83 New Apartment Essentials You Need For Your Place

Nothing says “all grown up” quite like getting the keys to your first apartment, but it takes a lot more than keys to creating a functional living space.

The process of stocking your first apartment is different for everyone because it all depends on what you already have going into the lease. If you’re a college student packing up your room from home, you may arrive with a matching bedroom set in tow, but nothing else to your credit. That’s why it’s important to consult a first apartment checklist, as well as an apartment moving guide, to make sure you have everything you really need!

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to cost a bundle. There’s usually a plethora of family and friends looking to upgrade their own swag, which is why a first apartment is often a hodgepodge of hand-me-down furniture and other items. So, before you go out and pay good money for stuff, ask around to see if loved ones have anything they’re getting rid of, like a coffee table, bed, bed frames, pots and pans and those other things you need for your first apartment. Or, hit up a yard sale for affordable furniture!

Regardless of what you come in with, there will be a lot of things you’ll need for your first apartment. Many of these essentials are things that most people take for granted, but you’ll want to make sure you have them on hand.

What are some essentials for a first apartment checklist?

Some of the items necessary for a first apartment are pretty obvious. After all, you won’t get very far without a bed, couch and basic kitchen items. Here, we’ve broken out items for your ultimate first apartment checklist by room to make move-in day as easy as possible.



Bedroom essentials

The room where you fall asleep at night definitely tops the list of new apartment essentials. It’s tough to catch some zzzs if you’re not comfortable in your apartment bedroom, after all. Be sure to have these items on hand for your first apartment bedroom before moving in, or very soon thereafter:

  • Bed frame
  • Mattress and box springs to fit your bed frame
  • Bedding (mattress pad, sheets, pillowcases, comforter/quilt/duvet)
  • Nightstand
  • Dresser
  • Small trash can
  • TV stand (optional)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Hanging closet organizer
  • Clothes hamper
  • Shoe rack
  • A small safe, in case you have anything that’s extremely valuable, like jewelry

Once you get settled in the new apartment and start to decorate the space it’s time to look into the extras, like window treatments, wall art, decorative pillows and shelving.

Also, consider packing a box labeled “Important bedroom items,” or something like that, so you’ll be able to have sheets and other necessities for the first night in the new apartment. It doesn’t have to hold absolute everything, you’ll be fine sleeping on some basic sheets with a cozy blanket and pillow for a night or two.



Bathroom essentials

No first apartment checklist is complete without an exhaustive list of bathroom necessities. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one bathroom, remember to pick up supplies for both.

  • Shower curtains (decorative shower curtain and shower curtain liner)
  • Shower curtain rings
  • Bath mat, toilet mat, toilet lid cover (if desired)
  • Non-slip bathtub mat
  • Bath towels and washcloths
  • Toilet paper. Lots of toilet paper!
  • Toilet brush
  • Cleaning supplies, like toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner and paper towels
  • Wall hooks to hang things like hand towels
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Bathroom soap dispenser and hand soap
  • Basic toiletries
  • Facial tissues
  • Plunger
  • Small trash can

Once everything’s acquired, all that’s left to do is enjoy a nice, hot shower in your very own “new to you” bathroom! It’s the little things that make an apartment feel like home.



Kitchen must-haves

Unless you’re 100 percent devoted to dining out or hitting the local coffee shop, the kitchen is an ultra-important room on the apartment checklist. Fortunately for your budget, most people are happy to donate hand-me-downs, like dishes and small appliances.

Make sure to have all of these absolutely essential items on hand before moving into your new apartment. Consider packing a box filled with things you’ll need immediately (paper plates, coffee maker, etc.), but be sure to label it, so that it doesn’t get mixed up with other, less urgent boxes!

  • Kitchen table and chairs
  • Paper towels
  • Food storage containers
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and plastic cutlery (to use until you unpack)
  • Coffee maker
  • Dish set, including plates and bowls
  • Drinking glasses and coffee mugs
  • Napkins
  • Dish towels and washcloths
  • Oven mitts
  • Dish soap (to hand wash)
  • Dishwashing detergent (for the machine)
  • Hand soap and dispenser
  • Trash bags
  • Trash cans (one for recycling, one for regular trash)

Here are some items that are less urgent, but still important to a fully-functioning kitchen.

  • Dish drying rack
  • Knife block, including chef’s knife
  • Microwave oven
  • Spice rack
  • Pots and pans (another great hand me down opportunity)
  • Wine glasses
  • Corkscrew
  • Blender
  • Cooking utensils, like mixing spoons, spatulas, etc.
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can opener and bottle opener
  • Handheld or countertop mixer
  • Cookie sheets
  • Muffin tins
  • Cake tins
  • Placemats

The typical first apartment doesn’t have a ton of kitchen cabinets or counter space, so wait until you’re settled to buy optional, cumbersome items, like an air fryer, slow cooker, rice cooker, toaster oven, toaster and so on. Unless you’re a really big foodie, you can probably get by without these small appliances.

living room

living room

Living room essentials

Next on the first apartment checklist is the all-important living room. This is where most renters like to relax after a long day or host movie nights and other events for family and friends. Don’t forget to pick up these pieces before moving in:

  • A couch and other seating
  • Coffee table
  • Area rugs
  • TV cabinet
  • Television
  • Throw pillows
  • Extra lighting

laundry room

laundry room

Laundry room

The laundry room is small but mighty! If you’re fortunate enough to have an in-unit washer/dryer, don’t forget to pick up these items.

  • Washing machine and dryer (if not provided by the property)
  • Any necessary attachment hoses
  • Laundry detergent that works with your machine (for example, high-efficiency machines require HE detergent)
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain removal spray
  • Bleach for tough stains, bright whites and to clean the machine every once in a while

Even if your unit doesn’t have a laundry room, you’ll still need many of these items to use at the property’s facility.

whole apartment

whole apartment

Other first apartment essentials

Some essential items will service the entire apartment, so they’re definite must-haves on the first apartment checklist.

  • Toolbox containing basic tools and supplies, like a flat head screwdriver, hammer, nails and duct tape
  • Extension cords
  • Power strips
  • First-aid kit filled with band-aids, antiseptic and other basic supplies
  • A step stool to reach things on high shelves, change light bulbs and so on
  • Vacuum
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Cleaning supplies, like window cleaner, carpet cleaner, furniture polish, odor eliminator, multi-purpose cleaner, etc.
  • Small garbage can for every room
  • Light bulbs

Don’t forget to check the apartment for the proper safety equipment, too. Most apartments have smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors, but if yours doesn’t contact the property owner immediately to get some installed. This shouldn’t have an extra cost, as the law requires property managers to outfit rental properties with these protective devices.

Speaking of safety, it’s also a good idea to buy at least one fire extinguisher to keep in your home. Store it in the kitchen, under the sink.

The importance of apartment essentials

This first apartment checklist probably seems overwhelming, especially during the crazy busy moving experience. Take it one room at a time and don’t fret too much if you forget anything. Chances are there’s a big-box home supply store just around the corner that’ll have anything you forgot

Source: rent.com

40 Companies That Give Useful Student Discounts

Ah, college. It’s an investment in your future, but it demands time and money.

