23 Employers Switching to Long-Term Remote Work

Happy remote worker
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This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Although the transition to working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic was fast and furious for a lot of organizations, many companies are now figuring out that working remotely is the future of work — pandemic or not.

Keeping reading for 23 companies that have switched to long-term remote work, along with some of their recent remote opportunities that have been posted to the FlexJobs database.

1. Amazon

Amazon sign
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As the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon employs nearly 92,000 employees all over the globe and offers traditional and e-books, furniture, household items, apparel, electronics, music, movies, and more.

Remote work plans: Employees whose positions allow them to work from home can do so through June 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Customer Service Associate
  • Customer Support Associate
  • Economist – Advertising Finance

2. American Express

American Express Sign on Building
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

American Express is a global provider of financial goods and services, including payment solutions, travel, and financial management for individuals and businesses.

Remote work plans: Employees can continue working from home through Labor Day 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Manager – Corporate Communications – Global Supply Management
  • Business Analyst – Workforce Forecasting – Capacity Planning – Scheduling
  • Real-Time Analyst

3. Capital One

Capital One Sign
Isabelle OHara / Shutterstock.com

Capital One, one of the nation’s top 10 largest banks, provides financial services and products for consumers, commercial customers, and small businesses nationwide.

Remote work plans: Capital One plans to keep all non-essential staff working from home until Labor Day 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Bilingual Collections Associate – Repo
  • Customer Solutions Specialist

4. Coinbase

Coinbase Logo
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com

Coinbase offers cryptocurrency services designed to facilitate transactions in open-source, peer-to-peer digital currencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin.

Remote work plans: Coinbase has become a “remote-first” company, allowing most staff who want to work remotely to do so indefinitely. Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, employees who want to return to the office will be able to for some or all of their working hours.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Social Media Manager
  • Training Lead, Client Services
  • Group Product Marketing Manager, Consumer

5. Dropbox

Dropbox logo on phone
Primakov / Shutterstock.com

Dropbox helps people and companies keep files in sync, and share and collaborate on projects anytime and anywhere.

Remote work plans: Dropbox will let all employees work from home permanently. Existing office space will become Dropbox Studios, where people can choose to go in to work.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Director of Product Management, Business Platform
  • Senior Director of Product
  • Sales Compensation Analyst

6. Facebook

Facebook sign
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 2014, Facebook is the largest social media network worldwide, with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users.

Remote work plans: Facebook will allow up to 50% of their employees to work remotely forever. The rest of the company can remain remote until July 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Product Designer
  • Technical Program Manager

7. Hawke Media

remote worker
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Hawke Media offers a full range of digital marketing services. It specializes in optimizing digital media strategies to help companies work more efficiently, save money, and generate revenue.

Remote work plans: Hawke Media is now a fully remote company.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Digital Strategist
  • Vice President of Creative Operations

8. Infosys

Infosys sign
BalkansCat / Shutterstock.com

Information technology and services company Infosys offers services to clients in more than 50 countries worldwide. Infosys solutions include strategic consulting, digital transformation, insights and analytics, business services, engineering services, and finance and accounting.

Remote work plans: Infosys will allow 33% to 50% of its workforce to work from home permanently.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Underwriting Manager
  • Post Closer Process Associate

9. Lambda School

online college
Rido / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 2017 as a revolutionary alternative to traditional colleges, Lambda School trains students for high-tech careers with 100% online classes and no up-front costs.

Remote work plans: Lambda School has rolled out a permanent work-from-anywhere policy, and employees can work from anywhere in the U.S.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Data Analyst
  • Engineering Manager for Student Products
  • Marketing Analyst

10. Microsoft

rvolkan / Shutterstock.com

Microsoft is a multinational technology corporation that develops, manufactures, and markets computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers.

Remote work plans: Employees can work from home for approximately 50% of their workweek. Managers have the option to approve full-time remote work for staff.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Business Program Manager, Customer Success
  • Executive Communications Lead – Storytelling
  • Customer Engineer

11. Salesforce

Salesforce sign
Bjorn Bakstad / Money Talks News

Salesforce helps businesses of all shapes and sizes connect with customers using their customer relationship manager.

Remote work plans: Salesforce has declared the 9-to-5 workday dead and now offers three categories of flexible work for employees: Flex (only in the office one to three days per week), fully remote, and office-based (the small number of staff who need to be in-person four to five days per week).

Recent remote job openings:

  • Accessibility Content Marketing Manager
  • Account Executive, Public Sector
  • Enterprise Account Executive

12. Shopify

Shopify Company Logo
Paul McKinnon / Shutterstock.com

Shopify is an ecommerce company that provides a multichannel, cloud-based commerce platform for small and midsized companies to design, organize, and manage stores across various sales channels.

Remote work plans: All of Shopify’s 5,000 employees can work from home indefinitely.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Payroll Manager
  • Senior Legal Counsel, Product and Commercial

13. Siemens

Siemens Company Sign
nitpicker / Shutterstock.com

Started in 1847, Siemens is a global industrial electrical engineering and electronics corporation that operates nine divisions. Products include industrial controls, energy-efficient building solutions, wind turbines, medical imaging technology, and train and subway solutions.

Remote work plans: 140,000 of Siemens’ employees can permanently work from home for two to three days per week.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Scientific Marketing Manager – Pharmaceutical Services
  • Software Designer, Developer – Java

14. Skillshare

Skillshare Website
Postmodern Studio / Shutterstock.com

Skillshare is an online learning community that services more than 3 million students. Classes cover areas as diverse as design, business, crafts, culinary arts, technology, and film.

Remote work plans: Skillshare is moving to permanent remote work.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Head of User Research
  • Content Program Manager
  • Director of Product, Consumer Experience

15. Slack

Slack Company Sign
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Slack offers real-time messaging, archiving, and search services designed to facilitate team communication so users can quickly and efficiently stream communication and documents to share with colleagues.

