The post Smart Moves to Make with Your Tax Refund appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
It is tax season!
You know the goal is not to get much of a refund.
However, a refund is always better than paying in!
But when that money shows in your account donât go and blow it on what you want!Â Make some smart moves with your refund.
Pay off debt
If you have debt then that means you should not have fun with any extra money. Nope. Every penny that you earn (beyond your regular income) should be used to pay off your debt.
While some experts will claim to pay the bill with the highest interest rate, I recommend paying the lowest balances first.Â The reason is you see results.
If you are getting $2,000 back and owe $500, $1500 and $2500, pay off two of your bills. Now,Â youâve got one payment and can roll all three monthly payments into one and pay that largest bill off more quickly.
You see progress in moving from three debts to one and that alone can be enough to keep you motivated.
Build your emergency fund
Experts used to say that your emergency fund should be three months of income for a family.Â After watching many struggle through the last recession, I recommend it be six-nine months instead!
I get that is a LOT of money to save up, but your tax refund can be the perfect way to build up your savings.Â But donât put it in your regular savings account. You donât want to be tempted to spend it.
Set up a new account at your bank. Deposit your refund into the account that is for emergencies only. Donât touch it.
Now youâve got money earmarked for your emergencies and should never touch it unless absolutely necessary.
Invest in your future
It is fun to spend money now but if your retirement accounts have taken a beating (or if they are non-existent) it is time to make that investment.
Visit with a financial expert and set up an IRA or other type of retirement savings account and invest that money.Â That $1,000 you fund today will be worth much more when it is time to cash it in.
Look around your house for appliances or vehicles that may need to soon be replaced. When you catch a sale, make the investment now. Donât wait for it to break down completely.
If you do wait, you may be forced to pay full price and your money wonât go as far. Being proactive and replacing what needs to be when the price is right is a smart money move.
Make home improvements
Look around the house to see what needs to be repaired or updated. Is the paint starting to peel on the trim? Is the carpet wearing out?
Your house is an investment youâve made so you need to take care of it. Peeling paint can lead to dry rot. Old carpet could lead to more stains, odors or even damage to the subfloor (which could cost you even more).
Take care of your house so when the time comes to sell, it is in great shape so you can get top dollar.
Do something for yourself
There is nothing wrong with making an investment in your well-being. In fact, it could be a very smart move.
When you feel better about yourself and give yourself the opportunity to get or do things you donât normally, it changes your perspective.Â You get the chance to focus on you and that is a GOOD thing.
Splurge on that handbag. Go out to dinner. Set up that spa day. Just donât go too overboard.
Spend it as a family
You can also get the family to weigh in what you can do with your refund. You may have no debt; an emergency fund and retirement looks great. That means you can do something fun!
Talk with the kids about what to do with the refund.Â It may be a vacation or adventure.Â It may mean buying a basketball hoop or bikes for everyone.
Work together to determine the best way to use the money.
A tax refund is your money. Use it wisely.
The post Smart Moves to Make with Your Tax Refund appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Would you like to learn how to save for retirement?
Learning how to save for retirement is how you start preparing for your future. It’s necessary if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life or if you want to do amazing things after you quit working, like traveling or trying new hobbies.
I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon, but it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and planning for. There are lots of reasons for why you should too, such as:
You can retire sooner rather than later.
You won’t have to keep working forever.
You can lead a good life well after you finish working.
Compound interest means the earlier you save the more you earn.
You won’t have to rely on your children or others in order to survive.
But, many people are confused or overwhelmed when it comes to retirement savings and investing.
There are different kinds of retirement accounts, personal finance terms you might be unfamiliar with, and you might feel like you don’t have enough money to start saving.
But, you have to remember that everyone is new to this at some point. Anyone who has already started saving for retirement started where you are today – having a lot of questions about how to save for retirement.
You might even have a lot of questions that you are too embarrassed to ask anyone. However, you shouldn’t be embarrassed or feel bad about not knowing how to start saving for retirement.
Personal finance bloggers and retirement experts all started at the same point as you. No one was born knowing how!
Today, I’m going to try to take the stress out of learning how to save for retirement. I am going to explain some common retirement and investing terms – like what compound interest is, the difference in IRAs, and what a 401(k) is.
I’m also going to answer some of the most common questions about retirement savings. These include topics like how much you should save, and if you should save for retirement or help your kids pay for college.
If you are worried that you don’t have enough to start saving for retirement, I have some great tips to get started.
Learning the answers to these questions now is so important because it can help you live a better life in the future. By preparing now, you can prevent future financial stress, you can reach your goals, and pursue your passions.
And remember, it is never too late to learn how to save for retirement, and it’s very important to do if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life.
Related content on how to save for retirement:
Why Investing for Retirement is So Important for Women (and How To Do It)
How This Couple Retired In Their 30s and Now Travel Around The World
How To Become Rich – It’s More Than Millions In The Bank
How This Couple Retired at 38 and 41
How My 401k Loan Cost Me $1 Million Dollars
Here’s how to save for retirement.
What is a 401(k)?
A 401(k) is a type of retirement account that you get through an employer.
It allows you to invest a portion of your paycheck before taxes are taken out, and the amount in your 401(k) can grow tax free until you withdraw. Once you reach retirement and take money out of your 401(k), the amount you withdraw from this account is taxed.
Your 401(k) is an account that holds investments, similar to how your bank account holds your money. You may choose to place investments such as stocks, mutual funds, and more in your 401(k).
What’s a company match? Or employer match?
You’ve probably heard the term “employer match” or “company match.” But, what do they mean?
A company or employer match is when your employer contributes to your 401(k).
For example, an employer may match 100% of your contribution, up to 5% of your salary. So, if you contribute 5% of your salary to your 401(k), then your employer will also match and put 5% in as well.
This is basically free money that will help you grow your retirement savings, and you should take advantage of it if you can!
What is an IRA?
An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is a type of retirement account that anyone can open, without an employer.
If you do not work for someone else, or if the business you work for does not have a 401(k), then an IRA may be a good option for you.
This is a confusing term and topic for people who want to learn how to save for retirement because there are different types of IRAs, including:
Traditional IRA – Contributions to this kind of IRA are tax deductible the year they are made.
SEP IRA – This is a traditional IRA that offers tax breaks for those who are self-employed.
Roth IRA – This account uses after-tax money, and your withdrawals in retirement are not taxed.
One way people decide between a Roth and traditional IRA is by what their tax rate (this is based on your income) will be like during retirement. If you will be at a higher tax rate, you may want to choose a Roth IRA. If you will be at a lower rate, a traditional IRA might be better.
What is compound interest?
This is a very important question to cover, because it’s something that may motivate you to start saving as much money as you can right now!
Learning how to save for retirement as soon as you can is a great thing, with one of the reasons being because of compound interest.
So, what is compound interest?
Compound interest is when your interest is earning interest. This can turn the amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount years later.
Compound interest is a crazy thing because $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress or in a basic, low interest checking account. However, if you invest through your retirement account, then you may be able to turn your $100 into something more.
When you invest, your money is working for you and growing your savings, and that’s because of compound interest.
For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account with an annual 8% return, 40 years later you will have $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would grow into $3,015,055.
How much money do I need to retire? What percentage of your income should you save for retirement?
Figuring out how much to save for retirement isn’t an easy question to answer, as this will vary from person to person. It depends on your goals, when you want to retire, and what retirement means to you.
However, many people aren’t saving enough for retirement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate has averaged around 5% in the past year, and averaged 8.33% from 1959 until 2016.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who think that saving between 1% and 5% of their income is enough to be on track for retirement.
Sadly, saving 5% means it may take you a very long time to retire.
For the average person, I recommend saving at least 20% of your income.
However, there is no perfect percentage.
If you have a high income, then you should probably save more of your income so that you aren’t being wasteful with your money.
On the other hand, if 20% just seems like a crazy high percentage for you to save, then just start somewhere, anywhere! Saving something is better than saving nothing.
And, everyone has different financial goals. If you want to retire early, then you’ll most likely have to save more than 20% of your income.
How much money should you have saved by 30?
Many young people who are learning how to save for retirement ask me this question.
Some advisors recommend that you have an amount equal to your annual salary saved by 30, and others say that you should have half of your annual salary saved by 30.
I think those amounts are great to save by 30, but the problem with those guidelines is that if you haven’t started saving or are much older, you can easily feel like you will never be able to reach retirement.