You might need a break from thoughts about ramen noodle recipes and how much you’ve been blowing on takeout and delivery.

And thoughts about debt, including when interest starts on student loans (immediately).

And whether that first job will pay the bills, and what the average student loan interest rate is.

And whether someone can be arrested for abuse of a credit card. And why no one has thought of letting you redeem points for crypto. (Except someone did.)

And whether it’d be better to pay overdraft fees and bum off friends or get a budget tracker.

Speaking of budgets, if you’re a student looking to keep yours in line, we’ve rounded up discounts from national companies for clothes, restaurants, travel and transport, and entertainment.

Note that discounts are subject to change and may vary by location. You may want to contact your local stores in advance to ensure they participate in the student discount program or to see if they may offer a slightly different discount than other branches.


This list includes 10 nationwide brands that offer student discounts on clothing.

1. Aeropostale

Aeropostale offers a 15% student discount. You can cash in on this deal online or in-store.

2. J.Crew

J.Crew gives students (and teachers!) 15% off purchases in-store and online.

3. Hanes

Need some basics, like tees or undergarments? Hanes offers students 10% off online purchases.

4. The North Face

The North Face gives students 10% off at its full-price locations, meaning it doesn’t apply to outlet stores. You can also use this discount online, plus score free shipping.

5. Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger offers students 10% off. However, you’ll first have to sign up with UniDAYS , a popular site that helps stores verify that customers are students. It’s free to sign up, and it can help you find additional stores with student discounts!

6. Levi’s

Levi’s offers students 15% off online purchases.

7. Club Monaco

Students who are Club Monaco fans can cash in a cool 15% off online and in-store.

8. Docker’s

Docker’s offers students a generous 25% off purchases made online.

9. Outdoor Voices

Students shopping on the Outdoor Voices website can score 20% off. You’ll first have to join StudentBeans , a site similar to UniDAYS that helps verify student status and offers discounts to partner stores.

10. Champion

Champion also offers 20% off to students who sign up with StudentBeans.


These 10 national chains offer college discounts. Local restaurants may also offer student discounts, but these are some of the most common student discounts from national chains that we found.

11. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Name one college student who couldn’t use 10% off coffee (or tea)!

12. McDonald’s

McDonald’s is already a pretty fast and cheap option, but it also gives students an extra 10% off.

13. Chick-fil-A

Most Chick-fil-A locations offer students a free drink with any purchase.

14. Dunkin’

Flash your student ID and you could get 10% off your order at your local Dunkin’.

15. Arby’s

Arby’s offers 10% off to students.

16. Buffalo Wild Wings

Want to catch the game and eat some wings with friends? Go to Buffalo Wild Wings and score 10% off, too.

17. Waffle House

Need a late-night meal? Waffle House offers students 10% off.

18. IHOP

If you don’t have a Waffle House nearby, IHOP also offers 10% off.

19. Qdoba

Qdoba has two discount options for students: either a free drink with your purchase or a burrito meal for just $5.

20. Taco Bell

Trying to get your next Taco Bell fix? Satisfy your craving while earning 10% off.

Travel & Transportation

Need cheap transportation home for your next break? Or maybe you need an inexpensive hotel or moving company. These 10 discounts can cover an array of your travel and transportation needs.

21. Greyhound

Through Student Advantage , Greyhound offers 10% off travel and 15% off package shipments sent through Greyhound Package Xpress. The Student Advantage card costs $30 a year and offers students — and parents — a wide range of discounts.

22. Amtrak

Amtrak offers students 15% off on purchases made one day in advance; plus you can earn extra bonus points.

23. Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels offers students 10% off its hotels, which include:

•   Ascend

•   Cambria Suites

•   Clarion

•   Comfort Inn

•   Comfort Suites

•   EconoLodge

•   MainStay Suites

•   Quality Inn

•   Rodeway Inn

24. United Airlines

United Airlines gives students 5% off flights. StudentUniverse provides a range of other flight and hotel deals.

25. Hotels.com

Hotels.com offers up to 40% off select hotels booked through the website.

26. FlixBus

Flixbus gives StudentBeans members 15% off tickets.

27. Hertz

Hertz offers students 21 and older 15% off cars and 20% off vans.

28. Budget Truck Rentals

Budget Truck Rentals offers students 20% off local moves and 15% off one-way moves.

29. Penske

Penske shaves 10% off truck rentals when you book online.

30. Red Coach

Red Coach , a popular bus company like Greyhound, offers students 10% off tickets.


Many students may think they don’t have the money for entertainment, but 10 national companies offer some sweet student discounts.

31. AMC

AMC discounts depend on location, but they are usually 20% off.

32. Cinemark

Cinemark discounts also vary by location, but you can plan on scoring about 10% off.

33. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Student offers students six months of Prime for free. After that, you can get Prime for $59 a year.

34. Apple Streaming

Students can get Apple Music at a discounted rate for up to 48 months and then can get Apple TV+ for a limited time.

35. Hulu

Hulu offers students its ad-supported plan for just $1.99 a month.

36. Spotify Bundle

Students can get a Spotify, Hulu, and Showtime bundle for $4.99 a month.

37. The Washington Post

The Washington Post has a digital student subscription plan for just $1 a month.

38. Paramount+

Paramount+ offers students 25% off any monthly subscription.

39. YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is available to students at a discounted rate of $6.99 a month.

40. The Economist

The Economist offers students an annual digital subscription for a steep 75% off.

The Takeaway

Student discounts may add up to some serious savings, but lots of undergraduate and graduate students will face a challenge to repay loans.

Refinancing student loans is one option. SoFi refinances both federal and private student loans.

Refinancing, or taking out one new private student loan, ideally with a lower interest rate, to pay off the old ones, could be a good move for someone with private student loans or higher-interest federal student loans who doesn’t plan to use federal programs like income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness, or forbearance.

Using SoFi’s student loan refinance calculator, you can get an estimate of how much you could save by refinancing with SoFi. You can also check out an example of student loan refinance rates.

While rates remain low, see if student loan refinancing makes sense for you.

Find your rate in minutes.

Photo credit: iStock/Moyo Studio

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Source: sofi.com

What to Know About Student Loans Before You Borrow

Graduate thinking about student loans and savings
Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

Are you considering taking out student loans for your or your children’s education?

It’s not a decision to be made lightly.

Following is the basic information you need to know.

Federal student loans aren’t always superior

Man giving the stop gesture with one hand and holding cash with the other
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Long ago, private student loans were awarded in ridiculously high amounts and interest rates varied, meaning over a 10-year repayment period you could have a 4% interest rate at times and a 12% interest rate at other times.

Payments could not only top $1,000 monthly but also could also vary by hundreds of dollars because of the interest rate changes.

Now, private student loans are available at fixed interest rates that don’t change and are often less than the parent PLUS loan interest rate. Compare federal parent loan rates with rates granted by lenders such as SoFi.

