Here are all the ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have broken protocol with their royal baby

From water births to baby showers…

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child together any day now, with the royal baby due this month.

The future arrival, referred to as the couple’s ‘little bump’, is already one of the most talked-about people in the world, with the public already speculating about everything from baby name predictions and god parent choices to nursery colour palettes.

However, Baby Sussex is most talked about for having rule-breaking parents, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex proving unafraid to rip up the royal rulebook for the sake of their little one.

Here are all the ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are breaking protocol with the royal baby…

The privacy:

While most royal couples have held a sense of privacy when it has come to royal babies, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have broken tradition in how guarded they have been – and understandably so.

The royal couple have faced more online backlash and speculation than most, with Meghan in particular getting vilified during her pregnancy. It was hardly surprising therefore when the royal family announced that the couple would be celebrating in private.

‘Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private,’ the statement read. ‘The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.’

prince harry meghan markle

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The baby shower:

Meghan Markle’s New York baby shower made news for various reasons – partially for the star-studded guest list, but mostly for its break from royal tradition.

The 37-year-old’s ‘extravagant’ baby shower saw A-listers from Serena Williams to Amal Clooney congregate in The Mark hotel’s penthouse suite, something that the Queen was rumoured to have disapproved of. But while sources have insisted that the monarch wasn’t fazed, royal expert Victoria Arbiter among others explained that baby showers are ‘inappropriate’ for members of ‘The Firm’.

The babymoon:

It’s hardly surprising that a lot of the couple’s breaks from tradition are americanisms, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following a modern US trend this year, taking a babymoon before their arrival.

The couple reportedly had a lavish three-night babymoon at Hampshire’s Heckfield Place, spending some quality time together in the Georgian manor house.

‘Meghan is only a couple of weeks away from giving birth, so Harry really wanted to treat her,’ a friend told The Sun, going on to explain that their break was filled with eating Michelin starred food as a two and going for long walks through the 400 surrounding acres.

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The delivery team:

It has been reported that the former Suits actress is breaking tradition with her delivery team, opting out of using the Queen’s doctors, not wanting ‘men in suits’ delivering her baby, with royal gynaecologists, Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston having to take a backseat.

‘Meghan said she doesn’t want the men in suits. She was adamant that she wanted her own people,’ a source told the Daily Mail. ‘It did leave a few of us a little baffled’. Another source reportedly added: ‘It is slightly surprising. These people are the best of the best, and when it comes down to it, their role would actually be very limited in the birth itself, assuming all goes to plan.’

Meghan is reportedly opting out of having the two male gynaecologists leading her delivery team, apparently going for a woman instead, though it is not known who she is.

The home birth:

While home births used to be the royal tradition, the protocol for the past four decades has been a hospital birth, with Princess Diana starting the current tradition of posing for a photo post-birth on the Lindo Wing steps of the hospital.

Meghan however is set to break the tradition, with sources close to Vanity Fair claiming that the Duchess of Sussex is considering a home birth. And that’s not all, with Meghan said to be additionally considering a natural birth, with her mother Doria Ragland said to be involved in the birthing plan.

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The water birth:

Not only is Meghan apparently parting with four decades of tradition to have the royal baby at home, it has also been reported that she is planning on having a water birth, which would be a royal first.

‘Obviously Meg’s into all the homeopathy, so none of us were shocked when we found out she’d been talking about a water birth,’ a friend of Prince Harry reportedly told the Daily Star Sunday. ‘Apparently she wants it to be as natural as possible: no drugs, no caesareans and so on. It’s the next logical step from all her yoga, meditation and so on. Obviously when she goes into labour she might end up, medically speaking, having to go the more conventional route. But for now a water birth is absolutely her plan, is what they’re saying.’

The paternity leave:

Prince Harry is breaking tradition once more, following a modern post-birth approach rather than a traditional royal one. The Duke of Sussex is reportedly taking paternity leave to support his wife and spend some quality time with his newborn.

‘He doesn’t need to take paternity leave because he doesn’t work in the way most people do,’ a friend of Prince Harry’s told The Express. ‘But he thinks it’s a very modern Dad thing to do.’

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The manny:

While nannies are customary for royal babies, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are apparently going against tradition with their choices. According to The Express, the royal couple are taking a ‘modern American approach’ to the nanny they hire, reportedly opting for a ‘manny‘.

‘Hiring a “manny” is far more common in the U.S. — a nation that Meghan is more in tune with — than in the U.K. She’s keen to introduce the royal family to what she considers a more enlightened, modern American approach,’ a source explained. ‘[Prince Harry] and Meghan have discussed nannies and both have an open mind to a male nanny. They will definitely try to shortlist one.’

Congratulations again to these two royal rule breakers!

The post Here are all the ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have broken protocol with their royal baby appeared first on Marie Claire.

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14 Legitimate Ways to Get Free Money Online Right Now

The internet is a treasure chest of free cash — you just have to know where to look.

No, you can’t order money-tree seeds or buy a fully loaded cash cannon, but you can complete some quick and simple tasks to start making money online.

Free Money: 14 Places to Find Extra Money Online

There are a number of companies, websites and apps that offer easy money, so we scoured the internet to find the best — and most legitimate — ways to tap into that extra cash.

Ready to start digging for treasure?

  1. 1. Search For Unclaimed Money

    State treasuries throughout the United Sates have more than $ 43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

    There are a few websites that allow you to check for unclaimed property, including the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and MissingMoney.com. (Beware of scam look-alike sites!)

    It takes less than a minute to check. The Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name — $ 56 from a “matured insurance policy.”

    Sure, it’s $ 56, but what an effortless way to tap into some extra money fast!

  2. 2. Invest in Good Causes, and Get a $ 50 Bonus

     Savannah Holley organizes money she got from the drive through banking counter at Mount McKinley Bank in Fairbanks, Alaska.

    Investing can be a great way to grow your money, but have you carefully considered which companies you’re willing to back? Their morals and values? You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system.

    With Swell Investing you can invest in companies that are committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few.

    Plus, when you invest $ 50 in one of these companies, Swell Investing will match you with a $ 50 bonus! Just use the code PENNY after making your initial investment.

    Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It charges a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($ 3.75) per year if you invest $ 500.

    Get started with Swell by signing up with your email address here.

    Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.

  3. 3. Find Hidden Money in Your Inbox

    It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?

    One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

    To save time, mom and blog manager Aimee B. does the majority of her shopping online — about 90% of it, she estimates. She stocks up on groceries, clothes and household necessities without leaving home.

    In the past two years, Paribus has found Aimee $ 1,315.41 in savings while shopping online.

    “It really is as simple as giving your email address,” she says. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

    Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

    Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

  4. 4. Get Paid to Share Your Opinion on Survey Sites

    Jessica Warden walks through the city in New York, NY.

    Companies will pay you for your opinions when it comes to judging their brands and gauging your shopping habits.

    Survey sites are a great place to get money and gift cards through sign-up bonuses if you’ve got some spare time.

    Here are a few options we like:

    • MyPoints: With MyPoints, you can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $ 5 bonus.
    • Survey Junkie: It doesn’t take long to earn points on this survey site. Take all the profile surveys to earn an easy 200 points or so upfront. Then, once you earn 1,000 points — equal to $ 10 — you can cash out for a gift card or cash via your PayPal account.
    • Swagbucks: This one is definitely a reader favorite. You can make money through surveys but also when you watch videos and answer polls. You’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB (points) within your first 60 days. Then you can cash out for as little as $ 3 and get an Amazon gift card.
    • Vindale Research: This free online survey site offers some high-paying offers ($ 50 for one survey?!). Plus, you’ll earn $ 1 when you sign up. Hit $ 50, and redeem your earnings for a check or via PayPal.
  5. 5. Send This Company Your Junk Mail

    How many ads do you receive in your mailbox each day? What about in your inbox?

    The Small Business Knowledge Center is a market research firm that studies the way companies advertise via mail and email marketing — and it wants to see what you’ve been receiving.

    Sign up as a panelist, and start sending your qualifying junk mail in, via postage-paid envelopes. You can also forward your emails. You’ll earn points along the way, which you can redeem for a Visa debit card.

    The site says frequent participants earn up to $ 20 every six to 10 weeks — not bad for getting rid of your junk mail.

  6. 6. Invest in Cannabis and Get a $ 5 Bonus

    You don’t just want to invest. You want to invest in an industry you believe in. One that could take off and make money.

    You want to invest in cannabis, and now you can. You don’t have to have tons of money to invest in the cannabis industry. Using a micro-investing app like Stash, you can invest in increments as little as $ 5.

    Need a nudge? Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to give you an extra $ 5 after your first investment.

    Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money. It offers more than 40 exchange-traded funds, including one for those who are already seeing green on the cannabis horizon.

    But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

    Once you sign up with Stash, take a look at the app’s portfolio options, including one cannabis-related ETF, to find an investment blend that meets your goals. You can be as conservative or aggressive as you need to be.

  7. 7. Sign up for This Credit Card for a $ 150 Bonus

    If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.

    You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.

    Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $ 500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $ 150 bonus.

    There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.

    Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

    The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

  8. 8. Get $ 10 Now, Plus Cash Back After Each Grocery Run

    Albert Bell shops at Whole Foods in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta GA.

    Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within Ibotta. Then shop.

    When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes to get paid.
    Some deals we’ve seen include:

    • 25 cents cash back for any item
    • 25 cents back on strawberries
    • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks
    • $ 1 back on a box of tea
    • $ 5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer

    Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list, and earn money!

    Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

  9. 9. Start an Automated Savings Account With a Free $ 5

    Been meaning to save money? An extra $ 5 to start your account would be nice, right?

    Digit is an innovative app that automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

    Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up. Additionally, savers will receive a 1.00% bonus every three months.

    Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $ 4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.

    If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

    Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

  10. 10. Open a Shiny New Bank Account for an Extra $ 350

    Not happy with your bank? Open a new bank account — but first find a promotional offer to earn cash.

    We like the Chase Total Checking® account.

    You’ll get a $ 200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.

    Then you’ll get a $ 150 bonus when you open a new Chase Savings℠ account, deposit a total of $ 10,000 or more in new money within 20 days, and maintain a $ 10,000 balance for 90 days. You’re not required to open the savings account to earn the $ 200 Chase checking bonus.

    To get started, visit this Chase Total Checking® page* to apply online, or enter your email address to get a unique coupon to take with you to open your account at any Chase branch.

    This coupon expires July 15, 2019, so you’ll need to complete the application before then.

    This offer is available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

  11. 11. Find Savings in Your Monthly Utility Bills

    Cindy Woodley using laptop in downtown Atlanta

    Finding free money doesn’t always mean digging up a treasure chest. You can find hidden money (ahem, savings) by negotiating your bills.

    Instead of sitting on hold, use Trim, a digital personal assistant that’ll negotiate your bills for you. We’re not just talking your cable bill, either. It’ll also negotiate your internet, cell phone, home security and XM radio bills.

    William Ellis, a Trim user in Ellettsville, Indiana, uploaded PDF copies of his Dish, Comcast and Sprint bills to Trim. That’s all he had to do — Trim worked behind the scenes, eventually notifying him of his savings.

    “Yes, anybody can call and do this,” Ellis points out, “but do you?”

    Curious how he did? Trim reduced his bills by:

    • $ 385.20 a year on Dish.
    • $ 800.18 a year on Comcast.
    • $ 80.04 a year on Sprint.

    Trim reduced Ellis’ bills by a total of $ 1265.42 per year.

    If Trim successfully negotiates on your behalf, it charges an upfront fee equal to 33% of your first year of savings, and you keep the rest. (Hey, Trim’s gotta get rewarded for its expert negotiation skills!) But that’s still a big chunk of savings.

    To get started, no need to pick up the phone. Just sign up through Facebook or with your email address, and upload your bills!

  12. 12. Earn a $ 300 New-Driver Bonus with Lyft

    Been looking for a new side hustle? A way to start making money on the side? Here’s an idea — and a way to get an extra $ 300.

    Try driving with Lyft.

    To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

    Right now, Lyft is offering a $ 300 sign-on bonus to new drivers when you use code EXTRA300. Here’s what you need to qualify:

    • You must be approved to drive within 30 days of your application start date.
    • Once you’re in, complete 100 rides within your first 30 days of being a Lyft driver.

    And just like that, the bonus cash is yours. Easy, right?

  13. 13. Use an Automatic Cash-Back App

    hand raised against the sky with dollar bills

    There are a ton of ways to earn cash back on your day-to-day purchases, but here’s one that doesn’t require you to take photos of receipts, claim offers or watch long video ads.

    It’s Dosh. Download the app, link up your credit and debit cards, and go about your normal buying behavior. When you spend money at one of its connected stores, you’ll earn automatic cash back.

    Once you earn $ 25, you can transfer the money directly to your bank account.

  14. 14. Get an Easy $ 36 a Year If You Shop on Amazon

    Calling all Amazon shoppers!

    This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $ 36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll be paid for every month you share!

    When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.

    To earn your first gift card today:

    1. Sign up, and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
    2. Open the app, and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $ 3 via email within 48 hours.
    3. Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $ 3 each month.

    Enjoy Your Free Money, Honey! (Just Be Careful of Scams)

    Congratulations! You’ve made it through our list of ways to get free money.

    Now, want to go out and find some more money on your own? Just remember: The internet can be a scary place, so be wary of scams. To vet a “free money” opportunity like we do, take these steps:

    • Search the company or website’s name on Google. Read reviews, look up Better Business Bureau ratings, and sign up for scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
    • Don’t offer your personal or financial information unless you absolutely trust the site. You should never have to pay money in order to receive it.
    • Give the company a call, and ask questions.
    • Be skeptical, and if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t think you’ll get paid $ 1,000 for taking a five-minute survey.
    • Peruse a site’s privacy policy to make sure your information isn’t going to be sold to other companies. (That might be why you’re getting all those junk emails and robocalls.)

    Overall, just be smart! Or the easiest way is to just keep checking back in with The Penny Hoarder to find more ways to earn free money.

    Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a big fan of free money.

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

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5 Simple Ways to Use a Bullet Journal to Manage Your Money

Instead of choosing from the dizzying array of online budgeting tools, here’s a novel thought: The best solution to keeping track of your money may be writing everything down with pen and paper.  

The bullet journal — or BuJo, for short — is an analog organizational system that can help you find the “calm in the chaos” (at least, according to the creator of the bullet journal, Ryder Carroll).

What sets the bullet journal apart from other lookalikes is it’s completely customizable. Each page has tiny bullets to use as a guide to track whatever you want. You can set goals, write down to-do lists and track your finances all in one place.

Unlike pre-designed planners, bullet journal budget trackers allow you to create spreads for your particular financial goals and tasks, including the visuals that will most inspire you to reach them.

So if you want to buy a house, for instance, you can color each brick of a house as you save for a down payment.

And if you’ve ever missed a reminder amid the constant pings from the calendar on your phone, you’ll appreciate that bullet journals offer a physical, visually pleasing alternative for tracking your bills.

And you don’t have to be creative to get started.

Alicia Geigel teaches bullet journaling workshops at Whim So Doodle in St. Petersburg, Florida. She typically shares layout ideas to get people comfortable with tracking their lives both personally and professionally on paper. Now she’s finding people are interested in using the bullet journals for their personal finances.

Currently, she is using her journal to save $ 2,500 for a trip to Italy.

“Since I do it every night and try to make it part of my routine, it just reminds me of the path I am trying to save on,” Geigel said.

If switching to a bullet journal system is too much for you to take on all at once, consider starting with just one or two of Geigel’s tips:

Tip #1: Create A Monthly Budget Tracker

Detail of a monthly budget

Unless you check your bank account every day, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s coming in and out of your budget at any given time. So write it down.

Just like a checkbook, write down your scheduled bills on the left and record expenses on the right. Every time you spend money, deduct it from your balance — this will hold you accountable. There should be no surprises when you look at your bank account.

Tip #2: Design a Visual Savings Goal

Detail of a picture of a piggy bank

Determine an object that motivates you to save money. Is it a jar? A piggy bank?

Design a savings goal you can track visually. Each time you put money in your savings account, shade in a portion of the object. It’s quite satisfying to see it come to life.

Tip #3: Draw a Line Graph to Show Debt Payoff

Detail of a line graph

Nothing is better than seeing your debt disappear. Draw a line graph to chart your debt payoff. Create a line for your credit cards, mortgage or car loan — as you pay them down, mark your progress on the graph.

Seeing the line go down can give you an extra push to pay it off faster.

Tip #4: Try a No-Spend Challenge

Detail of a calendar

Try a no-spend challenge by creating a calendar. Check off the days you didn’t spend money. Even if you have a setback, by seeing your successes on paper, you’ll want to do it more often!

Tip #5: Use a Habit Tracker

Detail of a habit tracker

Whether you want to break a bad habit or develop a new routine, a tracker can help you get there. Let’s say you want to pay bills on time. Acknowledge when you do it by filling in a box. The more boxes you see, the more it encourages the habit.

One of the great benefits of using a habit tracker in your bullet journal is that you can start to see patterns you might have missed before (like those budget-breaking lattes that sneak in around mid-week).

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to use a bullet journal. Figure out what works best for you. Before you know it, your finances will start to turn around.

Christie Post is a former supervising producer and host at The Penny Hoarder. You can see the videos she produces on YouTube. Subscribe and give her a shoutout @christiepost.

Staff writer Tiffany Wendln Connors 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.

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4 Ways To Spend Quality Time With Your Kids Without Electronics

Black Family Sitting Together

Source: Hero Images / Getty

These days we are all glued to our electronics, cell phones, televisions, video games, fitness watches, tablets, and more. More and more we are becoming virtually connected and less actually connected. This is especially the case for our children, who are part of the generation known as “digital natives.”

Via Madamenoire:

I‘m not anti-electronics; I live on my devices as much as anyone. However, I am about electronics in moderation and quality time with our children in abundance. Like anything in life, technology is about balance and it’s important for us and our children to understand how to make and nurture relationships without the intervention of electronics.

Here are four ways to spend quality time with your kids without electronics.

1.) Eat Dinner Together: Eating dinner together or at least one meal per day together creates the opportunity to talk to one another. During the meal make sure electronics are banned for everyone. Focus on the conversation, ask questions and answer the questions your children ask you. Mealtime conversation is one of the best ways to find out about your child’s day and to keep the connection going.

2.) Do Something Active: Our collective attention spans are getting shorter, which means a good way to engage with your child is by doing something active that requires movement. For example, I often exercise at home and my kids “help” me by joining in.

We stretch, do crunches, squats and more together because they love to watch me struggle and I love to have their company. In the end, we both get a work out in, have some laughs, and make some memories. Other examples of active things you can do are go outside and play catch, go bike riding, take a walk, go to the park or on a hike or create a scavenger hunt for them that requires them to go out.

3.) Work on a Project Together: Depending on your child’s age, the project can vary from putting together a jigsaw puzzle to having them help you paint a room. Find something engaging and age-appropriate. Spending time together engrossed in a project is the perfect opportunity to have conversation and spend quality time together.

Listen to your child’s favorite music while you do the project if it isn’t disruptive and introduce them to music that you love. My kids and I have put together puzzles, built marble mazes, done science experiments, and planted and took care of a garden.

4.) Have a Family Night: Set aside time for a family night and make it a tradition. Whether you watch a movie, play board games, go out to dinner, or take in a show, make sure the entire family is involved and make sure you do it consistently. Spending time together as a family, without electronics, is important towards building quality relationships with your children.

The key to all of this is making real connections in real-time. We are all busy, so don’t focus on how much time you spend together, focus on the quality of the time you’re together. But no matter what you do, remember to turn the electronics off.


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5 Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career with These Career-Coaching Tips

According to Forbes, career coaching is a $ 2 billion, global industry. It seems you can’t sling a hashtag without finding a career coach online. This is partially due to the internet enabling the growth and popularity of the profession within the last 15 years. It is clear that digital and social media are driving the services that coaches offer.

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a career coach on episode 14 of The Culture Soup Podcast. In speaking with Tristan Layfield, a recent BE Modern Man, I discovered that his role isn’t always about critiquing and improving résumés. He really has to be a social media expert with a strong grounding in what it means to manage one’s personal brand.

Layfield is a former recruiting manager at a Fortune 500 and currently a project manager at IBM. In his spare time, he was helping friends and family improve their résumés, and he noticed that they were actually snapping up the jobs they were after as a result. So, he decided to take his knack for résumé writing to another level by starting a business.

career coaching

Career Coach and Résumé Writer, Tristan Layfield. (Photo: Clyde Barnett III)

Layfield provided some very useful tips on improving your résumé, personal branding, and how to leverage LinkedIn and other social platforms so that a job hunter or even people who are happy in their current position but are looking to be more marketable can improve their searchability online.

 

5 Career Coaching Tips to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career

Focus: Understand what you really want to do.

The internet empowers us to research what we want to be when we grow up. Before we had robust search engines like Bing and Google, we were left to figure things like this out on our own, and mostly to no success. So, Layfield says, often people just remained stuck in whatever role they found themselves. The internet allows us to dream big, look into what it will take to achieve that dream, then execute against it. It’s a new day! Seize it.

Engage strategically on social media.

If you are one to shy away from being too vocal on social media, or perhaps you aren’t that great a writer, so content creation is something you’d rather stay away from, consider engaging with other people’s content instead. Layfield says that on platforms like LinkedIn, a simple “like” of someone’s content share or even a re-share can go a long way toward positioning yourself as a thought leader in any space. Just ensure the content always aligns with your personal brand.

 

Own your story.

Your uniqueness is your story, and it isn’t always pretty. People like authenticity, so sharing the learning experiences as well as the wins not only makes you more approachable, but it also makes you relatable. Layfield walks that talk by sharing about how he was fired from one job, which was a catalyst for him starting his own business. He says getting fired shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of because most people have experienced this in their careers at one time or the other.

 

Tailor your résumé to the job description.

This extremely smart and practical tip is one that many people overlook. Layfield says that before your résumé makes it to the recruiter, they use algorithms that search your document for certain keywords—words from the position description.  His suggestion is to ensure that your résumé has those words in it and often so that your résumé will not wind up in the “no” pile before it even sees human eyes.

 

Be your own best advocate.

In this highly-competitive, fast-moving, digital and cluttered world that we live in, it is no longer advised to wait for someone else to merchandise your work for you. Layfield advises his clients to be their own best advocates. That means it is OK to share your successes in a grounded and non-boastful way. He told the story of how he became a BE Modern Man.  When it came down to it, he nominated himself. He reasoned that he would either live up to the requirements or not; and why not practice what he preaches to his own clients. It resulted in a prestigious recognition. What if he hadn’t entered his name?

Listen to the entire episode on The Culture Soup Podcast.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

 

 

The post 5 Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Career with These Career-Coaching Tips appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Ways to avoid overweight bags while flying

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We’ve all been there – it’s the night before the vacation and you’re picking up the suitcase to see how heavy it feels, believing your arm can somehow transform itself into a human weighing machine – or even balancing it on your dodgy bathroom scales hoping it’s not over the maximum.

When all is said and done, it is best just to be safe and take all the vital steps to ensure you don’t go over the limit. Ultimately, no one wants to be paying the extra hefty fees. Here’s how to avoid it!

Put the heavy items in your hand luggage

Usually, you don’t need to put too much stuff in your on-flight hand luggage – be it the essentials like your passport, wallet, etc. – so why not make the most of the extra space and put some of your heavier items in there. But beware of forbidden items like liquids…Always check the small print and legal regulations to be sure.

Buy souvenirs at the airport

Even though the cost of airport shopping does vary, often tax and duty-free shops can provide some fantastic deals on some great souvenirs. If you’re the type to go a bit overboard on buying loved ones vacation gifts – and then wonder “How has my suitcase doubled in weight in two weeks?” – then maybe give this one a try.

Buy essentials at location

Toiletries are the notorious culprit for adding on the unwanted weight to your luggage. Sure there are travel size bottles to squeeze your best conditioner into, but generally it’s hard to know what you really need. One way to get around this is to buy some of the essentials when you’ve arrived at at your location to free up some well-needed space in your luggage beforehand.

Choose the right suitcase

Having the right suitcase can make a massive difference. It may well be worth it to invest in a new one. The most cost-efficient ones to buy are hard shell material suitcases, usually made of a lightweight plastic that is easy and light to carry but does not compromise on impact protection. With the suitcase itself light, then you have the extra weight of more important stuff to add.

Wear the bulky sweater

Really think about what clothing items you can take. If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Basically, if you’re going on a week-long beach trip to the sweltering south pacific, then chances are you’re not going to need two weeks worth of socks…flip flops will do! And if you’re really struggling to compromise, you can always wear the biggest and heaviest items you plan to take (sweaters, cardigans)….airplanes are always cold anyway.

First class anyone?

Bit of a last option this one, and probably one very few of you may be able to choose, but going first class usually means having a minimum to no restriction on how much luggage can be taken on board. If it is a special occasion and you’re willing to pay for the privilege, why not upgrade yourself.

