This Woman Made $1,200 in a Season With a Home Garden Business. Here’s How

Finding myself utterly broke and apparently unemployable a few years ago, I decided that if I wanted to work, I would have to start my own business.

Since I didn’t have any startup money or business experience, I was forced to narrow down my ideas to the bare skeleton and ask myself two questions:

  • What resources do I have already?
  • What do I already know how to do?

Not much. I didn’t have a degree or own anything valuable I could sell.

But I was living with my parents, with a roof over my head, food to eat and a few acres of grass and trees at my disposal.

And I knew how to garden.

How to Sell Plants and Start a Gardening Business

In the Midwest, trees pop out of the ground each spring, just to get mowed over by well-meaning suburbanites, who flock to nurseries and garden centers to pay big bucks for new ones to plant.

I decided to take advantage of this cycle. Armed only with determination, a spade and a wheelbarrow, I began digging and potting.

I made a small profit the first year. It helped pull me out of “brokedom,” but it was nothing to brag about.

However, the realization of money actually can grow on trees inspired me to go full force the next season.

That year, I made $ 1,200.

Think you want to give it a shot? Here’s what to do:

How to Choose Plants

Chances are, if you have any kind of garden or yard, you have perennials growing out of control.

Carefully thin these out and repackage them, and you’ve got your stock.

Pro Tip

Want to give gardening a try before you buy? Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. have seed-sharing programs free to patrons. Most programs only ask that you return some seeds from your yield.

I can almost guarantee you when friends hear about what you’re doing, they’ll offer you their own overrun gardens, too. Four of my friends did!

You can make small investments, too, such as raising tomatoes from seeds in early spring. Plus, the fruit that demands to be a vegetable also offers some of the biggest bang for your gardening buck — cherry and heirloom tomatoes offer some of the highest ROI among veggies.

Where to Get Compost

I was fortunate that my parents’ yard already had several compost piles in its corners — all I had to do was dig for limitless black soil.

If you don’t have one, here’s how to start a compost pile in your backyard.

How to Create Containers for Your Plants

Like most families who garden, mine had an arsenal of used plastic containers in our garage. I went through those first.

Throughout that first winter, I checked every container in the recycling bin to see if I could cut off the top and poke holes in the bottom.

Pro Tip

Wrap newspaper around containers like coffee canisters to form cheap seed-starter pots. Customers can plant with the pot still on — the paper will gradually break down in the ground.

I broke a knife in the process, but by spring I had enough containers for the entire season. Quite a few customers even brought me their extra containers at no cost.

Capitalize on the fact you’re only using natural methods and reused containers — customers will be happy knowing they’re helping the environment.

Fertilize for Free (Almost)

There’s no need to buy fancy, expensive supplies from a garden center.

An elderly woman taught me this simple hack: Set up an old garbage can under a gutter to catch excess rain water. Throw eggshells in and cover it with a lid.

Pro Tip

Let your fish feed your plants. Use the dirty water from a freshwater aquarium (and the accompanying fish waste, full of beneficial bacteria) to fertilize your plants for free.

Use this to water your plants. The nutrients from the shells provides them with all they need to flourish.

Make Your Presentation Perfect

My setup soon spread from a bench alongside the garage to cover the entire back porch and parking area.

I put the plants in sections and made sure there was space to walk between them so customers would feel comfortable. I set up a tarp for the shade plants.

Keep your “store” looking nice by keeping it clean and weeding out any droopy daisies (or other dying plants).

Be available and friendly to customers — explain what the plants are and how to take care of them. Do your research!

Price to Sell

I kept pricing simple: Most plants were $ 3, or two for $ 5. Large plants were $ 5, and nothing ever went over that price.

If people bought a lot of plants, I’d give them a few for free.

For example, if their total came to $ 70, I’d just ask for $ 60. You’ll be surprised how quickly the money adds up, even at these prices!

Don’t Forget Advertising

I advertised on Craigslist every few days, posting a detailed description of what I had in stock, how to find the store and prices.

I always added nice pictures of my best-looking plants.

Pro Tip

Connect with your customers on picture-heavy social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Include photos of your prize plants as well as gardening tips to create a community of loyal fans.

Be sure to provide a phone number in case customers have questions or can’t find you.

And in case you were wondering, I also hung up some old-fashioned posters around town and looked into newspaper advertising. Neither was effective.

Before You Get Started, Consider These Factors

Potting plants and taking care of your store takes time and muscle, but if you enjoy working outdoors, this could be the business for you.

You’re also at the weather’s mercy. My third year in business, it rained nonstop all spring, and I sold almost nothing.

Running your own business also can be mentally stressful. Frankly, for the number of hours you put in, you might make more money working for minimum wage as a cashier or server. You’ll have to motivate yourself to keep things running and turning a profit.

But at the same time, there’s nothing like the freedom and satisfaction of being your own boss.

Stephanie Spicer is a freelance writer, filmmaker and artist.

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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Final ‘Dark Phoenix’ Trailer Threatens the X-Men Universe: Here’s Everything We Know

Final 'Dark Phoenix' Trailer Threatens the X-Men Universe: Here's Everything We Know

An all-new take on a classic X-Men comic book story, Dark Phoenix looks set to establish its own ground rules when it hits the big screen. The action-adventure revolves around Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is affected by a powerful cosmic force while on a rescue mission, becoming far more unstable than ever before.

The final trailer offers a further peek at action sequences that look truly spectacular, along with greater insight into Jean Grey's plight and the extent of the threat to…

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First ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Teaser Reveals a Major Villain’s Return; Here’s Everything We Know

First ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Teaser Reveals a Major Villain’s Return; Here’s Everything We Know

A fairly short time from now, in a theater not too far away, Star Wars: Episode IX is hitting the big screen to close out the Sequel Trilogy and the “Skywalker Saga” as a whole. This movie is going to be a big deal, not only as the finale of a nine-part story (excluding spin-offs and animated features) but supposedly also as the last time we'll be seeing Original Trilogy characters and the last time we'll be hearing an original score from John Williams. …

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Here’s why you’ve been feeling hay fever symptoms early this year

Uh oh…

cold remedies
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Words by Maisie Bovingdon

Hay fever sufferers have been warned to stay inside over the Easter bank holiday because pollen count will be at an all time high, with hay fever starting THREE weeks earlier than usual this year.

Yes, if you’ve been feeling the symptoms, this will explain it.

The UK was hit with the warmest winter on record – remember those unusually hot February days? Well, that has caused havoc for those allergic to pollen.

The rise in temperatures coupled with the dry and windy Spring days has created a breeding ground for pollen, and the mini heatwave earlier this year has triggered the early release of birch tree pollen, which affects one in four hay fever sufferers.

sleep trackers

Expert Doctor Jean Emberlin told Metro: ‘It was a very warm February and it certainly gave the trees a big boost in terms of catkin development.’

Thankfully March’s frosty mornings, which saw mercury plummet on the thermometer, may have saved us and halted a really REALLY early hay fever season, although it didn’t stop the dreaded months of sniffling and itchy eyes completely.

The hay fever season usually hits in the second week of April, but this year the dreaded sneezing and itchy symptoms started at the end of March, now going on for the next few months.

Now, time to stock up on tissues and hide from pollen!

The post Here’s why you’ve been feeling hay fever symptoms early this year appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Do You Have A High School Student? Here’s A Program That Can Help Change Their Life.

Disney Dreamers

Source: Disney Dreamers Academy / Courtesy of Disney

When invited to cover the Disney Dreamers Academy hosted by Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I haven’t been to Disney since I was in high school and I didn’t think I would get caught up in all the “magic.” Boy, was I wrong. The weekend ended up being inspiring, enthralling, and yes, magical.

First off: Disney holds nothing back in helping the high performing kids in attendance dream even bigger. The program is hosted over a weekend, with kids arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday. The weekend is jam-packed with events, but the best part is that their all in the interest and the betterment of children. Each year, Disney and Essence chooses 100 kids to come for the inspiring weekend. The kids are allowed to bring one parent or chaperone for the event (yes, all of their amenities are covered as well).

Upon arrival, I dropped my things off and immediately rushed to a luncheon followed by a press conference where Tracey Powell, Vice President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and DDA Executive Champion gave opening remarks along with Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications who explained what would occur over the weekend. Disney Dreamer Alumni also spoke to get current Dreamers excited for the weekend.

Disney is all about the magic and even if you think you’re not going to feel it, they will make sure you do! There is a daily parade at the Magic Kingdom and Disney organized to let the Dreamers’ lead it. Very cool and exciting for the kids. Afterward, the kids have an option to go to a Deep Dive. Deep Dives happen throughout the weekend with the kids being able to explore area of interests and connect with experts and leaders in that field.

Disney Dreamers

Source: Disney Dreamers Academy / Courtesy of Disney

In addition to Deep Dives, the weekend also consists of a lot of motivational speaking. Princeton Parker, Mikki Taylor, Lisa Nichols, Yolanda Adams and more poured words of strength, encouragement and love into the students. I surveyed the room and you could just see the kids sitting straighter, off their phones, and minds turning. The greatest part is that a lot of these speakers are returning speakers. Mikki Taylor helped found the program and Lisa Nichols also spoke to the students last year.

Of course, kids don’t just want to hear from adults, so the Dreamers’ Academy also brought in Black-ish stars Marcus Scribner and Miles Brown to talk about how they deal with balancing their dreams, enjoying being kids throughout the fame, and more.

In an interview with Steve Harvey. We discussed how the program had evolved. He reflected on past years and how he had met so many parents that had “poured everything into their children and forgotten about their own dreams.” Harvey admitted to being a “big dreamer” and still dreaming at 62, so he found it important to also make sure that parents were still doing the same. There were organized “Parent Tracks” to allow parents time to reflect, learn, and grow. The whole event felt like a family reunion. There was a family dinner and on Sunday, the commencement felt more like a Sunday church service.

Disney Dreamers

Source: Disney Dreamers Academy / Courtesy of Disney

Yes, throughout the busy weekend there is still time to enjoy Disney and all the parks. It’s a lot of work and character building, but also an equal amount of magic and play. The event is diverse, with kids of all races and a range of high school ages in attendance. This is like a hyped up summer camp and after speaking to Dreamer Alumni, they still keep in touch with people from their cohort.

If your kid or a high schooler you know is looking for an opportunity to ensure their future is bright, encourage them to apply to Disney Dreamers Academy. I wasn’t even a part of the program and left incredibly inspired by the students!

 

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Here’s some free advice for Democrats running against Trump in 2020

The first Democratic candidate for president who says “what my party did before and after the last election was wrong. We should be ashamed” might have a chance to beat Donald Trump in 2020. But that person will only have a chance if the most important issue for the 2020 race goes the Democrat’s way…
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Here’s Why There Was A Flying Tortilla During the National Championship

Leave it to a piece of food to crash the national championship game.

Someone flung a tortilla onto the court during the national championship in Minneapolis on Monday night, and apparently it’s not the first time an incident like this has gone down.

As the Virginia Cavaliers faced off against the Red Raiders on the hardwood during the first half, a tortilla landed in the Texas Tech section to be picked up by Virginia’s Kyle Guy who gave it to a referee. The game even had to be paused.

People were – it may not surprise – surprised to see the tortilla enter the arena.

Who throws a tortilla? And why?

Here’s why tortilla throwing at Texas Tech is a thing.

The genesis of the obscure tortilla toss fan “sport” began when Texas Tech football students started flinging the plastic tops to their sodas on the field back in 1989, according to Viva the Matadors.

Tortilla throwing at Texas Tech endures

Then the tradition morphed into tortillas for a

“in a little bit of cheeky fun, tortillas were thrown before the game. The Red Raiders went on to upset the Aggies, and we just kind of kept on doing it before games after that.”

Evidently, the flat tortillas were “cheap, and fairly easy to hide on your person.”

But the disruptive tortilla wasn’t the only flatbread in the house. And multiple tortilla-holding fans had their traditional tokens confiscated.

The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Red Raiders 85 to 77. But shout out to the tortilla, a real most valuable player shaking up the night.

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Kumail Nanjiani Joins Angelina Jolie for Marvel’s ‘The Eternals’; Here’s Everything We Know

Kumail Nanjiani Joins Angelina Jolie for Marvel's ‘The Eternals'; Here's Everything We Know

Less than a year ago, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told The Wrap that The Eternals was "one of many, many, many things that we are actively beginning to have creative discussions about to see if we believe in them enough to put them on a slate." Now, the possibility has become a reality and Eternals is moving forward to the next level. 

While there’s still no release date announced, The Eternals does have writers and a director in place…

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Here’s how to copy Sabrina Spellman’s goth berry lip on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Here’s how to copy Sabrina Spellman’s goth berry lip on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


Here’s how to copy Sabrina Spellman’s goth berry lip on <em>Chilling Adventures of Sabrina</em>

With season two of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina officially available now—have we lost you to a Netflix binge yet?—we’re pumped for not only brand-new episodes of satanic witchery, but for even more drool-worthy makeup looks, too.

The show’s head makeup artist, Candice Stafford-Bridge, recently spoke to Allure and dished on Sabrina’s now-signature look. Specifically, the dark lipstick that’s become her go-to.

Since Sabrina joined the Church of Night, we’ve seen her in a dark berry matte lip, which Stafford-Bridge explained is Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte Lip Colour in Very Prive. The $ 90 lipstick (yup) is the only dramatic part of Kiernan Shipka‘s look on the show, an intentional move on the makeup team’s part. “She can raise the dead, but I wanted to be true to a 16-year-old high school girl and make her makeup believable,” Stafford-Bridge told Allure.

If shelling out $ 90 for a lipstick sounds less than magical to you, shop four dupes for Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte Lip Colour in “Very Prive” below.

Colourpop Sashay Lux Lipstick

Colourpop Lipstick in Sashay
Colourpop
Colourpop | $ 7


For only $ 7, you can’t afford to not scoop this one up.

M.A.C Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Sin

M.A.C Cosmetics in Sin
M.A.C Cosmetics
M.A.C Cosmetics | $ 18.50


A classic, tbh.

NYX Cosmetics Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen

NYX Cosmetics in Copenhagen
NYX Cosmetics
NYX Cosmetics | $ 6.50


The beautiful deep shade is available in NYX’s beloved matte formula.

Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Cherry Bomb

Wet n Wild Cherry Bomb
Wet n Wild
Wet n Wild | $ 2.69


For under $ 3, this gorgeous lipstick probably costs less than your morning coffee.

The post Here’s how to copy Sabrina Spellman’s goth berry lip on <em>Chilling Adventures of Sabrina</em> appeared first on HelloGiggles.

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Here’s How to Manage Your Credit Like a Millionaire (Even If You Live on Ramen)

You dream big. In fact, you imagine dining on caviar while relaxing on a yacht.

Nevermind that you are actually chowing down on some ramen on your futon. It’s all a state of mind, right?

Yes and no. Take that state of mind just a bit further and start practicing what you dream. You know that if you want to make it big, you need to manage your credit score, so why not start do it like a millionaire?

Thinking like a millionaire when it comes to your credit score could help you get closer to living your caviar dreams. Here are a few tips:

1. Pay Your Credit Cards On Time and Get Paid Back

Paying your credit card bills in full each month is an absolute must if you want to boost your credit score. In a perfect world, you’ll pay off your balance every one or two weeks to keep your utilization low (more on that below).

So why even use them?

If you get the right credit card, it will pay you back. Look for credit cards that have no annual fee but offer rewards like cash back, travel points or some other perk.

If you’re not sure which credit card is right for you, Credit Sesame can help. Credit Sesame, a personal credit-score management service, can pair you up with the best credit cards to keep your credit score healthy.

Using credit cards helps you build a credit history. Paying them off boosts your payment history. By choosing the right card, you could also be flying first class or treating yourself to a bottle of bubbly with your rewards.

Now that’s living rich.

2. Have More Credit Than You Use

Can you imagine the credit limit on a millionaire’s card?

Now, do you think they use all of that? To keep your credit score in great shape, keep your credit utilization below 30%. That means, however much credit you have available through credit cards or lines of credit, only use 30% or less.

To find out what your credit utilization is, log into Credit Sesame. It breaks your credit score down into separate categories and grades them so you can see exactly what needs attention. If your credit utilization gets an “A,” great! If not, Credit Sesame will offer suggestions to better manage your credit.

Even if you’ve let your credit card debt accumulate, take a deep breath. Using Credit Sesame helped this mom pay off nine credit cards and climb out of debt.

If you’ve been good and have been paying your credit cards on time, consider asking the credit card company to increase your spending limit. Here’s the millionaire trick: When you get more credit, don’t use it.

True, you won’t be able to buy a new boat with your card and keep your credit utilization under the desired threshold, but you could probably buy a pretty nifty boat hat. You know, dress for success.

3. Let Your Credit Age Like a Fine Wine

Did you know credit age is a factor in your credit score? Credit Sesame says creditors and lenders like to see an average account age of more than five years.

So, if you are closing out those store cards you haven’t used in a while, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Let them be. In fact, it can be a good idea to charge something on them at least once or twice a year, just to keep the account active and in good standing.

So what happens if you need to get a new loan or credit card? It could bring your score down temporarily because it’s brand new, but don’t fret. Just keep a few older accounts open to keep that average age where you want it. Just one credit card that’s 15 years old can help offset the effect of new credit.

Credit age, while important, only accounts for 15% of your score, so be mindful of it, but don’t lose sleep over it.

4. Diversify Your Credit Like It’s a Millionaire’s Portfolio

You always hear how important it is for an investor to diversify their portfolio. Why? Because if you have millions of dollars in investments, you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket.

Another sneaky part of your credit score is your credit mix. This is based on the types of credit and debt you carry, like car loans, mortgage, credit cards and student loans. Having a diverse credit history shows lenders you have the ability to handle different types of accounts, and that helps boost your score.

Should you go buy a house on a whim like a movie star just to get a mortgage into the mix? Of course not.

But if you’re looking at a home remodel of some type or other expense, consider getting a loan rather than putting it on a credit card. For example, Jerry Morgan told us Credit Sesame helped him realize a car loan could improve his score.

Boom. You’re diversified and rocking your credit score like a big-wig.

5. Be Smart When Shopping Around

Do you think millionaires just buy whatever they want without looking at the cost? A few, maybe, but most of them didn’t get to be millionaires by being frivolous with their money.

And neither should you. If you’re thinking about buying a car or a home, shop around to see who will give you the best interest rate. A few percentage points can mean a lot of money over the course of a loan. Most online marketplaces can give you quotes without impacting your credit score.

To avoid applications and inquiries that could hurt your score, use Credit Sesame to check out your personalized buying power. This shows you what credit cards, loans or mortgage amounts you will likely qualify for before you apply.

Give Your Credit Score the Millionaire Treatment

You don’t have to rake in millions of dollars to have a credit score that shines like the hood ornament on a Mercedes. Just give it a little love and attention and it could actually help you get a little bit closer to that millionaire life.

By managing your credit and boosting your score from good to excellent, you can open opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can get that great mortgage rate. You can get an auto loan rather than buying a beater off Craigslist.

To see where you credit score is right now and to learn how to manage it, sign up for Credit Sesame. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s the coach you need to manage your credit like than a millionaire.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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 Angelina Jolie said about running for President

Exciting much?

Angelina jolie instagram debut
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Angelina Jolie is one of the most talked about people in the world, and from her Academy Award winning acting roles and her motherhood skills to her humanitarian work, Ange has truly proven that she can do it all.

It’s hardly surprising therefore that people were quick to throw her hat into the ring as a presidential candidate.

While Angelina didn’t bat the rumours away, reportedly telling People ‘never say never’, when asked if she was running for office, it unfortunately doesn’t look like it’s on her to-do list now.

‘Right now I am looking to others for leadership,’ the humanitarian explained.

Angelina Jolie

Rex

Why? She’s got her hands full.

‘If you look across the world, there are far too many women and girls who are not only not seeing progress, their rights are slipping away from them,’ Angelina continued to tell People. ‘One of the things we are putting forward now is a proposal for a permanent international body to investigate war crimes, including mass rape and other sexual and gender-based violence.’

This isn’t the first time Angelina has been rumoured to be running for President, with the actress asked back in 2014 in an interview with Good Morning America if she would ever consider it.

Ange’s response? ‘You know, if I thought I’d be effective, I would. But I’m not sure if I would ever be taken seriously in that way, and be able to be effective.’

Well as Angelina said, never say never!

