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Can Mark Cuban’s New Pharmacy Save You Money on Prescriptions? MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:3 Minute, 46 Second

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and “Shark Tank” star, has a new online pharmacy that could make your prescription medications more affordable.

On Jan. 25, Cuban announced the launch of the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. Currently, 100 generic prescription medications are available on the pharmacy website, costplusdrugs.com. Medications are priced at cost plus a 15% markup and a $3 pharmacist fee.

To understand how pricing works, take the example of a 30-day prescription of Colchicine, a generic version of anti-inflammatory medication Colcrys that’s commonly used to treat gout. The drug’s retail price is $176.10, but only costs $4.80 to manufacture.

Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company charges the $4.80 cost to make the drug, plus $0.90 for the 15% markup, plus the $3 pharmacist fee. The total cost for a 30-day supply: $8.70.

Some other common medications the online pharmacy offers include:

Albendazole, which is used to treat parasitic infections, costs $33. Its retail price is $437.68.
Fluoxetine, the generic version of antidepressant Prozac, costs $3.90. Its retail price is $22.94.
Imatinib, a drug that treats leukemia and other cancers, costs $17.10. Its retail price is $2,502.50.
Lisinopril, a medication used to lower high blood pressure, costs $3.60. Its retail price is $24.
Mesalamine, which is used to treat ulcerative colitis, costs $36.90. Its retail price is $959.07.

Does the Pharmacy Accept Insurance?

No. Cost Plus Drug Company doesn’t accept insurance because it doesn’t work with third-party pharmacy benefit management companies that manage drug benefits on behalf of insurers. That means patients will have to pay out of pocket. However, the company’s website states that its prices are often lower than a patient’s co-pay for the same drug at a retail pharmacy.

If you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can use your HSA/FSA card to pay for medications.

Are Coupons Accepted?

No, the pharmacy doesn’t currently accept coupons.

How Much Is Delivery?

Shipping costs $5 and is provided by digital healthcare company Truepill.

How Do I Order Prescriptions?

Use the pharmacy’s website to see if the medication you’re taking is available. Then you can contact your doctor and ask them to send your prescriptions directly to the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company.

What if My Medication Isn’t Offered?

The pharmacy currently offers 100 generic drugs, though it plans to add more to its roster. If you’re taking a brand-name medication, you could ask your doctor if you could switch to the generic version. Other options for lowering the cost of your prescription drugs:

Use Amazon Prime. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can save up to 80% on generic drugs and 40% on name-brand medications through Amazon Pharmacy if you’re paying without insurance. Most insurance plans are accepted, though. You’ll also receive free shipping, which can take up to five days, though you can pay $5.99 to expedite shipping.
Use a prescription discount card. With a prescription discount card service, you can search for a pharmacy near you that offers the lowest pricing on your medication. After you’ve chosen your pharmacy, print out the coupon or show the pharmacist the code using the mobile app. If you have insurance, you can ask the pharmacist whether it’s cheaper to use the discount code or go through your insurance and pay the co-pay. (You can’t use both insurance and a discount card for the same prescription.)
Try other mail-order pharmacies. Mail-order pharmacies can often save you money on prescription medications. Because delivery can be slow, this option is best for drugs you take regularly so that you can order them at least two weeks in advance. You can often save even more money by ordering a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day supply.

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

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: Does My Kid Have to Pay a $10K Loan She Co-Signed Due to a Lie? MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:3 Minute, 32 Second
Dear Penny,

My son and his girlfriend convinced my hard-working twins, a boy and a girl, to co-sign their student loans by telling them it was only for a year. Well, my boy twin signed for his brother. After I reamed him for tricking them, all is well. My son has a job and is working on his second master’s. 

Now for the problem: The girlfriend recently broke up with my son, and my girl twin is going to be on the hook for $10,000 in the ex-girlfriend’s student loans! 

The ex is in Hawaii with her family and isn’t working. She’s just helping out her mom, who had a very bad stroke and is on disability. It’s looking like the ex may never work, but who knows? 

My daughter was tricked. Is there anything that she can do to get out of this?

-W.

Dear W.,

I’m not clear on how your son and his ex “tricked” the twins into co-signing their loans. Did they have them sign loan documents that misrepresented the terms of the loan? Or did your twins fail to read what they were signing?

Some student loans do, in fact, allow borrowers to apply for what’s known as a co-signer release in as little as 12 months after graduation. Actually getting the release can be complicated, though. The borrower has to be current on all payments and needs to show that they can repay the loan without the co-signer.


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Clearly this won’t be an option since your son’s ex can’t afford the payments. But I bring this up because I wonder if there was some truth to the claim that the twins could get out of these loans after a year.

If your daughter signed a fraudulent loan document, she should file a police report and contact the loan servicer. But I’m afraid she doesn’t have many options if she simply didn’t read the loan’s fine print.

It may be worthwhile for your daughter to contact an attorney about whether she has any options. But ultimately, when you co-sign a loan, you’re just as liable for the debt as the borrower. So unless your son’s ex resumes payments — which seems highly unlikely at this point — chances are that your daughter will be on the hook for payments. If she fails to make them, she’ll destroy her credit and could get sued by the lender.

I’m assuming these are private student loans since federal loans rarely require a co-signer. Unfortunately, your options for dealing with private student loans are limited. Still, if your daughter is struggling to make payments, she should contact the lender and see if they have any options. It’s often in their interest to work with borrowers so they can avoid defaulting.

This will likely turn out to be a very expensive lesson for your daughter. Co-signing is a financial minefield that can destroy credit and relationships. It’s especially dicey when you co-sign for someone who isn’t family and has less incentive to preserve the relationship. And whenever you sign an agreement, it’s essential that you actually read it.

Your daughter needs to be the one to take action here. If you’re tempted to intervene, try to resist the urge. Owning your mistakes is part of being an adult.

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.

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How to Become a Recruiter MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:8 Minute, 7 Second

As remote work becomes more and more of a thing, recruiters are increasingly vital to remote-leaning companies.

If you think of yourself as a “people person” drawn to the HR world, then becoming a recruiter might be a good, rewarding career fit for you. Yes, these are the people who write the job descriptions and post the jobs, but there’s a lot more to recruiting than that.

A successful recruiter is like a matchmaker for their company. They know what the hiring manager is looking for, and they do everything they can to find that perfect fit. They talk with potential applicants, but they are also adept at networking with peers and other recruiters to find candidates by word of mouth.

“You are essentially the gatekeeper of culture,” says Ariel Chan, a recruiter for ClearLink, a media company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and owner of The Penny Hoarder. “So it’s extremely important that you’re vetting them properly because it could make or break their whole team structure or their team culture.”

If that sounds interesting to you, the good news is that there’s not necessarily one right way to become a recruiter. Finding the right balance between experience and personality will help you find your way into this career path.

So what should you think about if you want to become a recruiter? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

What Recruiters Do

So what does a day in the life of a recruiter look like?

“I want to stay on top of what new resumes are coming in, so I do dedicate a chunk of time in the morning to reviewing resumes, seeing if there’s anything interesting,” says Chan. “ If there’s something interesting, I’ll request phone interviews. The rest of the day is filled with phone interviews or meetings with hiring managers.”

