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These Caregiver Jobs Are in Demand — No Medical Training Required MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:4 Minute, 31 Second

Job seekers can find immediate openings in most areas across the country as companions for retirees. No medical training is required, though most applicants need to have a driver’s license and their own transportation.

“Right now, there is a crisis for caregivers. The demand is so high. We all need them,” said Elaine Poker-Yount, director of care management for the Visiting Angels franchise in Mesa, Ariz. “It’s not just us. There is strong demand for all caregiver positions.”

Visiting Angels has more than 600 franchises in 50 states employing caregivers who help seniors with transportation, easy meal preparation, light housekeeping, other activities of daily living and mostly being a friend.

Some Visiting Angels franchises as well as many other senior care program employers around the country are also hiring home health aides or personal care aides. They tend to help with additional tasks such as teeth brushing, bathing and toileting.

These Caregiver Jobs Are in Demand

Home Health Aides

Typically, these aides need a high school diploma or equivalent and must complete formal training and pass an exam. This career often doesn’t require you to have your own transportation while being a companion does usually require driving.

Home health aides earned a median annual salary of $27,080 or about $13 per hour in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It expects the overall employment of these caregiver jobs to grow 33% in the next eight years as Baby Boomers age.

BizInsure, a marketplace for business insurance, reports that many home health aide training programs last just two weeks. Training programs cost between $200 and $1,000. Because there is such a shortage of people to fill caregiver jobs, some employers will pay for new hires to get their caregiver certification.

Most community colleges offer training and exam prep for these caregiver jobs.

Pro Tip

Check out these online home health aide training programs from Ashworth College, Penn Foster, and We Care Online.

The course and exam are more about knowing how to care for people than medical training.

Companions

Many job seekers who aren’t up for bathing and toileting assistance already have skills that can be put to good use as a full-time or part-time companion.

“We look for someone with empathy, not sympathy. Someone who can walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their point of view,” Poker-Yount said. “We look for that respect piece, that they really want to make a difference in somebody’s life.”

Pro Tip

Search here to see if Visiting Angels is filling caregiver jobs in your zip code.

Because each Visiting Angels franchise has a different owner, there is no set pay scale. Many offer competitive pay of two or more dollars per hour above the state’s minimum wage. Employees with more experience may be compensated more than that, Poker-Yount said. Some offer benefits. You can work full time as a companion or as little as one four-hour shift a week in most cases.

Each state’s licensing or association requirements for caregiver jobs are different, though it’s not uncommon for companions to undergo criminal background checks and provide references. Some programs also require CPR training.

Who Typically Works as a Caregiver?

Some caregivers are students going through medical school or working to become a physical therapist, but many are caring people with no specific academic or medical training wanting to work part time or full time.

Poker-Yount doesn’t require job applicants to have prior care working with seniors in a professional setting. She does look for employees who have cared for a family member at some time in their life for six months or more.

“Somebody who took care of a little sister who had Down syndrome, or cared for someone with intellectual development difficulties or who took care of their spouse makes a wonderful companion,” she said. “We have found family caregiving is the best experience for providing well-rounded care.”

Poker-Yount is certified to train companions to care for clients with dementia.

“Not everybody is comfortable caregiving in a dementia world, whether because they lived in it or because they haven’t had experience and it daunts them,” she said. “When the caregiver has zero to little dementia experience and gets a client (with dementia) they grow with them. They become phenomenal. It’s baby steps along the way.”

Employers make sure the caregiver is comfortable with the older adult and so that the client and caregiver are a good match and it’s a good work environment.

Katherine Snow Smith is a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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

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Even 6-Figure Earners are Living Paycheck to Paycheck. How to Break the Cycle. MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:5 Minute, 30 Second
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When your salary finally tips over $100,000, all your worries about living paycheck-to-paycheck should be gone, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, 16% of six-figure earners said they have difficulty covering basic expenses, such as food, rent or mortgage and car payments, according to a November 2020 survey by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

They’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.

How is that possible? Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how much money you make if your expenses outweigh (or are equal to) your income. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid plan for your budget. Otherwise, you could end up with no savings and in debt.

No matter how much you earn, here’s how to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

Make a Budget and Stick to It

It’s no question that the cost of living is going up at a rapid pace — not just in big, growing cities, but all around the country.

Yet slowly rising wages can’t take all the blame for our $0 balances at the end of the month. Poor budgeting — and lack of budgeting education — is holding millions of us back. So if you don’t have a budget or haven’t updated yours in a while, get one together.

If you don’t know where to start, a simple and straightforward approach is a good way to begin your budget overhaul. We like the 50/30/20 method. You map out all your expenses like this:

50% of your monthly take-home goes to what you need. That includes rent, groceries, utilities, minimum debt payments, childcare, etc.
30% goes to your wants — like your Netflix subscription, dinners with friends and travel costs.
20% is earmarked for financial goals, like paying down debt, growing your savings and adding to your retirement fund.

If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, that last 20% likely isn’t getting the attention it needs from your bank account. And while the “wants” can easily get out of hand, it’s your “needs” that can be the biggest culprits.

So, how do you fix that? Here are some secrets to help you regain control of your spending and put more money in your savings:

Cut Costs and Bills Where You Can

Usually, your biggest monthly expense is your rent or mortgage payment. And unless you’re living the #vanlife or have a sweet month-to-month set up, chances are finding a cheaper place to live next month is out of the question.

But there are some necessary bills you can cut down significantly, without sacrificing the services you need.

Car Insurance: Shop around for new car insurance every six months, and you could save some serious cash. Compare car insurance prices on a website called Insure.com and you could save an average of $489 a year. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options. 
Homeowners Insurance: Homeowners insurance can be a huge waste of money if you get the wrong coverage. Luckily, an insurance company called Insurify makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying. It finds you cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes. Plus, it saves users an average of $700 a year.

Eliminate Credit-Card-Debt Payments

If you have credit card debt that you’re just paying the minimum on, chances are you’re paying a ton in interest. And why would your credit card company care? They’re getting rich by ripping you off with those high interest rates — some up to 36%.