There is a big difference between loans awarded to students and those awarded to parents

College student on a laptop
F8 studio / Shutterstock.com

Parent PLUS loan interest rates are higher than traditional undergraduate student loans, income-driven repayment plan prices are higher, and the only limit is the cost of attendance.

For instance, let’s say a school costs $30,000 per year to attend including room and board, textbooks, etc. The limit for dependent undergraduates for the first year is $5,500.

If the parents qualify, they can borrow much more, up to the full cost of attendance minus all other student aid. Thus, a parent could easily end up with $100,000 in debt from a child’s undergraduate degree.

Credit rating and income determines eligibility for private student loans

Man checking his credit score
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Whether a private loan is to parents or students, credit rating and income do matter. Students getting a loan in their name with limited credit history may get loans with a parent or other more credit-established co-signer.

A co-signer is someone who agrees to repay the loan if the primary borrower can’t. Thus, they are equally responsible for the loan, and the loan payment history also goes on the co-signer’s credit report.

Credit rating may also determine interest rate. For instance, someone with a better credit score may qualify for an interest rate that is two percentage points or more lower than another person’s with a lower credit score.

There are different types of federal student loans

Woman Student
pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

For students, most federal student loans are either issued as subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Interest on subsidized student loans is paid by the federal government while students are in school with at least half-time status and a few other circumstances. These loans should be used to their limit before taking any other type of student loan.

Unsubsidized loans are available for the remaining amount a student is eligible to receive within normal borrowing limits. Gaps are filled with parent PLUS loans or graduate PLUS loans. Private student loans are also gap fillers.

Remember, you never have to borrow the full amount awarded. I can’t stress this enough. Compare financial aid packages and call the financial aid office to apply for more scholarships and ask about local and department scholarships as well. If you’re still in or recently in high school, ask your high school counselor for help with finding scholarships.

Repayment length and terms vary

Black man at desk thinking about possibilities
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

Repayment time frames range from five to 30 years. Five-year repayment is only for private student loans, but it depends on the lenders. Some lenders will have an option of a 15-year repayment term. Longer repayment time periods generally mean smaller payments. While you will pay more interest because you’re borrowing for a longer period of time, you can always pay off the loan early. Generally, there is no penalty for doing so.

The standard repayment time for repaying federal student loans is 10 years. There’s a 20-year plan where payments are based on incomes and up to 25 years for an extended payment plan.

There are consolidated loans with repayment time periods up to 30 years with the payment never rising based on increased income.

An advantage to consolidating loans is that it may make you eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a program where you can potentially have your remaining balance forgiven for working for a public service employer for 10 years. Student loan consolidation enables borrowers to combine multiple federal student loans into a single federal student loan. Although consolidation lets you pay multiple loans with one streamlined payment, it will likely increase the amount of interest you pay over time

Sound complicated? It can be. Student loan borrowing is a decision that involves comparing interest rates, long-term protections for financial emergencies, and avoiding overborrowing.

The best way to make the decision easier is to fill out the FAFSA so you know all the federal options awarded to you. Then talk to your financial adviser and a college financial aid counselor or a high school counselor about what your options could mean to your family’s future. It’s better to spend a couple of hours making an educated decision on borrowing now than spend years of worrying about the financial impact of loan payments later.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

What Is a Student Loan Tax Form? How Do You Get One?

If you’re a borrower who paid interest on a qualified student loan, it’s possible to deduct some or all of that interest on your federal income tax return with a special tax form for student loans.

To do so, you’ll need to acquire a student loan tax form commonly known as IRS Form 1098-E. You can use this form to report how much you paid in student loan interest. One copy will go to the IRS, and you’ll keep the other.

To learn how to get your hands on your student loan tax form, when to deduct student loan interest and how to file a student tax form, keep reading.

What Are the Tax Forms for Student Loans?

The IRS Form 1098-E is a tax form for student loans that’s sent out by your loan servicer, or the company that collects your student loan payments. Sometimes, your lender services their own loans. Other times, they hire an outside service to collect their payments for them.

The loan servicer is required to send borrowers a 1098-E to complete their taxes if the borrower owes at least $600 in student loan interest. Typically, they’ll get them out by the end of January, since the interest forms for student loans and tax season coincide.

If you have more than one loan servicer, you’ll receive a 1098-E form from each.

The Purpose of a Student Tax Form

The student loan tax form is designed to give people with student loan debt the opportunity to deduct some or potentially all of the interest the debt accrues on their federal income tax return.

If you paid at least $600 in interest on a qualified student loan, the lender you paid that interest to should send you a 1098-E. Regardless of how many student loans you have, the $600 threshold still applies.

Recommended: What is the Average Student Loan Debt After College?

Uses of a Student Loan Tax Form

The student loan tax form is used to calculate your student tax interest deduction on your tax return.

As long as you meet certain conditions, you may be eligible to deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest from your taxable income:

•   You are filing separately and/or not married

•   Your income is below the annual limit

•   You are legally obligated to pay the interest, not someone else

•   If you’re filing a joint return, neither you nor your spouse is being claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return

The eligibility for the student loan interest deduction is determined based on a borrower’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), or their adjusted gross income (AGI) after factoring in any tax penalties incurred and allowable deductions. At a certain higher income bracket, the deduction is reduced or eliminated.

•   For taxpayers filing as single: The deduction is reduced once they have $70,000 of modified AGI and it’s eliminated at $85,000

•   For taxpayers filing jointly: The deduction is reduced at $140,000 of modified AGI and it’s eliminated at $170,000

Getting Your Student Tax Form

To obtain your college student tax form and ensure you aren’t missing any tax documents this season, there are a few steps you can take:

1.    Go directly to your loan servicer ’s website, where a downloadable 1098-E form will likely be available.

2.    Contact your loan servicer via telephone if you’re unable to visit their website.

3.    If you don’t know who your loan servicer is, visit StudentAid.gov or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID, then complete steps 1 and 2.

Finally, note that student tuition tax form 1098-E is not available for download through the Federal Student Aid website .

There are plenty of useful tools on the site to get you where you need to go, but, ultimately, you can’t download your student loan tax form directly from the website.

If you have private student loans, contact your lender directly.

Recommended: What Is IRS Form 1098?

Filling Out a Student Loan Interest Tax Form

When it comes to filling out a college student loan tax form, the IRS provides detailed instructions for the 2022 tax season to help financial, educational, and governmental institutions and borrowers cover all their bases.

At the most basic level, according to the IRS , if a loan servicer receives student loan interest of $600 or more from an individual during the year in the course of their trade or business, they must:

•   File a 1098-E form and;

•   Provide a statement or acceptable substitute, on paper or electronically, to the borrower

There are two boxes on the 1098-E form:

•   Box 1 is the amount of student loan interest received by the lender. It’s important to note, this figure represents interest paid, not loan payments made.

•   Box 2, if checked, denotes the fact that the amount in Box 1 does not include loan origination fees and/or capitalized interest for loans made before September 1, 2004.