Because of all the time you’ll spend interacting with candidates and hiring managers via Zoom, on the phone, or in person, you should be comfortable with your communication skills. It doesn’t hurt to be an extrovert, but plenty of introverts work as professional recruiters as well.

According to Glassdoor, where users self-report salary data, early-career recruiters earn about $41,000 a year, and experienced recruiters can earn up to $73,000. The average pay is $52,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the annual median wage at just above $63,000 in 2020, with a 10% growth in demand for this occupation over the next decade.

After all those meetings, initial phone screens, and chats with hiring managers, perhaps the best part of being a recruiter? Making job offers!

How to Break Into the Field and Become a Recruiter

There isn’t just one path to this promising career.

Focus on an Educational Track That Builds Recruiting Skills

Recruiting is all about interpersonal and communication skills, so consider a bachelor’s degree program that helps with those areas.

After reviewing the profiles of more than 100,000 recruiters, LinkedIn found the most popular bachelor’s degrees were:

Psychology
Business
Marketing
Human Resources
Sociology

They’ve also noted that, in some cases, a bachelor’s degree isn’t as important as it used to be.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily the type of bachelor’s degree,” Chan says. “It’s about personality, work ethic, and communication skills. If you communicate well with your potential candidates, as well as your hiring managers – that’s the most important thing in being a successful recruiter.”

Your safest bet is to earn a bachelor’s degree that’s geared toward working with others. Then, get as much experience in those fields as you can while in school, whether that’s through job shadowing, an internship, a part-time job and so on.

Keep Your Sales Skills Sharp

With little experience, you might not be able to jump right into a recruiting role out of college. One great alternative? Sales.

Sales and recruiting are essentially two sides of the same coin. As a professional recruiter, you’re selling your company and a position to potential candidates. Both jobs use many of the same interpersonal skills.

Good salespeople get to know the other person and how their products or services could help them. A good recruiter might approach an applicant about one specific job early in the recruitment process – but, after talking with them and reviewing their skills and qualifications – recommend that person for another job opening within the company.

Seasoned salespeople who are looking for a change may do well to consider the possibilities of a recruiting career.

Know the Types of Recruiting Jobs

Recruiting positions are as varied as the industries recruiters work in. Recruiters are out there every day looking for people to fill sales, management, IT, pharmaceutical, legal positions, and much more. Corporate recruiters are in almost every industry.

If you have an idea what field you would eventually like to recruit in, you might want to look for temporary work in those fields while in college or during your free time. The more experience and familiarity you have with IT, the more likely you are to land a role as an IT recruiter.

But if you can’t get that perfect role right away, don’t lose heart. It’s never a bad idea to take whatever recruiting role you can get while you build the experience to land that ideal position. Like other careers, the dream job in recruiting doesn’t happen overnight.

Finding Success as a Recruiter

Here are some expectations to have and ways to keep advancing in the field.

Stay Connected

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, staying connected on social media, online networking, and recruiting services is incredibly valuable as a recruiter.

You’ll need to master platforms such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn. They’ll be incredibly useful, helping you connect to other recruiters, potential candidates and other companies, and stay on top of ongoing trends in your industry.

“LinkedIn has something that’s specific for recruiters who are searching for people, and it allows you to filter and search pretty much anyone who has a LinkedIn profile that is willing to be found,” says Chan. “We actually do find a lot of people through LinkedIn Recruiter, especially some very niche roles that aren’t easy to come by.”

When you need to fill positions, these contacts will be a great lifeline. They may know someone who is a great fit and may have even interviewed them, which would already give you a head start on what you need to know.

“With other recruiters, we do things like candidate sharing pretty often,” Chan adds. “I have colleagues that have moved on to other companies as well, and we’re constantly thinking of each other. So that sort of connection is pretty important as a recruiter.”

Another great way to stay connected is through job fairs and networking events. Once you’re in the recruiting industry, make sure you are always looking out for those types of social events to build your network.

Keep Learning

Once you’ve landed that first recruiting job, make sure you are always looking for new opportunities to learn. SHRM and HRCI offer recruiting certifications that will help you build your resume and learn some of the hard skills associated with recruiting.

Think about joining a professional recruiters association like the American Staffing Association or the Top Echelon Recruiting Network. These organizations will help you connect with other recruiters to network, learn, and strengthen your recruitment and hiring process.

Take the opportunity to also develop your skills with recruiting software. Learning how to use these platforms will help you find and track applicants efficiently, making your job easier and helping you fill open positions quickly.

As you network, you can also find out best practices through other recruiters. Ask questions about their strategies for the recruitment process, job interviews, and how to find the most qualified candidates – then think about whether any of those methods will work for you.

Like any career, continuing education is an important part of learning and growing as a recruiter.

Be Aware of Common Pitfalls

Chan gives one note of caution for recruiters who are starting out: “Burnout happens pretty fast. It can be really overwhelming when you’re handling so many different roles at the same time,” she says. “You’re working with a lot of different personalities and a lot of different communication styles with different hiring managers. Some like certain things and some don’t. So being able to cater to those individual styles is something that I’ve had to learn along the way.”

She also encourages new recruiters to be seen as a recruiting partner instead of an “order taker” in their company. She says there should be an equal relationship between the hiring manager and the recruiter.

“This is my expertise, so if I feel like three rounds of interviews during the hiring process is plenty and this is the salary range we should go with, I hope the hiring manager hears that. A lot of recruiters will have to learn as they start to further themselves along their career. And that’s how they can really set themselves apart as a great recruiter versus someone who just does the job.”

Robert Bruce is a Senior 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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Bingo Clash Will Pay You Real Cash for Playing Bingo on Your Phone MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:2 Minute, 55 Second
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Most “free” mobile games want to make money off of you through in-app purchases and aggressive ads. But an app called Bingo Clash will actually pay you. Yep, they’ll pay you real cash just for winning games on your phone.

The more you win, the bigger the prize pools you’ll get to compete for. And you can cash out your winnings for real money.

Before you dive into your first prize pool, here’s what you need to know:

What’s Bingo Clash?

If it was just your conventional Bingo hall-style game, you might eventually grow tired of it. But Bingo Clash is much more than that — it’s a suite of Bingo game modes to keep the experience fresh.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner. You’re matched with players of your same skill level, so you won’t be playing against Bingo Clash veterans right away.

You can go head-to-head with a friend for a social gaming session, or Bingo Clash’s matchmaking system can pit you against players of comparable experience levels for more competitive gameplay and the chance to win money.

The more competitive matches you win, the higher you rank. And with higher ranks comes access to more lucrative prize pools. Users can earn as much as $4,000 per game.

It’s a similar story with scoring points. The quicker you mark squares, the more points you earn. And with more points come larger earnings if you play for real money

If you want more than a social gaming experience and a chance to pocket prizes, you’ll at least need a bit of practice and a handful of powerups.

How to Win Real Money

As the matches play out, players get powerups to use at their discretion. Depending on how you use them, you can catch up if you’re behind or secure your victory if you’re neck-and-neck with another player.