The post Here’s what Angelina Jolie said about running for President appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Rachel Weisz and David Harbour Join Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’; Here’s Everything We Know

Rachel Weisz and David Harbour Join Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’; Here's Everything We Know

Fans have been begging Marvel for a Black Widow movie for almost a decade, and now the dream is finally coming alive. The presumably eponymously named Black Widow will feature Scarlett Johansson in the title role, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, whom she's portrayed already in eight installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including this year's Avengers: Endgame. 

Joining Johansson on screen for the solo superhero movie are an exciting ensemble of varied talents….

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Sharing an HBO password for ‘Game of Thrones’? Here’s what you need to know.

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It’s April, and a very specific chill lingers in the air: Game of Thrones Season 8 is about to premiere, and your tragic ass doesn’t have an HBO account. 

Luckily, someone you know almost certainly does have an account. The only real question then is just how cool HBO is with people sharing passwords. The short answer? Kinda. The long answer? Well, we’ll get to that.

The first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones is set to drop on April 14, at which point a large number of people will remember that they do not, in fact, have access to HBO’s content. No cable package, no HBO GO, and no HBO NOW. And, just as quickly, they will remember that a friend does.  Read more…

More about Hbo, Streaming, Game Of Thrones, Hbo Now, and Hbo Go


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Got an Idea for a T-Shirt? Here’s How to Earn Money From It on the Side

Josh Waldron is usually skeptical when he hears stories about people making colossal amounts of money working side hustles.

While killing time at an airport in February 2017, he read an article about how a man made $ 10,000 per month selling T-shirts online using print-on-demand services, which allow people to sell without owning a print shop. Waldron’s doubts washed away as the article laid out the business model.

The process seemed carefully documented and could be replicated on a smaller scale. “So that’s why I was willing to jump in,” he says.

Later that day, the 34-year-old founder of web-design company Studio JWAL and operator of a miniature golf course in Waynesboro, Virginia, signed up for Amazon’s print-on-demand service, Merch by Amazon. Once he was approved a few months later, he started creating designs.

Waldron says that last year he earned a couple of hundred dollars each month selling his products without dedicating much time to it. Here’s how he and others sell T-shirts online using print-on-demand services.

How Print on Demand Works

Two computer screens show Merch by Amazon

Print on demand is the process of printing custom designs on products such as T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts that are made to order instead of printed in bulk.

These services are appealing to side hustlers because most of the work is done by a third-party company. After setting up a profile, designers can start uploading their designs for review. This is when the designer can preview the shirt to see how it will look and also when the company examines the shirt for any possible trademark violations. After the shirt is approved, the designer creates a product description, sets the retail price and makes it available for purchase.

That’s it for the designer. No need to worry about managing inventory, shipping, returns or customer service. The third-party company handles it all.

This hands-off model is ideal for people like Terri Broussard Williams, 40, of Austin, Texas, founder of Movement Maker Tribe, a political and philanthropy blog. She uses print-on-demand services to create merch associated with her blog and public-speaking work. She always wanted to sell merch but had no idea how to go about it until learning of Spreadshirt. She opened her shop in August 2018 and now makes $ 100 per month from her designs.

One of the trade-offs with these services is that your profit margin will be slimmer because the company is doing a majority of the work.

Waldon says if he lists a T-shirt for $ 16.99 on Merch by Amazon, he earns $ 3.11 per shirt. The higher the retail listing price, the higher the cut for the designer. (Each print-on-demand service is different; to help you decide which service is best for you, we’ve highlighted below some of the pros and cons of different companies.)

Do I Need a Graphic-Design Background?

A young woman holds open her jacket to show a T-shirt with a message.

Even though it helps to have a background in graphic design, it is possible for people with no Adobe Photoshop experience to sell shirts. “I’ve tried, but I failed miserably,” Broussard Williams says of her attempt to learn Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Instead, she outsources the design work to a graphic designer she’s worked with in the past, and they collaborate on shirts. Overall, she’s spent about $ 200 outsourcing her design work. If you don’t know any graphic designers, Waldron says, you can find freelancers on services such as Fiverr or Upwork.

But if you don’t want to outsource your designing, there are options. You can read articles and watch YouTube tutorials from experienced online T-shirt sellers to learn how to use creative suites such as Photoshop and Canva, a program that allows you to use royalty-free fonts to create images.

“So I think it’s doable for anyone,” Waldron says. “I feel like for me it’s definitely easier because I can just hop into Photoshop and kind of put an idea together. But there are other alternatives if you don’t have Photoshop experience.”

Tips for Success

Below are some tips for starting off in the print-on-demand T-shirt industry from people who have been successful.

Put Your Stuff Out There

Newbies trying print-on-demand for the first time need to be bold and brave, Broussard Williams says.

“You’re selling [a] product, and you’re putting it out for the whole world to see, so for some people that might be intimidating,” she says. “It might be easy to assume that no one wants to buy your message, but I’ve learned people do.”

If your designs are not selling right away, don’t fret. Stacy Caprio, 27, who lives in Chicago and runs the website her.ceo, started selling T-shirts on services such as Merch by Amazon, Redbubble, Printful and Printify in early 2017. She says it took over a month to earn her first sale.

“Test it for a month. Put some [designs] up and see if you get any sales because I think that’s the best way to see if that’s something you want to continue with,” she says.

Caprio has experience using multiple print-on-demand services to sell her designs. Although she no longer actively uploads new designs on these services, she still earns between $ 200 and $ 300 per month in residual income.

Find Your Niche

A man poses for a picture in front of his home office

When coming up with designs, remember that the riches are in the niches. If you’re into a particular activity or hobby, then focus on that topic, Waldron says. In the beginning, he had a difficult time getting his golf-themed T-shirts noticed because that category was saturated with competition. One topic he noticed early on that didn’t have much competition was bowling. Waldron says his wife is a great bowler, so they brainstormed designs and phrases that appealed to bowling fans.

He says the more specific the niche, the less likely you’ll face competition from other designers. So find a topic and put your efforts into creating the best designs possible.

Have Great — Original — Designs

Waldron warns people to be careful when it comes to trying to create designs based on trending topics. You might have an excellent idea for a shirt that involves a celebrity or current event, but you might not be able to use it.

“It gets tricky because something’s probably been copyrighted, so the easiest ideas are just the ones that you come up with on your own, like purely out of the dark, and then you can go online and you can check the trademark database,” he says.

You can look up trademarks by going to the the United States Patent and Trademark Office Website and using the Trademark Electronic Search System. There you can search for certain terms and phrases to see if someone owns an active, or live, trademark or copyright.

Also, a simple Google search will help to see if someone has already beat you to the punch and created a T-shirt with a similar idea.

Waldron says he learned early on that Merch by Amazon doesn’t play around when it comes to trademarks and copyrights. One of his designs was a vector image of a character that had some slight similarities to the superhero Iron Man holding a golf club iron. He says he tried to make him look not too “Iron Man-ish,” but the design didn’t pass. “They squashed that one pretty quick,” he says.

Don’t Neglect Your Product Descriptions

After your design has been created and approved, you don’t want to ignore your product descriptions and titles. “If you put all the energy into making a cool shirt and then you do one sentence for your description, you’re kind of wasting the little real estate that Amazon gives you,” Waldron says.

For example, let’s say Waldron is uploading a funny bowling T-shirt about the 10 pin, a pin that right-handed bowlers have trouble hitting. He’s not going to title it “10 Pin T-shirt.” He’s going to call it “Funny Bowling T-Shirt -10 Pin Design,” or something similar.

The goal is to think like a shopper and anticipate how they would search for your item if they didn’t know it existed, he says.

When writing the description, make sure to include part of your product title, such as the saying on the T-shirt, if there is one. He says, for example, “Are you looking for a great bowling gift for your family or friends? This ‘Living on a Spare’ T-shirt is the perfect gift, and sure to generate laughs at the bowling alley.”

Print-On-Demand Services to Consider

A smiling woman wears a T-shirt with a message on it.

A couple of quick Google searches will reveal several companies offering print-on-demand services.

Each of these services has its own pros and cons regarding product quality, profit margins, audience size and speed of shipping.

Below is a list of some print-on-demand services, with details from people who have used them.

Merch by Amazon

Amazon’s print-on-demand service is the biggest player on the block, according to Caprio and Waldron. Caprio says she preferred using Merch by Amazon over other services because of Amazon’s massive built-in audience and its reliable product-delivery service.

One of the most significant hurdles is that you must go through an application process to sell on the platform. Caprio waited six months for approval. Waldron says he was approved in about two months and credits his web-design experience for giving him an edge.

Here’s where you can find out more about Merch by Amazon.

Printful

Printful features many high-quality T-shirts and items to put your designs on. The service has a profit calculator available so designers can see how to price products to obtain their desired profit margin.

Printify

Printify allows designers to save 20% on their costs with an optional premium membership for $ 29 per month. Caprio says it’s great if your demand is strong and people are buying your items often. Here is a breakdown of the pricing structure for Printify.

Spreadshirts

Spreadshirt has a wide variety of high-quality items and many customization options. Designers can put their images on short- and long-sleeve shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases and more. Buyers have the freedom to select their shirt and font colors. Broussard Williams says she typically earns between $ 2 and $ 3 per shirt.

Redbubble

Redbubble sells baby clothes, greeting cards, wall art and bags in addition to shirts. Caprio liked using Redbubble because it gave her the opportunity to put her designs on unique items such as onesies. Here is a breakdown of the base prices of the items available on Redbubble.

Matt Reinstetle is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers side hustles and the gig economy. Follow him on Twitter @MattReinstetle.

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 ‘Money Buddy’ Can Help You Reach Your Financial Goals

The temptation of chocolate cake is real, but having a pal to cheer you on makes resistance and sticking to your weight-loss goal easier.

The same goes for your financial plans, which is why we love the idea of a “money buddy.”

That’s the person you can share financial goals with, like paying off credit card debt or saving for a house. You can check in together regularly and encourage each other along the way.

Such accountability can actually improve your performance, according to a study published in the Society of Behavioral Medicine. It found that participants who paired up with a virtual partner biked an average of nearly 87% longer than those who rode solo.

And regardless of your goal, simply having someone acknowledge your progress offers psychological benefits, according to Holly Donaldson, founder of Holly Donaldson Financial Planning in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“The gym is a good analogy for it,” she said. “If you have somebody at the gym who counts for you, like your pushups… you’re more likely to do two or three more.

“It reinforces that positive behavior.”

But having a partner also makes it all right to falter without giving up on the bigger goal.

“You have to have someone who’s going to be encouraging even if you don’t make a goal in a specific time frame,” Donaldson said. “You want someone that’s going to say, ‘It’s OK, you’re human.’”

So if you broke your no-spend promise with an afternoon latte, a money buddy is there to encourage you not to throw away your budget — you’ll just start that no-spend plan again tomorrow.

Even if you’ve created a system on your own, regularly checking in with your money buddy allows you to celebrate the wins and recover from the defeats a little more easily. For example, these two friends held each other accountable to pay off a combined $ 70,000 in debt.

Not sure where to find a money buddy who understands the ups and downs of your particular goals?

Whether it’s paying off credit card debt, improving your credit score or saving for retirement, you’ll find the support you need to reach your financial goals by joining our Penny Hoarder Community.

In the Community, you can pair up with another member, share goals with each other and then check in on each other’s progress. You’ll be able to boost each other up on the tough days and celebrate your victories together as a team.

It’s part of our goal to make this the year of Less Money Stress for everyone.

If you haven’t already joined our Community, be sure to check it out. You don’t need to go it alone. And you don’t need to give up chocolate cake.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ Looks Amazing; Here’s Everything We Know

Disney's 'The Lion King' Looks Amazing; Here's Everything We Know

After the monster success of Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book in 2016, Disney announced that the director would take the helm of another "reimagining" of an animated classic, The Lion King. A string of casting announcements followed as we eagerly awaited a peek at footage.

The footage we've seen from the new version so far looks simply amazing. Here's everything we know about the movie; watch the videos below.

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First ‘Joker’ Teaser Will Put a Smile on Your Face; Here’s Everything We Know

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Warner Bros. and DC are definitely keeping things interesting with their comic book movies. Soon after introducing a new Joker in Suicide Squad, a different incarnation of the iconic villain will feature in the standalone Joker. This will be more of a crime thriller than traditional superhero fare and will star Joaquin Phoenix as the eponymous "clown prince of Gotham City."

The studio just released the first teaser trailer for Joker, and this is definitely not your…

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‘Captain Marvel’ Actress Mckenna Grace to Star in ‘Ghostbusters 3′; Here’s Everything We Know

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It’s time to get slimed at least one more time.

Just when the fate of the Ghostbusters franchise seemed up in the air, another installment is in the works. That’s right, as revealed by Entertainment Weekly, Sony is going back to the popular 1980s series that started it all, but the still-rather-secret sequel isn’t totally clear in how it will connect to the old movies starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.

Early this year, Ghostbusters 3 (or whatever the movie will be…

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New Details On The Suspect In The Nipsey Hussle Shooting Are Released By The LAPD; Here’s The Rapper’s Last Message

People don’t really want to hear anything else today besides the details on the tragedy that struck the music industry.

After the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, everyone’s in shock, and people just cannot get themselves together.

‘At approximately 3:20 pm there was a shooting reported in the area of Slauson Ave and Crenshaw Blvd. 3 victims were transported to a local hospital where one was pronounced deceased. We have no suspect info at this time and will provide more details as they become available,’ the LAPD said.

It seems that they also have details on the suspect.

CNN reported that all the three victims had been transported to a hospital and one of them was pronounced dead there, the police said. The other two were in a stable condition.

The rapper’s last message read: ‘Having strong enemies is a blessing.’

Pretty much all of your favorite celebrities have been flooding their social media account with prayers and messages after the tragedy.

Tiny Harris and T.I. had some words and offered their full support for the rapper’s longtime GF Lauren London.

Reginae Carter also posted a message in which she tells Lauren she will be here for her.

‘Rest In Peace Nip 🙏🏾 I love you @laurenlondon. You’re always there for me and just know I’m all the way here for you. Keep your head up! ❤

More and more celebrities are posting messages for the family and praise the rapper’s memory.

Someone wrote ‘She is going to need all of the love and support she can get 😔

Another follower posted ‘My heart breaks for her 💔 I pray God holds you tight in his arms and wipes every tear from your eyes queen ❤ Jesus 💔😭😭

Another sad fan said ‘This is just so sad man. Like ppl just need to stop this evil act. Am praying for Lauren and the kids. Wow…..These monsters don’t belong here.’

An angry follower posted ‘How sad and LAME!! Nipsey was clearly set up, and it was planned!! Really…… he got shot in the head tho?? It was TARGETED, and it happened in broad daylight!! They made sure Lauren London was not at his shop too! The driver was a lady, and the gunman was a man!! Although Nipsey experienced an “impact” to the head and lost his life, his positive IMPACT on the world will live forever!! #HateCrime.’

It’s all just too horrible for words. Stay tuned for more details as soon as they are released.

Meanwhile, please lift Lauren up in heavy prayer and send your love to Nipsey’s family and friends.

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With a bond market signal pointing to a recession, policymakers have a choice: act now or hope that conditions change for the better.
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New ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Teaser is Terrifying; Here’s Everything We Know So Far

New ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Teaser is Terrifying; Here's Everything We Know So Far

If you’re a child of the ‘80s or ‘90s, you’re familiar with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The series of children’s books, written by Alvin Schwartz and initially illustrated by Stephen Gammell, were staples of every boy and girl’s book shelf and provided so many of them with so many nightmares. Now there’s a movie adaptation of some of the bone-chilling tales found in the pages of that iconic collection.

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Here’s what the GOP plans for health care look like

Here we go again.


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Payment History is the Biggest Part of Your Credit Score: Here’s How to Fix It

It happens to the best of us.

Even though you’ve always paid your bills on time, the date slipped past you a few months ago and you just forgot. Or maybe money was tight and you had to choose which bills to take care of and which to put off until your next paycheck.

Now you’ve received a notification that your credit score has dropped.

That’s because missed payments show up on your credit report payment history: A long-term  account of your behavior when it comes to making payments on time for credit items like credit cards, auto loans and mortgages.

Your payment history makes up 35% of your entire credit score.

It’s hard to know what to do in that situation, and when you’re stuck between guilt and anxiety, it’s even harder to figure out how it’ll affect your future.

Can you fix your credit? How long does the missed payment stay on your file?

If you’re struggling with questions like these, or if you just want to know more about what determines your credit, read on.

How Does Payment History Affect Your Credit Score?

Your credit score will be important if you ever want to buy a home, take out a loan for unexpected expenses, or even if you just want to buy a new car.

Your credit score is a way to measure your ability to manage credit, which in general means any long- or short-term loans.

When you look into getting a new loan (like a new credit card, a mortgage or an automobile loan), the lender you approach will use your score to assess things like how much to give you and how much interest to charge.

Your credit score is a three-digit number that usually ranges from 300 to 850. A score between 300 and 550 is considered bad, while a score above 700 is considered good.

But how does payment history factor into your score compared to other influences? Let’s take a look at how your credit score is calculated:

Your Credit Mix (10%)

Are the credit products you manage from a broad range of different kinds of credit? If not, it’s hard to determine whether or not you’ll be able to manage a new credit product. This could lower your score.

Any New Credit You’ve Opened (10%)

Have you recently gotten a new credit product? If so, you could be less suitable for an additional new credit product. This could lower your score.

The Length of Your Credit History (15%)

Are you a new credit customer? Without a long history, it’s hard to determine if you’re creditworthy. This could lower your score.

Your Amounts Owed (30%)

Do you carry high balances on your credit products? If so, a new loan might make you more at risk for missing payments on all of them. This could lower your score.

Your Payment History (35%)

Have you typically made your payments on time? If not, this could lower your score.

As you can see, the average credit score calculation weighs your payment history at around a whopping 35% of your score, even more than how much money you already owe. That’s because your credit score is meant to demonstrate that you can make payments regularly, not necessarily that you have too much debt.

The bottom line is that the single most important thing you can do to keep your credit score in good condition is to pay your bills. Put simply, if you miss payments, your score could decline.

But that’s only part of the story.

What Makes Up Your Payment History?

A closeup of invoices and bills sit next to the corner of a calculator.

First, it’s important to remember that your payment history is just that — a history. Due to the way it’s reported to the credit bureaus, it’s impossible for the information to be immediately up to date. Instead, it can take between 30 and 60 days for any changes to take effect.

That’s why people can often be frustrated when their credit score continues to decrease even though they’re caught up on their payments.

At the same time, it’s a history that reaches far back into the past. There’s an urban legend that if you swallow your gum, it can stay in your system for seven years.

Think of late payments as swallowed gum: Your credit history will have records of late payments up to seven years after they first appear on your file.

(That rumor about gum is false, incidentally. Swallow away!)

Second, to understand what goes into your payment history, you need to know the different kinds of credit available to you. Any of these has the potential to impact your score.

(FYI: The reason it’s not guaranteed that each source of credit will impact your score is that every lender has different policies about reporting to the credit bureaus. It’s always a good idea to assume that any product you have from the list below will affect your payment history.)

Credit Cards

Every credit card you own will affect your payment history, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your billing cycle and make sure you’re making your payments on time.

Retail Accounts

Whether or not you sign up for a store credit card, if you have a payment plan with a retailer, it will likely affect your payment history.

Unfortunately, this is also the kind of account where just having one can be a negative impact on your credit score, even if you’ve already paid your balance in full.

Note that this doesn’t apply to layaway plans where, chances are, you don’t have access to what you’re looking to buy yet, and you’re paying installments in cash.

Automobile Loans

It doesn’t matter if you opt for purchase financing or for a lease, in this case. Both operate in the same way when it comes to your credit, acting as an installment loan. Any late payments will affect your history.

Mortgage or Home Loan

Since a home loan will probably be the largest balance you will ever carry, it’s important that you make payments regularly, not just so your payment history reflects your hard work, but also so you keep up with your financial goals.

Finally, a few other major flags can show up on your payment history that go above and beyond late payments. These are serious issues that you’ve experienced in the past and are known as derogatory records.

Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is an awful experience in itself. It can bring up a host of emotional issues and have financial effects that last for years to come — including your credit payment history.

If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, it can take between seven and 10 years before it is removed from your records, depending on what kind of bankruptcy you’ve declared (Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in which you repay a portion of your debt vs. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which you don’t repay anything).

Not only does a bankruptcy stay on your file, but it has a substantial impact on your score. In fact, after filing bankruptcy, most people will have a credit score below 550. That might not seem so devastating in light of the fact that the lowest scores is 300, but it’s well within the “bad” category of credit.

