Borrowers With Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Mortgages Can Receive Up to 18 Months of Forbearance, Regulator Says

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will allow homeowners to receive an additional three months of forbearance as it extends the COVID-19 relief options available.

The agency announced Thursday that homeowners with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac  can receive up to 18 months of payment relief. To be eligible for the extended forbearance, homeowners must already be signed up for a forbearance plan by the end of February.

The FHFA also amended its separate payment deferral option for homeowners so they can now miss up to 18 months of payments. Those missed payments can be repaid when the mortgage reaches maturity, when the home is sold or when the mortgage is refinanced.

Originally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac instructed loan servicers that mortgage borrowers could request up to 12 months of forbearance on their mortgages as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But earlier this month, the FHFA extended the forbearance period by an additional three months, for up to 15 months’ forbearance.

The new changes announced Thursday were made to bring the agency’s policies in line with the policies set forth by the Biden administration for loans backed by the federal government, including Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgages.

Beyond extending forbearance, the FHFA also announced that it was extending its moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until June 30. The moratoriums were previously set to expire at the end of March.


Dumpling Shopper: Launch Your Own Grocery Delivery Business

Grocery delivery startup Dumpling is taking on Instacart and Shipt — and the whole gig economy — by offering grocery delivery drivers an entirely new moneymaking model.

Thanks to a surge in demand as a result of the pandemic, grocery delivery apps are more popular than ever. Since last March, Instacart and Shipt have hired more than half a million gig workers to shop and deliver food to customers who’d rather stay at home and order online.

Those hordes of gig workers, who are independent contractors, rely on grocery delivery to supplement their earnings or make up their income entirely. While this arrangement is a welcome and fast form of cash for some folks, others are finding that the income from Instacart and Shipt is unsustainable.

That’s where Dumpling comes in: capitalizing on the growing trend of grocery delivery as well as the rising concerns of delivery workers who want more control over their income by allowing them to choose who to work with and how much to charge.

Here’s a look at one of the newest grocery delivery apps on the block, and how you could use it to launch your own grocery delivery business.

Dumpling founders pose for a photograph against a red brick wall.
Tom Schoelhammer, left, Joel Shapiro and Nate D’Anna are the founders of Dumpling. Photo courtesy of Dumpling

What Is Dumpling?

Dumpling is a grocery delivery service founded in 2017 by Tom Schoelhammer, Nate D’Anna and Joel Shapiro, who all left corporate tech jobs to try their hands as entrepreneurs.

On the customer side, Dumpling operates much like other grocery shopping apps: You download the app, select a nearby grocery store, choose what items you want to buy, place your order and voila, a nearby personal shopper will deliver the items to your doorstep.

Where Dumpling differentiates itself is in how it’s used by delivery workers. It is essentially a suite of software and coaching services for those looking to launch their own small grocery-delivery business.

Pro Tip

As a shopper for Dumpling, you’re considered a small business owner, not a gig worker.

According to the company, more than 2,000 small business owners from all 50 states use Dumpling to deliver groceries locally.

Dumpling markets itself aggressively as a “personal, ethical and local” alternative to Instacart and Shipt, which rely on an army of gig workers to do the shopping.

Since its launch and especially during the pandemic, Dumpling and its co-founders have become increasingly outspoken about the downsides of the gig economy.

“What can we do to help more people gain greater control, autonomy, and flexibility over the way they work?” Dumpling’s website states. “When we set out to find an answer, we didn’t know we’d eventually be taking on the gig economy.”

But does the company provide a meaningful alternative?

How It Works for Dumpling Shoppers (aka Business Owners)

As a grocery shopper for Dumpling, you’ll have more autonomy than with typical gig apps.

In a training video for new Dumpling shoppers, Bree Crawford, director of coaching at Dumpling, contrasts the company with other shopping gigs.

“As a prior Instacart shopper, I have a pretty good idea of some of the questions you’re going to run into,” she said. “With Instacart, we’re used to just sitting around waiting for batches, and it’s just stupid.”

With Dumpling, you can choose who you want to deliver to, set how much you want to charge per delivery, select the stores where you want to shop, schedule deliveries in advance and more.

But that autonomy comes at a cost.