Some powerups let you mark additional squares; some let you boost your score and others award you extra coins.

You don’t need to be a genius to win real money — you just need a little wisdom and experience from playing the game.

One such strategy you’ll learn is waiting to collect more points before calling “Bingo,” instead of proclaiming victory as soon as you can.

Cashing out your winnings is straightforward. You can have your money sent to your PayPal account or to your bank via Apple Pay.

How to Get Started

Jumping into Bingo Clash is just as easy as joining any casual mobile game. It’s available on both Android (4.4 out of 5 stars) and iOS (4.6 out of 5 stars), and the app is regularly enhanced with updates.

It’s easy to get started. Just download the free Bingo Clash app to start playing and see how much money you could earn.

*Cash games not allowed in AZ, AK, DE, LA, MT, SC, SD, TN, VT and Puerto Rico

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

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The 10 Worst Banks in America: Banks with the Lowest Ratings MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:7 Minute, 15 Second

If we asked if you were friends with your bank, what would you say?

If your answer is vigorously shaking your head “no,” then you might want to keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on speed dial.

This government organization started collecting consumer complaints in 2011. Apparently, a lot of people have something not-so-nice to say about financial institutions: More than half a million complaints are housed in its Consumer Complaint Database.

Data like this offers a snapshot of which banks are making their customers happy — and which are not.

The Worst-Rated Banks

What makes a good or bad bank for any customer depends on your needs. A comparison of features alone would be insufficient for calling out the worst banks in America. For that, we need to hear from customers themselves.

Consumer rights service company Fairshake analyzed reviews at Consumer Affairs and spotted the banks with the lowest ratings in the country, mapping the most-hated banks in each state, based on the number of one-star reviews on the consumer review site.

When all was said and done, these 10 were at the bottom of the heap in customers’ hearts nationwide:

Bank of America
Credit One Bank
Wells Fargo
Chase Bank
US Bank
Citibank
Ally
PNC Bank
TD Bank
Fifth Third Bank

Runners up: Some regional banks topped the list of one-star reviews in their most popular states, including Associated Bank (Wisconsin), SunTrust (Georgia), BB&T (West Virginia), TCF National Bank (Minnesota), TD Bank (New England), Citizens Bank (Rhode Island), and Regions Bank (southeast U.S.).

Note that the banks with the most poor ratings are also some of the largest banks in the country.

It makes sense that companies with the most customers would be likely to have more reviews — and, therefore, a higher number of one-star reviews — so the ranking is probably a little skewed by size.

But that’s not the only reason these banks end up on the list. Other types of studies that account for a company’s size have shown that customers have a better experience with community-based banks and credit unions — which doesn’t surprise us!

Worst Banks at a Glance

Name
1-Star Reviews Nationwide
Total Assets

Bank of America

2,256

$2.4 trillion

Assessment

Credit One Bank

2,168

$878 million

Assessment

Wells Fargo

2,019

$1.8 trillion

Assessment

Chase Bank

1,627

$3.3 trillion

Assessment

US Bank

1,113

$557 billion

Assessment

Citibank

943

$1.7 trillion

Assessment

Ally

942

$179 billion

Assessment

PNC Bank

842

$462 billion

Assessment

TD Bank

647

$413 billion

Assessment

Fifth Third Bank

665

$206 billion

Assessment

What Makes These the Worst Banks?

Generally, we follow the rule folks have used for millennia to choose which services to buy: Listen to word of mouth.

When you’re shopping for a bank, review the features to make sure it has what you need, but make sure to look into customer reviews, ratings and complaints, too. How a bank handles difficult and unusual issues could make all the difference in your experience long term.

According to an analysis of reviews on its sit, banking review site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints customers have about bad banks, including:

Poor customer service.
Hidden fees
Bounced check fees
Issues with mortgages and loans
Major errors or mistakes
Products and services that don’t live up to what was advertised

Best Banks for Features and Promotions

Trying to stay away from the banks with the most complaints? We’ve rounded up our favorite banks and credit unions based on features we know consumers look for most, including convenience and perks.

These top our list of the best online banks:

Axos Bank
Capital One 360
Ally Bank
LendingClub
Alliant Credit Union
NBKC
Synchrony
Chime
CIT Bank
Discover Bank
Barclays
Charles Schwab

These accounts offer the best bank promotions for new customers:

Aspiration: $150 bonus when you open a new account with a $10 deposit.
Aspiration Plus: $200 bonus when you open a new account with a $10 deposit.
Chase Total Checking Account: $225 when you receive a qualifying direct deposit within 90 days.
TD Bank Convenience Checking Account: $150 when you receive direct deposits of at least $500 within 60 days.
TD Bank Beyond Checking Account: $300 when you receive direct deposits of at least $2,500 within 60 days.
Chime: $100 bonus for you and $100 for a friend when you refer a friend who receives a direct deposit of at least $200.
Bank of America Advantage Account: $100 when you receive direct deposits of at least $1,000 within 90 days.
BMO Harris Smart Advantage Account: $200 when you receive direct deposits of at least $4,000 within 90 days.
BMO Harris Smart Money Account: $200 when you receive direct deposits of at least $4,000 within 90 days.
BMO Harris Premier Account: $350 when you receive direct deposits of at least $7,500 within 90 days.
Discover Bank Online Savings Account: Open account using code BCS122 and deposit at least $15,000 (for $150 bonus) or $25,000 (for $200 bonus) within 30 days.
Huntington Asterisk-Free Checking: $150 when you deposit at least $1,000 within 60 days.
Huntington 5 Checking Account: $200 when you deposit at least $1,000 within 60 days.
HSBC Premier Checking Account: $450 when you receive qualifying direct deposits of at least $5,000 a month for three consecutive months.
PNC Virtual Wallet: $50 to $400 based on qualifying direct deposits within 60 days.
PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Pro: $200 when you receive $2,000 in direct deposits within 60 days.

How to Choose a Bank to Fit Your Needs

Follow these tips when choosing a bank to find the one that’s best for you.

Understand the types of banks. Know the difference between banks, credit unions and online banking platforms.
Consider what you need. Look at your finances, and make a shortlist of features you’re looking for, so you know what to ask about.
Make sure the money is secure. Only put your money in an account that’s insured by the FDIC (banks) or NCUA (credit unions). 
Crowdsource reviews. Read online reviews and ratings, and ask family and friends for their personal experiences with institutions you’re considering.
Check the ATM network. If you expect to need cash often, check out an account’s ATM fees (or reimbursement policy!), and look at the size and location of the bank’s network to make sure you can find ATMs nearby when you need them.
Compare interest rates and fees. Avoid losing your money to nickel and diming. Find an account with low fees and high APY interest.
Look for usability. How’s the app and online banking? Does the account help with savings and money management?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Worst Banks in America

Here are our answers to some of the most common questions about bad banks.