Once you receive the 1098-E form, it’s up to you to include it when you file your taxes.

When to Deduct Student Loan Interest?

Student loan interest tax deduction is a type of federal income tax deduction that lets student loan borrowers deduct up to $2,500 of the interest paid on qualified student loans from their taxable income. It’s one of many tax breaks available to students and their parents to help them pay for college.

To know when to deduct student loan interest, it’s important to know if you meet the necessary qualifications:

•   Your student loan was taken out for the taxpayer (you), your spouse, or your dependent(s).

•   Your student loan was taken out when you were enrolled at least half-time in an academic program that led to a degree, certificate, or recognized credential.

•   Your student loan was used for qualifying education expenses such as tuition, textbooks, supplies, fees, or equipment (not including room and board, insurance, or transportation).

•   Your student loan was used within a “reasonable period of time,” and its proceeds were disbursed 90 days before the beginning of the academic period in which they were used or 90 days after it ended.

•   The college or school where you were enrolled is considered an eligible institution that participates in student aid programs managed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Do International Students Have a Different Tax Form?

For international students, it’s possible to deduct student loan interest from a foreign country, as long as their student loan is qualified (meeting the requirements listed above) and they’re legally obligated to make student loan payments on that loan.

There’s no need for international students to acquire a special international student tax form, however. The year-end financial statement from their loan servicer is typically sufficient enough proof for them to claim the student loan interest.

The Takeaway

If you paid interest on a qualified student loan for yourself or a dependent, you can likely deduct that interest on this year’s tax return. Once you’ve determined when and whether you’re able to deduct student loan interest and how to file a student loan interest form, you can simply wait for your loan servicer to send along a copy of your 1098-E or visit their website.

When you work with a private student loan lender like SoFi, you can access your 1098-E online, making it even easier to file your taxes and deduct student loan interest without waiting by your mailbox.

Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Source: sofi.com

22 Best Online Business Ideas That You Can Start In 2022

Are you looking for the best online business ideas?

There are so many ways to learn how to start an online business from home. There are ideas like creating an online store, becoming a virtual assistant, and starting a dog bakery. Those are just a few of the many small online business ideas out there!best online business ideas

best online business ideas

I have been running an online business for around 10 years now, and I absolutely love it.

My online business is blogging here at Making Sense of Cents. There are so many ideas you can pursue, but blogging is one of my favorites.

What I love about blogging is that I don’t have a commute, I get to be my own boss, I can decide how I earn a living, my flexible schedule, and being able to travel.

Many online business owners I talk to will tell you about benefits like the ones I just mentioned. 

However, flexibility is always one of the top benefits.

You can work when and where you want, and that’s great if you want to travel, if you have kids, or if you’re looking for online business ideas to start on the side of your day job.

What’s so great about working online is that there are options for nearly everyone. There are online business ideas for beginners without any experience. There are options for creative people, people who want to leverage existing skills, for those who like to write, and so on.

Now, it will take time to establish your online business, and that’s the case for nearly every option. These are all legitimate ideas – not get-rich-quick schemes.

Still, many of the online business ideas you’re going to read about are things you can get started on today. That means if you’re ready to make extra money, have a flexible schedule, and build a business you love – you can start doing it now!

Here are 22 online business ideas.


1. Start a blog

Like I said above, my favorite online business idea is starting a blog.

This can be a great online business for beginners, as you don’t need previous experience, and the majority of bloggers are brand new to blogging anyways.

I was completely new when I started my blog many years ago, and I learned everything I know along the way through trial and error, by reading free online blogging resources, and by networking with other bloggers.

I created Making Sense of Cents in 2011, and since then, I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blog.

Blogging allows me to travel full-time, have a flexible schedule, and I earn a great income doing it.

You can learn how to start a blog in my free How To Start a Blog Course.

Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:

  • Day 1: Reasons you should start a blog
  • Day 2: How to determine what to blog about
  • Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress – my tutorial makes it very easy to start your blog)
  • Day 4: How to make money blogging
  • Day 5: My tips for making passive income from blogging
  • Day 6: How to grow your traffic and followers
  • Day 7: Miscellaneous blogging tips that will help you succeed


2. Sell items on Amazon

Another fun online business idea from home is to sell on Amazon.

Even if you have no experience selling on Amazon, you can earn money selling items such as household goods, books, electronics, and so on. 

Jessica Larrew and her family started selling things on Amazon FBA without any experience, and they made over $100,000 profit in their first year! And, they were working less than 20 hours a week total.

Jessica has a FREE 7-day course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to start selling on Amazon

If this is one of the online business ideas you’re interested in learning more about, I interviewed Jessica in How To Work From Home Selling On Amazon FBA, and we talked about:

  • How her family started selling on Amazon
  • How to choose what to buy and sell on Amazon
  • How much a person can make by selling on Amazon


online business ideas for beginners

online business ideas for beginners

3. Sell printables from home 

If you’re looking for online business ideas without investment, then selling printables on Etsy can be a great way to make money. It can also be quite passive because you just need to create one digital file per product, which you can then sell an unlimited number of times.

Printables are digital products that customers can download and print at home. Examples include grocery shopping checklists, gift tags, candy bar wrappers, printable quotes for wall art, and patterns.

Printables are extremely popular as they help people stay organized, decorate, and more.

You can sign up for this free ebook that helps you figure out where to start when it comes to selling printables on Etsy.

You can also learn more at How I Make Money Selling Printables On Etsy.


4. Write romance novels

My friend Yuwanda Black has found one of the most interesting online business ideas from home – she writes romance novels, and in one month, she was able to make over $3,000!

With her free Making Money Writing Romance course, she teaches you how to make money writing and self-publishing romance novels.

It is taught from first-hand experience, which Yuwanda has because she’s written and self-published 50 romance novellas since 2013. 

Many of my Making Sense of Cents readers have taken her course and have gone on to make money writing romance novels.

You can learn more at How to Make Money Self-Publishing Short Romance Novels on Amazon.


5. Become a virtual assistant

Years ago, I was a virtual assistant for several online businesses. I did not have previous experience, and I simply learned skills as I worked. It allowed me to earn a great income, and I am so happy that I tried it.

Virtual assistance is a field that is growing quickly, and there is a big demand for those on this career path.

Virtual assistant (VA) tasks may include social media management, formatting and editing content, scheduling appointments or travel, email management, and more. The list of virtual assistant tasks is endless, and there are so many different things that you could be doing.

My friend Kayla is a full-time blogger, virtual assistant, and project manager who earns over $10,000 per month while working from home. She is also the founder of $10K VA, a course where she teaches exactly how you can make a consistent $10,000 per month as a virtual assistant!

I interviewed her at How Kayla Earns $10K/Month From Home as a Virtual Assistant, and we talk about:

  • How much money a new virtual assistant can make
  • How to find virtual assistant jobs
  • The steps to becoming a virtual assistant as a newbie

And more!


6. Help Google evaluate search engine results

A Search Engine Evaluator (also known as a Google Rater) is a person who rates websites based on their quality and usefulness.

You are rating websites to help Google improve their search engine results.