Those recommendations may be very difficult for many people to follow. You have to be realistic with yourself, and start with small goals that you can build over time. Any amount helps, and it’s never too late to start saving!
What if I can’t save very much money for retirement?
You may be thinking “How much money should I save, if I don’t have much money?!”
Thinking about the above recommendations can be frustrating if you are already having a hard time paying your bills and/or living paycheck to paycheck.
However, I recommend saving as much money as you realistically can. This may be nowhere near 20% at first, heck, this might not even be 5%, but any little bit will help. If you are not able to save that much, just save something! Start with $25 a month if you have to – seriously, every little bit does help.
Even if it’s just $1 a day, set that amount aside and start saving it.
You may want to look into Acorns, which is a cell phone app that rounds up your credit card and debit card purchases, and then invests your spare change. Acorns automatically invests for you, and you can get started in under 5 minutes. This app is amazing!
So, no matter how you are doing right now, just start with something, no matter how small. Then, work your way up until you are saving a percentage of your income that you are happy with.
Start small and work your way towards your savings goal. And, if you are currently paying off debt, keep in mind that it counts too! Once your debt is paid off, you can use that amount towards your retirement savings.
Just keep moving in a positive direction and keep getting closer and closer to reaching your financial goals.
I understand that some people have financial situations in which they may not be able to save as much money as they would like. Living paycheck to paycheck, having lots of medical debt, or having a major unexpected expense can wreck a person’s financial situation and their goals, and I understand that.
However, you will need to find a way out of that if you want to learn how to save for retirement. To find a way out, you may want to find ways to cut your spending, make more money (learn ways to make extra money), and more. You will have to challenge yourself, and it may not be easy. However, it will all be worth it once you reach your financial goals!
By spending less money, you’ll decrease the amount of money you need for the future, including money for emergency funds, retirement, and more.
Just think about it: If you are currently living a frugal lifestyle, then you will be used to living on less in the future. This means that your saved retirement amount doesn’t need to be as large, which means it may be easier to reach that savings goal.
Where do I invest for retirement?
Now we are getting into questions about how to save for retirement that focus on some specific investing questions. And there are two main ways to start investing your money.
Either invest your money yourself, such as through an online brokerage, or find an expert to manage your investment portfolio.
Part of learning how to start investing includes determining the company, platform, or person you will use to invest your first dollar.
There are many online brokers for you to choose from. My favorite ways to save for retirement include:
Ally Invest – This is a full service discount broker that doesn’t have a minimum investment amount, so you can start investing with them right away.
Betterment – Betterment offers an affordable way to invest your money. They have over 400,000 customers and over $14 billion has been invested through their platform. With Betterment, you can invest with as little money as you want each month, which is great for a new investor!
Vanguard – I absolutely love Vanguard and use them personally, and I recommend that you check them out.
Also, if your employer has a retirement plan, then you will definitely want to look into that as well. If your company offers a retirement plan match, then this is where you will want to start as their retirement match is pretty much free money, as discussed earlier!
What do I invest in?
After you open your brokerage account, you will want to decide how exactly you will invest your money.
I think this might be one of the biggest hurdles for those wondering how to start investing. There are a lot of what ifs in the investment world, and a good brokerage or expert will help you navigate as you decide where to put your money as you learn how to save for retirement.
Basically, where you invest your money depends a lot on the level of risk you are willing to take and the time you have to watch your funds mature. A simple way of explaining this is that more time equals more risk and less time equals less risk.
For example: if you are in your 20’s, you may have many, many years worth of investing ahead of you. You will likely be able to make some riskier investments knowing that the market will bounce up and down over time. If you are closer to retirement, you may want your funds in something that you are confident will make small but steady gains.
Choosing the stocks you invest in is not the easiest thing because no one knows what will happen in the future. This is why it’s important to have a diverse portfolio.
When you are first learning how to save for retirement, you may want to consult an expert to help you determine your goals, your risk level, and how to diversify your investments in a way that will benefit you.
Even if you do have a professional helping you, it’s always important to do your own research on the types of investments available and which ones interest you.
Please remember that I am not an investment professional and that you should do your research when choosing who/what to invest in.
How often should I check on my investments in my retirement portfolio?
After you’ve started investing, you will want to regularly track your investments. This is important because you may eventually have to change where your money is invested, put more money towards your investments, and so on.
Now, the key here is to not go crazy. Checking on your portfolio can be an exciting thing when you first start investing. But, you do not want to become a person who checks their investments every hour of the day. That won’t help you at all. Your investments will make small changes throughout the day, and these likely won’t matter to you, especially if you are investing for your long-term future.
However, you do want to occasionally check your progress as things may change in the market, your investment interests may change, and you may even change your retirement and/or investing goals.
A free tool that I recommend using to monitor your investments is Personal Capital.
You can see your investment portfolio all in one place so that you can easily track your performance, see your investment allocations, and easily analyze everything related to your investments. The Personal Capital Retirement Planner will also tell you if you have saved enough for retirement, which is great when you’re learning how to save for retirement.
Should I risk my retirement and help my children pay for college?
If you are not currently saving enough money for retirement, and you are in jeopardy of not retiring, then I do not recommend risking your retirement to help your children pay for college.
I have personally heard too many real life stories of parents who have $200,000 in student loan debt for their children. These parents have found that these debts are causing them to struggle financially and that they’re unable to reach their retirement goals.
These parents just honestly want to help their children get through college, but they end up drowning in debt. What they don’t realize, though, is that there are other ways to help your kids graduate from college.
I recommend learning more at Parents Paying For College – Is This A Good Idea?
What are the best retirement and investing books?
There are many great investing and retirement books if you want even more about how to save for retirement. These books can clear up any other questions you have, as well as dive deeper into the many different ways to retire.
Here are some of the investing and retirement books that I recommend:
Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way
Broke Millennial Takes On Investing
Quit Like A Millionaire
The Simple Path To Wealth
The Millionaire Next Door
How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?
There are many more out there, but these are great books to start with. I have read each of them, and they are all very helpful.
How do I actually start saving for retirement?
There are many different ways to save money for retirement.
Actually getting started can be difficult, so in this section I wanted to list out the steps so you can learn exactly how to save for retirement.
Start setting aside money for retirement. If you want to learn how to save for retirement, you need to start setting aside money specifically for it. The amount of money you save is entirely up to you, but in general, the more the better. You can take money out of each paycheck, set up direct deposit, etc.
Research and learn more. I recommend learning more about investing and retirement if you are unsure about anything, such as by reading retirement books, websites, and so on. Sure, it can be easy just to hire someone to do it all for you – but how do you know that they are doing the correct thing to begin with? So, I recommend at the very least having a basic knowledge of everything yourself first.
Choose a brokerage or someone to manage your investments. Like I said earlier, there are two main ways to invest your money – yourself through a brokerage or you can find someone to manage your investment portfolio for you. You will need to choose one of these options to actually start investing your money. Personally, I like to do everything myself through Vanguard.
Decide how you will invest. How you invest depends on your risk tolerance, the time period for which you are investing (when will you retire?), and more. Generally, the sooner you need your funds the less risk you will take on, whereas the longer your time period is, then the more risk you may be willing to take.
Track your investment portfolio. This is important because you may eventually have to change what you are invested in, put more money towards your investments, and so on.
Continue the steps above over and over again. To invest for years and years to come, you will want to continue the steps above over and over again. Now that you know how to save for retirement and the steps it takes to invest your money, it only gets easier.
As you can see from the list above, saving for retirement is attainable, and you can do it!
What else do you want to learn about how to save for retirement? When do you think you’ll retire?
The post How To Save For Retirement – Answers To 13 Of The Most Common Questions appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
As busy moms, we need to cut the time, trim the cost, and lessen the mental load, and here are the mom life must haves to help you do it!
Ugh! You just crossed off two items on your to-do list (yaaa!), and then you immediately added four more on to it! #momlife Seriously, you feel like you’re bailing out a sinking battleship with a sippy cup, and there’s no end in sight. Or so it seems…
Every good General knows you need the right tools & resources to win the war, so it’s time to fill your arsenal with the best mom life must haves! These are the things that will help you triumph over errands, chores, and mealtime! All while helping you feel calmer and happier, settling your racing mind, giving you the space to do what’s most important!