Which Bank Has the Most Complaints?
According to a 2016 analysis by LendEDU, TCF National Bank had the most complaints per $1 billion in deposits (i.e. the highest rate of complaints). In 2021, the banking reviews site MyBankTracker listed the most common complaints in its reviews: excessive fees, bad customer service, bounced checks, overdraft fees, loan issues, major errors and failing to live up to their advertised offers.
What is the No. 1 Bank in America?
The largest bank in the United States by assets is JPMorgan Chase & Co., the company formed in 2000 with the merger of investment banking institution J.P. Morgan and retail banking arm Chase Bank. As of 2021, JPMorgan Chase holds nearly $4 trillion in assets.
What’s the Worst Bank in the United States?
Bank of America has among the worst reputations with consumers in the country, ranking for some of the most complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as the lowest ratings with Consumer Affairs. It ranks alongside some of the largest banks in the country, including Wells Fargo, US Bank and JPMorgan Chase.

Dana Sitar is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She is a former staffer at The Penny Hoarder. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC, The Motley Fool, Inc. and more. 

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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11 Best Food Articles to Help You Save Money All Year MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:3 Minute, 40 Second

Whether you’re a skilled home chef or love to eat out, food is something we all need to budget for.

With rising inflation making everything more expensive, we especially welcome all the advice for saving money on food.

Here are some of our best articles to help you reduce your everyday spending.

11 Top Tips to Save Money on Food

Stress less about food costs with these nuggets of helpful advice.

1. Get Someone to Do Your Grocery Shopping for Free

You don’t always have to pay a premium to enjoy the benefits of a personal shopper. Grocery chains across the country offer free grocery pickup.

Not only do you save time by not having to do the shopping yourself, but you can avoid impulse purchases, like buying that candy bar at the register when it wasn’t on your shopping list.

2. Shop Wisely for Grocery Delivery Services

Choosing grocery delivery is another way to stick to your shopping list and stay within budget. Just be aware of the additional delivery or membership fees.

This article on the best grocery delivery services outlines how each service operates and the associated costs.

3. Enjoy a Meal Delivery Service

Signing up for a meal delivery service takes the pressure off having to figure out what to cook each day.

This article reviews six of the cheapest meal delivery service brands so you understand what each company offers and the costs you’ll pay.

4. Dine Where the Kids Eat Free

If you’ve got a family to feed, eating out at a restaurant can get pretty expensive.

Save money by going to one of these 57 restaurants where the kids eat for free.

5. Celebrate With Birthday Freebies

You should never have to pay for food on your birthday. Don’t spend a thing on your next big day by signing up for birthday freebies from one of these places.

Our list includes special offers from dozens of national chains. You can get a free drink from Starbucks, free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, a free burger from Ruby Tuesday and much more.

6. Cheap Recipes to Make on a Vegan Diet

There’s a misconception that it’s expensive to maintain a vegan diet. In reality, there are plenty of low-budget options for those who only eat plant-based meals.

This article highlights 10 cheap vegan recipes that are filling, healthy and easy to make.

7. Spend Less on Spices

The right spices bring out the best flavors in a dish, but they can be a pricey addition to a recipe. This post shares 10 ways to save money on spices.

8. Have Eggs for Dinner

Eggs are a pretty cheap source of protein, but they’re often reserved for breakfast or baked goods.

But don’t limit yourself! Eggs can be the star in plenty of dinner dishes too. This post details 24 ways to use eggs to make an affordable dinner.

9. Cut Food Costs When Traveling

While most people focus on airfare and lodging when budgeting for an upcoming trip, the cost of eating away from home also adds up.

Before jetting off on your next vacation, consider these 10 tips to save money on food while traveling.

10. Outsmart Starbucks

Chances are your Starbucks habit isn’t what’s stopping you from becoming the next self-made millionaire. If you want to enjoy a nice cup of coffee every now and then, we’re not going to stop you.

However, we’ve got several hacks for you to spend less at Starbucks if that’s your coffeehouse of choice. Your wallet and your tastebuds will thank you.

11. Score a Nice Bottle of Wine for Less Than $10

Good wine doesn’t have to be expensive.

We’ve rounded up a list of 13 bottles of white wine that cost less than $10 but still taste great. (Prefer red? Here are 13 inexpensive but delicious ones.) Your pals at your next dinner party never have to know.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

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How to Get 3 Free N95 Masks Courtesy of the Federal Government MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:2 Minute, 13 Second

On the heels of offering four free COVID-19 tests to all American households, the U.S. government recently announced it will distribute 400 million free N95 masks to the public.

The masks, which the CDC says provide the greatest protection against the highly contagious Omicron variant, will be shipped to pharmacies and community health centers and will be available in the coming days and weeks.

How Do I Get My Masks?

The masks will be available at community health centers and pharmacies across the country. These will be the same pharmacies that participate in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which helped provide COVID-19 vaccines to the public. This includes CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix, Costco, Albertsons, and many others.

See the full list of participating pharmacies. 

You’ll need to pick up the masks in person, so make sure to call ahead. The N95s could start arriving in late January, but most should be available no later than early February at the tens of thousands of participating locations. Three masks will be available for each adult in your household, according to a White House official.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

The incoming N95 masks will not be child-sized. But, according to Politico, the government is working to eventually distribute masks for kids. Watch this helpful video by Aaron Collins, a mechanical engineer with a background in aerosols science, for help in finding the right mask for your child.
Your N95 is good for about 40 hours of active use, Anne Miller, of Project 95, told NPR. She also recommends using the “brown bag decontamination method.” If you’re using the mask all day, put it in a brown bag for five days to allow any viral particles to die. With this method, you could rotate through your three new N95s for a total of 15 days.
Watch out for fakes. If you’re unable to get an N95 mask directly from the government, be alert while looking for your own. Check out the CDC’s guide on spotting a fake N95. Your most trustworthy sources will be larger companies like Armbrust, or big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s, Miller said. If you buy a mask on Amazon, stick to well-known brands like Kimberly-Clark or 3M.

Robert Bruce is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

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The Best Time to Buy a TV, Mattress and More: Here’s Your Guide MAKING MONEY

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Some purchases are tough to plan: car repairs, patches for a leaky roof, a working furnace right before the big snowstorm hits.

But more often than not, you can plan ahead for life’s necessities — and some non-necessities, too.

“You might be able to score an extra discount on a floor model, and some stores are offering special freebies and bundles to incentivize consumers,” Trae Bodge, a Smart Shopping Expert featured on CBS, CNBC and The Today Show said.

Before you let an impulse buy drain your bank account, consult our handy calendar of the best time to buy absolutely everything. You might be surprised at the deals each new season brings!

Our Guide to the Best Time to Buy Everything

Be a smart shopper and plan your purchases according to this calendar, which plots the best deals, month by month.

What to Buy in January

Kick off the new year with big savings.

TVs

Retailers know that the newest TVs and other electronics are revealed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. This makes January the best time to buy a TV, thanks to major discounts — as long as you don’t covet the new, fancy models too much.

We also think it’s no coincidence that the Super Bowl is played annually in early February. Some 100 million people watch the game and nearly all of them on a TV.

Calendars

No need to rush to the bookstore in December to get a new wall or desk calendar. Buy one in January to get a discount.

