s say your monthly take-home pay is $4,000. According to the 60/20/20 budget, you should allot 60% (or $2,400) to your monthly living expenses, 20% (or $800) to savings and then 20% (another $800) to your personal wants.  It’s not much different than the 50/-30/-20 budget, but it puts more of a focus on fixed expenses and savings than personal wants and spending. My financial advisor, Northwestern Mutual insurance agent Nicholas Verard Zanoni, said this method can help you build structure into your budget and learn how to save.  “This is a rule-of-thumb guideline to start out with and visualize,” Zanoni said. “Whether it’s 50/30 or 60/20, it’s really just splitting hairs in a lot of ways. Ultimately, my goal is to help coach my clients at first to spend 80% and save 20%.” When you take a step back and look at how much of your take-home pay goes into each of these three buckets, you can better analyze your spending in order to make smarter savings decisions. How to Get Started With the 60/20/20 Budget If you’re ready to use the 60/20/20 budget, start by taking inventory of your finances. Write down every monthly expense you can think of and keep track of them in a spreadsheet. Then look at how much you’re spending through the lens of the 60/20/20 budget.  From there, consider using a financial app to help you find ways to cut back and save even more. “People should focus on treating their savings like a bill, an obligation and not so much of an option,” Zanoni said. “Focusing on fixed expenses and saving helps identify the money that might be being spent unnecessarily or without much recognition. More often than not, most individuals are not aware of all of the things they spend money on.” FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T TRIM Services 8/5/19 @ 1:32 PM L Hi 8/2/19 @ 3:42 AM J See more in Budgeting or ask a money question How the 60/20/20 Budget Helps You Be Aware of Your Spending  This budget could help you be more aware of your spending habits, especially when you’re doling out the dough for things you don’t really need (hi, super cute sweater from H&M) or that you’re not using (hello, monthly streaming subscriptions). Instead of equally spending $800 on savings and $800 on your personal wants, perhaps you’d want to put $1,000 toward your savings and only spend $600 on your personal wants. That would shift the 60/20/20 budget to 60/25/15, and you’d be saving more.  “In order to reach the goals we have for ourselves, we very typically find that we need to increase savings to 25 or 30% over time to reach those goals,” Zanoni said. “People may not be able to start out at 20%, but that’s what we want to help them achieve and work toward at first. Over time, we will need to be saving more as we continue to progress in life every single year.”  Lastly, Zanoni said to keep your goals in mind and consider working with a financial advisor who can help you stay on track. “Focusing on that budget and making sure that they work with someone to help optimize that budget for all of their goals is really the most important part,” Zanoni said. Budgeting is all about finding ways to set yourself up for financial freedom. Starting now can really make a difference in the future. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Nicholas Verard Zanoni is an insurance agent of NM. Hilarey Wojtowicz is the senior career and finance editor at Swirled, a lifestyle newsletter and website that helps millennials learn everything they need to know in order to truly start adulting. 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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Getting a Bonus? Here’s How Much You’ll Really Get After Taxes

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Getting a Bonus? Here’s How Much You’ll Really Get After Taxes
There’s nothing like a nice bonus to make you feel a bit better about your day job. Whether it’s the year-end check that makes holiday shopping a little less stressful or just a reward for your great performance, a bonus is always a welcome windfall. Of course, when you earn money, you almost always have to save some of it for Uncle Sam. So how are bonuses taxed, exactly? How Are Bonuses Taxed? Here’s What the IRS Says According to the IRS, that bonus of yours is “supplemental income,” a category that also covers commissions, overtime pay, prizes, retroactive pay increases and more. Supplemental income is subject to a slightly more convoluted withholding pattern than your regular wages, depending on how much of a bonus you earn and the way in which your boss disperses it. How Normal Bonuses Are Taxed In most cases, a bonus is paid and identified separately from your regular wage by your employer — and in that case, your employer can use a couple of different methods to calculate the tax withholding. Option 1: A flat 22% of your bonus is withheld. Pretty simple — and nice, if you earn enough money to put you in a higher income bracket overall. (Not so nice if you’re in the 10% or 12% brackets, though.) Option 2: If your bonus is added into a regular paycheck, your employer can use the aggregate method, which is a little more complicated. Basically, the withholding for the total check amount is calculated as it normally would be per your income bracket and W-4 information, and then your employer subtracts the amount that would be withheld on a regular paycheck.  For instance, if you get a check for $4,000 — a $3,000 bonus on top of your normal $1,000 wages — your employer would calculate the amount you’d be taxed for $4,000 in regular wages. Say that amount was $300, and you normally see $50 of your $1,000 check withheld. In this case, your employer would subtract the $50 from the $300 to get a total withholding of $250. How Bonuses Over $1 Million Are Taxed OK, this might sound unrealistic for most of us, but here’s the rule: If you earn more than $1 million in supplemental wages, the first $1 million will be taxed at the regular 22%, and then the remainder will be taxed in your regular income bracket… which in this case is 37%. Ouch. But then again, you’re earning a million-dollar bonus, so maybe you’re not that worried about it. FROM THE TAXES FORUM 401k contribution 4/17/19 @ 5:45 PM B Tax Settlement Firms - Legit? 