Yes, snuggling your kiddos, kissing on your honey, or maybe hiding in the bathtub for 2.5 hours reading a good book and eating chocolate. Hey, self-care is in, right? So sit tight, and get ready to rock your to-do list!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
How to be a better mom (by having the right support)
Whoa, that’s a loaded statement! I mean, “be a better mom” implies that you’re doing a bad job now, right? NO! We are all doing the best job we can in the life we have right now. No one wakes up and says, “I want to be mediocre today”! No, we want to do a great job every day. Yet, sometimes, at least for me, I fall short.
Some days I’m exhausted, have too much on my schedule, or run out of brown sugar, so no cookie baking today (true story, huge tears ensued from my 5-year-old). When these days happen more than I would like, I know that I need to sit down and recalibrate. Take stock of the common themes, look for overlapping reasons why the $hit keeps hitting the fan, and then figure out what I need to do to get back on track.
Usually, either I need a mini-vacation (sigh), or I need to check out my tools and see where I need more support and even some tools that I may have forgotten about. I call these my mom life must haves! I’ve rounded up my best tips, tools, and resources on the items that help me be a better mom!
When I say “better mom,” I mean…
less frazzled, more calm
less scatterbrained, more organized
less tired, more energized
less scroungy, more stylish
less last minute, more prepared
less mediocre, more badass!
Being a better mom can mean anything that you want it to mean! Don’t let my own definition put restrictions on your best version of you! You can use my ideas to be a jumping-off point, and then tailor them to your own personality and goals!
Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day for huge savings!
I know that spending money on ourselves is hard. I will convince myself that I don’t really need something, or that the money would be better spent on a new thingamajig for my little one. I don’t know why I feel guilty spending money on myself, I just do sometimes.
One thing that always helps me feel better about spending money on myself is if I get it at a good deal! I love saving money! (yes, I’d save a whole lot more if I didn’t buy “it” at all but sometimes we need something! Especially when that something makes our life better or easier! So that’s why I am super excited about Amazon Prime Day!
What is Amazon Prime Day?
It’s a two day event where Amazon offers up steep discounts on millions of products across all categories! People use this time to stock up for holiday gifting, or to splurge on normally expensive items. If you’re a Prime Member you get early access to some of their deals so if you have been thinking about getting a membership, then now is the time! Don’t forget to snag your free 30 day trial!
When is Prime Day this year?
It’s October 13th & 14th this year, but if you’re a Prime Member you’ll get early access!
I am so happy to say that Amazon will be supporting small businesses this year too (sounds counterintuitive but hear me out). Small Businesses can be a partner shop on their platform, and if you purchase starting now through October 12th, if you purchase $10 worth of items from a participating small business you will get $10 credit to use on Prime Day! Check out all the small business partners here!
Amazon Prime Day Deals
Now the following items aren’t a part of my own person list of mom life must haves, yet so many people swear by these. Starting today, Prime members can shop early offers and deals everyday leading up to Prime Day on October 13 & 14.
Get two Echo Dot devices for $39.98
Fire TV Recast for $129.99 to store up to 75 hours of HD programming.
Save up to $100 on Toshiba 43-inch Smart HD Fire TV Edition TV for $179.99.
Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD Fire TV Edition TV for $199.99;
Save $40 on Echo Show 5
Amazon Music: For just $0.99, Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can get four months of the premium streaming tier with unlimited access to more than 60 million songs ad-free, and now a wide selection of popular podcasts.
Audible: Prime members can save $50 on a year of Audible Premium Plus. Audible members will also get access to the Plus catalog, featuring more than 10K Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts, all at no additional cost.
Kindle Unlimited: New customers to Kindle Unlimited save 50% off a 6-month subscription.
The main question with Prime Day Deals, is did you want this item before you heard about it on Prime Day? Or did you simply see it and think “ohhhh, shiny!” Remember, it’s only a deal, if you were going to buy it anyway!
Mom life must haves for the home
1. Family charging station
Hercules Tuff Charging Station
charges up to 80% faster!
charge six devices at once
includes 4 Lightning Cables, 1 Type-C Cable, and 1 Micro-USB cable perfectly sized to keep your space organized
This is honestly one of my favorite things, and I’m not usually a gadget person. If my phone isn’t in my hand, I always know where it is, the family charging station is the natural place to put it down, so it’s an easy habit to start. There’s no worrying about your hubby or kiddo walking off with your charging cables! Plus, it makes mealtimes more family-friendly.
We can sit down to a meal without having our phones on the table or in our pockets, where it’s so easy to start scrolling or get sidetracked by notifications!
Time Saved by less distractions and mindless scrolling!
2.A great handheld vacuum
Black & Decker Max Pivot Handheld Vacuum
Lithium battery for strong suction that never fades
4 stars with over 12,000 ratings!
I’m not a Roomba vacuum kind of person, even though the concept sounds great. I don’t trust them I don’t think they’ll do a great job, and I’ve heard the horror stories of them eating cords & carpets. So that means a handheld vacuum, which sounds lame as they don’t usually have a lot of power. Until I found this one, the Black & Decker Pivot! He’s lightweight and super fast to pull out of the pantry for a quick clean up!
Honestly, this vacuum is amazing! I got mine for Christmas 2015. Yes, 5 years ago, and I can still say it’s amazing! It has so much power to it; it vacuums up everything! I’ve only had the battery run out one time; it was when we were moving, and I cleaned the whole house for the entire day. So I don’t blame it
I hate to admit this, but I didn’t know that there was a removable filter that you had to take and shake out for the first two years. Yes, I emptied the chamber, but I didn’t know about the filter. I didn’t notice it, and it still worked great! Shhh… don’t tell anyone how dumb I was!
Besides, you cant lift a Roomba up and vacuum huge spiders off the ceiling like you can with this handheld vacuum! (Just this past week, it was two mornings in a row that I had to climb on the bathroom counter and get ’em!)
Both time & money saved, as it’s very convient for a quick clean and money saved as this is a quality vacuum, and I expect it to last a long time!
3. An Amazon prime membership
This sounds so silly, as everyone must have it by now, right? Nope, they don’t, but it’s such a lifesaver! Every one should find a way to fit this into their budget. It’s $119 a year for an annual subscription or $12.99 a month. But the main question busy mom’s ask is, “Is it worth it?”
“The actual value of Amazon Prime is estimated to be around $784 annually after all of its individual perks and benefits are considered, according to a recent analysis by JPMorgan”, says Business Insider. So the resounding answer is yes! Click here for your 30 day free trial to Prime.
You get free shipping, two-day shipping, movies, free ebooks, music, file storage, and more! Prime members also get extra discounts to Whole Foods and member-only deals.
Plus, there’s Prime Reload, which gives you 2% by linking up your debit card and reloading your “available shopping balance” from there! Saving money without the lure of a credit card is a great option!
Their Subscribe & Save program also offers great perks! You pick out which items you order all the time, like bar soap or diaper pail liners, and you signup to get them regularly delivered to your door; with this you can save up to 15% on these purchases! Amazon Prime Family also offers 20% off diapers and special baby registry benefits!
Don’t forget to look for available Prime Membership discounts:
Prime Discounted Monthly offering is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card
Prime Student has a 6-month trial and then $6.49 a month
Amazon also has their Signature Visa, where you get 3% back at Whole Foods, 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores. 1% back on utilities and all other purchases (see terms & conditions for current details).
Don’t forget you can get a 30-day free trial on all Amazon Prime!
Money saved! You will find great deals on Amazon, but you might need to spend some time digging through reviews and products.
4. Easy & fast dinners
Meal kits certainly aren’t new anymore, so the novelty has worn off. They’re not just for “fun” anymore, but they are a lifesaver! And there are so many different companies you can choose from, meal kits for any diet and lifestyle!
We like EveryPlate, as it’s one of the cheapest out there at $4.99 a serving! Meal kits save me so much time and brain angst (is that even a thing?). But you get me, I mean I would waste so much time trying to figure out what to make for dinners for the week. Then I have to go buy it all, and the prep it. Ugh! My brain hurts just thinking about it!
With EveryPlate, it takes me 12 minutes every month to go into their dashboard and pick my meals. That’s it. The recipes are easy to make, tasty, and I feel good about not serving up a frozen pizza or take out every night.
We have also started trying Dinnerly too. I’m not into blindly following brands, I like to be sure that I am getting the best deal for the best value out there! So of course I am going to try the competition! Dinnerly and Everyplate are similar in cost, program, and quality.