Collections

If you’ve missed several payments in a row, your lender can submit your account to a collection agency. This can actually open up a new listing on your payment history, which will already be in arrears and negatively affect your credit. Worse yet, a derogatory collections flag can stay on your file for seven years.

How Late is Too Late?

A parking meter shows that time has expired.

Now that you know what kinds of accounts can show up on your payment history, you’re probably wondering what it takes for them to start negatively impacting your credit.

The short answer is that any late payment at all is bad news for you, but only a payment later than 30 days is bad news for your credit score.

That’s because the credit bureaus aren’t looking to punish people for the milder scenarios outlined at the beginning of this article.

Missing a payment deadline by a day or two shouldn’t affect your score, but the longer you let it go, the more that effect will build up.

To help understand how that works, you can look at the way lenders report to credit bureaus in the first place. Think of it as a system of “levelling up” where the higher your level is, the worse off you are.

You start in good standing at level 1.

If you miss a payment deadline (1-30 days late), you technically “level up” from 1 to 2, even though your lender won’t report your payment as late.

If you miss a second payment deadline (31-60 days late), you “level up from 2 to 3,” and so on.

Since your payment history is reported monthly, that means if you end up 90 days late on a payment, you don’t just have a 4 on your history: You can have a 1 from the first month, a 2 from the second month, a 3 from the third month and a 4 from the last month.

That’s made worse by the fact that even a 30-day late payment can lower your credit score by up to 100 points.

Can a Late Payment Be “Fixed”?

The good news is…sometimes.

In general, you have three ways to have negative payment information removed from your payment history. The bad news is that the quickest ones are only useful in specific circumstances.

Write a Goodwill Letter

As I said above, the credit bureaus truly aren’t looking to punish people for making little mistakes.

If you have good credit and your payment history reflects that you have always made your payments on time, but you’ve recently made a mistake that’s caused a 30+ day late flag on your file, you might have a case for getting it removed.

To do it, you can write a goodwill letter to the creditor in which you take responsibility for your mistake but let them know of circumstances that caused you to miss your payments.

Dispute an Error

The other situation in which you have a chance of getting a flag removed is if it shouldn’t be on your file in the first place. It happens.

No system is perfect, and sometimes your payment status is reported to the credit bureau incorrectly.

In this case, you should have proof that you made your payment on time, and reach out to your creditor to have the report changed on your file. It can take persistence, unfortunately, but with evidence, your chances are good.

But You May Have to Wait it Out

Sorry. In every other circumstance, the only way to clear negative reports on your payment history is to wait.

On the plus side, even though it takes seven years to rid yourself of a late payment, the older a flag like that is on your file, the less it will typically affect your score.

This is why it’s so important to actively maintain your credit: Prevention is the best defense.

What’s the Best Way to Prevent Missing Payments?

It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with your bills. Thankfully, in today’s technology-focused future, there are a lot of options available that can help make it easier.

Consolidate Your Due Dates

If you have multiple credit products, chances are you also have multiple due dates. That can get confusing, and while marking them on a calendar or setting a reminder does work, you can also change your due dates to suit your schedule.

Why not set all of your bills to be due on the day following payday, or on the first of the month?

Use Less Credit

OK, this one is cheating – but it makes sense. Since your closed credit accounts still positively affect your credit score, if you pay them off and start paying cash for more things, you can keep your score at its highest.

It might not be realistic for everyone, but it’s an option if you know you’re going to be looking to take out a major loan in the future and need a high credit score to get the best interest rate.

Set Up Auto Pay

For those with a consistent income, this is a godsend. If you’ve struggled to remember to pay your bills in the past, have your financial institution set up automatic bill payments before your credit payments are due.

Keep in mind, though, that this can train you into bad behaviour. If you’ve relied on auto pay for a long time and eventually get a credit product that doesn’t have the option, you could be more likely to miss payments because it’s simply not something you think about anymore.

Check Your Credit

Remember how I said that creditors sometimes make mistakes? The best way to hold them accountable is by knowing your own credit.

By law in the U.S., you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. That means that you could get one every three months to stay on top of your payment history.

Curtis Westman is a professional writer who judges the merit of each day by scoring it a three digit number between 350 and 850.

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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First ‘Dora and the City of Gold’ Trailer Unleashes Its Wild Side; Here’s Everything We Know

First 'Dora and the City of Gold' Trailer Unleashes Its Wild Side; Here's Everything We Know

Educational TV show Dora the Explorer began a long run on Nickelodeon in 2000 and proved to be immensely popular over its 172 episodes. It spawned toys, books, video games, foreign adaptations, stage adaptations and a sequel series. Now a big-screen version is heading to movie theaters everywhere.

The first trailer has just dropped and it unleashes its wild side in surprising fashion. Here's everything we know about the upcoming action-adventure.

Who is Dora the Explorer?

Dora…

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Kamala Harris wants to give every American teacher a big raise. Here’s how she plans to do it

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled her latest major policy plan Tuesday, proposing a multi-billion dollar federal initiative to increase wages for every teacher in the United States.
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Here’s How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

It seems like everyone has a rental horror story. Maybe it’s about a landlord whose idea of repair consists solely of duct tape. Maybe it’s the stress of rising rent. Or maybe you’ve just woken up one too many times to find yourself sharing your bed with an uninvited colony of insects.

Whether or not the decision is made alongside a parade of ants, when the pot finally does boil over, many of you will end up uttering (or yelling) the same four words: It’s time to buy.

As exciting as that pivotal moment is, it also brings a host of new considerations. But before you can decide where to buy or what you’re looking for, you have to figure out how much house you can afford.

Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

While it can be tempting to immediately start browsing the listings, the first step in knowing your budget is to take these into consideration:

  • Your monthly take-home pay.
  • The size and terms of the loan you’ll take out.
  • The size of your down payment.
  • The hidden costs of homeownership.

How Much Money Do You Actually Take Home?

The first order of business when making a budget is to determine how much of your salary is actually available to you.

In general, employers quote you the amount they pay out (your gross pay) rather than the amount you take home (your net pay). There are several deductions taken out of your paychecks for things like taxes, insurance and retirement contributions, depending on your workplace.

When you think about what you can afford for a new home, you should always think about your net pay, because that’s the amount of money you will have at the end of every month.

For help finding your net income, check out our guide on how to calculate take-home pay

For the sake of this article, let’s assume Sam and Pat have a gross household income of $ 100,000 per year. They’ve calculated that this means a net income of $ 68,000, or around $ 5,660 every month.

First Things First: The True Cost of Your Home

A photo of house keys on several 100 dollar bills.

Buying a home is a unique experience, unlike anything else you’ve ever purchased before. That’s because the price you see at the top of the listing isn’t really what you’ll end up paying.

Here’s where things get tough for the first-time buyer. Even though the house you want has a certain value on paper, due to added costs, as well as the long-term interest on the loan you will take out to buy it, you will inevitably end up paying much more for the house over the length of the term.

In fact, based on the length of that mortgage, you could pay almost double the price you bought the home for. While that’s frustrating to think about, it also has a major impact on some of the decisions you have to make up front, and it all begins with your financing.

Your Mortgage or Line of Credit

Unless you’ve been saving for years — or perhaps you’ve recently robbed a bank — chances are you won’t pay for your home in cash. The majority of home buyers will be taking out a loan to pay for the bulk of their purchase.

Of course, as we all know, there’s no such thing as free money. A new home is a major investment, and that means any loan you take out for it is a major commitment as well. When it comes to a loan of this size, there are three things that should take center stage in your decision process:

Here’s What’s Really in Your Monthly Payment

Your monthly payment is the total amount you will owe every month for the length of the loan, based on the term, the interest rate and the principal:

  • Term: The term of a home loan is how long it will take you to pay back both the principal and the interest. One reason buying a new home is such a commitment is that the average term of a U.S. mortgage is 30 years! Depending on your financial situation, though, there are options available to make this shorter. A 15-year term — if you can afford the higher monthly payment — will drastically cut down on the true price of your home.
  • Interest rate: Every loan comes with interest. This is the amount above and beyond the principal that you have to pay back to the lender. It’s important to note that this interest is compound interest, which means that interest is calculated every month based on the total amount owed.
  • Principal: This is the total amount that the lender will provide to you. For a home loan, it’s equal to the total value of the home minus your down payment.

Unless your down payment is more than 20% of the value of the home, this payment will also include private mortgage insurance, which is a fee charged by a lender to insure them against default.

It’s this monthly payment number more than any other factor that typically determines how much house you can afford.

It is recommended by experts to spend no more than 25% of your take-home pay on your housing. When we apply this to Sam and Pat we find that they would be able to afford a monthly payment of $ 1,415.

Keep in mind that while the 25% recommendation is a strong one, it won’t necessarily be a recommendation shared by your lender. In fact, your lender may very well try to get you to take on a bigger loan than you should. Stick to the 25% rule, however, and you’ll be keeping your home costs affordable as well as realistic.

The Importance of Your Down Payment

Though it’s rare to buy a house in cash, the amount of money you have available on hand greatly influences the selection of homes you will be able to afford.

In fact, the size of the down payment you can make on your home can change not only the price range of homes you’re looking for, but also the true cost of the loan.

And the more money you have to put down, the less the total principal of your loan will be. With that in mind, most experts recommend paying no less than 10% of the price of your home upfront.

Even still, 10% is not ideal. Those who are looking to minimize their payments should actually be paying 20%. If you can afford to put down 20% of the value of your home, you will not have to pay private mortgage insurance, which can substantially lower your monthly payments.

Now, Sam and Pat have been thinking about buying a new home for a while. (A few years ago, they had a bad experience with a leak from the apartment upstairs, and they are so done with that kind of thing.)

In that time, they’ve eaten mostly ramen noodles and rice, they’ve cut the cable cord and most important of all, they’ve kept up with The Penny Hoarder.

Through all that hard work, they’ve managed to save $ 60,000. That should make a substantial dent in a loan!

The Difference Between Adjustable and Fixed Rates

Even with the most important considerations out of the way, there are still several different mortgage options available, with different interest rates and repayment lengths. Here’s what to look for in fixed and adjustable rate loans:

Fixed Rate

With a fixed-rate loan, your interest rate is locked in. If it starts at 4.5%, it will always be 4.5%. For homebuyers, this means that if you can get a fixed-rate mortgage when rates are low, you will pay less overall. This is the best option in most cases.

Adjustable rate: If you opt for an adjustable-rate mortgage, then after a set period of time with a fixed rate, your interest rate can change if the market does. There are very few situations in which this is a better option than a fixed-rate loan.

The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

A woman opens a door in the dark hallway of a house.

Of course, there’s still more to think about. When you buy a house, you’re not just buying a structure. You’re making an investment. As with all investments, there is a substantial amount of upkeep that you need to pay for just to keep your home in good working order.

There are repairs and renovations, sure, but those are often unexpected and can be covered by an emergency fund. Unfortunately, there are also major expected costs associated with buying and owning property that need to be factored into your base home budget.

Property Tax

Yes, it’s always the taxes that get you! Every jurisdiction has its own property tax rate, and this is often added to your monthly loan payment.

When you’re browsing for a new home, you will generally find an annual tax rate included on the listing. That number is just an estimate and will be updated by your municipality every so often depending on the housing market.

Regardless, it’s a good approximation, and if you divide it by 12, you can get a sense of how much it will add to your monthly payment.

Home Insurance

You should never be without homeowner’s insurance. Legally, you’re not required to have a policy on most mortgages, so it may seem like an unnecessary expense.

But if you shop around to find a good policy, this shouldn’t add more than $ 100 to your monthly payment. If disaster strikes, it may be the only thing that helps you rebuild, which is why a good rule to live by is: If you can’t afford home insurance, you shouldn’t be buying a home.

Closing Costs

Some of the most overlooked costs of owning a home are the fees and expenses that come along with the actual purchase of the property.

Since they’re not included in the sale price, they can catch a lot of first-time buyers off guard. In some cases, they may even limit the home you can afford.

That’s because, like the down payment, they often need to be paid in cash, and will cost between 2% and 5% of the price of the home.

What they’re actually comprised of is a lengthy list that includes lawyers’ fees, taxes, inspection costs and other necessities that are unavoidable when buying real estate (for a full list, check here). Keep in mind, though, that the buyer doesn’t typically pay any of the realtor’s fees, so at least you have some respite there.

How would this affect Sam and Pat? Well, they should be taking this amount out of their savings, which will lower the down payment they can make. If they want to keep to a 20% down payment so they can avoid private mortgage insurance, it will affect their total budget for their home.

Sam and Pat: How Much House Can They Afford?

With all that in mind, how do Sam and Pat fare as a couple making $ 100,000 a year?

  1. We know that they have an annual gross pay of $ 100,000, but only take home about $ 5,660 per month.
  2. Using 25% of their monthly income on housing, that gives them $ 1,415 to work with.
  3. They’ve saved up $ 60,000 in cash by scrimping and saving, but not all of that can go to the down payment due to closing costs.
  4. They want to make their down payment as high as possible to lower their monthly mortgage payments. They’re aiming for 20%, so they can take advantage of not having to pay private mortgage insurance.

All told, Sam and Pat are in a pretty good situation. If they looked for a home listed around $ 260,000, their 20% down payment would be $ 52,000, leaving them $ 8,000 for closing costs — right in expected the range of 2% to 5%.

Better yet, with a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage at 4.5% interest, they’d only need to pay about $ 1,385 monthly, which includes a $ 1,000 yearly insurance plan and an average 1.15% property tax cost of $ 2,990 per year.  

Making It Easy with a Mortgage Calculator

Thankfully, you don’t have to go through all the math yourself!

There are plenty of reliable online calculators, like this one, which can estimate all of this for you using the information discussed above and ensure that you can stay excited for the new chapter in your life.

Yes, it can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead.

Curtis Westman is a writer who has gone through the process of buying a new home twice… and who, while writing this, has tried his hardest not to start browsing the listings all over again.

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 the Sweet Reason North West Set Up a Yeezy-Inspired Lemonade Stand With Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

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Tidying up? Here’s How to Cash in on Everything That Doesn’t Spark Joy

The first thing I learned from Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant, was this: If you walk into your home and feel some discomfort in your life, it’s time to tidy up.

I’m pretty organized and everything, but… triggered.

Though I maintained order and structure on the surface, the true state of my home was kind of chaotic. After watching one episode of Netflix’s “Tidying Up,” it hit me: I’m all about aesthetics.

For those who haven’t tuned in to the series, just know that Kondo triple-dog dared us to use the KonMari method to organize (and purge!) our homes. No big deal.

Despite the intensity of it, I bravely put myself up to the #tidyingupchallenge — I was even able to pocket $ 38 by the end of the week.

The First Step Toward Tidiness

To get started, I dug up all the clothes from my early 20s that I’d been hoarding in my closet (somewhere by the Narnia portal, I think) to ask the famous question, “Does this spark joy?”

Because letting go, in any context, is difficult, I softened the blow by making extra cash off the items I decided to let go — that’s The Penny Hoarder method.

With my giveaway pile sorted, cleaned and steamed, it was time to start selling. And in true Kondo fashion, I thanked every item before it turned into dolla’, dolla’ bills, y’all.

Sell Anything — for Free

A woman uses steams her clothes before selling them online.

I started by downloading Letgoan intuitive app that lets you sell virtually anything. It lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.

The app lets you select the price you want, giving you the options to set it as negotiable, or to give it away for free if you just want to purge.

Help potential customers find your ad by categorizing it and setting your location by ZIP code. You can also share the listing on Facebook to see whether any of your friends are interested. This doesn’t mean you’ll definitely sell your goods, but it does reveal active, local users who might be looking for what you’re selling.

When it’s time to get paid, Letgo offers some recommendations: Transfer money only after the buyer inspects the item. Take cash, or use a secure payment platform like PayPal. Don’t take a “certified check” — Letgo says this is a common scam. Shipping is discouraged, as well.

I made $ 10 selling two pairs of old shorts. The best part? Letgo doesn’t snag any percentage of the sale, so I got to keep it all.

Pro-tip: We know you want at least $ 20 for the pants that cost you $ 40, but keep in mind that things depreciate with time. Your second-hand clothing might get more play if you’re advertising thrift store–like prices.

Let This App Help You Bank off Old Dresses

A woman shows the OfferUp app while selling clothes.

To earn more cash, I put up the last bit of my clothes for sale using a free app called OfferUp. This app lets you sell just about anything — furniture, clothes, gadgets — even cars.

Seriously. Like, entire vehicles.

Just download the OfferUp app, enter your ZIP code and click the camera to sign up. You can continue with Facebook, which makes the whole process pretty seamless.

The app lets you chat with interested buyers without the pressure of having to exchange phone numbers. When you’re ready, schedule your meeting by using its site SafeTradeSpots.com to find a safe public place to meet your buyer and complete the transaction.

Using the app, I scored an extra $ 20 from selling some dresses I hadn’t worn in awhile.

Pro tip: Let the buyer inspect the item first, then gather the payment. Don’t accept a check, cashier’s check or gift card as payment. We recommend you ask for cash.

Use This App to Sell Everything You Think No One Wants

A woman uses her cell phone to photograph clothes she is selling online.

No shade to Craigslist, but I like to think of it as the place where the misfits of your belongings go. So that’s where I went to sell all the random stuff I accumulated over the years.

Thanks to the buyer who found joy in my picture frame and pair of tennis shoes, I pocketed $ 8.

Since Craigslist doesn’t have its own, I used the licensed, third-party app CPlus. If you’re worried about the legitimacy, you might find comfort in knowing that the app has more than 10,000 ratings and averages 4.8/5 stars in the App Store. Not too shabby.

Plus, through the app, you post directly to Craigslist.

You can get started with CPlus by creating a Craigslist account if you don’t already have one. Enter your email, then verify your account and create a password.

Navigate back over to the app, sign in and start posting what you have to offer (except organs, sorry!). Categorize and title your posting, add a price, specific location, postal code and a description. Next, you’ll add images, then publish.

Be aware of safety issues when it comes to Craigslist. As with the other apps, meet in a well-lit public setting and trust your instincts.

Securing the payment is up to you and cannot be done through the app. For safety, use cash — but not a ton.

Pro-tip: CPlus is a great app for those who already know and love Craigslist. Unfortunately, there are some glitches, and the app doesn’t work as smoothly as others. You might benefit just as well from using the website on your mobile browser.

Done Is Better Than Perfect

A woman uses the Marie Kondo method to organzie her clothing on her bed.

*Deep sigh*

The KonMari method works, guys. Halfway through my #tidyingupchallenge, I realized I’ve formed an unhealthy habit of keeping things for nostalgia’s sake.

I’d secretly been holding onto all the cute stuff I used to wear in my early 20s in hopes that I could be that young girl again, fitting into a size 3. But when I sold my old clothes, I also sold my attachment to them, which has allowed me to embrace who I am now.

As powerful as that made me feel, it felt even better getting to enjoy the end result of my hard work: Neatly folded clothes and a thoroughly organized living space. (Not just on the surface, I swear.)

Oh, and my total earnings? $ 38. That part was pretty sweet, too.

Farrah Daniel is an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder. She’s wondering if she can KonMari her diet…

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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Can’t get enough of Elizabeth Holmes? Here’s what to watch after ‘The Inventor’

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Theranos ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes has yet to lock down a date for her criminal trial, but in the court of public opinion, a verdict has already been rendered. 

If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past week, you’ve likely seen a small truckload of viewer reactions to HBO’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley — many of them delighting in the damning portrayal of Holmes and her alleged multi-million dollar fraud. 

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If You Share A Bed, You Should Share Financial Responsibility: Here’s Why

Earlier this month, the New York Times highlighted a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research that shines further light on a problem many couples face: how to distribute responsibility for finances. The study’s author discovered that when couples divide money management unequally, the person taking a less active role is putting themselves at a financial literacy disadvantage over time.

WHY IS PUTTING ONE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE MONEY SUCH A PROBLEM?

While such a division of labor may seem convenient, it comes at a cost. The authors of the study found that “people generally develop expertise on a “need to know” basis—they pay attention to what they think they need to know, when they think they need to know it—and that the need to know is at least partly determined by one’s social relationships.”

Simply put, when one partner is the money person, that person continues to grow and hone their financial literacy. At the same time, the other person doesn’t develop and maintain the same degree of knowledge about their household financial management. This results in a financial literacy – and financial confidence – gap that grows over time.

A Fidelity survey supports this finding. Among respondents who were married or in a long-term committed relationship, 93 percent of those who said they had primary financial responsibility in their household said they were confident managing money, while just 52 percent of the less involved partners said they would be confident doing so.