Credit card payments alone could keep you in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle for years. That means it’s time to get rid of those payments for good. A website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

Create a Separate Account for Savings

Once you’ve cut down your monthly costs, make sure you’re prioritizing your savings. Whether that’s contributing to your retirement plan, investing in the stock market or building up an emergency fund — you did it! Congrats on breaking the cycle and cleaning up your spending habits.

But speaking of emergency funds, many Americans don’t even have $400 saved in case their car breaks down or their kid ends up in the ER.

Where should you start saving for one? A typical savings account won’t earn you much interest.

That’s why we like a free account from Aspiration. Its Spend and Save account could earn you up to 16 times the national average interest on your money, plus up to 5% cash back, if you use Aspiration’s debit card. It’ll help grow your emergency savings fund that much faster.

Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

Follow these secrets, and you’ll be well on your way to breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

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

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Dear Penny: How Do I Stop an Eviction When My Landlord Is My Mom? MAKING MONEY

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Dear Penny,

Not wanting to freeload, I suggested that my mom charge me rent. She seemed surprised, and said she’d get back to me on that. 

Sometime later, she appeared in a rather formal outfit, and said she was now my landlady. She spelled out my rental rate and terms; it was higher than I had planned on, but she conveyed such an air of authority that I didn’t argue. Later, when she was back to her normal self, I told her the rate was too high. She stepped out and returned as the “landlady,” and asked what the problem was. 

I explained that the rate was more than I could afford. She told me I could either pay it or find somewhere else to live. I decided to forget about rent and hope my mom would also. However, I have now received notices of late rent and eviction. 

Not caring to interact with her alter-ego, I haven’t tried to talk with my mom about this. She is normally loving and supportive, but I’m afraid she will transform into the “landlady” and kick me out, or possibly sue me for the rent and late fees I already owe. 

Should I pass my mom a note explaining that I love her but I don’t like her alter-ego. I’d tell her that I can’t afford the rate she is trying to charge me, I would have trouble finding another place to live, and I regret ever mentioning rent. Anything else I should include?

-Rent Regrets

Dear Regrets,

Regardless of whether you have a face-to-face conversation or write a letter, I think your message is off.

The problem is that it’s all about you and your needs. (Read back what you want to tell your mom: I don’t like your landlady alter ego. I can’t afford the rent you’re charging, but I can’t afford to live anywhere else. I wish I’d never mentioned rent.) That message won’t resonate with a landlord or a loving and supportive mom. However you choose to communicate, start by expressing gratitude to your mother. You don’t get to complain about your mom’s landlady alter-ego if you’re living at home rent-free. What you can say, though, is that you want to talk to her as her child, rather than her tenant.

Money would be a fine thing to include if you write a letter. Maybe you can’t afford the full amount your mom wants you to pay. But giving her some cash for your living expenses would show that you’re serious about carrying your weight.


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I’m not sure whether a letter is the way to go here. If your mom is serious about her landlady role, she’ll be more than happy to communicate with you in writing. It creates a handy paper trail. You could come home to find an eviction notice taped to your bedroom door.

So talk to her instead. Say that you’re serious about wanting to contribute. Tell her you have some money for her, albeit not as much as she’d like, and you’re hoping that will show your commitment to helping out. I think the mom in her will respond positively if you embrace responsibility. And doing so makes you a much more appealing tenant if she’s determined to maintain the landlady schtick.

Try making a budget that includes a contribution for household expenses, plus a monthly savings goal so you can eventually get your own place. Since you can’t afford your mom’s rental rate, think about ways that you could make her life easier. For example, maybe she’d agree to a lower rate if you could take care of making dinner, cleaning or mowing the lawn.

If you’re able to work out a lower rent, commit to paying it on the same day each month. Don’t make your mom ask for it. Landlords hate having to chase down tenants for rent.

I’m guessing that your mom isn’t actually going to evict you. The landlady routine sounds like her way of teaching you an adulting lesson while having a little fun with it. You may find it annoying, but I hope you’ll learn from it. Ignoring bills won’t make them go away. Consider yourself fortunate to have learned that lesson from your mom, rather than a real-life landlord.

Robin Hartilll is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

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 to Build Your Credit if You’re Constantly Denied MAKING MONEY

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To build credit, you have to get approved for credit. But often, you’ll get rejected if you don’t have a solid credit history — which is incredibly frustrating if you’ve never had credit or you’re recovering from past mistakes.

If you’ve been denied for credit too many times to count, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how to build credit when you keep getting rejected.

5 Ways to Build Good Credit When You’ve Been Denied for Everything

Before you apply for credit again, get a copy of your free credit reports from each of the three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. As many as 1 in 5 reports contain errors, so you need to make sure you’re not being rejected due to faulty information. If you spot mistakes, like an account you don’t recognize or an incorrect balance, dispute the information directly with the credit bureau.

Once you’ve confirmed that your credit report is accurate, you’ll need to start building credit. The only way you’ll do so is if you have an account that’s regularly reported to the bureaus. Here are five strategies to try.

1. Open a Secured Credit Card

One of the easiest ways to rebuild credit is by opening a secured credit card. You put down a small deposit — say $200 or $300 — and that becomes your line of credit. Since you’re putting down a deposit, the risk to the lender is minimal. That’s why your odds of approval are much higher compared to with a traditional card.

Always keep credit card balances below 30% of your open credit. The percentage of credit you’re using is called your credit utilization ratio, and you want that number to be as low as possible.

2. Get a Credit Builder Loan

A credit builder loan is like a regular loan in reverse. Typically with a loan, you get money up front and then make payments on it. With a credit builder loan, you make payments on the loan, but they go into a bank account. Once you’ve paid off the loan, you finally get your money.

Most big banks don’t offer credit builder loans. Check with a local credit union or an online bank about whether they have this option.

Making on-time payments is the No. 1 thing that will help your credit. Your payment history determines 35% of your score.

3. Use a Rent Reporting Service

Your housing payment is typically your largest expense. But if you rent your home, your rent payments probably aren’t helping your credit score because most landlords don’t report payments to the bureaus.