YET, Dinnerly just started offering extra protein portions (in case you want to make a little more). AND, they just started offering desserts too! This next week I signed up to get a caramel apple spice cake and the following week pumpkin pie cheesecake bars! (fall flavored treats are my weakness). Click the here to start making meal time easy (finally!) and treating your family!
Don’t get me wrong, meal kits have their drawbacks, sometimes the cucumber arrives soft, or it’s not enough for my hubs, but overall it’s a great option, and it totally works for us!
We also use our trusty old slow cooker! It’s still great for making a good amount of food that we can use as quick leftover meals throughout the week. Things like chicken fajitas, or three-bean chili, or mac & cheese are great options.
This slow cooker is great as it’s programable for temp & time. Then when it’s done cooking, it switches to warm mode, so you don’t overcook your dinner! It also comes with a temperature probe, so if you’re cooking meats you can be doubly sure it’s fully cooked!
On my wish list is this Instant Pot; I mean, it has 4 1/2 stars with over 100,000 reviews! That’s crazy, right! Besides, any gadget that says it’s perfect for beginners is for me!
Time & money saved! But more so, my sanity as I hated trying to decide what to make for dinner!
Mom life must haves for our kids
So we wouldn’t be busy moms if it wasn’t for our kiddos, right? These things are ones that I love, and have made this crazy journey a lot easier!
5.Honest Company products
So this sounds corny, but I honestly love Honest Products! Actress Jessica Alba started the brand. Honest’s bio page says, “When she couldn’t find one brand to trust for all her everyday needs, she had to create it. And she knew that there had to be others out there looking for safe products, simple solutions, and clear information about their choices, just like her.”
Did I ever tell you that I am a natural skeptic? When someone says their product is safe and uses only the best ingredients, I look to the experts to tell the truth. I use the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep app on my phone all the time for this! I scan the barcode of an item, and it tells me if it’s considered safe by their 3rd party unbiased testing. EWG isa “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their app doesn’t have every product in its database, but they have a lot (mostly in the beauty and cleaning area).
When I am standing in Target and looking for something for my kiddo, I scan all the brands to find the one that is the least toxic, and then I go to Amazon to check out the reviews on that item. If people love it, then I buy it!
I just used it this past month, we stayed at my mom’s house for a few days, and my daughter used their bubble bath; she loved all the bubbles. But a few days later, she broke out in a rash, sure enough, I found it was rated an 8 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst). Whoops!
So I went to target and scanned a few and settled on The Honest Company’s lavender bubble bath, and it was rated a 1! I bought it, and it worked great (as much as a bubble bath works), the bubbles lasted forever, smelled great, and she loved every second of it! (oh and no rash!)
The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Shampoo & Body Wash
The Honest Company Truly Calming Conditioner
The Honest Company Truly Calming Bubble Bath
I feel great about these products as I know they’re safe (peace of mind is priceless), work great, and don’t cost a fortune!
Mental space & time saved! As I don’t wonder anymore (or feel guilty) about knowing that the products I use on her are safe!
6.The best safety in the industry
Along the same vein of keeping our kiddos safe, I researched a lot of items when I was pregnant, and one of the most researched items is a car seat! I finally chose the Britax B-Safe 35 (funny story here), and then when she got older, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible car seat.
I honestly spent way too much time agonizing over the car seat choices. I wanted the best for her without spending a fortune. Yes, Britax is a teeny tiny bit expensive, but a car seat is so important, as a bad car seat can have horrible repercussions!
Anyway, funny story, so I was agonizing over which to choose for weeks. One day, as I watched TV, a clip about Prince William & Kate came on, as they just had their first baby. The TV shot was of them standing at the top of some stairs, walking down and outside to their car. Prince William was holding the car seat, and I recognized the colors (black & red) of the car seat.
I paused it, screenshot it, and zoomed in; sure enough, it was a Britax B-Safe! Within two minutes, I was on Amazon and ordered it! If this was the brand & model that the Royal Family trusted, then this was the one for me! Problem solved, no more worries!
All of their models’ rates very high for safety, their quality is great, and they are easy to use!
Peace of mind! Knowing that I have done everything I can to protect my daughter, while in the car, is important to me!
7. Car Snacks
A busy mom’s best friend is without a doubt her car snacks! Car snacks for the kiddo and absolutely car snacks for us!
Car snacks keep everyone happy, and they keep you out of the drive-through! Oh, and did I mention that when your kiddos are eating the snacks they’re not asking you 459 questions!
I have two go-to’s for this.
Emerald nut mix, variety pack 100 calories packs. Right now, it’s $9.44 for the box of 18 small individual packs. That’s $.52 a pack.
Nature’s Bakery Whole Grain Fig Bar – these are the best, as they don’t harden into rocks when your car has been sitting out in the freezing cold. They don’t melt in the summer, and they don’t crumble and get a mess everywhere! Plus, they’re tasty and not total garbage nutritionally speaking!
Time & money saved, as you’re not stopping for fast food! More importantly, I can say that the magic of car snacks has saved my own personal sanity!
Mom life must haves for ourselves
8.An organized life
If I had to get married again (and not to my husband), I would marry Trello! Seriously, I feel that strongly about this app! If you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s basically a place where you can put your entire life & brain to help keep you organized!
Picture this; it’s like a giant whiteboard with lists and sticky notes, links, files, and images. It’s sharable so you can work with people on projects too! It gives you the big picture and zero’s in on the tiny details. It’s for desktop and mobile, and it’s free! Yup, FREE!
If you have a daily planner or 489 sticky notes, then you have to check out Trello!
If you absolutely love your pen & paper style organizing, then check out my Brain Dump printables! It’s for when you’ve got way too much swirling around in your brain. You lay it all out in formatted sections, and it helps you plan, prioritize & delegate your to-do list!
Time & sanity saved! I don’t forget things nearly as much (but I’m not perfect).
9.A delicious nutritional home run
Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Clean Whey Protein
vanilla or chocolate flavor
24 grams of protein
no added hormones, sugars, or rbst free, and gluten free
As busy mom’s we’re run ragged sometimes. So much to do, and it’s easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. Or we push it to the back burner, always meaning to get to it later, but never actually doing it.
We know we feel better when we take care of ourselves, yet it’s hard to prioritize yourself over your to-do list (at least I do). So make a promise to yourself to start taking better care of you! For me, that looks like having a healthy smoothie! For you, it could look totally different, and that’s fine!
My favorite protein powder is Garden of Life Whey Protein Powder, I don’t need anything crazy with 78 grams of protein, I just need something to feed my body, without a ton of crazy chemicals. (Yes, I do realize that protein powders are processed, but this is a very well respected brand, and it was recommended to me by super knowledgeable staff at a natural grocery store.)
“We start with what goes IN our products—true, whole food ingredients. But we don’t stop there. We also pay very close attention to what we keep OUT of them. And once again, we look at food—real nutrition food. When is the last time you picked up an apple, turned to read the ingredients, and saw a list of chemicals? If it’s not in your food, then we don’t want it in our supplements. We use third-party (never self-affirmed) certifications to prove we are clean!” (source).
My base recipe…
1 scoop of protein powder
1 frozen banana
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 can pumpkin puree with 1 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
a handful of frozen mixed berries with 1 tsp of vanilla
These smoothies are a part of 21 Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide, which I did last year! I felt so good about focusing on my health and I plan to do the program again (as life happens, right).
For those of you a little wary of the can of coconut milk, I want you to try it at least once. It’s delicious, and it fills me up all day long! Yes, it has a lot of fat in it, but so many vitamins and nutrients. I’m not a food or weight loss blogger, so I won’t try and convince you of the scientific health benefits.
It’s delicious (truly, I’m not exaggerating), and it makes me feel great, and it’s healthy! That’s good enough for me. Besides, when I make it in my Vitamix, cleaning up is super easy! I just give it a quick rinse in the sink, pour some dish soap in it, fill it with hot water, put it back on the base, and turn it on for 40 seconds! No taking apart pieces and scrubbing it! (of course, if I use dairy, then I do put it through the dishwasher)
Time saved! Smoothies are quick and easy, plus I feel good knowing that I am taking care of myself so that I can have the energy to take care of my daughter and answer her 45,871 questions!