Flying should be an enjoyable experience and not a stressful one. If you are the type of person who tends to over-pack, take these few tips on board and hopefully next time you’re at the check-in, they may save you from having to reach into your wallet once again.

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The post Ways to avoid overweight bags while flying appeared first on Worldation.

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Bad Credit? No Problem: 5 Ways You Can Still Buy a Home

Sometimes, it can feel like the deck is stacked against you. You’ve been told you have “bad credit” and that means you’re having trouble getting a traditional mortgage loan.

But wouldn’t getting off the rent cycle treadmill be a first step to rebuilding your finances?

What’s worse is that bad or poor credit could mean so many things: a low credit score, a short credit history, a recent job change and so on. Even open credit report disputes can make a mortgage lender say no — I once had to pay an incorrect medical bill just to get a mortgage.

That was as irritating as it was costly, but at least it could be fixed fairly fast. The bad news is that when it comes to being flagged as having “bad credit” — even just having a credit score below 640 — several of the causes can’t be fixed without potentially waiting years for your score to rise.

Why Bad Credit Is Such an Issue for Getting a Mortgage

First of all, it’s important to know what constitutes “good” and “bad” credit. When lenders query the credit bureaus (like Equifax, TransUnion or Experian), they’re given a full credit report made up of details like your payment history, your total debt load, how much unused credit you have, and more.

All of those things work together to calculate your credit score, which is an estimate of how likely you are to repay any new loan on time. If your score is low, you’re considered high risk.

Remember that lenders are in the business of making money, and someone who defaults on a loan is a major issue for them. When it comes to something like a mortgage, when you’re borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars, a high risk borrower can mean even bigger trouble.

The good news is that in 2019, there are still many ways to buy a home with bad credit.

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Some might seem like common sense, but remember that even simple solutions can have major benefits! Without further ado, here are 5 options open to the home-buyer with less-than-optimal credit.

1. Save for a Larger Down Payment

Sometimes your credit is only part of the problem. What can make it even harder are the debt-to-income ratio rules.

Lenders want to see you using less than 43% of your income for all debt repayment. That includes your credit card debt and any other debts you might be carrying, so it helps to pay those off first. But what if your mortgage payment alone is still above the 43% mark?

A simple solution is to start saving.

With a larger down payment, you’ll need to borrow less, which lowers your loan payments, and can give lenders more reason to look favorably on your loan.

A good place to aim for is a down payment that’s at least 20% of the purchase price of the home.  Not only will this give you a better chance of getting a mortgage, but with that loan-to-value ratio, you can also avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), further lowering your payments.

Family stands in front of house they purchased.

2. Borrow Privately

This is, admittedly, a tough situation to think about, but if you’re desperate to move into a place of your own, it makes sense.

The people who know you best would obviously know better than a bank if you’re a good credit risk — and they may be more forgiving of an occasional late payment.

They also won’t charge you loan fees and can be more flexible about terms.

And the advantages of borrowing from family for a home go both ways. Parents or siblings might appreciate making a decent return on their money compared to what’s available from savings accounts.

Of course, that’s only if you’re extremely vigilant about your payments. No home-buying timeline is worth alienating the people closest to you.

At the same time, there are also seller-financing options. This might be more elusive than borrowing from family, but if you have the wherewithal to research the types of seller financing (mortgage, lease option, contract for deed, etc.), you could deal directly with the current homeowners. Keep in mind, though, that you may pay a higher price overall and even a higher interest rate.

3. Get a Co-Signer

If you’ve already approached someone close to you to help, but they’re uncomfortable actually lending you the money, there’s another option: getting them to co-sign the loan.

The primary advantage to this is that the co-signer’s income will be considered in determining how much you can borrow.

This might be exactly what you need if your problem is a business for which you don’t yet have two years of tax returns, or if you have other income you can’t use to qualify, such as capital gains income, or investment income you haven’t been receiving for at least two straight years.

That said, having someone with good credit co-sign on your mortgage loan will not completely cancel out your bad credit, according to TheMortgageReports.com. Lenders will still consider your low credit score or other credit problems.

Unfortunately, there’s a major downside for your co-signer as well: Being a co-signer to a loan of that size could affect their credit. In the worst case scenario, if you default on your loan and go into foreclosure, their credit will undoubtedly suffer major setbacks.

4. Look into an FHA Mortgage

Most conventional home loans are held privately, by lenders like banks. In the United States, though, there is a government-backed option from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), dedicated to home buyers in situations just like this one.

There are several differences between a conventional loan and an FHA loan, but one of the biggest is the rules about credit. If you have a credit score over 580, you can get an FHA mortgage if you can make a down payment of 3.5% of the total value of the home. For a $ 100,000 house, that’s $ 3,500.

If you have a credit score under 580, you can still get an FHA mortgage if you can make a down payment of 10% of the total value of the home. That might seem like a lot of money to save up, but when compared with the difficulty of repairing your credit, it can actually be a lot easier.

And if your job history is a problem, an FHA loan might be able to help. Lenders who issue FHA loans look at a number of factors to determine your “probability of continued employment,” and you don’t always need the traditional two years of employment to qualify.

Going this route does mean a bit more hassle, though. FHA loans are required to have a specific kind of insurance called Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP), and unlike a conventional mortgage, these never expire and will have to be paid for the life of the loan. That means added costs every month, which can limit the amount of home you can afford.

Welcome to your new home

5. Other Options

If you’ve exhausted this list and you still need other ways of potentially becoming a homeowner, there are still some avenues left to you…they just might not be the easiest of solutions. Remember that it’s always worth thinking outside the box. For example:

Buy a House for Cash

It’s not that far out of the realm of possibility! I’ve made it work and there are plenty of ways to make what seems like a pipe dream much more palatable.

Buy a Cheap Mobile Home

Mobile homes have their advantages, including lower prices than site-built homes, which is great if you have to pay cash. Plus, if you buy a mobile home on land, you even get appreciation like you do with other homes.

Shop Around for Loans

Most banks either sell home loans or want the option to do so, which means meeting the requirements of the secondary mortgage market.

But some small banks and credit unions keep loans in their portfolios because the loans have more flexible qualification rules. Ask around to see which banks keep loans and are willing to look at the whole picture, rather than a bad mark or two on a credit report.

Improve Your Credit

OK, so it’s not a quick solution. But improving your credit is always a good idea, and if you can wait a few more years to buy a home, you might even be able to save up more money to afford something better.

Start by looking at how to raise your credit score. Find the strategies most likely to work for you and implement them!

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

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

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12 Weird (But Totally Legal) Ways to Make Extra Money in Canada

O, the Great White North. Nova Britannia. Land of Maple Syrup. America’s Hat. The 14th colony. *Whispers* America’s friendliest neighbor.

It must be nice to have the best nicknames around.

And while we’re on the subject of best things, we thought you might also want to know about the best — and weirdest — ways you can pocket some extra Canadian dollars.

But you have to promise not to spend it all on poutine and butter tarts — only some of it.

Note: Monetary amounts are shown in U.S. dollars. Bank of Canada is a good resource to find the current exchange rate.

How to Make Money in Canada

We combed through all of our tips to filter out the best flexible ways to make money in Canada. You can do many of these without leaving the confines of your home.

1. Tell This Company What’s in Your Fridge

Remember the Nielsen company? It’s always tracked TV ratings, but now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.

Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, the company will send you a free barcode scanner, or you can use your smartphone. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the UPC codes on the back of each product and send your data to Nielsen.

Nielsen will reward you with gift points, which you can redeem for free electronics, jewelry, household items or even toys for the kids.

The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points toward prizes. You’ll also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include vacations and brand new vehicles.

2. Fill This out While Watching TV

Hand holding remote

We’re going to be real here: Survey sites aren’t our favorite way to make extra money, because it’s difficult to bag a lot. But if you’re just hanging out and watching TV, why not click a few buttons on your phone and turn your spare time into money?

Here are a few of our favorite sites for earning money in your free time:

  • VIP Voice offers surveys that are relatively quick to complete and reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards.
  • MobileXpression: After you’ve installed this app for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize. (Everyone wins something.) We’ve seen users win $ 25 Amazon gift cards, but some of the other prizes include iPads and Samsung TVs.
  • SaskWatch Panel: Do you call Saskatchewan home? Insightrix’s SaskWatch lets you fill out surveys for rewards points you can redeem for cash. You’ll voice your opinion on social, political and consumer issues facing your community.
  • LifePoints Panel is a tried-and-true survey site that’s been around for a long time. This one is easy to use, even if you just have a few minutes to spare. You’ll earn cash and prizes for your opinions.

3. Get Paid to Get in Shape

Woman working out

Listen. Losing weight and getting fit is easier said than done.

But will a little bit of money motivate you?

It’s motivating Marcie Hagner, 44, who has placed a bet on her weight-loss goals through HealthyWage. If she can lose the 50 pounds she bet she could, she’ll pocket $ 862.

“Money is a huge motivator for me,” she says. “Especially because I don’t have a lot. I don’t want to give somebody $ 500, especially for something I can control and do.”

Read more about how she’s finding motivation to lose weight through HealthyWage.

4. List Your Extra Space on Airbnb

Room shot

Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.

Here are some tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
  • Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

5. Tutor Kids (From Behind a Computer Screen)

Woman working from home

Did you know you can tutor kids — without leaving your house? And without them entering your house?

Chegg Tutors is open to applicants worldwide. There are tons of open tutoring subjects, from calculus to biology — even astrophysics.

To sign up as a Chegg online tutor, you must provide two forms of proof you are either currently or were previously enrolled in a university. You will also need a Facebook account. Once your profile is approved, you will be matched with students seeking tutoring in your subject. Tutors earn $ 20 or more per hour.

Skooli is a Canada-based company that offers tutoring for K-12 courses, as well as college-level classes.

If you are a certified teacher with a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or specialized instructor qualification (like ESL), you can become an online tutor for Skooli. Skooli tutors are paid $ 25 per hour.

To apply, you must provide proof of qualifications and education. If they deem you a good fit, you’ll be approved and available to tutor students. Go the extra mile and receive full Skooli verification by also adding a criminal record check.

This extra step gets you a purple Skooli shield badge on your profile, which will garner more attention from parents and students (read: more money), and you could also qualify for special programs that not all tutors have access to.

6. Drive With Uber

Uber driver in car

Enjoy finding the best route around town? Why not turn it into your side hustle and get paid for it?

As a driver partner with Uber, you create your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.

If you want to give it a try, here are a few things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid driver’s license and pass a background check.

Also, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.

7. Earn up to $ 60 an Hour as a Part-Time Bookkeeper

Woman working

Does earning $ 60 an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?

Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers through his online course, Bookkeeper Business Launch.

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

It’s a great opportunity for moms who want to work part-time, grads who are just out of college and anyone who wants to bring in real money while working from home.

8. Get Paid for Your Useless Trivia Knowledge

If you’re one of those people who can pull useless pieces of knowledge from out of nowhere, you’ll want to download this app.

It’s called HQ Trivia. With at times more than a million players logging on at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET each day to play, you might’ve heard of it.

“Quiz Daddy” Scott Rogowsky is the game’s main host. He asks 12 questions. You’ve got three multiple-choice options and 10 seconds to answer each. If you get all 12 questions correct, you’ll split the grand prize (around $ 5,000 lately, though it’s been $ 25,000 or more on randomly chosen special occasions) amongst the other winners.

The HQ Trivia app is available for iPhone and Android.

Pro tip: Share your personalized referral code with friends and family to get an extra life. Trust us. You’ll want it.

9. Clean up Search Engine Mistakes

Man typing on keyboard

Search engines use complicated algorithms to determine the results you see. But they don’t always get it right…

They’re actually full of errors, so companies need real humans to look at the results and judge them for quality, relevance and usefulness. That’s where you come in.

You can find search engine evaluator jobs through Lionbridge. You’ll take a qualifying test, and some companies also conduct a phone interview. Once you’re accepted, you can set your own schedule and work as much or little as you want.

10. Work From Home as a Transcriptionist

Headphones on keyboard

Transcribing is a great way to earn cash that requires little to no prior experience and offers flexible hours and workloads. Plus, you can do it from home.

The work sounds easy: Listen to audio and type what you hear. But it can be repetitive and requires a lot of attention to detail.

However, the pay is a pretty good selling point: Earn around $ 15 to $ 25 per hour for general transcription, and more if you learn to specialize in the legal or medical fields.

11. Go Watch a Movie

If you want to get paid to watch movies, fill out an application with the mystery shopping company Market Force Information.

The application is just a few questions long, and nearly everyone in the U.S. and Canada is eligible.

Once you’re accepted as an auditor, keep an eye out for email alerts for new assignments in your area. You can accept or decline any assignments — so if a movie’s not even worth watching for $ 30, you don’t have to see it.

In-theater checks don’t come with huge paydays, but you’ll get a free movie and earn about $ 10 to $ 20 an hour for your time.

12. Sell Your iPhone Photos

Food being photographed from phone

Those thought-out photos you take can get you more than just social media likes.

Upload your iPhone photos to stock photography sites. Many of them are trying to get away from the “perfect” photo and are looking for more realistic images. After a quick upload, you’ll get an email notification when someone purchases your work.

You likely won’t become a millionaire; sites like Foap pay about $ 5 per purchase. However, if you have a nicer camera, you can step up your game like Eliza Snow, who quit her corporate job to sell stock photos full 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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29 Totally Flexible Ways to Make Money in College Without Dropping Classes

Working through college is one way to reduce the amount of debt you’ll have after graduation. You know, make some money now and take out fewer student loans. Big. Win.

But finding a job with decent pay that’ll allow you to schedule shifts around your classes and extracurriculars can be harder to find than a healthy taco bar. And maybe you’re not too keen on flipping burgers at your local fast-food joint.

Well… have you thought about ditching the demanding work schedule and finding flexible work instead? You’ve got options, after all.

29 Ways to Make Money in College — Without a Fast Food Gig

From part-time jobs to apps and websites that let you make money online from your dorm or apartment, you have plenty of options that won’t cut into your study time.  

1. Get Rewarded for Your Good Grades

Don’t have a lot of spare time outside of studying?

Check with the dean of your college or university to see if your school offers incentives for getting good grades. Some actually offer cash bonuses to college students who maintain a good GPA.

2. Drive With Uber and Lyft

A woman holds a cell phone.

Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?

Try driving with Lyft!

Demand for ride-sharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later. You can drive days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!

Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Lyft drivers also sign up with Uber.

As a partner driver with Uber, you’re an independent contractor. You create your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.

If you want to give Uber a try here are a few of the things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid US driver’s license and pass a background check.

Finally, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by insurance.

And if you aren’t sure which is better for you? Here’s our guide to Lyft versus Uber.

3. Share Your Opinions

No, you won’t make a ton of money doing online surveys, but you also won’t have to spend a lot of time or effort. Heck, you won’t even have to leave your dorm room.

One survey site we love is MyPoints. It rewards you in gift cards for taking polls and answering surveys. It’s a great way to pass time while you wait in long lines at the dining hall. You’ll earn a $ 5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.

Then there’s also the reader favorite Swagbucks, which offers a wide variety of ways to make money beyond taking surveys. Plus, you get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days.

If you’re looking to make a bit of money in those free minutes between classes, it doesn’t get much easier than this.

4. Be a Human Guinea Pig

From medical tests to market research, being a test subject can be an interesting, educational and — above all — lucrative way to spend your time.

Some tests, like clinical trials, may be more taxing and require a greater time commitment. But they just might pay a pretty penny; we’ve seen as much as $ 600 for some studies.

But other opportunities, like market research, may just take a couple hours of your afternoon, and you’ll earn free samples and some extra cash.

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Keep an eye out on campus for opportunities at your university, too. These are usually quick gigs that could yield $ 10 to $ 20 for less than an hour’s work.

5. Buy and Resell Textbooks

Detail of Text Books

When you were in high school, you had no idea how much money textbooks cost, did you? Ouch. You know you can earn a little cash back for selling your textbooks at the end of the semester.

But you can go beyond that — and actually start profiting from textbook sales.

Instead of relying on your own collection, buy textbooks online from sites like eBay and resell them on a site like BookScouter.

Before you shop, you can look up a book’s ISBN on BookScouter and find out how much it’s worth. That way you’ll only buy books you know you can sell for more than what you pay.

Profit margins aren’t huge on textbook reselling, but if you can average $ 5 per book and sell five per day, you could earn $ 750 each month. That’s a solid side hustle!

6. Turn Saving Money Into a Team Sport

If you’re a fan of friendly competition, start recruiting team members to join you on Ibotta, a free app that’ll grant you cash back on just about everything. Yeah, if you’re 21, you can even earn cash back from the bar.

If you’re not yet an Ibotta member, go ahead and sign up. Once you claim your first offer, you’ll earn a $ 10 bonus.

Then start building your team. You can refer friends and earn a $ 5 bonus. The more team members you have, the more shopping bonuses you’ll likely accrue. Can you say passive income? Plus, Ibotta ranks your earnings against your friends, which turns saving money into a friendly competition.

Just think how much you can earn if you get your whole dorm or sorority involved!

7. Sell Your Old Cell Phone

iphone sitting on seat of car

You know that old cell phone you have sitting in your junk drawer or perhaps your bedside table? It’s time to give it up and pocket some cash.

Gazelle is an online trade-in site that makes the process super easy.

Enter your device’s information, and Gazelle will give you a trade-in estimate. For qualifying devices, it’ll even send you a free box for shipping.

If you need money more quickly, see if an affiliated kiosk is located in your area. You’ll be able to get an estimate on your device, and if you agree to sell, you’ll immediately get cash.

8. Become a Tutor

Are you looking for on-campus jobs? Have you ever considered becoming a tutor?

Look for programs through your university or specific departments where you could get paid to work with other students.

For more flexibility, consider becoming an online tutor. Through a platform like Wyzant, you can browse tutoring jobs and set your own rates.

9. Get Refunds on Your Online Orders

It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

10. Find Money You Didn’t Know Was Yours

Money on the ground next to shoes.

State treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $ 43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

Check for your unclaimed money with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Click your state on the map, and it’ll redirect you to your state’s appropriate search site. (Beware: There are several look-a-like sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)

Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name.

“As I was scrolling through, I saw his name and his middle initial,” she says. She asked him to confirm his old Florida address; he grew up in Tampa. Sure enough, Mark Howell was entitled to $ 56 from a “matured insurance policy.”

Not bad for an unexpected check, right?

11. Become a Virtual Employee

If you want more steady work and income still offering the flexibility you need to get to class and rest after pulling all-nighters, look online.

Not sure where to start your search for a remote gig? Turn to ZipRecruiter. Click here, and it’ll send you to a list of geo-tailored work-from-home job openings.

Because you don’t yet have a degree and aren’t seeking full-time employment, we suggest looking into these jobs:

  • Virtual recruiter: Put your networking skills to use and connect employees or freelancers to the right jobs. You’ll do things like post available jobs, screen resumes, conduct preliminary interviews and negotiate salaries.
  • Virtual assistant: Are you super organized? Get paid to help a busy professional stay on track. You can use the organization and communication skills you’ve developed to help out with data entry, social media management, website maintenance, research and customer service needs.

Transcriber: Know how to type speedy fast? Transcribing requires little to no prior experience and offers flexible hours and workloads. The work can be demanding, but the pay is a pretty good selling point: about $ 15 to $ 25 per hour for general transcription, and more if you specialize in a legal or medical field.

12. Advertise Your Skills as a Freelancer

Freelancing is a wonderful, flexible way to make money on the side. You set your own rates and your hours. It also can be a great way to gain experience and connect with potential employers before you even graduate.

Whether you’re a graphic designer, a writer, an editor or a computer programmer, you can find virtual gigs through platforms like Upwork, Fiverr and other freelance websites.

13. Sell Crafting Supplies on Etsy

Tulips, scissors and rope on wooden background.

Maybe you love crafting, but you simply don’t have the time to knit scarves, quilt blankets or cross-stitch sassy sayings to sell. Well, here’s some good news: You can make money simply selling craft kits and supplies.

Look for supplies, kits and patterns at thrift stores and garage sales. Find good deals, and resell these items to crafters on Etsy. Take note from Janet Berry-Johnson who was able to make an extra $ 200 a month by selling supplies on Etsy.

14. Get Paid for Completing Small Tasks on Amazon

Have you heard of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk?

Create an account, and start performing “human intelligence tasks.” These tasks range from answering surveys to transcribing interviews to creating spreadsheets. You can pick and choose what you want to do.

Penny Hoarder contributor Michael Naab shared that he made an average of $ 500 a month through Mechanical Turk.

15. Hang out With Dogs or Cats

A dog sits on the street

If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — Rover might be your perfect gig.

The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town.

Rover says sitters can earn as much as $ 1,000 a month.

Rover dog-sitter requirements vary by location. In general, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Have access to the Rover app (iOS or Android).

Here’s how it works: You’ll create an online sitter profile where you’ll answer questions about your experience with puppers and your schedule availability.

You can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding at your home or theirs, and daycare. Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs. You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.)

Dog owners will reach out to you. Accept which gigs you want, then start snugglin’ pups. As soon as you complete a service, you’ll be paid within two days.

16. Braid Horse Manes

Are your friends always asking you to do their hair? Put it in a French braid or a fancy knot?

Well, you can get paid to put your skills to use — on horses.

Kat Tretina worked on weekends braiding horse manes for shows. She had zero experience and invested an initial $ 20 for a supply kit. Then started banking $ 1,000 a month.

You’ll find some small shows in the fall and winter months, but spring and summer are the most popular.

And because the work happens almost exclusively on the weekends, you should have no problem fitting it around your class schedule.

17. Help Your Neighbors With Odd Jobs — the Modern Way

Odd jobs and side gigs are an awesome way to earn extra money without committing to a full-time job or fixed schedule.

Sure, you could always find work the old-fashioned way — have your parents ask their friends if they need help with anything. But modern technology and our infatuation with the sharing economy have made gigs a much more effective way of earning a living.

Use an app like TaskRabbit to connect with people in your area who need help with cleaning, assembling furniture or installing a new faucet.

If you’re not as handy around the house, you can use Instacart or Postmates to deliver groceries and takeout orders to people who don’t have time, resources or ability to do it on their own.

18. Pick up House-Sitting Gigs

If you’re not keen on babysitting or pet sitting, why not house sit? It could be a great way to escape your shared dorm room while also making some extra money.

There are tons of websites out there that’ll help you find the perfect gig. Check out a few of these house-sitting marketplaces.

19. Get Paid to Exercise

Bottom line: HealthyWage will literally pay you for losing weight.

Not only are you getting more healthy, you’re also making some money. How’s that for motivation?

Here’s how it works:

  1. Read our full HealthyWage review, and sign up.
  2. Define a goal weight and the amount of time you’ll give yourself to achieve it.
  3. Place a bet on yourself ranging from $ 20 to $ 500 a month.

Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $ 10,000!

Wondering if it can really work? We talked to one woman, Teresa Suarez, who lost 68 pounds — and made over $ 2,400.

20. Be on Your Favorite TV Game Show

Do you watch “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune” every evening and feel like you’d crush the contestants?

You can be part of these shows more easily than you might think, and it can be a cool way to boost your budget.

To get started, read our full guide to becoming a game show contestant for details on joining “Jeopardy!,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, “The Price is Right” and more.

21. Claim Class-Action Settlements

Class-action lawsuits are a simple way to make some extra money on the side.

Heck, you’re probably already part of a class-action suit you don’t even know about. They come up more often than you might realize.

We share open settlements here when we hear about them, so keep an eye out.

To file a claim, you’ll usually just have to fill out an online form. Some settlements also require proof of purchase of a relevant product or service.

How much you get depends on how many claimants are part of the case settlement and the amount of the settlement. You could get anything from free tuna to a check for $ 5,000 from California hotels.

22. Deliver Packages for Amazon Flex

You know when you order a package through Amazon and receive it the same day? It’s not magic — it’s your friendly Amazon Flex delivery partner.

As an Amazon Flex delivery partner, you’ll deliver goods to consumers via Amazon.com, Prime Now, AmazonFresh and Amazon Restaurants.

Amazon Flex says you can make $ 18 to $ 25 an hour as a Flex associate, though that’ll depend on how much you’re able to deliver. It processes payments on Tuesdays and Fridays through direct deposit, so you should see your money on Wednesdays, Saturdays or both.

One of the biggest perks of this part-time gig is that you get to set your own schedule, using the Flex app to claim delivery blocks (or shifts) you want to work. You’re an independent contractor, though, so you’ll be responsible for expenses, including gas, parking and tolls.

To qualify, you’ll need a phone with the Flex app and a car. If you’re delivering Prime Now orders, any car will suffice; however, if you’re delivering for Amazon.com, you’ll need a four-door midsize sedan or larger. In some areas, bikes are acceptable.

The program recruits in various areas across the country based on need. If you don’t find your city on the list when you go to sign up, you can always join the waitlist.