4/11/19 @ 5:43 PM W Disability 4/4/19 @ 7:39 PM I've a question about Federal and State Taxes 3/30/19 @ 7:56 PM See more in Taxes or ask a money question Why You Could Get Some of That Money Back Keep in mind that if your employer doesn’t specify that the extra cash is a bonus and just lumps it all in with your regular pay, it’ll be taxed at the same rate your regular paycheck would be, without any fancy mathematical acrobatics.  And although the bonus is subject to specific tax rules when it’s paid, when Tax Day comes, it’s treated just like any other kind of income. That means you could earn some of your bonus back in the form of a refund if your tax return shows too much was withheld for your total taxable income level, after accounting for deductions and credits. No matter how it’s taxed, a bonus is basically free money you weren’t expecting. And you don’t have to worry about your bonus catapulting you into a higher tax bracket, either — because even if it does, only the money above that bracket threshold will be taxed at the higher rate. Although it can be frustrating to see part of that check disappear into the ether, focus on the positive: the sudden cash infusion! Jamie Cattanach is a writer whose work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Her focuses include personal finance, travel, body image and more. She writes to find (and share!) the best ways to live intentionally, adventurously and happily. 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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Here’s How a Health Savings Account Can Help You Save on Health Care Costs

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Here’s How a Health Savings Account Can Help You Save on Health Care Costs
When signing up for health insurance through your job, you may have been given the option of opening an HSA, or health savings account.  An HSA isn’t like a regular savings account. For one thing, there are a bunch of rules around how you can contribute and spend the money. But it can be a very useful and convenient way to set aside money for medical expenses while potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run. Here, we’ll explain how HSAs work and how they can benefit you. What Is an HSA?  The first thing you should know about an HSA is that you need to have an HDHP in order to qualify for one.  An HDHP stands for a high deductible health plan. With high-deductible plans, you generally pay less in premiums but have to meet a high annual deductible before your plan pays.  A deductible is the money you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in and starts providing certain benefits. Your premium is the monthly fee you pay to get health coverage. You can’t open a health savings account with just any health plan with a high deductible. According to the IRS, the deductible has to be no less than $1,350 for an individual or $2,700 for a family to qualify as a high deductible health plan in 2019. Those deductibles can go as high as $13,500 for a family. In addition, you can’t be enrolled in Medicare, have other health coverage or be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in order to be eligible to open an HSA. But if you do meet all those criteria, you’re in. So what’s the big deal about having an HSA anyway? The Benefits of an HSA A health savings account allows you to save money for various medical expenses without being taxed on that money. Any savings you don’t spend in a current year rolls over to the following year, and the money in your HSA stays with you even if you switch insurance plans, change jobs or retire. If you have this benefit through your job, your employer can direct a portion of your paycheck to your health savings account before taxes are taken out. If you make contributions to your HSA with income that’s already been taxed, you can deduct that money when filing your income taxes. “The advantage of contributing through payroll is you save not just federal and state income taxes but you also save on FICA taxes,” said Paul Fronstin, director of the health research and education program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Acronym alert: FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act. Your FICA taxes are what you pay to fund Medicaid and Social Security. You also aren’t taxed when you spend HSA dollars, provided you’re spending the money on qualified medical expenses. The IRS has an entire list of qualified expenses, which includes things like: Deductibles Copayments Prescriptions Dental care Eye glasses Chiropractic care Breastfeeding supplies  You’ll usually receive a debit card or checks to spend your HSA money, but in some cases, you’ll have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed later. When you spend money from your HSA, make sure to save receipts, your explanation of benefits forms or other types of documentation.  “You don’t have to send any documentation to your HSA provider,” Fronstin said. “The IRS requires that you have documentation, and if you get audited, you’re going to need that documentation.” Another benefit of having a health savings account is that you don’t have to pay taxes for any earnings from your account. “If you open an HSA, the money goes into a bank, and it earns interest like a bank account,” Fronstin said. “The interest rates are not high, but once you have a certain amount of money in your account… your HSA provider will likely permit you to invest that money in mutual funds.” Besides all those tax benefits, another upside of an HSA is that your employer — and other individuals — are allowed to contribute to your account. Can you say free money? The IRS does cap how much can be contributed to an HSA in a given year, though. In 2019, you can contribute up to $3,500 for individuals or $7,000 for families. If you’re 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Best ways to save money in shopping 7/23/19 @ 1:09 PM Free Food Giveaways - Do you participate 7/20/19 @ 12:07 PM Traveling 1/26/19 @ 9:01 PM S Summer Is Here: Is Your Electric Bill Affected by Running the AC? 7/17/19 @ 4:08 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question The Challenges With HSAs One thing to keep in mind when you have an HSA is that you may be charged a fee to maintain your account. Also, if you use the money for something that’s not a qualified expense and you’re younger than 65, you’ll be taxed on it plus you’ll be hit with a 20% penalty.  