How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm? Here’s the Full Process

Let’s talk about how to make money by selling your sperm. Like, how this actually works.

Popular media sends a strong message: Selling your sperm is a lucrative and simple way to make money when you’re low on cash. And it’s not short on gags about the subject to make sure you feel totally weird about the whole thing.

No need to feel weird. Sperm banks support thousands of families who struggle with infertility and parents who want to conceive without a partner.

In a span of 30 years, an estimated 120,000 to 150,000 babies were born of anonymous donor insemination, according to an unpublished study by the American Association of Tissue Banks, reported by Cryogenic Laboratories. That’s 4,000 to 5,000 births per year that happened because of sperm donors.

But the process isn’t nearly as simple or fun as the gags might imply.

Don’t expect to pop into your local sperm bank, make a contribution and walk out with a check that afternoon.

Here’s everything you need to know about the process and requirements to donate sperm to figure out whether it’s the right move for you.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm?

The phrase is a little confusing — sperm donation isn’t a charitable act.

You do, in fact, earn money. (Not nearly as much as its counterpart, egg donation, but it won’t take nearly the toll on your body, either.)

Like everything else about becoming a sperm donor, the amount of money you make varies depending on the sperm bank or donation center you work with.

Here are some examples of compensation models:

  • Donors through the Seattle Sperm Bank can earn up to $1,000 per month at $70 per approved donation —  $50 when you deliver and $20 when it’s approved.
  • Donors through the Sperm Bank of California earn $125 per approved sample, with most donors earning between $400 and $600 per month.
  • Donors through the international sperm bank chain Cryos earn up to $40 per donation — $20 for every ejaculate delivered, plus another $20 if it’s approved.

Sperm banks also offer free fertility test results, physical exams and blood testing as long as you remain a donor, and some even provide a free annual physical after you stop donating.

Some clinics have more complicated contracts that require you to keep up steady visits and provide regular donations if a recipient chooses you as their donor. That arrangement could affect when you’re paid.

“Just to make sure you follow through [with your visits], your paychecks are kept in escrow by the sperm bank until the end of the contract,” Cracked contributor Sean Berkley wrote about his sperm donation experience in 2011.

Many sperm banks now pay monthly or per visit, however. Like any other side hustle, get details on compensation before you sign any contracts or make any commitments.

3 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Sperm

Take some time to understand all the information before you set your sights on sperm donation as your next side hustle. You might be surprised by some of these details.

Do You Qualify for Sperm Donation?

Each sperm bank has its own list of physical requirements for donors, but they’re all fairly similar.

Most donation centers require donors to be:

  • At least 5’7” tall and up to 6’6”.
  • Between 18 and 40 years old (none accept donations from minors).
  • Height and weight proportional.
  • In good overall health, based on general physical health screenings and fertility tests.
  • College graduates, enrolled in college or military veterans. Some banks pay more if you have a Ph.D. or attended an Ivy League school (because recipients pay more for those donor qualities).
  • A non-smoker and non–drug user.
  • Able to provide a biological family medical history.

Even if you meet a clinic’s basic requirements, you’re not guaranteed to be accepted.

Sperm banks are for-profit organizations, and like any business, they aim to provide what the market demands.

That means your sperm might be subject to the same kinds of biases you encounter among people face-to-face. In addition to the explicit requirements listed above, you could be denied because of supply and demand at a clinic based on things like your skin color, hair color and eye color.

Based on FDA regulation, potential donors are denied if they’ve ever had sex with “another man.” (The regulation doesn’t address potential nonbinary or transgender women donors.)

You could also be denied for genetic health issues, such as blood clotting disorders.

Some sperm banks will tell you why your application is denied, but some might not. You might want to know that information before you apply, so you’re not left wondering.

Donor Offspring Limits

Donation centers are regularly updating policies and practices to address ethical questions that come up about sperm donation and assisted reproduction.

Every few years, it seems, a news story reveals another serial sperm donor with hundreds of offspring. Check the details, though — in many of these cases, the donor worked with the recipient privately (a.k.a. a “known donor”), not through a donation center.

Most donation centers set a limit on the number of births or recipients per donor.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sperm donation (and other organ and tissue donation), doesn’t set a legal offspring limit. Instead, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) sets guidelines for the industry and recommends a limit of 10 births per population of 850,000 (roughly the size of Seattle).

Many donation centers set limits well below the ASRM guideline — around 25 families in the U.S. per donor is a common maximum.

Anonymous vs. Open Identity Donation

The FDA requires clinics to keep some donor information for medical purposes, but it doesn’t regulate anonymity. You’ll make that choice based on the clinic you choose.

Ask the donation center about its policies, and be crystal clear about your options and long-term obligations before you donate. Donor arrangements include:

  • Anonymous: Neither the donor nor the recipient get identifying information about each other. You likely won’t even know whether a recipient conceived using your sperm.
  • Semi-open: You and the recipient get some information about each other, but not identifying details or contact information. The clinic is usually a go-between to pass correspondence between you and the recipient. You might learn whether the recipient had a baby using your sperm and even get baby photos. Or you might just stay open to possible contact in the future from the child once they’re an adult.
  • Open: You and the recipient have each other’s contact information and communicate directly, maybe even meeting in person. Ideally, you and the recipient determine together how much ongoing communication you’ll have and whether or not you’ll have contact with the child. But the child could always decide to contact you on their own sometime in the future.

Here’s the catch: Technology, as it often does without trying, has thrown a bit of a wrench in this situation.