Remote work plans: Most Slack employees can work from home permanently, and Slack is committing to hiring more permanently remote employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Product Manager, Conversations, Search and Channels
  • Senior Product Manager, Monetization
  • Group Product Manager, Productivity

16. Spotify

Spotify phone earbuds
Primakov / Shutterstock.com

A Swedish company, Spotify provides music, comedy, podcast, and streaming services. Users can play music directly from the cloud, instead of downloading it to their device, and have access to more than 30 million tracks.

Remote work plans: Spotify recently announced that employees can choose to work in the office, remotely, or in a company-paid coworking space.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Backend Engineer

17. Square

Square Company Sign
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Square began as a small credit card-reading application and now provides merchants with the ability to manage point-of-sale systems, accept credit card payments, and sell online.

Remote work plans: Even when offices begin to open, Square employees will be able to work from home permanently.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Editor, Editorial Strategist, Management
  • Senior Technical Accounting Manager
  • Technical Writer

18. Starbucks

Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.com

A global coffee brand, Starbucks aims to provide an inspiring and nurturing environment in each establishment.

Remote work plans: Starbucks has extended its remote work plan until October 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Director, Policy and Practice – Inclusion and Diversity
  • Senior Information Security Engineer – Identity and Access Management

19. Target

Target
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Target is the nation’s second-largest discount store retailer and operates over 1,800 stores in 47 states.

Remote work plans: Employees in the Minnesota headquarters can continue working remotely until June 2021, with plans for a long-term hybrid model.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Lead Data Analyst, Talent Analytics
  • Senior Data Analyst, Talent Analytics

20. Twitter

Twitter building
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Twitter is an online social networking and news service that allows people to post messages and interact with others instantly around the world using short messages.

Remote work plans: Employees at Twitter will be able to work from home indefinitely, going into the office if and when they choose.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior – Staff Researcher – Creator Experience
  • Conversation Lead
  • Senior Researcher – Media Experience

21. Upwork

Upwork Logo
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Upwork is the world’s largest freelance marketplace offering 2,500 skill categories, with 10 million registered freelancers and 4 million registered client companies.

Remote work plans: Upwork is permanently adopting a remote-first model, with remote work being the default for all employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Product Designer
  • Senior Content Designer
  • Directory, Diversity Change Management

22. VMware

Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

A subsidiary of Dell, VMware specializes in cloud and virtualization software and services. Its products and services include data center and cloud infrastructure, networking and security, storage and availability, cloud management, and more.

Remote work plans: VMware is offering permanent, remote work to all employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Open Source Community Manager
  • Senior Product Manager
  • Senior Customer Service Engineer, Tanzu Observability

23. Zipwhip

Male computer programmer or software developer
antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com

Zipwhip is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that provides software to text-enabled phone numbers by adding texting to existing landlines, toll-free phone numbers, and VoIP.

Remote work plans: Zipwhip has extended its work-from-home policy for all employees through July 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Software Engineer – Android
  • Senior Software Engineer – Mobile and Services

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Employee Offboarding Process – 15 Best Practices for a Positive Transition

A lot of employers put more focus on onboarding than offboarding. But creating a positive experience for departing employees can help to increase retention, keep morale high, and make for a smooth and straightforward transition.

As an employer, you may think you have nothing to offer an employee who has chosen to leave your company. You may even feel hurt or resentful. But it’s important that you put those feelings aside and focus on how to offboard your staff member without burning bridges and providing support and direction to all involved.

How to Positively Offboard an Employee

Here are some tips you can use to create an effective employee offboarding strategy as part of your company culture.

1. Consider Your Organization’s Reputation

Some employers are tempted to let personal feelings take over when an employee decides to leave, but turnover is inevitable in almost every company at one point or another.

Employees choose to leave for a variety of reasons, and it’s important that no matter why a team member decides to leave, you keep your personal opinions in check. Do this not only to encourage a positive offboarding experience for your exiting employee and the rest of your team but to build your company’s reputation as well.

Before applying for a job with your company, many potential employees will conduct a quick online search to see what shows up. If a negative Glassdoor review is front and center, and it details a poor offboarding experience, you’re likely to miss out on qualified, high-quality candidates.

Alternately, a former employee who has a large network or who is involved in different professional groups isn’t likely to speak highly of an employer who behaved carelessly during the offboarding process to other industry experts.

2. Meet With Your Exiting Employee

It may seem obvious, but you should meet with your departing employee after they give their notice. A friendly and informative meeting can help to set the tone for the rest of the offboarding process and let your colleague know where they stand.

Cover the following topics so that you’re both on the same page when it comes to offboarding expectations and responsibilities:

  • What you can do to help them
  • What they can do to help you
  • What you expect them to do before they leave
  • Whether they need to develop training material
  • Who will be handling their job duties

Remember to be kind, positive, and friendly during this meeting. The more support and guidance you offer, the more likely the employee is to help with training their replacement and wrapping up any final projects.

You can also use this as an opportunity to ask where they’re going, what their new position will be, and what made them decide to make a move. However, if you suspect that they’re leaving due to dissatisfaction or unhappiness, this is best left for the exit interview.

3. Meet With Your Team

When an employee quits, it affects your entire team. It can cause a lot of uncertainty and negatively impact morale and engagement. But one of the easiest ways to get ahead of any adverse effects is to communicate early and well with your entire team.

After you meet with the employee who is leaving and you’ve made a plan for handing off duties, you should plan for a group meeting with all of your staff members.

If you’d like, let your outgoing employee announce their departure at the beginning of the meeting and then go over any details that will affect the rest of the team, like your transition plan and whether you’ll be hiring a new employee to fill the open position or if you plan to fill the role from within your company.

This is also a good time to make a short, straightforward speech about your ex-employee by thanking them for their contributions and congratulating them on their new professional adventure. A supportive and encouraging message can go a long way, both for departing employees and your current staff.

Give everyone a chance to ask questions so that there’s no confusion surrounding any new roles or responsibilities within your team. Clear communication makes employees feel secure and eases changes in workflow and job duties.