After you reach age 65, you can use your HSA savings for nonmedical expenses without incurring a penalty, but you’ll still be taxed for it. Other challenges exist — not with having a health savings plan directly, but with having a high deductible health plan. Deciding which health insurance is right for you and your family is a personal decision, Fronstin said, and opting into a high deductible health plan won’t be the right choice for everyone.  Some people aren’t able to pay for health costs out of pocket before meeting their deductible and having insurance benefits kick in — resulting in people forgoing medical care to save money. High deductible health plans have also been criticized as being more for young, healthy people who don’t need much medical care. Standard preventive care, like getting your annual checkup, is generally covered under a high deductible health plan without having to reach your deductible. But patients who have ongoing medical needs could end up spending a lot of money before getting any benefit from their insurance. However, recent changes made by the federal government expanded the list of what’s considered preventive care and now includes 14 treatments, medications or devices for people with ongoing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. “These plans became a little more friendlier for people with chronic conditions,” Fronstin said. 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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Here’s How to Pay Off Student Loans 5 Years Faster Without Getting a Second Job

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Here’s How to Pay Off Student Loans 5 Years Faster Without Getting a Second Job
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re so ready to fire off an angry Tweet at Netflix every time our bill goes up a buck. So why is that so many of us won’t take a mere seven minutes right now to chop thousands of dollars off our student loans. Here’s the thing: You’ve probably had the same student loan company since you had acne and were eating ramen in the dorm room. And we get it. It’s easy to just let these things slide. But chances are, your student loan company is overcharging you. And something as simple as switching loan companies could help you shave hundreds of dollars off your monthly payments. The best way to find a better deal is to use Credible. It’s sort of like Kayak — but for student loans. It looks at your options from up to eight companies to make sure you have a loan that will give you the lowest monthly payment and the fastest payoff time. If you’re even a little curious, it only takes two minutes to see if Credible can help you pay off your student loans faster. Chances are, you’re going to find a better deal than what you originally signed up for. And that could mean saving as much as $350 a month — and paying your loans off five years faster. How She Shaved $350/Month From Her Student Loan Payments Sarah Ann Stanley, a 32-year-old product manager in Minnesota, was forking over $500 a month in student loan payments. Plus, she was paying close to 8% interest on multiple loans. Then, about two years ago, she looked into other options and decided to refinance — or replace her multiple loans with a single new one. Her interest rate was now 6.22%. Yes, that’s less than a 2% difference, but it shaved $350 a month from her monthly bills. Oh, and now she only had to manage one bill — not several. “I didn’t want to be 45 and still paying student loans,” Stanley says. “Now that won’t happen.” After a second refinance, Stanley is now able to pay off her loans five years ahead of schedule and save even more on interest. “Because so much of our money goes to this, it’s worth pushing the envelope and fighting for yourself and finding a better deal,” she says. Luckily, Credible makes it easy to fight for yourself — and who doesn’t want to get out of student loan debt a few years sooner? 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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Should You Consider Medi-Share for Health Insurance? Here’s Our Take

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Should You Consider Medi-Share for Health Insurance? Here’s Our Take
If you’ve heard ads for Medi-Share, you might be intrigued by its promises to cover your health care costs. Curious? We looked into the details to find out how Medi-Share works — and whether it’s a good option for you. Here’s our honest, unbiased review of the program. What is Medi-Share? Medi-Share is a health-care sharing ministry made up of members united by their faith. This program and similar medical-sharing ministries rely on their members to take care of one another through financial contributions, as well as prayer.  The details work much like typical health insurance. Like having a deductible, members choose an amount they’ll contribute as a household before they can submit bills to the community for payment assistance.  A monthly share payment works like a premium, ensuring your eligibility for assistance, should you need it. There’s no guarantee your medical expenses will be covered through Medi-Share, and there are plenty of exemptions to consider before you apply.  