Increasingly accessible family-tree DNA testing has made some curious (or unsuspecting!) donor-conceived children privy to their genetic roots — even when donors and recipients agreed to anonymity.

Many countries, including the U.K., have removed the option for anonymity in recent years by legislating a donor-born child’s right to find their biological father (i.e. the source of their donor sperm) after they turn 18.

The Sperm Donation Process

Every donation center dictates its own process for sperm donors, but they’re pretty similar and many parts of the process are regulated by the FDA. Here’s what you can generally expect.

1. Find a Sperm Bank

Track down a sperm bank that’s close to you through this National Directory of Sperm Cryobanks.

Most centers require donors to live within 25 miles or about an hour of the clinic, because if you’re chosen to be a donor, you’ll be visiting the facility regularly.

A legitimate organization will be registered with the FDA. Enter the clinic’s name in this FDA directory to make sure it’s registered.

2. Get Pre-Screened

All applicants start by going through a pre-screening over the phone or through an online application. Here’s an example application for Cryos.

The pre-screening confirms:

  • Your eligibility to work (and be paid) in the U.S.
  • Some medical history, including potential sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, allergies and drug use.
  • Your height, hair color, eye color and ethnicity.

3. Provide Detailed Family History & Get a Physical Exam

If you pass the initial screening, you’ll be invited in for a thorough interview that takes a deep dive into your family tree.

Berkley says you should be prepared to provide “a detailed medical history for every parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent you have, as well as any children your siblings or cousins may have, going back four generations.”

That sounds like hyperbole, but this overview of the process from Phoenix Sperm Bank confirms the information you can expect to provide.

You’ll also get a physical exam that includes a blood test, urine test and DNA analysis, and screening for STIs including HIV. You won’t pay anything for this exam, and most clinics provide regular physicals as long as you’re a donor and possibly after.

4. Provide a Sample

If you pass the first two levels of the screening process, you’ll provide a semen sample for the clinic to test.

It’ll go through a fertility test for the kinds of things you’ve probably heard joked about on TV: sperm count and motility, and the overall health of the sperm.

In other words, what’s the likelihood this sperm can help conceive a baby?

Depending on the company, you might have to wait up to six months to find out whether your sperm passes this test. Semen samples are frozen and tested again after several months to make sure they can hold up in storage waiting for a buyer.

You don’t usually get paid for providing this sample, and the sperm bank won’t save it to sell to a recipient in the future.

5. Sign a Contract to Become a Sperm Donor

Eligible donor? Check. Healthy genetics? Check. Hearty sperm? Check!

You’ll be invited to become a sperm donor once you pass the full screening process, and you have to sign a contract with the donation center.

Depending on the clinic, the contract might include things like:

  • How often you’re expected to donate. Sperm banks prefer frequent donors, so your contract might require you to donate several times per month or even multiple times per week.
  • A requirement to abstain from sexual intercourse before donation. Presumably to ensure strong sperm samples, you could be asked not to have sex within a few days before donating sperm.
  • Payment terms. Your contract should spell out how much you’ll earn, and when and how you’ll be paid, plus any stipulations you have to meet.

6. Donate Regularly

You might be surprised to learn how often you’ll be expected to donate — but the rest of this part of the process is pretty much what all the TV and movies have prepared you to expect.

You can’t collect your semen from home and deliver it to the clinic. You have to visit the clinic and deposit your sample on site, in a private room and with access to pornography.

You’ll deposit the sample itself into a sterile container, and the sperm bank will freeze it until a recipient chooses your profile. Then it’s thawed and used for the artificial insemination process.

Are You Ready to Be a Sperm Donor?

Infertility isn’t an uncommon circumstance in the U.S. About 6% of married women, and 12% of women overall, between 15 and 44 years old have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the CDC.

Sperm donation is one way to help them start the families they want, and the sperm banks all say the need for donors is high and growing.

The onboarding process is quite a bit more involved than most side gigs you’ll encounter, but the payoff is fair. If you’re accepted as a sperm donor, you could earn upward of $1,000 a month for a quick trip to the clinic about once a week.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.




Sir Anthony Hopkins Just Sold His Malibu Home Perched on a Cliff’s Edge for $10.5 Million

Lead image: Nareg Frandjian /Open House Foto & Elena Torre via Wiki Commons

Sir Anthony Hopkins has found a buyer for his charming (and fire-resistant) Cape Cod residence in Point Dume, Malibu, roughly six months after putting the estate up for sale.

The 82-year-old actor decided to part ways with his five-bedroom home at the beginning of the year, listing the property for $11.5 million back in February. Santiago Arana of The Agency was the listing agent for the property and he told the Wall Street Journal that Hopkins’ decision to sell was prompted by a desire to be closer to Los Angeles.

While Anthony Hopkins’ home was in the path of the devastating Wolsey Fire which destroyed much of the area in 2018, the mansion survived the blaze, largely unscathed. The same can’t be said about the home next door, which was completely destroyed by the fire.

Set on a cliff’s edge and overlooking the ocean, Anthony Hopkins’ house sits on about an acre of land between Zuma Beach and Point Dume, opening up to breathtaking beach views.

anthony hopkins house in malibu
Anthony Hopkins house in Malibu. Image credit: Nareg Frandjian /Open House Foto

Built in the 1950s, the house is reminiscent of an English manor, with dormer windows jutting out of the distinguished brick red roof. Spanning roughly 4,000 square feet, the mansion comes with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, two fireplaces and a large living room. 