23. Play Free Scratch-offs for a Chance to Win Real Money

Woman scratching lottery ticket

You know that feeling when you find a $ 20 bill hiding in the pocket of those jeans you wore last week? Yeah, that’s the feeling of a lucky day. The Lucky Day app is just like that.

You could win up to $ 10,000 playing digital scratch-off tickets or even a whopping $ 100,000 in the daily lotto. You’ll also have a lot of chances to win gift cards to cool places like Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin and Target.

It’s all free to play, with no in-app purchases. The company has already awarded more than $ 3 million in prizes to winners since 2014.

No, it’s not guaranteed money, but it’s a fun way to pass the time when you’re just sitting around and, who knows, you could hit a big one!

24. Sell Your Instagram-Worthy Pictures

If you have a smartphone and a photographic eye, making money may have just gotten a lot easier. Oh – you’ll also need access to marketable scenery.

An app called Foap lets you turn your smartphone photos into cash.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the free app and create an account.
  2. Take a quality photo and upload it to Foap’s marketplace.
  3. Someone buys the license to your photo for $ 10. You make $ 5.

If your photo sells 20 times, you make $ 5 each time and end up with $ 100 in your pocket — all for about five minutes of work. Pretty cool, right?

25. Serve as a Mock Juror From Your Laptop

Who isn’t obsessed with with true-crime podcasts these days? “My Favorite Murder,” anyone?

If you want an insider look at what happens when a case hits the courtroom, you can serve as an online mock juror through a site like eJury.

As a mock juror, you’ll review evidence including documents, videos and photos. The fate of the mock-innocent, or mock-guilty, could be in your hands. The goal? Help the lawyers prepare for the real thing.

You can earn $ 5 to $ 10 per case.

26. Sell Your Clutter and Make Some Cash

Living that minimalist lifestyle is all the rage right now, so why not use this mentality to your advantage?

Start taking a good hard look at your belongings. What do you actually need? What can you make money from?

  • Clothes: If you have clothes you haven’t worn in the last year, why do you hang onto them? Try selling them to folks in your area through an online marketplace like Letgo. It takes about five minutes to create your account and list an item, and it’s free.
  • Technology: About your overcrowded entertainment center… Consider selling these items to Decluttr. It’ll buy your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and even cell phones and tablets. Shipping is free, and Decluttr pays you within 24 hours of retrieval.
  • Books: Bookshelf collecting dust? We love books as much as the next person, but see whether your treasures are worth anything by listing them on Amazon. With Amazon Trade-In, you can trade in your used textbooks, plus other items, like electronics, in exchange for an Amazon gift card.

Ready, set, purge.

27. Get Your Nanny on

Whether you want to look after school-aged kids on Saturday nights or help tired parents after school, you can find opportunities to use your child care experience to earn cash.

Look within your circle of friends and acquaintances first, as parents are more likely to trust someone they know. Ask friends if they know anyone else who could use a few hours to themselves, whether it’s to grocery shop or simply to head to the gym.

You can also let parents find you through Care.com. Rates on the platform will vary by city, but the average rate for babysitters in 2017 was $ 16.20 an hour, according to Care.com’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey.

28. Invest in Real Estate (Even as a College Student)

Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $ 500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

29. Cash in on Your Smartphone Addiction

A woman looks at the apps on her phone,

Let’s be real: That phone habit is hard to break. So you might as well make some money while you’re scrolling instead of totally waste your time.

Download AppKarma, a free rewards app that lets you earn cash and gift cards when you try out gaming apps and watch videos.

Android users can download the AppKarma app directly through the Google Play Store.

iPhone users: AppKarma is not in the app store, but you can use it from your mobile browser. Click on the link from your iOS device to access the AppKarma web app. Complete the first offer (and earn 100 points!) to get started.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get 500 extra points when you sign up, plus you’ll get an email shortly after signing up with a special promo code worth another 750 bonus points.

You can exchange your Karma Points for gift cards to Amazon, PayPal, iTunes, Target, Starbucks and Walmart, among other retailers.

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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Bigger Paydays, Famous Friends and a Little Heartbreak: All the Ways Life Has Changed for Queer Eye’s Fab Five in Only a Year

Queer Eye Season 3All things just keep getting better.
At least, that’s been the case for Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness–aka your new Fab Five–ever since…

E! Online (US) – TV News

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Got Active Kids? Here Are 9 Simple Ways to Stretch the Family Budget

You’ve weathered the baby-rearing years. Congratulations! Now you can sit back and enjoy having your kids in school.

Oh, but now there are hobbies: band, dance class and sports. Don’t forget field trips.

By the time you’ve paid for that clarinet and lessons, dance shoes and costumes, cleats and knee pads, your family budget is shot.

Raising kids is expensive. But there are things you can do to help the rest of the family budget survive as your little progeny showcases all of their talents.

1. Do Fun Stuff for Less

OK, the kids are in school, and that’s expensive. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around on the weekends watching the grass grow. Get out there, and do some fun stuff!

Just don’t pay full price for it.

If you haven’t embraced deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial yet, it’s time to take a look. You can find a lot of sweet deals on local activities, attractions and restaurants with very little effort. It’s a simple way to save money but still get out of the house.

2. Don’t Pay Just to Access Your Own Money

With all the sporting events and other travel you do with the kids, chances are you’ll need to stop and get a little cash every so often.

The average total cost of taking cash from an out-of-network ATM is $ 4.68, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

Want to avoid those fees? There’s an easier way than driving around town to get to an in-network ATM. You can simply keep your money in an account that doesn’t charge those fees — like the Aspiration account.

With Aspiration, you’ll face no ATM fees — domestic or international. ATMs in-network are free, and Aspiration will reimburse you the fees for out-of-network ATMs monthly.

Other perks? You’ll never pay a monthly maintenance fee, a minimum balance fee or an overdraft fee. Oh, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY interest on your account’s balance.

Yup. It’s that simple to start living a fee-free* life thanks to Aspiration. That’s a big win for a family on the go.

3. Missed a Good Deal? Get Paid Back

If you’re like most parents, you don’t have a lot of time to run to the mall. You probably do a lot of your shopping online. That’s cool. Now you don’t have to worry about the “what ifs” of sales that start tomorrow or next week. Get the tool that hunts for those deals for you.

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

4. Make Sure You’re Not Overpaying for Car Insurance

 family on a road trip in car

All of the driving you do to get your kids to soccer or the science fair adds up. It also means you’re probably not getting that low-mileage discount from your car insurance company. Are you spending too much on your car insurance? When was the last time you checked?

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.

We talked to Artie Januario, who found new insurance through The Zebra and managed to knock off $ 30 a month — or $ 360 a year — from his premium.

With the money you save, you could get something nice for yourself. Ha! Just kidding… You will, however, have a little more available to budget for the kids’ next great adventure.

5. Feed the Fam for Less

The refrigerator never stays full for long when you have kids. Make those frequent trips to the grocery store a little less painful by earning cash back.

That’s right: Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works:  Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

  • 25 cents back for any item.
  • 25 cents back on strawberries.
  • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks.

Notice those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!

6. Get Paid to Dress the Kids for Success

Mother and daughter picking out clothes in bedroom

When your kids are in school, they grow — and fast. That super-cute outfit you bought last fall? Useless now. You need new clothes for them. Again.

One of our favorite ways to save is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you up to 10% cash back on online purchases at Walmart.

Plus, you’ll get a free $ 10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

To earn your gift card:

  1. Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
  2. Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $ 25.
  3. Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $ 10 Walmart gift card.

It’s easy savings for clothes you know you have to buy because they’ve already outgrown last month’s styles.

7. Sell off Stuff They Don’t Need Anymore

From toys to clothes to bedroom decor, your kids accumulate stuff fast, don’t they?

Don’t just hang on to that stuff and let it fill up your basement or garage. Sell it, so you have a little extra money (and room) to buy the new stuff.

You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This intuitive app 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.

Come on, you know your kids are going to want new stuff, and your home can only hold so much!

8. Pay Less to Get There. And There. And There.

Mother getting children (6-10) to soccer practice

Having kids means you have to run to a lot of activities. From sporting events to band practice and any number of other things, you may feel like you live in your car.

And that car needs gas. No, not the stinky kind. If you have boys, you’re probably all set there. We mean gasoline, and that can get expensive. You need to save at the pump.

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.

9. Keep Saving Even Though You’re Busy

Saving money is tough. Saving money when you have kids in school can seem impossible. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?

Digit makes that possible.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1.00% bonus every three months.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, Penny Hoarder Matt Wiley told us he saved $ 4,300 without noticing.

If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward. That’s a small price to pay to keep your family saving during the crazy days of school.

Take Your Mind off Money and Focus on Fun

Father And Daughter Playing Basketball On Driveway At Home

Hey, your kids are only this age once. Enjoy it!

Having school-aged kids can be financially taxing, but you can relieve some of that stress by following these tips and taking some of the pressure off. You don’t want to spend all of your time dwelling on the family budget. You want to teach your baby girl to hit her free throws and your little guy how to play that guitar.

Remember, it might be hard, but it’s OK to say no to your kids on occasion, too. They don’t have to be in every extracurricular activity out there. Learning how to limit their activities and wants can save you a lot of money and a little bit of stress, as well.

Oh, and don’t forget to get a Groupon or Livingsocial deal for a nice, relaxing date night for yourself. You deserve it.

*Aspiration Partners, Inc. and its affiliates are committed to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that it’ll only charge you what it costs them to provide the extra service (such as a wire transfer), and not a penny more. Besides these at-cost service charges, the only account fee you pay is the fee you choose, even if it’s $ 0, which is why it’s called Pay What Is Fair.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He is bracing for the day that his twin babies start school and all of the fun that goes with it. 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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9 Smart (and Simple) Ways to Stretch Your Budget When You’re a Single Parent

As far as I’m concerned, all you single parents are heroes without capes.

Well, you’ll swoosh on a cape when your kids want to play dress-up. But that’s beside the point. Single parents have to juggle work, kids and life. That’s no easy feat — especially on the wallet.

That’s why we put together these simple tips to help you better manage your money.

1. Involve Kids in Financial Decisions

Your kid sees their classmates taking piano, tennis, dance and karate lessons. But you might not be able to afford all of that.

Instead of feeling guilty — or worse, caving and overspending — have an open conversation with your child.

“Classically, parents will go behind a closed door to talk about saving, budgeting and investing,” says Maggie Johndrow, a financial adviser at Johndrow Wealth Management. “But psychologists have found that will make your children think finances are scary, taboo and something that’s not to be talked about in the open.”

Instead, Johndrow encourages parents lay it all out there. Let your child know your budget for after-school activities, then work together to pick and choose what you can afford.

“Empower them and teach them by giving them that choice,” she says.

2. Analyze Your Needs vs. Wants

Mother and daughter on computer

An integral part of managing your money is budgeting. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and understand where you can cut back.

You don’t have to rely on complicated Excel-spreadsheet formulas or spend hours categorizing your expenses to stick to a budget. Instead, use an app.

An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim, a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions.

Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.

Best part? It’s free to sign up.

3. Pay Yourself First

Hey, you! Yeah, you! You’re important. Don’t forget to prioritize your needs — like your savings. Whether you’re starting an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a home or planning a weekend getaway for you and the kids, why not make the process easy?

One of our favorite strategies? Set up automatic withdrawals from your paycheck, so you’ll squirrel money away without thinking about it.

One of our favorite accounts for this is Aspiration — you’ll pay no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY on your savings.

You’ll get access to an online-only account for spending and for saving. It comes with a debit card that earns 0.5% cash back on all your purchases, plus free ATMs, so you can easily access your money when you need it.

After you open your Aspiration account, use it to split your income:

  • Automatically deposit a portion of your income into your spending account, and use that to cover basic expenses.
  • Deposit what’s left into your Aspiration savings to keep it out of sight and let it grow. You’ll earn 2.00% APY as long you deposit just $ 1 a month.

Even if you’re slipping $ 10 into your emergency fund each month, that’s OK. Do what you can to take advantage of the compound interest.

4. Take Care of Your Debt

Mom multitasking

“I often find that people are struggling because of debt, so if you can come up with a debt repayment strategy and eliminate your debt, the other things all of a sudden become a lot easier,” Johndrow says.

Her top recommendation? Refinance. Refinancing can lower your interest rates and, therefore, lower your monthly payments.

You can basically refinance any type of debt, but here are a couple of examples:

  • Refinance your credit card debt: Credit card interest is no joke. Refinancing your debt with a personal loan could help you save a ton. If your credit score is at least 620, a good resource is Fiona, a search engine that can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs. You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
  • Refinance your auto loan: It’s normally a pain to re-title your vehicle at your local DMV office, but a company called MotoRefi will do all the heavy lifting for you — and could cut your monthly car payment by $ 100 or more.

In addition to refinancing for better interest rates, Johndrow suggests extending the term of your loan if your budget is tight. “This might mean paying more in interest over time, but it might free up some monthly cash flow, which can help with your budgeting,” she says.

It gives you some breathing room.

5. Find Sneaky Ways to Save on Your Necessities

Finding ways to save on your needs feels harder than finding ways to save on your wants — but it’s possible.

Here are a few examples that’ll get you going in the right direction:

  • Save on groceries with a cash-back app. There’s no way around groceries, but you can earn some money back with Ibotta. The app is free to download, and you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
  • Save money by negotiating your bills. Don’t have time to call? Download Truebill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year.
  • Save money on your car insurance. One way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates. Use an online car insurance search engine like The Zebra, which offers “insurance in black and white” and compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds

6. Manage Life’s Risks

Father dancing with daughter

You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so it’s important to be realistic.

“God forbid something happens to you, and you’re all your kid has,” Johndrow says. “Life insurance leaves them with enough to still hopefully attend college and achieve their goals.”

If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without the medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, check out Bestow. The company is built around one concept: helping you get the term life insurance policy you want, simply and fast.

It just takes five minutes to answer some basic lifestyle questions, and you can get quotes for up to $ 1 million in coverage without a medical exam. If you’re approved, you can personalize your coverage to fit your budget. You can change or cancel your plan at any time.

Johndrow also urges parents to look into disability insurance, in case you can’t work and need to supplement your income; and long-term care insurance, in case you need health care not covered by your health insurance.

7. Find Creative Ways to Diversify Your Income

We know you don’t have a lot of extra time, but if you’re looking for a way to make some extra money to cushion your budget, try something creative.

For example, have you ever thought about renting out your baby gear? Yeah, the stuff you have sitting around the house that your kids don’t need anymore.

Online marketplaces like BabyQuip allow parents to rent out strollers, car seats, cribs and other baby items to traveling parents. (Because checking a crib on a flight is near impossible.)

Stay-at-home mom Manuela Madrid rents her baby gear out. She works, on average, 12 hours a month and earns between $ 120 to $ 180 with each rental.

8. Don’t Sleep on Your Retirement Savings

Dad telling bed time stories

Although retirement might seem like a faraway fantasy, it’s going to pop up sooner than you think.

If you haven’t yet started, open a company-matched 401(k) or your own traditional or Roth IRA. Even if you only put $ 5 in each week, that’s something — and you’re still taking advantage of that compound interest.

Having trouble prioritizing your savings? Johndrow urges you to think of it like this: “You can take out a loan for almost anything in life, but you cannot take out a loan for your retirement.”

So if you can’t put away money for your kids’ college fund? They’ll be OK. They can take out student loans like everyone else. But you can’t take out a loan to cover your living expenses once you retire.

“You want the best for your children, and the last thing you want to do is ask them to care for you when they’re trying to care for themselves and the next generation,” Johndrow says.

9. Make a Date With Your Money

At the end of each month, put the kids to bed, and pour yourself a glass of wine. If you prefer: Once they’re out the door to school, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and cozy in.

Then, take some time to look at your monthly income and spending and see how you’re doing. See how the last month went — which areas you excelled in and where you might’ve gone over budget. Then, take a look at the month ahead and note any additional upcoming expenses.

Even taking 15 minutes to check in with yourself can help you stay on budget.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

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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A Black Man’s View: 5 Ways To Be A Better Male Ally In The Workplace

#MeToo, #TimesUp, and terminations of high-profile executives accused of sexual misconduct has spurned a conversation among some men asking, “How can we promote gender equity in the workplace?” Here are five ways we as men can make work environments safer and more inclusive for everyone. These tips can help a man be a better ally in the workplace.

5 Ways To Be A Better Male Ally In The Workplace

Don’t ask her out

At work we interact with many different people. We may have similar interests with some women — get along and become friends. As we socialize, feelings may grow and you could start viewing her romantically. Full stop. Most women do not come to work to get a date. This is not the bar. Don’t ask for her number. She is not there to be objectified. Keep it professional.

Do not talk over her

Many times in a meeting, a man will take over the conversation and interrupt a woman when she is speaking. Whether intentional or not, this is a malicious act which sends a message that her contributions are not important and hold little value. We need to stop doing this. Let her talk and finish her thought. You can wait.

Do not gaslight

A woman’s experience in the workplace will always be different than ours. From subtle microaggressions to blatant harassment, her existence in a business environment is full of challenges we cannot imagine. This is why it is important for men to believe our female coworkers when they say they have been victims of abuse. Believe her when she says someone has been harassing her. Do not downplay it and tell her it is something she imagined. In doing so, you create a distrustful work environment by not encouraging other women to come forward.

No foul language

One of the best things a man can do when he hears misogynistic and sexist remarks from other men is to push back. Gently, but firmly, tell them those type of comments are not OK. It creates a hostile work environment, which helps no one. We need to let our fellow male coworkers know this is not acceptable, nor is the workplace the setting for that kind of language.

Hire more women

In my time in IT, there has always been an overwhelmingly male environment. I would always wonder why aren’t their more women working in technology? The simple answer is because we are not hiring them. Evia, a virtual event solutions company conducted a poll and found that women hold only 20% of tech jobs. In order for us to make the work environment more balanced and different points of view found, we as men need to hire more women.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post A Black Man’s View: 5 Ways To Be A Better Male Ally In The Workplace appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT UPDATE:

Tax Refund: How to Spend Yours in Smart but Fun Ways

Tax season is in full swing and that means if you’re one of the many of Americans that get a large tax refund, it’s time to plan how you’ll spend it. First off, be smart. There are many things like saving for retirement, investing in stocks, or paying off debt or mortgages that are smart and savvy ways to use this extra cash to make life a bit easier for you. But if you want something a bit more self-serving, here are a couple of other ways to spend that refund. Instant gratification can be a smart use of money, too.

Upgrade Your Gadgets

New versions of your favorite smart gadgets come out regularly and it’s sometimes hard to justify purchasing a new model just because, well, it’s new. If you have a smart home device, or really any tech accessory, that’s in need of an upgrade, getting one with your tax refund is a great idea. Think the newest Echo, or the new waterproof Kindle, or the all-in-one Google Home Max.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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3 Ways to Score a Free Vacation (Without Entering a Scammy Contest)

Where do you want to go on vacation? Disney World? New York City? Vegas? Paris? A sandy beach somewhere?

All of those sound awesome, but holy cow, are vacations expensive. You’ll have to pay for plane tickets or a serious road trip. You’ll need to stay at a hotel (or Airbnb). Add the cost of restaurant meals, maybe a rental car and admission fees for all those fun tourist activities you want to do.

Making memories ain’t cheap, but luckily we’ve got ideas for how you can afford it. If you can pull in enough cash through side gigs or passive income, your vacation will be basically free.

Here are three ideas:

1. List Your Place While You’re Gone

While you’re on vacation, you won’t be home. I mean, that’s sort of the whole point of a vacation, isn’t it? To get away. You leave your house or your apartment, and you travel somewhere far away.

Since you won’t be using your home, why not let someone else use it while you’re gone? You might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.

Sure, you can always list a spare room if you’ve got one. But consider listing your entire place while you’re away. If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could make some bank on Airbnb.

Just enter your information into Airbnb’s calculator to receive a free income estimate. Depending on how long you can list your place, you could make hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars.

Here are some tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
  • Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Here’s our beginner’s guide to being an Airbnb host, starting with how to create your listing and set your price.

2. Use a Rewards Credit Card to, Well, Reward Yourself

If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money — money that you could be using for your vacation.

You could use it on your trip. Use it to pay for your hotel stay or car rental or dinner out, to really get more bang for your buck. (Just make sure to pay off your balance each month to avoid interest charges.)

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $ 500 in your first three months of opening the card, you’ll pocket a $ 150 bonus.

There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $ 417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)

Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

3. Get Free Accommodations as a House-Sitter

What about staying someplace cool and getting paid for it?

Imagine sipping your morning coffee on a beautiful balcony looking out over the ocean. Later, you water the plants and clean up a bit before taking a dip in the pool. Oh, and you’re getting paid for taking care of this house.

It sounds too good to be true. Can you really find house-sitting jobs that pay?

Yes and no. Yes, caretaking gigs that pay a salary or stipend in addition to providing you a place to stay do exist. But no, there aren’t many that fit the description above.

Most house-sitting opportunities fall into one of these two categories: standard house-sitting gigs, or more demanding caretaking jobs.

Many websites list house-sitting gigs, and a quick glance tells you right away that not many people are offering to pay their house sitters much — if anything. Normally, you get a nice place to stay for free.

This might not sound like much of a money-making opportunity, but it depends on how you look at it. House-sitting could be a way to get free accommodations when you travel, cutting a huge expense.

Here are some of the online platforms where you can find the opportunities, along with their subscription rates:

  • House Sitters America ($ 30 per year)
  • Mind My House ($ 20 per year)
  • Housecarers.com ($ 50 per year or free limited membership)
  • Luxury House Sitting ($ 25 per year)
  • Nomador ($ 89 per year or limited free membership)

Some people make a lifestyle of house-sitting. Canadian couple Dalene and Peter Heck sold everything to travel the world, staying in other people’s homes. For eight years, they stayed in more than a dozen different countries all over the world, saving themselves tens of thousands of dollars in housing costs.

Now, think again about where you want to go on vacation.

*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He could use a vacation.

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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Entrepreneurs: Here Are 3 Ways Bad Health Habits Can Cut Into Your Bottom Line

Not living as healthy a life as possible can lead to more than just physical challenges. The fiscal results can add more problems to your life—but some are avoidable. Here are three bad health habits and how they can affect your financial health and that of your business.

Smoking: Quitting smoking is considered one of the hardest endeavors to take on (and science backs this notion.) Besides the fact that a pack of cigarettes can cost you up to $ 17, the American Cancer Society reports that tobacco-related healthcare costs are more than $ 130 billion and the direct healthcare cost for those who smoke cigarettes is about $ 35 per pack. (So, let’s say you smoke only a pack per day. That’s more than $ 13,000 per year.)

Recent Wallet Hub research also indicates that smokers can lose up to $ 5,932 per year in income, and more than $ 156 billion is lost in productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke. In some states, health insurance premiums are higher for smokers—up to 50% higher than those who do not smoke.

The American Cancer Society and healthcare professionals cite options for quitting including counseling, nicotine-replacement therapy, and prescription drugs. Smokers are also advised to seek help from a licensed medical professional or to take advantage of cessation programs covered by insurance.

Overworking: There are several health-related effects of overworking and researchers have found that the resulting stress can lead to depression, heavy drinking, impaired sleep, diabetes, and other conditions and illnesses. It can also lead to a loss in productivity, which is quite counterproductive. The domino effect: absences at work, appointments, and business meetings, which then leads to a breakdown in your reputation and credibility as a leader. If you’re missing a meeting that could have netted you that lucrative partnership, that’s money lost to your business. And even if you show up, you won’t be at your best—yet again risking the loss of money-making opportunities.

Productivity experts suggest working in 60-to 90-minute intervals throughout the day, and to manage your time in a way that promotes a healthy balance between professional and personal time. Prioritizing deadlines, being prompt for meetings, and avoiding distractions are all ways you can avoid unnecessary midnight oil-burning sessions.

Skipping Doctor’s Appointments: No-show rates for doctor’s appointments can range from 5% to 55%. Not scheduling routine exams, especially for conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect black women and men or people of a certain age range, can mean missed diagnosis and exposure to health challenges that could have been avoided or treated earlier.

The CDC indicates that getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, help your chances for living a longer, healthier life, and catching things early can help to avoid the healthcare and insurance costs that you could face if a condition is not detected early enough, gets worse, or leads to a more serious one. It’s definitely less expensive to go to the doctor regularly than to avoid it for years and end up having an extended stay in a hospital or high costs of a lifetime of prescription drugs or medical treatments.