But if you’re particularly religious — and healthy — you may want to consider this alternative to traditional health insurance. How Much Does Medi-Share Cost? First, the up-front costs: It costs $50 to apply, and you’ll pay a $120 one-time member fee with your first monthly payment. You’ll pay another one-time fee of $2 to set up your “sharing account.”  As for your monthly payment options, Medi-Share’s system is sort of like choosing a health insurance deductible and monthly premium.  As an example, we calculated costs for a 30-year-old woman seeking membership for herself only. Share amounts change annually, based on the oldest member of the household. If she chose a $1,750 annual household portion — the amount of medical bills you have to pay completely before you’re eligible for sharing — her standard monthly share would be $311.  If she met certain health and fitness requirements, she could qualify for a Healthy Monthly Share, which would lower her cost to $277 per month.   When you need medical care and visit a Medi-Share provider, you pay $35 for doctor visits and hospitalizations, and $200 for emergency room visits.  You submit the rest of your bills to Private Healthcare Systems (PHCS) for payment consideration.  “We do not collect premiums, make promise of payment, or guarantee that your medical bills will be paid,” the Medi-Share website explains. “Sharing of medical bills is completely voluntary.”  Christian Care Ministry, which operates Medi-Share, is a 501(c)3, but your payments aren’t tax-deductible.  Do You Need to Be Religious to Use Medi-Share? Just as Medi-Share embraces the idea of a community of members supporting one another, it also believes in having a membership that embraces Christian lifestyles. The organization may even interview a church leader to verify your involvement before granting you membership. In addition to eschewing tobacco and illegal drug use, applicants “must only engage in sexual relations within a Biblical Christian Marriage.”  And as you might suspect, Medi-Share doesn’t cover abortions or treatment for sexually transmitted infections.  Medi-Share also assumes that if you’re willing to take care of your Christian community by sharing the burden of medical bills, you’ll do your best to take pretty good care of yourself. Some health conditions, like obesity, high cholesterol or diabetes, put applicants in the mandatory Health Partnership Program, which pairs you with a health coach and costs an extra $99 per month.  What If You Have an Ongoing Health Condition? While this might be an appealing option if you’re healthy, anyone who suffers from a chronic health issue is probably better off turning to an ACA health insurance program for coverage.  “The primary purpose of Medi-Share is to help share members’ burdens,” the program explains. “Burdens are those unexpected medical bills you are unable to plan for (ie. broken bones, cancer, etc). Low monthly share amounts enable you to budget for your family’s routine care, which can be planned.”  Prescription drugs can be eligible for cost-sharing, but only for up to six months for the lifetime of the member. Behavioral and mental health care are also ineligible for coverage. This includes psychiatric or psychological care, as well as “counseling or care for learning deficiencies or behavioral problems,” such as ADD or autism. But here’s the big catch: Routine health screenings aren’t eligible for cost-sharing either.  Well-patient care like annual physicals, pap smears and well-child checkups aren’t included. Dental and vision care aren’t eligible, either.  For instance, if your doctor recommends getting a colonoscopy because you’ve reached a certain age, you can’t submit the test for Medi-Share payment. If you have symptoms warranting the same test, the program might grant payment.  FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM do it yourself 7/19/19 @ 1:16 AM Summer Is Here: Is Your Electric Bill Affected by Running the AC? 7/17/19 @ 12:08 PM Do You Ever Pick up A Stray Penny? 2/7/19 @ 12:27 PM Do drive-in movie theaters save you money? 7/1/19 @ 3:38 PM See more in Save Money or ask a money question So, Is Medi-Share Legit? Here’s our conclusion: Medi-Share isn’t a scam.  It’s totally legal and there’s a strong membership base to support it and similar programs. But it’s likely not the most affordable health care option for most people. The ideal candidate for Medi-Share is in excellent health and also has a robust savings account to pay out of pocket for routine medical care. One risk: Medi-Share and other cost-sharing programs aren’t subject to regulation like typical ACA programs.  So while a typical health insurance benefits booklet might clearly explain what’s covered and guarantee coverage up to a certain amount or percentage, Medi-Share participants might not be able to figure out ahead of time which medical bills will be paid by the program. While Medi-Share probably isn’t the best financial choice for most people, it does at least serve as an option for anyone who doesn’t have access to a job-sponsored health insurance plan or who finds individual ACA coverage options prohibitively expensive. 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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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something

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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something