One option is to use a rent reporting service, like Rent Reporters, Credit Rent Boost or Rental Kharma to send the bureaus records showing you’ve paid your rent. Your landlord may need to verify your payments.

Before you sign up, look carefully at all the fees involved. Many services have a setup fee on top of a monthly fee.

4. Get a Co-Signer

If you can’t qualify for credit on your own, you may be able to get a family member or friend who has good credit to co-sign for you. A co-signer accepts responsibility for making payments if you fail to. Most major credit cards no longer accept co-signers, so this is much more common when you’re applying for a loan.

Only choose this option if you’re 100% confident that you can make payments. Set up automatic payments so you don’t forget. It’s not just your credit on the line here. If you miss payments, you’ll take down the credit score of the person who cared about you enough to co-sign.

5. Become an Authorized User

When someone adds you as an authorized user to their credit card, you’re allowed to use the account but you’re not responsible for payments. Sometimes parents will add their child as an authorized user to help them establish credit. If someone is willing to make you an authorized user, check with the credit card company to see if they’ll report the status to the bureaus.

Becoming an authorized user can help you establish a credit footprint. But because lenders know you’re not on the hook for payments, it probably won’t make a huge difference in determining whether you get approved for credit in the future.

How Often Should You Apply for Credit?

Applying for new credit too frequently can hurt your credit score. Each application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can drop your score by a few points. (Note: If you apply for a specific type of credit, like a mortgage or car loan, multiple times within a short window, the bureaus assume you’re rate shopping and treat the applications as a single inquiry.)

A good rule of thumb is to wait about six months between credit applications. Once you get approved, focus on making on-time payments and you’ll gradually see your credit improve.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

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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Know the Realities of Day Trading Before You Start MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:7 Minute, 38 Second

Is there anything more appealing than making a quick buck through a smart stock pick?

If you’ve had several great trades you might be thinking about quitting your job to become an independent day trader — maybe even working part-time from home in shorts and T-shirt.

Day trading is exciting, and the rewards can appear tempting. But when you day trade, you’re turning established wealth-building principles upside down. There are reasons why few day traders — independent or otherwise — do well enough to retire on their trading profits.

Let’s look at the realities of day trading.

Daily Stock Returns Are Hard to Predict

Long-term investors do well because decades of market history will show that markets are predictable. If you follow certain rules, such as being well diversified, keeping costs low and staying fully invested in the stock market long enough, you are likely (but not guaranteed) to make money.

The longer you allow the stock market to do its “magic,” the better your odds become.

Once you look at a long enough history of daily stock returns, the odds of any stock being up or down on any given day come close to 50/50, which is like a coin toss. The odds of being “right” on one toss is 50%.

But the odds of being right four times in a row drops to a little bit better than one in 16, or 6.25%. Yikes.

Those risks can be multiplied by leverage. In their quest for higher profits, a trader can borrow multiples of their equity to take large positions.

For example, a trader with $25,000 to invest might borrow $50,000 from their trading firm to hold a $75,000 portfolio. If the trader is right, then the gain is four times what it would have been without the borrowing. But when wrong, that $25,000 takes four times the hit. That increased risk makes it far more likely the account can go to zero.

It’s true stocks tend to go up more than down, but the shorter the time you hold a stock, the more random it will appear.

That’s why professionals call market returns as a “random walk with an upward drift.” Want to picture that? Imagine the path of someone who’s had too much to drink trying to walk home.

We’ve got the five beginning stock trading mistakes that prevent you from getting rich. 

We Fool Ourselves Into Seeing Patterns That Aren’t There

So you see a stock tracing out a pattern that worked before. Does that mean the stock will act the same way this time? Not necessarily.

We humans are smart, but sometimes — far too often — we outsmart ourselves by seeing patterns when what’s really happening is by chance, or isn’t as trustworthy as what we first think.

A stock that went up yesterday won’t automatically go up again. It might plateau or even reverse itself (that’s that pesky random walk). Even the best-performing stocks don’t go straight up.

Relying on patterns may even lead to that worst-case scenario of being “whipsawed,” when you get in at the wrong time, then get out, only to see the stock reverse itself again.

It’s one of the mistakes beginners can make, but even professionals who use price patterns on charts get whipsawed occasionally. They protect themselves by investing only a small portion of their total portfolios into any one idea.

One of the most dangerous patterns we tend to follow is a belief in our own abilities.

We tend to be overconfident in our opinions and put too much at risk in any one trade. A string of winning trades can get fool us into thinking we’re incredibly talented at trading or even born under the right sign, when that winning streak was just dumb chance that, sooner or later, will reverse itself.

Day Trading Is Expensive

Traders often spend fortunes on expensive computer equipment and data services that help them analyze the markets. But that’s only a start.

Other Expenses Related to Day Trading

Here are some other expenses traders can have:

Subscriptions to an endless list of newsletters.
Seminars that may or may not be useful, let alone legitimate. Charlatans abound in the hunt for day-trading customers.
Annual account fees and commissions. These are easily understood, and it’s possible to shop around for the best deals.
Hidden costs such as margin rates or fees to borrow a stock to sell short.

Another hidden cost is the difference between the price you pay to buy a stock and what you could receive for selling it that same instant, known as the bid-ask spread. If you invest in thinly-traded stocks, that difference can pile up the more you trade.

Long-term investors pay lower commissions per portfolio dollar, don’t need as much computing power and can get satisfactory results simply by applying easy-to-understand principles and being patient.

The Penny Hoarder crash course in investing for beginners. Read it and make your money grow.

Who Are the Successful Day Traders?

With millions of people investing in stocks, there are bound to be a few who do very well. Most are professionals who work at firms that can manage risk and spot opportunities far more quickly than those of us with retail brokerage accounts.

Pros equipped with lightning-quick access to market data can exploit even those momentary blips worth fractions of a penny per share. But they have computing power, data access and data scientists, too.

Other traders might find a strategy that can work, but it’s very rare for those “trading systems” to be successful over the long term because the markets evolve rapidly. Those sorts of people are usually quick to publish (start selling their great systems), but also quick to perish (lose their customers a ton of money).