Editor’s Note: This article originally published on July 2, 2016 

The post Entrepreneurs: Here Are 3 Ways Bad Health Habits Can Cut Into Your Bottom Line appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise

EMPLOYMENT SEARCH UPDATE:

Swarovski, CFDA Part Ways for Fashion Awards

The CFDA Fashion Awards and Swarovski are parting ways after a 17-year run.
The two organizations won’t be partnering on the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards, that takes place June 3. Swarovski has been the main sponsor of the industry event.
“After an incredible 17-year partnership on the CFDA Fashion Awards, the CFDA and Swarovski have decided to shift the scope of the relationship and work on other programs to support American fashion. We appreciate Swarovski’s tremendous support of American fashion and look forward to our continued work to support the fashion industry,” said Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA.
Nadja Swarovski, member of the Swarovski executive board, said, “We are proud of our 17-year partnership with the CFDA Fashion Awards, including our support and recognition of 45 designers through the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent and the Swarovski Award for Positive Change. Swarovski looks forward to continued support of the next generation of American talent through our diverse range of fashion support programs.”
In 2017, CFDA established the Swarovski Award for Positive Change, which honors an American individual in the fashion industry who has made an impact on American communities and improves the welfare of others through civic responsibility, philanthropy

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Need More Money? Here Are 30 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in 2019

It’s simple enough: You. Need. Money.

Now.

But deciding how to make money — or how to make more money — can get complicated.

As Penny Hoarders, we have plenty of experience sharing ways to make bank, and we’ve compiled 30 ways to do it quickly in 2019.

Whether it’s online, offline, at your job or by doing nothing (OK, not nothing, but through passive income), we’ll tell you how to find moneymaking opportunities and how much you can expect to take in.

What are you waiting for? Let’s earn some quick cash!

How to Make Money Online

Although there may be plenty of ways to make money online, that doesn’t mean they’re all worth your time. We’ve researched the effort vs. reward for these online options — from earning a few bucks for completing simple tasks to making enough dough to quit your day job.

Read on for more ways to earn extra cash on the web.

1. Trade Unwanted Gift Cards for Cash

What to do with all those gift cards from well-meaning relatives who either don’t know your interests or don’t take your location into consideration? (Thanks for the In-N-Out Burger gift card, but I live in Brooklyn.)

Sell them for cash (or a gift card you’ll actually use).

The Penny Hoarder’s Branded Content Editor Dana Sitar analyzed five gift card exchange sites that swap for cash or other gift cards.

Although you can make some fast cash this way, know that you won’t get the full face value of the card. Sitar suggests checking out two or three sites to find the best deal.

She also warns people to be wary of fast-cash offers through mobile payment sites like PayPal, which charges additional fees.

How much money can you make? The site Cardpool offered Sitar $ 21 cash for a $ 25 Target gift card.

2. Find a Side Hustle on Upwork

Hey there, fast fingers. You might be feeling low with the news that ”typist” is among the dying occupations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find a way to make money hitting the keys (at least for now).

Upwork is a freelance site that lets you indicate whether you prefer short- or long-term projects and the number of hours you wish to work. You can narrow your search to specific jobs like “virtual assistant” or “data entry” within categories that include design, writing, administrative support and customer service.

Improve your chances of finding jobs that fit your skill set and fit into your spare time by being as precise as possible in your profile title and focusing on just a few keywords.

You’ll get paid by the hour or by the project, minus a percentage that Upwork charges freelancers.

How much money can you make? One Penny Hoarder earned $ 40 per hour on Upwork as a virtual assistant.

3. Freelance on Fiverr

Looking to pad your bank account by writing articles, designing logos or translating text?

Check out Fiverr, an online marketplace for freelancers. You can set up your platform for free, but Fiverr collects 20% of the transactions made over the site. Then it’s just a matter of choosing your gig.

Jobs tend toward the creative types, but there’s a wide range of categories, including graphics and design, digital marketing, writing and translation, video and animation and music and audio.

How much money can you make? Pay starts at $ 5 per project, but Charmaine Pocek told The Penny Hoarder she earned $ 30 to $ 800 on Fiverr as freelance writer creating resumes and cover letters and optimizing clients’ LinkedIn profiles. In the past six years, Pocek has added to her to total and has now made $ 2.3 million from work she’s found on the site, according to Abby Forman, spokeswoman for Fiverr.

4. Teach ESL Online

Kirsten Cherry teaches English online from her dining room table in her home in Twin Falls, ID.

You love kids, but at a distance — because, you know, those sticky hands. So snag a work-from-home job teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to Chinese students ages 4 to 12 through services like VIPKID and Qkids.

Both online platforms require a bachelor’s degree, a six-month commitment and the ability to work a minimum of six to seven hours per week. Teachers fill time slots by posting their availability — and since China is on the other side of the globe, your schedule will need to accommodate the time difference. (If it’s 6 p.m. in China, it’s 5 a.m. in New York).

After quitting her full-time job, new mom Kirsten Cherry of Twin Falls, Idaho, found part-time work teaching students through VIPKID.

“I got hired in June. Within two weeks, my schedule was 97% full,” said Cherry, 26. “In the first month, I earned over $ 1,000.

How much money can you make? Qkids states on its site that the base pay is $ 8 per 30-minute lesson, plus attendance and performance incentives. Cherry said she makes up to $ 22 teaching two lessons in an hour through VIPKID.

5. Test Websites and Apps

For all the sprinters out there, website and app testing could be your path to fast cash.

Start by filling out a registration form with a testing service. Once approved, you’ll receive access to projects as they become available. Testing involves interacting with a site and completing a series of tasks while providing feedback for market research.

Most testing requires you to work from a computer rather than your cell phone, as you’ll speak your feedback out loud as the company records your experience through the testing interface.

Cherry said she tried three different testing platforms and found the most success with Userlytics.

Most tests only take five to 15 minutes to complete, she noted, but you have to be ready to test at a moment’s notice.

“A lot of them I can actually do, as long as I click on them and follow the link on time,” Cherry said. “Sometimes even within 10 to 15 minutes after you get the email, they’re already full; they already have enough tests done.”

How much money can you make? Banking $ 10 to $ 20 per test, Cherry has earned $ 200 for taking a total of 18 tests.

6. Become a Search Engine Evaluator

Use your attention to detail to make money as a search engine evaluator.

Evaluators analyze the relevance and quality of ads and news feeds — think: deciding if those Google search results make sense. The guidelines are fairly strict for these kinds of jobs, and testing can be extensive.

You’ll need in-depth, up-to-date knowledge of the topics you cover and of the web in general, according to Prathima Tothempudi, senior human resources business partner at Lionbridge, a company that regularly posts openings for search engine evaluator gigs. In exchange, you’ll get a job that typically offers a flexible schedule.

How much money can you make? Lionbridge pays $ 10.80 per hour, Tothempudi said.

7. Sell Free Stuff on Craigslist

The online classified site Craigslist lets you sell stuff for cash, including items you get for free. And you don’t even need to leave the site to find those freebies — there’s a “free” listings section right there on Craigslist. Convenient, right?

Penny Hoarder Steve Gillman picked up six boxes of floor tiles he found for free on Craigslist, then sold them to the first flooring company he passed on his way back home.

How much money can you make? Gillman made $ 10 off of the pile of tiles.

8. Sell Thrift Store Finds on eBay

A woman holds a pile of clothes.

Selling your possessions on the auction site eBay is one way to pocket some cash quickly.

You can also make money by buying designer clothes for cheap, then selling them on the site to the highest bidder. If you have an eye for fashion — or at least the most popular labels — you can track down inventory at local thrift stores.

Create listings for your items, making sure to include well-written item descriptions and quality photographs to give your listings a professional polish (and get top dollar). Check out similar items to get a sense of where to set your starting bid, and be sure to incorporate the costs of shipping and eBay’s seller fees into your price.

Penny Hoarder Kat Tretina resold designer jeans by starting with a minimal investment — packaging tape and a scale to weigh packages for shipping — and ended up more than tripling her money.

How much money can you make? Your profitability depends upon what you’re selling, but for working 10 to 15 hours a month, Tretina made $ 500 to $ 800.

9. Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy

If you have a knack for crafting, you probably are already familiar with Etsy, aka the crafters’ paradise.

And if you’re considering making the leap from selling your wares at the farmers market to earning your money online as a crafty small business, starting out on Etsy is fairly simple. When you set up your site, you’ll pick a name, choose the items to list (the site recommends starting with at least 10) and set up payment and billing.

The site charges 20 cents for your first item, and you’ll pay transaction and payment-processing fees when you make a sale. To turn your shop into a viable moneymaker, take advice from those who’ve gone before you.

Lena Gosik-Wolfe, who followed up on a successful Etsy store with a second business advising people how they can sell on the crafty site, offered the following tips for ways to make money on Etsy:

  • Treat your shop like a brick-and-mortar version.
  • File necessary tax documents.
  • Design a professional site to attract customers.
  • Develop a clear, cohesive marketing strategy.

How much money can you make? Your Etsy profitability depends on what you’re selling and how much time you put into your business. Crafter Beth Gates told The Penny Hoarder she made $ 400 during her first six months selling Southern-style sundries and crochet items. After dedicating more time to her business, she made more than $ 4,000 in one year.

10. Do Online Transcription  

Those listening skills you honed by eavesdropping on your roommates’ conversations could finally pay off with a job in online transcription.

Transcription jobs usually require an assessment test to gauge your typing speed and accuracy. Depending on the service, you could be listening to a car commercial or court hearings, so find out what you’re getting into before you apply.

Cherry wishes she had known that tip before she signed up for her first transcription gig, which brought in $ 85.15 over six months for a job that required extensive testing and a lot of studying to follow a strict style guide.

“For that first transcription job, oh my gosh, I spent hours on that, and I got paid so little,” Cherry said. “I wish I would have just, in the beginning, told myself, ‘Hey, this just isn’t going to be worth it. Find something else.’”

Cherry had better luck after discovering the transcription service Rev, which offered a user-friendly platform and more lucrative projects.

How much money can you make? Making 40 cents to 75 cents per minute of transcription at Rev, Cherry earned $ 87.45 in one month for less than four hours of work.

11. Incorporate Affiliate Marketing Into Your Blog

Hey bloggers, there’s money to be made through affiliate marketing.

The basic process for making money through affiliate marketing goes like this: Write reviews about products on your blog and include a specific tracking link. When readers click the link and make a purchase, you receive a commission.

The more readers you have, the better your chances for making money, so attracting more eyeballs to your site is essential. One way to do that: Pitch articles to other blogs that allow you to link back to your blog.

How much money can you make? The affiliate marketplace ClickBank, which offers products and services to promote in your blog, says commissions range from 1% to 75%. The maximum commission on a single sale is $ 150.

12. Take Online Surveys

Looking to make a few bucks from a task that doesn’t require much effort? Taking online surveys could be your jam.

After signing up with a platform like Swagbucks or InboxDollars, you’ll select surveys based on your initial application, then answer questions that take an average of 20 minutes to complete.

The Penny Hoarder reviewed six online survey sites, noting that some paid out cash directly while others paid in gift cards or even sweepstakes entries. So do your homework before you sign up.

How much money can you make? Swagbucks surveys pay anywhere from 40 to 200 SB (100 SB equal $ 1), according to our Swagbucks review. Earn 300 SB to cash out for $ 3 gift cards to places like Amazon or Dunkin Donuts.

How to Make Money Fast (and in Person)

What if you need money fast and you want to do something that calls for less face time with your screen and more face time with actual, live human beings (or animals)?

Read on for ways to make more money in person.

13. Drive for Uber or Lyft

Lyft driver Paul Pruce poses in front of his car during a driving shift in Philadelphia, PA

Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?

Try driving with Lyft.

Demand for ride-sharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

Best of all, you can do it on your own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you.

Because it’s easy to switch between apps, Lyft drivers often also sign up to drive with Uber.

How much money can you make? We talked to Paul Pruce, who had been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year and earning $ 750 a week as a driver.

14. Do Household Tasks Through TaskRabbit

You’re the person Aunt Peggy always calls to fix a faucet or assemble a bookshelf.

It’s time you stopped getting paid in oatmeal cookies. (Sorry, Peg).

Instead, use your household know-how to earn extra cash on TaskRabbit, which connects you with clients who need help cleaning their house, hanging pictures and making deliveries. In exchange for getting paid for your work, TaskRabbit deducts a 15% service fee.

How much money can you make? The company has stated you can make up to $ 2,000 per week — but no cookies.

15. Start a Pet-Sitting Business

If you prefer your coworkers to be the four-legged variety, snagging a job as a pet sitter could be the job you’ve been begging for (as if you thought I wouldn’t go there).

Posting notices on your local social networks will help you find owners in need of walkers, sitters and general companions for their fur babies.

Want to improve your rate of hire as a newbie? Instill trust by snapping a few photos of the pet when you’re with them, then send them to the owner, according to Lisa Peddicord, who has a pet-sitting side gig.

How much money can you make? Peddicord told The Penny Hoarder she made just under $ 10,000 in 2018.

16. Walk Dogs With Rover

If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — Rover might be your perfect gig.

The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town.

Rover dog-sitter requirements vary by location. In general, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Have access to the Rover app (iOS or Android).

Here’s how it works: You’ll create an online sitter profile where you’ll answer questions about your experience with puppers and your schedule availability.

You can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding at your home or theirs, and daycare. Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs. You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.)

Dog owners will reach out to you. Accept which gigs you want, then start snugglin’ pups. As soon as you complete a service, you’ll be paid within two days.

How much money can you make? Rover says sitters can earn as much as $ 1,000 a month.

17. Deliver Groceries Through Shipt and Instacart

Destiny Frith, 24, of Nashville, a shopper for Shipt, makes her way to her car after shopping for a customer at Kroger in Franklin, Tenn.

Enjoy spending money but still need to make some? You can pocket cash if you’re willing to shop for other people — particularly for their food — and drop it off at their homes.

So if you have a keen eye for kiwi or a knack for knowing your knockwurst, you could make bank shopping and delivering groceries for Shipt or Instacart, on-demand grocery-delivery services.

To get started, you’ll sign up for an account, then select your schedule based on your availability. Instacart lets you pick between shopping and delivering or just shopping in-store, so you don’t even necessarily need a car.

You’ll receive orders through the company app and can communicate directly with the customers in case the store is all out of their preferred brand of pickled pig’s feet.

How much money can you make? Instacart shoppers in larger metropolitan areas can make $ 25 per hour during high-demand times, according to Instacart Boston city manager Nima Zahedi. Shipt notes on its website that shoppers make an average of $ 22 an hour, and Shipt shopper Destiny Firth told us she made approximately $ 600 per week (including tips) working 35 hours per week.

18. Sell Your Old Video Games

That old Mario Kart at the bottom of your video-game bin could be making you money instead of collecting dust.

Penny Hoarder Staff Writer Adam Hardy used GameStop’s rather stingy buyback policy to his advantage by swapping store credit for gift cards and maximizing his profit.

How much money can you make? GameStop originally offered Hardy $ 72.40 cash for his games, but he opted for the $ 111.14 Shell Gas card instead, which he could then trade on CardPool for $ 95.58 cash.

19. Become an Airbnb Host

Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one. We talked to Terence Michael, an Airbnb superhost based in Los Angeles.

Here are some of his tips:

  • Break out the labelmaker. “I have the entire house loaded with labels,” Michael says. “They look nice; they’re modern. This helps people feel less helpless.”
  • Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels. Here’s a little hack from Michael: “I order on Amazon and have it delivered when people are there.”
  • Be kind to your neighbors. “I say, ‘I’m not going to put anyone here who I think won’t be good for you,’” Michael explains. “And I turn a lot of big groups away, especially in Nashville. I don’t want anyone going to the cops or the city.”

How much money can you make? Figure your potential earnings with this Airbnb calculator.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

20. Rent Out Your Ride on Getaround

It doesn’t seem fair: While you toil away at the office all day, what is your car doing?

Living the sweet life in a parking garage.

Make that freeloader earn its keep by renting out your ride during your workday. (You can also do it on weekends you prefer to stay in and binge watch “The Good Place.”)

Peer-to-peer car rentals let you lend your car and pocket the cash. Getaround, available in New Jersey and 13 cities in other states, allows you to list your vehicle for free.

How much money can you make? Getaround says users can make up to $ 800 a month.

21. Find Baby-sitting Jobs on Care.com

You can recite the names of every Paw Patrol member, you knew Doc McStuffins when she was just a resident and you can sing every verse of “Baby Shark” — with a smile.

You were born to baby-sit.

If you’re the responsible type and love kids, baby-sitting can be an easy gig to pick up on the side, starting with your own friends and family

And services like Care.com can expand your client base beyond your inner circle — plus, it lets you choose other caregiving options like pet sitting or senior care.

How much money can you make? The average baby-sitting rate was $ 16.20 per hour, according to a 2018 Care.com Cost of Care Survey.

Make Money on Social Media

You already spend a lot of time on social media, so why not make some fast cash there, right?

Most people who make big money do so based on the size of their audience (hello, Kardashians). But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make some bank — especially if you have a loyal following that has the potential to grow.

Considering 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities, there’s plenty of reason to believe that even smaller social media influencers can attract advertiser dollars.

If you’re among that group of influencers, there are ways to grow your audience, build a professional profile and thus attract more money. Online platforms like Kred, Klear and GroupHigh can help you connect with companies that will pay you to mention their brands to your audience.

Ready for the spotlight? Check out these ways to make money on social media.

22. Stream on Twitch

 Cory Michael, who goes by the screen name King Gothalion, has turned broadcasting video games on Twitch into a profitable full time job.

Your mom was wrong. Playing video games might not be a waste of your time after all.

Cory Michael started streaming his gaming sessions and over four years attracted 29 million people to watch him tackle Destiny and other multiplayer online games. As a result, Twitch accepted his partnership application and agreed to pay him to play.

How much money can you make? Michael explained to The Penny Hoarder that there are three ways to make money streaming on Twitch: tipping, ad revenue and subscriptions. Top Twitch streamers can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.

23. Produce Videos for YouTube

Put that camera phone to work by making some bucks logging your life, times and cat videos on YouTube.

But you’ll need more viewers than your biggest fan (thanks, grandma!) to make money on the video streaming site. To be reviewed for the YouTube Partner Program, your channel must have at least 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers.

Linden Wolbert, who makes a living performing as a mermaid, said she loves teaching kids about the ocean on “Mermaid Minute,” an educational web series she launched on the YouTube channel in 2012. But after YouTube raised the bar for its Partner Program in 2017, “It’s become a lot more challenging,” she said.

To help attract more eyeballs to your site and reach the threshold, the YouTube Creators channel advises vloggers to post new videos consistently and frequently — think Monday through Friday at 3 p.m., no matter what your cat did that day.

Your channel can make money through advertising, subscribers and Super Chats — that’s where fans can pay extra to add a highlighted message to the chat as you live stream.

How much money can you make? Wolbert made four figures a month before YouTube updated its algorithms, but YouTube indicates there are opportunities to earn even more money. Its press page states that the number of channels earning five figures per year grew 50% year over year.

How to Make Passive Income

Even if you don’t have the free time to take on a part-time job, you can still make money by putting in a little front-end work.

It’s called passive income, and we’ve found ways to help you pad your bank account without lifting a finger (or at least maybe not all of them).

24. Earn Cash Back on Purchases With Ebates

Instead of handing over all your hard-earned money when checking out, how’d you like to earn some of that cash back?

Ebates lets you earn anywhere from 1% to 25% on purchases you make at its retailers; (there are 2,500, so lots of options). You can sign up for free using your Facebook or Google account.

By clicking the “shop now” button before you check out, a percentage of the price goes back to your Ebates account.

How much money can you make? On its site, Ebates says you can earn a $ 10 Walmart gift card or Ebates cash bonus by spending at least $ 25 and making your first purchase through the site within 90 days of signing up.

25. Upload Your Receipts to Ibotta

A woman pushes a full cart at a grocery store.

You’re already a coupon cutter (right? right?!?), so discover another easy way to make cash back on your groceries with the Ibotta app.

After you sign up for an account, click the little addition sign next to the products you can save on (just like couponing, but without the scissors). Then upload a picture of your receipt, and Ibotta deposits the amount saved into your account. You’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after you upload your first receipt. Once you reach the $ 20 minimum, you can cash out through PayPal or Venmo.

Even better, the app isn’t limited to grocery store purchases — you can earn cash back on other shopping and travel, too.

How much money can you make? Penny Hoarder staffer Colleen Rice earned approximately $ 45 from Ibotta during one road trip by finding cash-back deals on Hotels.com.

26. Invest in Real Estate

Even if you’re not exactly the handy type (hand raised) or you don’t have cash to sink into million-dollar properties (both hands raised), you can make passive income from real estate through online investment options like Fundrise.

For as little as $ 500, you can join the crowdfunding-style real estate investment platform, which invests in American properties. Learn more in The Penny Hoarder’s review of Fundrise.

How much money can you make? Fundrise has seen historical returns of 8.7% to 12.4%. (Note: As with any investment, past performance isn’t indicative of future results.)

27. Earn Interest on Savings Accounts

Will you get rich quick putting your money in a savings account? No.

But if you’ve been leaving your money to waste away in a traditional savings account with its minuscule returns — or you don’t have a savings account at all — high-yield online savings accounts can offer you at least some passive income.

Varo Money combines traditional banking tools with modern technology to help its customers become financially healthy.

Here’s the best part: Pair your bank account with a Varo Savings Account, where you’ll earn 2.1% annual percentage yield. That’s 35 times — repeat, 35 times — the average savings account, based on a 0.06% average reported by CNN Money.

Varo goes easy on the fees, too. As long as you use one of its 55,000 ATMs across the world, you’ll never pay fees.

Additionally, you’ll pay no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash replacement fees. You’ll just pay any fees charged by out-of-network ATMs and cash deposit fees if you deposit cash in-store through Green Dot.

How much money can you make? If you tuck away $ 1,000 in an account with a 2.1% annual percentage yield (APY), you’ll earn an extra $ 21 this year.  

28. Use Credit Card Points

Wait a second, you say, I’m trying to make money, not spend it!

But you do have to spend money on some essentials, right? Like groceries and gas?

I can speak from personal experience that collecting points on these purchases can help you earn cash back and gift cards.

The key to this being worthwhile, though, is that you must pay off your credit card each month. Otherwise, the interest you’re paying on the balance negates any profit you’re making through point accumulation.

How much money can you make? I received $ 250 in Target gift cards last year by using points I earned on my Mastercard.

How to Make More Money at Your Job

A businessman smiles as he walks down a street talking on his cell phone

This may seem like an obvious option — you’re already making money at your job, right? (If not, find another job.) But since your employer is already a source for earning cash, why not consider it as an option for making more money?

29. Ask for More Hours (and More Money)

If you’re working a part-time job, one way to make more money is to ask for more hours.

In addition to the extra cash, a full-time position may offer more benefits, like paid time off and health insurance coverage.

Make your case for more hours with a list of current accomplishments and ways you can further help the company, suggests career strategist Emily Kapit of ReFreshYourStep.com.

“You set yourself up for the best chance of success… if you go in prepared and also positioning it as helping the manager,” Kapit said. “You’re going to feel more empowered.”

Check out this article for more tips for turning your part-time gig into a full-time job.

How much money can you make? It depends on how many additional hours you can snag. And since benefits account for 31.8% of an employee’s total compensation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, be sure to check out this article to figure out your total compensation package.

30. Ask for a Raise

Wouldn’t it be great if your boss just said, “Hey there, superstar, how’d you like a big pile of money for being awesome?”

That probably won’t happen. (And if it does, don’t do the humblebrag thing on Facebook. It’s annoying.)

If you want to ask for a raise, you should first know whether you’re in a good position to negotiate, according to Michelle Tillis Lederman, CEO of Executive Essentials and author of “The Connector’s Advantage.”

“Are you getting good assignments? Are your getting good feedback?” Lederman asked. “What was your performance-review comment? Did you exceed expectations, or did you just meet expectations?”

Before scheduling a meeting with your boss, arm yourself. Check out salary-comparison calculators on sites like Glassdoor, and document your work wins — and the approximate value they add to the company — to prove your worth. And don’t forget to check out what the competition is offering someone with a job similar to yours.

How much money can you make? Chad Busta told The Penny Hoarder he used a competing offer to negotiate with his current employer for a 6% pay raise and the ability to work from home.

More Ways to Make Money

Here’s the thing to keep in mind about making money: No matter what the flimflam artists may claim, you generally don’t make money without any effort.

But instead of dreaming about making a million dollars by posting videos of your cat on YouTube, you can realistically expect to make extra cash by putting in some time and effort.

That’s been Cherry’s experience. She says that by working a few hours every day, she’s earned money to help her family — and to enjoy a few perks.

“If I earn a certain amount of money, I say I’ll give myself 10%, and then I put it toward what I want,” she said. “It just makes me happy that I’m earning something and that I can buy myself a little extra.”

And if you’re looking for even more ways to make bank, check out our post on side jobs to make extra money.

Happy earning!

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a writer/editor for The Penny Hoarder. Find her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

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

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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16 Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Food in Your Kitchen (and Save Money)

Have you ever really thought about the afterlife of your leftovers?

A once-edible meal lies defeated and unpurposed as it falls into the trash, never to be thought of again.

Those forgotten food remnants add up to some pretty alarming numbers.

In the U.S, an estimated 30% to 40% of food is thrown away.

Who’s thinking about a hunger crisis when there’s a bountiful food supply at the edge of your fingertips? Tossing a few scraps seems harmless, right?