4. Communicate About the Change in Staff

Once an employee leaves, you want to make sure that everyone knows they’re no longer with your company. This includes the rest of your staff as well as any clients, freelancers, partners, or business contacts outside of the company.

Send an email before your employee leaves notifying anyone relevant of their last day and who will be taking over their duties going forward. Make sure that the email is addressed to your entire staff, including department heads and junior employees. As much as possible, you want to ensure that no one is taken by surprise and that they know who to work with in the future.

Once your employee has left, set up email forwarding so that you can catch any important work-related emails that may be sent to their previous email address in error.

5. Keep Morale in Mind

The rest of the team’s morale can be affected when an employee leaves, especially if their coworker has a negative offboarding experience. Poor offboarding tactics — such as refusing to communicate, letting personal feelings get in the way, or failing to plan and organize a smooth transition — give the impression that you only value your team members as employees and not as people.

Alternatively, a positive offboarding plan can keep morale steady and show staff members that you genuinely care about them and that you take your role as a manager or business owner seriously.

Keep a pulse on morale to determine how your staff is being affected by your previous employee’s departure and address specific issues or problems by communicating openly and honestly with your employees.

If morale seems low and you aren’t sure what to do, try adding a few more ideas to your offboarding checklist to help with engagement and motivation.

6. Work With Your Human Resources Department

Your human resources (HR) department is an essential resource for both onboarding and offboarding.

For example, your HR professional can assist with:

  • Ending health benefits, share plans, and other financial paperwork
  • Ensuring a final paycheck is sent out
  • Retrieving company assets, such a security pass, key, credit card, or laptop
  • Removing access to company accounts and software once the employee has left
  • Conducting exit interviews
  • Creating a job description and recruiting for a replacement
  • Reviewing documents like a noncompete contract or nondisclosure agreement

HR can also provide guidance on how to keep communications positive and productive after an employee decides to move on.

7. Ask Your Departing Employee to Help With Recruitment

When an employee leaves, don’t only focus on transferring duties and redirecting workflow. Have your former employee help with finding their replacement. After all, who knows their job better than they do?

When appropriate, ask them to:

  • Write a job description to use in online job ads for new hires
  • Review resumes and cover letters from potential candidates
  • Sit in on interviews
  • Discuss whether any existing team members would be a fit
  • Meet with a recruiter or hiring manager to explain their role and responsibilities

Involving your former employee in the hiring process for their replacement helps you to find better, more suitable candidates who will have an accurate and realistic understanding of the open position.

8. Conduct an Exit Interview

Although exit interviews should always be optional, they’re an important part of any employee offboarding process. They are a great way to encourage honest feedback and learn where you can improve as a manager and as a company.

Think of an exit interview as an opportunity for you to learn about your employee’s entire experience with you — from onboarding and training to reviews, office politics, company culture, and everything in between.

Some exit interviews are conducted by managers and others by HR departments. It depends on how your company is structured. Regardless of the logistics, exit interviews should be reserved for the last day or two before you and your outgoing employee part ways. If done too early, the employee who is leaving may not feel comfortable being completely upfront about suggestions or complaints.

Although your exiting employee may not have anything bad to say, encourage them to share any tips or advice they have related to their position, the company, their team, or their manager. If they do share negative feedback, remember not to take it personally and to remain professional.

9. Offer to Be a Reference

Depending on your company policy about work references, you can offer to be a reference for your departing employee for future jobs. Knowing that they can rely on you to provide an honest, helpful, and professional reference is a great way to ensure that your employee leaves on a good note.

Most companies prefer that candidates use previous managers or employers as references, so by making the offer, you’re letting them know that you care about their professional future. Plus, it saves them from having to ask you, which can be difficult if they’re not sure where they stand after handing in their notice.

10. Get Your Exiting Employee’s Contact Information

Don’t forget to get your outgoing employee’s new contact information, like an email or mailing address in case you need to contact them with questions related to their previous role. For example, you may need to get in touch about their benefits or to ask about a company account or password. Although you can plan for a comprehensive hand-off, some details can get lost during knowledge transfer, so it’s important to know how to reach your previous hire for a quick question.

And, if they leave on good terms, you may also want to use it to send a friendly message or invite them to a workplace social event down the road.

11. Welcome a Return

Boomerang employees are workers who leave a company only to return later. These employees learned that the grass isn’t always greener and came back to work for you because they had a positive experience at your company. These employees can be a boon to you since they already know the ins and outs of your business, your customers, and the role they held at your company.

But you’ll only get boomerang employees if you facilitate and participate in a proper offboarding process and let outgoing employees know that they’re welcome to return in the future.

If you’re open to having ex-employees work for you again down the road, make sure to communicate that during your offboarding process so that they know it’s an option. If you don’t make it clear, they may assume that you’re not open to it.

12. Connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an ideal way to follow your ex-employee’s professional progress and to get in touch about work-related questions, references, or job opportunities. If you aren’t already connected with your departing employee on LinkedIn, send them an invite. You can take things a step further by providing a written recommendation on the platform as well, which can give them a boost during job searches and round out their profile.

And, as a bonus for you, giving recommendations makes you look like a stellar boss to your ex-employee’s connections and network.

13. Plan an Event

Planning an event like a lunch or after-work cocktail can give current employees a chance to say goodbye to co-workers and end the offboarding process on a happy note. Offboarding can be hard for both your former employee and their team members, so offering everyone a chance to have a casual get-together to reminisce and wish each other well can be a welcome change from typical last-day scenarios.

Involve your team in planning the event, and try to choose a venue that your previous employee enjoys. If possible, have the company cover costs for a meal or appetizers to make it even more enjoyable for everyone.