If You Still Want To Try Day Trading

If, after all these warnings, you still want to trade, first, try a simulated account where you’re not risking real money. Here’s how.

Skill-Building Challenge No. 1

Keep a journal where you write down why you bought a stock, why you sold it, and what you think went right or wrong.
Try investing only a small amount of simulated money into each idea.
Then, and this is the hard part, keep doing that through both a market trending up (which makes buying stock look easy) and also when it’s trending down.

After you’ve tried a simulated account, here’s your next day trading challenge:

Skill-Building Challenge No. 2

Ask a friend to print out daily stock charts from great and awful market times (like the Great Recession).
Ask that friend to cover up everything except the first hour of trading with a blank sheet of paper.
Then note when you would buy and when you would sell as you gradually uncover the day’s chart.

Do that many times over with other charts. Did you make money? Do that many times, again over different market periods.

If You STILL Want To Try Day Trading

Once you’re confident enough to try investing real money:

Only invest a small amount into any one trade.
Don’t put much of your funds into one strategy that might cover many stocks acting the same way. That avoids being too exposed to one factor, like technology or cheap stocks outperforming.
Keep your trading account separate from your long term investing account.
Don’t use leverage.
Once you find a strategy you are comfortable with, be prepared to stick with it. Consistency will help you stay focused.
And lastly, compare your net results (after deducting expenses) to an industry benchmark.

Once you look hard enough at day trading, you’ll find it has much in common with the Gold Rush of 1849: people made more money selling supplies to the prospectors than the prospectors made sifting for gold.

There will always be risks associated with investing. The surest path to investing success remains saving money, investing for the long term, staying in the market and staying patient.

Contributor Sam Levine holds Chartered Financial Analyst® and Chartered Market Technician® designations and has written on finance topics since 2003. He is an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University in Michigan.

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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Weddings Are Back. Here’s How You Can Afford To Attend Them All. MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:6 Minute, 47 Second
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You love your friends and are so happy they’ve found The One.

But there’s no shame in feeling a little relieved they all postponed their 2020 nuptials — it meant you weren’t shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on flights, hotels, fancy dresses, tux rentals and gifts.

More time for you to save and focus on your own debts!

But now that the vaccine rollout is underway and cases are down in many parts of the country, more Save the New Date cards are showing up on your refrigerator door. And while many of us are chomping at the bit to go celebrate with friends and family, there’s still the same issue there was before Covid showed up:

Going to weddings is expensive.

So how do we manage to party after the crazy financial year we just had? Here’s how to save on registry gifts and earn extra money to afford the cash bars:

1. Don’t Overpay for Wedding Gifts Online

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online and are about to overpay for a pasta maker on your best friend’s wedding registry?

That’s exactly what this free service does.

Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.

2. Open an Account With This Company and Earn 16x More — Plus $100

How’s an extra $100 sound toward a flight or hotel? For free? Seriously. We found a company that will give you $100 just for opening a new debit card. It’s called Aspiration.

Sure, a lot of debit cards offer sign-up bonuses throughout the year, but they often require you to jump through hoops with minimum requirements that feel impossible to hit.

But Aspiration makes it simple. To earn your $100, here’s all you need to do: Open your Aspiration account and deposit at least $10. Then set up and receive three direct deposits of at least $500 each from your paycheck or government benefits. That’s it! Then just wait for your check.

Even better? Your debit card gets you up to 10% cash back on your purchases and earns you 16x the average interest on the money in your account.

Enter your email address here, and link your bank account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

3. Get a Free $225 in Cash Just for Watching Videos

If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious. It could get you that much closer to affording another bridesmaid dress.

A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

4. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper

Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper is a feat. Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?

A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.

Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.

You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…

5. Let This App Pay You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it? You’ll have plenty of time between the rehearsal dinner and cocktail hour to rack up a few wins.

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

6. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Money you could use to afford your cousin’s destination wedding in Tulum.

Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s earning extra cash so she can go to a wedding in wine country, another one in the mountains, celebrate with friends in Texas and round it out with a beach shindig before 2021 ends.

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

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How to become a virtual assistant and Make $40K a Year MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:10 Minute, 54 Second

If you are organized, personable and creative, becoming a virtual assistant could be a viable next step in your career.

As a virtual assistant, you get to work from home, often set your own schedule, and focus on clients that pique your interest. Plus, Indeed.com lists the average virtual assistant yearly salary as about $40K, but some report making $40 per hour (or $83K annually) or more.

Of course the amount you make has much to do with how many hours you work. Full-time work is going to bring in more.

This post will help you learn how to become a virtual assistant. In it, we cover:

What Does a Virtual Assistant Actually Do?
What Kinds of Skills Do Virtual Assistants Need?
Where Do I Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?
7 Sites to Find Virtual Assistant Work
How Do I Get My Virtual Assistant Business Off the Ground?

What Does a Virtual Assistant Actually Do?

A virtual assistant does much more than managing someone’s schedule and taking phone calls. In fact, there are many ways you can serve as a virtual assistant across many skills and disciplines.

Virtual assistants are generally brought on to help a client achieve specific goals like improving social media engagement, bettering a website, or aiding a part of the business in becoming more efficient with their time management.

These online secretaries of sort function like any other remote worker, having an agreed-upon set of hours where they’re logged on and reporting up to usually a manager-level-or-higher boss.

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What Kinds of Skills Do Virtual Assistants Need?

There are eight skills that tend to be the highest in-demand when it comes to serving as a virtual assistant. It’s unlikely that one virtual assistant will have them all and it may be better to specialize, becoming an expert in several of them such as typing and proofreading or social media content creation and management.

1. Typing

Although it may seem like everyone is a typing whiz in this day and age, those with exceptionally high words per minute — aim for more than 50 words per minute to be considered above average — offer a special skill set that is highly sought after.

Typing is the foundation of many of the other skills listed below like drafting emails, editing blogs, and providing customer support.

If you’re looking to improve your typing abilities, there are many free online resources to help you do so such as Typing.com , LearnTyping.org, and Typing.Academy.