Calendars and other physical organizers still hold sway with modern shoppers, Bodge says, in part because people are naturally tactile.

It feels really good crossing stuff off your to-do list. We get it.

“Planners also remain popular because many planners are designed to help people become more organized, more mindful,” Bodge said, “There is a self-help/self-care benefit.”

Gym Memberships and Home Fitness Equipment

The pandemic may have kept you out of the gym, and you might still be hesitant to return. But gyms are known to offer big incentives to sign up and get fit in the New Year. Home gym equipment also goes on sale in January, as do scales, according to Consumer Reports. Here’s some guidance on what equipment you need for a good, affordable home gym.

You’ll also be able to find good deals on smartwatches and fitness trackers to help with that resolution.

Linens

The yearly tradition of hosting a white sale dates back to the 1870s, when linens were only available in white. But modern white sales include linens and home goods in every color of the rainbow.

Don’t be swayed by sheets with super-high thread counts — you’ll want to focus more on the material the sheets are made from. You’ll also get more for your money by helping your new sheets lasting longer with the proper care.

Christmas Gear

You have an entire 11 months until you get invited to your next ugly sweater party, but you can browse the clothing racks for some heavily discounted Christmas sweaters. Other Christmas supplies are also on sale in January, including holiday cards and decorations.

What to Buy in February

Fall in love with these deals during February.

Mattresses

If you’ve recovered from your Christmas spending and could use a new mattress, check out Presidents’ Day sales. The three day weekend is considered the first major mattress sale of the year.

If you need time to decide if you’d rather have foam or an innerspring, mattress companies also use holidays such as Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day to offer big discounts.

Jewelry

One of the best times to buy jewelry is in February — but only after Valentine’s Day.

Look for deep discounts after retailers remove their rose-colored glasses. It’s not worth paying the “love tax” to celebrate with your sweetheart, anyway.

Also look for discounts on other Valentine’s Day goods, such as cards and chocolate after the holiday itself.

Winter Coats

Winter coats take up a ton of room in your closet and just as much room in stores. Help retailers clear ’em out this month, and you’ll get a big discount.

What to Buy in March

Spring forward by making these smart purchases in March.

Luggage

Don’t wait until a week before your big family vacation to get a new suitcase. March is the best time to buy luggage, as it’s on sale to entice shoppers who are desperate to be done with their snowy, dreary winters and who crave a little spring break.

Just don’t forget where you put it when it’s time to pack.

What to Buy in April

The smart shopper always plans ahead.

Tools

You don’t have to wait until Father’s Day in June to find excellent prices on tools and home improvement gear.

If you’re eager to start your home DIY projects in the spring, go ahead and shop now.

Sneakers

Everyone’s finally going outside again and stores are swapping out their winter shoe collection for the brighter summer colors. Let sporting goods stores make it easier for you to keep up with your New Year’s resolution (remember that?) by discounting those new kicks.

What to Buy in May

Is your refrigerator running? If not, May is a great time to get a new one.

Small Appliances

Blenders and juicers, coffeemakers, slow cookers, toasters and even toaster ovens are often on sale during Memorial Day extravaganzas. That’s at the end of the month but the deals are often offered at least a week before, sometimes all month. (See also November.)

Besides replacing your old kitchen aids, think about these items for shower and wedding presents.

Refrigerators

New refrigerator models debut in the summer. Shop in May to get last year’s model at a better price.

You can’t tell the difference between last year’s refrigerator models and this year’s, right? Didn’t think so.

Also look for deals on other necessities like freezers, oven ranges and air conditioners, according to Consumer Reports.

What to Buy in June

Here come the … deals?

Vacation Tickets

Hopefully 2022 proves to be a better year for travel. Planning a summer vacation? Travel early or late in the summer instead of during peak times. And you’ll pay less for airfare if you can travel midweek.

“Because prices are particularly high, consider using any points you have accrued and when you make your purchase, use the credit card that offers the highest percentage of points so you can make the most of your purchase,” Bodge said.

Outdoor Gear

Now that summer is in full swing, outdoor gear — like tents, backpacks, lanterns and even fitness gear — is marked down. You can also find great deals throughout the year.

Cookware and China

June is typically peak wedding season, and stores hope you’ve planned ahead to buy wedding registry gifts.

Now is when those items are discounted, and it’s the perfect time to replace or upgrade what’s in your own cabinets. While you’re looking through your old stuff (or your Nana’s), keep an eye out for china patterns that are worth something.

What to Buy in July

Don’t sweat these savings.

Furniture

New styles hit stores in February and August, so retailers spend much of July clearing out old stock, especially over Fourth of July weekend — making this the best time to buy furniture.

Dehumidifiers

July means humidity. Pick up an older version of a much-needed dehumidifier in July or August, according to Consumer Reports.

What to Buy in August

The dog days of summer offer some amazing bargains.

Computers (Except Apple Products)

Computer manufacturers typically release their new models in the summer, so back-to-school sales are a great time to buy last season’s model. The specs probably won’t be different enough for you to notice, unless you’re a hardcore gamer or designer.

Apple products, however, typically get announced in the fall, so hold off to get that new MacBook.

Printers

If you’re working from home and your kids are doing online learning, you might be considering a printer upgrade. Printers, tablets and wireless earbuds are some of the electronics that you’ll see discounted during back to school sales.

Grills

Grilling season doesn’t stop at the stroke of Labor Day. Buy at the tail end of summer to enjoy your grill until almost Thanksgiving (OK, depending on where you live).

What to Buy in September

Back to school? More like back to the checkout lane.

Thanksgiving Flights

Airlines still aren’t getting pre-pandemic levels of business, but flights are getting booked again and the rising cost of airplane fuel is being passed on to customers. If your new baby still hasn’t met Great Aunt Millie, consider buying those Thanksgiving flight tickets in September to get a better price.

Hitting the prime booking window — plus our other top tips for saving on air travel.

Swimsuits

Even though your local pool might be closed for the season, you should think about stocking up on swimsuits for next year.

A House

This might not be a frequent purchase, but if you’re in the market for a new home, it can help to hold off past the busy spring and summer buying seasons.

Your costs typically drop a few percentage points at the end of September (after the kids have gone back to school), making this the best time to buy a house.

Washers/Dryers

Have you been debating on making the switch to a front load washer and dryer set?

Many manufacturers roll out new models in September and October, so Labor Day weekend can be a particularly good time to save, according to Bodge.

What to Buy in October

There’s a joke about spooky deals in here somewhere.

Denim

Jeans typically get discounted in October, after back-to-school sales have ended and families are stocked up on fall attire.

Patio Furniture

Goodbye summer, hello savings.

It’s worth checking out the patio furniture if you don’t mind storing it over the winter. When that first warm spring day hits, you’ll be ready to bask in the sunshine.

Leaf Blowers

October means fall leaves — and they are likely covering your yard. Pick up a leaf blower, and while you’re at it, get ready for the snowy days ahead with a snow blower, according to Consumer Reports. Incoming snow also means you’ll find good deals on lawn mowers.

What to Buy in November

The days get shorter, but the deals get bigger.