DO MOST COUPLES PICK ONE PERSON TO HANDLE FINANCES?

Yes. Over half of respondents in numerous surveys reported deferring to their better half when it comes to money. And women are more likely to step back from managing long-term household financial decisions – retirement accounts, mortgages, and insurance – even as we tend to be responsible for day-to-day purchases.

A UBS survey last year found that 56% of married women leave key financial decisions to their husband. Given that women have a longer life expectancy than men, this is especially problematic. And among younger generations, the trend is actually getting worse! The same UBS survey found that 61% of millennial women reported leaving financial decisions to their partner compared with just over half (54%) of women from older generations.

WHAT CAN LISTENERS DO TO AVOID FALLING INTO THIS TRAP?

One of the best ways to ensure you are both engaged in your joint finances is to have a shared financial plan that outlines your long-term vision. Discussing what you want to prioritize – buying a house, your retirement, your children’s education – and putting it on paper incentivizes each of you to be invested in achieving these goals.

You should also develop a joint budget each year that is benchmarked to this plan. Second, set aside time each month to review your shared financial accounts and assets, and make any necessary adjustments or decisions jointly. If you have shared goals and financial responsibilities, you will both have more peace of mind.


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New Credit Can Boost — or Bust — Your Credit Score. Here’s When to Apply

Your credit score determines your eligibility for loans, credit cards and even renting a house. Credit reports are determined by a company called FICO, which assigns a three-digit score showing lenders whether giving you a loan or a credit card is a good idea or a risky one.

Credit scores range from 300 (bad) to 850 (excellent), with anything above 700 typically seen as “good.” But it’s not always easy to get to the “good” or “excellent” ranges, especially if you’re starting from scratch or trying to improve a shaky score.

While new credit is sometimes helpful, as in my case, it can often be seen as a bad thing.

What Is New Credit?

Taking on any loan or credit card counts as new credit.

According to CreditCards.com, FICO’s new credit category takes into consideration:

  • The number of accounts you’ve opened in the past 12 months
  • How many recent credit inquiries you have
  • How long it’s been since your last inquiry
  • The length of time you’ve had your newest accounts.

You could also be dinged when an older card that had previous payment problems reappears on your credit report.

When I first moved to the U.S. from the U.K. I had no credit to my name. The first thing I did to establish myself was open a new credit card with a high interest rate and a low limit. At the time, it was all I could get. From there, I made a plan to get new credit in order to build my score gradually.

In my case, my new credit card opened the door to higher-limit cards. I used my first card to buy groceries, paying the balance off in full every month. Within a year, I was able to open a second credit card with a better interest rate that I used in conjunction with my first card to continue building my credit.

What Percentage of New Credit Factors Into Your Credit Score?

Your FICO credit score is based on five factors, which weigh differently on your score:

  • Payment history
  • Credit utilization
  • Credit history
  • New credit
  • Credit mix

Of these factors, new credit only makes up 10% of your score.

Payment history and credit utilization have a heavier consequence on your score, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the effect that adding new credit could have.

As I started to add different lines of credit to my name, like a car loan and a mortgage, I stuck to my two initial credit cards to avoid adding too many lines of credit. At the same time I was diversifying my credit and continuing to make on-time payments so my credit score wouldn’t be negatively affected.

Can Too Many Cards Hurt Your Credit?

Two people sit in the grass, each holding a fan of credit cards as if they are playing a card game.

Too many cards could hurt your credit if they are all fairly new.

FICO looks at the average age of your credit cards, and having more recently acquired cards lowers that age.

If you have a few more-established credit cards and open one or two new accounts, the effect on your score is not as bad. This is especially true if you have a history of paying loans and credit cards on time.

Since payment history counts for a larger chunk of your overall credit score than new credit does, having a couple of newer cards you pay on time could actually help your credit score, especially if you’re trying to improve it.

I eventually closed my very first credit card, but not before I added a new one and a couple of store cards (because who can resist the discounts that come with those cards?).

Will Opening a New Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Opening a new account could hurt your credit score, especially if you add new lines of credit often.

How New Credit Can Help

Opening a new credit card could also improve your overall credit mix, which also accounts for 10% of your score. If you have a mortgage and car loan but no credit cards (or even just one), a new card helps diversify your borrowing, which shows lenders you’re trustworthy. Of course, this is only true if you make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low.

A new credit card could actually help your score by decreasing your credit utilization.

For example, if you have a current credit card with a $ 10,000 limit and an $ 8,000 balance (i.e., 80% utilized), your FICO score will take a bigger hit because credit utilization accounts for 30% of your overall score. If you open a new account with a higher limit, your credit utilization will drop.

How New Credit Can Hurt

But be careful with opening new accounts to try to lower your credit utilization. You’re better off trying to pay down your existing high-balance credit card to lower your utilization than opening a new credit card.

Do New Credit Inquiries Hurt Your Score?

There are two types of credit inquiries: soft and hard. Only one affects your score.

Soft Inquiries

A soft inquiry happens when you check your own credit score or apply for a job that checks your credit as part of the hiring process.

Credit card companies might also run soft inquiries when they check your credit to see if you qualify for an offer they want to send to you. Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score.

Your credit card company might provide you with your credit score (my USAA card does, and that’s how I keep tabs on my credit score). You can also sign up for services like Credit Karma,

which use soft inquiries to keep you posted about your credit score without damaging it.

Hard Inquiries

A hard inquiry is when a credit card or loan company checks your score when you apply for a new line of credit.

This is the type of inquiry that has a detrimental effect on your credit score. You need to give permission for a lender to make a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries on your credit report suggests to lenders that you’re risky, and they may make the decision to not give you a loan.

FICO keeps hard inquiries on your credit report for two years, though it only takes inquiries from the past 12 months into account when calculating your credit score. Soft inquiries do not appear on your credit report.

When Will I See a New Credit Card on My Report?

New lines of credit, along with things like missed payments, generally appear on your credit report within 30 days of the end of the billing period.

That means you won’t see a new credit card show up on your credit report immediately. You may have a couple of months, depending on your billing cycle. But you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to open a bunch at once. They might not have an immediate effect, but they’ll eventually catch up with you and make a dent in your credit score.

After 12 years of building my credit, I have a score firmly in the “good” range. New credit played a part in getting me there, but now I stay away from opening new lines of credit unless they are absolutely necessary.

In general, new credit can be helpful to your score if you use it correctly. But as with many things, abusing new credit can harm you in the long term. The best thing to do is ask yourself before opening a new credit card whether you really need it or whether you can make do with what you have.

Catherine Hiles lives in Ohio with her husband and their two children. By day she manages a team of writers and graphic designers, and catches up on her own writing in her spare time.

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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Captain Marvel Returns in New ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Captain Marvel Returns in New ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Ever since the devastating ending of Avengers: Infinity War, moviegoers have been dying to see what happens next and find out just what's become of not only half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. The fourth crossover tentpole of the franchise, Avengers: Endgame, will see theatrical release just under a year later, hopefully with all our questions answered. 

We’re just over a month away from Endgame’s release, and a new trailer…

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Destin Daniel Cretton to Direct Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’; Here’s Everything We Know

Destin Daniel Cretton to Direct Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’; Here’s Everything We Know

Marvel is on a roll with an inclusion initiative for its cinematic universe. Following the humongous success of Black Panther and Captain Marvel, the studio is ready to put the Asian superhero movie Shang-Chi into production. We’d heard a few months ago that Marvel was fast-tracking the project, and now the important pieces are coming into place.

First up is the news, courtesy of Deadline, that Marvel has chosen a director for the movie. And they’ve gone inclusive with the hire,…

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Women Have Lower Credit Scores Than Men. Here’s How to Close the Gap

We talk about the gender wage gap, but what about the gender credit-score gap?

The median credit score for men is 22 points higher than for women, according to a Federal Reserve analysis.

In an ideal world, society would shift toward gender equality, like, yesterday, and make it possible to effortlessly close this gap.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen, so you’ve got to take control. Not to be cliche or anything, but knowledge is power, and understanding why women have lower credit scores — and exactly how to increase yours — is the first step to closing this gap.

But here’s at least a little bit of good news: Managing your credit score might not be as difficult as you’d expect. Free services make the process fairly straightforward. I’ve used Credit Sesame for my free credit score and personalized recommendations to better manage it.

Why Women Have Lower Credit Scores Than Men

The Federal Reserve analysis looked at more than 8,000 VantageScore 2.0 credit scores from single men and women (because singles tend to make more independent decisions and lean on one income).

For those aged 31 to 40, men’s credit scores averaged 828, while women’s averaged 806. (Note: On the VantageScore 2.0 scoring model, the scale runs from 501 to 990, unlike FICO and later VantageScore models, which run 300 to 850.)

No, women don’t have a lower credit score because they’re bad with money or like to go shopping when they’re sad. Puhlease give that a break.

Rather, the credit score gap can be attributed to, in part, the gender wage gap.

Looking at incomes within this same demographic, men make, on average, nearly $ 3,500 more per year than women, according to the 2017 Census Bureau American Community Survey. That means women have $ 3,500 less to cover the same expenses men face.

This could lead to more debt, higher credit-utilization rates or more bills in collections… which is exactly what seems to happen.

The Federal Reserve found that women’s median debt owed is $ 11,000 more than men’s. They also have higher credit-utilization rates and higher rates of late payments. Credit utilization and payment history together make up 65% of your credit score.

“The credit-score gaps reflect the fact that single women have more intensive use of credit and have experienced more difficulties repaying their debt in the past,” the Federal Reserve concludes.

Why Your Credit Score Matters — and How to Manage It

Looking to take out a loan, secure a mortgage, open a credit card, apply for insurance or even sign up for a new cell phone plan?

Your credit score can affect all those decisions.

You might be thinking 22 points won’t make that big a difference. But it can.

Just a few points’ difference in your credit score can drastically change the interest rates on your mortgage, which will result in you paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more over time.

This can turn into an endless cycle, which is why it’s time we need to close the credit score gap — even if we do have to fight harder. (’Cause, ya know, change takes time. *eye roll*)

You can start by checking your credit score for free with Credit Sesame. It takes less than two minutes to sign up, and, once verified, you’ll immediately see your score for free.

To find out exactly what’s holding you back, you’ll want to tap into your credit report card — also free. Credit Sesame takes each factor that affects your score and gives you a grade.

For example, I currently have a “D” in the account-mix category because I only have two accounts open. I also have a “B” in credit usage, because my credit utilization rate is approaching the recommended 30% limit right now.

The best part is Credit Sesame offers actionable tips. For me, it’s to open another credit card; that’ll pump up my account mix and alleviate some of the debt on my single card. It even gives me an option where my approval odds are “very good.”

Doing this could increase my credit score 11 points — if not more.

Heck, that simple moves gets me halfway toward closing this darn gap.

So if you’re ready to close the gender credit-score gap, too, access your credit score and credit report card for free from Credit Sesame.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. The Penny Hoarder data journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed reporting to this article.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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First Full ‘Aladdin’ Trailer Opens Up a Whole New Live-action World; Here’s Everything We Know

First Full ‘Aladdin’ Trailer Opens Up a Whole New Live-action World; Here's Everything We Know

Disney's live-action adaptations of their animated classics are serious business. Even this year's Christopher Robin quietly grossed more than $ 200 million worldwide. There are many more to come, including four features arriving in 2019 alone: Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King and Lady and the Tramp, the last of which hits the new streaming service Disney+ later in the year. 

Aladdin is sure to be huge, as the 1992 animated version is considered a favorite among all Disney's…

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Here’s Why You Need To Keep An Eye On These Biotech Stocks

The clinical trial results of a drug company can impact its stock price depending upon the outcome – and more so if it is a small-/mid-cap biopharma stock. A keen understanding of the target timeline of the clinical trials will help trade biotech stocks with some margin of safety around the catalyst events.
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Are you a homeowner? Here’s how much richer you are now

Strong demand for housing last year kept home prices surging, and that means more homeowners are now sitting on more cash in the form of home equity. Collectively, homeowners with mortgages saw their equity increase by just over 8 percent last year.
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Fly, ‘Dumbo,’ Fly; Here’s Everything We Know

Fly, 'Dumbo,' Fly; Here's Everything We Know

Disney's all-new, live-action Dumbo draws upon an animated film that was released during troubling times. Yet the original's simplicity and warmth attracted audiences in large numbers, and it subsequently has been recognized as a family classic.

The new version, heading to theaters soon, has a similar positive spirit and an encouraging message for young ones that will also appeal to adults. Here's everything we know about the film; you can also watch all the videos below.

Who…

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Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ show is set in the Second Age. Here’s what that means.

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Amazon is taking us back to Middle-Earth’s Second Age in its upcoming Lord of the Rings show, giving us a much firmer grasp on what we can expect to see (or rather, what we know we won’t see).

The Twitter account for Amazon’s untitled Lord of the Rings show tweeted out an image of a map of Middle-Earth and the message “Welcome to the Second Age,” seemingly confirming that the show will take place long before the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which took place toward the tail end of the Third Age. That means we won’t be seeing young Aragorn, but there’s still a chance that we’ll see Elrond, Galadriel, and possibly some other elves.  Read more…

More about Television, Lord Of The Rings, Amazon Prime Video, Entertainment, and Movies Tv Shows


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First ‘Midsommar’ Trailer Begins the Frightening Festivities. Here’s Everything We Know

First ‘Midsommar’ Trailer Begins the Frightening Festivities. Here’s Everything We Know

Ari Aster, the first-time writer/director of Hereditary, has set up his sophomore effort. Titled Midsommar, the feature will again be distributed by A24 (understandably, since Hereditary became their top-grossing release) and is another drama with horror elements that is sure to get under our skin.

A24 has just released the first teaser trailer for Midsommar, and it looks plenty disturbing and eerie without revealing much of the terror we have to look forward to. Aster is clearly…

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How ‘Pet Sematary’ Will Disturb the Dead; Here’s Everything We Know

How ‘Pet Sematary’ Will Disturb the Dead; Here’s Everything We Know

Paramount has been developing a remake of Pet Sematary since 2011, but the massive success of It has Hollywood scrambling to catch the heat of Stephen King mania. The favor for the author's work has already continued into Netflix's Gerald's Game and 1922. Now we're looking at a new adaptation of Pet Sematary coming soon.

We have about a month left until the remake arrives in theaters, but Pet Sematary is first making its debut as…

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Here’s The Good News About Minimum Wage

WHAT’S THE NEWS ON MINIMUM WAGE?

Put simply, we are seeing progress around the country when it comes to raising the minimum wage. Since 2016, five states and the District of Columbia have raised their wage floor to $ 15 per hour. My home state of Illinois was the latest state to get on the bandwagon, and other states like Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Hawaii are considering legislation as well.

And a number of states have moved to increase their wages to $ 12 an hour in recent years. Combined, these efforts have the potential to benefit millions of workers.

THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE IS CURRENTLY AT $ 7.25. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME WE SAW THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE RISE?

The last time the federal minimum wage was raised, to the current $ 7.25 per hour rate, was in July of 2009. Put simply, we have not seen the federal minimum wage adjusted in the decade since the financial crisis. Since then we’ve had positive economic growth, which has been accompanied by inflation.

This means goods cost more, and those dependent on the federal minimum wage jobs have seen their paychecks remain stagnant. Because of this, supporters of minimum wage hikes have turned to the states. And based upon the changes we have seen in the last few years – from referendums to legislation – proponents of a minimum wage have made significant progress.

THERE IS ALWAYS OPPOSITION TO MINIMUM WAGE HIKES. WHAT ARE THE ECONOMICS OF THESE POLICY CHANGES?

Supporters of increases in the wage floor argue that increasing pay for minimum wage workers reduces income inequality and assure that full-time workers with families don’t live in poverty. But those in opposition to minimum wage hikes contend they lead to job losses, higher prices, and hurt smaller businesses who have low profit margins already.

Interestingly, a number of recent studies have found that job losses resulting from minimum wage hikes are significantly smaller than many previously believed them to be. However, the statistic that really sticks out in my mind involves a historical comparison: adjusted for inflation, the current minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1960s.

It is often overlooked that the federal minimum wage, and most state minimum wage rates, are not indexed to inflation. This means that as the cost of living rises and the wage floor remains the same, minimum wage workers get left behind.

WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM A MINIMUM WAGE OF $ 15?

Great question, Tom. The Economic Policy Institute ran the numbers and the findings were really interesting. According to EPI, the typical worker who would benefit from a $ 15 minimum wage is a 35-year-old woman with some college-level coursework who works full-time. While many think of young people when they hear the phrase minimum wage, less than 10 percent of those who would benefit are teenagers.

By comparison, more than half are adults between the ages of 25 and 54. Nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) are women, a full 60 percent work full-time, and 28 percent have children. And communities of color would see significant upside. Thirty-eight percent of African-American workers and one-third of Latino workers would get a raise if the federal minimum wage were increased to $ 15.

AND HOW WOULD WORKERS BENEFIT FROM A $ 15 MINIMUM WAGE NATIONWIDE?

The House of Representatives has proposed the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which would gradually lift the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour by 2024, and the Economic Policy Institute has found the benefits would be truly staggering. Forty million workers— 26.6 percent of the U.S. workforce – would see a pay raise. That includes two-thirds (67.3 percent) of the working poor in our country. Full-time minimum wage earners would see an extra $ 3,000 a year. Finally, a $ 15 minimum wage by 2024 would generate $ 120 billion in higher wages and potentially boost the economy as workers were able to spend more.


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Powerball jackpot surges to $381 million. Here’s what the winner would pay in taxes

If you manage to beat the odds and nab the top prize, you can expect to pay tens of millions of dollars to Uncle Sam right off the bat.
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Here’s Why Shopping for Life Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be Such a Hassle

Getting life insurance seems like such a pain.

I mean, you have to jump through all these hoops — sign a million forms, go to a doctor’s office to get a physical and send a stack of paperwork to an insurance agent. The whole thing is probably going to take weeks!

Maybe you’re interested in getting a life insurance policy to take care of your family in case you die unexpectedly. But let’s face it: At this rate, you’ll probably never get around to it, because it’s a hassle that never quite rises to the top of your to-do list. Does it?

Ah, but what if it were way simpler than that?

If you’re stalled on the whole life insurance thing, try checking out innovative new options like Leap Life’s online marketplace. It’s like a personal shopper for life insurance. Its motto is brutally honest: “Life insurance isn’t fun. Let’s get it over with quick.”

Wow! The folks at Leap Life are not exactly holding back, are they? Clearly, this isn’t your dad’s life insurance agency.

Leap Life simplifies and streamlines the process in a big way. You can apply in minutes, and most healthy people can do it all online — no medical exam required.

Lickety-split, you get instant quotes from top life insurance companies like Prudential, Lincoln Financial, Pacific Life, and Protective, among others.

That way, you can compare them side-by-side to find the best life insurance policy matched to your needs.

Cheaper Than You Think

Leap Life uses your  information to predict approval and match you to the most affordable insurance policies to fit your needs. The company says it saves people an average of 50% on their insurance premiums.

The company says its research shows that 80% of Americans can pay 50% to 300% more for their life insurance if they pick the wrong life insurance carrier. The could mean paying hundreds of dollars more per month than you have to.

People overestimate the cost of life insurance, anyway. For instance, nearly half of millennials think life insurance costs about five times what it actually does, according to a 2018 study by the life insurance industry group LIMRA.

No Hassle, Free Returns

Leap Life is updating the old model. If you stuck with the life insurance industry’s traditional way of doing things, you might have to wait weeks to hear whether you’re approved.

You don’t have to wait any longer. And if you change your mind, you’ve got a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Leap Life’s pitch is that it’ll match you with a policy that fits your needs, your health history and your financial situation. “No extra fees, no hassle and free 30-day returns,” the company’s website says.

The company has an A-plus rating with the BBB. It operates in every U.S. state except New York.

You can choose a life insurance policy that lasts from 10 to 30 years, with death benefits ranging from $ 250,000 to $ 5 million.

It’s time to get life insurance off your to-do list and move it over to your “done” list.

Really, it doesn’t have to be such a pain.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He probably doesn’t need life insurance because he’ll probably never die.

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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Oscar Winner Rami Malek to Play the Next Bond Villain; Here’s Everything We Know

Oscar Winner Rami Malek to Play the Next Bond Villain; Here’s Everything We Know

For the 25th official installment of the James Bond franchise, fans expect something special. Fortunately, the next movie, which is currently known as "Bond 25," should be a treat. Not only is Daniel Craig planning to finish out his run as 007 with a bang, but the series also has a newly cemented Oscar winner set to play the movie’s villain.