10.Chug Chug Glug
That’s code for drink more water! We all know this; it’s been drummed into our head with 1000 hammers. Yet, it’s still true; we all need to drink more water!
I love my Hydro Flask! It keeps my water cold for FO-EV-ER! It never sweats, I have dropped it a billion times, and it only has one dent (haha). I love the lid with the loop, as I can hang it from my mommy hook on my little one’s stroller. (Mommy hooks are great too, you can hang anything with it!)
My current one I’ve had for two years, and the only reason I needed a new one is I lost my older one, which was at least three years old (my Amazon order history only goes back so many years, I guess). So that ‘a good sign; they last forever! Well worth the price! Plus, they come in super cute colors!
Oh, and did I mention Hydro Flask makes a wine tumbler too! Ha! This might absolutely help me be a better mom!
Money saved, as this water bottle lasts forever! Probably money saved too, as I eat less snacks and less at meal time as I’m well hydrated.
11.A simple cute & comfy style
This is a hard one, as I’m a little bit ashamed of my path to this product. I got to a point where I was getting a bit scroungy; you know sloppy. My sweatpants were old, and the t-shirts were stained. Sexy huh!?!
It was time for a mini mommy wardrobe makeover! I have been reading a lot about minimalism and especially capsule wardrobes, and am in love with the nice, basic simplicity of it! It appeals to me on all levels! Find pieces that fit & flatter, that all go together and stick to it!
So I went through, purged my closet (I got rid of 75% of my clothes), and focused on an inexpensive capsule wardrobe! The base of the collection is these amazing IUGA high waist yoga pants! I got a pair in black, and I love them! With 4 1/2 stars with over 25,000 reviews, they have to be amazing, right? They are! An absolute staple for this mom life must have list!
And they don’t cost a fortune either! Just $25 for this pair! I did buy some nice yoga pants at Target before finding these, but they didn’t come in black). These IUGA pants…
come in 26 colors
inside waistband pocket for keys
hip pocket for phone
aren’t see through (whew!)
30 day money back love it guarantee
Time & sanity saved! As I don’t stare blankly at my closet for 12 minutes every am, wondering what to wear, of if it will look okay! It’s a quick scan the closet, grab the pants and it’s go time!
12.Survival in a can
If I didn’t mention my absolute favorite must have for moms, I would be doing you a disservice. I would also be hiding the real me. I don’t want to do that, as that’s lame. So my favorite mom life must have is canned wine.
Let me explain. I love canned wine. I really do. I like wine, but I don’t like opening a whole bottle of it. If I drank a whole bottle, that’s bad news. Yes, I could put a stopper in a bottle and save it. But my favorite one is The Bubbles, a sparkling white wine (kind of like a Pinot Gris). So if I used a stopper, the bubbles wouldn’t be as amazing a few days later.
A can size is perfect, usually consumed over two nights. And then I don’t have to worry about it going bad, or feeling like I need to drink more than I should, just because I don’t want to “waste” a bottle.
Besides, canned wine is coming up in quality and popularity! It’s not like those jugs you see at discount grocery stores for $4.99. Trust me; it’s delicious!
The Bubbles is my favorite, and you can get it from Whole Foods through Amazon Prime delivery! Plus, add a snack tray and a heavenly chocolate bar from WF, and you’re set! This is my perfect meal for a relaxing evening on my own!
I wish that I could say that this saved me time or money. But this is just something that makes me happy!
At the end of the day
As busy moms, we have our hands full, not to mention our brains! We need all the help we can get, and I am not too proud to accept help from great tools and resources! These mom life must haves help me be a better mom by taking away the unnecessary, automating what can be, and making me feel better in my skin, my mind, and in my heart!
Posts related to mom life must haves:
The Secret Formula for Getting the Best Gift for Mom
Want to be a Stay at Home Mom? Read This First!
Mamas Talk Money Goals!
What’s your mom life must have item? Let me know in the comments below!
The post Game Changing Mom Life Must Haves! appeared first on Money for the Mamas.
If youâre looking for ways to put some extra cash in your pocket, make sure to take advantage of credit card rewards programs.
Credit card companies and banks make some of their money from the merchant interchange fees that are charged when you use your card.
As an incentive for you to use their cards, many credit card issuers pass some of those funds on to the consumer in the form of credit card rewards.
If you have good credit and the ability and discipline to pay off your credit cards in full each month, you should try to maximize your credit card rewards. Otherwise you may be leaving a lot of money on the table.
But it can be challenging to navigate the world of credit card rewards. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different credit cards exist, and the type and amount of rewards vary with each card.
There are three main kinds of rewards card offers available:
Bank and credit card points: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, etc.
Airline miles and hotel points: Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors points, etc.
Cash back: Straight cash that can be redeemed either as statement credits or checks mailed to you.
How to Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards
You have three different ways to maximize any credit card rewards program:
The sign-up bonus or welcome offer: Many cards offer a large number of miles or points as a welcome bonus for signing up and using the card to make purchases totaling a specific amount within a specified time period.
Rewards for spending: Most rewards credit cards offer between one and five points for every dollar you spend on the card. Some cards offer the same rewards on every purchase, while others offer a greater reward for buying certain products.
Perks: Simply having certain credit cards can get you perks like free checked bags on certain airlines, hotel elite status or membership with airline lounge clubs and other retail partners.
Usually, the rewards for signing up are much higher than the rewards you get from ongoing spending, so you may want to pursue sign-up bonuses on multiple credit cards as a way of racking up rewards.
Consider a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, where you can get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4,000 in the first three months of having the card. That means that while youâre meeting that minimum spending requirement, youâre earning 15 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Compare that to the one or two points youâll earn with each dollar of spending after meeting the minimum spending. You can see the difference.
Other than getting the welcome bonus offers for signing up for new credit cards, another great way to maximize your rewards is by paying attention to bonus categories on your cards. Some cards offer a flat 1 or 2 points for every dollar you spend.
How Applying for Credit Cards Affects Your Credit Score
Itâs important to be aware of how applying for new credit cards affects your credit score.
Your credit score consists of five factors, and one of the largest factors is your credit utilization.
Credit utilization is the percentage of your total available credit that youâre currently using. If you have one credit card with a $10,000 credit limit and you charge $2,000 to that card, then your utilization percentage is 20%. But if you have 10 different cards, each with $10,000 credit limits, then that your credit utilization percentage is only 2%.
Since a lower credit utilization is better, having multiple credit cards can actually help this part of your credit score.
New credit â how recently youâve applied for new credit cards â accounts for about 10% of your credit score. When you apply for a new credit card, your credit score usually will dip 3-5 points. However, if youâre conscientious with your credit card usage, your score will come back up in a few months.
What to Watch Out for When Using Credit Card Rewards
While itâs true that careful use of credit cards can be a boon, you should watch out for pitfalls.
The first thing is to make sure that you have the financial ability, discipline and organization to manage all of your credit cards. Missing payments and paying credit card interest and fees will quickly sap up any rewards you might earn.
Another thing to be aware of is the psychology of credit card rewards. It can be easy to justify additional spending because youâre getting rewards or cash back, but remember that buying something that you donât need in order to get 2% cash back is a waste of 98% of your money.
Credit card rewards are alluring, but what do they really cost? Hereâs what you should know about the dark side of credit card rewards.
The Best Credit Cards to Get Started
Before signing up for a new credit card, itâs best to pay off your existing cards first â otherwise the fees and interest will quickly outweigh any rewards you earn.
If youâre ready to start shopping rewards offers, here are five credit cards to consider. Note that these introductory offers are subject to change:
Chase Sapphire Preferred â The Sapphire Preferred card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards and currently offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards if you spend $4,000 in the first three months. It comes with a $95 annual fee.
Capital One Venture Rewards â The Capital One Venture Rewards is offering 100,000 Venture miles, which can be used on any airline or at any hotel. It also comes with a $95 annual fee.
Barclays American AAdvantage Aviator Red â With the AAdvantage Aviator Red card, youâll get 50,000 American Airlines miles after paying the $99 annual fee and making only one purchase.
American Express Hilton Honors â If youâre looking for a hotel card, consider the no-fee Hilton Honors card, which comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $1,000 in three months. There is no annual fee.
Bank of America Premium Rewards â The Bank of America Premium Rewards card comes with a bonus of 50,000 Preferred Rewards points (worth $500) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has a $95 annual fee.