How Bad Is the Food Waste Problem?

Food waste happens in such little bits here and there that people don’t even realize they’re doing it, according to Dana Gunders, a former senior scientist at the National Resource Defense Council and author of “Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money By Wasting Less Food.”

Consumers waste more food, collectively, than restaurants or grocery stores,” Gunders said. “And the average household of four spends about $ 1,800 on food they never eat.”

A whopping one-third of ALL food grown for human consumption on Earth is lost or wasted.

“Growing food and getting it to our tables is a huge investment in resources,” Gunders said. “When you throw out one hamburger, it’s like taking a 90-minute shower in terms of the water it took to produce that hamburger.”

Really scary questions loom about feeding future generations, landfills and how common — and easy — it is to squander precious resources.

Can you imagine how much money and food everyone would save if they bought only the food they’d actually eat?

Gunders said that once people open their eyes to the problem, they naturally waste a little less.

“I find it interesting that people can be swayed by 5 or 10 cents when in the grocery store, but that math goes out the window when it comes to wasting food once they’re home,” she said.

There’s a lot we can’t control, but there’s a great deal we can control about our kitchens, plates and trash cans.

16 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Before you take up dumpster diving to rescue forgotten-about food, consider some of these tips for how to reduce food waste at home.

1. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It

Overbuying leads to food waste. Planning your meals for the week, making a list and sticking to it can prevent impulse buys and limit the vegetable carcasses not even good intentions could revive.

Gunders suggests thinking double duty. If you need fresh cilantro for a meal, can you plan a second meal that will use it, too? This not only saves your budget, but it eliminates casual food waste.

2. Buy Frozen Instead of Fresh

A man shops in the frozen food section of a grocery store

The bright, beautiful colors of fresh fruits and veggies tempt me every week. Then I remember how quickly fresh produce can spoil.

Now, I’ve turned to stocking my freezer with produce. I call this the Too Many Avocados Left Behind Act. I don’t freeze my avocados, but I do buy most fruits and veggies frozen now. I can thaw them in a flash and count on having a random assortment of ingredients on a whim.

3. Plan for Surprises

It’s so easy to get tempted by the events of the week, from an unscheduled lunch to a surprise happy hour. Leftovers get abandoned as you nosh on an unplanned (and unbudgeted) meal out.

You can plan your meals for the week and allot some wiggle room for spontaneous outings.  By having a backup recipe or frozen meal you will always have on hand, you can accept a last-minute invitation and not fritter away a thing.

4. Rethink Expiration Dates

Yogurt containers with expiration dates

Sell-by, use-by and expiration dates all mean different things. Most often, the dates serve as a freshness, quality or display indicator, not a marker for when the food will actually go bad. Many people throw out perfectly good food because of date stamps. Use common sense, and research what the date on your packaged or canned food really means before you toss it.

5. Make Your Freezer Great Again

Good intentions can’t reverse rotten tomatoes or spoiled meat. That steak you meant to eat on Sunday looks questionable by Tuesday.

You can extend the life of your meats, bread and vegetables by freezing them.

Gunders said almost anything can be frozen: Milk, shredded cheese, sliced bread and even raw eggs (out of the shell) can go in the freezer.

It’ll all be there when you’re ready, thus, it will save you future cooking time, money and food waste. Don’t you feel better?

6. Store Items Where You Can See Them

Some produce slips into the crisper abyss. Out of sight, out of mind. Keep items where you can see them. You’re more likely to use items that you can physically see.

Additionally, learn how to store each type of vegetable. Some ripen faster and can speed up others nearby. Consider investing in special airtight containers that keep produce firm and fresh longer.

Washing the pieces of fruit or vegetables you plan on using will also keep the whole bag from going bad before you get a chance to enjoy their deliciousness.

7. Clean Your Fridge and Organize Your Pantry

Food in a refrigerator

Expired items hide, and mold lurks on the edges you can’t quite see. Having a tidy fridge helps you see exactly what you have and inspires you to use it.

Same goes for the pantry: Keeping it tidy allows you to see what you have at a glance and prevents items from getting lost behind the castles of steel cans.

8. Try Composting

Skip the landfill, and start composting. Everything from your coffee grounds to celery ends can find their way into your bin. In turn, you can eventually use it toward your next home gardening adventure.

9. Learn to Preserve or Can Foods

Pickle? Preserve? Can? They’re all options gaining popularity. But these practices have been around for centuries and have helped folks survive harsh winters and economic downturns.

With a little upfront investment of time and money, you can acquire the tools necessary to preserve your excess foods. This can prolong their shelf life and reduce food waste and costs.

10. Donate Extra Food

If you know your family won’t eat something, donate it. Many local pantries and food banks welcome donations, however, consider friends or families in your community who might appreciate a little extra food. There are restrictions and rules at some charities about what can be donated, so check before making any contributions.

11. Eat What You Have

Plan recipes around what’s been sitting around for a while or what needs to get used before it expires. Keeping your fridge and pantry clean and organized helps you see exactly what you have and what you should cook before adding more supplies to the mix.

12. Mix It Up

Leftovers you’re tired of eating can be repurposed into new recipes. Some fruits and vegetables that are a little too ripe can be baked or mashed into a casserole. Ripe bananas make great banana bread, and soft strawberries can be added to smoothies.

Other scraps can be made into stocks or added to a compost. I’ve put coffee grounds in my soil, and a friend of mine makes corn silk tea. There’s a practical use for almost any piece of food you might throw away.

13. Host a Potluck

I’m a picky eater, yet I love to cook. Sometimes I acquire ingredients for recipes that I don’t end up using again, or I try something and end up not liking it. So, I’ve hosted potlucks to use said ingredients. Invite friends over, and have leftover lunches for days. You’ll help everyone else also clean their cabinets. Win-win.

14. Get an App

A woman boils water on her stove while checking her cell phone

There are a few apps on the market that try to put a dent in the global food waste problem. Here are a few to consider:

  • The USDA FoodKeeper app aids in best practices of food and beverage storage to maximize quality and freshness.
  • Too Good to Go makes surplus restaurant food available for pickup before it gets thrown out.
  • Waste No Food helps food-based establishments, from farms to restaurants, to donate excess food to charities and and shelters.

15. Channel Bob Ross

Ever wish you could make art with your food outside of Instagram posts? Let the bright colors of your leftovers become the colors of your clothes or the paint on your canvas.

Yup, your peels and ends from scraps of everything from beets, spinach and lemons can be made into permanent fabric dye that could double as watercolor paint.

16. Life’s a Garden… Dig It!

Even the brownest thumbs can turn green. Try regrowing your food scraps, and see what happens. Put seeds in the backyard, or try sprouting them over a cup of water.

The Lesson: Waste Not, Want Not

It’s simple math: Buying less food means more money in your pocket.

It’s not going to happen overnight.

But with a few small adjustments and active intentions of how to better store, buy and cook food, you can start a ripple effect that will save time, money and food in the long run.

Who knows — maybe others will catch on. Look at Denmark. It reduced its food waste by 25% over a five-year period, and it didn’t happen without a real effort and cultural shift to address the problem.

Learn what works for you. Maybe you’ll grow a new habit if you just plant the seed.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her cat never wastes any food.

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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Yes, You can Make Money Playing Video Games. Here Are 7 Ways to Do It

Frederick Aldeco was the youngest of three boys who loved to game.

Growing up, he and his brothers first fought over who could play the Nintendo, then the Super Nintendo, then the PlayStation — he could only play when his older brothers let him.

But then he got his own Game Boy. It came with Pokémon Yellow, and everything changed.

“I could play anytime I wanted to without them having an issue,” Aldeco said.

Nearly two decades later, Aldeco, 29, still loves Pokémon — so much so that he runs a Pokémon news channel on YouTube under the moniker DaddyGamer Fred.

Besides that, he’s done what most gamers dream of doing: Making money playing video games. While it’s not his full-time gig, Aldeco said his content has earned him up to $ 300 a week.

Over the years, gaming has become increasingly popular with almost all age groups. The Entertainment Software Association has tracked gamers with an annual survey since 1997, and its latest data show that 64% of households own regularly played gaming systems. Perhaps what’s more surprising is that association research shows the typical gamer may not be who you think. In the U.S., more women play video games than teenage boys.

And if you belong to this new wave of gamers, you’ve probably thought at some point, “There’s got to be a way to get paid for this.”

Turns out, there are plenty.

How to Make Money Playing Video Games

These recommendations require actually playing a video game to earn you cash. You may need some in-depth knowledge or skills for most of the following methods — but not all of them. So don’t worry if your gaming abilities aren’t esports-ready just yet.

1. Participate in Video Game Tournaments

The League of Legends World Championship is an esports tournament that can earn elite winners millions of dollars and millions of fans, but most gamers are not at that level and never will be.

Instead, opt for amateur tournaments to earn $ 5 or $ 10 per match. GamerSaloon is one video-gaming site where you can do just that. Anyone 18 years or older can create a free account and start joining tournaments. The more you win, the more you earn.

The website is open to gamers around the world, but the system is based on the U.S. dollar. All other currencies are accepted but will be converted automatically.

Popular games on the site include NBA 2k19, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, UFC 3, FIFA 19 and others.

2. Become a Beta Tester

Millions of people now pay for video games before they are released by pre-ordering them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if video game companies would pay you instead to play their video games before the release date?

Actually, that’s a thing.

Several companies pay people to beta test video games to collect feedback and work out the kinks before the mass market gets its hands on it.

For the lucky gamers who live near Redmond, Washington, Nintendo partners with two staffing agencies to beta test games on-site. Unfortunately, there are no remote testing options available.

For those living outside the area, there’s VMC Consulting, a tech company that specializes in quality assurance and support. It runs a Global Beta Test Network, which tests major multiplayer video games for consoles and PCs before their release. Applicants can live anywhere, must be at least 18 years old and must use Discord (a chat messaging system for gamers) to give feedback.

3. Start Streaming

No, not on Netflix. In the video-game world, streaming has a different meaning. It refers to a live feed of someone playing a video game. Streaming services allow the streamer to interact directly with the audience via a chatroom system. Viewers can also tip the streamer in real time.

There are several free streaming services to choose from, the most popular being Twitch.tv. You don’t have to be a pro to stream, either. You just have to be entertaining. One streamer, Cory Michael — aka King Gothalion — turned his streaming hobby into a six-figure salary.

Michael said the main three sources of income come from subscriptions, tips directly from your viewers and ad revenue.

Even if you don’t manage millions of subscribers, streaming could still get you tips here and there, and once your channel becomes more popular, you could land a paid partnership with the streaming service.

4. Create a Business on Second Life

Fifteen years later, Second Life is still kicking with about 750,000 monthly users.

Second Life is a video game that was slated to revolutionize the internet (before social media came along). But it’s hard to call Second Life a video game. It’s more than that.

There aren’t any overt objectives. No bosses to beat. No princesses to rescue. Instead, all of its content is user-generated, from the avatars themselves to the worlds they inhabit. In Second Life, people date, have children, build houses and travel to replicas of famous landmarks.

People spend years carving out a piece of digital paradise. Some hire real-life experts to help get it just right. In-game specialists can make bank, too. Architects, publishers and fashion designers have used their industry knowledge to bolster their virtual businesses. There’s even a journalist, Wagner James Au, who works inside Second Life and reports on in-game artists and entrepreneurs.

Second Life spawned the first video game business millionaire, Ailin Graef, and she’s not the only person to make a fortune with the game.

There are multiple people and businesses that have made over a million U.S. dollars in Second Life over the years,” said Brett Atwood, Director of Marketing at Linden Labs, the company that created Second Life. “Many are still active.”

Since Second Life’s launch in 2003, players have spent billions of dollars of real money on in-game currency called Linden Dollars (or L$ ). The exchange rate currently is about 250 L$ to $ 1. Users can go to the Second Life exchange store to purchase L$ , then use L$ for in-game services. The level of customization is incredibly granular, and users are eager to pay L$ for real-life experts to apply their knowledge to the virtual world.

Atwood said the big bucks are usually in virtual real estate and fashion.

For other business ideas and examples of Second Life entrepreneurs, check out its business site.

5. Coach Others in How to Play

Are you a Starcraft god? A Fortnite legend? Share your strategies with us noobs for cash.

You can teach beginners basic lingo or coach seasoned players on the latest competitive strategies. Some online tutoring websites, Superprof for example, are general tutoring platforms that happen to allow video-game listings.

However, there are some other options that are tailored specifically for gaming lessons. Gamer Sensei is one such platform that hires senseis, aka coaches, to teach lessons in specific games, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike, DOTA 2 and — of course — Fortnite.

Making a sensei profile is free. Senseis set their own schedules and prices and have no hourly time commitments.

Another option is Gameflip Gigs. Gameflip is a video game marketplace, where people can buy, sell and trade video games and related content.

The company recently launched Gigs, which is still in beta but is open for applications.

The gigs revolve around four types of services:

  • Create: Good at graphic design? You can craft the perfect avatar or graphic for a gamer’s profile or online store.
  • Entertain: If you’re hilarious, get paid for it by joining people’s in-game parties and having fun.
  • Coach: Teach others the way to victory.
  • Carry: Some people just like winning. You provide that service.

During the beta, Gigs members have a $ 1,000 limit on what they can earn.

Other Ways to Make Money With Video Games

A person holds video game boxes and a controller.

Maybe you aren’t comfortable with turning your hobby into a job. You want to keep it sacred and fun. That’s all right, too. You can still make plenty of money with gigs related to video gaming that don’t require you to play them.

6. Sell Video Games for Cash

Do you blast through video games? Are you constantly in search of new ones to conquer? Then you should consider selling your used video games once you’re finished.

Your pile of old games can fund your next virtual adventure, get you some quick cash to make rent, or if you’re like Aldeco, help fund your move from the U.S. to Switzerland.

The Penny Hoarder’s guide walks you through the best technique to sell video games through GameStop and get up to 50% extra cash for your games. I turned a $ 72.40 cash offer for a few of my video games and a controller into $ 111.14.

If you’d rather not make the trek to GameStop, Gameflip allows users to buy and sell their video games and gift cards online.

That’s what Aldeco used to downsize before his move overseas. He sold off all his physical games and consoles but kept the handheld devices — his trusty Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.

Alternatively, you can sell games on eBay, but you may be stuck with a bunch of additional fees if you don’t meet the site’s minimum seller service standards.

7. Make Video Game Guides

Perhaps you’ve played a game for so long that you’ve discovered all the Easter eggs, all the glitches and all the best farming spots.

You can create guides to help people do the same, whether they’re articles or YouTube videos.

Stephen Robinson, better known by the moniker Ratty Star, creates YouTube guides for a post-apocalyptic role playing game, Fallout 76.

“I have had some success,” Robinson said, “with a few videos getting a few thousand views, with my highest currently at 63,000.”

Several major gaming publications accept freelance pitches for video game guides and commentary, too. So if you prefer writing to video editing, give IGN, Kotaku, Escapist Magazine, Game Informer and GamesRadar+ a shot.

If you’re not a seasoned freelancer, we have a guide that walks you through how to come up with story ideas, pitch to editors and ultimately make money as a freelance writer. In the meantime, you can build up your portfolio by writing for GameSkinny, which will pay you based on how many views your articles get.

Neither Robinson nor Aldeco is famous. They have about 2,500 followers between the two of them. Getting famous really isn’t the point.

“I’m doing it because I’m enjoying the creative process,” Aldeco said. “Whenever the money comes, of course it’s a plus, but [it’s] not truly the end goal for me.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He has played video games since he was 6 years old. 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.

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

The Penny Hoarder

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Sam's Club Membership Offer

15 Ways Presidents Made the White House Feel Like Home

A house isn’t a home until you’ve filled it with creature comforts, decorated it to suit your taste, and customized it in ways that bring you joy—and the White House is no exception. Click through for a list of the most memorable, heartwarming, and at times eccentric renovations that past presidents have made to transform the White House into their family home.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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No Valentine? No Problem: 9 Ways To Spread Love This V-Day

Portrait Of Smiling Young Woman Holding Heart Shape

Source: Sol Vazquez Cantero / EyeEm / Getty

Valentine’s Day is recognized around the world as the day of love. You’ve probably noticed the giant bears. pink and red themed gift items and candy when you enter the supermarket. For many. this elicits warm and fuzzy feelings, but for others, it may just elicit an enormous eye roll.  Instead of looking at February 14 as another ridiculous consumer holiday or a reminder that you’re single, look at it as an excuse to spread some love to others.  These activities and small gestures will definitely fill you up and add some joy to someone’s life.

MadameNoire

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5 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network

You’ve probably heard the saying, “your network equals your net worth,” or to put it another way—it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Those with affluence and influence tend to network with those with similar attributes. You can increase your net worth through your network.

However, networking isn’t just about connecting with people who have money but with those who have influence and can open doors for you. But how do you become a master networker?

Five Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network 

Go where you’re most uncomfortable 

Lisa Nichols, a transformational coach says, “You will never find your next best version of you sitting inside of your comfort zone.” If the opportunity to rise to the next level means getting into rooms, showing up in places, and having conversations with those whom you wouldn’t normally talk to, then it’s time to take a deep breath and step out on that limb.

Assess your network 

Your network is bigger than you think. It’s your classmates from every level of education. As an alumnus of Northwestern University, I was able to connect with classmates, professors, and other graduates to land one of my highest paying jobs back in 2008, and increase my income by $ 25,000 when I switched jobs. Unfortunately, most people discredit their connections with their colleges even though every college has an alumni association and network. Also, don’t disregard your church connections, or people you do business with like your doctors, hair stylists, bankers, and others.

Prepare in advance for networking events 

Prepare for networking events by knowing beforehand what you want to discuss and who you want to meet.

Show up early to networking events

Busy people often show up early to networking events and don’t always stay the entire time. The person you may want to meet at an event may not be there if you arrive too late.

Follow Up 

It’s important to follow-up after a networking event. Not only with new relationships, but with those you may have met before. Another way to reconnect is to share an article that might be beneficial to them or invite them to an event that they could benefit them.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post 5 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth Through Your Network appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Career | Black Enterprise

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YOUR MONEY, YOUR LIFE: EPISODE 6 – “Ways To Finance Your Emergency Fund”

Establishing and maintaining a cash emergency fund, with an amount equal to six months up to a year’s worth your annual living expenses, is a foundational principle of financial wellness. Author, speaker, and financial coach Tarra “Madam Money” Jackson answers the question of where to get the money to finance your emergency fund



The new personal finance podcast, Your Money, Your Life is sponsored by Prudential and hosted by Black Enterprise’s own Alfred Edmond Jr. This special series features a lineup of great guests, including The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee; DeForest B. Soaries Jr., founder of the dfree Financial Freedom Movement; Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche; and Jacquette M. Timmons, president & CEO of Sterling Investment Management. The show will cover money topics ranging from how to control your debt to our psychological relationship with our finance. A can’t miss!

The post YOUR MONEY, YOUR LIFE: EPISODE 6 – “Ways To Finance Your Emergency Fund” appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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4 Ways to Help Loved Ones Dealing with Financial Hardships

After experiencing the longest government shutdown in history, many federal workers and contractors who experienced financial hardships are still trying to recover.

The government shutdown tested people’s financial preparedness, and many unfortunately failed. Also, with another possible shutdown looming, many people are frightened that this will catapult them into homelessness.

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans do not have emergency savings to cover a $ 500 emergency, according to personal finance website Bankrate. This statistic became a heartbreaking reality when real life financial hardship stories recently surfaced due to the federal furlough.

Unexpected emergencies like medical bills, the death of a family member, job termination, or an unwarranted furlough, are common causes of most financial traumas. The reasons people do not set aside money for these unexpected emergencies range from unlivable wages, sluggish salary raises with rapid inflation, unfair wage gaps, or even poor financial habits.

When a loved one is dealing with a temporary financial hardships, there are ways to provide assistance or relief.

4 Ways to Help Loved Ones Dealing with Financial Hardships

 

Lend money

If you have the financial ability to lend money to a loved one and are confident you will be repaid, offer a short-term loan. Treat the loved one with compassion, but explain the offer is a loan and is expected to be paid back.

Write up and sign an agreement between you (lender) and the loved one (borrower) to clarify the financial transaction as a loan.

Debt.org shares that a loan agreement between loved ones should include:

  • The names of the parties involved
  • The date of the loan agreement
  • The amount borrowed (principal)
  • Interest rate (if applicable)
  • Repayment terms (monthly payments over a specific period or a lump sum on a certain date)

In the event of nonpayment, the loan agreement should also include:

  • Modification of loan terms
  • Taking ownership of collateral
  • Possible legal action

Hard feelings and arguments between relatives and friends occur when money is lent in good faith but not repaid. So, take the advice I give to my clients who consider lending a loved one cash …

“If you can’t afford to give the money, don’t lend it.”

 

Give money

Instead of lending the money, give the loved one the amount of cash you can afford as a gift.  By giving money as a gift you release the possible future tension in the event the loved one does not pay you back. Consider it as a few early birthday or Christmas gifts.

When giving money, do it privately, discreetly, and without pity. Many loved ones suffer in silence, financially, because they do not want their business shared.

Assure the loved one that you will not share the monetary gift to anyone. Respecting the loved one’s need for privacy is important, especially if they are a very private or prideful person.

 

Pay a bill directly

Consider paying a specific bill or expense directly if you prefer not to give a loved one cash, or they do not want to accept your loan or monetary gift.

Paying a utility, car payment or insurance, or even a rent or mortgage payment, will release a significant financial burden.

Some companies, like PECO, formally Philadelphia Electric Company, allow people to help out and pay a bill on behalf of their customers.

 

Provide a service

Perhaps you may be unable to give a loved one money.

An act of service will go a long way when it comes to helping a loved one experiencing financial hardship. Sometimes, taking time to do something for someone is more helpful than giving money.

Some amazing acts of service can include:

Care for the kids

Offer to babysit or care for their elderly family member who requires special attention. This will free up some time for the loved one to work another job, or get some much-needed rest.

Cook a few meals

You may be aware of a loved one who is struggling to feed their family. Cook and deliver meals for a few days to offset their grocery bill, and relieve the burden of cooking.

Chauffeur for a day

If a loved one does not have transportation, be their chauffeur for one or a few days. Driving them to appointments, run errands, or their job will be much appreciated.

Clean up the house

Clutter can sometimes cause just as much stress as the financial trauma. Offer to clean a loved one’s kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, or the entire home to eliminate that responsibility from their list. Often a clean environment can calm our consciousness to better deal with difficult situations.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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Money | Black Enterprise

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People Share Why They Don’t Use Financial Advisers; Some Alternative Ways to Get Financial Help

Many people just do not want to meet with a financial adviser despite the fact that using one may provide numerous financial advantages. Financial advisers provide objectivity of financial situations and give advice to help establish a more secure financial position.

A few personal finance professionals, authors, teachers and bloggers, from the Elevate Community, dedicated to uplifting people of color financially, shared their perspectives:

“Just Not Ready”

Just like weight loss, financial wellness is one of the top three new year resolutions and personal goals. Most people generally know what to do to improve their financial situation, but some are just not ready to do it.

“We like comfort!” says Andre Albritton of The Millennials Next Door. “A financial adviser will give recommendations outside of our comfort zone which can be a frightening experience.”

Money mantras like “save more and spend less” and “pay yourself first” have been stated by every financial expert. The reality is if a person is not mentally ready, they will not execute any plan.

Cost

On television, rich and famous people seem to be the only ones talking about meeting with financial advisers. This creates the perception that it takes thousands or millions of dollars to work with a financial adviser. The consumers living paycheck to paycheck with minimal or no assets (like a home, investments, etc.) may presume it is too expensive to meet with a financial adviser.

Many middle-class Americans are working hard to pay their bills and make ends meet. Paying to meet with a financial adviser may seem premature or unrealistic.

Denial

“People put off seeing a financial adviser for the same reason they avoid going to the doctor or dentist” shares Alfred Edmond Jr., BLACK ENTERPRISE Your Money Your Life Podcast host and co-author of Loving in the Grownzone. “They don’t want to deal with the choices, remedies, or lifestyle changes that will likely be necessary to improve their condition.”

People that practice avoidance in the hope that the problems will go away, or correct itself will deny the problem, and chose not to deal with the financial situation. Unfortunately, avoiding the dis-ease in the bank account will leave a person vulnerable to more financial hardships.

“People are embarrassed about their current (financial) situation and believe their choices got them in that predicament” explains Atiya Brown of Live Financially Savvy Podcast. “Since they don’t know the extent, they may tend to ignore and avoid.”

Pride

Almost 10 years ago, my pride almost put me in the poor house. I remember being ashamed to admit my major money mistakes and felt like a failure. I locked myself in a self-inflicted private prison of shame.

People suffer in silence because of their pride and the shame they feel because of making money mistakes. Making the decision to let go of the shame and ask for guidance will help to release the guilt.

Product Pushers

Julien Saunders of rich & REGULAR states, “Some financial advisers have a tendency to be pushy. Although well-intended, some (financial advisers) can make a person feel pressured. Consumers must fully understand the implications, alternatives, or cost to them as the investor.”