14. Purchase a Gift

A personalized gift from the company is the perfect way to express appreciation and gratitude for your departing employee’s hard work over the years. Some gift ideas for ex-employees include:

  • A briefcase or professional bag
  • Gift cards to their favorite restaurants
  • A donation to a charity or nonprofit they care about
  • Gourmet coffee, tea, or chocolate
  • Personalized office supplies
  • A gift basket
  • A bottle of wine

You can also get a cake, a framed picture of the team, or anything else you think they might like. Talk to their work friends for ideas and choose a gift that’s both appropriate and fits your budget.

15. Send Around a Card

A card is a cost-effective and common way to bid farewell to an employee. Give the whole team a chance to write a personal message and sign their name by sending it around in advance. If you have a good relationship with your departing employee, you may even want to give them a card yourself, expressing how much you have valued them and enjoyed having them on your team.


Final Word

When you offboard employees with morale, engagement, and professionalism in mind, you reap the rewards of being a thoughtful and desirable employer. Your company’s reputation is a powerful tool in attracting and retaining quality hires, and how you treat previous employees can have a significant impact on how you’re viewed by potential candidates.

Keep your offboarding strategy professional, communicative, and positive to facilitate a smooth transition for everyone involved.

Source: moneycrashers.com

These Expert Tips Will Help You Find the Best Cheap Shampoo

Dove Nutritive Solutions, Pantene Nutrient Blend and Neutrogena ani-residue shampoo are recommendations for affordable shampoos.

Inexpensive shampoos that use ingredients to promote healthy hair include Dove Nutritive Solutions, Pantene Nutrient Blend and Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder  

You can buy shampoo for $3 and you can buy it for $30. They’ll both get the job done — so what’s the difference?

Do you really need to spend a small fortune to get good results, or is it possible to find inexpensive shampoo that leaves your hair healthy and happy?

We spoke to dermatologists and hair experts for their best tips on identifying quality shampoo that’ll keep your locks clean and healthy.

Here’s What Shampoo Actually Is…

Shampoo consists of two basic components: water and surfactants, which are responsible for the lathering and cleansing.

Those two elements comprise between 50-80% of the contents, says Nikki Goddard, a certified hair stylist and shampoo expert from San Jose, and senior editor at The Right Hairstyles magazine.

The rest includes silicone, thickening agents, perfume, natural oils and extracts.

…and Here’s Why Some of Them Are So Expensive

Both cheap and inexpensive products contain surfactants that remove oil and dirt almost equally well. So why are some of them so outrageously expensive, while others cost less than $5?

Sometimes the higher prices are simply due to marketing, says Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist based in South Florida.

“Other times, I think it could be due to imported materials or products that may come with their own unique high costs,” she said.

The shampoos may also have fragrances and conditioning agents to leave hair feeling soft and smelling good, says Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic chemist, founder of Freelance Formulations.

And some professional product lines made for hair salons can include components and formulations that actually do improve the health of the hair and the scalp, says Goddard. For example, she says sulfate-free and all-natural products usually cost more, but she believes the higher price is justified.

Shampoo Ingredients to Seek Out — and Ones to Avoid

You can get a sense of which inexpensive shampoos will be of good quality by checking out the ingredient list. Look for these ingredients, all of which serve a purpose in keeping your hair clean and healthy:

  • Moisturizing agents (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lanolin)
  • Anti-sebum ingredients (ketoconazole, piroctone olamine, zinc)
  • Keratin
  • Collagen

“Note that adding vitamins, fruit acids, antioxidants, SPF agents and less than 25-30% herbal extracts makes no point,” Goddard said. “They won’t penetrate and nourish hair.”

If you see superficially active substances (SAS) like magnesium laureth sulfate, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside along with those moisturizing agents, you can safely assume the shampoo will be an effective product.

Of course, you should also take your own specific needs into consideration.

If you have skin-related conditions, like eczema or dandruff, you’ll want to look for shampoos that contain ketoconazole, selenium sulfide and/or pyrithione zinc, which are antifungal agents that can help treat itching, flaking and dry skin on your scalp, says Dawn Clemens, founder of Larwe Hair.

On the other hand, try to avoid sulfates, paraffins, silicones and peroxides within haircare products, as they add frizz and can damage your hair, Chacon said.

Make sure that a cheap shampoo does not include toxic SAS (which includes the majority of sulfates, cetrimonium chloride, lauramide DEA, and PEG-150 distearate), mineral oil, BHA and BHT, Goddard said.

You should also try to avoid formaldehyde, triclosan, dimethicone, cocamide MEA and artificial perfume agents, Goddard said. These chemicals have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons. For instance, the FDA banned triclosan for use in hand and body washes in 2016, while formaldehyde can pose a problem for people with sensitive skin.

Should You Ever Opt for More Expensive Shampoo?

Women who have specific hair concerns may need to opt for something a little pricier. Typically, cheaper shampoo brands sell products that aren’t necessarily geared toward a specific hair type, Thomas said.

If you have specific needs for your hair, here’s what you should look for when shopping for shampoo:

  • Dry, damaged hair: Avoid clarifying shampoo, which are clear shampoos focused on removing oil from the scalp. Instead, opt for shampoos and conditioners with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and avocado oil.
  • Fine hair: Avoid heavy moisturizing shampoos, especially those containing silicones, which will weigh down the hair. Silicones are best for controlling frizz, as they coat the hair follicle, locking out moisture.
  • Thick, coarse hair: Opt for a product containing oils and humectants in a creamy formula, and avoid volumizing shampoos, Thomas says. Because Black hair tends to be dryer and textured, Black women typically wash their hair once per week or may co-wash, which is washing your hair using only a conditioner. If you have dry, brittle hair that’s washed too often, it may be bad for your hair’s health.
Neutrogena Shampoo The Anti-Residue Shampoo, which is made for every hair type, is photographed in a studio with a purple background.
Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue shampoo is made for every hair type. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

3 of the Best Cheap Shampoos That Pass the Ingredient Test

Here are three inexpensive shampoos that have the ingredients you want — and none of the ones you don’t.

  • Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo: It’s got glycerin to keep hair super moisturized and soft, and the scent is nice and subtle. ($3.49 at Target)
  • Pantene Fortifying Damage Repair Shampoo with Castor Oil Got some damage? This will strengthen your hair, thanks to the castor oil. ($8.69 at CVS)
  • Neutrogena Shampoo The Anti-Residue Shampoo Use this just once a week to remove up to 90% of residue caused by your products and other shampoos. It’s made for every hair type. ($6.99 at Neutrogena)

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Get Free Tax Filing Through the Free File Alliance

Instead of this straightforward public service, we have the next best thing: A private system that helps the majority of Americans file a federal tax return for free.
Reporter Jessica Huseman pointed out this frustrating truth in a 2017 story for ProPublica, which resurfaces and regains steam each year around tax time — this year with a bump from a replay of her appearance on WNYC’s “On the Media”.
This part is, in fact, easy. Once you know about it.
(BTW, we are happy to tell you all about those free tax filing services.)
Most importantly: Assume you can find a way to file for free. The agreement aims to make free filing available to 70% of Americans, so the odds are in your favor.
The result is that most filers have no idea the option exists, and hardly anyone takes advantage of it.
To qualify, you have to earn below a certain income limit, which changes each year.

The Free File Alliance MUST Let You File Taxes for Free

We just have to make sure we can find it.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
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“Think about all the things that the IRS already knows about you,” she told OTM.
Filing taxes in the United States could be free and simple for everyone — if only tax prep companies weren’t lobbying to keep it so complicated.
Choose a filing service through the IRS browsing tool. It’ll ask you some questions to help you determine which service is a good fit for your tax situation.
The government has no budget to market it, and the for-profit tax preparers have no incentive to let you know about their free options — and every incentive to funnel you toward a paid option.

How to Get Free Tax Filing Through the Free File Alliance

The problem, predictably, is that no one advertises the free services.
Before you choose a service, read through the requirements for free filing. Some of them cap incomes as low as ,000, or tack on an age requirement or state limitations. A few, but not many, throw in free state filing so you can avoid that surprise charge at the end of the process.
The Free File Alliance is a public-private partnership between a group of tax software companies and the IRS. Nine companies are part of this agreement as of January 2021, according to its recent press release.
The agreement says these companies have to provide the majority of Americans with a free way to prepare and file their taxes online. It also bars the IRS from providing its own free filing system — like that dreamy no-return scenario I mentioned above.
Last year, the Alliance touted “soaring” participation in a press release — a 28% “jump” from 2.3 million filers in 2019 to 2.9 million in 2020. Sounds great, except more than 130 million taxpayers qualified for free filing through the program. That’s a participation rate of less than 2%, exactly where it sat when Huseman called B.S. on the program three years earlier.
Except most of us don’t use it… because we don’t know it exists.
Privacy Policy
For tax year 2020 (what you’ll file in 2021), anyone with an adjusted gross income below ,000 qualifies for free filing through an IRS partner.
From your bank and employer, the Internal Revenue Service already gets a lot of the information you painstakingly report on your tax return. We could, in theory, have a return-free system, where the IRS sends you that information and how much it believes you owe, and you don’t have to file anything unless you disagree with it. <!–

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Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She was ticked off she didn’t know about the Free File Alliance and wants to make sure you don’t face the same fate.

How the Knack Tutoring App Became a Booming Startup

Samyr Qureshi and his friend Dennis Hansen turned an idea they had in their early 20s into an app that matches college students with student tutors on campus. The app, Knack, turned into a start-up that landed them on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list, which highlights the country’s top innovators.

Knack is now used on more than 24 college campuses around the country. It became even more in demand as students went online during the pandemic and is being used for K-12 education as well.

“COVID definitely accelerated the need for campuses to provide this sort of service,” Qureshi said recently in an interview.

Initially students paid for their tutors, who set their own price, and Knack took a 2.9 percent cut. But as the app spread to more than 60 college campuses, leaders at a few universities were so impressed with the help students were gaining through Knack, they wanted to make it accessible to everyone at no charge.

The colleges started paying Knack an annual fee and paying tutors an average of $15 an hour. Having fewer big payors proved better than taking a cut from thousands of individual tutors. So, the company changed its business model. Most students at all partnered campuses are using the platform for free.

As it has grown, Knack is now valued at 20 times more than at its 2015 founding.

Qureshi, 28, knows about the benefits of tutoring from both sides of the desk. He attended St. Petersburg College in Florida and entered the University of Florida with 73 credits. He excelled, worked as tutor himself and landed jobs at Apple, then Gartner, Inc. after graduating.

While at Gartner, a leading information and technology research company, he learned from his mother that he had actually struggled with learning as a young child. English was his second language since he moved to the United States at age 6 from Dubai. She had found tutoring to help her young son.

“When she told me this, it helped me understand the value and benefit of one-to-one tutoring,” Qureshi recalled. “At the same time Uber and Airbnb were really taking off.”

He talked with Hansen about how college students should have easier access to tutors. The idea of connecting students who needed help with students who were successful in the same course was born. They called their project Knack and set about creating an app.

The Knack App founder poses for a portrait against a painting depicting the magic school bus.
Samyr Qureshi, co-founder of Knack app, was reminded of the importance of tutoring after his mother told him the story of hiring a tutor to help him learn English as a second language when he was a child. The Knack app allows student tutors and students needing help with a course to connect easily. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Qureshi quit his job and joined Hansen at UF’s Gator Hatchery, an incubator that offers students workspace, office support, mentors and other resources for startups.

“I was living off of my savings and pretty much poured everything I had into Knack,” he said.

David Soker, who had a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and knew how to build apps, joined the team. He’s also a co-founder and now Chief Technology Officer at Knack.

“We intentionally put our team together to have engineers,” Qureshi said. Paying an outside company to build the app would have easily cost six figures.

They launched the beta version of Knack in late 2015. Students using it at UF and the University of Central Florida in Orlando proved the founders’ belief that there was a high demand for student-to-student tutoring. The users also offered critiques and tips for making the app better.