Dumpling Shopper Fees

To start your shopping business, you need to pay a one-time fee, currently $19.99, for an activation kit. The activation kit includes:

  • A Dumpling business credit card that you’ll use for your orders.
  • Access to a personal shopper website hosted by Dumpling.
  • 100 business cards.
  • Access to the “Boss” version of the Dumpling app, which you’ll need to connect with clients.

“The Dumpling credit card works as a micro loan to business owners. When the client places an order, the credit card is funded for the business owner to shop and pay for the order,” Shapiro told The Penny Hoarder. “This system allows Dumpling business owners to shop all orders without fronting any funds themselves.”

The company also offers Pro and Tycoon monthly membership plans for business owners, which give you access to better credit-card and business-profile perks. Pro costs $49 per month, and Tycoon costs $99 per month. A standard plan is free.

You can expect the activation process to take about a week.

In addition to the activation fees, you pay two fees per grocery order: a credit card processing fee and a “platform” fee. The credit card fees are tiered based on your membership category.

Under the standard plan, you pay 3.9% of the order total, including gratuity, plus 30 cents. If you’re Pro, you pay 3.2% plus 30 cents. Tycoons pay 2.8% plus 30 cents. The platform fee is a flat 5% of the cost of groceries sans delivery and gratuity for all membership levels.

For example, if you have a $100 grocery order, plus your delivery charge of $10 (which you can customize) and a $20 tip, here’s how your earnings would break down under the free standard plan.

  • Gross order earnings: $30 ($10 order charge plus $20 tip).
  • Credit card processing fee: $5.26 (3.9% of $135 plus 30 cents).
  • Platform fee: $5.00 (5% of $100 worth of groceries).
  • Net order earnings: $19.74.

According to Shapiro, the average earnings per order are $40, “which is significantly higher than traditional gig work platforms for grocery delivery.”

Previously, you could set a fixed minimum gratuity percentage up front for every order, but Dumpling recently removed that feature, according to app store reviews.

To prevent tip baiting, a practice where some Instacart customers lure shoppers in with big tips up front only to zero them out after the order, Dumpling does not allow your customers to reduce their tips after the delivery. They can only increase it.

The trick is to find the right delivery charge. Too high, and you risk driving your customers to Instacart, Shipt or another Dumpling deliverer. Too low, and those fees eat away at your tip.

Free Coaching

Once you set up your Dumpling account and receive your activation kit, you’re eligible for free coaching. The initial coaching session is a basic onboarding call in which a Dumpling coach will show you the ropes.

After that, you can receive additional coaching free of charge. The program includes three calls with one of Dumpling’s staff coaches, “all of whom have backgrounds in grocery delivery gig work and run successful businesses on Dumpling themselves,” Shapiro said.

The coaching program can start at any time so long as your account is active, with each session spaced out “a few weeks apart.”

Coaches can help you with a range of things like utilizing your business website, app functionality and marketing tips. Between sessions, coaches can help with smaller questions, too.

After the three coaching sessions, you may be able to get more assistance if needed.

“Dumpling business owners never have to pay money to access this program,” Shapiro said. “However the coaches do ask for their undivided attention and that they continue putting in the effort on their own business to remain in the program.”

Finding Your Own Customers

Perhaps the most notable difference between Dumpling and other grocery shopping gig apps is that, as a business owner, you’re responsible for finding your own customers.

There are several ways to connect with them, and Dumpling does assist you with this, but the process is not automatic.

For example, with Shipt or Instacart, you log on and wait for an order to pop up on your app. Then you can choose to accept or decline, knowing little to nothing about the customer. Or it’s possible that an order will be claimed by competing shoppers in your area before you have a chance to act.

At Dumpling, you’ll need to interact much more with customers — with the ultimate goal of scheduling them on a recurring basis. And the initial order could take some leg work.

Since Dumpling is a relatively new company with fewer customers than competitor grocery delivery apps, you may find yourself giving a sales pitch: first to explain what Dumpling is, and second, to convince the customer to schedule you for grocery orders through the app.

Customers may also find you through a ZIP code search function on the Dumpling website and app or directly from your personal Dumpling business site. But that’s assuming that one of your neighbors is already familiar with the company.

Dumpling is not for every gig worker. It takes a certain amount of risk tolerance. Given the activation and processing fees, there is a chance you could go in the red on some orders, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any orders in the first place.

What Dumpling does offer you is more autonomy and control over your grocery-delivery enterprise — something many gig workers, whose earnings are based on ever-changing algorithms, are craving.

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.