The resurgence of Pokemon — thanks to a new movie and video game set for release soon  — has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards. And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune. The 1996 video game-turned-Japanese-anime-turned-trading-card-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte, 31, collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world. “I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings. Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million. Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Pokemon Cards Worth Selling The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition. In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur. A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card. The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of. If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth. According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000. So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated. “It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.” In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering. “There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia. Especially so online. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM How I Get 5/6 Customers To Leave Reviews (All Positive) 7/11/19 @ 6:26 PM S Need advice on working from home 6/14/19 @ 12:35 PM Pls help 7/9/19 @ 1:33 PM tutoring business 6/16/19 @ 10:17 PM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Where to Sell Pokemon Cards After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell. “The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.” The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top. As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight. “It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says. Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare. Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.” “If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.” But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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The Demand for Medical Coders Is on the Rise. Here’s How to Land a Gig

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The Demand for Medical Coders Is on the Rise. Here’s How to Land a Gig
After two years of following a doctor around the office as a medical assistant, Raina Diaz was ready for a change. “I wanted to be part of the back end of the medical field,” says Diaz, 47, of St. Petersburg, Florida. She enrolled at her local state college, where she learned that becoming a medical coder could be a way of staying in her field without being on the front lines. Now as a certified coder she analyses clinical statements and assigns standard codes using a classification system.  “I like the solitude, keeping busy reading the reports and figuring everything out,” says Diaz, who specializes in radiology.  According to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for medical coders is expected to rise 13% by 2026 due to an aging population that will require medical care. The average median salary of a medical coder in 2017 was $39,180.  With demand in this occupation increasing, we spoke with professionals working in the field and the classroom about how to become a medical coder. First, What Does a Medical Coder Do?  Before you receive a bill from a hospital or a doctor’s office, a medical coder processes your medical chart. The chart contains your diagnosis, treatment plan and other relevant information. It’s the job of a medical coder to review those records and put the relevant information into a coded classification system, says Kengia Sabree, the health information technology academic chairwoman at St. Petersburg College.  “The purpose of coding is to help reflect the severity of illness,” she says. “So if you’re not coding correctly, you’re not necessarily capturing how sick the patient is or all of the resources the hospital is using to care for the patient.”  Once all the information is coded, it’s sent to the billing department so the hospital or doctor’s practice can bill the patient or their insurance company.  What Kind of Credentials Do I Need?  The two organizations that provide coding credentials are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).  Each specializes in different areas of coding: AHIMA focuses on inpatient coding used in hospitals, while AAPC focuses on outpatient coding for physicians’ offices or clinics.  Pro Tip Aspiring coders should have an idea before they begin their studies of what kind of setting they want to work in so they can pursue the right certification. If you’re interested in following the hospital track, look into obtaining the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) entry-level credential through AHIMA. But if working in clinics or outpatient centers sounds like a better fit, then go for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) entry-level credential with AAPC. Obtaining the CCA can demonstrate that you know the basics of coding, but it may not open up all hospital job opportunities. The Certified Coding Specialist credential (CCS) is a more advanced certification that requires on-the-job coding experience before you’re eligible to take it.  “If you want to advance in a hospital, you’ll need a CCS after one year in the field,” Sabree says. Do I Need a College Degree for Medical Coding? Sabree says aspiring medical coders have two options to consider when they begin their studies. They can take the core classes needed to prepare for the CCA exam, or they can earn a Health Information Technology associate of science degree — the parent degree for medical coding. Students who want to get into the workforce as quickly as possible should pursue a medical coding certificate, Sabree says. This certificate program includes essential classes like anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, intro to health information management, coding classes and field experience.  While that may be the quickest way into the field, Sabree encourages her students to stay and get their two-year associate degree. If the coder ever decides to go into management or move up the ranks in a hospital, they will need to obtain the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification. “It may be a little bit easier to earn the associate’s degree in the beginning to prevent you from having to go back to school,” she says.  