Just a few hours a week of practice can yield results that make you a more marketable and desired applicant when it comes to virtual assistant positions.

2. Proofreading

Many companies these days have blogs or another type of interactive digital publication. These types of publications boost a company’s SEO presence and they are a way for interested customers to learn more about the brand and its mission. Helping to get this content into good shape makes a virtual assistant invaluable.

Many organizations have staff who are able to write initial blog drafts, but they may not have time to see the blog through the entire editing and publishing process. This is where a trained virtual assistant comes in.

Having a strong grasp of grammar, voice, and writing mechanics can net you $15-25 per hour. If you are drafting the blog yourself, be sure to ask for even more.

Do you want to embark on a career as a freelance writer? Check out our tips for setting freelance rates in that highly competitive field. 

3. Formatting Pages in WordPress

WordPress is a common content management platform used by any number of industries. WordPress powers the back end of many websites and blogs, and it is here that organizations need someone to manage the formatting and creation of the actual website pages that the public will visit.

Being able to list yourself as proficient in WordPress on your resume will undoubtedly catch more than a few eyes and potentially rake in anywhere from $20-40 per hour from a potential client.

But if you’re reading this and have never worked in WordPress before, don’t fear. Udemy and WordPress 101 offer courses to get you up to speed.

4. Managing an Editorial Calendar

All great virtual assistants have stellar time management and this is a critical part of the job.

While you may be in charge of someone’s day-to-day meetings and engagements calendar, a huge part of being a successful virtual assistant is being capable of managing an editorial calendar as well.

An editorial calendar is a plan and schedule of all upcoming blog posts and website updates a site will publish. Maintaining a chronological plan as well as ideas to help boost a brand’s SEO rankings is a skill not all can offer, and can net you $30-50 per hour.

5. Social Media Management

One of the duties of a virtual assistant may be posting to social media on behalf of the brand. This can involve creating social media content, scheduling social media posts on various platforms and managing engagements. You may be the one who will respond to customer comments.

Confidence in your knowledge of the most popular social media platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook is a must-have skill. Companies will continue to rely on their online presence to attract clients and customers and keeping up with new, hot platforms will add to your cache.

Sites like Hootsuite and Buffer have excellent resources if this is an area where you need to buff. And it’s worth it to do so as this ability can cash out anywhere from $15-40 per hour.

6. Creating Landing Pages

If this immediately struck fear into your heart — no worries, you don’t need to be an expert coder to nail this capability.

Landing pages are website locations that have a specific call to action or topic. For example, a website page encouraging users to submit their contact information in exchange for a free demo would be considered a landing page.

Many landing pages are built on platforms like WordPress and are easy to edit with some help from user-friendly tools like Unbounce and Leadpages.

Becoming knowledgeable in this space is one of the best skills you can offer as a virtual assistant as you can charge between $30-60 per hour for this ability.

7. Email Strategy

Based on how many emails you get a day from organizations it shouldn’t surprise you that email formatting and strategy is a critical part of any business communication plan.

Email strategy refers to whom, when, and why you send an email. Email formatting refers to the actual layout and creation of the email look and feel.

Email strategy is easy to pick up on after a few conversations with those at the organization. You’ll want to have an understanding of the target customers and the goals of any email (i.e. to sign up for something, to purchase something, etc.) before scheduling a note to be sent.

Email formatting is also a dream to learn. Many brands use platforms like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or GetResponse, and all three have excellent preloaded templates that make sending out emails stress-free, and help you bring in $25-40 per hour.

You can ask for more money if you can, and are hired, to provide the content for the email too.

Thinking of starting your own business? Experts explain how creating an LLC Is the smartest first move.

8. Customer Support

Every industry needs to be sure they have happy clients and customers. But having the right temperament and skills to keep everyone content can be hard to come by.

As a virtual assistant you may be asked to serve as a point of contact for the support line. Some examples of customer support include responding to inquiries via email or chat and answering questions that may come in via blog or social media comments.

If you can keep a cool head and offer detail-oriented responses to clients, you can net $15-30 per hour with this ability.

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Where Do I Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?

Virtual assistant jobs are like any others — they often require a job application and an interview in order to secure the client.

Freelance virtual assistants can also be short-term jobs, just a few months, or longer, like a year or even without an ending date. You can select jobs to apply for based on your interest, their contract length, and of course, how much they pay.

It’s important to be wary of bidding sites like Elance and oDesk. On these sites, organizations post about the type of work they need done and freelancers bid their rates for the job.

The danger is that in order to win a job, you often have to offer a below-market rate, which only undermines your abilities and worth — there are better paying jobs out there, rest assured.

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7 Sites to Find Virtual Assistant Work

Focus on legitimate job openings that respect virtual assistants and freelancers as well as leveraging your professional network. We’ve rounded up these seven.

1. TaskRabbit

While in the past TaskRabbit has been more a local in-person contract work provider, it has expanded to virtual roles including online secretaries. You must be over 21 to use TaskRabbit and live in one of the cities listed in the TaskRabbit directory.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist may come to mind as a place to try to sell used goods and renting places to live, but it also has a vibrant job market section, too, which includes many virtual assistant jobs.

While you need to exercise caution when perusing Craigslist jobs as there is no security against scams, it can be a lucrative place to connect with those outside your local radius for contract work.

3. VANetworking.com

VANetworking.com was founded by a virtual assistant (VA) for other virtual assistants. The site features VA services like online secretary jobs, freelance opportunities, and virtual assistant training for becoming a successful small business owner.

4. WAHM.com

Although WAHM stands for Work At Home Moms, WAHM.com shares remote work opportunities for anyone, regardless of their gender identity or whether or not they are caregivers to children.

5. PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour is one of the top sites for freelancers, virtual assistants, and remote contract workers. You create a profile, set your rate, share your skillset, and wait for customers to come to you. Or, you can search for jobs and submit a proposal.

6. Zirtual

The youngest site on this list, Zirtual used to be “invitation only” for both clients and VAs, but as of January, they’ve opened their virtual doors to the public.