There’s also an art room in a cabana by the pool — which comes with the added appeal of knowing that Anthony Hopkins has been using it extensively throughout the past years, with works of art created here ending up on the walls of his oh-so famous friends (Hopkins has reportedly been gifting paintings to all his celebrity friends).

Another particularity of the home is that the master bedroom comes with a sauna fitted with a wall glass — to maximize beach views even when relaxing inside. Though admittedly, who would want to spend any time inside with the ocean spread right outside your front door?

anthony hopkins house in malibu
Anthony Hopkins house in Malibu. Image credit: Nareg Frandjian /Open House Foto
anthony hopkins house in malibu
Anthony Hopkins house in Malibu. Image credit: Nareg Frandjian /Open House Foto

With the home selling for $10,500,000, Hopkins has made quite a profit, even if the sale price was one million dollars short of the asking price. And that’s because the actor reportedly paid only $3.8 million for the Malibu property back in 2001.

But it was never about the money for him. In an older 2011 interview with People magazine, Hopkins shared his love for Malibu, and how excited he was to be living here: “I come from a country where everything is gray,” the Welsh-born actor said at the time. “I came out here in 1973 and loved the color. I thought I was in paradise. Still do.”

Anthony Hopkins, a regular presence on our screens for the past half a century, has starred in iconic movies like The Remains of the Day, Meet Joe Black, Legends of the Fall, and The Elephant Man. And despite great critical acclaim for his most recent work in The Two Popes, he will always be remembered as Hannibal Lecter, with his 1991 performance in Silence of the Lambs landing him countless awards, including the coveted “Best Actor” nod at the Oscars.

Beyond his Hollywood nods, Anthony Hopkins was honored as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1987, only to later be knighted by the Queen a few years later, in 1993.

More celebrity homes

Queen Frontman Adam Lambert Sells Hollywood Hills Home for $2.92 Million
The Playboy Mansion: the Full Story of Hugh Hefner’s Party PalaceWhere Does Lady Gaga Live? Check Out Her ‘Gypsy Palace’ in MalibuThe Beverly House, where Jackie O & JFK Honeymooned and where Coppola Shot “The Godfather”


6 Ways To Get Rid of Mice Without Killing Them

Let’s be honest, in movies like “Stuart Little” and “Cinderella,” pet mice are adorable. However, they’re less cute when they’re in your home. If you find yourself with a pest problem, you need to figure out how to get rid of mice. Well, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent them from being attracted to your home in the first place.

From making sure your trash is sealed and ensuring food is out of reach and hiding pet food, you can do a few easy things to avoid the pesky critters. But, if you already have a mouse issue, the question still remains how do you get rid of mice in a humane way? Here are six different ways to get rid of mice.

1. Peppermint oil

peppermint oilpeppermint oil

Although people love the smell and taste of peppermint, mice like Gus Gus hate it. They have very sensitive noses and the smell of peppermint is too strong for them. Buy some peppermint oil from the store and dab it on a cotton ball. Then, place the peppermint-swabbed cotton balls strategically throughout the apartment where you’ve seen mice or mice droppings.

It’s an easy way to repel mice without having to trap and kill them. This method works best indoors as it’ll help retain the strong, mice-repellent smell of peppermint. You can find essential oils at most high-end grocery stores or aromatherapy shops.

2. Cloves


Similar to the smell of peppermint, mice don’t like the smell of cloves. Just like you would with the peppermint oil, place the cloves in the areas you find the mice most often.

The smell is almost unbearable to mice and will repel them from entering your apartment in the first place. This affordable, eco-friendly option is a great way to rid yourself of your problem while also making your home smell lovely.

3. Aluminum foil

aluminum foil ballaluminum foil ball

Almost everyone has aluminum foil in their kitchen supply drawer. This is an inexpensive and easy way to get rid of your mouse problem. Simply take the aluminum foil and ball it up.

From there, you’ll want to place the balls of the foil where you’ve seen the mouse entering and exiting the apartment. Mice don’t like the feel or sound of foil so it’s a simple method to humanely repel mice from attempting to enter your apartment.

4. Live catch and release traps

catch and release trapscatch and release traps

Catch and release traps are a classic way to get rid of mice without the killing part. Take some appealing food like crackers — Saltines, to be specific — and spread them with peanut butter. Next, take the crackers and place them in the trap. The mice will smell the salty treat and enter the trap.

Once the mouse is in the trap, the door will shut behind them. This trap does not kill the mouse, it just contains it. Once you have it trapped, just pick up the trap, take it outside and release the little creature into the wild. The mouse lives and you return to your apartment mouse-free.

Consider using a trap like the Mouse Cube, which is designed to not harm mice.

Bonus tip: It’s best to relocate the mouse about two to three miles away from your home to decrease the chances of it returning. Also, if you have to wait for better weather to relocate the mice, avoid handling it as much as possible. Mice do better with as little human contact as possible. Another tip is to drop them off in an area away from humans and ideally surrounded by rocks or trees so they’re able to build a nest.

5. Repellents


Repellents are another easy way to get rid of mice. All you have to do is spray the repellent in any area where you’ve noticed mice and they’ll be gone. Although some repellents are toxin-free, it’s best to wear gloves just to be safe.

6. Ultrasonic repellents

ultrasonic repellentsultrasonic repellents

These little devices are great for getting rid of mice. They send out ultrasonic waves that create a sound that drives mice crazy. Since they hate the sound, they’ll be gone in a flash. All you have to do is place the device where the mice are, turn it on and your problem is solved.