Sign up for the Self-Publishing Success Summit for FREE!

July 7, 2015 | Crystal Paine

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Sign up for the Self-Publishing Success Summit for FREE!

Have you ever considered writing a book? If so, you’ll want to sign up for the FREE Self-Publishing Success Online Summit being held July 12-23.

This Summit features interviews from 37 different authors and entrepreneurs and will give you lots of valuable information to help you write, market, and publish your book.

Here are the three main topics this online event covers:

Step 1 – Writing You Book – You’ll learn how to easily & effortlessly write your first book and how to overcome the doubts and fears that keep you from writing.

Step 2 – Marketing & Publishing – Learn how to successfully launch your book once it’s written…including revolutionary “outside of the box” tactics today’s top authors are using to sell more books.

Step 3 – Monetizing (Making Money) – Take your book to the bank. Speakers share their top strategies to build passive income, even a business, from your first book… including how to use a book to drive 1,000’s of leads & customers.

Sign up for this event for FREE here.

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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.


Rising Rates Damp Mortgage Applications Ahead of Spring Selling Season

Mortgage rates reached their highest level since November last week, cooling off home purchase and refinance applications ahead of the all-important spring selling season.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.81% in the week ended Feb. 18, the highest since the second week of November, according to mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac. A measure of mortgage applications fell 11.4% over the same week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Improving Covid-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. and expectations of a large federal stimulus package in the coming weeks drove benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields, which are closely tied to mortgage rates, to their largest weekly gains in more than a month last week. Demand in safe-haven assets such as government bonds weakens when investors feel optimistic about the economy.

“Higher rates are a signal of expectations of faster growth and a stronger job market ahead,” said Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “This last week, rates have turned faster than many people had anticipated.”

Rising rates sometimes prompt borrowers to put their mortgage plans on hold for a few weeks, Mr. Fratantoni said. Measures of purchase and refinance activity fell 11.6% and 11.3%, respectively, in the week ended Feb. 19, according to MBA data.

If mortgage rates begin to increase at a faster pace, some borrowers could be discouraged from attempting to buy a home during the crucial home-selling months of March through June. In a typical year, more than 40% of annual home sales are made during this period, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Still, rates remain historically low, and more people are applying for purchase mortgages and refinances than at the same time in 2020. Last year was a banner one for the housing market, thanks in large part to mortgage rates, which fell below 3% for the first time last summer.

Mortgage lenders originated a record $3.6 trillion worth of mortgages last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, an increase of more than 50% from 2019. Refinances accounted for about 59% of that volume. With the 30-year rate near 2.81%, between 16.7 million and 18.1 million Americans could lower their monthly mortgage payments through a refinance, according to mortgage-data firm Black Knight Inc.

Lissette Gomez will close this week on a new loan that lowers the mortgage rate on her Cleveland-area condo to 2.75% from 4.125%. Ms. Gomez, a special-education teacher, said she decided to refinance after she watched her boyfriend get a much lower rate on his mortgage.

“Everybody was getting the word, especially in the second half of 2020, that the rates were super low,” Ms. Gomez said. “I wanted to refinance when people were jumping on it, and the numbers were as low as they’ve ever been.”


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.




Dear Penny: My Dad Says to Invest My Roth IRA in Silver, Marijuana

Dear Penny,

I’m a 24-year-old single male and recent college graduate. I have a job but no 401(k) match, so my dad suggested I start a Roth IRA. I don’t have any idea how to invest it.

My dad says that since I’m young, I need to take risks. He’s suggested some marijuana stocks and silver stocks that he’s made money on. But this seems like it might be too risky to me. My dad doesn’t work in investing, and I don’t think he knows a whole lot about it. I’m not making enough to hire a financial advisor. Is my dad giving me bad advice?

-New Investor

Dear Newby,

Your dad loves you and wants what’s best for you. But that doesn’t mean he knows anything about investing.

Your dad’s suggestion that you open a Roth IRA was a good one. By forgoing a tax break now, you’ll get tax-free income when you retire. But it sounds like your dad isn’t clear on the kind of investment risks beginning investors should take.

So you start out by investing mostly in stocks, which tend to be high-risk/high-reward, and then gradually shift more money into bonds, which are safer but offer little growth. When you have a few decades to go until retirement, your money has time to recover from a stock market crash.