Some financial advisers are perceived as product pushers. Product pushing financial professionals turn off and scare away many consumers. Even though consumers know that financial advisers sell products, they do not want to feel pressured into purchasing products they don’t understand.

Stranger Danger

People do business with people they like, know, and trust. Sharing secret financial skeletons with  someone you don’t know can be extremely uncomfortable. It is even more frightening to give control of your money and assets to that stranger.

Patrina K. Dixon of It’$ My Money says, “Some people have trust issues. Therefore, if they do not trust the financial advisor, they will not be safe to share relevant information the adviser may need to assist the client.

 

Some Alternative Options to Using Financial Advisers 

Many are not ready for the financial commitment to meet or work with a financial adviser. Here are some alternative options and resources to help you “start where you are.”

Financial Blogs and Podcasts

Financial blogs are an excellent resource for free money tips and strategies. Here are a few blogs and podcasts to check out.

Tanya Rapley’s My Fab Finance Blog teaches millennial women of color how to regain control of their finances, overcome financial challenges, and pay off debt.

Talaat and Tai McNeely host the His And Her Money Podcast. Their podcast and blog aim to help married couples reach their financial goals together.

Marsha Barnes’ The Finance Bar Blog connects individuals to their financial wellness. She offers one-on-one coaching and an app that shows where your money is going.

Online Financial Tribes

John Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation Hope stated, “If you hang around nine broke people, you will be the tenth.” Connecting with people who have similar financial goals or have achieved the success desired is essential to financial success. Here are a few online financial tribes to check out.

The Live Richer Academy founded by Tiffany Aliche, who is known as The Budgetnista, is a membership-based online platform that offers courses designed to help participants take their finances to the next level.

Founded by Sandy Smith, of Yes I Am Cheap blog, Hustle Crew is a private Facebook group community that provides resources on entrepreneurship and starting a side hustle.

Financial Coaches

Financial coaches educate clients on the basics of money and credit management. They help their clients establish financial goals and create a customized plan to reach those goals. Financial coaches act as accountability partners to encourage and challenge their clients to success.

Financial coaching services range free through a non-profit programs to a few hundred dollars per hour to work with popular financial coaches privately.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post People Share Why They Don’t Use Financial Advisers; Some Alternative Ways to Get Financial Help appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Here Are 3 Ways to Be Prepared for Tax Season 2019

While many have concerns about filing 2018 returns in the dawn of the federal shutdown which ended temporarily on Jan. 25, the government has assured taxpayers that the IRS will process returns in  the event the shutdown continues after the Feb. 15, the date government goes back to the table to hash out border negotiations.

Regardless to what goes on in the government, as residents we are required to file taxes. That said, it’s important to stay current with tax laws and any income tax changes — most of which can be found on the Internal Revenue Service website: www.irs.gov

Here are three things to get in check for tax season ’19 

Verify Credentials

When it comes to choosing a tax preparer be sure the person has verifiable credentials. Many consumers are unaware that you can only legally file a tax return for someone else in exchange for compensation, if you have a PTIN – Preparer Tax ID Number. A PTIN is numeric identification for tax preparers which may also be used for credentialing. To verify this credential, go to the IRS website, click in Renew Your PTIN, which allows people to not only sign up for the program, but look up tax preparer credentials.

Understand Tax Law Changes and Deductions

Tax laws change each year and its important as a taxpayer and consumer to understand how changes will affect your tax return and liability. The IRS website typically announces changes with credit, deductions, etc., each year. Taxpayers can also call IRS with questions at 1-800-829-1040.

Make A Tax Checklist

The best thing to do prior to filing taxes, is make a list and check it twice because no one wants to be audited. Create a checklist of everything you may need to file on your taxes, this includes, W-2’s, school documents, self-employment forms, childcare expenses, donations receipts, healthcare expenses, interest documentation from banks accounts, retirement account documentation 401k/IRA, student loan interest, etc.

Join me on Facebook to ask your tax questions or for complimentary tax checklist.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post Here Are 3 Ways to Be Prepared for Tax Season 2019 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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The Right And Wrong Ways To Look At Food

healthy eating habits

Source: skynesher / Getty

Whether you realize it or not, you hold certain beliefs regarding food. You have general ideas about what food is, what it is not, what it should do for you, and how you should approach it. These beliefs play a role in every decision you make around food. If you carry snacks in your car, if you skip breakfast, if you only eat meals by yourself, it is these subconscious or perhaps conscious ideas revolving around food that drive those actions. If you are unhappy with the results you are seeing in your body, both how it looks and feels, making the changes you want on the outside may require changing your perspective on food. Here are the right and wrong ways to look at food.

healthy eating habits

Source: Manuel Breva Colmeiro / Getty

Wrong: Food is just calories

When we think of food as just calories, we fixate on only counting calories and not considering the value of each calorie. That means we feel guilty about 700 calories no matter where they came from.

MadameNoire

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Eight Responsible Ways to Pass on Wardrobe Items

When editing your wardrobe you’ll need to pass some items on. Instead of throwing them away and sending them to a landfill, give them a second life. Here are eight ways to do just that. 

1. Give Items to Friends & Family

Think about friends, acquaintances, and family members who would enjoy receiving some if not all of the items that you’re passing on. If the recipients live far away, take them along the next time you visit.

2. Have a Swap Party

Get a group of friends together who have wardrobe items to pass on. Turn up the music, provide snacks and libations, and begin to swap. Clothing sizes might differ between the participants, but remember that footwear and accessories can be easier to fit. This is also a very cost-effective way to refresh your style.

3. Consign or Resell on E-Bay and Poshmark

You can resell wardrobe items at consignment stores in your area. Or take photos of them and sell them on sites like eBay and Poshmark. Or collect the items for a Summer garage sale to have outside with a tall glass of lemonade.

4. Donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army

Items that are donated to Goodwill are resold for very low prices. Items passed on to the Salvation Army go to those who are less fortunate.

5. Donate to Dress for Success

Drop dressier items off at your nearest DFS where they’re used to dress women who are re-entering the workforce. Many DFS clients come from homeless shelters or are in temporary YWCA housing and desperately need an interview outfit and work-appropriate attire. DFS provides them with a mini workwear capsule for free to get them on their way. They are especially in need of sizes US12 to US20, and petites and talls across all sizes.

6. Upcycle

Convert T-shirts, clothing made of terry cloth, and sweats into wash rags and dust cloths for housecleaning and gardening chores. Or if you sew, enjoy DIY crafts, have a little time and are feeling creative, here are 100 ways to create new items out of old wardrobe items.

7. Send Clothing back to Retailers that Recycle

Retailers like H&M, Nike, Madewell and Patagonia will often take back items you bought from their store and recycle them for you. I’ve seen clothing bins at our flagship Nordstrom store in Seattle offering the same recycling service.

8. Drop items in USAgain and Planet Aid Bins

USAgain is a non-profit organization that collects textiles, and resells them so that they can be made into reusable and valuable products. Planet Aid does a similar thing of recycling and repurposing textiles. Worn clothes can be repurposed into products like athletic tracks, pillow stuffing, carpet padding, baseball filling, and home insulation.

I edit my wardrobe frequently, and collect items in a bin in our garage before taking them to their next home. Most of my items are donated to Dress for Success Seattle, where they are either used to dress DFS clients for interviews, or sold at their regular Closet Treasure sales. The money goes straight back into the non-profit that empowers women, which makes me feel very good about passing on my clothes to the organization. Some of my handbags are passed on to friends. Some items are dropped off at the Salvation Army, and the rest is dropped into USAgain bins in our neighbourhood. I’ve also attended the a few fun clothing-footwear-accessory swaps.

Over to you. How do you pass on your wardrobe items?


YouLookFab

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Using Flooring in Unexpected Ways

Photo by Stephani Buchman

When it comes to flooring, there are many options to choose from and wood is still a timeless, luxurious look we all love. Today, you can create that look using hardwood, engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl, laminate and more. The wonderful thing about the variety of choices available is the endless creative possibilities of using flooring in unexpected ways.

FEATURE WALL Using an engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl plank on a wall is a great way to create a feature wall in any room of the house. It adds a natural warmth, texture and authenticity to your space. You can use the same planks you would use on your floor or go for a three dimensional look with a 3D wall product!

FIFTH WALL Interior designers know the importance of considering the ceiling a fifth wall in the room. Applying flooring to a ceiling is an innovative way to add texture and style to the room. Natural wood tones added to a ceiling is quite common but painting it white and adding beams in a contrasting color can also be quite striking.

BACKSPLASH Engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl plank and laminate products all offer properties that hold up well to moisture making them both a functional and stylish way to create a unique backsplash for a basement bar area.

MIXING WOOD AND TILE I love the idea of integrating tile with wood for a look that is both stunning and practical. Entryways and bathrooms seem to be the most popular places to use this combination. Tile is placed by an outside door or surrounding a freestanding bathtub where moisture may be an issues and then hardwood is used to bring warmth into the space. Cutting the wood planks to meet the shape of the tile creates a natural, seamless effect with a very designer touch. – Text by Christine Da Costa, www.decorbychristine.com

The post Using Flooring in Unexpected Ways appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine

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7 Ways to Help Your Kids Unplug This Winter

With darkness falling early and cold weather often limiting regular outdoor activities, your kids are apt to spend more time in front of screens during winter, using phones, computers, TVs, and other electronics and filling their hours with games and social media.

While media and digital devices are an integral part of our lives today, research has shown that face-to-face time with parents, family, and friends is even more important in promoting your child’s healthy development. By thinking creatively and being proactive, you can ensure that your kids enjoy a wintertime filled with fun, unplugged activities, and family connections.

Make a plan
Start by talking with your kids and creating a media use plan that you can all agree upon, then stick to it. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a useful template, including a digital time calculator.

Much like the way you plan your child’s nutritional diet — ensuring lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains and limiting extra sugar — you should be intentional about your kids’ daily “activity diet.” Prioritize those activities that are important for healthy development: 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day and one hour of daily exercise, plus family time, outdoor play, reading, and hobbies. Then create space in the daily schedule for the “dessert” of screen time and be consistent in enforcing daily limits.

Get outside together
A nightly walk can be a fun and easy way to get outside and get exercise. To keep the kids engaged, create a scavenger hunt-type list and bring flashlights. One night you could focus on spotting (and hearing) different types of animals. Another night could be devoted to scents (fireplace smoke, pine, etc.) or sounds (barking dogs, a siren, branches creaking). On weekends, head to your nearest park for a nature walk. Buy a bird book and encourage your kids to keep a list of the feathered friends they spot. End each walk by enjoying a warm mug of hot cocoa together.

Get your game on
Winter is the perfect time to break out the board games that have been gathering dust in the closet. For preschoolers, board games are a fun way to learn to follow rules, focus, and take turns. For older kids, these games offer a chance for healthy competition and face-to-face interaction. Old-fashioned favorites like Monopoly and Risk can be strung out over several nights or long afternoons. Or keep things interesting by having a running tournament (chess, checkers, backgammon), with results posted nightly. Share the fun by inviting other families over for Game Night and ask them to bring their favorite game to share.

Set up a creative corner
Tap into your kids’ inner artist by creating a space for them to draw, color, paint, sculpt, or construct every day. Just as schools have begun recognizing the value of providing a “maker space,” you can help your children unleash their creativity by setting aside time and providing the resources they need to create and build.

Encourage your bookworms
Cold weather offers a cozy time to curl up with a good book. The most important thing you can do to encourage your kids to love reading is to read aloud to them, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics — even after they know how to read for themselves.

Plan a weekly trip to the library and encourage your kids to use the hour you spend there choosing reading material from a wide variety of genres: poetry, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, science fiction. Whether they are 4 or 14, help them find some non-fiction books or magazines that speak to their passions — baseball, dinosaurs, bugs, or the American West. Find a book series that appeals to the whole family and carve out time each night for a family read-aloud hour, with family members assigned different characters to read.

Tap into the power of play
For kids of all ages, unstructured play is serious business — helping them build thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds. In fact, many pediatricians have begun to write a “prescription for play” for kids of all ages. The key is to create an opportunity for your children to take the lead and follow their own curiosity.

The tools you provide don’t have to be flashy or fancy.By simply equipping them with boxes, blankets, and chairs, kids can spend hours building a fort in the family room. Or put together a basket of “grown-up” clothes or inexpensive props or costumes from the local secondhand store and encourage your children and their friends to put together a production to perform for the family.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast: Whenever the temperatures permit, make plans to meet up with other families at the local playground or ball field and let the kids run wild together. Unstructured play, inside or outside, has the added benefit of being a stress-buster. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: Kids who engage in play build safe and nurturing relationships that protect against stress and help build social-emotional resilience.

Safeguard screen time
When your kids do spend time enjoying the treat of screen time, there are steps you can take to ensure their safety and prevent negative outcomes. Co-viewing or co-playing a video game with your children is one way to stay engaged and give you a better idea of how your kids are spending their time. And younger kids learn better from media when they share the experience with an adult, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Stay plugged in to who your child is playing with online, as well as the software, apps, and websites they are visiting. Make sure TVs and mobile devices are turned off at least an hour before bedtime, since the blue light can interfere with sleep. Recharging devices overnight in the kitchen or living room will ensure kids aren’t tempted to wake up and use their devices during the night.

Above all, be a good digital device role model and limit your own use so that you can be fully engaged during meal times, car trips, vacations — any time you spend with your kids.

Main RSS Feed – Kaiser Permanente

NEW PARENT ESSENTIAL UPDATE:

The Average American Spends $798/Month on Their Car. 3 Ways to Pay Less

You love your car. It’s your ride. It fits your needs as well as your style.

But have you thought about how much you actually spend to have it? According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s report on Consumer Expenditures in 2017 (released in September of 2018), the average cost to own a vehicle — including purchase, insurance, gas and other expenditures — is $ 9,576 annually.

That’s $ 798 per month, folks.

If you spend nearly $ 800 on your monthly car expenses, you’d probably like to shave that number down a bit. You’re in luck. Use these three tips to save some of that money for the drive-thru window.

1. Get a Better Loan

When you bought your car, you probably got a loan to do it. No problem.

But you probably didn’t get the best interest rate, either. That means you’re paying more in interest that you should. That’s a problem.

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.

2. Kick Your Overpriced Insurance Premium to the Curb

If you have a car, you probably need insurance, right? Right. But that bill takes a big chunk out of your bank account each month.

For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?

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.

2. 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.

Seriously, it only takes 60 seconds and you could save up to 50% on your premiums. If you’re paying that average of $ 118 per month, that’s $ 59 back in your pocket. Nice.

3. Pump the Brakes on High Gas Prices

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.

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.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal on your monthly car savings. Step on it!

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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10 Unique Ways Homeowners Saved to Buy a House

Tired of rising rent prices? Looking for a place to really call home? The lack of quality affordable housing can make the dream of homeownership seem unreachable. It doesn’t have to be this way! Take heart from these 10 hopeful stories, along with some practical tips and insights for making the dream a reality.
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11 Easy Ways to Be More Likeable

I’m a big believer in being myself but sometimes, it can really help to get through life more easily and to get what you want if you adapt in a certain way so you become more likeable.

So first of all, what’s a likeable person and what are their traits? Likeable people are often considered down-to-earth, open, authentic, interested, self-deprecating, trustworthy, and a bunch of other things. Usually, they’re warm and emotionally stable people that others want to be around.

So are you a likeable person? The first thing to consider is that if you think about this question, you’re probably too hard on yourself. Four university studies found that people often underestimated how much their conversation partner liked them. So you’re probably already more likeable than you think you are, however, there is always room for improvement.

11 Easy Ways To Become More Likeable

Social Media platforms
Social Media platforms

1.Be Yourself!

I know it’s a super cliche answer but sometimes, the person you want to be doesn’t line up with the person you actually are. The perfect example is social media; the way people portray themselves on Instagram or in Facebook rarely matches the real-life circumstances. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to like who you want to be rather than who you actually are, you may come off as insecure and unreal.

Often, people can sense this and they want to know the real genuine authentic you, not the idealized version. So let them see the real you even though at times that might seem embarrassing, it really helps to increase your likability because people can relate better with you and they don’t put you on a pedestal that is just an ideal of everything that they can’t have because obviously, they know about the things that are not perfect in their own lives and they like to see it in others.

Have a few conversation starters ready
Have a few conversation starters ready

2. Learn Great Conversation Starters

Other people will be relieved that they don’t have to start the conversation. Those could be things like “Did you choose your profession or did your professions choose you?” or maybe “What makes you laugh the most?”. Having a few good starter questions ready every time before you attend a social event will make you more secure and you will probably end up having more good conversations. It will also avoid awkward moments and people will thank you for it because they know when they talk to you, it’s never embarrassing or strange.

Accept a compliment gracefully
Accept a compliment gracefully

3. Give Out Compliments

Most people think a lot more about themselves than others do think about them. So they may put a lot of effort into a hairstyle, their outfits, or the way they dress but others won’t even notice it. So by picking up on something that is special about a person and by complimenting them on it makes you instantly more likeable.

Why? Well, you actually stand out from the crowd because you noticed something others don’t and it flatters the other person and honestly, who doesn’t want to be flattered? That being said, it’s best not to comment on body parts or ideally, things that people can’t change anything about. Instead, compliment them on something they do or they did.

Denying a compliment is never appropriate
Denying a compliment is never appropriate

4. Accept Compliments Gracefully

Often, when people are complimented, they don’t know how to respond. They try to diminish the compliment. Instead, you should accept it gracefully. What does it mean specifically? All you need to do is to say thank you and smile.

Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011 in Burbank, Calif.

5. Show Some Self-Deprecating Humor

The perfect way to utilize humor to become more likeable without distancing others is to use self-deprecating humor. So what does it mean? Just make fun about yourself. That means, maybe share weird things about you or share a time when you look like a loser or when you did something that looks really stupid. I know it seems weird and hard but by doing that and getting other people to laugh about it, they will instantly like you more.

Another good way to add self-deprecating humor is to compare yourself to others so you can say “Oh wow you’re just twenty-two when you’re running your own business; when I was 22, my mom did my laundry for me”. That way, you put yourself in a light that lets others shine and that makes you instantly more likeable even though you may feel like you look like a loser.

In my opinion, a master of self-deprecating humor is Ellen DeGeneres. She utilizes this technique all the time in her show and people love her so next time you watch that show, pay attention to it and you will see how she utilizes it to become instantly more likeable.

Listen
Listen

6. Listen!

So far, we all talked about active steps you can take but one of the easiest way to become more likeable is to really in genuinely listen to what other people say. No, if you’re just waiting for the other person to finish before you can give your reply, you’re not actively listening. Actively listening means that you comprehend what they’re saying that you repeat what they’re saying and that you later follow up with a question pertaining to it so they really know that you listened and also cared.

So always try to paraphrase what people said in a quick way without going into too much detail. You can also have follow-up questions that show that you comprehended what was said and you just keep the conversation going. In general, people like to feel like they’re heard and understood and by actively listening, you achieve exactly that. An even bigger step is not just to listen but to act on what someone just said.

Ask smart questions
Ask smart questions

7. Ask Questions

It goes slightly into the same vein as the active listening but more questions keep a conversation going and the more smart questions you ask, the more understood and heard the other person feels and the more they feel taken care of and comfortable in your presence.

two men having a conversation
two men having a conversation

8. Be Vulnerable

Most people engage in small talk but small talk doesn’t allow you to really be vulnerable and it’s not well-suited to get to know someone. Mostly, it’s just tedious and boring and frankly, it can be much harder than having a genuine conversation about things that actually mean something to people. So try to stop yourself from engaging in small talk and get real.

That means you can be a leader in a conversation who dives deeper first without waiting for the other person to expose themselves or show a vulnerability. Of course, this has to be a gradual process. If you tell people about your financial problems the first time they meet you, they think of you as being weird. So a good starter question that I always use is “What do you do when you don’t work?”. Most people have the impulse to tell me what their job is because that’s what they usually hear but then it usually takes a second for them to realize I’m actually asking about their passions and you can see a little smile, they’ll light up and they tell me more about the things they like to do.

Now, that is a first step to create a connection, to create something where they feel they can share with me and usually, they have an interest in it so they don’t get tired of talking about it. Once we’re at that step, you can ask deeper and deeper questions and that way, you have a conversation that is quite meaningful and both people will walk away without feeling like they wasted their time and that they were bored.

Always keep in mind, people love to talk about their passions and not so much about their insecurities yet everyone has them and by opening up and sharing your struggles and your insecurities, you become instantly more relatable and thus likeable.

9. Minimize Complaining

We all feel like we want to complain every once in a while and that’s okay, however, if you complain constantly, you carry a negative aura with you and others don’t want to be around you because you just bring them down or make them feel bad. So what if you just have a natural negative outlook in life and that’s simply who you are? Well, in that case, I suggest you try to flip it around and try to see the positive things and frankly, if sometimes that’s too hard and you can’t find anything nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all.

Pitti Uomo 82
Pitti Uomo 82

10. Make Everyone Feel Included

If you have a group conversation, there’s usually someone who speaks a lot more than someone else. If you pick up on that and you notice that someone is being quiet or just alone, it really pays to loop them back into the conversation by asking them a question.

Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie keeping it real
Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie keeping it real

11. Embrace A Positive Attitude

It makes sense to embrace a positive attitude because other people will like to be around you because it makes them feel positive. Usually, positive people uplift other people and don’t drain their energy. Sometimes, just reminding yourself of that is all it takes to be more positive.

Finally, it’s only fair to acknowledge that people have their own will and chances are some people will never like you and that’s okay. In those cases, it’s best not to focus on things you can’t change but the things you can do. If you apply these eleven tips in your social life, I guarantee you, you will be more liked.

So what are your secret tips to become more likeable? Please share with us in the comments and give us a thumbs up.


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CFDA Introduces Sustainability Initiatives to Help Guide Designers Looking for Cleaner Ways to Work

With “where to begin” being a common conundrum for many brands considering sustainability, the CFDA has launched its Sustainability Initiatives to help designers do their part to clean up the fashion industry.
In line with the United Nations’ call for the fashion industry to act on its global mandate on sustainability, the CFDA has rolled out a four-part strategy. Many designers’ questions may be answered by referencing the first edition of the CFDA Guide to Sustainable Strategies, the Sustainable Strategies Toolkit, the CFDA Materials Index or the CFDA Sustainability Directory.
While Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney and other designers have been committed to trying to clean up the industry’s excessive waste for a while, many less established brands are examining sustainability for the first time. The United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion will stage its launch event March 14, during a media event of the 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Just as consumers have learned about the environmental farm-to-table choices, sustainability supporters are hopeful that greater awareness about the need for sustainable fashion will lead to changing the consumption and production habits.
Konstantin Grcic recently joined forces with the Aeance to create a sustainable capsule collection. Stella McCartney has been leading the

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Scientists Seek Ways To Finally Take A Real Measure Of Pain

(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Is the pain stabbing or burning? On a scale from 1 to 10, is it a 6 or an 8?

Over and over, 17-year-old Sarah Taylor struggled to make doctors understand her sometimes debilitating levels of pain, first from joint-damaging childhood arthritis and then from fibromyalgia.

“It’s really hard when people can’t see how much pain you’re in, because they have to take your word on it and sometimes, they don’t quite believe you,” she said.

Now scientists are peeking into Sarah’s eyes to track how her pupils react when she’s hurting and when she’s not — part of a quest to develop the first objective way to measure pain.

“If we can’t measure pain, we can’t fix it,” said Dr. Julia Finkel, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who invented the experimental eye-tracking device.

At just about every doctor’s visit you’ll get your temperature, heart rate and blood pressure measured. But there’s no stethoscope for pain. Patients must convey how bad it is using that 10-point scale or emoji-style charts that show faces turning from smiles to frowns.

That’s problematic for lots of reasons. Doctors and nurses have to guess at babies’ pain by their cries and squirms, for example. The aching that one person rates a 7 might be a 4 to someone who’s more used to serious pain or genetically more tolerant. Patient-to-patient variability makes it hard to test if potential new painkillers really work.

Nor do self-ratings determine what kind of pain someone has — one reason for trial-and-error treatment. Are opioids necessary? Or is the pain, like Sarah’s, better suited to nerve-targeting medicines?

“It’s very frustrating to be in pain and you have to wait like six weeks, two months, to see if the drug’s working,” said Sarah, who uses a combination of medications, acupuncture and lots of exercise to counter her pain.

The National Institutes of Health is pushing for development of what its director, Dr. Francis Collins, has called a “pain-o-meter.” Spurred by the opioid crisis, the goal isn’t just to signal how much pain someone’s in. It’s also to determine what kind it is and what drug might be the most effective.

“We’re not creating a lie detector for pain,” stressed David Thomas of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, who oversees the research. “We do not want to lose the patient voice.”