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The Bottom Line
The best credit card is the one that gets you the rewards that help you do what is most important to you.
If youâre looking to maximize travel credit, then pick an upcoming trip and figure out what airline miles and hotel chain points youâll need. Then pick the credit cards that give those miles and points. If you want to maximize your cash back, look for a card with a good signup bonus that either offers cash back or bank points that can be converted into cash.
Dan Miller is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
It doesnât matter how perfect your home isâif your listing photosÂ donât stand out, potential buyers wonât come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the homeâs best assets.
Living in Santa Fe, NM, is all about taking advantage of the gorgeous landscape, mild climate, art culture, and a city with just enough activity to keep you busy but not overwhelmed. And the suburbs outside of Santa Fe give you access to all that, plus the ability to own a sizable chunk of land.
Those reasons help explain why this four-bedroom, 3.5-bath house, just 20 minutes from the city center, was purchased in 2014 for $435,000 despite it being a textbook fixer-upper.
The 3,000-square-foot-house is on a 1.17-acre lot in a gated community. It comes with a private pond and walking trails, making it the perfect purchase for a buyer looking to enjoy the culture of the area while still keeping to themselves. Sure the home’s interior was in desperate need of an update, but the buyers saw the potential.
After six years and some stylish yet strategic renovations, the buyers sold the home for about $200,000 more than what they paid. There weren’t many big changesâjust cosmetic updates and some nicely staged listing photos. So how did they make a profit? We went straight to our experts to find out what home improvements brought in the buyers.
The setup in this living room is a little different thanks to an adobe fireplace in the center of the room. In the before photos, it’s easy to see how a potential buyer would be confused by what to do with the main living room space as well as the space behind the fireplace. But a quick cleanup and careful staging helped to illustrate the best use of the space, according to designer Lori Bitter, of Dalia Staging & Design.
“The formal living space feels inviting for entertaining, while the second space feels more intimate for family and TV time,” Bitter says.
Careful design does a lot more than make a room look pretty, though. Bitter points out that the details help to accentuate some of room’s best features.
“The blue accents are a perfect balance for the dark floors and wood on the ceiling,” she says.
“Not a lot changed in this room, but it shows what a big difference a few details can make,” adds designer Mark Cutler, ofÂ Mark Cutler Design. “The new ceiling fan, uncovered windows, and brighter white paint all contribute to a more modern take on Southwestern design.”
An updated, functional kitchen is pretty high on the must-have list for many home buyers, which is why the sellers put a lot of time and effort into this space.
“The new kitchen feels fresh, open, and modern,” says Cutler. He adds that moving the wing wall on the peninsula substantially opens up the space.
“The combination of white tile with the gray cabinetry and updated lighting is so fresh,” she says. “Bringing the backsplash to ceiling with the modern hood is a dramatic touch.”
And while everyone loves a kitchen island, the sellers made the right move in removing the old island; the pine wood was channeling outdated ’90s vibes.
“Replacing the old island with a rustic furniture piece carries the warmth of the wood from the living space into the kitchen and keeps this kitchen feeling cozy,” says Bitter.
When a potential buyer visits a home, there are a few different things they might be looking for in a bedroom space. They might want a room that’s relaxing, maybe even luxuriousâbut they’re definitely not looking for a bedroom that looks old and dingy. Before the overhaul, this bedroom was full of clunky fixtures like that light fixture and ceiling fan.
But the sellers knew just what to do to lighten this space up.
“A white color palette will always create a room that feels larger and cleaner,” says Cutler. “And removing the window shades allows for more light and expands the view.”
“What a great example of how staging can make a room feel more impressive and larger,” adds Bitter.
Nothing dates a home like a bathroom in major need of an update, so our experts were pleased to see what happened in this space.
“Two main areas changed for the better: the shower tile and the bathroom vanity,” says Cutler. The brown palette of the old shower and the stained-wood details dated the room.
“The bright, white color scheme with bronze accents feels fresh and makes the room, especially the shower, seem larger.” he adds.
“This is a ‘wow’ moment for this home,” says Bitter. “Like the kitchen, the footprint hasnât changed, but the finish choices [like the new light fixture and sink vanity] open this space up.”
The back patio of this home is a terrific example of the power of a good listing photo.
“Outdoor living spaces are coveted today,” says Bitter. “Staging an outdoor dining area shows buyers the possibilities for this valuable additional square footage.”
“Once again it’s about small details that make a large impact,” says Cutler. “Architecturally almost nothing has changed, but the room, with the addition of the seating area, feels larger.”
Cutler also likes the potting area, which gives buyers another example of a creative way to use the space.
The post See the Small but Pivotal Repairs That Helped This Southwestern Home Grab a Profit appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Being a lifelong learner is one of the best ways to stay engaged in your job, whatever field youâre in.
There are a lot of ways to exemplify curiosity and a penchant for learning new skills: meeting regularly with your boss, attending professional development days and taking classes to hone a professional skill.
It has become more accessible and easier than ever to take courses to elevate your professional expertise. There are endless online resources to peruse, so it helps to be deliberate before diving in.
Julia Quirk, SPHR, a 10-year veteran of the HR industry and senior HR manager for TriSalus, recommends being practical and strategic about honing your professional talents.
âLook at the skills needed for your industry and the jobs youâre interested in,â said Quirk. âI recommend starting by first doing some research about what will actually be impressive to people in your career field, and then seeking out professional education opportunities from there.â
Quirk noted that digital classes and certifications are some of the best ways to boost your resume and grow in your current position. Here are some of her topic picks for online learning platforms.
Coursera works with over 200 leading institutions and companies worldwide to provide courses on topics ranging from data science to personal improvement. Partners like Yale University, IBM and Google provide outlines for more than 3,900 courses.
Coursera is free to join and nearly all of its courses can be accessed at no cost. The catch here is that to take a course for free, youâll be using the âauditâ function, which means no grade and sometimes no official certificate is offered â but all the knowledge and coursework is. Some classes on Coursera are paid-only and will generally set you back about $50 per month.
Coursera also gives you the opportunity to see how a particular course benefited other students, breaking down what percentage of past students either started a new career after taking a course or got a tangible career benefit from it.
2. Google Skillshop
Google Skillshop is one of the classic online learning platforms. The technology behind Google Ads, Google Analytics and more is powerful, and mastering it can benefit nearly any line of work.
Google Skillshop provides learn-at-your-own-pace courses to help you become an expert in Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Marketing Platform, Google My Business, Google Ad Manager, Google AdMob, Authorized Buyers, and Waze. All courses in the skillshop are free.
Most options are videos, slides and quick quizzes that build into a final assessment. A certificate is awarded to passing students and is usually valid for 12 months.
3. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers a free one-month trial before charging $30 a month as part of a larger LinkedIn Premium subscription.
LinkedIn Learning provides thousands of programs covering topics such as marketing tactics, mobile app development and how to use Photoshop. The courses are generally self-paced, with a LinkedIn Learning certificate awarded on completion that you can display on your LinkedIn profile.
And, with LinkedIn Learning, the classes are taught by top leaders from diverse backgrounds: Guy Kawasaki, Ben Long and David Rivers are just some of the highlights.
4. Online College Courses
One of the good things to come out of 2020 was the abundance of college courses made available for free online. While some universities have always offered a select few classes for no-cost online access, institutions like Yale and MIT expanded their libraries last year.
MIT offers free online programming not just on computer science, but also biology, race and ethics, accounting and more.
Yale also makes numerous introductory classes accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Last year, Yale made one of its most famous courses, the Science of Well-Being, available for free on Coursera. This class dives into the meaning of happiness.
Stanford is another university offering public access to many of its courses for free. The university breaks down its offerings into four main categories: Health and Medicine, Education, Engineering and Arts and Humanities.
Itâs important to note that very few of these courses offer an official completion certificate or degree, but theyâre still impressive to complete and are a strong addition to a resume. Other prestigious institutions like Harvard and Dartmouth also offer free online classes.
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Udemy is an online learning platform specifically designed to help you bolster your professional skills. Although Udemy courses can range from $10 to $200, one resourceful way to access these classes is through your public library.
Hundreds of public libraries across the nation offer Udemy courses for no cost with just a library card. And if your public library doesnât have a connection with Udemy, you may be able to get a digital library card elsewhere and still take part in all that Udemy has to offer.