Rami Malek, who has been garnering awards all season for his lead performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, is in final…

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‘Aquaman 2’ Sets Release Date; Here’s Everything We Know

'Aquaman 2' Sets Release Date; Here's Everything We Know

Arthur Curry first surfaced in the modern DC Films universe in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, shouldering a larger role in Justice League, and then taking center stage in Aquaman, directed by James Wan. The action-adventure scored well with critics and even better with audiences, earning more than one billion dollars at the box office worldwide.

With the huge success of Aquaman, naturally our thoughts turned toward a possible sequel. When might we further enjoy more superpowered aquatic…

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Here’s How to Become a Work-From-Home Bookkeeper (You Could Earn $60/Hr!)

It’s not that you’re a numbers nerd. It’s just that everything makes more sense in a spreadsheet with formulas and even cell spacing.

Your nerdy – ahem, precise – tendencies could make you the perfect fit for a job as a virtual bookkeeper.

And no, you don’t have to have a CPA to be successful. In fact, all you really need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems.

Even better? You can earn up to $ 60 an hour, according to Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers.

He’s been a CPA since 1999 and has owned two accounting firms. It was through the firms that Robinson discovered the demand for good bookkeepers.

“A lot of — actually most — business owners struggle with keeping accurate and up-to-date bookkeeping records,” Robinson said. “What I soon discovered is that great bookkeepers are hard to find. And, when I did find a great bookkeeper who owned their own business, they were buried with clients and had a waiting list of business owners who wanted their books done.”

How to Become a Virtual Bookkeeper

After he sold his firm in January 2015, Robinson started learntobeabookkeeper.com to teach not only the technical side of bookkeeping but also the strategies for starting your own business.

We spoke with Robinson about what it takes to become a virtual bookkeeper, as well as tips and advice for making this career track work for you.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Bookkeeper?

Although the job title might lead you to believe you’ll be holed up alone with your computer and dusty ledgers (wait, do those still exist?), Robinson said real-world skills are also essential since you’ll be dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis.

“When I went to school and got my degree in accounting, I thought, ‘Yes! I can conquer the world,’” Robinson said. “I could figure out earnings per share, but I couldn’t do simple tasks that business owners need, like reconciling a bank account.

“The best bookkeepers can navigate those real-world problems for the business owners they work with,” said Robinson, who noted that computer and communication skills are also essential.

So do you have to have a CPA?

The short answer, according to Robinson: No.

“None of the great bookkeepers I have trained have even been accountants, much less Certified Public Accountants,” Robinson said. “If I were given the choice of training a CPA or someone with no experience to become a great bookkeeper, I’d choose the inexperienced candidate any day.”

Benefits of a Virtual Bookkeeping Job

Besides the high demand, Robinson said one of the great benefits of being a virtual bookkeeper is the freedom to choose where you work, when you work and with whom you work.

And then there’s that $ 60-per-hour pay rate.

The average full-time bookkeeper earns nearly $ 40,000 per year (almost $ 19/hour), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. But Robinson pointed out that as a freelancer or contractor, you can actually earn a higher hourly rate while working fewer hours.

“I teach my bookkeepers that they should target at least $ 60 per hour as their goal,” Robinson said. “You must know how to provide true value to clients — that real-world problem-solving we talked about — to command this kind of income.”

What You Need to Start a Virtual Bookkeeping Business

A good computer and high-speed internet connection should be your first investment. But at the heart of a virtual bookkeeper’s toolbox is accounting software, such as Quickbooks Online, according to Robinson, which helps keep startup costs low.

“The biggest part of the investment, both startup and ongoing, is in yourself: learning,” Robinson said. “I’ve been doing this for more than 16 years and I spend — at a minimum — 40 hours per year learning new skills and improving existing ones.”

Ready to start a career in becoming a bookkeeper? Check out online courses or your community college to start, ahem, figuring out your future.

The Penny Hoarder staff member Maryann Akinboyewa contributed to this post.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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New ‘Dark Phoenix’ Trailer Darkens the X-Men Universe: Here’s Everything We Know

New 'Dark Phoenix' Trailer Darkens the X-Men Universe: Here's Everything We Know

An all-new take on a classic X-Men comic book story, Dark Phoenix looks set to establish its own ground rules when it hits the big screen. The action-adventure revolves around Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is affected by a powerful cosmic force while on a rescue mission, becoming far more unstable than ever before.

A new trailer offers a peek at action sequences that look truly spectacular, along with greater insight into the story. Read everything we know and then watch the trailer below….

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Here’s your tax bill if you hit $322 million Powerball or $267 million Mega Millions jackpots

If you hit the jackpot, you can expect to pay 37 percent of your income to the IRS, along with typically ponying up for state taxes.
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Is a weird ‘bot’ draining your phone’s battery? Here’s how to find out

'Drainer Bot' may be draining your phone battery: Here's how to stop it

If you’ve noticed that your smartphone’s battery seems like it’s draining faster than normal, it may not be your imagination.

A stealth program dubbed “DrainerBot” may be the culprit.

DrainerBot is a piece of software that has been embedded in hundreds of apps in the Google Play Store. The program, which downloads hidden or invisible video ads, is linked to a major fraud campaign.

It could also be costing you big money in the form of high data overages. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about DrainerBot and outline some steps to help you remove it.

DrainerBot: 3 things you need to know about the software that could be stealing your battery life

  • It appears to have been downloaded 10 million times
  • It can consume up to 10GBs of data per month
  • It appears to have only infected Android devices

The purpose of DrainerBot appears to be to artificially (and illegally) inflate video ad view numbers. It does that by downloading gigabytes of video ads into your smartphone.

Even though you can’t see the video ads, those views are counted. The scheme is literally costing advertisers and phone users a fortune, according to Oracle, which exposed the software in a news release.

“The DrainerBot code appears to have been distributed via an infected SDK [Software Development Kit] integrated into hundreds of popular consumer Android apps and games like ‘Perfect365,’ ‘VertexClub,’ ‘Draw Clash of Clans,’ ‘Touch ‘n’ Beat – Cinema,’ and ‘Solitaire: 4 Seasons (Full),” Oracle said in a statement.

Here are some signs that your Android device may be infected with DrainerBot

According to Oracle, here are some signs that your phone may have an app infected by DrainerBot:

  • Apps crash your phone more often and programs become sluggish
  • Your phone’s battery lasts only a short time and it’s hot to the touch
  • Your phone is using dramatically more data than it did before installing a particular app

Here are the 2 ways to stop DrainerBot on your phone

You may not know where to start when it comes to finding out which particular app may be infected with DrainerBot. So here’s what you should do:

Go to Settings > Data Usage > App Data Usage and see if any apps are using an incredibly high amount of data. If so, they may be infected with DrainerBot. Once you’ve identified the data-draining app you can:

1. Delete the app in question

or

2. Open your settings and restrict the app’s permissions

A. Go to Settings, then click on Apps.

'DrainerBot' may be killing your phone battery: Here's how to stop it

B. Scroll to the individual app you want to access.

'DrainerBot' may be killing your phone battery: Here's how to stop it

C. Click on the app and go to App Info. You should then see Permissions.

'DrainerBot' may be killing your phone battery: Here's how to stop it

D. From there, click on App Permissions and adjust it accordingly.

'DrainerBot' may be killing your phone battery: Here's how to stop it

If you find that your phone is still sluggish or your battery is still draining faster than normal, locate another app that may be taking up a large amount of your phone’s bandwidth and repeat step 1 or 2.

Use this opportunity to review your phone’s privacy and security settings. Make any adjustments so that you can have the security and privacy you need when using your phone.

Here are some more scam-related articles from Clark.com:

The post Is a weird ‘bot’ draining your phone’s battery? Here’s how to find out appeared first on Clark Howard.

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New ‘Detective Pikachu’ Trailer Presents Unlikely But Lovable Heroes; Here’s Everything We Know

New ‘Detective Pikachu’ Trailer Presents Unlikely But Lovable Heroes; Here’s Everything We Know

You weren't expecting that the first truly great video game movie would also be a Pokémon movie, did you? All signs point to the former being a possibility, with Warner Bros.' live-action adaptation of the Nintendo game Detective Pikachu, starring everyone's favorite snarky voice actor, Ryan Reynolds. 

The first trailer for the upcoming movie (watch it down below) hints that, thanks to Reynolds voicing the title character, this is sort of going to be Deadpool for…

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Here’s when you should really book your flights

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Booking flights is usually a time filled with excitement as means a vacation is coming. Don’t you sometimes wish your flight could be just a little cheaper though? If you’ve been thinking there must be a cheaper way to book your flights then you’re in luck, there is! It all depends on when you book them, and these are the best ways to book your flights.

Private browsing

First things first, when you’re shopping around for flights you’re going to want to do it incognito. Those pesky airlines are monitoring you every time you check their prices online. Every time you go back to their website the prices will go up, so the best way to stop that from happening is to use your web browser’s private function. It’s normally a box you can check in the options section and is very easy to turn on. Using this will prevent airlines from tracking your browsing history as it stops your cookies being made available.

Paying in other currencies

Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to pay in a different currency. You can see what payment options you have available to you and then do a quick currency conversion to see if it would be better to pay using a different one. Check with your credit card company that you are not charged for using different currencies as that can basically wipe out the saving you might have made.

Book well in advance

It is amazing how much money people can save on their flights if they just book them well in advance. As it gets closer to the flying date airlines know they can bump up the price, especially if the flight is filling up fast. Make sure you get in ahead of the rush and book your flight at least four weeks before departing. Try not to book them too early either though as those tickets also come at a premium. Booking four to eight weeks before you’re due to fly is the best time for cheap flights. If you’re traveling to your destination for a major holiday the best time to book is one month before the big day, and six before Christmas and New Years Day.

Booking on Tuesdays or Wednesdays

Airlines often have sales during the week and these two days are the most common for them. Also, when you’re booking your flight try to fly out on a Tuesday or a Saturday. People who are traveling for business tend to fly on the Monday and those going on vacation will want the entire weekend. That’s where you can swoop in and take the cheap airline seats before anyone else does. Airlines want to fill their planes, so these are great days to fly to keep your costs low.

These helpful little tips will make sure you have more money in your wallet to spend on vacation, rather than spending all your cash getting there. Always explore your booking options, get in there nice and early, and turn on your private browsing, it’s really worth it.

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The post Here’s when you should really book your flights appeared first on Worldation.

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Here’s who should win at the 2019 Oscars

The 91st Academy Awards airs Sunday, February 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Here’s who will bring home a trophy. Best Picture “Black Panther” “BlacKkKlansman” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “The Favourite” Winner: “Green Book” Voters have a choice between art (“Roma”) and heart (“Green Book”). They’ll go with the latter. “Roma” “A Star Is Born” “Vice” Best…
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Here’s your look at the Entertainment Weekly special issue…

Here’s your look at the Entertainment Weekly special issue cover featuring Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel”! Read more: https://bit.ly/2T1buXN

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Here’s the Skinny on Filing Bankruptcy and How it Affects Your Life

“I. Declare. Bankruptcyyyyyy!”

As Michael Scott learned in “The Office,” getting rid of debt isn’t as simple as that declaration. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Many people think of filing bankruptcy as an easy way out. But these people have never filed bankruptcy.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process by which an individual, couple or corporation with significant debt is either relieved of that debt or allowed to pay it off under a specified plan.

That may sound really appealing if you’ve got debt up to your eyeballs, but realize that even after filing bankruptcy, you may still have to repay your debt.

All bankruptcy really does is give you a metaphorical fresh start with your finances. Fresh like when you were 18 and the only credit card you could qualify for had 82% interest and a $ 500 limit.

While for some people, bankruptcy is better than having their wages garnished or their homes put into foreclosure, it should be a last resort for getting rid of debt.

But if you’re out of options, bankruptcy can give you a chance to get your debt under control and get creditors and collectors off your back (and out of your bank account).

Here’s How Bankruptcy Works

The process is extremely complex, so don’t expect to go through it alone — and don’t expect it to be cheap.

First, you’ll file with the bankruptcy court in your federal judicial district. There’s at least one in every state. In most cases, this administrative process is carried out by a trustee appointed to your case.

The trustee helps you file paperwork and oversees your estate (anything you own) during the case. They’re an impartial player who can challenge creditors’ claims or yours, based on conversations with both.

Then a bankruptcy judge decides whether to discharge your debts. They could deny you for a few reasons:

  • You failed to keep or produce adequate financial records.
  • You failed to explain any loss of assets.
  • You committed a crime, e.g., perjury.
  • You failed to obey a lawful order of the bankruptcy court.
  • You hid property that would have been included in your estate.

But in general, if you were able to show your inability to repay debts, you should be granted a discharge.

If they rule in your favor, you’re released from personal responsibility for your debts, and creditors can’t take any more action to collect them.

Bankruptcy Will Trash Your Credit Score

Bankruptcy will most likely be a black mark on your credit history — one that lasts up to 10 years.

But if you’re in over your head with debt, your credit is probably already pretty marred already.

Some experts say bankruptcy won’t hurt your credit much more than a poor payment history. Just make sure filing bankruptcy is really your best option, because the aftermath is not fun.

Here’s one woman’s story of what it feels like to declare bankruptcy and how she repaired her credit afterward.

Beware Bankruptcy Fraud

Remember when you’re filing: Bankruptcy is a legal action judged in federal court. So if you try to pull one over on your judge or trustee, expect some serious consequences. Here are some major no-nos:

  • Concealing assets to avoid having to forfeit them.
  • Intentionally filing false or incomplete forms.
  • Filing multiple times using either false or real information in several jurisdictions.
  • Bribing a court-appointed trustee.

If you’re caught doing any of these you could be fined, denied discharge or face criminal charges.

Types of Bankruptcy for Individuals

Couple planning budget over laptop at home

Individuals and couples can file one of two types of bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 is the most common and is often referred to as liquidation bankruptcy. It’s for individuals who can prove they don’t have the income or means to pay off debts.

After you file, a trustee would help you sell your non-exempt assets, such as your home, car or other valuables, to repay your creditors. Then, even if the sale of those items doesn’t cover the debt in its entirety, you’re discharged from responsibility for your debts.

There is no debt limit for Chapter 7, but your “means” to pay off your debt will be tested and anyone who files for it is required to take credit counseling courses within six months of filing.

Most people can expect the process to take anywhere from three to six months.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 — or “wage-earner bankruptcy” — is for people whose income makes them ineligible for Chapter 7. Individuals and families who file Chapter 13 will work with a trustee to restructure and reorganize their debts and pay it back over three to five years, in which time debtors are not allowed to take on any additional debt.

You won’t have to liquidate any assets in Chapter 13, meaning you can keep your house. Instead, your payment plan will be determined by your household income and how it compares to your state’s median income.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy does come with some debt limits. According to the Federal Judiciary, you can only have:

  • $ 1,184,200 in secured debt, i.e., debt that is secured by collateral, like a house or car.
  • $ 394,725 in unsecured debt.

Federal law requires you to make your first payment to your trustee 30 days after filing.

Other Types of Bankruptcy

The Federal Judiciary describes bankruptcy as it applies to businesses and less common types of bankruptcies. Here’s a basic overview:

Type Typically Used by Basic Requirements Debt Limit Filing Fee*
Chapter 7 Individuals Prove you don’t have the means to repay debts n/a $ 335
Chapter 13 Individuals Have reliable income and the ability to repay debts $ 394,725 unsecured; $ 1,184,200 secured $ 310
Chapter 11 Businesses Be engaged in commercial or business activities $ 2,566,050 $ 1,717
Chapter 9 Municipalities, including cities, counties and school districts Municipality must be insolvent n/a $ 1,717
Chapter 12 Family farmers and fisherman Individual or married couple whose primary income and debt are related to the farming or fishing operation $ 4,153,150 farming; $ 1,924,550 fishing $ 275
Chapter 15 Foreign debtors Case must involve parties outside of the U.S. n/a $ 1,717

*Fees and requirements are accurate as of February 2019.

What to Expect When You File Bankruptcy

The process is pretty involved, and you’re probably going to want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to make decisions for your individual case. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect.

Bankruptcy Fees

You can apply to have Chapter 7 fees waived (with this form) or set up a payment plan for Chapter 13 fees if you can’t afford them upfront. To be eligible for a waiver, your household income should be less than 150% of the poverty line (calculated for you here), and you have to be unable to pay the fee in installments.

Additionally, you’ll be responsible for legal fees, which will vary.

Automatic Stay

Once you file bankruptcy, creditors and collectors have to stop trying to collect the money you owe them while the case is open.

That’s called an “automatic stay.”

If a company continues to try to collect during the stay, it’s violating a court order. Let the company know in writing, and the collections will likely stop. If they don’t, notify the bankruptcy court, which can punish the company for violating a court order.

Remember: Bankruptcy (Almost) Never Discharges These Debts

Debtors typically use bankruptcy to discharge credit card or medical debt. Many types of debt can’t be discharged this way, including:

  • Student loan debt (except sometimes).
  • Child support.
  • Alimony.
  • Most tax debts.
  • Debt you owe someone as a result of a criminal or civil charge, e.g., injury caused by a DUI.

For auto loans and mortgages, your debt may be discharged, but it could mean the creditor can seize the property you took a loan against — they could repossess your car, for example.

You can instead choose to “reaffirm” the debt, or leave it out of the bankruptcy discharge, and you’ll remain responsible for paying it off. And you get to keep your property.

Dana Sitar (dana@thepennyhoarder.com) is a writer and editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Here’s what a luxury NYC real estate agent thinks about Amazon HQ2

Ryan Serhant, real estate agent and managing director at NestSeekers International, started his career in Long Island City. He is well known as one of the real estate agents on Bravo's "Million Dollar Listings New York." Watch what he has to say about the Amazon HQ2 situation and how his clients are being affected.
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The First ‘Frozen II’ Teaser Has Us Ready for Fall; Here’s Everything We Know

The First 'Frozen II' Teaser Has Us Ready for Fall; Here's Everything We Know

Six years after everything changed for Disney and for families all around the world, the phenomenon of Frozen is back. One of the most anticipated sequels ever, Frozen II finally arrives in theaters this fall. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are ready to return to the big screen for another feature-length adventure. What's in store for the gang from Arendelle? We only have a short while to find out.

For now, we've got our first look at the Frozen…

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Here’s Your 2019 Oscars Ballot, Plus: Where To Watch Every Best Picture Nominee

Here's Your 2019 Oscars Ballot, Plus: Where To Watch Every Best Picture Nominee

As Oscar night approaches, we at Fandango want you to be able to enjoy this year's Academy Awards to the fullest. Hosting an Oscars party? Want a way to keep track of all your predictions? We've created this handy Oscars ballot that you can print out and use at home when the show airs live on ABC this February 24. 

Check it out below, and click on the image to enlarge and print.

 

If you still need to play catch-up when it comes to watching this year's Best…

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Edgy Octavia Spencer Stars in ‘Ma’; Here’s Everything We Know

Edgy Octavia Spencer Stars in 'Ma'; Here's Everything We Know

Octavia Spencer, who won an Academy Award for her performance in acclaimed social drama The Help, has teamed again with that film's director. Ma, however, is most definitely not a social drama.

Instead, Ma looks to be a positively chilling psychological thriller. Read onward to learn all we know.

Who stars?

Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, better known as Ma. When she is introduced, she appears to be a mysterious character, possibly in a supporting role. Very quickly, however,…

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Danny Boyle’s ‘Yesterday’ Gets First Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Danny Boyle's 'Yesterday' Gets First Trailer; Here's Everything We Know

Danny Boyle's music-themed comedy has nabbed a title, Yesterday. Its rather startling premise has also come into focus with the release of its first trailer. Read onward for all we know about the movie.

What's the story?

After an automobile accident during a "mysterious global blackout," a struggling musician discovers that he is the only person on the planet who remembers The Beatles. His "original" songs then cause a worldwide sensation, straining his…

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Here’s why medical chatbots could help doctors but won’t replace them

Could Sutter Health's new symptom tracker diagnose my bout of food poisoning? I put it to the test.
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‘Wicked’ Sets 2021 Release Date; Here’s Everything We Know

‘Wicked’ Sets 2021 Release Date; Here’s Everything We Know

Somewhere, over the next few years, a movie of Wicked will finally be made. Universal Pictures has long held the rights for an adaptation of the hit Broadway show, which itself is based on the popular novel of the same name that revises the story and characters from The Wizard of Oz. The studio has set a few different release dates throughout this decade, but now the screen version is aiming for a late 2021 opening.