This device is also great because it’s safer for other pets than other forms of getting rid of mice, such as poison. You don’t have to worry about the mice or your other furry loved ones anymore.

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How to get rid of mice without harming them

If you’d ever wondered how to get rid of mice, you now have seven humane and safe ways to do so. Now, you’ll never be left wondering how to get rid of them. These helpful tips will help you to make your house a cleaner, mouse-free place without harming any animals in the process.




Soap Actress Jen Lilley is Selling her Cozy, HGTV-Featured Condo

“Days of Our Lives” alum and Hallmark darling Jen Lilley is selling a charming condo set in a gated community in Pacoima, CA. The apartment is listed with Laura Pardini of Compass and priced at $365,000.

In line with the perfectly styled interiors Lilley is shown on screen with, her impeccable two-bedroom combines different textures and pops of color, giving it a distinct dramatic flair — which landed the apartment a past feature on HGTV.

Image credit: Compass

As the listing points out, the apartment has been beautifully renovated with custom wall coverings, hardwood floors, and designer lighting. The spacious living area features a gas fireplace, with the adjacent dining area leading into an open kitchen, fitted with granite counters and stainless steel appliances.

Image credit: Compass
Image credit: Compass

Our favorite room of Jen Lilley’s apartment is definitely the master bedroom, a serene suite that features plenty of calming wood details contrasted by bold, dark walls. The result is spectacular, and makes for an inviting and chic bedroom — perfected by the en suite bathroom and walk-in closet.

Image credit: Compass
Image credit: Compass
Image credit: Compass

The second bedroom and bathroom are equally well-appointed, and in the hallway, you’ll find an Instagram-worthy laundry closet features a washer-dryer and shelving. How cute is that?

Image credit: Compass

All in all, the apartment is as endearing as its owner, who’s been charming us with her screen presence for well over a decade. After breaking out into television with a role on General Hospital, Jen Lilley landed the part of the devious Theresa Donovan on Days of Our Lives (role which she’d be happy to resume, according to recent interviews). She later left the show in 2018, after a five year run, to focus on her film career, as Lilley has acted in dozens of movies in the past few years, currently holding the informal crown of queen of Hallmark movies.

The actress, a parent of two sons through foster care, has been keeping busy during isolation by publicly supporting foster care, raising awareness and funds for Project Orphans.

More celebrity homes

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A Look Inside Kris Jenner’s House, Her Zen-like Refuge in Hidden Hills


Tips for De-Cluttering Your House and Getting Paid for it

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

When you’re trying not to spend money, there’s no better way to spend your time than making money. And you know what my favorite way to make money is?


I couldn’t make a living off of it but it’s a great way to build an emergency fund or earn a little vacation money. The feeling of a good purge is half the reward anyway.

And with the rise of blogs, books, and movies about minimalism, I think you guys agree. Whether you’re venturing into minimalism, doing a No-Spend Challenge or just trying to spend less, getting rid of stuff is a wild way to spend a Friday night and a cathartic activity.

So if you want to go further than just “not spending” and make your home and life more minimalist and cozy, here are 7 tips for de-cluttering your house and where to sell your stuff for quick cash.

Also, if you like this topic I cover this and much more in my book The No-Spend Challenge Guide. Check it out to help you save more, spend less, and make the most of your time paying off debt.

1. Mentally Prepare

When purging unused items it’s important to go in knowing what you’re up against. The goal isn’t to go from hoarder to Ikea in one day. Purging is a process. The reason I love de-cluttering while on a No Spend Challenge is that it’s unlikely I’ll replace the stuff I get rid of during that process.

Also, you have to give up the “I paid $$$ for this” mentality. What you paid for it mattered to your budget (or lack of) when you bought it. It’s non-use matters today. If you haven’t used it this year then you can live without it.

2. Physically Prepare

You can start your purge up to a year before you actually get rid of anything. Try this hanger trick, made famous by Oprah. Go into your closet and turn all the hangers the wrong way (whatever that means to you).

Whenever you put a garment back into the closet after wearing it put it in with the hanger facing the right way. At the end of six months or a year whatever hangers are still facing the wrong way can easily be gotten rid of.

3. Keep – Sell/Give – Store

For going through drawers and closets that have become a black hole of clutter, find three boxes and label them: keep, sell/give, and store. There could also be a fourth box for trash but I like to keep it simple and just bring the trash can over.

The “Keep” box is for things you use and still need to easy access to. The Sell/Give box gets an attempt at selling then if that fails goes to charity, and the Store box is for things you need or want but can go into deep storage.

I also like the Store box as a tester for getting rid of more on my next purge. If you’re holding that snow globe from middle school and you’re having a hard time parting with it, you don’t have to make a decision yet. Put it in the Store box and come back to it in a month.

4. Don’t Call It Junk

When we were hosting a garage sale for my mom we had a lot of clothes leftover. I went through and tried to separate out what we could sell to Clothes Mentor which buys and sells gently used clothes for women.

There were these two pairs of corduroy overalls, one with Eeyore on the front, the other with Pooh and Piglet. Assuming that I knew what was in style I put those in the Give box but Travis saw me and was convinced they would sell. I don’t remember everything I said but it was something to the extent of “you’re crazy, these are ugly.” But because I wanted to prove him wrong I let him take them.

We ended up taking the clothes to Plato’s Closet, which sells teen clothing because Clothes Mentor wasn’t buying at the time. I was prepared to make very little because the clothes were definitely for an older crowd. When we picked up our two bins of clothing they’d agreed to buy three items from us. Two of them were the overalls.