In 2016, Knack won first place and $25,000 cash in UF’s Big Idea Business Plan Competition. It was time to really launch the business and move out of the Gator Hatchery. They won a few grants and got investments from friends and family. These efforts plus the $25,000 prize gave them about $75,000 when they started Knack in office space in downtown Tampa. Qureshi worked part-time delivering cookies and some of the other co-founders had full-time jobs while also working at their startup.

They ran digital ads and started marketing the app to students on numerous campuses to recruit tutors and clients. The most effective way to do this was to hire campus ambassadors to represent Knack at college events around the country and gather small groups to learn about it.

“We recruited them cold from job postings and interviewed them then hired them,” Qureshi said. “We gave them $300 to $500 a month and a list of tactics that we had tested at UF: ‘Go buy pizza and entice some students to come hear about it.’”

An Indian woman with long brown curly hair poses for a portrait in front of a sign that says grow together. She's a tutor who found tutoring jobs on Knack, a mobile app.
Sonia Duraimurugan is an MBA student at the University of South Florida who used the Knack app to make money as a tutor. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

At the same time, they were expanding the app, they were finding more people to invest in the company.

“The (Big Idea) contest put us a bit on the map,” Qureshi said. “There were really great judges who said we should come out to San Francisco and meet some folks.” They did, and secured some West Coast investors.

In Tampa, Qureshi joined a downtown business incubator he found by searching Google. A mentor in the incubator invested in the company and connected him to Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL hockey team. Vinik has also headed successful investments funds and is a philanthropist who has given millions of dollars to education. He invested in the company as did others.

“We initially raised about $1 million in capital from the Tampa Bay area,” Qureshi said.

His advice to college students or recent grads who have an idea that could turn into an app or a business, is to “go for it.”

“We were pretty naive and that gave us some pause. I was a pre-law student so I didn’t have any business experience. The majority of our team did not study business,” he said. “We learned a lot from mentors. We were srappy, scraping up dollars where we could.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter in St. Petersburg, Fla., and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Decide Where to Live If You Work Remotely From Home

When you no longer need to physically report to work, it detaches where you live from where you work. Suddenly you can live anywhere in the world, rather than being restricted to a single city.

It’s an incredibly freeing feeling. But it also leaves remote workers, freelancers, and other digital nomads with an overwhelming abundance of options. How do you choose a place to live when you can live anywhere on the planet?

As you review the following checklist, sort it by your priorities. For some, living near their parents or children is nonnegotiable. Others feel perfectly happy living in another state or even another country.

Most of all, look to design your perfect life starting from the ground up, in the most literal sense.

Choosing a Country & State

It never occurs to most Americans that they might enjoy living in another country. Most never even move to another state; North American Moving Services reports that 72% of Americans live in or near the town where they grew up.

Yet as an expat myself, I can tell you firsthand how many advantages you can find living in another country. I’ve also lived in multiple U.S. states, some of which I liked far more than my home state.

Consider the following as you choose a country and state to live in, and don’t get caught up in the details of “how” when you first consider places to live. Focus on the “why” first, and when you’ve chosen a country or state based on your ideal lifestyle, you can then figure out the “how.”

Time Zone

As an international school counselor, my wife gets job offers all the time in Asia and the Middle East. But my business is located in the U.S., and I refuse to do any more 3am conference calls.

Just because you can work remotely doesn’t mean you can necessarily set your own hours. And even when you can set your own hours, you still have to communicate and collaborate with others. That could mean coworkers and supervisors, or it could mean partners, suppliers, or clients. Sometimes you need to hop on a phone call with people in real time, and if they work in a time zone on the opposite side of the world, that means working inconvenient hours.

Know your work, and set your own limits on time zones.

Proximity to Family

If you can’t stand the idea of living more than an hour away from your family members, you have a clear radius you must live within. It makes your decision easier, if more limited.

But if you have a little more leeway, such as a living “within a few hours from family, it frees you up to explore travel by air and rail rather than just road travel.

For example, if you want to be able to reach your family within three hours, that gives you 150 to 200 miles of driving radius but over a thousand miles of flying radius. You can then start looking at cities with cheap direct flight routes (more on that shortly), rather than simply drawing a circle around the town where your family lives and shackling yourself to it.

Tax Policies

Different countries tax in vastly different ways. As a remote worker, you have the luxury of choosing a low-tax country or state.

My wife and I spent four years living in the United Arab Emirates, where they don’t charge income tax at all. That saved us tens of thousands of dollars in taxes every year, allowing us to save and invest that money to build wealth faster.

Even within the U.S., some states charge vastly higher taxes than others. Look at total tax burden, combining income tax, property taxes, and sales and excise taxes to compare states and countries, and start with these states with the lowest tax burden.

The difference can easily amount to thousands of dollars a year — a sum that can dramatically change your quality of life and wealth over time.

Connectivity & Communication Infrastructure

Becoming a digital nomad requires a strong digital Wi-Fi connection. In today’s world, most cities around the globe offer reliable, fast Internet connectivity. But smaller towns in developing countries may not meet your needs.

Ask around among residents, especially knowledge workers and expats, before moving to a smaller city in a developing country. If the connectivity and communication infrastructure can’t meet your needs, look elsewhere.

Climate

Not everyone wants to spend half the year bundled up in coats and scarves to weather the frozen tundra. I certainly don’t.

Consider climate as you choose a country and state to live in. Whether you enjoy having four distinct seasons or would just as soon hike and swim all year round, find a place where you actually enjoy the weather most of the year.


Choosing a City

Many countries and even states are sprawling, with an enormous diversity of big cities, small towns, and everything in between.

As you consider the best cities for remote workers, keep the following factors in mind to choose the right fit.

Airport Routes

Not all airports are created equal. Depending on your penchant for travel, you may want easy access to a major international airport with hundreds of flight routes.

Smaller regional airports often only offer a few routes to nearby hubs. It adds hours to each trip, and usually costs more to boot.