That gives Universal a couple years to still finalize the details and get…

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Kourtney Kardashian – Here’s What The KUWK Star Wants To Teach People Through Her Co-Parenting With Scott Disick

It is a well-known fact to Keeping Up with the Kardashians fans that Kourtney Kardashian and her ex, Scott Disick are better co-parents to their three kids than most! That being said, the reality TV star got candid about their co-parenting relationship and revealed why it’s important for it to work, aside from the sake of their young ones.

Kourt and Scott have been through a lot in their nine-years-long relationship before putting an end to it, but nowadays, they seem to be in a great place!

As fans know, the exes often go on vacations together with the children, and some of those have even included the man’s current girlfriend, Sofia Richie, which only proves how healthy their co-parenting is!

While stopping by the Today Show on Thursday, Kourtney got candid about her and Scott’s relationship and what message she’s trying to send through it.

‘I feel like I can show a message, too, of like parents can get along and work together and travel together. And I think it’s a good message to show other people. I am not doing it for that reason, but I think the positive things that we are doing is nice too,’ the mother of three shared.

The Kardashian was a guest during the third hour of the show to also promote her cosmetics reform.

This comes nearly a year after Kourtney met up with congressional leaders and discussed updating the cosmetics legislation so the products generally used would no longer contain dangerous chemicals.

She has now teamed up with the Environmental Working Group to reach that goal.

‘I shouldn’t have to be standing in the bathroom scanning to know what products I am using are safe or not safe. Especially products for my kids,’ the star argued.

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New ‘Captain Marvel’ Teaser Goes Higher, Further, Faster; Here’s Everything We Know So Far

New 'Captain Marvel' Teaser Goes Higher, Further, Faster; Here's Everything We Know So Far

Captain Marvel, the 21st entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will mark the mega-franchise's first movie focused on a single female superhero, and the first to be co-directed by a female filmmaker and scored by a female composer. The highly anticipated film, which will take place more than 10 years before the MCU began, has been in development since 2013 and finally flies into theaters in early 2019. 

A new teaser trailer TV spot arrived during Super Bowl LIII with a…

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New ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Teaser Lines Up the Leftovers; Here’s Everything We Know

New ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Teaser Lines Up the Leftovers; Here’s Everything We Know

Ever since the devastating ending of Avengers: Infinity War, moviegoers have been dying to see what happens next and find out just what's become of not only half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. The fourth crossover tentpole of the franchise, Avengers: Endgame, will see theatrical release just under a year later, hopefully with all our questions answered. 

The first trailer for Endgame has now arrived to give fans hope that the surviving…

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‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Teases Four Terrifying Creatures; Here’s Everything We Know So Far

‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Teases Four Terrifying Creatures; Here's Everything We Know So Far

If you’re a child of the ‘80s or ‘90s, you’re familiar with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The series of children’s books, written by Alvin Schwartz and initially illustrated by Stephen Gammell, were staples of every boy and girl’s book shelf and provided so many of them with so many nightmares. Now there’s a movie adaptation of some of the bone-chilling tales found in the pages of that iconic collection.

Our first look at the movie came in the…

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Here’s How a Lot of New Orleans Saints Fans Trolled the Super Bowl

After the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl 53, some New Orleans Saints fans —and even a few players — couldn’t resist mocking the low-scoring game.

Ahead of Sunday night’s matchup, many Saints supporters still had a bad taste in their mouths from a controversial pass interference no-call late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship that they saw as the cause of their team’s loss. So it’s no surprise that NOLA had a few things to say about the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.

In addition to New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune trolling the game on both its front page and sports page lead, Saints wide receivers Michael Thomas and Tedd Ginn Jr. took to Twitter to rip into the Rams’ performance.

“Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?” the front-page headline read followed by the sports lead, “What do the Rams and the Saints have in common? Neither scored a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII.”

“Y’all better score more then 3 points in that new stadium,” Thomas tweeted, with Ginn Jr. adding, “Don’t cry now LA.”

Sports – TIME

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TREND REPORT: Here’s The New Way To Incorporate Snakeskin Style Into Your Wardrobe

Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Anniversary Event

Source: Caroline McCredie / Getty

We can all agree that animal print is now interchangeable as a neutral. What used to be a print reserved for your outlandish Auntie or fashion-forward friend, is now an everyday print that is incorporated into one’s closet. While leopard and cheetah print might be the most common, and introductory print, snakeskin proved to be the new darling on the Spring and Fall 2018 runways. The animal print, particularly, the snakeskin trend is not going anywhere. We saw it on covers, with Rihanna wearing a multi-colored snakeskin Gucci coat for Vogue Arabia November 2018 issue. For 2019, we’re still seeing snakeskin going strong, stylishly. Click through our gallery to see the trend on the runway and your favorite celebs for some serious style inspiration on how to wear it. Don’t miss out on the new way python is trending and how to incorporate it into your 2019 style.

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Here’s a Simple Trick to Snag 1% Cash Back on Anything (Without a Credit Card)

Remember that sweet surround sound system you bought a year ago? “Game of Thrones” never sounded so cool!

You even used your special credit card so you could earn some cash back on that baby. Well, that was the idea, anyway. Six months later, when you still had a balance on that card, you realized you paid a lot more in interest than what you earned in cash back.

The score? Credit card company: 1. You: 0

Believe it or not, you don’t have to use a credit card to enjoy the benefits of cash back. You can earn 1% cash back just for making your everyday debit card purchases — if you have an Empower banking account

You Can Get Cash Back — Without the Risk

You love cash back. Who doesn’t?

The problem is, your credit card offers you a small percentage of cash back, but it charges you an astronomical interest rate.

Why not just get cash back without the risk of paying crazy interest rates?

Here’s the trick: Don’t get a cash-back credit card — get a cash-back debit card with Empower.

When you open an Empower checking account, you can start earning cash 1% back on your everyday purchases with your debit card up to the first $ 1,000 spent each month. Refer your friends to this awesomeness, and you could boost that number up to 2%.

Your morning coffee stop? Cash back.

Lunch? Yep, cash back.

That weekly trip to stock up on groceries? You guessed it. Cash back.

Stop risking your money with credit cards just to get cash back. With Empower, you can get the rewards you love without risking big interest charges. Plus, there are no ATM fees, annual fees or overdraft fees.

Handle all of your finances right from your phone with Empower. Pay nothing and earn cash back just for using your debit card.

The score? Credit card company: 0. You: 1%.

Winner winner.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Bruegger’s Will Give You 3 Free Bagels on Jan. 31! Here’s How to Get Them

Many food chains give you birthday freebies. But what about when it’s their birthday? Why not celebrate that too?

Bruegger’s Bagels turns 36 this year. Instead of celebrating with cake and ice cream, the breakfast and coffee stop is doing what comes naturally: giving out free bagels.

Want to carb up for free?

How to Get Free Bruegger’s Bagels

First, sign up for the eClub to receive emails from Bruegger’s. You’ll get an email with the option to either show a mobile coupon for your three free bagels or print your coupon.

Then, visit your favorite of the more than 200 Bruegger’s locations on Jan. 31 between opening, which varies by store, and 11 a.m.

P.S. Signing up for Bruegger’s eClub will get a freebie on your birthday too. There’s really no downside.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and on-air journalist at The Penny Hoarder. She loves bagels, but not as much as she likes pizza. Editorial assistant Jessica Gray contributed to this post.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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The worst-performing Dow stock this year is about to report earnings. Here’s what to expect

Ari Wald of Oppenheimer and Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global discuss Pfizer shares before the company's earnings are released with CNBC's Mike Santoli.
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What does a national emergency mean? Here’s what happens if Donald Trump declares one

What does a national emergency mean? Here’s what happens if Donald Trump declares one


What does a national emergency mean? Here’s what happens if Donald Trump declares one

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on January 8th. On Friday, January 25th, President Donald Trump said he would agree to temporarily reopen the government but, if Congress continued to reject his plans for a border wall, he may declare a “national emergency.”

President Donald Trump is caught between a wall and a hard place. With a $ 5.7 billion price tag, his proposed southern border wall has divided Congress and sent the nation into its 18th day of a government shutdown—stranding some 800,000 federal employees without pay. On Tuesday night Trump is scheduled to address the nation, interrupting prime-time on broadcast networks for the first time in his presidency.

While a senior White House official told The Washington Post that the president plans to use the airtime to garner support for the wall, it remains unclear whether he might make a more drastic proclamation instead—declaring a “national emergency” and freeing himself to implement more than 100 powers. By invoking such an emergency Trump could potentially begin building his wall and, in a rhetorical dodge, then announce his demands had been met and that he would agree to end the shutdown. But he may also enrage Democrats and provoke a legal battle. Here is what a national emergency really means.

donald trump
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

What qualifies as a “national emergency”?

In short, it depends. According to a report put together by the Brennan Center for Justice, both the president and Congress can declare a national emergency whenever they see fit. Despite the severe-sounding label, no broadly agreed-upon “emergency” is actually required. That means that while the underlying data doesn’t support parts of the Trump administration’s argument about the dangers at the souther border — for example, the number of illegal immigrants has decreased over the last two decades and, according to the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism, there is “no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States”—the president nonetheless can rule it an emergency, The New York Times explains. 

Under the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, Congress has the power to end a state of emergency declared by a president. But it has not done so in 40 years, according to the Brennan Center’s report. It seems especially unlikely that Congress would terminate the potential border-related national emergency, given its current makeup, as doing so would require a joint resolution and a signature from the president.

What can a president do with emergency powers?

Build a wall—maybe. Generally, emergency powers can help a president act in dire situations when executive branch’s standard capabilities are too limited. The thinking is that the president is ultimately tasked with safeguarding a nation’s safety and prosperity and, in a crisis, should be empowered to move swiftly as needed.

The Brennan Center identified 136 additional statutory powers that a president may use in the case of a national emergency, two of which may apply to the border wall. The first permits the president to use funding already allocated to military construction to begin “military construction projects not otherwise authorized by law.” The second statute allows the president to take away troops and other resources from Department of Army civil works projects and apply them to “authorized civil works, military construction and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense.”

government shutdown
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Is that legal?

While both of these statutes provide some legal cover if the president declares a state of emergency to fund the border wall, they each raise important questions. For example, does the wall qualify as “military construction”—a necessary component to the first statute? Or, as the second requires, has Congress already “authorized” a wall? Should the wall’s construction via an emergency be challenged in court, the Supreme Court would likely have to weigh in.

Do presidents regularly declare national emergencies?

Yes. Since the National Emergencies Act became law, presidents have declared at least 58 states of emergency, excluding weather-related events, USA Today reported. In 2009, President Barack Obama declared a national emergency amid the outbreak of H1N1, better known as swine flu and allowed the waiving of some rules such as privacy laws.

What now?

Wait until Trump’s speech at 9 p.m. ET, with a Democratic rebuttal to follow and the networks vowing to provide extensive fact-checking, given the president’s history of untruths and distortions.

This article originally appeared on People.com

The post What does a national emergency mean? Here’s what happens if Donald Trump declares one appeared first on HelloGiggles.

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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 in the basement. 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 your 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.

A woman shops for clothing at Upscale Cheapskate, a trendy thrift store.

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 19 states and the District of Columbia. And if you don’t live in one of those areas, the clothing exchange has a sell-by-mail program. 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.

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 143 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 470 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. 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 350 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

A thrift store owner goes through clothing a customer brought in to sell.

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.

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 them under a bright light to check for tears or discoloration.

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.

Sell Your Clothes Often

Buffalo Exchange’s biggest tip is to buy or sell your clothes every three months. That way, your clothes cache will always be in style, which means more money in your pocket when you sell.

Since most clothing exchanges buy with seasons in mind, it may be best to wait till spring or summer before purging your bathing suits.

Unless you live in Florida. Then January’s probably fine.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He believes in the life-changing magic of selling all most of your things. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Ready, set, file: Here’s what you need to know to file your 2018 tax return

The only certainty is death and taxes: The 2018 filing season will kick off on Monday, Jan. 28, even amid the shutdown. Here's what you need to know to make the process a little less painful.
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Here’s Where This Financial Planner Keeps Her Money (Hint: Not a Big Bank)

After becoming a financial planner in 2017, Denisa Petricko took a closer look at her own finances.

“After looking at the breakdowns of how my money was being handled by a larger bank, I realized that I had large sums just sitting in an account accumulating interest — but not for me,” she says in an email. “It was for the banks themselves.”

Then, she stumbled upon an article about the Aspiration Account.

When she read the online account would collect 1% in interest — for her to keep — she was sold.

The Perks of Opening an Account With Aspiration

This online-only account comes with a debit card, so you can easily access your money when you need it. Here’s what else you get:

  • As we mentioned in our Aspiration review, Aspiration is a do-good company, focusing on what’s best for you and the planet. You can even track the impact of your spending based on the retailers you frequent.
  • It allows you to choose what you pay each month — even if that’s $ 0. Additionally, there are no sneaky fees. There’s no minimum balance and no minimum monthly deposit. Plus, you can open an account with just $ 10.
  • You can travel without facing insane ATM fees. In fact, ATM fees across the world are 100% refundable. Aspiration automatically reimburses you a couple of days after you’re charged.
  • Aspiration has an easy-to-use app and website, making it accessible everywhere there’s cell phone or internet service.
  • It offers investment options, including its Redwood Fund and Flagship IRA accounts.

With her old bank, Petricko was lucky to earn 8 cents a month on a $ 10,000 balance. Now, Aspiration’s high-yield account slides $ 5 to $ 10 into her account each month, thanks to those interest rates.

Interested in learning more about the online-only  account? Head over to Aspiration.

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 Why More Expensive Cloth Diapers Could Be Worth It

Babies might be small and cute, but they can also be expensive.

One of the easiest ways to save money on baby gear (and be eco-friendly) is to invest in a cloth diaper stash rather than using disposables. While you pay more money upfront for cloth diapers, you’ll save money over the course of your baby’s journey from infant to potty-trained preschooler.

I’m currently on my second cloth-diapered kid. My husband, Ben, and I used them with our daughter, Rose, from the time she was a newborn until she was potty trained at age 3. Now, we use cloth diapers on our son, Liam (3 months), and plan to do so until he is potty trained as well.

When building our stash, I was pretty overwhelmed by the types of diapers available and the various brands at different price points. Now, I’m a cloth diaper pro. I know what works for me and what I’m willing to pay. I decided to talk to some of my mom friends who have used cloth diapers to see which brands they recommend.

Budget-Friendly Diapers

detail of a pocket cloth diaper
Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you’re thinking of trying cloth diapers but don’t want to invest too much in case it’s not for you, consider buying a few cheaper pocket diapers to take for a trial run. Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside that cover. You’ll need to wash the cover and inserts after each use.

I bought a lot of KaWaii Baby diapers on eBay before Rose was born and used them with her until she was potty trained. I am using them with Liam as well and find them to be just as absorbent. I paid $ 110 for 24 diapers, which works out to $ 4.58 per diaper.

I could have stuck with Rose’s diaper stash for Liam, but I decided to invest in some new prints. I found a couple of brands on Amazon that offered a variety of cute prints for cheap.

Alva Baby offers affordable pocket diapers. You can buy a pack of six diapers with 12 microfiber inserts from Amazon for $ 39.99, or $ 6.67 per diaper. Alva Baby has a lot of different print choices, all of which are very cute and very affordable.

I also got a pack of six Mama Koala diapers with six microfiber inserts for $ 39.99, or $ 6.67 per diaper. The prints I got featured different types of food, from pizza and tacos to avocado toast with eggs (it was the latter that made me purchase them, to be honest).

Another good way to build a diaper stash on a budget is through local consignment sales. These sales allow local moms to sell their gently used baby and kid clothes and toys, and you can find great deals on diapers if you’re lucky. Local cloth diaper stores might also have consignment sales where you can find deals. My local store, Samozrejme, holds quarterly “re-stash” sales where you can score gently used cloth diapers for cheap.

My friend Alexis Goodwin found another way to go the cloth-diaper route on a budget with prefolds (a rectangular-shaped cloth diaper with an absorbent pad sewn in the middle). “I used covers and prefolds so I could reuse the covers multiple times versus a single use,” she told me. “I believe the prefolds I used were cotton. I added a homemade liner of fleece to help keep [my baby] dry by wicking away the moisture. This also made it easier, when we started solids, to get rid of poop.”

You can buy prefold diapers very cheaply, so diapering this way is a great budget option. And you’ll only need to wash the prefolds after each use rather than both the insert and the cover.

Mid-Priced Diapers

detail of Thirsties cloth diaper covers
Thirsties cloth diaper covers are a good mid-range option for cloth diapering. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you decide to go the prefold-diaper route, Goodwin recommends Thirsties covers as a good mid-range option. You can buy these new for around $ 12 each, which is more expensive than the budget brands mentioned. But since you can use the diaper covers multiple times and just replace the prefolds when they are soiled, you’ll need fewer covers than if you go with pocket diapers or all-in-one options (where the cover and insert are permanently attached).

Another mid-range diaper brand Goodwin recommends is Rumparooz. She used the newborn-size covers, but you can also get one-size diaper covers that fit from six to 35 pounds. Rumparooz newborn covers cost $ 10 each, and one-size covers cost $ 14.

Buying mid-priced diapers still works on a budget if you go the cover-and-prefold route. Depending on how many covers you buy, you could end up spending less than you would if you bought a budget brand pocket diaper stash.

Splurge-Worthy Diapers

detail of a Grovia diaper
GroVia diaper covers are pricey but they are versatile because they can be used with inserts that snap into the shell as well as with prefold diapers. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

As with anything, you can spend a lot of money on cloth diapers. But sometimes, spending more on a pricier brand might be worth it.

“I loved my GroVia shells,” said Goodwin. “My littlest was a skinny baby with skinny legs. These fit her perfectly from about two months until she potty trained. They had such cute prints, too! If money wasn’t an issue, I’d [recommend buying] GroVia covers and inexpensive prefolds.”

The nice thing about GroVia diaper covers is that you can buy inserts to snap in rather than using prefold diapers. The shells and inserts cost $ 16.95 each, or you can buy GroVia prefolds at $ 8.95 for a pack of three.

My friend Kathryn Dowell swears by AppleCheeks diapers. This Canadian company offers sized diapers as well as one-size diapers. Prices range from $ 20.75 to $ 24 per diaper cover. You can use them with cheap prefolds or stick with AppleCheeks brand inserts, depending on your budget.

“[AppleCheeks’] customer interaction and community… is a large part of why I choose them. But the company aligns with a lot of my beliefs in other ways. They are produced in Canada and hire local seamstresses,” Dowell explained.

Dowell first discovered AppleCheeks when a friend sold her a starter stash for half the retail price. She was so impressed with the company and the quality of the product that she quickly became a convert.

“The quality will last through several children,” she said. “[They are often] available on sale.” This can range from 15% off a regular diaper to 40% off a discontinued color.

Splurging on pricier diapers might be painful at first, but if you plan on cloth diapering through two or more kids, it could be worth the upfront cost.

Whether you stick to budget brands or splurge on more expensive ones, cloth diapering your kid can save you big in the long term (not to mention saving a bunch of disposable diapers from entering a landfill).

The great thing about cloth diapers is that you can resell them when you don’t need them anymore. So even if you spend big in the beginning, you can recoup some of that money once your kids are potty trained.

Catherine Hiles first started cloth diapering to do her part for the environment. Now, she can’t imagine using disposable diapers as a full-time option.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Lenders promise savings on student loans, but here’s why the reality is different than advertised

Student loan refinancing companies say they offer borrowers a way to save thousands of dollars on their debt, by allowing them to pay off their loans at a lower interest rate, in less time.
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Leaving Your Bank in 2019 Could Save You $360. Here’s How

When’s the last time you were slapped with a bank fee?

Maybe you didn’t maintain that insanely high minimum balance, or you accidentally overdrafted by 99 cents, Or you might’ve used an out-of-network ATM out of desperation.

You’re not alone.

Big banks make big bucks off these fees. Looking at overdraft fees alone, banks collected $ 6.4 billion from Americans in 2016, according to a CNN analysis.

The average overdraft fee these days hovers around $ 30, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s approximately 10 small Starbucks lattes. Or 30 items off the McDonald’s dollar menu — one snack a day (though we don’t really recommend that health-wise).

Bottom line: We’re losing a lot of money in fees.

And if you’re a moderately frequent overdrafter (defined by the CFPB as someone who overdrafts once a month), then you’re handing over $ 360 in fees each year.

The good news is that there are some very nice accounts out there that won’t charge you overdraft fees — or nearly any fees for that matter — like Aspiration.