Around the country, NIH-funded scientists have begun studies of brain scans, pupil reactions and other possible markers of pain in hopes of finally “seeing” the ouch so they can better treat it. It’s early-stage research, and it’s not clear how soon any of the attempts might pan out.

“There won’t be a single signature of pain,” Thomas predicted. “My vision is that someday we’ll pull these different metrics together for something of a fingerprint of pain.”

NIH estimates 25 million people in the U.S. experience daily pain. Most days Sarah Taylor is one of them. Now living in Potomac, Maryland, she was a toddler in her native Australia when the swollen, aching joints of juvenile arthritis appeared. She’s had migraines and spinal inflammation. Then two years ago, the body-wide pain of fibromyalgia struck; a flare-up last winter hospitalized her for two weeks.

One recent morning, Sarah climbed onto an acupuncture table at Children’s National, rated that day’s pain a not-too-bad 3, and opened her eyes wide for the experimental pain test.

“There’ll be a flash of light for 10 seconds. All you have to do is try not to blink,” researcher Kevin Jackson told Sarah as he lined up the pupil-tracking device, mounted on a smartphone.

The eyes offer a window to pain centers in the brain, said Finkel, who directs pain research at Children’s Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.

How? Some pain-sensing nerves transmit “ouch” signals to the brain along pathways that also alter muscles of the pupils as they react to different stimuli. Finkel’s device tracks pupillary reactions to light or to non-painful stimulation of certain nerve fibers, aiming to link different patterns to different intensities and types of pain.

Consider the shooting hip and leg pain of sciatica: “Everyone knows someone who’s been started on oxycodone for their sciatic nerve pain. And they’ll tell you that they feel it — it still hurts — and they just don’t care,” Finkel said.

What’s going on? An opioid like oxycodone brings some relief by dulling the perception of pain but not its transmission — while a different kind of drug might block the pain by targeting the culprit nerve fiber, she said.

Certain medications also can be detected by other changes in a resting pupil, she said. Last month the Food and Drug Administration announced it would help AlgometRx, a biotech company Finkel founded, speed development of the device as a rapid drug screen.

Looking deeper than the eyes, scientists at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital found MRI scans revealed patterns of inflammation in the brain that identified either fibromyalgia or chronic back pain.

Other researchers have found changes in brain activity — where different areas “light up” on scans — that signal certain types of pain. Still others are using electrodes on the scalp to measure pain through brain waves.

Ultimately, NIH wants to uncover biological markers that explain why some people recover from acute pain while others develop hard-to-treat chronic pain.

“Your brain changes with pain,” Thomas explained. “A zero-to-10 scale or a happy-face scale doesn’t capture anywhere near the totality of the pain experience.”

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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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4 Ways to Deal if You Want to Be Debt-Free but Your Partner Keeps Spending

When you get married or combine finances with someone, you may think that tackling debt will be easier than doing it on your own.

Then you find out your partner has no intention of paying off debt or being involved with finances.

Cool.

But if this is you, don’t worry. Just because the love of your life isn’t driven to get rid of debt right now, it doesn’t mean they never will be.

I admit that I wasn’t on board with paying off debt when my then-fiance “suggested” it to me.

I came from a background where we always had money to pay the bills but never enough for anything else. So when I was finally making my own money, I wanted to use it to live, not to pay my $ 52,000 of student loan debt.

But many people overcome their aversions to paying off debt and end up being just as motivated as their significant other.

Here are some tips for bridging that gap.

4 Strategies for When Your Partner Doesn’t Care About Being Debt-Free

These tips may not speed up the journey, but they are the best way to get to freedom from debt if you don’t want to sleep on the couch the whole way.

1. Slow Down and Rethink Your Approach

If the fact that your partner doesn’t want to think about finances frustrates you, sit down, take a deep breath and think about why.

A lot of people have negative emotions and experiences tied to money.

Talking about finances can be a trigger for someone whose parents fought about money. If someone never had enough money for small pleasures growing up, they might go into defense mode if you tell them you want to stop spending money and sell their stuff.

And the thought of debt itself can be a heavy mental burden, especially when life is throwing more problems into the mix. It takes time, persistence and understanding to find out what the root of your partner’s hesitation is and how to work through it.

2. Talk About the Future

Couple holding hands

My husband knows that I’m a goal-driven person, so he asked me what my goals for the future were. He got me thinking about how freedom from debt could help me achieve my goals faster.

Make sure your partner’s goals and wants are heard. Share your own wants, and talk about how your goals and your partner’s goals can work together. Your partner may not have concrete goals right now, but they surely have something they want. Maybe they want to travel, buy a boat, stay at home with kids or pursue a passion.

Anything they want to do in the future is going to have a financial component. And once you’ve identified it, you’ll be able to sit down and talk about that. But as with the first recommendation, take it slowly.

3. Plan a Road Trip

If your partner will no longer listen to you about finances, don’t force it.

They still need to hear it, just not from you. That’s where podcasts and audiobooks can come in for the assist. And there’s no better way to have your partner’s uninterrupted ear than playing them in the car.

That’s how Budgets Made Easy creator Ashley Patrick was able to get her husband on board.

“I attempted budget meetings, but he wasn’t interested,” Ashley said. “He was content letting me handle it all. The biggest thing that fully got him on board was playing Dave Ramsey podcasts in the car. Especially when I did it on a long road trip. Hours of Dave Ramsey helped change his mindset.”

She and her husband paid off $ 45,000 in 17 months, and Ashley now provides financial coaching through Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions.

4. Be an Example They’ll Want to Follow

While you’re waiting for your partner to join the team, make sure they know what the game looks like.

You can continue to budget, pay off debt and be wise with your spending even if your partner isn’t. Sometimes they just need to see that it can be done.

As you do this, take into consideration what they value and want. Maybe you think Topgolf is a waste of money, but your husband loves going once a month. Put it in the budget to show him that the process is only as restrictive as you make it.

At the end of the day, being debt-free isn’t the goal: having financial freedom is. And if you want your partner to be part of that, it might take some patience and perseverance. But it’s worth it — not just financially — to get on the same page and head in the same direction with your goals.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She was reluctant at first, but once she got on board, she and her husband paid off $ 78,000 of debt in two years. See more of her story and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.

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

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5 Ways You Can Save $1,378 in 2019 (Even if You’re Awful at Saving Money)

The blank slate of a new year is something I always look forward to as January approaches.

It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. The new year is a time to set yourself off on the right foot.

Many of us — myself included — try to commit to financial goals as we make our New Year’s resolutions. We have grand visions of saving more money… but we don’t always have a plan mapped out to make it happen.

That’s where the 52-Week Money Challenge comes in.

You may have caught wind of this challenge on social media around the beginning of January in years past. The premise is simple, but this savings endeavor gets more difficult as the year goes along.

The first week, you save $ 1. The second week, you save $ 2. The third week, you save $ 3…

The idea is to increase the amount you deposit by $ 1 each week until you eventually save $ 52 in week 52, the last week of the year. Stay disciplined and stick to the plan, and you’ll have $ 1,378 in your account at the end of the year.

Can you imagine what you could do with an extra $ 1,378? Go ahead, I’ll give you a second to dream.

Now let’s get back to reality. While saving over $ 1,000 in one year is wonderful, the classic 52-week challenge isn’t ideal for everyone. It’s good for those who love to raise the bar higher after each goal they reach. But others shudder at the thought of saving over $ 200 in the month of December. (You’d need to save $ 49, $ 50, $ 51 and $ 52 in the last four weeks of the year.)

The good news is that the 52-week challenge can be customized to work for your financial life.

5 Alternative Ways to Conquer the 52-Week Money Challenge

We’ve come up with five new ways to complete the 52-Week Money Challenge. You’ll still make weekly deposits into your savings account. You’ll still end up with $ 1,378 by year’s end. These options just have you going about the savings plan in different ways.

Method No. 1 — Odd Numbers Up, Even Numbers Down

A GIF plays showing how to save money

This approach is for those who’d like the challenge to get easier as the year winds down.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You start the year saving money on an odd-number basis, increasing the amount each week by $ 2. So in week one, you’ll save $ 1. In week two, you’ll save $ 3. In week 3, you’ll save $ 5. Keep the pattern going until you’re at week 26, when you’ll save $ 51.
  2. Once you hit week 27 (halfway through the year), you’ll switch your savings amounts to even numbers, starting with $ 52. From there, you’ll decrease the amount you’re saving each week by $ 2. So you’ll save $ 52 in week 27, $ 50 in week 28, $ 48 in week 29 and so on. Once you hit the last week of the year, you’ll only be depositing $ 2 into your account to reach that $ 1,378 total.

While you’ll need to put away large sums of money in the months of June and July, you’ll stress less about saving money at the end of the year.

Method No. 2 — Quarterly Breakdowns

A woman puts in a dollar bill in a piggy bank.

Maybe you like the idea of saving more money each week, but you’d rather break up the time frame into smaller chunks. With this approach, you’ll save incrementally each quarter, which is every 13 weeks.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Deposit $ 1 into your savings account the first week. For the following weeks in the quarter, you’ll add $ 4 to the amount you deposited the previous week. So for the second week, you’ll deposit $ 5. For the third week, you’ll deposit $ 9. Keep up the pattern until you’ve reached week 13, when you’ll deposit $ 49.
  2. Start the second quarter of the year by depositing $ 2. You’ll be in week 14 at this point. Start the pattern of adding $ 4 to each subsequent deposit amount until you get through week 26. So you’ll deposit $ 6 in week 15, $ 10 in week 16 and so on until week 26, when you’ll deposit $ 50.
  3. Start the third quarter of the year by depositing $ 3. You’re now in week 27. Start up the pattern of adding $ 4 to the amount you deposit each week. In week 28, you’ll deposit $ 7. In week 29, you’ll deposit $ 11. Continue this pattern through week 39, when you’ll deposit $ 51.
  4. Week 40 will be the first week of the last quarter of the year. You’ll start off by depositing $ 4 that week, and then you’ll jump back into the pattern you established in the previous quarters. You’ll need to deposit $ 8 in week 41 and $ 12 in week 42. You’ll keep at it until you’ve deposited $ 52 in week 52, resulting in a total yearly savings of $ 1,378.

Method No. 3 — Random Lottery

A woman pulls a piece of paper from a jar

This method is for those who like to mix things up and not follow a predictable path. You’ll choose a different dollar amount at random each week to reach the savings goal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get 52 slips of paper, and write an amount from $ 1 to $ 52 on each piece. Fold each slip of paper and put them in a jar.
  2. Blindly select a slip of paper each week. The amount on the paper you pull will be the amount you deposit that week. Discard each slip of paper after you select it. Instead of doing weekly drawings, you could also create a chart or spreadsheet that outlines how much you’ll deposit each week. At the beginning of the year, you can draw slips of paper for all 52 weeks and write down on your spreadsheet how much you’ll save each week.

This approach to saving is completely arbitrary. You might deposit $ 5 one week and then $ 50 the next. There really isn’t a method to the madness.

Method No. 4 — Semicontrolled Lottery

A woman pulls out a piece of paper from a jar.

This method is a hybrid between completely random selection and incremental savings deposits.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Write deposit amounts from $ 1 to $ 52 on slips of paper.
  2. Separate the slips of paper into four piles: $ 1 to $ 13 in one group, $ 14 to $ 26 in the next group, $ 27 to $ 39 in another group and $ 40 to $ 52 in the last group.
  3. Fold the slips of paper, and put each group into its own jar. Label them Jar One, Jar Two, Jar Three and Jar Four.
  4. Blindly select a slip of paper from Jar One in the first week. Pull from Jar Two the second week, then Jar Three in the third week and Jar Four in the fourth week. Discard each slip of paper after you select it for the week. Go back to Jar One in week five, and repeat that pattern through the end of the year. You can also choose to do the selection for the entire year at the beginning of the year, using a chart or spreadsheet to record which amounts you picked from the jars for each week.

With this method, you’re guaranteed to be depositing a mix of dollar amounts each month — some on the lower end and some on the higher end. Although you’re still incorporating some random selection, you won’t ever run into the possibility of making four deposits over $ 40 in one month.

Method No. 5 — Steady Savings

A woman counts $  26.50

If you thrive on consistency, this option is perfect for you.

Instead of varying the amount of money you save weekly, you can deposit $ 26.50 into your savings account each week for 52 weeks to reach that $ 1,378 goal by year’s end.

This is a simple, uniform approach to meeting this money-saving challenge. Sure, it may not be as fun (for those of us who think saving is fun in the first place), but it gets the job done.

You don’t have to think twice about how much you need to save each week. In fact, you can automate your deposits at the beginning of the year and not think about them at all.

The Most Important Lesson: Just Start Saving

Now that we showed you it’s possible to save over $ 1,000 in one year, the question is: Which method will you choose?

We’ve highlighted several options, but keep in mind there are many other ways to customize a money-saving challenge to your liking.

Maybe you get paid every other week, and you want to make your deposits biweekly so they fall on payday. Perhaps you’d rather commit to depositing money in your savings account once a month. Or maybe the bulk of your income comes from tips, and you prefer to save your cash on a daily basis.

You also don’t have to constrict yourself to saving $ 1,378. (I have to admit, it’s a pretty odd amount to stick with.) If your budget is tight and saving $ 52 in one week seems impossible at any time of the year, you could cut the suggested weekly deposits in half. You’ll still net $ 689 by the end of the year. Or maybe you have a bit of wiggle room in your budget and you want to double the weekly deposits, which will give you $ 2,756 in savings at the end of the year.

No matter how you choose to do it, the important thing is that you’re consciously making the effort to save. Get in the habit of regularly putting money aside so that when 2020 rolls around, saving money won’t even seem like a challenge to you.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’ll probably go with method No. 5.

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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5 Fun, Alternative Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve

Who says going out to a party is the best way to ring in the New Year? Some of the most satisfying moments in life are when we’re having fun in an intimate setting with friends and family. Below, we’ve rounded up a few unique ways you can celebrate New Year’s Eve.

 

Plan a game night. 

Whether you want to put an adult twist to one of your favorite childhood games, such as Jenga and Tic-Tac-Toe, or opt for a new game like Black Card Revoked; an Afrocentric trivia game; there are plenty of fun options to keep you having fun into the early morning hours of New Year’s day. Add some delicious food and spirits, and you’re in for a great New Year’s Eve.

Host a New Year’s Eve dinner party with friends.

 A classic way to bring in the New Year, but classic doesn’t mean boring, right? A New Year’s dinner party with family and friends is a great way to reflect on the past year and chat about plans for the New Year. Perhaps you can host a cook-off or prepare a tasting menu of festive finger foods. Check out a few New Year’s Eve recipes on Food Network and MarthaStewart.com. And, for champagne cocktails–check out Bustle.com.

Host a masquerade party. 

Plan an evening of mystery and magic with a themed masquerade party. Beyond requesting that guests wear masquerade masks, you can ask them to bring their favorite dish and bottle of champagne, or you can feature several drinks from around the world.

Attend church. 

From plays and musical concerts to games and speakers, many churches plan a series of watch-night events to usher in the New Year.

Plan the ultimate date night.

Looking forward to some quality time with your sweetie? Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic evening of food and bubbly at a great city restaurant, or a bonfire on the beach with a sparkling fruit sangria, there are several great ways you can ring in the New Year with your love. Check out PopSugar for a great list of fun and sexy date ideas.

The post 5 Fun, Alternative Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Raf Simons and Calvin Klein Part Ways

Calvin Klein Inc. and Raf Simons said Friday night that Simons is leaving his post as chief creative officer.
Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Klein decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’ creative vision.
Calvin Klein will not show during New York Fashion Week in February.
The news confirms WWD reports of growing tension between Calvin Klein executives and Simons.
According to sources, the company decided in September to reduce some of Simons’ responsibilities and wanted him to agree to a new contract with fewer responsibilities. Sources said Klein decided certain areas of the business such as store design, visual merchandising, e-commerce, public relations and communications, and corporate social responsibility would report to Marie Gulin-Merle, chief marketing officer, rather than Simons, who had been given total responsibility for all creative areas when he joined in August 2016.
In late November, Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., parent company of Calvin Klein, said in rather blunt terms on the company’s earnings call that the reimagined Calvin Klein — under Simons’ direction — is not working. He said the collection, renamed 205W39NYC, needed to become more commercial and that investments in the collection and advertising would be

Follow WWD on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

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10 Ways to Find Your Personal Style

Websites including The Gentleman’s Gazette possess an encyclopedic amount of content on how to dress well, while thousands of images of iGents, dandies and influencers dance across Instagram feeds every day. Faced with all the content online, how do you know what suits you?

Those who are new to the game of classic men’s style can quickly become overwhelmed when trying to determine what they might like to wear. Even men who have been into classic style for years can fall into a rut. So, how do you go about discovering your personal style in the face of all the advice and information out there? Here are our top 10 tips.

Spezzato Suit Jacket and Matching Vest with Contrasting Yellow Pants and Brown Oxfords

Not everybody likes the idea of yellow pants, but they perfectly suit Sven Raphael Schneider’s style

1. Put Your Style into Words

If you’re reading this article, it’s established that you like to dress in a certain way, so you already have some sense of what you like and don’t like. Take out your favorite fountain pen and try writing it on paper (or just use your computer). Describe your style in a sentence or even a few words:

  • How would you describe your ideal look? It might be “vintage academic” or “Italian sprezzatura,” but it could also be “put together” or “preppy.”
  • What do you enjoy wearing? Do you do vests? Do you like bombers and safari jackets or prefer a regatta blazer?
  • What are your strongest likes and dislikes?
  • Who are your style icons? What do you like about their look?
Fountain pen paper and a Lamy Safari fountain pen

Engage in a writing exercise to define your style

2. Gather Inspiring Images

To help you describe your style, you can save images of styles, outfits, and pieces that you like. Pinterest is one of the largest social media sites in the world, behind only Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and is the easiest way to do thisLinkedIn and is the easiest way to do this. Classic style boards on Pinterest

A set of Pinterest boards used to collect classic menswear images. Although it has a reputation for photos of craft projects and recipes, it is an easy way to capture and store images that you like related to classic men’s style.

If you have the Pinterest app on your phone, you can grab any image from any site and put it in your digital scrapbook or board. Looking at your pins will then not only help you remember clothes you want to buy but, viewed collectively, will give you a holistic sense of what your style is like. Of course, as you gather images, you may do so from other people’s Pinterest boards, which brings us to item 3.

3. Find Style Role Models (Plural) to Follow

As you go through social media, you’ll encounter numerous well-dressed gents whether on the number one source of online style inspiration–Instagram–on Tumblr microblogs or Pinterest boards. It’s important to realize though that even though you may like the personal style of someone with 15,000 Instagram followers, what he wears may not necessarily work on you.

The Style Icon - Cary Grant in Berlin in 1960

The Style Icon – Cary Grant in Berlin in 1960

The same goes for well-dressed men outside of social media whether Cary Grant to David Beckham or Idris Elba. You may be older or younger and have a different body type or skin tone, to name just a few things that can influence what looks best on a specific individual. However, with so many people posting to social media, odds are you will find somebody on Instagram with a body type or general appearance similar to yours.

Style icons Samuel Jackson, Andreas Weinås, and Alan See

Style icons Samuel Jackson, Andreas Weinås, and Alan See

Everyone’s style is really an amalgam of their influences, from family members to friends to celebrities and random strangers online. Along the same lines, the best approach with style icons is to take note of specific things you like from different people. It’s important not to imitate just one person because you risk coming across as a mere copy.

If you wear your watch over your sleeve cuffs, it’s obvious you are just copying Agnelli. You can admire the way Sven Raphael Schneider wears accessories like cufflinks, boutonnieres and pocket squares while also liking the contemporary urban edge of Dan Trepanier. You can love how Mark Cho effortlessly combines colors but realize the fuller cuts of his jackets is not for you. Pick and choose from the smorgasbord of influences with the understanding that you don’t need to be loyal to any one style guru.

Gianni Agnelli and his Patek Philippe 1415 HU, or Universal Time

Gianni Agnelli’s characteristic sprezzatura style is difficult to copy

4. Be True to Yourself

Even when you follow multiple influences, aim to be authentic. Do what’s true to you, not what’s popular. There are popular sprezzatura style choices seen everywhere online like keeping your button-down shirt collar unbuttoned or wearing the back blade of your necktie longer than the front and below your waistline. These are trendy, fashionable approaches that are more about uniformity than originality.

Color, texture and hats at Pitti Uomo 88 - photo by Pitti Uomo

Beware imitating what’s popular online, such as the Pitti Peacocks

It can be tempting to buy tight suits, wear a suit jacket with sweatpants, or have your pants hemmed above your ankles because “everyone” is doing it in Suitsupply ads or photos from Pitti Uomo (and getting 2000 “likes”).

Sven Raphael Schneider in Three Piece Suit with double breasted waistcoat

Sven Raphael Schneider only wears pleated pants, because they are his style, not because they are popular (which they aren’t!)

Unless this really makes you happy and is how you see your personal style, be cautious of following the crowd. The key is to be comfortable–both physically in the clothes you choose and the way you look. Dress for yourself, not for others.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

To get to your personal style, there’s really no substitute for hands-on experimentation. If you see someone who wears an olive green linen jacket, you may want to try it yourself.

Green linen and gingham

Linus Norbom wearing a green linen jacket with a green and white gingham shirt and white pants

You can look at pictures all you want, but you won’t know whether you like pleated pants until you put them on. Though in theory, your rounded face shape would look better with a point collar shirt, you won’t know for sure until you wear one and compare it with a spread collar.

Collars formality scale

Try different collars in different formalities to see what suits you

I tried point collars, cutaways, spreads, long points and button downs for shirt collars before settling on which I liked best. The first few years of my interest in menswear, I bought almost the full range of colors in sport coats, but since then I’ve boiled my favorites down to blues, browns, and beiges.

Spezzato with vest and pants

Try experimenting, such as wearing wristbands or splitting up a suit

If possible, you can try things in boutiques and stores to see how you look at them. Alternatively, for pieces you aren’t too sure of, you can buy thrift or used. Yes, you will make mistakes and buy something experimental that you won’t like, but that’s what return policies are for.

If it takes you longer to figure out something is not for you, there’s always reseller markets like eBay or Grailed. Even if you sell at a loss, try not to look at it as wasted money. Instead, think of the journey as part of the reward. It’s like ordering a new kind of sushi or visiting a city you’ve never been to before. You’re in it for the experience, and there should be no regrets. It’s all part of the learning process.

6. Understand Your Physical Characteristics

One the reason we’re not into trends is that they rarely suit everyone. The skinny fit of suits today, for example, only works well for certain body types. If you want to capture your “own” style, it’s better to work with what you have rather than trying to conform to trends. Start by considering your body – your physique, your age, and your skin tone, for instance.

If you have pale skin, a dark navy shirt will wash you out. If you have brown skin, you can pull off more vibrant or hotter colors. If you’re over fifty, maybe slim fit trousers and a loafer without socks wouldn’t look best on you.

Grimod in Sky blue linen suit

Great style is possible at any age; here, Herbert Stricker in sky blue linen suit

A mistake is trying to impose a style on yourself that doesn’t work for you just because you saw someone else do it online. The desire to wear anything you want is strong but not always possible. It’s a sign of stylistic maturity to realize that just because you admire how someone wore an item, it doesn’t mean you can or should wear it yourself.

7. Understand Your Environment

As you form your style, realize that it will be influenced by where you are situated. The way men dress on the internet often has very little to do with real life. What someone wears at Pitti Uomo or to sell a product is designed first to get attention in a medium full of so many competing images. Something may be photographed such a way to make it desirable, but ask yourself whether your personal environment would suit the style.

David Evans in Denim and brown country sport coat with sweater

David Evans showing a country style

If you live in Manhattan, you may be able to wear suits most of the time if you want to, but if you’re in rural Kentucky, this stylistic choice will make you stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re in Italy, you can wear bright, fitted jackets that are at home there, but in London, they’ll look out of place. Realistically, part of your personal style–what you wear–is dictated by your environment.

Cri De La Soie Silk Knit ties by Fort Belvedere

Knit ties might be part of your signature look

This can be as basic as not wearing an elaborate pocket square because you are dressing for a conservative workplace or wearing sports coats and knit ties instead of suits and printed silk ties because you are never in a formal setting.

This may seem like it’s forcing you to compromise, but unless you want to march entirely to the beat of your own drum, you will have to fit your style to your milieu. Even within these limitations, you’ll still have a lot of possibilities.

8. Realize That You Can Have Multiple Styles

Kids may also ruin your hair but they will have a blast

Many people are surprised to find that Sven Raphael Schneider’s summer uniform is a polo with shorts and boat shoes

A further consolation is that you’re never really bound to a single authoritative “look”; the reality is that you’ll have multiple styles, and it would be rigid to assume that you need to wear the same sort of thing no matter where you go.

Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson

You don’t need to wear a suit on every occasion like Barney Stinson

You can wear suits for work but sport coats without ties on the weekend. You don’t need to be Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother and suit up all the time.