Plus, any extra experience and schooling in the beginning can give your resume a boost when applying for those competitive entry-level jobs.  “It’s a very difficult profession to be in without some good educational background and experience,” said Melissa Myrick, director of health information management at BayCare Health Systems in Clearwater, Florida. “We turn away coders quite often based on not having enough education and background for our positions.” Both Sabree and Myrick warn potential coders to research coding programs thoroughly before enrolling and make sure they’re accredited. “We see so many billboards and flyers about becoming a medical coder in 10 weeks or six months,” Sabree say. “Those are what I call the fly-by-night programs. There’s something that you always have to keep in mind wherever you go: [The schools] have to be programmatically accredited.”  Check to see if the school or certificate program is recognized by AHIMA or AAPC. You can check your school’s accreditation through CAHIIM here or AAPC here.  FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Part-Time Remote Opportunities 6/21/19 @ 2:36 PM A Make money watching videos 5/30/19 @ 1:00 PM D Sell photos 6/24/19 @ 7:40 PM Earning Money 6/24/19 @ 5:18 PM A See more in Make Money or ask a money question How to Become a Medical Coder – Who Is Actually Employed Once you have your degree and credentials, it’s time to start applying for jobs. Sabree tells her students to look for positions such as “coding apprenticeships,” “coding level one” and “coding trainee.” “Those are the coding positions that are geared toward people without having the experience, and then the facility typically guides you from there,” she says. Some medical facilities give exams to figure out which types of coding are best for the new coder. X-rays, electrocardiograms and emergency room coding are typical entry-level coding gigs. Myrick says most coders will need to start there before moving to more complex specialties.  In recent years, the option to work from home has become more available. Sabree says some places are hiring people to work remotely right away, while others require coders to meet productivity goals before giving them that option. Who is best suited for this line of work? Lifelong learners who are interested in medicine. A Word About Automation Like many professions, computer automation is disrupting the medical coding field. Computer-assisted coding already does some of the work that humans used to do. But not all of it, and that’s key. Simply put, computer-assisted coding, or CAC, automatically generates medical codes directly from clinical documentation. And with the advent of electronic medical records, where every piece of a patient’s information is contained in a unique field rather than scribbled in a doctor’s handwriting, it’s easy to see how computers can do that work. But there’s always the possibility for error, [...]
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If You Really Need a Private Student Loan, Here’s How to Do It Responsibly

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If You Really Need a Private Student Loan, Here’s How to Do It Responsibly
If you need to borrow money for college, you’ll want to start with federal student loans instead of private student loans. What’s the difference? Private loans typically come from lenders like banks or credit unions and tend to be more expensive, while federal loans come from the government and offer flexibility, with options like income-based repayment and loan forgiveness. However, you might need a private student loan if you can’t borrow enough in federal loans to cover your tuition and other college costs. If that’s the case, make sure to shop around for a good interest rate. One quick and easy way to do that is through Credible. Credible is a private-student-loan marketplace where multiple lenders will compete for your business. Whether you’re a student or a parent who’s co-signing a student’s loan, you can type in some basic information and see multiple loan offers within minutes. You can compare loan terms and interest rates, which start at 3.99% APR for variable-rate loans and 4.50% APR for fixed-rate loans.  It’s important to get the best interest rate you can find, because interest rates for private student loans can rise as high as 14%. A lower interest rate could save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Checking out these competing loan offers won’t hurt your credit score because Credible only does a soft credit pull to find you your pre-qualified rates. If you find a loan you like, you can apply directly on the site. Plus, none of your info is shared with the lenders until you’ve chosen a lender and loan option that’s right for you. So you really have nothing to lose by shopping around. Comparison-shopping is always a good idea, whether you’re looking for a new car, a new phone or a student loan. Credible makes it easy. Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Here’s What to Do When You Hate Having a Full-Time Job

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Here’s What to Do When You Hate Having a Full-Time Job