Small Appliances, 2.0

Like in Spring, the fall is a gold mine of rock-bottom prices on giftable small appliances.

If you’re looking for a blender, air fryer, coffee maker or anything else that’ll proudly take up space on your kitchen counter, it’s worth waiting until Black Friday sales begin in stores and online.

Video Game Consoles

If you’re one of the people still waiting to get a PS5 over a year after its release, you might have to wait a bit longer.

The semiconductor chip shortage is still impacting supply issues and Toshiba expects to have a shortage through the end of 2022. Nintendo and Microsoft are also experiencing supply issues.

If you can snag a video game console, prices will be lowest around Black Friday, experts say.

If you (or your kids) are okay with older models, the previous generations of consoles experience a drop in price when new models arrive.

Pro Tip

It’s a good idea to wait a few months after release to buy a new console, since it gives manufacturers the chance to work out any kinks.

Video Games

When you do get a new console, you’ll need video games to go with it.

If you wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, many retailers bundle popular video games with their respective consoles — giving you good deals on both.

If you can’t wait for the holidays and are buying throughout the year, wait until the game has been on the market for two or three months. That’s when games tend to experience their first drop in price.

If you’re looking for computer games, you can also check out Steam’s summer and winter sales. They have sales throughout the year, but you can find games slashed by as much as 60% during those weeks.

Wedding Gowns

Bridal shops are slow before the proposal rush during the holiday season, so the few weeks before Thanksgiving is a good time to start trying on gowns.

Ask about sample sales and last year’s styles that may be priced to move.

What to Buy in December

Celebrate the season by shopping smart, obviously.

Swimming Pools

If your family’s been begging for a backyard pool, December is the best time to have one installed. It might be chilly, but pool pros would rather avoid working on 90-degree days!

Plus, when their workload slows in the winter, many contractors are willing to lower their prices.

Toys

Toy deals stick around after those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in November.

Even if you’re done with holiday shopping for your little ones, consider picking up their favorite character and activity toys while they’re still discounted to stash away for birthdays.

Cars

You won’t always be able to predict when your current car will see the end of the road, but if you can, wait until the end of the year to buy a new (or new to you) one. Car dealerships offer the lowest prices in December when they’re trying to make their yearly quotas. You’ll also find older car models discounted to make room for the new ones.

If you can’t wait until December, also try going at the end of the month during the year when the deadline for monthly quotas is approaching.

Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder. Lisa Rowan is a former staff writer. 

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 Private Investigator Without a 4-year Degree MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:11 Minute, 57 Second

From Sherlock Holmes to Easy Rawlins to Veronica Mars, popular culture has had a fun time depicting private investigators. Danger! Mystery! Glamor! And while stories about fictional private investigators aren’t necessarily accurate, it’s still an interesting and exciting field.

You might want to become a private investigator if you are naturally curious, level headed, and detail oriented. This is a field that pays well and doesn’t require a four-year college degree. There is some variation among the states about requirements for private investigators. An interest in criminal justice helps but isn’t necessary.

Become a Private Investigator as a Second Career

Being a private investigator could be an excellent second career, especially for people who have worked in criminal justice, the military, cyber-security, or have been a law enforcement officer.

This is a career area that is growing. It is expected to grow by 13% through 2030, which is faster than many other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 3,500 jobs available each year. Good news for a job that averages more than $53,000 a year.

It might also be worthwhile to find out what it takes to become a private investigator as a full or part-time career after retirement. You will find out below how some private investigation jobs can be flexible. Some specialties in private investigation require extensive knowledge of certain fields. For example, a healthcare/insurance fraud investigator needs to know their way around medical terms, software and best practices.

Part-time private investigator is among the good side gigs for retirees. We’ve got 18 more for people not ready to quit work completely.

States will generally accept a mixture of education, experience and internship experience toward required hours for a license. For example, California considers time spent working as a military police officer or a sworn law enforcement officer to count toward the hours, equal to interning with a licensed private investigator.

Read on to find out how to become a private investigator.

What Characteristics Does a Private Investigator Need?

Private detectives rarely creep around old buildings with magnifying glasses like Nancy Drew. Instead they spend a lot of time researching and following up on details. Private investigators have to be pretty friendly, and comfortable talking to a variety of people.

It’s important to be detail oriented, since a small discrepancy could be the thing that breaks open a case. On the flip side, a mistake in your data collection could torpedo a case.

Other qualities that are important for private investigators to have are persistence and tenacity, for following up on reluctant interviewees; quick thinking and ingenuity, so you can react to unexpected events or results; and professionalism and integrity, so the information you gather can be used in court.

If you think you have these qualities, then you should definitely research how to become a private investigator.

What Does a Private Investigator Do?

Private investigation employment breaks down into a few basic categories. They might work for lawyers or for businesses and large corporations. Governments also use investigators in child protection services, tax fraud, and more, but those wouldn’t be considered private investigators. A licensed private investigative agency is used by individuals, lawyers, and businesses.

Lawyers

Law firms hire private investigators to discover whether people are cheating in some fashion. It could be on a spouse or involving health insurance, workman’s compensation, non-compete agreements, and more. Lawyers also use private investigators to find people perhaps in connection with a will, and they are also used to uncover assets.

Businesses

Corporations may have internal detectives to find fraud, both internal and external, within the company. Or they might have private investigators on retainer. These detectives would look to see if there is embezzlement within the organization, intellectual property or copyright infringement, and other protective reasons.

Businesses and corporations also use private investigators to research potential partners or acquisitions to ensure they are getting accurate and complete information. Having a strong corporate compliance background can help corporate private investigators.

Businesses might also use private investigators with cyber-security backgrounds when there has been a data or information hack, or there are online threats against the business.

Agencies

Individuals also hire private investigators to get information. They might be worried about a straying spouse or a missing child. They may be concerned about certain activities, but don’t want to go to a law enforcement agency.

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies will hire private investigators to look into claims. Those investigators might look at a claimant’s social media; observe their activities; use public records to see if they have previously filed similar claims; and photograph or record a claimant in public. Private investigators of all types talk to the target’s friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.

What Are the Different Types of Private Investigators?

While many private investigators are general practitioners, meaning they are competent in all of the facets of investigative services, people can also specialize in types of investigations. They develop sources and a broad understanding of the tools that are available for their private investigation field.

When you are thinking about how to become a private investigator, do a self assessment about your skills (or skills you want to develop). Some of the specialty areas might be perfect for you. Corporations often have internal investigating departments. These departments may hire private investigators to fill  special needs.

Some private investigator agencies specialize in certain fields, or need specialists like those listed below.

List of Private Investigator Specialties

These are the main types of private investigator jobs. A license is required to do them. Private investigators, like all other licensed jobs, have to take continuing education courses throughout their careers to retain their license.

Background investigator
Corporate investigator
Cybercrime investigator
Desktop investigator
Healthcare/ medical fraud  investigator
Internal/external fraud analysis investigator
Skip tracer
Surveillance investigator

Background Investigator/Background Data Analyst

This investigator/analyst does background checks on potential employees. They follow up on submitted information. For high level jobs, they may conduct interviews. This requires good organizational and writing skills.