Ralph Lauren's Country Lifestyle

Ralph Lauren’s Country Lifestyle

When you visit the countryside, you might wear sweaters and tattersall shirts with a Barbour jacket. When you’re taking a beach holiday, perhaps you’ll put on a linen shirt and espadrilles. You may still have certain common threads through all your looks–like always wearing a bit of blue–but odds are your style will really be multiple styles.

9. Assess Your Closet

Once you have accumulated a decent wardrobe, you can get to your core style by auditing and managing your wardrobe. If you have a social media presence or just for yourself, take a selfie when you wear something you think looks particularly good on you or that you get compliments on. When you have a bunch of photos, review them to see which pieces repeat the most often; these are the foundation of your personal style.

The Closet if Giancarlo Maresca

Take occasional stock of your closet contents

If we break it down, finding your style really comes in two major parts. The first is casting a wide net and trying a lot of things. The second is culling things you don’t ‘wear to get to a core wardrobe.

Culling

Besides looking at photos, look at your closet itself and get rid of things you haven’t worn for a long time, whether a certain number of months or a year max. If you don’t pick them, it’s a sign that they’re not your style. When you first start out, you’re enthusiastic and want to have more outfits, but eventually, you’ll reduce your choices and settle on a sort of uniform that represents you. For me, it’s sports coats and ties with interesting woven textures.

Spezzato with jeans

The author wearing two of his favorites: a sports coat and a textured tie

The more you try, the less you continue to experiment because you learn what does and doesn’t work for you and settle into “your style.” This can change depending on factors like age or weight, but for the most part, you engage in less trial and error.

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop adding to your wardrobe, though. If you find you like wearing navy wool trousers, you’ll soon want navy cotton pants, wool flannelpleated and flat front, high rise and medium rise.  The fact is if you’re serious about style, you’ll never want to stop working at it. The difference is that, after a time, you’ll buy from a more limited range of things because you know you look best in blue, that you prefer a spread collar shirt, and that you like an unlined tie.

Short Vintage Tie - excellent if you are a shorter man

You may prefer a spread collar shirt or a short tie

As your eye develops, you can know at a glance whether an item you see is suitable for you. You’ll be more discerning and purge things from your closet that you no longer wear because they don’t fit your core style.

Pharrell Williams Hat

Your signature items don’t need to be as showy as Pharrell Williams’ hat

What you’re left with will include signature pieces that define you. I don’t mean something like Karl Lagerfield’s sunglasses and stiff collars or Pharell Williams’ hat–these are more celebrity costume than classic style–but your signature look may be a penchant for pocket squares, odd vests (meaning not part of a matching suit) or colorful shoelaces. Think of it as your brand in terms of style–an aspect that is recognizably and consistently you.

Colorful shoelaces like these from Fort Belvedere can be a signature of your look

10. Know that it’s a Continuous Journey

Once you go down the rabbit-hole of traditional men’s style, you have a lifetime to enjoy the fruits of the hobby (obsession?), and even when you have a good sense of your style, things will not get stale.

If you relocate, change the sort of job you do, gain or lose weight or simply get older, your style will change in some way. When you reach a certain age, you may wear more comfortable or less showy clothes, probably of higher quality, but then again, you may always like a good Prince of Wales check.

Tight vs. Comfortable Suit Fits

Your taste in clothes may change over time from fitted to more comfortable.

Conclusion

A given is still that your style won’t (and shouldn’t) ever be static. I’ve shared some of the aspects of the journey you are likely to encounter but can tell you that there’s no substitute for experiencing it firsthand yourself. There will be errors and missteps, but this is part of the learning and the fun.

Have you already experienced some of the stages mentioned? What other advice do you have for finding your personal style? Share in the Comments section below.


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17 Ways to Save Money When You Live in a Big City (It’s Actually Possible!)

I know I don’t have to tell you this, city dwellers: Living in a big city is expensive.

I was slapped with that cold reality when I moved to Denver. After living in two relatively rural college towns, I was used to paying a rent I could almost afford; groceries that were, well, normally priced; and a night out with friends that never remotely creeped close to $ 50.

Then there were those times I visited New York City and San Francisco for long weekends… Don’t get me started.

Anyway, kudos for making it work — but I know it’s got to get difficult sometimes. That’s why we put together a list of ways to save money when you live in a big city.

1. Save Money on Any Debt You’ve Already Accumulated  

Moving in general is expensive, but moving to a big city and adjusting to that new cost of living is difficult.

If you accumulate any credit card debt in the process that’s still lingering, consider refinancing or consolidating it to find better interest rates.

A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.

Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

2. Get $ 3 Pantry Essentials Delivered to Your Door

Groceries tend to be more expensive in big cities. Goods in New York City are 10% higher than average U.S. prices, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The task itself also tends to be more difficult, depending on how far away you live from the closest store.

A great way to save money is to order the essentials online — where prices are more likely to be the same nationwide.

With Brandless, you can stock up on all your grocery essentials for $ 3 each. Yup — everything’s $ 3. And you’ll get $ 5 off your order when you sign up with your email address.

Better yet, Brandless carries organic, gluten-free and vegan options. You could spend hours perusing the virtual aisles, but here are a few examples:

  • An 8-ounce jar of organic, 100% pure honey: $ 3
  • Organic aged white cheddar popcorn: Two for $ 3
  • Roasted and salted almonds: $ 3
  • Organic, fair-trade, light-roast ground coffee: $ 3

You can also stock up on Brandless cleaning supplies, household essentials and clean beauty supplies.

Shipping is free when you spend $ 39 or more.

3. Claim Cash Back on Drinks and Takeout Orders

Life tends to be a bit more stressful in the big city, and it’s important to take time to unwind. Whether you prefer to do that with alcohol or takeout, claim cash back.

Traditionally, Ibotta is known for its cash-back offers on groceries, but it’s also available for restaurants, bars and food-delivery services.

For example, we’ve seen deals for:

  • 10% cash back for new DoorDash users.
  • $ 5 back on two bottles of Stella Artois.
  • $ 2 back on a glass of Cupcake Wine.

Just download the app for free, then select “Find Offers.” When you claim your first cash-back offer, you’ll pocket a $ 10 bonus.

4. Ease the Pain of Those Higher Car Insurance Rates

The good news is big cities typically have public transit systems, so sometimes you can get away with selling your car and living that car-free life.

If you still need your car, though, you’ll probably face higher car insurance rates.

Here are three options to help alleviate the pain associated with those high costs:

  • First, find a pay-per-mile insurance policy. If you live in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Washington and drive less than 200 miles a week, consider getting insurance through MetroMile, a company that lets you pay for insurance by the mile. I you only drive 5,000 miles per year, you could save $ 500, according to MetroMile’s calculations. Find out if it could help you save by snagging a free quote.
  • If you still drive quite a bit, take a few minutes to compare rates from other providers. A service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work. Gabi says it finds an average savings of $ 720 per year for its customers.
  • Help offset big-city costs by renting your car out when you’re not using it. With the Getaround app, you can safely rent out your car to people in your community and neighborhood. The company insures your car for each trip, offers 24/7 roadside assistance and screens drivers for a safe driving record.

5. Count Your Many Steps and Turn ’Em Into Cash

Whether you walk to work or take public transit, you tend to spend more time on your feet in big cities.

Go ahead and reward your barking feet with the Achievement app.

Achievement connects to your phone’s health apps and runs in the background, so it works passively. Many users report being happily surprised when logging on and checking their progress.

Once you earn 10,000 points, you’ll score $ 10, which you can deposit directly into your bank account.

Pro tip: Achievement connects to more than 30 Android and iOS health-related apps, including MyFitnessPal and Garmin. The more apps you connect, the more earning opportunities.

6. Negotiate Your Monthly Bills (or Have This Bot Do It)

A great money-saving tactic when living in a big city is to negotiate your bills. Some may be more difficult to negotiate than others (you can even try negotiating your rent), but we suggest starting simply with a free negotiation tool.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees.

After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill negotiation and outage protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know an outage occurred.

On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.

7. Set up Your Big-City Budget

If money’s tighter than you’d like, it’s important to keep a budget.

Budgeting can be a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step is to find out how you’re doing now. Luckily, you can have a financial assistant right in your pocket to help you out.

The Empower app is a powerful budgeting tool that can help you figure out how you’re spending your money and develop a budgeting plan to keep you on track.

Link the app to your bank accounts, and it will track your spending. It will also categorize your spending so you can see exactly where you are overdoing it. That’s right: It will show you just how many times you went out for dinner because you didn’t want to do the dishes.

Set a monthly spending limit and the app will show you a graph that can tell you in one snapshot just how you’re doing for the month. Are you over the line or under it? It’s that simple to see how you’re doing so you can adjust your spending accordingly.

8. Declutter Your Space — and Earn Some Extra Cash

Affordable apartments tend to be small, so if you’re feeling a bit cluttered in your space, clean stuff out.

You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This easy-to-use app 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.

If you’ve got old technology lingering (think: phones, CDs, DVDs or video games), download the Decluttr app, and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use, you won’t pay listing or seller fees, payment is super fast and even shipping is free.

Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $ 5 for your trade-in order!

9. Entertain Yourself on Your Commute (and Win Cash)

While you’re swiping around on your phone and wasting time on your commute, go ahead and download the Lucky Day app

You could win up to $ 10,000 playing digital scratch-off tickets or even a whopping $ 100,000 in the daily lotto. You’ll also have a lot of chances to win gift cards to cool places like Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin and Target.

It’s all free to play, with no in-app purchases. The company has already awarded more than $ 3 million in prizes to winners since 2014.

Try to resist an embarrassing happy dance on the subway if you win money.

10. Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Fund Without Thinking

When you have to spend a lot of money just to get by day to day, the task of saving money will easily fall to the wayside.

Don’t let that happen. Digit allows you to save money without even noticing.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $ 4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.

If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

11. Dress up to Big-City Standards Without Credit Card Debt

There’s something about living in a big city where there’s more pressure to dress like, well, a real human. Fashion trends are actually timely, and you want to look professional when walking into your skyscraper of an office.

But just because you have pressure to look trendy doesn’t mean you have to rack up credit card debt.

Instead of shopping online at any ol’ retailer or signing up for a clothing subscription service, check out flash-sale site Rue La La first.

It offers top brands for up to 70% off. How? When retailers have excess product, Rue La La takes it and sells it at a hefty discount — but each sale is only available for a limited time.

Just sign up for free with your email address. (It’s an exclusive site — discounts are for members only.) Then search your favorite brands, or browse the boutiques to see what’s available.

12. Protect Your Abode and Belongings With Affordable Insurance

If you’re renting, you know some cities and states require renters insurance. It might seem like a pain at the time, but it can really save you in the long run.

For example, when my boyfriend lived in Denver, a hail storm hit and destroyed his complex’s roof, causing water to flood into his apartment. After his deductible, his renters insurance paid for him to move into a hotel near his workplace for about three months. If any of his items had been damaged, it would have covered those expenses, too.

If you don’t yet have renters insurance — or want to shop around for a better rate — start by getting a free quote. We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $ 5 a month.

Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.

That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be super stingy about granting customers the claims they deserve — ’cause the money isn’t going into its pockets.

13. Find a Side Gig (Opportunities Abound)

Big cities are basically playgrounds for side gigs. If you’re struggling to make rent or are racking up credit card debt, consider increasing your income, even if only temporarily.

Here are some of our favorite side-gig options for folks in the big city:

  • It’s no secret big cities attract more tourists, and that’s good news for you. If you have a spare room, try earning some extra money by listing it on Airbnb. If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
  • If you’re looking for a flexible, independent way to earn money — and you love hanging out with dogs — Rover might be your perfect gig. The online network connects dog walkers and sitters to local dog owners through its 4.9-star-rated app, so you don’t have to staple flyers on every utility pole across town. Rover says sitters can earn as much as $ 1,000 a month.
  • Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people? Try driving with Lyft. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

14. Call it Quits With Your Expensive Cell Phone Provider

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier Twigby.

That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $ 180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $ 60 a month.

Plus, new customers get 25% off the first six months of service.

Pro tip: Big cities mean big Wi-Fi opportunities. Whenever you can, tap into free Wi-Fi to save on data.

15. Snag Cash Back — Even From Your Favorite Local Deli

Cash-back apps are great, but many of them don’t cater to your favorite local haunts — like that unsuspecting deli on your block or your favorite coffee pitstop on your way to work.

But don’t worry. We found an app that’ll reward you for keeping any receipt.

As seen on Shark Tank, CoinOut is a shopping rewards app. You’ll earn cash when you snap a photo of a receipt — any receipt, from any retailer, featuring any item. (Similar apps are a lot pickier.)

We put it to the test: A couple of Penny Hoarder staffers dug out receipts — a $ 5 Wendy’s order and a salad from a local sandwich shop. One collected 5 cents, the other 4 cents. The better condition your receipt is in, the more you’ll earn back, so resist crumpling it into a ball.

You can also earn cash back when you shop online with one click through the CoinOut app. Featured retailers include Walmart, Overstock and Warby Parker.

You can cash — ahem, coin — out once a week for an Amazon gift card or funnel the money right into your bank account or PayPal.

16. Don’t Let Laundry and Dry Cleaning Shrink Your Budget

Laundry’s a big expensive chore in big cities. And dry cleaning? Don’t even get us started…

You’ve probably already invested in that magical Febreze Fabric Refresher spray (if you haven’t, just trust us), but now it’s time to tackle the costs of dry cleaning.

For some fabrics, it’s totally necessary. But for others (even if the tag says dry-cleaning only), it’s not.

Dive into your guide to saving money on dry cleaning. It just might change your life (or at least your budget).

17. Find Fun (and Free!) Weekend Activities

All right. We’ve addressed all your big recurring bills, but you’ve got to have some fun, too. After all, you live in a city where there’s tons to do and explore.

Look into your neighborhood’s farmers market, check out free museum passes from your local library, take a hike (genuinely), plan a picnic or window-shop.

Get some inspiration from our list of free things to do in Orlando.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

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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8 Ways You Can Get to Retirement 10 Years Earlier Than You’ve Planned

Retirement. It seems like it’s forever away, doesn’t it? With all the bills and debt you’ve already accumulated, the idea of cashing in your chips and calling it a career could be an impossible dream.

But here’s the trick: Think like an entrepreneur, and start managing your life like it’s a successful business.

Try out these 8 tips that will help you do just that. You could even find yourself rocking retirement as soon as 10 years earlier than you would otherwise. Sweet, right?

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt, So You Won’t Be Weighed Down

When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $ 12,000 in credit card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $ 12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $ 14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

2. Have a Sit-Down With Your Credit Score

Dana Sitar with partner Stefan Davis spend some time reviewing credit sesame both on their phone and on personal laptop. St Petersburg, Fla.

If you want to retire early, your credit score is going to be a valuable tool. With a good credit score comes lower interest rates on loans, which means less money out of your pocket.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.

Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?

Your credit report will give you this information.

You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.

3. Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst

A family tragedy can do more than just break hearts. Losing someone in your life can come with a large emotional, and even financial, burden.

You’re setting plans to retire early. Don’t let a tragedy get in the way. Make sure that you and your loved ones have life insurance policies in place. They protect those left behind so they can continue to live out their dreams.

A company like Policygenius offers an easy way for anyone to compare and buy life insurance. The search engine allows you to compare policies and get instant quotes. Once you find the right fit, you can apply right online.

If you’re young and mostly healthy, consider purchasing term life insurance online from Ethos. It partners with a major A-rated life insurance carrier to provide policies for a low price. For example, $ 30 a month could get your family $ 1 million of coverage.

It’s not fun to think about, but it’s a necessary step for your life plans.

4. Pad the Bottom Line With Passive Income

The housing market is booming in Florida, including in places like Palmetto, Fla

Passive income is awesome. It’s income that keeps rolling in without you having to do much on your end. Suh-weet.

One great way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $ 500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (i.e. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

5. Bring Your Operating Costs Down

If you’re treating your life like a business, you need to keep your operating costs down, right? That means taking a hard look at your monthly bills and cutting unnecessary costs. Luckly, that’s easier to do now than ever.

Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, TrueBill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.

And what about insurance on your wheels? For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?

Yes. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around car insurance,. 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.

When you cut out excess spending on monthly bills, you can put more in your pocket and more toward retirement. It just got a little closer.

6. Invest Like a CEO, but With as Little as $ 5

Aileen with money.

You know that you should be investing, but how? “It takes money to make money” is what they always say. Well, if you want to start investing, it doesn’t take as much money as you’d think.

If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $ 10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $ 420 a year!

At that rate, you could set aside $ 1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

The app is $ 1 a month for balances under $ 1 million, and you’ll get a $ 5 bonus when you sign up.

You’ll be able to watch your investments grow as you get closer and closer to retirement. It’s okay. Show off your portfolio to the gang at the water cooler.

7. Give Your 401(k) a Pep Talk

For many people, a 401(k) account is their primary tool for retirement savings. That’s great. But if you want to retire early, you need to make sure it’s doing all it can for you.

If you’re saving for your retirement with a 401(k), awesome.

But when’s the last time you truly checked in on your account, adjusted your allocations, addressed any fees and all that other fun stuff?

Try using a robo-adviser to make sure your 401(k) is on track with your retirement goals. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

Your initial account checkup is free, and you can do it online in less than five minutes. This will help you get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many investment fees or if you have the appropriate amount of money invested in stocks versus bonds.

If you’re satisfied with the outcome of your initial checkup, great! If not, you can enroll in Blooom for $ 10 a month (Penny Hoarders get one month free). It’ll automatically adjust your 401(k) to best fit your needs all the way up to retirement.

8. Give Yourself Yearly Reviews

Now that you’ve made some smart moves to help put yourself in position to retire 10 years earlier than you otherwise could have, don’t just sit back and coast.

Like any good business, you need to review things at least once a year. Where can you cut back? Can you put a little more into your investments?

You’re the CEO of your life. Start acting like it, and watch the bottom line get bigger and better with time.

So… what will you do with an extra 10 years of free time?

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

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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9 Ways to Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties From Your Retirement Accounts

Have you ever been in dire need of some cash but your bills are due and your bank account is low?

Then you look at your 401(k) sitting over there and think, “I could just take out a loan, problem solved.”

Wait. Before you get crazy with a loan that may not be in your best interest, you should know there are ways to get money out of retirement accounts without a loan or being subject to the 10% withdrawal penalty.

How to Get Money Out of Your Retirement Accounts Before 59 ½  

According to a TPH analysis of microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s latest financial wellness survey, one in 10 Americans under the age of 60 borrowed money or withdrew early from one of their retirement accounts in the last year.

Once you put money into your 401(k) or IRA, if you try to access it before the age of 59 1/2 it’s typically through a 401(k) loan or paying a 10% penalty on the withdrawal in addition to any applicable taxes.  

While we advise having an emergency fund over resorting to retirement savings, sometimes life comes at you fast and you need that money. And if you’re using it for the right reasons, we think you shouldn’t be penalized for using money that’s yours to begin with.

So here are some of the ways you can get money out of those accounts without fees, penalties, or restrictive loan terms.

Contribution Withdrawals From a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is your most flexible account in retirement because you don’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals, no matter how large your growth, and it’s the only account without required minimum distributions.  

Your Roth IRA also offers you the most flexible options when you need to pull money from retirement. You can withdraw contributions you’ve made at any time tax-free and without penalty.

This applies only to the contributions, not the earnings of your Roth IRA.

Disability Exemption

The legs of a man using a blind walking can make their way down an asphlt path.

If you become physically or mentally disabled and are unable to work, you can take distributions from any retirement account penalty-free.

Once a physician certifies that the physical or mental impairment is continuous and of long or indefinite duration, all retirement accounts become available as they would at 59 1/2 — which means even though there’s no penalty, you’re still subject to federal and state taxes.

Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to the lifetime maximum of $ 10,000 — $ 20,000 for couples — from an IRA (Roth or traditional) to buy or build a home. To qualify, you cannot have owned a home in the two years preceding the home purchase.

But because you can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA penalty-free, those limits apply only to earnings.  

The caveat is that if the account is less than five years old and you decide to withdraw earnings, you will have to pay income taxes on those.

If you prefer to withdraw from a traditional IRA, your maximum is a straight $ 10,000. You will have to pay applicable taxes on it. If you have both and think you’ll need to dip into earnings for the withdrawal, the traditional IRA is the account to go with because it’s easier to grow the balance through 401(k) rollovers.

Health Insurance Costs

If you lose your job and collect unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can use your IRA to pay for health insurance for you, your spouse and your dependents.

Since you can use Roth IRA contributions for any reason, this is more notable for a traditional IRA.

Big Medical Expenses

Medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance can qualify for a penalty waiver. Those expenses would need to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income if you’re withdrawing from an IRA and 7.5% to withdraw from a 401(k). The distribution can be used for you, your spouse or your dependents.

The distribution has to be made in the same year that the medical expense is incurred, which could be difficult if you have an accident taking down the Christmas lights on Dec. 31 — another reason to leave them up until January.

If that all sounds intimidating and vague, that’s because it is. You’ll definitely need to consult a certified public accountant and your plan provider if you decide to go this route.

A better option is contributing to a health savings account (HSA) if you have one available to you. For medical expenses, an HSA is more flexible, easier to access and more tax advantaged than any other retirement account.

Military Service

Qualified reservists can take distributions from an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) during an active duty of more than 179 days.

This includes all Reserve and National Guard members. While other distributions put you at a loss, qualified reservist distributions (QRDs) are allowed to be paid back in full for up to two years after your active duty ends, even if those extra contributions exceed the annual limit.

College Costs

A woman in a graduation robe counts money.

If you, your spouse, child or grandchild are pursuing higher education, it can be paid for from your IRA without penalty. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and — if enrolled at least half time — room and board.

While this is only a benefit of an IRA, you can also rollover a 401(k) into a traditional IRA to pay for college. But understand that withdrawals for college costs can reduce your or your student’s eligibility for financial aid.

And if you’re thinking about using your retirement account to save for college, stop right there! 529 plans were designed for just that.

Change of Employment

If you leave your job in the year you turn 55 — or any time after — you can withdraw from your 401(k). If you anticipate retiring around this age and have any old 401(k)s lying around, this would be a good reason to roll it over to your current 401(k) instead of a traditional IRA.

Bonus: If you’re a government employee with a 457(b), you can access those retirement savings penalty-free whenever you leave your job, no matter your age.

Annual Distributions

If you’re trying to retire earlier than 55, you can agree to withdraw a specific amount every year called substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs.) You’ll basically need to agree to take consistent withdrawals, based on IRS calculations, each year for the rest of your life.

The calculations are a bit confusing, so this is another one you’ll need to consult a financial adviser for. They can also tell you if SEPPs are your best option for early retirement or if there’s something more flexible that still gets you around the 10% penalty.

In conclusion, every time you take money out of a retirement account, you lose out on the compounding interest that money could have earned you. None of these should be go-to methods for getting extra money but they are available if you need them

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She maxes out her Roth IRA and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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.

The Penny Hoarder

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9 Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Alone

As a busy, single, professional, the “singles’ table” may come with all kinds of connotations. You’re no longer defined by your professional title, but your relationship status. With all of your accomplishments and talents, everyone is the same at the singles’ table.

This year, it may be time for something new. But, no need to run away to an exotic island vacation to escape. Maybe you just want to see how it is to spend Thanksgiving alone–something you have never done before.

If you decide to spend the day alone at home for other reasons, please do not stress. Do not feel the need to defend why you want to spend Thanksgiving alone. Pick at least one thing from the list below to make your Thanksgiving Day the way you want to make it, on your own terms, while remaining ever grateful and thankful for your blessings.

  1. Movies, movies, movies–something funny and lighthearted usually does the trick.  Want to binge on something smart? Check out BE’s TechConnext On-Demand videos with leaders from Slack, Facebook, Ryan Leslie, and more.
  2. Indulge in one of your favorite high calorie treats–you have permission today.
  3. Start a project, list your goals in a journal, write that book, sort through mail. It will make you feel productive.
  4. Stay off of the Internet. Do not go online to Facebook or any other social networking site. Remember, this is about your solitude today, it’s not about making yourself feel bad.
  5. Get a pile of books together that you have been meaning to read or finish.This is supposed to be relaxing, so please, put away the GMAT books.
  6. If you have neighbors, offer to babysit their dogs or walk them on Thanksgiving. However, you must like dogs; you don’t want to get rid of one stress for another.
  7. Indulge yourself  with your favorite drink or an afternoon nap.
  8. Do a “thankful” ritual for what makes you feel grateful. You may light a candle, burn incense, or whatever you like.
  9. Go to Boston Market or order from your favorite restaurant. If that’s too much trouble, buy a box of macaroni and cheese. A bowl of macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.

Spending Thanksgiving alone can hurt if it is out of your control, and you really want to be with someone. So, celebrate on your own terms. To give love to others during the holidays, you need to have some in your own life.

Parts of this article appeared on www.balleralert.com and www.alphanista.com by the author. This article originally published November 23, 2016. 

 

 

 

The post 9 Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Alone appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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