This Unicorn of an Account Doesn’t Charge Insane Fees

The Aspiration Account is an online-only account with no monthly fees, no minimums and pays 1% APY.

Yep! Instead of getting charged fees, you can actually earn money with this account.

Here’s a quick rundown of the account’s features and its fees (or lack thereof):

  • Minimum opening deposit: $ 10
  • Minimum balance to maintain: $ 0
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $ 0
  • ATM fee (both domestic and international): $ 0
  • Overdraft fee: $ 0
  • Stop payment fee: $ 0
  • Incoming wire transfers: 82 cents
  • Outgoing wire transfers: 82 cents

(Honestly, there’s Venmo and PayPal these days for those transfers anyways…)

So rather than getting tangled in an endless cycle of bank fees, Aspiration’s account actually allows you to sit back and watch your money grow, thanks to that 1% APY you’ll earn on your balance.

So make the switch, save some money and have a happy, fee-free year!

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Full disclosure: She banks with Aspiration and loves it!

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 Major Hair Tip For Women That Like To Blowout Their Natural Hair

Loving care nourishes luxurious hair

Source: PeopleImages / Getty

Recently, I took a trip to Beleza Natural in Harlem to get my hair done. This Brazilian salon and haircare brand is bringing their techniques to the US and I got a first-hand experience with their products at the new salon. The one great thing about Beleza Natural is that they are serious about haircare and their stylists and technicians not only do your hair but also teach you about your hair. It’s incredible and perfect for the woman (like me) who always has a ton of questions when it comes to hair and haircare, particularly for my Type 4 texture.

Instagram Photo

My stylist, Shantelle Kelly was responsible for trimming my hair, blow drying, and providing me with a silk press that has lasted almost a week and through two workouts. (Seriously). Beleza Natural has a technique for everything. First: they only do curly cuts in the salon. Kelly explained, “a good thing about a curly cut is that you can see what’s going on with the hair.” I had only had a curly cut once before. I’m not sure I’m “sold” on curly cuts, but I’m not opposed to getting one done again. If you wear your hair in a wash and go, I would definitely suggest a curly cut or trim as you can shape your hair better.

Now, when you are blowdrying and flat ironing your hair, you want to protect your curl pattern. First off, use the blow dryer to get your hair as straight as possible. Think of the flat iron as the finishing technique, not the step to do all the work to get your hair straight. When you are blow drying your hair, your hair should be wet. Like wet, wet. Kelly was spritzing water in my hair before she started blow drying it. She explained, “Water helps to make the natural hair smooth and to stretch it.” Wow! Normally, after I’m out of the shower, I’ll t-shirt dry my hair, trying to get it as dry as I can, THEN blow dry it. Nope, nope, nope. That was a major hair no-no. I didn’t even know!

Danielle James' Trip To Beleza Natural

Source: Danielle James / Madame Noire

I’m a fan of Kelly’s technique. As you can see, my hair turned out smooth, silky, and lasted a week!

How do you prep your hair for a blowout and a silk press? Did you know this tip? Share in the comment section.

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Jason Reitman is Directing ‘Ghostbusters 3’; Here’s Everything We Know

Jason Reitman is Directing ‘Ghostbusters 3’; Here’s Everything We Know

It’s time to get slimed at least one more time.

Just when the fate of the Ghostbusters franchise seemed up in the air, another installment is in the works. That’s right, as revealed by Entertainment Weekly, Sony is going back to the popular 1980s series that started it all, but the still-rather-secret sequel isn’t totally clear in how it will connect to the old movies starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.

So far, Ghostbusters 3 (or whatever the movie will be titled) has…

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Drive 50 Miles Per Day? Here’s How You Could Save Over $150 Per Month

Do you feel like you spend more time in your car than you do in your home? Do you have a long work commute, oodles of miles while doing your job or run your kids all over town for their extra curriculars? If so, you might feel like you’re watching life through a windshield while you belt out the lyrics to that song you’re hearing for the fifth time today.

That’s OK, especially if you like your car. But are you paying too much for it?

If you’re driving 50 miles per day, it feels better if you know you’re saving money. Here are a few ideas to pay less for your extensive time in the car.

Pay For Better Tunes By Saving at the Pump

Putting on miles means burning through a lot of gas, even with a fuelefficient car.

If you’re a savvy saver, you probably already use GasBuddy to help you find the cheapest gas station in town. It’s an easy — and free — way to avoid overpaying.

A quick look at gas prices on GasBuddy for urban areas such at Tampa, Dallas and Chicago shows you could save as much as 25 cents per gallon just by choosing the right gas station.Wow.

But once you pull up to the pump, here’s something else you can do: Get a discount card from GasBuddy to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).

The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.

Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.

Let’s say you save 25 cents per gallon by choosing the right gas station, plus 5 cents per gallon with the GasBuddy discount card. Based on our 50milesperday scenario, we’ll assume you are driving a sensible vehicle that gets about 30 mpg.

If you drove 30 days per month, you’d need to purchase 50 gallons of gas. If you’re saving 30 cents per gallon, that’s $ 15 per month you’re saving, just in gas. Boom. You just paid for your satellite radio subscription.

Find Out if You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

When’s the last time you looked at your car insurance plan? Don’t just renew your plan because it’s what you’ve always done. See if there is a better plan out there for you, your car and the way you drive.

Yes, there’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.

So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Head over to The Zebra’s search platform. Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your ZIP code. Continue on to answer questions about your driving habits, your car and your life.

On the right sidebar, you’ll watch rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident that was your fault in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.

  1. After answering some questions, it’s time to compare. The Zebra gives you an “Insurability Score,” which is similar to your credit score, except it’s for car insurance, and it  teaches you how to get better rates. The site also gives you different options for coverage.

When you’re ready to consider your options and select a quote, you can also receive a phone call from The Zebra for additional support.

A nice representative (a real, live human) on the line asks if you want to speak with a specialist. If you’re truly interested in car insurance and want to ask all the questions, this could be the perfect time.

Otherwise, just keep shoppin’ around and weighing options through The Zebra.

You could save up to 50% on your insurance premium. According to ValuePenguin, the national average for auto is $ 941 or about $ 78 per month. Cut that in half, and you just saved $ 39 per month. Your number might even be better!

Get More Mileage Out of Your Car Payments

Highway traffic to Jacksonville, Florida, US

When you bought the car you knew you’d spend a lot of time in, did you scour the banks, credit unions and internet to get the very best rate on your loan? If you’re like most people, you probably took the financing offered by the dealership, and that’s OK. But you could do better.

You might be able to save a nice chunk of change by refinancing your auto loan. The problem is that’s normally kind of a pain.

With auto refinancing, the biggest hurdle is the process of re-titling your vehicle, which involves dealing with your local DMV. And oh, my God, who wants to mess with that?

Never fear — MotoRefi’s digital platform handles all that technical stuff so you don’t have to. In a matter of minutes, you could qualify for a lower monthly payment, lower interest rate, or both.

MotoRefi partners with lenders — like community and regional banks — that can offer you the best rates. Once you choose a lender, MotoRefi handles all the paperwork, including the cumbersome re-titling process.

MotoRefi says it’s saving the average customer $ 100 per month or more. Checking for potential savings won’t impact your credit score.

MotoRefi is available in California, Connecticut and Michigan.

Your Savings Add Up — Just Like The Miles

See how easy that was? Let’s tally the score.

Gas savings: $ 15 per month

Insurance premium savings: $ 39 per month

Car payment savings: $ 100 per month

Grand total: $ 154

Your savings may be a bit less, or they could even be more, depending your car and how much you drive. Considering just how much time you spend behind the wheel listening to the radio play that super popular song over and over, taking a few minutes to discover your savings possibilities could hit just the right note.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He drives 70 miles every day to his awesome job. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Spider-Man Meets Nick Fury in First ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Spider-Man Meets Nick Fury in First ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Given what happens in Avengers: Infinity War, the next solo Spider-Man movie is shrouded in secrecy. At least, a lot of the details are. What we do know is the Spider-Man: Homecoming follow-up will be titled Spider-Man: Far From Home and it will supposedly be set after the events of this summer's Avengers: Endgame — if anyone is even still alive after that ultimate Marvel crossover, that is.

Sony dropped the first trailer for Far From Home this…

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Here’s the Significance of That Feather in the New Game of Thrones Teaser

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.

The new Game of Thrones teaser that debuted ahead of Sunday night’s True Detective premiere opened with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) walking solemnly through the crypts of Winterfell and seemed to hint at a long-awaited reveal.

As Jon passes by the effigy of Lyanna Stark in the teaser we see the feather. Fans might recognize that it’s the very same feather that Robert Baratheon placed in her statue’s hand in the series’ first episode. The feather flutters to the ground behind Jon and he looks back, appearing confused, before continuing down the tunnel.

As fans know but Jon Snow is not yet aware, the King in the North is not actually the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, but rather the child of Ned’s sister, Lyanna, and Rhaegar Targaryen. In a series of flashbacks shown in the season 7 finale, it was revealed that Rhaegar wed Lyanna after annuling his marriage to Elia Martell. Lyanna then gave birth to Jon — whose real name is Aegon Targaryen — before she died, making him a trueborn Targaryen.

Lyanna and Rhaegar were very much in love when she ran away to be with him while still betrothed to Robert. However, Robert was blinded by his feelings for Lyanna and incited a rebellion against the Targaryen throne by claiming that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped her. Many in the Seven Kingdoms still believe that Robert’s version of events was credible.

But after seeing Robert’s feather finally fall from Lyanna’s statue in the new teaser, some fans are speculating that the truth about Lyanna, Rhaegar and Jon will finally be revealed to all in season 8.

“Jon walking by and blowing the feather off the statue is symbolic of the fact that Jon is a child of Lyanna and the Targaryen,” one reddit user posits. “Jon’s existence is a symbol of Lyanna’s rejection of Robert’s love for her. Jon is a force of revealing the truth and his character destroys the lies everyone believes.”

Watch the full teaser above.

Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season on April 14.


Entertainment – TIME

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The Joy of This Gymnast’s Floor Routine Is Reverberating Across the Internet. Here’s What to Know

If you’re a talented gymnast vaulting extremely high in the air in your immaculate floor routine, and your spirits are even higher, people notice.

So when UCLA shared a video of NCAA champion gymnast Katelyn Ohashi handily earning a perfect 10 score with her gymnast routine to Michael Jackson medley at Saturday’s Under Armor’s 2019 Collegiate Challenge, she got a whole lot of praise from some pretty high-profile people via Twitter.

In the clip, UCLA’s Katelyn Ohashi made sticking a flawless landing after nailing three backflips and landing into a split look like pure fun, and the crowd lapped it up. She did it all with unbridled joy and a million-watt smile to the tune of songs like Jackson’s “I Want You Back,” and Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.”

That ability has lead the video to garner more than 15 million views of Monday morning, more views than Los Angeles has people.

You’ll want to orient yourself with her athletic career.

Ohashi moonwalked into tying for first place at last year’s Pac-12 Championships with a routine that earned a 9.95 out of 10 on the scorecard, and resulted in a video that got 90 million views. That was her personal best to beat, UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field told the Los Angeles Times.

She’s since proven she has a cheery online presence, laughing at some of the major shoutouts.

The elite floor exercise athlete competes on the college level. She had originally set her sights on the Olympics, but decided to leave that behind according to The Players’ Tribune. “There was a time where I was on top of the world, an Olympic hopeful,” she explained during the video. “I was unbeatable, until I wasn’t.”

But that hasn’t stopped her from wowing millions of new fans.

According to her official UCLA website bio, the Katelyn Ohashi floor routine, as it is now known, was by no means the first perfect 10 score for the six-time all-American — and two were on the beam.

See some reactions to her latest triumph below.

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Blake Shelton Helped Gwen Stefani Heal After Her Divorce – Here’s How!

One insider report explains that Gwen Stefani was really affected by going through a divorce but Blake Shelton helped her heal and be open to the idea that she might tie the knot again one day! Supposedly, the singer is really ‘grateful’ for her country crooner boyfriend.

It sounds like Gwen was left with some deep emotional scars by her divorce, but because Blake was there to pick up the pieces soon after, she is much better today.

After things ended between her and Gavin Rossdale, Blake showed Gwen that a healthy relationship was not a myth.

The source shared with HollywoodLife that ‘Gwen is thankful for Blake and what he has done for her for many reasons, but she was truly skeptical about finding love again until connecting with Blake. She was scared to jump into things with him because she was incredibly hurt from her divorce.’

‘Though she has moved on from Gavin, she still deals with the pain and scars of that, which is why she is happy with where she and Blake are currently at.’

Her first marriage crumbling like that really made Gwen wary of marrying anyone again – even the amazing Blake Shelton!

But still, before meeting him, Gwen felt like she could not even entertain the idea of getting married again.

When he came along, he managed to make her open up more.

The insider made it very clear that the star has never really felt this happy in a relationship, which is also how Blake feels.

The man simply worships her and thinks all of her characteristics are attractive, including her strength and being a great mom to her sons.

So while before, Gwen was very scared of the idea of marriage, now she is much more open to it, and Blake is very thankful for that.

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1.11.19 Computer home appraisals; TikTok app is big with kids – here’s what you need to know

Computer home appraisals might be coming soon. Clark and Producer Joel discuss the pros and cons of this potential change; TikTok is surging in use among kids. Clark tells you what to watch out for if your kids are using this app.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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The post 1.11.19 Computer home appraisals; TikTok app is big with kids – here’s what you need to know appeared first on Clark Howard.

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Hate Doing Taxes? Here’s How to Easily File Them — Without Even Leaving Home

Do you procrastinate on taxes until April 15 every year? Does the sight of a W-2 form make your eyes cross? Does pricy tax software make you want to run and hide?

C’mon, it doesn’t have to be that bad. Help is available at an affordable price, and you don’t even have to leave your home.

That’s what you’ll get from H&R Block, the biggest tax-preparation company in the world. Because they’ve been in business since 1955, you might think they’re stodgy and old-fashioned. Nope — they’re keeping up with the times, rolling out innovative new ways to make filing your taxes easy and affordable.

Tax Filing From Home

If your taxes are super simple, you can file for free from your phone, tablet or computer with H&R Block Free. You can also file for free if you’re paying tuition or receiving student loans.

The Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler tried H&R Block Free last year and was pleasantly surprised by how easy and quick it was.

“I poured myself a giant cup of coffee and settled in for the afternoon,” she wrote. “Little did I know, this would be over in about 20 minutes.”

She downloaded the H&R Block app on her phone and created an account. That made it easy to switch over to her computer at any point without losing any of her information. She snapped a photo of her W-2 and answered a few quick questions. Once she reviewed her information, her part was basically done.

If your taxes are a bit more complicated, you might need to pay a small fee to file online. These options include:

  • Deluxe Online Tax Filing: This is similar to the free service, because you do it all online. If your taxes are a little more complicated — for example, if you own a home or have children — this is a better fit. It’s only $ 29.99 — not free, but really affordable for professional tax prep services.
  • Premium Online Tax Filing: Use this if you’re a freelancer or if you own stocks or other investments. It costs $ 49.99.
  • Self-Employed Online Tax Filing: Use this if you’re self-employed or a small business owner. It costs $ 79.99.

Right now, Penny Hoarders get a 35% discount on all of these.

Professional Tax Prep Can Be a Godsend

The exterior building of H&R block.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to have your taxes done by a professional, you’d have to drive to a tax office in person. You’d sit there and make small talk while an accountant flipped through your documents, tapped on a calculator and figured out your deductions.

These days, you can skip the trip. With H&R Block Tax Pro Go, you’ll upload your documents online, and a tax professional will do everything for you and get back to you within five days. Prices start at $ 59 but can increase depending on how complicated your taxes are.

It can help to have a pro do your income taxes, because Uncle Sam keeps messing around with the tax codes. Some new rules are coming into play this tax season. For instance, the standard deduction is higher, but the personal exemption has been eliminated.

If you don’t know what that means, join the club. Maybe it’s time to call in a pro.

H&R Block’s services can help ensure you get the best refund possible at a price you can afford.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. A homeowner with two kids and freelance income, he hasn’t done his own taxes in years.

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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Renters Rejoice: Here’s 8 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Before buying a house last winter, I had rented several apartments in southwestern Ohio, which gets so cold in the winter (and fall and sometimes spring) that I may as well have lived in Alaska. The problem with every single apartment I lived in was the same: It was exorbitantly expensive to heat each one in the winter due to old systems, ancient windows and poor insulation.

Luckily, the house I purchased has great new windows, excellent insulation and doors that actually close properly. And any issues that have caused inefficient heating in my home, I’ve been able to fix cheaply.

It’s much more challenging to combat these issues in apartments because, as a renter, you can’t just invest in new windows or redo the insulation. In my eight years of renting, however, I discovered a number of ways to cut back on my apartment heating bills.

Close Off Unused Rooms

If you live in a two- or three-bedroom apartment but use one of the rooms for storage, exercise or an irregularly accessed workspace, close the door and shut the vents in that room when it is not in use. Otherwise, you will unnecessarily be heating an unused space.

And if the space is so infrequently used, consider downsizing to a smaller apartment the next time your lease is up for renewal. If you stay within the same apartment complex, you often will not have to offer up new deposits.

Turn Down the Heat

An easy way to reduce your electric or heating bill in the winter is to run your heat at a lower temperature.

Obviously, you need to keep your apartment warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, but if you can stand the chill, keep your apartment in the low- to mid-60s. Bundle up in sweatshirts, thick socks and blankets to stay warm — and don’t forget to cover up your pets, too.

Use a Space Heater

OK, so you’ve turned the heat down, closed off unused rooms and bundled up in blankets, but you’re still feeling chilly. A small space heater might do the trick. Rather than wasting the energy to heat the whole apartment to a warmer temperature, keep a space heater in the area that you plan to spend the day or evening. Running a little bit of heat in one small area is more affordable than heating your entire living space.

Insulate Your Windows

One apartment I lived in shortly after college had a living room with one wall that was entirely windows, overlooking a quaint pond. I toured the apartment in the springtime and was immediately sold. Little did I know that these single-pane windows would be the bane of my existence just nine months later when frost began forming on the inside.

Since renters can’t control whether their landlords install replacement windows (though I spent at least an hour a week in the main office demanding that mine do so, to no avail), finding temporary ways to keep heat from leaking out is crucial.

You can do this by hanging thick curtains in front of the windows, but an even better solution (or a solution to combine with the curtains) is purchasing a window insulation film kit. If it is your first time installing, I recommend asking an experienced friend or family member for assistance; when incorrectly installed, your window will look like it’s been covered in shrink wrap.

Stop Eating Out

Of course, you can save money on meals by eating at home instead of dining out, but in the winter, baking and cooking can have the added benefit of reducing your heating bill.

When you cook in your oven and on the stove top, heat emanates into your kitchen and surrounding rooms. Even after turning the oven off, the remaining heat will eventually filter out to into your home.

Block Out Drafts From Your Door

The bottoms of exterior doors are a major culprit for heat loss in the winter. If you can see daylight creeping in from beneath your door or feel a cool breeze, speak to your landlord about addressing this issue.

If that becomes a dead end or it will take maintenance a few days to get over, temporarily improve the situation by rolling up a towel and blocking the bottom of the door. The solution isn’t perfect, but it will prevent some heat loss for the time being.

Weatherstrip Like Crazy

Weatherstripping for doors and windows is key to retaining heat in the winter (and keeping it out in the summer). If your windows and doors are letting too much heat out, ask your landlord to replace the weatherstripping.

Unfortunately, not all landlords are created equal. If you encounter a landlord who dodges your requests, tell them in writing that you will be replacing the weatherstripping yourself. (Do not make it a question.) It’s a minor cost and will save you big-time on heating bills.

Leave a Review

If you are stuck in a lease at an apartment community that does not take your maintenance concerns seriously, remember that online reviews are your friend. Leave reviews on Google, social media and the Better Business Bureau site if your landlord ignores or refuses your reasonable requests. I’ve had to leave reviews more than once, and conveniently, the landlords took care of the issues the very next day.

Before you know it, winter will come and go. Reduce energy consumption year-round by also reading our tips for reducing utility bills in the summer.

Timothy Moore is a market research editor and freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 and has been featured on sites like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.

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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Marsai Martin Enters the Big Time in ‘Little’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

Marsai Martin Enters the Big Time in ‘Little’ Trailer; Here’s Everything We Know

You’ve seen Big; now it’s time for Little, a comedy about a wealthy tech company executive who is magically turned back into a kid. That’s not the most amazing story involved with the movie, either: Little is based on an idea pitched by its young star, Marsai Martin, who also become one of the youngest Hollywood producers ever with this project at just 13 years old.