Zirtual works as an agency for VAs, assigning them to clients. They pay a minimum of $10 an hour for part-time work; however, they only accept applications from United States residents.

7. Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, etc.

As the need for virtual assistants has grown due to remote work becoming increasingly popular, standard job sites such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter now have entire sections where you can filter by virtual assistant or online secretary roles across the country.

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How Do I Get My Virtual Assistant Business Off the Ground?

Now you know what a virtual assistant is, what skills are needed to be successful, and where to find remote work. The last step is to get your virtual assistant business off the ground and secure your first few clients.

The best way to do this is to simply begin applying to jobs. Take time to curate your resume in a way that’s geared toward virtual assistant work and leverage your professional network, like on LinkedIn, to make personal connections with potential clients.

Only take on as many clients as you can handle. It’s best to start out with a manageable number of clients, like one or two, and then grow from there. Always be up-front and honest with potential clients about your bandwidth and rates.

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on lifestyle and wellness, and making money topics. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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

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What is Cold Brew Coffee and Why You Ought to Know MAKING MONEY

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Smooth and less bitter than drip coffee and iced coffee, cold brew is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Sales have more than tripled since 2015, with sales expected to reach almost $372 million this year, and almost a billion dollars in 2025. That’s a lot of $4 coffee, the going price for a 20-ounce cup at Starbucks. A 40-ounce container of Stok’s cold brew coffee costs almost $5 at the grocery store.

What is cold brew coffee? Is it really that different from iced coffee? How do people get so hooked on it? Sometimes it just takes that first Starbucks cold brew, and they are all in. It’s that good.

“Hot coffee takes too long to drink and there are so many ways it can go wrong. Cold brew is more consistent and I can drink it right away,” said Susan O’Neil, a project coordinator for the city of Chicago. “I drink 20 to 40 ounces a day since I stopped drinking soda.”

Pro Tip

With the majority of commercial cold brew sold in plastic containers, why add more plastic to the environment? Reduce waste and get better taste when you make cold brew coffee at home. 

What is Different about Cold Brew Coffee Anyway?

What is cold brew? It is deceptively simple. Cold brew is coffee made from water and ground coffee. Instead of brewing it hot, a concentrate is made by steeping the grounds in water for 8 or more hours. Then it is filtered and ready to thin with water or milk, and enjoyed hot or cold. Coffee shops often use a 1:4 ratio of concentrate to water.

The charm of cold brew is the absence of acid. Not only does cold brew have a smoother feel while you drink it, no acid means it is less bitter and the other natural flavors are more pronounced.  Cold brew also allows added flavors to really shine. Some coffee drinkers might find cold brew bland without the complexity of the acid.

Does cold brew coffee have more caffeine? Depends on who you ask. Coffee retailers claim it does, but drilling into the details often shows that they are referring to the cold brew concentrate, which gets further diluted for the drink.

Hot brewed coffee grounds have more of everything extracted because of the heat: flavors, acid and caffeine. Cold brew doesn’t extract as much as all of these because the ratio of coffee to water is higher. People drink larger servings of cold brew than hot coffee.

Decaf coffee drinkers need not despair — you can make cold brew with decaffeinated coffee beans. It is much better tasting than the aged hot decaf coffee poured over ice that you usually end up getting from a shop.

How is Cold Brew Coffee Different from Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is hot coffee cooled down. It might have been brewed hours before, and then refrigerated, or poured over ice to serve. Since it was hot brewed, all of the oils and acids in the coffee beans are extracted and end up in the brew.

Cold brew is more expensive to buy at a coffeehouse because it requires more attention. Calculating the right amount to make for the next day without running out too early requires trial and error.

“We use a specific coffee for our cold brew (Vesuvio blend from Batdorf auf Bronson),” says Teresa Vidal Chalkley, owner of The Chelsea St. Pete, a coffeehouse that opened in the middle of the pandemic in St. Petersburg, Florida. “There is a pound of coffee to a gallon of nice spring water, with a little bit of minerals in it. Then we filter it with bamboo and cloth filters.”

Check out our tips on how to get a good cup of Joe at home and save money on coffee. Tip No. 1: Grind the beans yourself.

Make Cold Brew at Home

Buying cold brew every day can end up costing more than $1,400 a year. If you like drinking cold coffee and are decent at planning ahead, make a cold brew concentrate at home and save 50 percent or more.

You can make your own cold brew in ways that fit every budget. Go all out and buy an excellent coffee bean grinder, water filter, French press pot, and high-end coffee beans. This equipment could set you back $250, even higher if you opt for top-shelf equipment.

Before you splurge on a $100 Fellow Clara French press, for example, look around your house and see if you have a pint or larger Mason jar, some coffee filters, ground coffee and water. That will do to start.

Three Scenarios for Cold Brew at Home

We are going to give you three scenarios to fit your budget so you can make cold brew coffee at home. There’s a system for every budget and taste. Once you know how to do it, you can create your own recipes.

Chalkley uses a pound of coffee in a gallon to make cold brew concentrate. You can play with the ratio for a taste you like. Cold brew can last up to two weeks refrigerated without losing any flavor. Don’t want to make a concentrate? Use 3 ounces, or about two and a half scoops, to a quart of water.

(Almost) No Budget

The absolutely least expensive way to make cold brew uses stuff you have around the house. No need for a cold brew maker. You’ll need a lidded jar (ideally a Mason or spaghetti sauce jar cleaned well), coffee filters, a sieve, ground coffee, and of course water. The basic cold brew ratio is 1:4, or 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. It isn’t necessary to use cold water, but filtered water is good.

Use coarsely ground coffee beans (most grocery stores have grinders there). Put your coffee in the jar, add the water, and shake it up well. You can either refrigerate it or leave it out. Let it steep for at least eight hours.

Once enough time has passed, put a coffee filter in the sieve and place over a wide-mouthed glass or jar. Slowly let the coffee filter through (squeeze gently if it is taking too long). Taste and add more water if it is too strong.

Cost: $388 for coffee and filters for a year.