Udemy offers more than 130,000 classes (boasting the worldâs largest selection of courses) on topics like Python coding, piano playing and digital marketing.
When a course is complete, the student receives a digital badge and certificate they can affix to their LinkedIn profile (and that should be included on their hardcopy resume, too).
Shine a Spotlight on Your New Skills
Quirk offered some final advice about positioning these certificates and course completions on your resume: âRecruiters skim really fast,â she said. âMake it as easy as possible for recruiters to see the skills you have so they can line them up with the job description.â
Be sure to use keywords on your resume so screening software doesnât pass you over.
Quirk advised putting the skills you gain from a course in the top part of your resume, but putting the actual course certifications lower down along with any other educational achievements.
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.
2021 VA Home Loan Limit: $0 down payment up to $5,000,000* (subject to lender limits) /2 open VA loans at one time $548,250 (Call 877-432-5626 for details).
How to Apply for a VA Home Loan?
This is a quick look at how to apply for a VA home loan in Benton county. For a more detailed overview of the VA home loan process, check out our complete guide on how to apply for a VA home loan. Here, weâll go over the general steps to getting a VA home loan and point out some things to pay attention to in Benton County. If you have any questions, you can call us at VA HLC and weâll help you get started.
Get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Give us a call at (877) 432-5626 and weâll get your COE for you.
Are you applying for a refinance loan? Check out our complete guide to VA Refinancing.
Get pre-approved, to get pre-approved for a loan, youâll need:
Previous two years of W2s
Most recent 30 days paystubs or LES (active duty)
Most recent 60 days bank statements
Landlord and HR/Payroll Department contact info
Find a home
We can help you check whether the home is in one of the Benton County flood zones
Get the necessary inspections
Termite inspection: required
Well or septic inspections needed, if applicable
Get the home appraised
We can help you find a VA-Certified appraiser in Benton County and schedule the process
Construction loan note: Construction permit/appraisal info
Lock-in your interest rates
Pro tip: Wait until the appraisal to lock-in your loan rates. If it turns out you need to make repairs, it can push your closing back. Then you can get stuck paying rate extension fees.
Close the deal and get packing!
Youâre ready to go.
What is the Median Home Price?
As of August 31st, 2020, the median home value for Benton County is $385,002. In addition, the median household income for residents of the county is $58,655.
How much are the VA Appraisal Fees?
Individual Condo: $825.
Manufactured Homes: $825.
2-4 Unit Multi-Family: $950.
Appraisal Turnaround Times: 10 days.
Do I need Flood Insurance?
The VA requires properties are required to have flood insurance if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
In Benton County, most flood hazard areas are located along the Willamette River which borders the county to the east. Several other creeks within the county are also prone to flooding. However, one of the most significant flood hazard areas is Marys River which floods areas within the city of Corvallis.
How do I learn about Property Taxes?
The Benton county tax assessorâs office is located at 4077 S.W. Research Way Corvallis, Oregon, 97333. In addition, the office can also be reached by calling (541) 766-6855
Oregon offers businesses that invest and hire within enterprise zones the option to be exempt from property taxes for at least three years. In addition, the Oregon Investment Advantage encourages new businesses to start and relocating to the state. For example, the program offers income tax subtraction, and it can also eliminate state income liability for new businesses for many years.
What is the Population?
The countyâs population of 93,053 is 79% White, 7% Hispanic, and 7% Asian.
Most county residents are between 18 and 65 years old, with 16% under 18 years old and 17% older than 65.
In total, the county has about 35,056 households, at an average of two people per household.
What are the major cities?
The county has five cities, including the city of Corvallis, which serves as the county seat. In addition, there are four other cities Adair Village, Albany, Monroe, and Philomath.
About Benton County
Benton County is located in western Oregon and is home to a friendly local community and excellent dining options. Fun in the Oregon wilderness is waiting at any of the beautiful outdoor spots in the county. Many fun and interesting attractions can be found all over the area, including museums, art galleries, golf courses, and much more. Donât miss out on any of the exciting festivals held in the county, where you can truly celebrate like a local! Benton County was officially founded on December 23, 1847, and was named after Thomas Hart Benton, who served as a U.S. Senator. The current population of the county is 90,951.
Enjoy all the beauty of the Oregon landscape at any of the scenic outdoor spots in Benton County. The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area is the perfect place to get away from it all, featuring beautiful hiking trails and scenic campsites. For some of the best hiking and rock-climbing opportunities, be sure to check out Maryâs Peak, which offers majestic lookout points. Bring your friends and family to Riverfront Commemorative Park, which features walking paths, picnic areas, and much more. Other scenic outdoor spots in the county include the Alsea Falls Recreation Site and the Beazell Memorial Forest.
A great time is waiting at any of the amazing attractions in Benton County. The Arts Center is a canât-miss for art-lovers, featuring a huge variety of paintings and sculptures made by talented artists. The Arts Center also hosts workshops, rotating exhibits, and special events. If you are interested in local history, then be sure to visit all the amazing exhibits and artifacts housed within the County Historical Museum. Check out the beautiful Darkside Cinema, which is independently owned and showcases both independent and art films. Other great attractions in the county include the Majestic Theater, Art in the Valley, and the LaSells Stewart Center.
A fun time for the whole family is waiting at all the exciting events held in Benton County. The County Fair and Rodeo bring out most of the local community to enjoy carnival rides, fun games, and delicious local food. Try a multitude of delicious drinks at Corvallis Beer Week. Other great events held in the county include the Corvallis Fall Festival and the Red Blue and Riverfront Festival.
There are about 5,249 veterans currently living within Benton County, which offers assistance to veterans through:
Benton County is home to one VFW post:
Post 3957 Monroe Post â 605 Main Street, Monroe, Oregon 97456.
VA Medical Centers in the county:
Benton County VSO â 777 NW 9th Street, Suite 202, Corvallis, Oregon 97330.
VA Home Loan Information
For more information about VA Home Loans and how to apply, click here.
If you meet the VA’s eligibility requirements, you will be able to enjoy some of the best government guaranteed home loans available.
VA loans can finance the construction of a property. However, the property must be owned and prepared for construction as the VA cannot ensure vacant land loans.
VA Approved Condos
There are currently no VA approved condos in Benton County, Oregon. However, if you’re interested in getting a condo through the approval process give us a call at (877) 432-5626. We can help you through the condo approval process.
Oregon VA Loan Information: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/oregon-va-home-loan-limits/
VA Loan Information by State: https://www.vahomeloancenters.org/va-loan-limit-maximum-va-loan-amount/
The post Benton County, Oregon VA Loan Information appeared first on VA Home Loan Centers.
Here we go with another week. Current mortgage rates have been rising steadily over the past month, a trend that we expect to persist for the foreseeable future.
Inflation data, overseas trade negotiations, and speaking engagements from the Federal Reserve should be the main market movers this week. Read on for more details.
Where are mortgage rates going?Â Â
The market continues to fear rising interest rates
Financial market participants are continuing to grapple with the fear that interest rates will surge in the coming weeks and months, putting stocks in a position to fall for the third consecutive day.
All of the major market indexes are in the red right now with the Dow Jones Industrial Average notably falling 106 points to start the week.
The bond market is closed today so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see where yields go, but in the past month we’ve already seen the yield on the 10-year Treasury note (the best market indicator of where mortgage rates are going) continue to hit levels that haven’t been reached in well over five years.
Mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as the 10-year yield, so we’ve seen rates move higher, albeit at a slower pace, over the past month. The general consensus is that mortgage rates will continue to move higher as we approach the end of the year.
Of course, the economic data still has to match up and we’ll get a couple key inflation readings this week which investors will be closely watching.
If those reports (consumer and producer prices) come in showing inflation rising at a steady pace, we’ll likely see bond yields and mortgage rates rise steadily as they’ve been doing.
Rate/Float RecommendationÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Lock now before rates move even higherÂ Â Â Â Â Â
Mortgage rates have been rising and are expected to continue doing so in the coming weeks and months. If you’re thinking about buying a home or refinancing your current mortgage, we strongly recommend that you do so sooner rather than later in order to lock in the lowest rate possible.
Learn what you can do to get the best interest rate possible.Â Â
No one intends to drop out of college. If you show up to campus for your freshman year, chances are you plan to graduate in four years and use your degree to land a job. Maybe you even have the whole thing mapped out, step-by-step.