Confession time: I’ve spent my life quitting jobs and avoiding full-time employment. In fact, since my first job 35 years ago, I’ve never been employed full-time for more than a few weeks. I’ve enjoyed many jobs for short periods of time, but I actually hate traditional employment. You might secretly feel the same. You might say “I hate my job” whenever you have to go to work. You may suspect you’ll hate any future replacements. But you still have to pay bills, so what can you do? What Should You Do If You Hate Your Job? Assuming you want to avoid living in poverty as a strategy (although it worked for me for a while), here are some other options for what to do when you hate your job. Reduce Your Fixed Expenses If you live on less, you can cut your hours or replace your full-time job with a part-time one. Alternately, you could save enough money to allow you to simply quit jobs more often — either for a break or to look for better ones. Stop spending money on gadgets, meals out and other discretionary expenses. But cutting back in these areas might not make a big enough dent in your budget, since you have to pay rent, car payments and other big expenses regularly. So first, look for ways to reduce large fixed expenses. Develop New Income Sources If your ultimate goal is to never need a job again, you have to develop other sources of income. Here are some basic categories of non-employment income: Freelancing Start your own business Investing Money projects Try to diversify how you make money. For example, my dozen income sources one year included freelance writing, income from websites, hard money loan interest and more than $3,000 from credit card and bank sign-up bonuses. Room rentals paid off my first mortgage, so I cut back to one or two weekly work days, living largely off rental income. Your ultimate goal is to develop enough income to completely replace your paycheck. But if you cut expenses and generate even some non-employment income, you can work less or change how you use your jobs to make them more tolerable. Work Only Part-Time Jobs Once you develop enough extra income, you’ll have the freedom to work only two or three days per week. If it’s not possible with your current employer, find a different part-time job. Or just quit and take a break, which leads to your next option. Make All Jobs Temporary I’ve never considered a job as more than a temporary assignment — a way to make enough money to quit and take some time off before the next assignment. This approach makes jobs much more tolerable. To be safe, wait until you have enough money coming in from other income sources, so the paycheck from any job will cover the rest of your living expenses. You can also sign up at a temporary job agency. Some offer “day labor” positions that are low-pay, but you can take them as needed. Others offer placement in potentially permanent positions, but you can always quit when you’ve had enough. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Sell photos 6/24/19 @ 7:40 PM Earning Money 6/24/19 @ 5:18 PM A Make Money Asking Questions On Quora 4/26/19 @ 4:28 AM Employment in the trades 6/20/19 @ 3:41 PM See more in Make Money or ask a money question Live Well on Less If you learn and use strategies to live like you’re rich on a small budget, you have many of the above options available — even if you only develop a little non-job income. Or… Get Rich Quick and Quit Forever If you commit yourself to getting rich early in life — and succeed — you can quit work. Just invest your money and live on the returns. If that appeals to you, look over some real-life examples of the fastest ways to make $1 million, or check out this story of a couple who retired in their 30s to live off their investments. 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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Here’s How You Could Get Homeowners Insurance for $25/Month (Seriously)

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Here’s How You Could Get Homeowners Insurance for $25/Month (Seriously)
Fires, lightning and hail. Windstorms, vandals and burglars. If you own a home, you need insurance to protect it from threats like these. Heck, if you have a mortgage on your home — like almost all of us do — you’re required to have homeowners insurance. And if you have homeowners or renters insurance, it’s a fact that you might be paying too much for it. That’s because insurance companies are notorious for charging wildly varying rates. Try shopping around. Start by getting a free quote. You literally have nothing to lose by doing this. We recommend checking out the online insurance company Lemonade, where renters insurance starts at $5 a month and home insurance starts at $25 a month. While homeowners insurance starts at $25, that doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Your ultimate price will depend on factors such as your home’s size, location and age; and the coverage amounts you choose. It’s just that Lemonade starts out at an affordable level. Here’s how easy it is to get a quote. You can do it all online, and it won’t hurt your credit score. Click “Check Our Prices.” Meet Maya, Lemonade’s friendly bot, who will ask you a few questions. Once you complete the application, you’ll receive a quote within a minute or two. Lemonade is a Transparent Beverage Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a charitable cause of your choice. That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be conflicted about granting customers the claims they deserve — because the money isn’t going into its pockets. Homeowners insurance covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it gets damaged by fire or the kind of natural disaster insurers call “acts of God.” When you borrow money from a bank to buy a house, it’ll require you to insure that asset. Renters insurance covers the cost of replacing your possessions if they’re stolen or damaged by fire or vandalism. Most don’t cover flooding. Exactly what it covers depends on the policy. Here’s what else to know about Lemonade: There are no insurance agents. You do the whole thing online through Lemonade’s website or through its Apple or Android apps. You sign up and make claims online. It’s available in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. You can get discounts for having safety equipment, such as fire and burglar alarms. It’s easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. When life gives him lemons, he squeezes them in people’s eyes. 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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Here’s a Less Expensive Alternative to the Beach for Summer

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