Universal Pictures has just released the first trailer for Little, which looks like a hoot and offers…

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Beyoncé Planning To Shop At Target ‘More Often’ After Unexpected Appearance There – Here’s Why!

Fans were surprised to see none other than Beyonce being relatable by shopping at Target. However, one source tells HollywoodLife that she is not planning her affordable shopping spree to be a one-time thing.

According to the insider, Bey has not only been to the department store before, she is totally willing to repeat the experience in the future too!

‘She likes doing what everyone finds regular because she wants to do regular things herself from time to time. It can’t always be glitz and glamour,’ the source went on to explain for the news outlet.

Apparently, going to places like Target means something special for the superstar.

‘It makes Beyoncé feel normal doing normal things like shopping at Target. She actually would love to do more of it. She misses regular life sometimes and it keeps her grounded. To be connected to real life is something that Beyoncé cherishes so chances are we will see her out and about again just living her life.’

So who knows? Maybe next time you’re out shopping, you might just run into Queen Bey!

When she appeared at that particular Target on Monday, Beyonce was not alone!

Her firstborn, daughter Blue Ivy was with her as well, and that makes sense since previous insider reports have claimed she wants to raise her young ones in an as normal as possible environment as well.

Still, people were shocked to meet the artist at Target, and even fellow celebs reacted to it, Chrissy Teigen having a very funny comment on the whole thing.

‘Beyonce you are so silly, I can just send you my new knives!!’ she jokingly tweeted after the news spread.

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‘Venom’ Sequel Officially in the Works; Here’s Everything We Know

‘Venom’ Sequel Officially in the Works; Here’s Everything We Know

Sony has a new comic book movie franchise, and the studio didn’t even need Spider-Man to make it happen – not on screen, anyway. Venom, a Marvel Comics character associated with Spidey, made his solo screen debut this past fall, and the movie has gone on to gross more than $ 850 million worldwide. Despite critics not liking it (28% on Rotten Tomatoes), moviegoers have been loving Venom and want more.

According to Variety, Sony is giving the fans what they desire by putting Venom 2 into…

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I bought my dad a Juul e-cigarette to see if he’d give up his Marlboros. Here’s what happened

My dad has smoked for decades, so I gave him a Juul e-cigarette to see whether this would help him finally give up cigarettes.
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From Poverty to Owning an Accounting Firm: Here’s How She Did It

In 2014, I graduated from college and spent 15 months traveling the world. I’d often stop traveling for a few months to work side jobs and earn enough to travel more. Whenever possible, these jobs were in theater, my dream career.

I came home to get married, but my husband and I promptly moved again so he could start pursuing his Ph.D. Unfortunately, we moved to a rural state without enough paying theaters to keep me employed full time.

Instead, I worked 60 to 80 hours per week at whatever jobs I could find. I was hospitality staff at a golf club. I assisted a wedding planner. I was an office manager. I worked summer camps. I worked after-school programs. I tutored. I continued to take whatever theater jobs came my way.

Undeterred, I decided take my art part-time and began looking for a second career. I scored zero interviews in almost a year of job searching.

By 2016, I was depressed, worn out and lucky to make $ 300 a week. I was slowly realizing a hard truth: I knew nothing about money. I felt if I could figure that out, then life would get better.

That’s when I started reading The Penny Hoarder and learned about work-from-home opportunities like Ben Robinson’s Bookkeeper Business Launch program.

Not only did I complete Ben’s program, but by 2017, I owned a global accounting firm for creative entrepreneurs. I attended business conferences with the likes of Kyle Taylor, founder of The Penny Hoarder, who hugged me when I told him how his website changed my life.

While learning about money and specialized bookkeeping helped start my business, there are few key personal realizations that actually made it grow.

Money Doesn’t Have to Trap You

I’m not alone in desiring nontraditional employment. The rise of the gig economy shows that many are choosing to work outside the classic 9-to-5 schedule. If done well, the opportunities to grow your income are staggering.

Yet so many entrepreneurs fail. Many side hustles never pay off. How did I avoid this?

Well, I almost didn’t.  

I finished Ben’s bookkeeping program in 2016. By the time I shared a celebratory hug with Kyle in 2017, I had clients all over the world, and I wasn’t just doing bookkeeping anymore. My team also offered tax services, financial strategy and consulting.

But for the first eight months I was “in business,” I didn’t have a single client. All that incredible growth was crammed into four whirlwind months.

What changed in month eight?

When I “quit” theater to pursue bookkeeping, I thought I needed a certain type of client to support myself. There was clearly no money in art, so I had to pursue lawyers, dentists and other traditional business owners to make a living.

Except I didn’t fit in very well with traditional business. Of course, they didn’t hire me!

The people I actually wanted to help were people like me — creatives who owned a business because they simply loved the work. My new financial skills, and past theatrical experience helped these people the most.

Ironically, I had trapped myself in a dead-end job of my own creation. I thought the money was best in one area, so that’s where I tried to work.

Fortunately, no one hired me, and I was forced to examine my values — who I wanted to help, and why I was the right person to help them. Once I aligned my work to that purpose, I enjoyed it more and I made more money.

If you’re going to start a business, remember you can’t sell something you don’t love.

Sometimes We Need to Borrow Willpower

Katherina Pomerantz enjoying some time on her tire swing.

Although my story has a happy ending, those eight clientless months were unbelievably hard.

My husband and I spent the first year of our marriage below the poverty threshold. Even working 80 hours per week, we lived on less than half the average American salary.

We were already exhausted and stressed, and I thought it was a good idea to invest some of our scant, precious dollars into building a business. Then, I quit my jobs because I didn’t have enough time to grow that business.

And I didn’t have a single client.

I’d like to claim that I’m brave, but the truth is, I borrowed strength from the people around me. I had no idea if I would be successful, but spending time with positive people always gave me little bursts of productivity. So I was very selective about spending time with certain friends during those hard months.

I also did everything possible to be around other successful business owners.  I went to conferences. I bought into expensive masterminds. My intention was never to make sales but rather to lean on the experience and mindset of successful people while I didn’t have very much of my own.

And it worked! Not only did I build an incredible support network of people who understood what I was going through, but these business friends also became my first referral partners. They are the reason I have clients all over the world, and they are the reason my income has never stopped growing.

Good Financial Habits Will Save You

If you read that I bought into expensive masterminds and thought I was spending recklessly, think again. The difficulties in my young adulthood taught me to be frugal, and I was very intentional about what I invested in my business.

So much so that I continued to shrink our debt. I never missed a bill. I budgeted like crazy, and I prioritized our emergency fund.

That’s the only reason we survived eight clientless months. I wasn’t digging myself further into a financial hole, but rather, I continued to solidify my family’s financial foundation, even if it was only a few dollars at a time.

These good habits allowed me to feel like an overnight success. When the money started rolling in, I had already cleaned up many of our financial messes. I had resources like The Penny Hoarder teaching me good habits, and I could focus solely on growing my business.

Quality of Life Matters

Portrait of Pomerantz

With “success” came a whole new slew of challenges. There is a lot of pressure on businesses to perpetually grow. In the business world, the message is “more clients, more money, more markets, more opportunity, more everything”.

Added to this pressure were the bad habits I developed in my early adulthood. Because I was used to a 60-plus-hours-a-week schedule, I worked too hard and suffered periods of intense burnout. I doubled, and then tripled, my salary. But my fears of becoming poor again meant the pressure for more money never went away.

I needed to learn when I had enough. I needed to separate my success from a dollar amount.

And in order to do that, I needed to measure my quality of life: Where did I want to live? What did I enjoy doing? How did I want to fill my time — morning, noon, night and on the weekends? How much income would this life require?

These lifestyle goals are much more attainable and much more fulfilling, than any income goal I’ve ever set. Obtaining them makes me feel powerful and successful. In turn, I am a better business owner — even if I’m not obsessed with “growth.”

It is perhaps strange to attribute so much of my success to a lifestyle, but that’s what it took. I needed to be honest about the kind of work I loved doing. I needed friends who could help me experience the life I wanted. And I needed to shape my habits, and mindset, to fit my dream life.

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 went wrong with McDonald’s in Iceland

There are very few places where you won't find a McDonald's. Here's one of them.
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Here’s how the government shutdown affects health care

Funding for "big-ticket" health programs is already in place.
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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Tim Cook blamed China for Apple weakness: Here’s what he said about the country in 2018

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook blamed an economic slowdown in China, and the Sino-U.S. trade war, for the downgrade of its revenue forecast, but he was positive about the region throughout 2018.
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A Job Shouldn’t Rule Your Life. Here’s How to Find Fulfillment Outside Work

Throughout history, our sources of purpose have shifted. First, our purpose was simply to survive. Then we built families and embraced religion. But now, we increasingly look to our jobs as a source of meaning.

And who could blame us? Our society idolizes people like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, who romanticize work and tell us to do what we love. But according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, that’s led us to a point where Americans are highly isolated and unhappy.

Looking to our jobs for purpose is risky business, says Jeremy Smith, an expert on purpose and an editor for the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center magazine.

“The problem with finding a sense of purpose in a job is that you can get fired,” Smith says. “It’s really that simple. Most employment is conditional.”

Despite this, members of Generation Y (aka millennials) — now the largest generation in the workforce — look to their jobs for meaning at a higher rate than previous generations, according to Gallup research.

The lines between work and life are getting blurred, explains Nate Dvorak, a researcher for Gallup and an expert on well-being. Millennials increasingly want to work for a company that invests in them as employees and as people, in a holistic sense.

But in most cases, they’re not finding it.

In that context, it’s easy to see the disconnect, or as Smith likes to call it, the “crisis of purpose.”

Aaron Castillo, a content strategist for a marketing company in Florida, exemplifies most of Gallup’s findings to a T. Like most of Gen Y, he struggles to find a sense of purpose in his day job. Most days, he does the number-crunching side of marketing, but he much prefers creative work, especially videography and photography. Those opportunities are few and far between.

How to Find Your Purpose Outside Your Job

An important part of finding a sense of purpose is to diversify your sources. Then, your purpose isn’t attached too heavily on any one thing, especially not a job that is at the whims of the economy or a tyrannical boss.

Dvorak says that jobs are indeed important, but there are several other factors to overall well-being to consider. He warns against putting too much emphasis on one element.

“Well-being is more about life evaluation,” he says. “Not just happiness. Not just satisfaction.”

Gallup defines well-being using these five main factors:

  • Purpose (Enjoying what you do every day. Jobs can be a big part of this one.)
  • Social (Having supportive and loving relationships.)
  • Financial (Managing your money so you can live a less stressful life.)
  • Community (Feeling safe and having pride in where you live.)
  • Physical (Being healthy and energetic enough to do what you want.)

As you can see, the majority of well-being has little to do with your day job.

Smith notes that we can also tap into “human capacities” to live more meaningful lives — capacities such as social connection, awe, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, mindfulness and empathy.  

With both Gallup and the Greater Good Science Center research on the aspects on well-being in mind, there are plenty of practical ways to find a sense of meaning outside the office. Here are a few.

Cultivate Meaningful Relationships

Young adults hang out at a bar

Social well-being is something Americans struggle with. While we have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends on social media, we lack genuine, deep connections with one another.

“By many, many measures,” Smith says, “Americans are more isolated than they have been in the past.”

And he isn’t referring to romantic relationships. This spans the gamut. Friendships, families and partnerships are all areas we need to actively cultivate a more meaningful connection.

Dvorak suggests that the lack of connection could be because millennials are focusing too much on their careers and not enough on friends and family.

“Social well-being is not about a number of friends you have. It’s about the quality of friends you have,” he says.

So the next time you’re socializing, think twice about immediately responding when your phone buzzes. I promise, the notification will be there later.

Volunteer for a Cause You Like

Volunteering is a great way to add fulfillment to your life, and it certainly develops human capacities like compassion and empathy. It also allows you to develop new skills and try new things that have nothing to do with your professional life.

In the Greater Good Science Center’s Greater Good magazine, Smith writes that altruism is one such way to have a greater sense of purpose.

When Castillo reached the point where his job didn’t feel fulfilling, he turned to a local volunteer organization that focused on keeping the Tampa Bay community clean, a cause more personal than professional. Cleaning up beaches helped him find a greater sense of community. And suddenly his world was a little bigger. The boring days at work didn’t mean so much.

But sometimes it’s hard to find time to volunteer.

To combat your scheduling woes, Dvorak  proposes “double dipping,” i.e. combining multiple aspects of well-being into one activity. So don’t just volunteer alone. Rally your friends and family to your local food pantry or run a 5K race that raises money for your favorite charity.

Join a Professional Group

Smith makes a clear distinction between your job and your work. Jobs are temporary, he says. Even if you’re lucky enough to have the same one for 40 years, it’s still temporary. But your work is a greater cause.

So if you aren’t happy with your current job, but you do enjoy the sense of work or the field that you’re in, professional groups can be fulfilling on multiple levels.

A nonprofit, professional advertising organization for Gen Y called Ad 2 Tampa Bay helps Castillo balance out those number-crunching days at his marketing job. It allows him to pursue the creative side of advertising, and it sharpened his videography and photography skills.

He was able to bring that fresh set of skills back to his day job and incorporate more creativity at work.

There’s also the hugely important social aspect of professional organizations.

“One of the primary reason for me joining Ad 2 in the first place was because I didn’t know anyone in the field,” Castillo says. “It seemed like a good way to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people and experience new things.”

Start a New Hobby or Nurture a Passion Project

Depending on which hobby or project you choose, you can support several aspects of well-being simultaneously. Hobbies like rock climbing or CrossFit support physical and social well-being for sure, but Smith highly recommends reading and writing.

He notes that social isolation can lead to a lack of meaning, but these solitary activities are big exceptions. They actually increase the human capacities mentioned above.

For example, reading can foster insight and empathy by introducing you to someone you would have never met otherwise. And writing, especially about your own experiences and life, can help you find a sense of meaning.

“Try turning [your life] into a story with a beginning, a middle and an end,” Smith says. “That can allow you to project your story out into the future.”

Reframe Your Mindset About Your Job

A sign in New York City reads:

If you’re like me, you may put a little too much emphasis on the work category of your overall well-being. Whether you love or hate your job, it’s easy to get caught up in it and have the issues of the day or month or year follow you home.

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. A bad work environment when I lived in South Korea would have tainted my whole perception of the country if I had let it. On the other hand, there have been instances where I get so amped about a project that I forget to eat dinner. By the time I put my laptop down, it’s bedtime.

Neither example is a good place to be consistently.

To redistribute some of the importance that you place on your job into other areas like physical or social well-being, you can reframe how you view it.

“I think the important thing is not what your external circumstances are, but how you feel about those circumstances,” Smith says, noting that it’s entirely possible to be in prison and have a strong sense of purpose. “As long as you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, there’s hope.”

Similar to writing about your life story, this mindset can help bring a bigger perspective to your life.

“Why do we have jobs? We have jobs so that we can make money and pay the rent and eat,” Smith says. “Unhitch… your self-esteem from your job.”

In other words, view your job as a paycheck that allows you to enjoy the other aspects of your life, not as a main source of fulfillment itself.

Practice Mindfulness

A woman meditates in her bedroom

Research shows that mindfulness has several benefits. Sometimes those benefits are exaggerated. But we do know that when done properly, mindfulness can help increase your attention, improve your mental health and positively affect your relationships, among several other things.

But Smith warns against “self-destructive” perceptions of mindfulness. For example, some people think that isolating yourself on top of a mountain is a good way to reach enlightenment. But that could actually have negative effects (beyond the dangers of, you know, slipping and falling to certain death).

“Even monks who take a vow of silence for decades have a connection to a monastery,” he says. “That path to enlightenment is oftentimes connected to a larger religious organization.”

As you incorporate some (or none) of these suggestions, it’s important to keep in mind that this list is in no way definitive. These are merely examples of activities to increase your chances of overall well-being.

So get creative and come up with activities of your own that fit your schedule.

“There’s not a certain amount of boxes to check on your road to purpose. People can take many different paths,” Smith says. “The important thing is you’re really listening to your life… listening and responding to it.”

Adam Hardy is an editorial assistant on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He lives off a diet of stale puns and iced coffee. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Here’s What’s New on Netflix in January 2019 — And What’s Leaving

Netflix is heading into the new year with lots of new TV, movies and original shows set to join the streaming service in January.

For those looking to start 2019 on a mission of decluttering, organizational expert Marie Kondo is bringing her talents to a new original series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Classic favorites, including the Indiana Jones series, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pulp Fiction, Swingers and The Addams Family will all be on Netflix starting January 1. And fans of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt can say goodbye to Kimmy, Titus, Lillian and Jacqueline a final time when the show returns for the second half of its last season.

A collection of titles are also leaving Netflix in the new year, leaving about a month to catch up on movies like The Godfather, The Shining and The Princess Diaries.

See what else will be streaming on—and leaving—Netflix in January.

Here’s are the TV shows, movies and originals coming to Netflix in January 2019.

January 1

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3

Across the Universe

Babel

Black Hawk Down

City of God

COMEDIANS of the world

Definitely, Maybe

Godzilla

Happy Feet

Hell or High Water

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

It Takes Two

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Jersey Boys

Mona Lisa Smile

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Pan’s Labyrinth

Pinky Malinky

Pulp Fiction

Swingers

Tears of the Sun

The Addams Family

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Dark Knight

The Departed

The Mummy

The Mummy Returns

The Strangers

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Watchmen

xXx

XXX: State of the Union

January 2

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

January 4

And Breathe Normally

Call My Agent!: Season 3

El Potro: Unstoppable

Lionheart

January 9

GODZILLA The Planet Eater

Solo: A Star Wars Story

January 10

When Heroes Fly

January 11

Friends from College: Season 2

ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium

Sex Education

Solo

The Last Laugh

January 15

Revenger

Sebastian Maniscalco: Stay Hungry

January 16

American Gangster

January 17

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

January 18

Carmen Sandiego

Close

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

GIRL

Grace and Frankie: Season 5

IO

Soni

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes: Season 2 Part B

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 5

January 21

Justice

January 24

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

January 25

Animas

Black Earth Rising

Club de Cuervos: Season 4

Kingdom

Medici: The Magnificent

Polar

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 Part 2

January 27

Z Nation: Season 5

January 29

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp

January 30

Disney•Pixar’s The Incredibles 2

TBD

Marvel’s The Punisher: Season 2

Here’s what’s leaving Netflix in January 2019.

January 1

Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure

Blade

Blade II

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Catwoman

Face/Off

Finding Neverland

Friday Night Lights

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

I Am Ali

Interview with the Vampire

Into the Wild

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kung Fu Panda

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Fifteenth Year

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Seventeenth Year

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Sixteenth Year

Like Water for Chocolate

Love Actually

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Marie Antoinette

Meet the Fockers

Meet the Parents

Million Dollar Baby

Monsters vs. Aliens

Mortal Kombat

Rent

Sharknado

Sharknado 2: The Second One

Sharknado 3

Sharknado 5

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens

The 6th Day

The Godfather

The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather: Part III

The Green Mile

The Iron Giant

The Princess Diaries

The Queen of the Damned

The Reaping

The Shining

January 4

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

January 13

It Follows

January 14

Armageddon

January 18

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

January 19

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring


Entertainment – TIME

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Here’s how to create that collage of your top nine Instagram posts from 2018

Instagram top 9

If you’ve haven’t seen this in your Instagram feed already, just wait. It’s coming. The arrival of a new year means so many things. Turning a page on the calendar, the compilation of resolutions for the year ahead, endless lists about the “best of” this or that from 2018 — and tons of collages. Specifically, those perennial collages of nine Instagram posts that users of the Facebook-owned service create and share around this time each year. The collages represent the best (i.e., most-liked) nine images a user posted on Insta over the prior year, and this is how to create one for yourself, assuming you don’t already know how.

Continue reading…

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  1. The best fast wireless charger for iPhones and Galaxy phones is down to $ 19.99
  2. Our favorite Samsung 65-inch 4K TV of 2018 is back on sale at its Black Friday price

Trending Right Now:

  1. Marvel just confirmed a wild fan theory about a character who died in ‘Infinity War’
  2. Marvel fans are freaking out over this ‘Avengers: Endgame’ post-credits theory
  3. Netflix says over 45 million accounts watched ‘Bird Box,’ but that’s not the whole story

Here’s how to create that collage of your top nine Instagram posts from 2018 originally appeared on BGR.com on Mon, 31 Dec 2018 at 22:22:27 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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