Medium Budget

Filtering the coffee is the least fun part of making cold brew coffee. Using a French press eliminates most of the angst. The French press not only makes it easy to clean up the coffee grounds, but you can make a cold brew concentrate that will last several days. A French press can cost $10 to $40. Make sure you buy one that holds at least 20 ounces.

There are numerous appliances made specifically for cold brew coffee. The Toddy (named so by Todd Simpson, who first popularized cold brew coffee in the US in the 1960s.) starts around $40. Similar systems like the $18 Primula Burke come with bottoms that unscrew, so it is easier to dump the coffee grounds.

Grinding your beans freshly for each batch of cold brew coffee will result in brighter and tastier coffee. Coffee grinders cost from $16 to hundreds. Using filtered water also helps make a more delicious cup.

Experts recommend against using expensive coffee beans for cold brew coffee. This isn’t the time to break out the Kona. However, using decent coffee beans only makes your morning coffee better.

Cost: $500 to $780 a year (including equipment)

Money is No Object

“Coffee tastes better at coffee shops like ours because we have better equipment,” says Chalkley of The Chelsea St. Pete. You also can have a superior cold brew system at home with Toddy’s Pro Series for $500.

If you need your cold brew NOW, look for the Cuisinart cold brew coffee maker which promises cold brew coffee in 25 to 40 minutes by shaking the coffee grounds. Retail price is about $200 but you can find it for sale online for about half price at Amazon and other retailers.

Cost: $1,020 for a year (not much less than buying at a coffee shop).

5 Tips for Making Cold Brew Coffee at Home

When using a French press, first put the coffee grounds in a jar and shake it up really well. Then pour it into the French press. It is less messy.
You don’t need to use cold water. Room temperature water is fine. Using filtered water is better.
Let the mixture sit uncovered for a few minutes so naturally occurring gasses can escape.
Get creative with your cold brew concentrate! Add a cinnamon stick, chili pepper, or other flavoring to the water part while it steeps.
Add hot water to your cold brew concentrate for a smooth hot drink with a 1:3 ratio of concentrate to water.

The Penny Hoarder contributor JoEllen Schilke writes on lifestyle and culture topics. She is the former owner of a coffee shop in St.Petersburg, Florida, and has hosted an arts show on WMNF community radio for nearly 30 years.

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

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6 Ways to Cope With Lingering Student Loan Debt When You Retire MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:7 Minute, 43 Second

Student loans aren’t just a young person’s problem. At the end of 2020, borrowers age 50 or older held about 22% of the nation’s $1.6 trillion student debt burden, the AARP reports.

Most of the debt held by 50-plus borrowers is the result of the borrower’s education. But many people have student loans because they took out federal Parent PLUS loans or co-signed a private loan for their child.

If you’re in your 50s, 60s or older and have student loans, retirement may feel out of reach. But there are some ways to deal with your debt — that don’t involve working forever.

6 Ways to Deal With Student Loans in Retirement

To pay down your student loans, you can put all your efforts toward eliminating as much of the balance as possible. Or you can minimize the pain to your retirement budget by keeping your payments low, even if that means you may never eliminate your debt.

Neither one is the right or wrong approach. However, your options will vary based on the type of loans you have. Follow these tips for dealing with student loans in retirement.

1. Avoid Refinancing Federal Student Loans

With interest rates low, refinancing your student loans with a private lender may look tempting. But this isn’t a wise move if you have federal loans, especially when you’re planning to retire.

Your income will probably drop when you retire. When you have federal loans, you’re typically eligible for income-driven repayment plans, which base your payments on your income. (More on these shortly.) Plus, federal loans offer far more relief options than private loans. For example, most federal student loans, including Parent PLUS loans, are covered by an administrative forbearance on payments and interest through Jan. 31, 2022, as part of COVID-19 relief measures.

Forfeiting all that flexibility probably isn’t worth it, even if you can save on interest. However, if you have private student loans, go ahead and refinance if you’ll reduce your payments. You could substantially reduce your interest rate if you’ve improved your credit since you took out the loans.

2. Lower Federal Payments With Income-Driven Repayment

If you have federal loans that you took out for yourself, there are four different income-driven repayment (IDR) plans that you could qualify for. These plans will limit your payment to a percentage of your discretionary income. Your options are:

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE)

“For all of the income-driven plans, the criteria is that you be on the plan, and you have to make between 20 or 25 years’ worth of payments, depending on which plan it is,” said Betsy Mayotte, president and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors. “They don’t have to be consecutive. Whatever balance is left, including interest, is forgiven at the end of either 20 or 25 years.”

Rather than trying to split hairs over the differences of each, you can use the loan simulator at studentaid.gov to figure out which programs you qualify for and what your payment would be.

In the past, any balance that was forgiven was considered taxable income in the year of forgiveness. But the American Rescue Plan, the stimulus bill that passed in March 2021, includes a provision that makes forgiveness tax-free through Dec. 31, 2025. Obviously, that won’t help someone who’s just starting a 20- or 25-year repayment plan. Mayotte suggests that borrowers hope for the best, while preparing for the potential tax bill.

“They should assume that there could very well be what we’re calling the tax bomb at the end of this, but there’s a possibility that there won’t be and that Congress will extend it beyond 2025,” Mayotte said.

3. Choose Income-Contingent Repayment for Parent PLUS Loans

If you took out Parent PLUS loans for your child, income-contingent repayment (ICR) is the only income-driven plan you’ll qualify for. You’ll need to consolidate your loans first.

Income-contingent plans aren’t as generous as the other income-driven plans. Your payment is based on 20% of your discretionary income. For the other income-driven plans, the cap is 10% to 15%.

4. Pay Off as Much of Your Private Loans as You Can

Unfortunately, your options are extremely limited if you have private student loans. “Private loans have very few, if any, lower payment options or opportunities for relief,” Mayotte said.

The best solution is typically to pay down as much of the balance as you can. Consider whether you could live on a bare-bones budget while working an extra year or two. Putting all your extra cash toward paying down the loans could significantly reduce your payments in retirement, even if you can’t eliminate the balance altogether.