This can be a good beginner online business idea to start because you don’t need previous or technical experience. They want average people rating their sites.

And because Google operates in nearly every country, you can work on sites that are in your native language.

Learn more at How To Become a Search Engine Evaluator.


7. Sell stickers from home

Creating stickers to sell on Etsy can be a fun online business if you’re creative, and stickers are really popular right now!

Mim started with no graphic design skills, and she didn’t know how to create stickers when she first started. It’s something she learned as she went, and she has now turned this into a $100,000+ yearly business.

I interviewed her here on Making Sense of Cents and she answers questions such as:

  • Do I need to be a graphic designer to make and sell stickers?
  • Why do people buy stickers online?
  • Do stickers sell well on Etsy?
  • How much can you make selling stickers from home?
  • How do I find customers to sell stickers to?

Please head to How To Make $1,000+ A Month Selling Stickers Online to learn more.


online business ideas without investment

online business ideas without investment

8. Get paid to share your opinion online

This isn’t exactly an online business idea, but it is a way to make extra money from your home.

Yes, you can get paid to share your opinion with paid online surveys!

Companies use surveys to find out what people think of their products and services, and it provides them with insights that help them improve their business.

The survey companies I recommend signing up for include:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. Swagbucks
  4. InboxDollars
  5. Branded Surveys
  6. OneOpinion
  7. Pinecone Research
  8. Prize Rebel
  9. MySoapBox
  10. Opinion Outpost
  11. User Interviews
  12. Springboard America


9. Start an online store

Yes, you can start your own online store, and you don’t need to have tons of experience or a lot of money to do so. Many people even start with no background in retail management.

I had the opportunity to interview Jenn Leach of E-commerce and Prosper, who explains how she started an online store and saw lots of success with it.

Since she started her online business, she has developed and grown three successful online e-commerce stores earning an average of $19,000 per month.

Her success is incredible considering that she spends less than 10 hours per week on her business. 

You can read our interview at How Jenn Makes Over $10,000 A Month With Her Online Store In Less Than 10 Hours Per Week.


10. Become a bookkeeper for one of the best online business opportunities

A bookkeeper is someone who tracks a business’s finances, handles billing and payments, makes spreadsheets, and more. But, that doesn’t mean you need to be an accountant or have any related experience.

In fact, this is a skill that you can learn on your own.

Ben, from Bookkeeper Launch, helps people start their own bookkeeping businesses even when they don’t have any experience. Ben is a CPA who founded his business after realizing that many business owners needed better bookkeepers. 

I interviewed Ben and asked:

  • What a bookkeeper is
  • About typical clients
  • How much new bookkeepers earn
  • How a person can learn how to become a bookkeeper without previous experience

You can read all of his answers and more in our interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Bookkeeper.

Plus, you can sign up here for a free resource that will teach you more about running your own virtual bookkeeping business.


11. Find items to resell

Finding items to resell can be one of the more lucrative online business ideas on this list.

Plus, it’s something that anyone can start because we all have things in our house we could probably sell.

And, there are always things that you can buy for cheap and resell for a profit.

This is such a profitable idea that Melissa’s family earned $133,000 in one year through buy-and-sell flipping, and they were working only 10-20 hours per week.

Since then, they have turned this into an even bigger and more profitable business!

Some of the best items that they’ve flipped and sold include:

  • Something they bought for $10 and flipped for $200 just 6 minutes later
  • A security tower they bought for $6,200 and flipped for $25,000 just one month later
  • A prosthetic leg that they bought for $30 at a flea market and sold for $1,000 on eBay the next day

You can learn more at How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items.


What is the best online business to start now?

What is the best online business to start now?

12. Become an online writer

Online writing is a business idea that doesn’t require a background in writing or a degree in English or creative writing. Some people are naturally good writers, but you can also develop the skills to become one.

A freelance writer is someone who writes for a number of different clients, such as websites, blogs, magazines, advertising companies, books, and more. They don’t work for one specific company, rather they work for themselves and contract out their writing.

My friend Holly from EarnMoreWriting.com is a very successful freelance writer and has earned over $200,000 writing online in a single year!

You can learn more about becoming a freelance writer at How I Earn $200,000+ Writing Online Content.


13. Transcribe audio or video files into text

Transcription is when you turn audio or video content into a text document.

There are many businesses looking for transcriptionists too – since general transcriptionists convert audio and video to text for virtually any industry, there really isn’t a typical client. Some examples of clients include marketers, authors, filmmakers, academics, speakers, and conferences of all types.

Beginning transcriptionists earn around $15 an hour to start, and many jobs don’t require any previous experience.

You can learn more about becoming a transcriptionist in the interview Make Money At Home By Becoming A Transcriptionist. The interview covers topics such as:

  • The steps to become a transcriptionist
  • How much money you can expect to make
  • The type of training you need to become a transcriptionist


14. Become a proofreader

Proofreading is a job that is in high demand, making it one one of the best online business ideas if you’re good at catching writing errors.

To become a proofreader, you simply need a laptop or tablet, an internet connection, and the skill to proofread.

Proofreaders look for punctuation mistakes, misspelled words, lack of consistency, and formatting errors. They will edit blog posts, articles, website copy, advertising, books, academic papers, emails, and more.

In one year, my friend Caitlin made a little over $43,000 by being a freelance proofreader.

I interviewed Caitlin on what it takes to become a proofreader, and she explained:

  • What a proofreader does
  • The amount of money a proofreader makes
  • The steps to become a proofreader

You can learn more at How To Become A Proofreader And Work From Anywhere.

Also, Caitlin created a FREE 76-minute workshop, where she answers all of the most common questions about becoming a proofreader, and she even shows you how to use the most popular tools used by proofreaders around the world. You can sign up for free here.


15. Sell Canva templates from home

Creating Canva templates can be a great way to make extra money because you just need to create them once, and you can sell them an unlimited amount of times.

Working just a few hours a week, Maliha is able to earn $2,000 each month from selling Canva templates online.

I interviewed Maliha about this topic and we cover questions such as:

  • What exactly is a Canva template? What is Canva?
  • How do I sell my designs on Canva?
  • Who buys Canva templates?
  • Can someone with no tech skills make a Canva template?

You can learn more at How I Make $2,000+ Monthly Selling Canva Templates.


16. Assist on podcasts

Currently, there’s a big demand for podcast virtual assistants.

There are over 800,000 podcasts out there, and that number just continues to grow. Podcasts are still a pretty new area, and that opens the door for lots of new entry level work from home jobs helping with all of these new podcasts.

While the podcast host can record themselves, other tasks like editing and publication take time, so many podcasters outsource their work to virtual assistants. Also, some podcasters may not know how to do those things, or they may choose to focus their time on other areas of their business.

Some of the different services you could provide as a podcast virtual assistant include:

  • Audio editing
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Show note creation

If this is one of the online business ideas you’re interested in, learn more at How I Make $1,500 A Month As A Podcast Virtual Assistant.