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Want to Get Paid to Deliver Food? Here’s How to Get Started in 3 Minutes
The workplace as we know it is changing… and now I’ll tell you the sky is blue! Seriously, though, as you’re well aware, the gig economy is booming. That means earning a paycheck doesn’t have to happen within the walls of your 9-to-5. In fact, some people do away with it altogether and take up several side jobs, instead. One of our favorite options? You could get paid to deliver food with Postmates, one of the few app-based side gigs that will pay you 100% of your earnings. That means there are no annoying service fees, booking fees or transaction fees to deduct from your pay — the money you worked for goes directly into your pocket. All of it. And because there will always be someone who wants a milkshake but doesn’t want to drive to go get it (ahem… me), your money might add up faster than you think. Getting started only takes a few minutes. Land Your Next Side Gig In Only 3 Minutes It took us about three minutes to sign up when we tried it. But it could be less, honestly, if you happen to speed through it. What’s great about signing up to join Postmates’ fleet is how simple the process is. You don’t need to stress about the hassle of scanning in forms of identification, and you can forget about finding the right lighting to get a photo of your license verified. So what do you need? Just your driver’s license and Social Security card nearby — unless you already have both those numbers memorized, in which case you’re a God-tier human. After that, you’re all set to provide this basic information and authorize a (free!) background check: Email address First and last name Full address and phone number Vehicle type and drivers license number Social Security number and date of birth Then, you upload a selfie, and you’re done. Fini. Terminado. Once you complete the sign-up process, Postmates will ship you a welcome kit (a free delivery bag and a prepaid card to make your purchases) to help get you set up for deliveries. Link the card to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money. Postmates lets you decide how much or little you want to drive, and when. So in a way, you’re your own boss. And because this is so epic, I’ll say it again: you get to keep 100% of your earnings, tips included. (That’s where it differs from other apps.) Pro Tip To maximize your earnings, deliver during Postmates’ recommended weekday peak hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Demand is always high on weekends, so log some hours then, too! Whether you’re on two wheels or four, you’re welcome to deliver takeout, groceries or alcohol. Just, you know, make sure you have enough room to hold the requested items. So, Cliffs Notes: You can get started in three minutes or less; you get to keep 100% of your money; and no one even has to get in your car. No awkward small talk, for the win! The Postmates Fleet app is free, and it’s available on iOS and Android. Creating an account is easy, so you’ll be making extra money before you know it. Beep beep! Farrah Daniel is an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder. She tested the sign-up process for this article and is excited to receive her welcome kit. 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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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something

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Here’s How to See If Your Old Pokemon Cards Are Worth Something
The resurgence of Pokemon — thanks to a new movie and video game set for release soon  — has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old collection of trading cards. And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune. The 1997 Japanese anime-turned-trading-card-game-turned-video-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte, 31, collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world. “I’ve done 7-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings. Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million. Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Pokemon Cards Worth Selling The two biggest value factors to consider about old Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition. In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur. A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the rarest and most sought-after cards. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but exclude the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card. The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The price it fetches depends on how well the card has been taken care of. If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help determine a card’s worth. According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000. So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated. “It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.” In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering. “There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia. Especially so online. Where to Sell Pokemon Cards After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell. “The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.” The PSA’s grading system and authentication make selling online much easier. This process allays fears that the card is a fake and curbs arguments over its true condition. Each authenticated card comes in a protective case with the grade and barcode clearly visible at the top. As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight. “It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says. Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare. Pratte offers this caution about getting rich overnight: “Be realistic.” “If you put in little or no effort back in the day,” he says, “you probably don’t have the homerun card.” But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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