If you don’t want student loans looming over you for decades, this may also be the better approach for federal loans, even if you can lower your payment with an income-driven plan. Keep in mind that even though income-driven plans typically lower your payments, you may wind up paying more over time. That’s because your payments are stretched over 20 or 25 years versus the standard 10-year window.

5. Look Into Student Loan Forgiveness if You Have a Disability

If you have a disability, you could be one of the 323,000 federal borrowers who will receive the automatic student loan forgiveness recently announced by the Department of Education. Borrowers deemed totally and permanently disabled by the VA or Social Security Administration will have their loans automatically forgiven in many cases.

However, even if you don’t automatically receive forgiveness, you could still qualify if you have a disability. If you aren’t notified that your loan has been discharged, you can apply manually and submit a physician certification.

6. Have a Tough Conversation With Your Kids

If you took out Parent PLUS loans for your kids, you’re legally liable for that debt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them for help, especially if you’re struggling.

“This can be a really difficult conversation, but if you can’t afford those loans, even at some of the lower payment options, it might be time to have a conversation with the children you took those loans for and have them contribute,” Mayotte said.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay?

You want to avoid defaulting on your student loans if at all possible. Student loans are rarely dischargeable in bankruptcy, so it’s highly unlikely that your debt will go away. However, it’s important to understand what can and can’t happen in case you can’t afford your payments.

The potential consequences include:

Having your Social Security benefits garnished. Up to 15% of your Social Security benefits could be garnished and applied to your debt if you default on your federal loans. The first $750 a month you receive is off limits, though. Also, private lenders can’t garnish your Social Security.
Losing your tax refund.
Having your wages or bank account garnished. Whether your loans are public or private, you could get sued over unpaid student loans. If the lender obtains a judgment against you, they could garnish your bank account or your paycheck if you’re still working.
Tanking your credit score. Once your payment is reported as delinquent, the black mark will stay on your credit report for seven years. However, the damage will be most severe in the first two years.

However, you won’t be thrown in jail over delinquent student loan debt. Don’t believe any debt collector who threatens you with arrest. (Note: It’s possible that if you’re sued and you’re summoned to court, you could get arrested if you don’t show up.)

If you can’t afford payments, it’s important to talk to your servicer as soon as possible. You’ll often have some options for federal student loans. While private lenders aren’t required to offer any concessions, it’s often worthwhile for them to allow you to make a lower payment instead of suing you.

Retiring with student loans is doable. But it’s essential to have a plan before you retire and contact your lender immediately when you can’t afford to pay.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

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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Dear Penny: My Boss Sexually Harassed Me, Then Offered Me Millions MAKING MONEY

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Dear Penny,

I have been in a lawsuit against my former boss, who owns the company I was employed at, for sexual harassment and wrongful termination for being fired for reporting it. There was no human resources department. A colleague finally saw a physical incident and provided me with an affidavit and disclosed what he saw in a deposition.

This was October of 2018. The state human rights department did its investigation. Now, the cases are filed against this man and his company in the court system by my attorney.

Long story short, I’ve been informed that if I settle out of court and drop the case, there is a multimillion-dollar amount to expect as per the pending agreement.

I’m not sure I want monetary results. I want him to be held accountable on public record databases. Before I agree, I need advice in terms of what to do with the funds to avoid paying 40% tax.

I have my own small business, and I have ideas of what I may want to do with some of the funding — but I was wondering if you have any information in regards to the following questions:

Where do I put the money to keep it secure and non-taxed until I decide what to do with it —  and can I access it when I need it, as opposed to waiting until I am a senior?

What type of industries or realms can I put the money into that will yield me returns on my monthly overhead in the future? Real estate is what people say but that is not specific, and I also see it as a gamble.

-Help a Single Mom Out

Dear Single Mom,

You didn’t ask for advice about whether to accept this settlement. But that part is key. Until you’ve made that decision, discussing investment and tax mitigation strategies is premature. I worry that focusing too much on financial outcomes right now could distract you from figuring out what you really want.

You didn’t ask to be in this awful situation. And you don’t owe anyone anything. It’s not your responsibility to single-handedly hold this man accountable. But think carefully about your emotional health, as well as your financial needs.

How would you feel if other allegations surfaced and you couldn’t speak up? Or if your former boss went on to abuse someone else? In no way are you responsible for his actions, of course. But you have to be comfortable with what you’re gaining and giving up. If possible, take some time to talk through your feelings with a therapist.


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The tax bill is an unfortunate reality for sexual harassment survivors — though I’m not sure where the 40% you mention comes from. Whether you reach a settlement or win a lawsuit, Uncle Sam taxes the money the same. Damages related to a physical injury typically aren’t taxable. But if the damages stem from emotional distress, the IRS generally considers it taxable as ordinary income. That applies even if the distress is so severe that it makes you physically sick. (I should note that I’m not an attorney, and there’s a considerable gray area here. It’s essential that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.)

So suppose you received a $3 million settlement, and you paid one-third of that in attorney fees. The remaining $2 million would be taxed in ordinary income brackets, which cap out at 37%. Unless you put that money in a tax-advantaged retirement account, you wouldn’t need to wait to access it.

Should you receive a settlement or judgment, proceed with caution. When someone receives a substantial amount of money all at once — whether it’s from a settlement or an inheritance or because you won the lottery — they often feel pressure to make big, life-changing decisions. That can leave you vulnerable to people who don’t have your best interests at heart.

I think the best solution here would be to set aside a year’s worth of expenses in a savings account or certificate of deposit (CD). Then, invest the rest in an S&P 500 index fund for now. That may be a boring solution, but S&P 500 index funds have historically been a great way to build wealth. From there, you can work with a financial advisor to set specific goals and tailor your investments accordingly.

But before you agree to anything, make sure you fully understand all the terms. Ask your attorney lots of questions about what a settlement entails, as well as your options for suing your former boss. If you feel pressured to settle quickly, it’s time to find a new lawyer.

Focus on finding the best course of action for your overall well-being. Money is certainly one component, but it’s not the only factor. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. This is about figuring out what’s right for you.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

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.

MAKING MONEY

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