17. Work as a freelancer

Freelancers own their business and contract out their services to other business owners or individuals. A business may hire you for one-time gigs, or you may get a long-term job with a company.

In addition to some of the freelance jobs I’ve already mentioned (writing, proofreading, transcribing, and bookkeeping) there are even more online business ideas in freelancing. Here are a few you can start by leveraging existing skills, like:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design and development
  • Video editing
  • Sound design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Programming
  • Photography

This is one of the best work from home jobs because you can use a skill you already have and start finding work on job platforms like UpWork and Fiverr.


18. Become a voice over actor

A voice over actor is the person you hear but rarely see on YouTube videos, radio ads, explainer videos, corporate narration, documentaries, e-learning courses, audiobooks, TV commercials, video games, movies, and cartoons.

This job doesn’t require previous experience or special skills – you just need to have the voice the company is looking for.

In 2014, Carrie replaced her salaried day job to become a full-time voice over actor. People are constantly asking her how she got her start and how they can too.

So, she created a six-week online class, and it sold out. Several of her students booked voice acting jobs before the class was even over!

You can read my interview with her at How To Become A Voice Over Actor And Work From Anywhere.


19. Manage Facebook advertising for small businesses

By managing Facebook ads, you are helping small businesses expand their market and find new customers.

Plus, this is one of the online business ideas you can learn how to do.

Companies spend tons of money every day on Facebook advertising. But, most small business owners don’t really know how to create Facebook ads.

This is where you come in.

My blogging friend Bobby Hoyt knows a lot about this topic. Bobby is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He learned how to run Facebook ads on his own to earn extra money. Bobby now runs the personal finance blog Millennial Money Man full-time, as well as a digital marketing agency for local businesses that he started in 2015.

I interviewed Bobby about running Facebook ads for small businesses, and in our interview, you will learn:

  • How he started earning income through running Facebook ads
  • Why small businesses want Facebook ads
  • How a person can find their first Facebook ads client
  • How much you can make doing this type of work – the average is around $1,000 extra a month per client

Also, Bobby has a free webinar on this topic (you can sign up here), which will teach you how to start this business even if you’re brand new, how to find paying clients, and more.


20. Become a scopist

Scoping is when you are editing legal documents for court reporters. This is different from proofreading for court reporters.

I interviewed an expert on the topic – Linda from Internet Scoping School. She has been scoping for over 35 years and has taught scoping online for around 20 years.

She also has a free course that will introduce you to scoping so that you can decide if it’s one of the online business ideas you want to pursue. You can find the free course by clicking here.

Scopists who are working with an average court reporter tend to make around $30,000 to $45,000 per year working pretty much full-time.

You can learn more at How To Become A Scopist.


21. Start a home dog bakery

Buying fancy baked goods for dogs is extremely popular right now, and that will most likely continue. Everyone loves to treat their pets, right?!

This could be a fun one to try out, especially if you love pets and enjoy baking. 

You can learn more at How I Earned Up to $4,000 Per Month Baking Dog Treats (With Zero Baking Experience!).

how to start an online business from home

how to start an online business from home

22. Become a food photographer

You can make money from home by becoming a food photographer, such as for bloggers.

Bloggers hire food photographers to recreate recipes and take pictures of them, so that the pictures can be shared on their blog.

Many food photographers are making $50,000 a year, and even over $100,000 each year, by working for bloggers.

You can learn more at How To Become a Food Blog Photographer And Earn Over $50,000 Each Year.


How do you brainstorm online business ideas?

To brainstorm online business ideas, there are many things you can do. You can take a look at the ideas above, make a list of things you are interested in and see if any business ideas pop up, and so on.


What is the best online business to start now?

The best online business to start right now really depends on the person. My favorite is blogging, but someone else may say starting an online store. 

Make a list of a few of the online business ideas that you’re most interested in, and then create a pros and cons list for each.


What are the best online business ideas for students?

Luckily, there are more and more online jobs that are available to college students.

I wish this was more of an option back when I was a college student as the flexibility and lack of commute would have been a life saver.

Please head to 16 Best Online Jobs For College Students to read about the different options for college students.

What kind of online business is most profitable?

Blogging can be one of the most profitable online business ideas.

In fact, I’ve made over $5,000,000 from this blog in the past 10 years. Not every blogger will make that kind of money, and it takes a lot of work and time, but I can’t imagine my life without blogging.

How can I start an online business?

Once you’ve found an idea you like, make a list of the steps you need to take to get started. This may begin with taking a course or doing more research.

What I love about online business ideas is many of them can be started on the side of your day job. That means you can get your business up and running and see if it’s profitable before you give up your full-time job.

How do I start an online business for free?

Many of the businesses on this list can be started for free, assuming you have a computer and internet connection.

Freelancing is a great idea to start because you can leverage existing skills so you’re not paying for training or spending lots of time learning something new.


What else can I do to make extra money?

There are many different things that you can do to make extra money, in case you are wanting something other than to start an online business.

Some of the different ways to make extra money include:

Are you interested in any of the online business ideas above? What do you do to make extra money?

Related Posts


Source: makingsenseofcents.com

16 Best Amazon Prime Perks for the Holidays 2021

With supply-chain worries hanging over holiday shopping in 2021, Amazon’s free one-day(ish) shipping is potential gold for procrastinating gift-givers. There’s no retailer more efficient at delivering goods fast and free than the world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon. Free shipping is the most popular and valuable perk of Amazon Prime membership ($119/year). But it’s not the only Prime benefit you should be taking advantage of. Consider these 16 ways to get the most out of your Prime Membership this holiday season.

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Free Amazon Prime Same-Day Delivery

Two Amazon packages sitting on a front porchTwo Amazon packages sitting on a front porch

Santa’s had the whole “same-day shipping” thing locked down since days of Christmas yore. Everyone else is catching up, and Amazon.com and Prime perks hold the lead.

Free same-day delivery doesn’t apply everywhere, mind you — I’m no longer eligible since I moved to a more rural community last year — but more than 10,000 eligible cities and towns and counting is a fairly wide swath. If your zip code (which you can check out right here) offers same-day service, when you order before noon and choose the same-day shipping option at checkout, Amazon says the package will be delivered by 9 p.m. that night (Sundays included).

Two caveats: The same-day order must total $35 or more, and not every product Amazon stocks is eligible. If your same-day-delivery swag is under $35, Amazon will dock you a surcharge of three bucks, so you might want to slow your roll or bundle your buys. Oh, and if you don’t have a Prime membership and want that certain something-something delivered the same day, you can do so, but you’ll be clipped $12.99 per item.

Also this: You can have gifts you buy on Amazon shipped directly to your giftee. Simply change the shipping address at checkout to their address (and remember to change it back to your address the next time you’re shopping for yourself).

2 of 16

Free Amazon Prime One-Day Delivery

An Amazon delivery driver and his van are seen in a neighborhood parking lot in Lake Oswego, Oregon.An Amazon delivery driver and his van are seen in a neighborhood parking lot in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

If you’re practicing patience this holiday season, you could shrug off that same-day delivery antsy-pants bother and wait a day to get your package. And why not? As we mentioned, it’s quickly becoming the Amazon shipping standard (though Amazon’s signature two-day delivery is still around). Free one-day is available coast-to-coast and the best part? There’s no minimum purchase.