But when you invest in just a couple of stocks, your risk of losing everything is substantial. Your investments may never recover if things go south. There may not be any money left to recover. You never want your life’s savings tied to the fate of a single company or two.

Both the silver and marijuana industries are especially volatile. The price of silver fluctuates wildly for a host of reasons. One is that more than half of silver is extracted as a byproduct while mining for other metals, like gold, copper or zinc. It’s basic supply and demand stuff: The supply of silver doesn’t move up and down with changes in demand, so the prices are turbulent. With marijuana, you’re doing a lot of political calculus about when and where marijuana will become legal, plus a lot of the companies are small with no proven track record.

That doesn’t mean you should never invest in silver or marijuana. But you should only do so if you already have a diversified portfolio and you’re starting with a relatively small amount. And never use your retirement funds for these kinds of speculative investments.

The best way to start investing is to spread your money across the stock market. You don’t need a financial adviser here. You can do this with a total stock market index fund, which invests you across the entire stock market, or an S&P 500 index fund, which invests you in 500 of the largest companies in the U.S. You could also take the guesswork out of it completely and use a robo-adviser. Your brokerage firm will use an algorithm to invest your money according to your age, goals and how much risk you’re willing to take.

If you opt to choose your own investments once you get your feet wet, it’s essential that you only do so after researching the investment on your own. Don’t make decisions based solely on what someone else says, whether that person is your dad or an advice columnist or a stranger on Reddit.

If, after doing your own research, you decide you wanted to invest in silver or marijuana, a safer way to do so would be to invest in a silver or marijuana exchange-traded fund, or ETF. Your money would be invested in a bunch of businesses throughout the industry instead of concentrated in a single company. But I’d only suggest this after you’ve gotten some investing experience — and only then if you’re limiting your investment to 5% to 10% of your portfolio.

You don’t say how old your father is or whether you know anything about his finances. To be honest, I’m more concerned about your dad’s retirement planning than I am about yours if he gravitates toward high-risk investments.

Since you’re already talking about your retirement, this could be a good opportunity to start the conversation about how prepared your dad is for his retirement. I’m not asking you to play financial adviser here. But even just asking your dad when he wants to retire and whether he feels ready is a good conversation to have.

As for your dad’s stock picks, I think you’re probably fine saying, “Thanks, I’ll check it out.” You’re an adult, and you don’t need to provide your dad with a copy of your brokerage statement.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]

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U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise in January as Buyers ‘Snatch Up’ Any New Listings

The numbers: U.S. existing home sales inched up 0.6% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Compared with a year ago, home sales were up 23.7%.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast that existing home sales would fall to a median rate of 6.66 million.

What happened: The median existing-home price rose to $303,900 in January, up 14.1% from a year ago.

The inventory of homes for sale fell to a record low 1.04 million units by the end of January. That’s a 25.7% decline year-over-year. The market had a 1.9-month supply of homes for sales. A 6-month supply is considered a sign of a balanced market.

The South and the Midwest showed an increase in sales in January.

Big picture: Sales have been moving sideways since setting a cycle high in October. Economists think that low mortgage rates will continue to boost housing demand in coming months. Buyers are also looking for more room and more remote locations in the wake of the pandemic.

What the NAR said: “Home sales continue to ascend in the first month of the year, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market. Sales easily could have been even 20% higher if there had been more inventory and more choices,” said said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

What economists are saying? “In general, record low mortgage rates and families fleeing more crowded living situations are fueling demand for single family homes in spite of ongoing turmoil in the labor market and higher home prices. Indeed, this is one sector which is coming out of the crisis stronger than it went into it,” said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks opened higher Friday with the S&P 500 index up 12.48 points in mid-day trading after declining in the past three trading sessions.


Free eCourse: How to Make Money from Home with an Amazon FBA Business

April 25, 2020 | Meg

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Looking for some unique ways to make money from home? You might want to try an Amazon FBA Business!

If you’re interested in making an income from home and you’re looking for ideas, be sure to sign up for this free eCourse on how to work from home with an Amazon FBA business.

This e-mail series is taught by the Selling family — a husband and wife team who have been making a full-time income from home through Amazon since 2011.

In this series, you will learn:

  • What an Amazon FBA business is and how it works
  • What types of items you can sell on Amazon and how prices differ
  • How to set up an Amazon seller account
  • Plus more!

Go here to sign up for this free eCourse.

Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make A Difference, where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

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