That story to say, I don’t call anything junk anymore (well, I’m at least trying now). You’d be shocked at what people will buy online or at gently-used stores. It’s usually the things we think will sell that don’t and the things we think will never sell do the quickest.

5. Free Your Flat Surfaces

I read this online and it’s become my mantra when I only have five minutes to clean. Clearing off countertops, the coffee table, dining table, desk, anything flat can transform your house.

This is especially true in a small house. We didn’t have many flat surfaces in our apartment; it was pretty much just the kitchen table. So it ended up being a catchall for mail, papers, etc. The first thing to get cleared was always that table and it made a huge difference right off the bat.

6. Find Storage

Don’t buy storage. You’re trying not to spend money remember? You don’t even know how much storage you’re going to need until after you finish. Trust me, I too have dreams about the Container Store but use it as a reward instead of a necessity.

Use what you have for free first. Wrap boxes with ribbon or washi tape for custom storage or look for free storage on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I try to make it my goal to get rid of enough stuff to eliminate the need of containers.

Wait a few months after finishing the de-clutter, if it still bothers you then you can go buy exactly what you need, but chances are you won’t even think about it once it’s done.

7. One Room at a Time

Don’t try to tackle the whole house in one day, not even a month. 2-4 hours is about how much most people can handle. So start small and tackle one room, closet or drawer at a time and just keep going.

I suggest starting with the most used room down to the least. For me that’s the bedroom or kitchen.

Suggestions for quick purges:

  • Old Magazines
  • Stretched out Hair Ties
  • Unused CDs & DVDs
  • Unused Makeup & Skincare
  • Free T-Shirts
  • Unwanted Gifts
  • Unused Purses

Now here’s the fun part. Where you can make some money off your efforts. There are a few ways to go at this. You can sell items yourself on eBay, Poshmark, or Amazon. Or you can sell to reselling services like DeCluttr, ThredUp, and Gone.

You’ll get more money doing it yourself but it also takes more time. Either one is a good option because you’re making some dough and you have a clean house! Here are some more ideas on where to sell your stuff and what these services buy:

  • DeCluttr- Games, CDs, DVDs, Books, Tech
  • Gone- Electronics
  • ThredUp- Clothes
  • Poshmark- Clothes
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Letgo
  • OfferUp
  • Mercari
  • Amazon

If you have a lot of stuff to sell (or you have friends with stuff to sell too) you can go with a good ol’ fashioned garage sale. I highly recommend having a multi-person yard sale. We did one this way and in addition to having more variety, we had a lot of fun together.

So what are your tips for de-cluttering your house? What’s the first drawer, room, or closet you’re going to tackle this weekend?

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How to Declutter Effectively

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How to declutter your home and make tons of money!! #declutteryourhouse #howtodeclutteryourhouse #makemoneysellingyourstuff #sellingyourthings #flippingforprofit #makemoremoney #sidehustles #sidehustleideas #makemoneyfast

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.


10 Free Activities For Couples Paying off Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

When my fiance told me he wanted to pay off his student loan debt as fast as possible, my short answer was “NO.”

The little voice inside my head kept reminding me of all the things I’d miss out on if I couldn’t spend money.

It’s not that I didn’t want to pay off my student loans. In grad school, my plan was to have them paid off before I turned 30. But somewhere along the way the compounding interest and dinners out with friends paralyzed me into thinking it simply couldn’t be done.

So when I [finally] got on board with this crazy idea that we’d pay for our wedding in cash and pay off both our loans (and a car loan I’d picked up along the way) I was terrified I’d be a friendless hermit by the end of it.

How to Pay Off Debt Without Becoming a Hermit

But it didn’t take long to see that there’s a lot more to living than tacos, coffee, and vacations. I didn’t stop spending altogether (at least all the time) I became more selective with my spending.

And being selective with my spending means I no longer waste my time on things I only kind of like and I value the things I really do enjoy so much more.

So in order to do more of the things I love that do cost money, we trade in activities like movies, theme parks, and weekend getaways for free activities. Here are some of my personal favorites that you might like too.

  1. The Library

The library is a treasure trove of fun. It’s grown from novels and encyclopedias to include eBooks, DIY books, CDs, movies, and so much more than I could’ve imagined as a kid.

I’ve discovered amazing recipes, learned macramé, and my husband, who doesn’t love reading, has even gotten in on it recently. And it’s free. You don’t even have to search high and low for what you want.

Search the library database from the comfort from your home and request a hold on any item, they’ll deliver it to the library of your choice and alert you when it’s there. Easy peasy!

It’s also an alternative to coffee shops for getting work done. There are quiet spaces and even room rentals available.

  1. Social Running Groups

We love the running group we’re a part of. You can find them at most running stores or groups and events on Facebook. For us, there’s at least one on any given side of town and usually every night of the week.

Most do a 5K(ish) run that starts and ends at a store or bar. Trust me when I say all levels of runners/ walkers/ joggers participate. And since the pack disperses pretty early on it’s easy to cut your run short and not be noticed (not like I ever do that ;))

Trav and I don’t always run together, but sometimes we do, other times I’ll run with a friend or by myself. Everyone meets back up at the end and hangs out. Some groups have raffles or free beer at the end.

  1. Yelp Events

You know about Yelp right? It’s a website/ app that you can find new places to eat, drink, and play. Each city has a Community Ambassador that hosts Yelp events, they are awesome and make for a great free night out.