Corporate Investigator

This person would carry out due diligence investigation on investors; brand reputation investigation, and other investigations into assessing information to identify potential issues. Good for someone with corporate leadership background.

Cybercrime Investigator

A cybercrime investigator works to recover data on computers if hacked, destroyed, or damaged. Plus, they test/investigate cybersecurity breaches, conduct other digital investigations, and write the investigation reports. They may be called to testify, for example, in a child pornography case about recovering and reconstructing evidence.

Desktop Investigator

This is a form of investigation that would suit someone with considerable computer research skills involving databases, social media, and other sources. May do phone inquiries. Usually the first step in an investigation.

Healthcare/Medical Fraud Investigator

Very much a detail oriented field, this private investigator audits medical coding to ensure accuracy and detect fraud within healthcare providers. A type of insurance fraud investigation.

Internal/External Fraud Analysis Investigator

Internal fraud investigators usually work for a company or organization. External fraud investigators are brought in, either by an outside party or the organization. These investigators may be looking at any facet for fraud.

Skip Tracer

Skip tracers look for people who have skipped town, or disappeared without a trace. People might be ducking debt, avoiding court, or family matters. Some skip tracers / private investigators may find people remotely or have to travel.

Surveillance Investigator

These private investigators fit the classic television trope of the private detective sitting in a car with a video camera. They find, follow, record and report the actions of the surveillance target.

How to Get Started as a Private Investigator

Some states may require an associate or bachelor’s degree to get private investigator licenses, but most don’t. A high school diploma or GED is almost always required.  Alabama doesn’t require any schooling, but it is helpful to take criminal justice courses for the state exam.

You usually have to be a citizen or legal resident and be at least 21 years old. Often you can get your private investigator intern license earlier. For example, in Florida, the required age to get an investigator intern license is 18.

States generally require 40 hours of professional training before someone can apply for a private investigator license for an internship. This can be through traditional colleges and universities, or through private investigator academies. Some states allow substituting completed academic hours for professional training

Once you qualify as a private investigator intern, you will work for a licensed private investigative agency. States may require up to two years of interning with an agency before you can take a licensing exam. Once you pass your exam, it is likely that you won’t have any problem getting employment.

Some states require that you post a surety bond. That means you have guaranteed a certain amount of money to be paid out if you mishandle a case or incident.

It is more difficult to qualify if you have been convicted of a felony, or misdemeanors of moral turpitude. One possibility is getting a criminal record expunged, so you can legally say you don’t have convictions.

Here is how to become a private investigator.

Schooling
Internship
Licensing / Fingerprinting / Background check
Weapon licensing
Professional development

Schooling

Many colleges and universities offer programs which meet the requirements to get a private investigator intern license. There are online academies in Georgia.

A growing field of investigation is cybersecurity. There are an increasing number of hacks of business and government data. Various programs offer certification in cybersecurity, often costing around $1,000. The average salary though in this field is higher, at just under $80,000.

It is important to make sure that whatever school you use for professional training is certified by your state. These courses sound like something out of a action movie: Improvised Explosive Device Training, Surveillance Basics; Bomb Threat Analysis. Many states also require ethics courses. Most courses cost between $99-129 to qualify. The cost varies state to state. A pre-licensing online course in Georgia costs $375 

Internships

When researching how to become a private investigator, it might surprise you to read about internships. Colleges and universities can teach you the necessary background knowledge for being a private investigator. Interning teaches you how to do the job.

Almost every state requires private investigator interns licenses. For example, to qualify for the private investigators’ intern licenses in Florida, you have to have at least 40 hours of certified education in criminal justice, law enforcement, civil and criminal liability, and related areas.

Arizona doesn’t call it an internship, but rather requires a Private Investigator Employee Registration Certificate for an apprenticeship with a licensed agency.

Not every state has a private investigator intern license. For example, New York does not have one, and you have to be 25 years old to become a private investigator.

It is important to reiterate that if you have law enforcement experience, that may count as your internship. This site is a good resource to read the requirements of becoming a private detective in every state.

Licensure & Legal Requirements

Forty-five states require a license to be a private investigator. It is vital that before you become a private investigator you research your state. Five states (Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wyoming) don’t have statewide licenses, but there are some local requirements. Alaska and South Dakota require a general business license ($50 in Alaska, $150 in South Dakota).

There is variety between the states (and Washington, D.C.) in the requirements to get and stay licensed. Generally between 3,000-6,000 hours of private investigation work has to be logged, or between two and three years of interning. Previous law enforcement personnel or military police can use some of their experience to count. Getting an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice (or similar) also counts.

When you are ready to take your state’s licensing exam, you submit to a variety of processes. You will get fingerprinted (usually costing around $60), background check or FBI classification check ($25), affidavit of good moral character, application fees ($33-$165), and the cost of the exam ($100-$175), plus other common paperwork. States often require confirmation of employment from a private investigation agency. About half of the states require a $5,000-$10,000 surety bond.

Weapons Licensure

While private investigators don’t have to carry weapons, many do. There are a variety of situations you might find yourself in, and some of them could be dangerous. Some private investigators who used to work in law enforcement might already have concealed weapons or other firearm permits.

Weapons permits and licenses also vary by state. Being a private investigator may be beneficial in some states when applying for a concealed weapon license. Most states require additional coursework and bonds for private investigators who carry weapons.

Professional Development

Maintaining your license is essential in working as a private detective. License renewal is an average of two years in the United States, and generally costs around $200. You will be expected to take continuing education courses. States like North Carolina, Texas, and Oregon require ethics courses as part of continuing education.

Becoming a private investigator is a fantastic option for the person who likes variety in a job and doesn’t mind not knowing the outcome of each case. Private investigators get paid well without having to spend years in college.

It is a quickly growing field, and if you want to focus on one of the specialty areas, you can make good money and have job security in a fascinating field. It is an especially good second or post retirement career.

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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11 Simple Ways to Get Free Diapers MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:9 Minute, 37 Second

Having a baby is easily one of the most life-changing experiences you’ll ever have. But a new baby can also take a toll on your budget as you realize how expensive things like diapers, formula (if you choose to use it) and clothes can be.

We’ve heard your average baby goes through six to 10 diapers a day, and 2,500 to 3,000 diapers in their first year alone. By the time your kid is finally potty-trained, you’ll have spent thousands on thousands of diapers.

11 Ways to Save Money on Diapers

There are several ways to get free diapers depending on your need. Check out these 11 ideas and start saving money on baby diapers. You will be able to get free diapers (or close to free.)

1. Free Diaper Samples From Manufacturers

Diaper companies count on loyal customers, and many may be willing to send you free diaper samples if you contact them and ask.

If you’re a new parent, explain that you’re trying to find the best diapers for your baby and ask if the manufacturer will send you some free diapers to try.

If you’re a more experienced parent, call and explain that you’re considering switching to a different diaper brand and ask whether they can send you any free samples to help guide your decision.

Go to the website for companies like Huggies, Luvs and Pampers and look for their contact info. Give them a call and explain your situation to see if there’s anything they can do to help you.