But then life happens. Whether itâs a family emergency, deteriorating health, stress burnout, or just the realization that college isnât the right choice, plenty of people choose to drop out of their university every year. The problem is, your student loans donât go away just because you never ended up with a degree.
So how should someone in this position approach student loan repayment? Are there any unique considerations to take into account? Hereâs what you need to know.
Choose an Income-Based Repayment Plan
If you have federal student loans, youâre eligible for the same repayment options available to borrowers with a degree.
You may currently be on the standard 10-year repayment plan, which will have the highest monthly payments and the lowest total interest. You have the option of switching to a less expensive option if youâre struggling with those payments. Use the official repayment calculator to see which plan lets you pay the least.
When you choose an extended, income-based, or graduated repayment plan, youâll pay more interest overall than if you stuck with the standard plan. If youâre not working toward a specific forgiveness program, then itâs best to switch back to the standard plan as soon as you can afford it to minimize the interest.
Refinance Private Loans
Private student loans have fewer income-based repayment options than federal loans, and they rarely offer deferment or forbearance options. But you can refinance private loans for a lower interest rate, even if you dropped out.
There are a few lenders that service borrowers with uncompleted degrees.
These may include:
RISLA Student Loan Refinance
Advance Education Loan
To be a good candidate for a student loan refinance, you must have a high credit score and no recent bankruptcies or defaults on your credit report. You also need a low debt-to-income ratio, and some lenders may have income requirements.
Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz of SavingforCollege.com said borrowers are unlikely to be good refinance candidates immediately after college because lenders usually require a minimum amount of full-time employment.
If you dropped out recently, you may want to wait a year before trying to refinance private loans. During that time, check your credit score through Mint, pay all your bills on time, avoid opening new loans or lines of credit, and pay your credit card bill in full every month.
Explore Deferment and Forbearance
Once you leave school, youâre eligible for a six-month grace period where federal student loan payments are put on hold. You wonât accrue interest during this time if you have subsidized loans, but you will if you have unsubsidized loans.
If you still need more time after the grace period has expired, you can apply for deferment or forbearance. Borrowers have to apply for deferment and forbearance manually and wait to be approved.
Deferment and forbearance are both federal programs that let borrowers avoid paying their student loans while still remaining current. The main difference between the two options is that interest will not accrue on your loan balance during deferment, but it will accrue during forbearance. For that reason, itâs harder to qualify for deferment.
Be careful about putting your loans in deferment or forbearance for a long time. The interest that accrues will capitalize, meaning it will be added to your loanâs principal. This will increase your total monthly payments and could delay your debt payoff timeline.
Apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a program that encourages borrowers to choose a non-profit or government job. In exchange, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven after 10 yearâs worth of payments, which do not have to be consecutive. Itâs even available to borrowers who dropped out and never finished a degree.
âPSLF is always an option because it’s employer-dependent,â said student loan lawyer Joshua R. I. Cohen.
PSLF is only available for federal loans, and only those loans that are part of the Direct Loan Program. If you have FFEL or Perkins loans, you’ll have to consolidate them as part of the Direct Consolidation Program. This process will render them eligible for PSLF.
Be sure not to consolidate loans that are already part of the Direct Loan Program. If youâve already been making payments, consolidating loans will restart the clock on PSLF, and you could lose credit for eligible payments youâve already made.
The employer you work for must also be an eligible non-profit or government entity. Only full-time employees qualify for PSLF, which excludes part-time workers and independent contractors.
To be eligible for PSLF, you should fill out the employment certification form every year. This form asks for your employerâs contact information, your employment status, and more.
Once you submit the form, you should receive a notice verifying your employer and how many eligible payments youâve made. Doing this every year will make it easier when you apply for forgiveness after your 120 payments have been made.
âIt also gives borrowers an opportunity to dispute any errors or undercounts well before they reach eligibility for loan forgiveness, giving them plenty of time to address disputes,â said student loan lawyer Adam S. Minsky.
Borrowers can save money while working toward PSLF by choosing an income-based repayment plan instead of the standard 10-year plan. They also wonât owe taxes on the forgiven amount, so itâs best to choose the least expensive monthly option.
Try to Discharge Your Loans
If you couldnât complete college because the department you were studying in closed, or your school committed fraud, you may be a good candidate for discharging your student loans completely. If this happened to you, contact a student loan lawyer who can help you file a case.
The post I Dropped Out of College: My Student Loan Repayment Options appeared first on MintLife Blog.
The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Â You are getting ready to send your child off to college. Before you start helping them pack their belongings, there is one thing you need to do.
You need to help them create a budget. You need to teach them how to manage their money so they can learn the tools theyâll use long after they graduate.
WHY DO COLLEGE STUDENTS NEED A BUDGET?
The truth is everyone needs a budget. It does not matter your age. If you are dealing with money, a budget is necessary.
Allows you to control your money. Rather than your money telling you what it wants to do, you get to tell your money where it needs to go. You are always in control when you have a budget.
It teaches financial skills. A budget helps ensure that expenses such as rent, tuition, food, insurance, transportation, and housing are paid â before spending money on the fun stuff. (It also helps to make sure you donât spend more than you make.)
Makes you aware of where your money goes. When you use a budget, you see how you spend. It is very simple to see if too much is going toward dining out when you should be building your savings.
Helps you track your goals. You need to cover expenses but you should also work on building savings at the same time. Your budget allows you to not only see those goals but track them in real time.
DOESNâT A BUDGET MEAN YOU CANâT HAVE FUN?
Not at all! If anything, your budget will allow you to have guilt-free fun.
For example, the budget may allow you to spend $50 a week dining out. That means you can go to dinner with friends once (possibly twice) a week and enjoy yourself. You wonât be left wondering how you are now going to make rent.
WHAT TYPE OF BUDGET SHOULD YOUR STUDENT USE?
There are various methods of budgeting such as the 50/30/20 and the zero-based budget. For most college students, the zero-based is the simplest and easiest to follow.
The reason is that you track everything. You give every penny a job. That means if you earn $1,500 for the month that you âspendâ the entire $1,500.
You will first cover the needs (food, shelter, transportation) and then your wants. If there is money âleftoverâ after this is done, it can be added to your savings.
You can use other types but if you have never budgeted before, using this method is the simplest.
WHAT SHOULD A COLLEGE STUDENT INCLUDE IN A BUDGET?
The budget will vary for each person, as the income and expense will be different. However, these are the most common categories that need to be included in a budget:
Car insurance (also saving for annual renewal fees)
Utilities (phone, electricity, gas, water, etc.)
Entertainment (movies, games, concerts)
Emergency fund savings
Again, you may have items that are not included above or see some that you do not need.
However, the most important thing of all is that every penny is given a job. Account for everything you will spend each month so you never have too much month and not enough money.
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BUDGET?
For most college students, apps or digital trackers are the best options.Â But, before you rush and sign up, keep the following in mind.
Cost. Many apps are free and they will work perfectly fine. Other apps have a monthly fee attached to them. If you plan to use one of them, make sure you include that as one of your regular expenses. However, do not let the cost alone be a single factor when it comes to clicking the sign-up button.
Security. Your security trumps all else. You need to make sure the app uses encryption as well as two-factor authorization.
Some of the best apps include:
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
However, your student may also like the traditional paper and pencil method â and that is OK as well.
Find the right one that works best for your student. That is all that matters.
TEACHING THEM TO BUDGET
Knowing you need a budget and where to track it is just the beginning. You need to teach your child how to budget.
Start by looking at each category that they need on their budget. You may already know the cost for each category but if not, you may need to make phone calls or do research to know.
For example, you know the rent for the apartment is $850 a month but how much are the average utilities? Ask the manager for these costs so you can include them in the budget.
Next, decide how much they want to allow themselves to spend on food. Show them how much a meal costs for a single person at each restaurant you eat at so they can create an average.
You will then have them decide how much âfun moneyâ they want to include as well. You can base this on them wanting to go to the movies two times a month, one concert a month, or attending three events.
Now you can see the expenses for your student. Add their income to the budget and deduct the expenses. They will see if they are operating in the black (money left over) or in the red (spending more than they make).
Show them how to adjust the numbers by increasing their savings or lowering the amount they can spend on clothes â until the budget equals zero. Zero meaning they are spending every penny they earn.
And making them keep track now will help ensure they stay on track well into the future.
The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.