We’ve been to many and have been thoroughly impressed. The ones we’ve been to have included free food from local restaurants, free (alcoholic) drinks, and lots of free Yelp swag. One even gave us an hour of unlimited gameplay at an arcade, so fun!

You have to be diligent in checking for these official Yelp events, they always fill up. When you find one RSVP on the event page then wait for a confirmation email. There are no +1’s so everyone has to RSVP and get confirmation individually to attend together.

  1. Pantry (Dinner) Party

The dinner party is an oldie but a goodie. You may have to buy some groceries for this one or you can use it as an excuse to clear out the pantry and fridge.

A side dish that goes with nothing? Vegetable about to go bad? Anything [almost] freezer burned?

Get some friends together and it’s sure to be a food match made in conglomerate heaven. And you get the bonus of spending time with good friends or building relationships with new ones!

  1. Bike Ride

Self-explanatory. We love a good bike ride. We live right off a trail and it’s another great exercise activity to do with your significant other, friends, or just by yourself.

And if you want to meet new people, many cities have biking clubs on most days of the week and ranging in speed/experience.

  1. Home Improvement Class

If you own a home or are thinking about purchasing one, this is a great one. Home Depot offers free workshops on everything from installing light fixtures and tile to water conservation hacks and a DIY dog feeder.

Even if you don’t own a home these are great tricks to have up your sleeve for when that time comes.

And it’s empowering to know that if something breaks I can fix it or if he’s at work I can install it. There’s something to be said for the confidence (and frustration) completing a home improvement project can bring.

  1. Events in the Park

We live in a city that loves to be outside and that means tons of free events, orchestra nights, movies on a big screen, fireworks, and parades to name a few. We love bringing a blanket, some chairs, and a picnic for the evening.

The trick is getting there early to find free parking and bringing your own food to avoid the temptation of all the vendors.

This is also a great activity to do in groups because a lot of these things only happen once or twice a year and everyone attends, so why not go together!? Find your city’s event calendar or downtown blog to find out what’s available.

  1. Volunteer

We volunteer at our church and at a foster group home in our area. Volunteering is an amazing way to see your partner interact with others, to grow in boldness (hi introverts) and get to do something for free that helps others and makes you feel good.

I love Habitat For Humanity (make use out of those home improvement classes!) and Big Brothers, Big Sisters (there’s a Big Couple option that’s really fun.) There are options for all time commitments.

And it’s not limited to humanitarian groups. You can volunteer at events like music and food festivals for a couple hours then enjoy those events for free!

  1. Find Water

As a couple who lives 15 minutes from the beach, it’s a wonderful place to relax and feel like you’re somewhere else for a few hours. Trav can play Frisbee with his friends while I nap under the umbrella (I’m dreaming of it right now!)

You may not be close to a beach but you’re probably near some body of water (even if it’s frozen over right now.)

Bring your own drinks and food for the day and it’s a free vacation! You may have to do some extra searching beforehand to find free parking but it’s totally worth it. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen! Even in winter!

  1. Pokemon Go

And last but not least, the phenomenon that really inspired this post several years ago, Pokemon Go. Can you believe people are stil playing this game!?

Seriously though, it’s amazing to me how addictive this game is and the fact that it’s totally free. Trav and I have been in a head to head battle to see who can catch the best Pokemon, who can level up faster, and walking/running like crazy to hatch those eggs!

Bonus: your group run can double as a Pokemon adventure. I’ve hatched many an egg that way.

And I think a little competition in any relationship is a good thing, just know when to comfort your brokenhearted husband when you catch the Pikachu first. Love it or hate it this is a fun game to play together.

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10 free activities for couples paying off debt

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-2601 jetpack-lazy-image” src=”” alt=”These 10 free activities for couples paying off debt are great! #payoffdebt #frugalfun” width=”400″ height=”600″ data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-srcset=” 400w, 200w, 735w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″>

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10 free activities for couples paying off debt

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-2601″ src=”” alt=”These 10 free activities for couples paying off debt are great! #payoffdebt #frugalfun” width=”400″ height=”600″ srcset=” 400w, 200w, 735w” sizes=”(max-width: 400px) 100vw, 400px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

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Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ loading=”lazy” width=”311″ height=”600″ data-pin-title=”Free Activities to Live a Little While Paying Off Debt” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of feeling like you have to stay at home 24/7 while paying off debt? Here are 10 free activities to do with your partner while paying off debt. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoff #howtogetoutofdebt #freecouplesactivities #freedatenightideas #frugaldatenight” src=”” alt class=”wp-image-4453″ srcset=” 311w, 156w, 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 311px) 100vw, 311px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.


Katy Perry Lights Up Housing Market With a $14.2M Montecito Mansion 

The pop singer Katy Perry and the actor Orlando Bloom have found a place to settle down together. The A-list couple plunked down $14.2 million for a jaw-dropping, oceanview estate in the seaside town of Montecito, CA, according to Variety.

Although the couple purchased the home last fall, they’ve spent the last five months moving in to their new coastal retreat, possibly adding their own custom touches, the New York Post notes. The home seems to have been impeccably maintained, but no doubt they preferred to update the interiors to their taste.

The property initially appeared on the market in 2019, for almost $20 million, and then slowly came down in price until it landed at $16.25 million last June. Perry and Bloom managed to score an even better deal with their offer.

The spread is a perfect place to enjoy family time. The two welcomed a daughter last summer, and the “California Gurl” is a Santa Barbara native who appears to be returning to her roots.