Still, some restrictions apply (as they say). To see if what you’re shopping for is one of the more than 10 million eligible items, filter your search by the term “get it tomorrow.” The promise is you’ll get it by 9 p.m. the next day, but cutoff times for that vary by zip code.

3 of 16

Gift Yourself with Free Amazon Prime No-Rush Shipping

A turtle with a small package atop its shell walks across a living room floorA turtle with a small package atop its shell walks across a living room floor

Good things come to those who wait, and in this instance, not being in an all-fire hurry means you get a little somethin’-somethin’ for yourself (that’s part of the joy of holiday gift-giving, no?). In the Amazon world, if you check no-rush shipping at checkout, Amazon will immediately reward you with free promotional swag, such as rewards toward buying eBooks, movies on Amazon Video, or Prime Pantry items (groceries and daily essentials). Alas, Amazon chooses the freebie; you don’t. Typical givebacks include a $5 credit toward purchases on Prime Now or Prime Pantry each time you choose no-rush shipping. Amazon promises your delivery will arrive within 6 business days but in my experience, it’s far less than that. Oh, and in Amazon-speak, Amazon “will surface only one type of offer per order at checkout, either a reward or an instant discount.” Here’s more about free no-rush shipping.

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Free Ultra-Fast Amazon Prime Grocery Delivery

Brown bags with fresh groceries ordered online through Amazon Prime from Whole Foods MarketBrown bags with fresh groceries ordered online through Amazon Prime from Whole Foods Market

Your holiday guests are hungry! How fast can you serve them? Ultrafast! You can tap into free two-hour delivery of a vast array of groceries — assuming you live close enough to a Whole Foods (remember, Amazon bought that supermarket chain in 2017).

Trained shoppers do the picking for you after you build your cart online. You schedule a two-hour delivery window or if you want to pick up your goods at the store can schedule a one-hour pickup window. Whole Foods employees will have it bagged and ready for you.

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Keep the Porch Grinches Out of Whoville With This Amazon Prime Perk

Porch pirate shots taken in Moreno Valley, California in September of 2021.

Whoville, to reinterpret this holiday classic, would be your front porch or wherever packages — presents, even — are left. And we’ll cast the criminals we usually call porch pirates as the Grinch. There’s solution to save Chrismas hidden in your Prime perks: Using Amazon Key or Amazon Hub Locker, have your holiday packages delivered to the inside of your garage or an Amazon Hub storage locker at a participating Whole Foods or other retailer. If you choose a Hub Locker at checkout, Amazon will send you a code to pick up your package. Scan the code in and the appropriate locker pops open for you to retrieve your goods.

Now, the other two of these methods of (non-porch) delivery, of course, demand a little more trust on your part and smart-entry systems for your home.

Amazon In-Garage delivery (utilizing Amazon Key) plays nice with certain garage door openers, and with an optional Amazon Key cloud cam you can monitor the delivery. You’ll be notified when the driver is ready to enter with your package and when the door is re-closed. With the camera, of course, you can watch in real time or later, in a clip. See if this will work with your system. 

You can also have those holiday packages delivered inside your gate. In-home delivery and in-car delivery, also options developed by Amazon using Amazon Key, are currently still on hold because of COVID-19. In-garage and inside-gate services can also be applied to Amazon Fresh grocery deliveries.

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Look Your Best for the Holiday Zoom Party with Amazon Prime Try Before You Buy

woman looking at online purchased fashion clothing.woman looking at online purchased fashion clothing.

Holiday season is party season, and while some may still be virtual this year because of the pandemic, you still want to look your very best, even it’s just from the waist up? If you’re steering clear of the mall, consider Try Before You Buy, which offers Prime members a chance to try before they buy. Because, well, when you go to a brick-and-mortar clothing store, you don’t buy the clothes then try them on in the dressing room, do you? Because that’s just weird. 

Try Before You Buy is Prime’s answer to the dressing room. Pick up to six items of clothing, shoes or accessories (making sure they have the Prime Wardrobe logo) and they’ll be shipped for free and at no charge to you. You have seven days to try them on and check out what you want to buy. It’s free to return anything you don’t want to purchase, no questions asked. Your order comes in a resealable box with a prepaid return label. You just have to haul it over to a UPS outlet (or other Amazon pickup point, including Kohl’s) and they’ll take care of the rest. But remember to practice proper decorum at your holiday office party on Zoom; to that end, Try Before You Buy doesn’t sell lampshades.

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Give to Your Favorite Charity While Holiday Shopping on Amazon Prime

adult and child hands holding red heartadult and child hands holding red heart

It’s a giving time of year, and did you know you could shop, buy and give to your favorite registered charitable organization through Amazon Prime? It’s called AmazonSmile. Simply pick a charity and do all of your shopping on the AmazonSmile website. AmazonSmile has the exact same products and prices as Amazon.com. There are more than a million nonprofits to choose from, and the one you pick will receive 0.5% of the value of your eligible purchases. I’m helping support Friends of Frying Pan Park Farm, a county park in Virginia that is a working farm interpreting farm life of the 1920s to the 1950s.

8 of 16

Share Your Amazon Prime Membership for Holiday Shopping

Young women ordering Christmas gifts online with credit cardYoung women ordering Christmas gifts online with credit card

You can share your Amazon Prime membership with your household via Amazon Household, designed for Saint Nick, Mrs. Claus and all your household elves to utilize. Here’s the catch: Your Prime benefits can be shared with one other adult in a household — as long as you both agree to share your payment methods (you link your accounts via Amazon Household). That’s fine for, say, a spouse or significant other, but giving your roommate access to your credit or debit card might be a deal-breaker. Your partner in Prime has to have a separate Amazon account to be able to be added to your Prime membership. You’ll then be able to share certain Prime perks including free two-day shipping. Teens and younger children can also be added (up to four) but they have parental-restricted access, praise be (younger children cannot buy anything on Amazon).

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Free Holiday Music from Amazon Prime

Person dressed as Santa Claus, in profile, with white headphones listening to music, on red vintage background.Person dressed as Santa Claus, in profile, with white headphones listening to music, on red vintage background.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — to stream music. You just have to get your Trans-Siberian Orchestra on. So why pay for ad-free Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music when you’re already making beautiful music with your Amazon Prime account? Included in a Prime membership is Amazon Prime Music, which offers free access to more than two million songs ad-free and thousands of music stations. The drawback? Music fans argue that Amazon’s free playlists and stations aren’t as deep as those of competing streaming services. Could be. And it could be an incentive to dig deeper in your pocket for an upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited, which features tens of millions of songs, including new releases, and runs $7.99 a month for Prime members (a $2 discount over non-Primers). Not ready to commit? Amazon will let you try out Amazon Music Unlimited for three months for free.