It’s also a good idea to follow the top diaper companies on social media to keep an eye out for coupons, promotions and giveaways that can get you free diapers.

2. Loyalty/Rewards Programs

Interested in using your diaper purchases to get free diapers? The following diaper companies offer rewards programs where your diaper purchases can earn money which you can use to buy … you guessed it… more diapers!

Huggies

Sign up for Huggies Rewards+ and you’ll earn points by scanning your receipt every time you buy a pack of Huggies diapers. Those points translate into cold hard cash (well, gift cards) that you can use to spend on even more diapers, all free of charge.

Pampers

Download the Pampers Club App and start saving! With each purchase of Pampers diapers, you’ll earn Pampers Cash which you can redeem for coupons or gift cards to use on free diapers (or marginally cheaper).

Bambo Nature

Sign up for the Bambo Nature rewards program and start earning points on your diaper purchases. You’ll earn two points for every dollar spent, which you can then exchange for money off diaper purchases at BamboNatureUSA.

3. Baby Registries

Some baby registries will send you a free box of baby items when you reach a certain threshold, and that box often includes free diaper samples. Here are a few of the best-known baby registries that offer free diapers, baby food, formula and other baby freebies.

Amazon

Amazon’s baby registry has a ton of perks, including a box of free baby stuff when you can check three boxes: Sign up for an Amazon Prime membership (pretty much a done deal for many of us), complete 60% of your checklist and order at least $10 of gifts from your registry.

Once you’ve completed all three, Amazon will send you a box of random baby items, which often includes free diapers in addition to things like free baby formula.

buybuy BABY

When you set up a baby registry with buybuy BABY, you’ll get a bag of goodies that includes free samples and coupons for baby items, including free diapers, baby food and other baby freebies.

Babylist

Unlike store-specific registries, Babylist allows you to add items from a variety of stores to your registry. And when you create your baby registry, you’ll receive a free Hello Baby Box, which contains goodies like free diapers, toys and breastfeeding supplies.

Target

Target has a wide selection of baby items and a whole bunch of locations, making it a great option for your registry. When you sign up for a baby registry, you’ll get a free welcome kit filled with free samples and coupons for you and your baby, which could include some free diapers.

4. The Pediatrician’s Office

If you’re not sure which diaper brand works best for your baby (because, surprisingly, not all diapers work the same for all kids), ask your doctor’s office if they have any samples they can give you to try.

Doctors and pediatricians often get free samples of things like baby diapers and formula from manufacturers and are encouraged to give them out to parents as needed.

You likely won’t get a ton of free diapers this way, but you should get enough to keep you going for a few days or, if nothing else, stock your emergency diaper stash (yes, you need one of these).

5. Switch to Cloth Diapers

Disposable diapers fill up your trash can quickly and end up in the landfill. Instead of looking for free diapers that’ll end up in your trash can, consider cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers are a fantastic way to save money on diapers while also reducing your waste and being kinder to the planet.

You might initially be a little grossed out by the thought of cloth diapers, but once you get the hang of them you’ll wonder how you ever used disposables (trust me … I cloth diapered my kids for almost six years straight).

Cloth diapers come with an initial cost, but once you have your stash you’ll literally never buy diapers again. You can find cheap but effective diapers on Amazon and eBay.

Look for brands like Mama Koala, Alva Baby, and Kawaii Baby, all of which are affordable. My kids used these brands almost exclusively and they held up over several years per kid before they were potty trained.

You can build a cloth diaper stash for a few hundred dollars. Compare that to the thousands you’ll spend over a few years for each kid in disposables and it’s clear cloth is the more affordable (and more eco-friendly) option.

Not exactly “free,” but the savings you’ll enjoy from cloth diapering more than outweigh the savings a few free diapers will yield.

6. Market Research Companies

If you like to share your opinion (and these days, who doesn’t?), consider doing some online surveys that can help you earn free diapers.

Surveys aren’t going to make you rich, but they can provide some extra money to help you cover the cost of baby diapers, making them essentially free. We tried out InboxDollars, MyPoints, CashKarma (read the full reviews here).

Another good option is Swagbucks.com, where you can earn gift cards or PayPal credit for taking surveys. You even get a $5 bonus just for signing up! Whether you use disposables or cloth diapers, you can stock up using an Amazon, Walmart or Target gift card you earn from Swagbucks.

7. Diaper Banks

If you’re struggling to afford to keep your kids diapered, there’s an easier way to get free diapers than collecting points or writing reviews.

The National Diaper Bank Network is an organization dedicated to ending diaper need. According to statistics on the National Diaper Bank Network’s website, around 5 million children under 3 in the U.S. live in poor or low-income families, and many simply can’t afford to buy the number of diapers their baby or toddler needs. In that situation, free diapers can really make a difference.

If this describes your situation, you can call 2-1-1 for 24/7 help. The specialists at the National Diaper Bank Network will be able to connect you with a local agency that provides diaper assistance.

If you prefer cloth diapers, you can apply to get free ones at The Cloth Option. Approved families will receive 20 free diapers for newborns, 15 for infants or 10 for potty-training toddlers.

8. Local Organizations

Local groups and organizations are a great place to ask for free diapers when you need them. Some local food banks or faith-based organizations offer help for families struggling to afford diapers. You can also contact your county’s social services office for help if you need it.

Failing that, you can often find neighbors with extra diapers to gift on websites like Freecycle and Nextdoor. If you have a Buy Nothing Project group in your area, that’s a good resource to try as well. It’s surprising how many people have a stash of diapers left over from when their child potty trained.

9. Coupons and Sales

Diaper manufacturers really want your business, so you’ll often find coupons to entice you to buy one brand over another. If you’re not picky about brands it’s a great strategy to buy whatever has the best sale or coupon deal so you can stock up.

Most major diaper companies list coupons on their websites, so it’s a good idea to check frequently and see what deals and free samples you can find. You can also keep an eye on local grocery and big box stores and stock up when their diapers are on sale for super low prices.

10. Cash-Back Apps

If you want to earn money for free diapers just by doing your regular grocery shopping, you need to download a cash-back app. One of the best-known is Ibotta but there are others to check out as well.

Cash-back apps can help save money on diapers and more. Check out 13 money-saving cash apps that make it easy.

Ibotta works by searching for rebates on items you’ve purchased and then applying them to your account. You just need to upload a copy of your receipt to the app and Ibotta does the rest of the work. Once you have $20 in your account you can convert it to cash and spend it on all the free diapers your heart desires.

In addition to Ibotta, check out Shopkick, Fetch Rewards and Checkout 51.

11. Eliminate Them Altogether

A couple of years ago, one of our contributors shared her story of raising her son diaper-free. It’s a growing trend and it’s no wonder since the average family can save more than $2,100 going this route. Would you consider this? The bonus is that by using old shirts and other materials, babies are often potty-trained earlier because of the discomfort.

Ohio-based Catherine Hiles is a British writer and editor living and working in the U.S. She has a degree in communications from the University of Chester in the U.K. and writes about finance, cars, pet ownership and parenting.

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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