The area is popular with celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and even Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Storied estate

The couple apparently bought the home from the former CEO of Chrysler, C. Robert Kidder. He and his wife, Mary, held the property for over two decades, according to Variety.

Set on 9 acres, the circa 1928 build includes six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. Originally designed by the Santa Barbara architects Edwards & Plunkett, it was notably renovated by Lutah Maria Riggs.

Riggs was the first woman to become a licensed architect in Santa Barbara, and the first woman in California to be named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Spanning four parcels, the spread maintains “much of the same spirit as it did when it was conceived,” according to the listing. The locale affords both ocean and mountain views. A long, oak-lined drive leads to the main residence.

The three-story Mediterranean villa opens up to the main level, with a living room, formal dining room, and open kitchen and breakfast room, which leads to an outdoor dining space. The cooking area includes a large island and butler’s pantry.


Watch: Kelly Clarkson’s Massive ‘Farmhouse’ Gets a Price Cut—to $8.9M


Other rooms include a glassed-in sunroom and a family room, and a lower level leads to a wood-paneled office and conference room. On the top level, you’ll find the bedrooms, including the massive master suite, with sitting area, fireplace, dual baths, walk-in closet, dressing room, and a private balcony.

The layout offers access to multiple terraces that look out to the grassy lawns and grounds.

On its expansive acreage, the property also includes a guesthouse, detached office, pool, cabana, and tennis court.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom's Montecito estate
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s Montecito estate

Living room
Living room


Eat-in kitchen
Eat-in kitchen




Real estate roar

The couple both maintain ties with nearby Los Angeles. In fact, Perry has bought and sold multiple properties in the area—and even attempted to purchase a monastery.

The singer currently owns a harmonious $18 million Beverly Hills residence that she picked up in 2017 in an off-market deal. In a style described as “Hamptons modern,” the ultra-private, gated estate features five bedrooms, walls of glass, and woodsy acreage.

And the “Firework” singer has been attempting to light up the market with a home that she used as a guesthouse adjacent to her main house.

That place, completely suitable as most people’s idea of a primary residence, is still available for $7.85 million. She bought it in 2018 for $7.4 million.

The 4,400-square-foot space includes four bedrooms, a chef’s kitchen, a living room with fireplace, and a formal dining room. The spaces lead out to terraces, a garden and pool. The master suite is upstairs, with a separate bedroom wing that includes an office and a gym.

Perry's Beverly Hills guesthouse
Perry’s Beverly Hills guesthouse

Bloom, known for his role as Legolas in the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies, has also been releasing real estate. The English actor’s renovated bachelor pad, which he offered for $9 million in 2019, is currently off market, after its price was chopped to $8 million last year. The single-level contemporary features walls of glass, ipe-wood decking, and an infinity-edge pool.

Orlando Bloom's bachelor pad
Orlando Bloom’s bachelor pad


5 Items To Cut From Your Budget When Getting Out of Debt

There are items to cut from your budget when getting out of debt.  Find out which ones they are and why you need to trim the budget now.

things to do to get out of debt

things to do to get out of debt

I remember the days when we were doing all we could to try to get out of from under our debt.  We really worked hard to throw as much money as we could at it – as quickly as possible.  Part of the process for us was to take a look at our budget.  I good, long look at it.

In doing this, we found we could make some changes.  We found categories and spending that we were able to reduce or even cut out entirely from our budget.  Was it fun?  No.  Not at all.  But, something interesting happened when we did this.

We did not miss it

It is funny, but when you start to spend less on something, you realize that you don’t miss it.  It’s been more than five years since we paid off our debts.  And, even all these years later, we’ve not gone back to spending on these items like we did before we began our journey.   We do spend money, but not like we did before.  We just don’t need to.

You are probably wondering what in the world we did!  Read on to find the five items that we cut (or reduced) from our budget when we were getting out of debt.

If you are struggling  with paying off your debt, these folks may be able to help:
Call 866-948-5666.



Dining out is convenient and something many of us do on a regular basis.  But, is getting out of debt more important than a few meals?  Chance are, it is.

If you spend $50 a week eating meals out, that is another $200 a month you have for your debt.  Over the course of a year, you can pay another $2,400 towards your debt!  Seeing those balances going down will give you more long-term satisfaction than a steak dinner.

Never eating out may be too hard for you.  If that is the case, limit your dining out to special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries.  You might also want to go out to eat as you pay off each debt you owe.

Read More:  How to Save Money When Dining Out


You can’t eliminate food from your budget.  After all, you must eat.  However, you need to be smarter when it comes to shopping for food and cutting back where you can.  Simple things such as cutting out the pre-packaged snacks or even meals and create them yourself can make a significant impact on your budget.

In addition to watching what you buy, you need to plan your meals.  After all, you aren’t dining out as much anymore. Smart planning starts by using the food you have on hand and then buying items on sale.  And, before you head to the store, make sure you have your shopping list (and your printed coupons).

Read More:  How to Create a Menu Plan That Works


If you look at your budget, an item you may pay a lot for each month is cable.  The average consumer spends more than $100 a month for service.  You can eliminate cable and use an antenna to watch television.  Even if you add in a couple of streaming services (such as Netflix, for example), you will pay much less than $100 a month.

If cutting cable is not an option, take a look at your bill to make sure you watch all the channels for which you pay.  Eliminate premium services or tiers until you are out of debt and then you can add them back in.