If proximity to family matters to you, then air routes can play a major role in where you feel comfortable living. You can cross a thousand miles in two hours of direct flight time, or you can waste 10 hours on multiple flight legs, layovers, and driving gaps.

Natural Amenities

There’s an old trope that all people fall into one of two camps: seaside people or mountain people. Whether you buy into it or not, the fact remains that you can’t have every natural amenity you want, so you have to choose based on your priorities.

Few cities sit nestled between tropical beaches and mountains with pristine skiing. You can find cities with beautiful shorelines and beaches, cities up in the mountains near great hiking and skiing, cities near wine country, and everything in between, but it’s hard to find cities with everything. Prioritize what you want because it’s hard to get it all.

The few cities with easy access to many natural amenities — such as San Francisco and Santa Barbara — tend to come with outrageously high living expenses.

Cost of Living

The median home in San Francisco ($1,405,199) costs nearly 20 times the price of a median home in Cleveland ($73,686), according to Zillow. Twenty times!

Put another way, you could buy your own home in Cleveland plus 19 rental properties, all generating passive income, for the same price you’d spend on only your residence in San Francisco. The rental income from those 19 properties would likely cover your living expenses, allowing you to reach your financial goals faster.

Cost of living matters. It doesn’t just mean the difference between affording a three-bedroom and a four-bedroom house — it often means the difference between becoming wealthy and living a middle-class lifestyle. Between being able to pay for your kids’ college education or not. Between retiring at 45 and retiring at 70. Between an acceptable quality of life and a great one.

If you can earn a New York City salary without paying New York City rents, find somewhere fun and affordable to laugh all the way to the bank.

Keep in mind that cost of living doesn’t just include lower housing costs. Low cost of living can include low food and grocery costs, cheap restaurants and nightlife, low utility costs, affordable health care, and other discounts that help you save money across the board.

As a final thought, take a second look at living overseas. Start with these countries where you can live a luxurious lifestyle for $2,000 a month.

Cultural Amenities & Local Culture

For many people, the local culture matters, both in terms of amenities and the people themselves.

That could mean access to museums, sports teams, art galleries, and performing arts. Most smaller towns only offer these cultural amenities sparsely, although exceptions certainly exist. Larger cities tend to offer more of these amenities, though they still vary greatly.

Beyond amenities, most people also prefer to surround themselves with those culturally similar to them — politically, socioeconomically, and linguistically. If this kind of similarity is important to you, consider moving somewhere where you feel you’d fit right in and where the local values reflect your own.


Choosing a Neighborhood

As someone who hails from Baltimore, I can assure you that different neighborhoods within a city can feel like completely different cities. So choose your neighborhood with care.

Safety

When you can live anywhere, there’s no reason to live somewhere unsafe.

People feel comfortable with what they know, but you don’t have to play that game anymore. Choose a city and neighborhood with extremely low crime rates. With the world at your fingertips, you have infinite options.

And bear in mind that your impressions of a place might not match the reality. I still laugh when I think of my friends’ and family’s reactions when I told them I was moving to Abu Dhabi: “What?! Is it safe?!” Not only is it one of the safest cities in the world, but I was moving there from one of the most dangerous of the U.S. cities. Yet my family in Baltimore couldn’t wrap their heads around that notion.

Try NeighborhoodScout or AreaVibes to research any city’s, zip code’s, or neighborhood’s crime statistics.

Quality of Public Schools

In some cities and neighborhoods, the public schools are so bad that middle-class parents are forced to budget the money to send their children to private schools. It severely restricts their budget and savings rate.

Again, when you can telecommute, you don’t have to play by those rules anymore. You can pick a school district with outstanding public schools and actually cash in on those tax dollars you have to pay regardless.

Alternatively, you could home-school your children. But that requires far more effort and time on your part, both in educating them and in making sure they get plenty of social interaction with other kids.

Try GreatSchools.org to look up school quality measures for any given district.

Walkability

When my wife and I lived in the U.S., we each had a car, as many Americans do. Then we moved overseas, and our home sat in a somewhat walkable neighborhood. We shared one car there, which worked out well.

The next time we moved, we intentionally chose a city and neighborhood that was extremely walkable. It lay within walking distance of my wife’s work, a coworking space for me to work from, and dozens of restaurants, bars, retail stores, and other amenities. We no longer own a car at all, and I don’t miss it in the slightest.

When you can walk, bike, or Uber everywhere, it forces you to be more active. Physical activity aside, living without a car also saves you a phenomenal amount of money. The average American spends $9,282 per car every single year, according to AAA, between maintenance, repairs, gas, parking, insurance, and car payments.

Public Transportation

Similarly, an extensive public transportation system can also help you ditch your car while still letting you reach every amenity you need.

A city with excellent public transportation can reduce your transportation costs and save money far faster.


Choosing a Home

Found the perfect corner of the world to live in?

With the hard part behind you, you can focus on the easier business of finding a hospitable home.

Before even deciding whether to rent or buy a home, start by deciding how long you plan to live there. When you buy a home, you take an initial loss based on the closing costs, both those incurred to buy the home and the second round of closing costs you owe when selling it. It takes time to recover these expenses by building equity.

If you don’t know how long you plan to stay or plan on just a year or two, renting is definitely your best option. Beyond two years, sometimes it makes sense to buy. You have to calculate the costs both ways. Be sure to include all ownership costs, including maintenance, repairs, insurance, property taxes, and both rounds of closing costs. Far too many people just assume they should buy without actually running these numbers.

Bear in mind your changing needs in the years to come. For example, if you plan to have a family, you may need another bedroom or two soon. You may want to rent rather than buy if your needs may change shortly.

Many telecommuters prefer to work from home rather than from a coworking space or coffee shop. You can avoid distractions and boost productivity by choosing a home with a dedicated home office, rather than working from the sofa or dining room table.

Whether you have children or not, many people love having their own outdoor space. It proved a consistent trend during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suburban and rural areas saw a spike in demand as people clambered for outdoor space to call their own.