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Unlimited Photo Storage with Amazon Prime

Close up of a young family taking a selfie while opening presents during Christmas morningClose up of a young family taking a selfie while opening presents during Christmas morning

From selfies with Santa to the whole gang rockin’ around the Christmas tree, there’ll be lots of holiday photos. That’s OK: Amazon Prime members get unlimited full-resolution photo storage in Amazon Photos. Yes, unlimited. Plus, you can add up to five others, as in family and friends. Photos are accessible from any device anywhere you can tap into your Amazon Prime account. If you’re like me, doubling down by having an Amazon Prime account and paying Apple every month for cloud storage for those precious pix, it may be time to trim some costs for the holidays.

You also get 5GB of storage for videos, documents, and other files just for you, not the crew from the Vault. Want more storage? You can buy it. Amazon also offers Amazon Photos customers the ability to buy storage plans billed monthly instead of the old way, yearly. 100GB plans go for $1.99 a month and 1TB plans sell for $6.99 a month.

Oh, and no worries about tagging photos. Amazon’s scary servers will automatically sort your images. Want to free up storage on your phone? Use the Amazon app, upload your phone pix to Prime Photos and delete them from your phone. What could possibly go wrong?

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Watch Movies, TV Series and More Video with Amazon Prime

Young couple resting at home and watching TV in front of fireplace.Young couple resting at home and watching TV in front of fireplace.

From Amazon-produced original movies series, such as “You Were Never Really Here” or “Beautiful Boy,” to holiday classics including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Holiday Inn,” you’ll have plenty to binge on besides the holiday cookies. And if we’ve learned anything during the lockdown, it’s how to binge — everything.

Yes, I am increasingly taking advantage of watching free movies and TV series via Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video. If you have a newer TV, like me, the Prime Video app comes built in, so click on it and boom! Hooray for Hollywood! Oh, and don’t you worry. While you’re watching Prime Video, Amazon is watching you. The “personal recommendations based on your viewing history” can be both creepy and convenient.

You can even download movies and TV shows to mobile devices for later viewing (and what you buy, you keep in Your Video Library at Amazon). Cable TV and satellite cord-cutters may be pleased to know they can binge on Showtime, Starz and many more streaming services via the Amazon Prime app. Additional fees for those channels run from $4.99 to $14.99 a month for Prime members. Oh, and if you’re looking for HBO on Amazon Prime, sorry. Amazon booted HBO as of Sept. 15. Ouch!

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Free Books, Magazines, Audiobooks on Amazon Prime

Santa Claus checking his digital tablet in front of his log cabin in the woods Santa Claus checking his digital tablet in front of his log cabin in the woods

Looking for a little “me time” during the holidays as you burn off your use-’em-or-lose-’em vacation days? Time to catch up on your reading. You don’t need a public library to get a free loaner when you have Amazon Prime. That’s because the cost of an Amazon Prime membership includes access to a fairly wide collection of 1,000 books, magazines and audiobooks nestled in Prime Reading. Prime Reading allows you or your household to borrow up to 10 titles at a time and from a selection of Kindle books, magazines, short works, books with Audible narration, comics, and more. The available content is updated periodically, says Amazon, and titles are added and removed. Prime Reading can be viewed on Amazon’s proprietary Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, or via the Kindle reading apps for iOS and Android.

As a bonus, Prime members also get free access to certain podcasts (hey, check out Kiplinger’s Your Money’s Worth there) and other audiobooks and series through Audible Channels, a limited version of Audible (which is owned by Amazon, BTW). You need to download the Audible app and log in with your Prime account to start listening. Otherwise, a subscription to the full version of Audible, owned by Amazon, costs $14.95 a month (there’s a 30-day free trial).

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Got the Wrong Gift? Take Your Amazon Prime Returns to Kohl’s

Man in oversize sweater he got for ChristmasMan in oversize sweater he got for Christmas

It’s a holiday gift-shopping hazard: The product looks good online. But when the person you shipped the gift to opened the package, it’s a big no. Now, they– or you — don’t have to box it up and go to a UPS or Amazon Hub store. Amazon.com partners with Kohl’s department stores to provide Amazon shoppers (and their giftees, with a receipt) with another place to return their Amazon products — and stir up some foot traffic for Kohl’s.

That makes it a win-win for both retailers. Amazon shoppers have another place to drop off returns besides UPS stores, and Kohl’s will gain some potential shoppers, who must drop off their Amazon returns at customer service. Why is it a win for Kohl’s? In my experience, the customer service desks at Kohl’s are deep inside the store (or at some Kohl’s, it’s in the back of the second level of the store). That’s a whole lot of potential holiday gift merch to pass by as you drop off the Amazon package and leave the store.

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Early Access to Amazon Prime Lightning Deals

Man looking at Amazon web page on his phoneMan looking at Amazon web page on his phone

You like your deals fast and hot. And you want to be at the front of the pack getting them, because it’s the holiday shopping season and you want to buy unique gifts. Amazon Prime members enjoy access to those one-off, deeply discounted (and in short supply) Lightning Deals 30 minutes before everyone else. Lightning Deals are only good for a few hours (or as long as supplies last) so if you really want what’s on sale the early access is an advantage. But even then, Amazon warns that some deals could sell out during the early access period, before opening up to the general public.

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Let Amazon Prime’s Alexa Do the Holiday Shopping

Amazon Alexa smart assistant device connected at home on table, defocused living room in background, no peopleAmazon Alexa smart assistant device connected at home on table, defocused living room in background, no people

Alexa is being a good little A.I. for the holidays, quietly listening to everything you do or say. I mean everything. She knows when you’ve been bad or good. So give that droid some honest work. If you own an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot or any of Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa devices, your Prime membership allows you to place orders through Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant. For example, if you just forgot to buy batteries for one of those “batteries not included” holiday gifts, say “Alexa, order AA batteries” and a 20-pack of AmazonBasics will arrive on your doorstep two days later. Shipping is free for Prime members, naturally, and Alexa is already aware of your Prime status. Say “Alexa, what are your deals?” to learn about special Alexa-only discounts.

Or you can ask her to sing you a Christmas carol. She will.

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Amazon Prime for Students

University students wearing protective face mask while standing on staircase against education buildingUniversity students wearing protective face mask while standing on staircase against education building

Call this a cool stocking stuffer for the college student in your house. Now that most colleges and universities are back to in-person learning, here comes Amazon Prime Student, just right for sitting around the dorm room and streaming the next installment of “The Mandalorian” or enjoying the free gaming during study breaks. It’s free for the first six months with a legit “.edu” school email address (along with proof you’re actually taking at least one class; maybe not going to class, but taking it). The one-time-only free trial includes free two-day Prime shipping (ramen noodles and Doritos don’t buy themselves), free same-day pickup, unlimited movie streaming, access to Amazon Music Unlimited for the bargain price of 99 cents per month, and more. After six months it costs $6.49 a month or the less-expensive $59 a year for Prime Student (that’s where your holiday gifting skills come in, parents). Oh, and you can buy textbooks for cheap. If textbooks are your jam.

Source: kiplinger.com