Read More: 
Five Tips to Help You Cut Your Cable BillAlternatives to Cable TV – Never Miss Your Favorite Shows or Sports


It happens.  You run to Target to get one or two items and walk out with a cart full of treasures.  Then, if you make more than one trip to Target or Walmart a week, you might find you are doing this time and time again.  By reducing the number of trips to the store, you may see you spend less.

Plan a weekly trip to the store and don’t walk in without a shopping list.  As you walk the aisles, add only the items you have on your list to the cart.  Don’t allow yourself to get lured in by big signs on the end-caps or the clearance section.

Another trick to spending less is to only shop when you do not have much time.  So, rather than shop when you have hours to spare, stop in when you have just 20 or 30 minutes to get what you need.  When you have less time to shop, you will be more focused on getting only the items you need.

You really can’t eliminate this from your budget, but you can easily find a way to make sure you stay on track with your spending.

Read More:  Why You Keep Overspending


Going to the movies can be a lot of fun. It can also be enjoyable to get out to the concert or comedy show.  However, these are such a massive hit to your budget.  It is nothing for a simple trip to the movies to cost $30 or more (by the time you get a ticket and snacks).

Instead, you can stay home and grab a RedBox or Netflix movie (for much less).  You can even check out all of the movies found on Amazon on Demand (some of which are even free with your paid Amazon Prime membership). Pop your own corn and you are set!  If you ask my kids, they would much rather to movie night at home than go to the theater.  They get to wear jammies and sprawl out on the floor.  Best of all, we can pause the show for the often needed bathroom breaks!

Review your budget to see what you can reduce or eliminate.  When your goal is getting out of debt, things you thought were important, often no longer are.   Remember that you are making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.  One day, you’ll be out of debt and can add these items back into your budget.  But, you just may learn you don’t miss them.

tips to help you get out of debt fast

tips to help you get out of debt fast


Where’s the House from ‘Home Alone 3’?

Year in and year out, we know the holidays are almost upon us when TV networks start airing Home Alone, the iconic family movie that has by now become synonymous with Christmas cheer. And while the first two Home Alone movies starring Macaulay Culkin are the clear fan favorites, the third one (written and produced by the same John Hughes that gave us the first two festive flicks) was deemed the least successful in the series — by far — and failed to make a lasting impression.

And that’s not because of the plot, cast, or setting, but rather the result of the ultra-high expectations created by the first two Home Alone movies, and the fondness audiences had for Macaulay Culkin (which refused to return for a role in the third one, despite popular demand). In fact, the plot of the third Home Alone was quite an elaborate — and downright frightening — one, seeing Alex Pruitt, an 8-year-old boy living in Chicago, fending off international spies who were seeking a top-secret computer chip that was hidden in his toy car.

The poster for Home Alone 3, featuring the house in the background. Image credit: IMDB

Unlike a normal cat burglar situation — the first two movies featured petty thieves just trying to score a hit during the holidays, eyeing million-dollar-homes left unattended while the owners were celebrating elsewhere — Home Alone 3 is actually a matter of national security. With four thieves (said to be working for a North Korean terrorist organization) looking to retrieve the toy car/computer chip gifted to Alex by his unknowing neighbor, Mrs. Hess, the movie’s plot tackles a far more dangerous situation that the first two, despite the light way in which it is presented.

But there are two major things that all the Home Alone movies have in common: a clever, brave 8-year-old that will stop at nothing to protect himself and a beautiful Chicago-area home that acts as the ‘battleground’ of sorts where the bad guys get what’s coming to them. And since we’ve already covered the house in the first Home Alone movies, we thought I’d be the perfect time to do some scouting and find the one in the third movie too, especially since it’s no less beautiful.

The real-life house from Home Alone 3

While the movie’s storyline places it in Chicago, the house used in the third Home Alone is located in Evanston — a city 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago. According to, the exact address is 3026 Normandy Place, Evanston, and a quick Google Maps search confirms that, showing us the exact same Pruitt family house we see in the movie.

House in Home Alone 3 – Google Maps

According to real estate website, the Pruitt family home is worth a little over $1,000,000, with neighboring properties all selling for about the same amount — though admittedly, none of the other houses that line the street had a high profile movie credit in their property history. Nor did they have Hollywood A-listers on their grounds (just in case you forgot, the most famous cast member in Home Alone 3 was none other than Avengers star Scarlett Johansson, who played Alex Pruitt’s sister in the 1997 movie).

Screen grab from Home Alone 3, featuring a young Scarlett Johansson as the older sister.

Just in case you were wondering, the house where Alex Pruitt’s neighbor — Mrs. Hess — supposedly lived is actually located next door, at 3025 Normandy Place.

More famous TV homes

Richie Rich’s House is Actually the Biltmore Estate, America’s Largest Home
The ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ House Isn’t Even in Bel-Air
The Real-Life Homes from Modern Family — and Where to Find Them
The Simpsons House Gets a Modern Day Makeover


Start The Year Right With A No Spend Month

If you’re like most of the people in the country, this holiday season, you may have eaten and bought too much despite your best intentions.

The holidays are a time of excess, even if you try hard to avoid it.

Many people find January or February an ideal time to cut back and restore balance in their lives.

One perfect way to do this is to have a no spend month or a spending freeze.

Have a no spend month

Have a no spend month

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restore balance to my life.  One way to do that is to be more mindful of how I spend money and to use what I already have.

If you can’t have a no spend month in January, February is also a great month, plus it’s three days shorter than January.

How do you restore balance after the holidays?  Do you have a no spend month or a pantry challenge?