When you move to a new city, rent for a few months or a year before buying. It takes time to get to know a new city, and giving yourself the luxury of time helps you discover exactly what you want for the long term before you commit.


Visit Before Moving

Word to the wise: Don’t uproot yourself and move across the country or world without visiting your destination first.

It’s all too easy to fall in love with the idea of a place. But your vision of a city and the reality of living there will inevitably clash, so take the time to discover those differences firsthand before you move.

A long weekend spent visiting is better than nothing. A week gives you a better sense, and a month better still.

Walk the streets, talk to the locals, test the Internet speed. Get a sense of the local culture, eat the local food, attend the kind of social and cultural events you would if you lived there. You may find you love it just like you imagined — or you might discover it’s nothing like you envisioned.


Final Word

No one says you have to stay in the first place you move.

Remote work offers endless possibilities and lets you live anywhere in the world. I’ve lived in six U.S. states and five countries, some of which I enjoyed far more than others.

As you design your perfect life, bear in mind it will always be a work in progress. You don’t have to get it exactly right the first time around, and even if you do, your needs and wants will continue to evolve.

Stretch yourself and your comfort zone as you explore ideas for the ideal place to live. Otherwise, you’ll limit yourself to what you already know and remain one of the 72% of Americans who live where they grew up rather than choosing a home that fits the life they truly want.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Turn an Idea Into an App

The CEO of Knack does work on his laptop at the office's headquarters. A light up Knack signs is hung on the wall behind him.

Samyr Qureshi is CEO of Knack, an app that connects college students with tutors at more than 60 college campuses across the United States. Qureshi co-founded the app in 2015 with Dennis Hansen and David Soker. Qureshi was photographed at the company’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla, on February 2, 2020. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Samyr Qureshi and his college friend Dennis Hansen had an idea for an app that would match students with student tutors on the same college campus. That was 2015. Six years later their company, Knack, has secured more than $1 million in equity investments and is worth 20 times more than when it started. It also landed Qureshi, CEO, and Hansen, Chief Product Officer, on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list, which highlights the country’s top innovators.

The steps they took to make Knack a reality offer a game plan for anyone with a viable idea and the drive to turn an idea into an app.

1. Find a Need and a Solution

Qureshi was tutored as a young child and then was a tutor himself in college. He and Hansen knew tutors helped with academic success, but realized it wasn’t always easy to find one. Through research they learned the “near peer” concept was successful. The more recently someone has taken a class and learned a concept, the more effective they are at helping someone else understand it. They decided to create an app that would match students at the same campus, one needing help in a course and another who has had recent success taking the same course.

2. Do your Homework

Airbnb and Uber were taking off so Qureshi and Hansen learned all they could about how these apps got started and why they were a success. They also researched how people were finding tutors on Craigslist, Wyzant and other resources, and what was working and what wasn’t. They decided what they wanted their app to offer and researched what it would take to create it.

3. Build a Team with the Variety of Talent Needed

The friends asked David Soker, who had a master’s in electrical and computer engineering and knew how to build apps, to join their team. He’s also a co-founder and now Chief Technology Officer at Knack.

“We intentionally put our team together to have engineers,” Qureshi said. Paying an outside company to build the app would have easily cost six figures.

This is a portrait of a woman who finds tutoring gigs through the Knack app. She has long curly dark hair. Behind her is a painting of the magic school bus.
Sonia Duraimurugan is an MBA student at the University of South Florida who used the Knack app to make money as a tutor. Before using Knack, she relied on food banks for groceries. “I was literally strapped for money,” she said. The app provided a way for her to earn as much as $12 per hour. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

4. Take Advantage of University Incubators

Qureshi and Hansen, both graduates of the University of Florida, secured a spot at UF’s Gator Hatchery, an incubator that offers students workspace, office support, mentors and other resources for startups. There are hundreds of University Business Incubators (UBIs) across the country at schools of all sizes. Some offer grants or stipends to help support students financially while they create their business or product. Others have relationships with banks that provide special loans to entrepreneurs. Most UBIs are adept at creating networking opportunities for students to gain access to potential funders, often alumni. They also have media relations teams that get publicity for students and their endeavors.

5. Get Feedback

Whether it’s a product, service or app, testing a beta version with a wide audience (beyond your mom and next-door neighbor) is essential for understanding what works and what doesn’t. Knack launched a beta version at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida to work out the kinks.

6. Enter Contests, Apply for Grants and Raise Equity

UBIs keep students informed about competitions and grant applications. But even if you aren’t in a UBI, there are many competitions for entrepreneurs and college students launching an idea as well as grant opportunities. In 2016, Knack won first place and $25,000 cash in UF’s Big Idea Business Plan Competition. That led to more interest from investors. A few family members wanted to invest in the company to help it get off the ground. The Knack co-founders sold them shares in the business in exchange for equity. They priced their stock by comparing their company to the market value of similar existing startups.

7. Get Your App in Front of Users

To reach an audience of users and tutors, they ran digital ads and marketed the app to students on numerous college campuses. One of the most effective marketing tools was creating a network of ambassadors on college campuses to represent Knack

“We recruited them cold from job postings, interviewed them and hired them,” Qureshi said. “We gave them $300 to $500 a month and a list of tactics that we had tested at UF: ‘Go buy pizza and entice some students to hear about it.’”

8. Have a Side Gig or Full-Time Job

Qureshi, who had been working professionally about two years, quit his job and lived off of his savings after joining the UF business incubator to create Knack. Later, when the company moved to Tampa, he worked for a cookie delivery business on the side to make ends meet.

Final Advice: Go For It

Qureshi’s advice to college students or recent grads who have an idea that could turn into an app is to “go for it.”

“We were pretty naive and that gave us some pause. I was a pre-law student so I didn’t have any business experience. The majority of our team did not study business,” he said. “We learned a lot from mentors. We were srappy, scraping up dollars where we could.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter in St. Petersburg, Fla., and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com