8 Risky Jobs That Pay Big Bucks

Often with dangerous jobs, the pay doesn’t come close to compensating for the risk. In fact, plenty of perilous jobs pay paltry sums compared to other options. Take fishermen and loggers. They can expect median salaries of under $35,000 a year, $23,000 less than the mean for all workers. Yet the fatality rate for fishermen is nearly 39 times the rate for all occupations, the highest of any profession, in fact. Loggers, at nearly 28 times the overall fatality rate, rank second.

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the risk scenario in the workplace. Overall, workplace injuries and illnesses were down 5.7% in 2020, compared to the previous year. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that while injuries dropped significantly, illnesses went way up. 

The pandemic also made a new group of low-paying jobs among the riskiest in the nation. Nursing assistants had the highest number of days of any profession away from work in 2020, the most recent year available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They had 1,024 days away from work per 10,000 workers in 2020, an increase of 14 times the rate in 2019. Yet nursing assistants make a mean wage of just over $30,000.

Going back the last few years before the pandemic, there were generally between 10,000 and 11,000 respiratory illnesses among U.S. workers each year. In 2020, however, there were nearly 429,000. Conversely, the days away from work decreased slightly for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, whose mean wage was just over $50,000, between 2019 and 2020.

As perilous as work has become for many during the pandemic, fewer people were injured on the job in 2020 than in any year since 2013, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, those data showed an American worker died every 111 minutes from a job-related injury. The most common cause of death on the job was transportation-related incidents, which resulted in 1,778 deaths that year, more than 37% of all work-related deaths.

Not surprisingly, workers in jobs that involved transportation and moving material accounted for the biggest proportion of occupational deaths at a total of 2,258, accounting for more than 47% of the total work-related deaths in the U.S.

We believe that if you’re going to take a risky job, you should at least get compensated handsomely for it. So we crunched the numbers on injuries, fatalities and salaries to identify eight occupations offering paychecks that make up for the elevated risks by paying more than the national median of about $58,000. Top earners in many of these fields can enjoy six-figure salaries, in some cases even without college degrees. Plus, many of them won’t be replaced by technology, which spells job security. 

Take a look at these risky jobs that pay well.

Data sources: All data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted. Most statistics from 2020, unless otherwise indicated. That year, the fatality rate for all occupations was 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.. “Top pay” represents the annual salary of a worker in the 90th percentile of an occupation, unless otherwise noted. We used the most updated data provided by BLS. In some instances, that was as far back as 2019 or older. Also, in some instances, the bureau provided median salary information, while for other occupations, it provided average salary information.

1 of 8

Airline Pilot

Photo of a man in an airplane cockpitPhoto of a man in an airplane cockpit
  • Number of workers: 42,770
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 34.3 (3.4 for all workers). 
  • This represents a decrease of the 2019 rate of 61.8 per 100,000 FTEs
  • Median annual salary: $115,080
  • Top pay: $197,400*
  • Annual fatalities: 4

Flying may be safer than driving, with crashes exceedingly rare, but pilots still manage to get hurt. The most common injury to pilots is back strain, no doubt exacerbated by countless hours spent in flight decks. Still, the pay might well make the risks worthwhile. Annual median wages for airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers are the highest of all our risky jobs.

You can save yourself the cost of college by heading straight to flight school, though most airlines prefer to hire degree-holders. You’ll need the edge. Competition for openings can be fierce, given industry consolidation and the job market’s overall weakness. You’ll also have to clock the flight hours necessary to even apply for an airline job. The Federal Aviation Administration requires applicants for pilot and first officer positions to have a minimum of 1,500 hours of total flight time.

But if you rack up enough experience and airborne hours, annual pay with the major airlines can soar to $200,000 or more, according to AirlinePilotCentral.com. Similarly plump salaries can be had if you land an offer from one of the flying freight giants. FedEx and UPS pay their captains at least $212,000 and $233,000 a year, respectively, starting in just their second years. Bonus: no whiny passengers.

*According to Airline Pilot Central, United offers its 12th year captains of Boeing 777 planes the highest minimum annual salary of all the legacy airlines.

2 of 8

Private Detective

Photo of a man in sunglasses behind the wheel of a car holding a cameraPhoto of a man in sunglasses behind the wheel of a car holding a camera
  • Number of workers:  33,700
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 122.6 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 43
  • Mean annual salary: $60,970
  • Top pay: $98,070
  • Annual fatalities: 1

Digging up information can be pretty strenuous work. Gumshoes sustain most of their injuries in car accidents and physical altercations. But even those tallies are relatively low, so the above-average pay for private eyes may be worth the slightly elevated risk.

Most detective work does not have an education requirement, but the ability to learn on the job is a must, and previous related work experience is a plus. You’ll also need a license in most states; requirements vary. And if you specialize in certain fields, say insurance fraud or computer forensics, a related bachelor’s degree might be necessary for some corporate investigators.

That expertise can not only help you solve whodunits but also push up your pay. Investigative agencies, both large and small, are by far the biggest employers of detectives. Distant runner-ups are law firms and state and local governments.

3 of 8

Registered Nurse

photo of a nurse and a patientphoto of a nurse and a patient
  • Number of workers: 3 million
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 1023.8 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 8
  • Median annual salary: $75,330
  • Top pay: $103,000
  • Annual fatalities: 12

Registered nurses were among those most affected by COVID; they endured a whopping 78,740 injuries and illnesses in 2020, an increase of more than 290% over 2019 when there were 20,150 injuries and illnesses among registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2020, the number of cases in which registered nurses had days away from work increased by 58,590 cases (290.8 percent) to 78,740 cases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The states with the largest increase in cases among nurses who had days away from work were Michigan, where cases rose more than 1,000% and Iowa, which had an increase of more than 900%. .

Typical wages about 88% above the national median might help compensate for  the pain. California registered nurses earn a particularly comfortable wage, into six figures in nine West Coast metro areas.

You need a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an accredited nursing program in order to become an RN. If you extend your education to a master’s degree, you can earn even more; median annual pay for nurse practitioners is nearly $90,000, and top earners make $120,500 a year.

According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for a registered nurse is nearly $89,000 as of May 2022. That ranges from $80,266 for nurses with less than a year of experience to $104,907 for those with more than 10 years of experience. New York is the highest paying city where registered nurses earn an average of nearly $103,000 a year. But Iindeed says just 62% of registered nurses in the U.S. think their salaries are enough for the cost of living in their area.

4 of 8

Professional Athlete

Photo of a baseball, football and basketball playerPhoto of a baseball, football and basketball player
  • Number of workers: 16,700
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 1,542.1 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 10
  • Median annual salary: $77,300
  • Top pay: $107.5 million
  • Annual fatalities: 10

When your job is to exercise and physically compete on a regular basis, your body is bound to get a little run down. More than half of the injuries reported by athletes are sprains, strains and tears. But what’s becoming a little worse for wear when you get to play the game you love for a living?

The above-average pay doesn’t hurt, either. It would behoove players to save that extra income. Athletic careers offer little stability and are often short-lived. According to Indeed.com, the average professional athlete base salary as of April 20222 was $115,429, including $222,275 for the NFL. The highest paying city for professional athletes was New York, where the average salary is $133,762.

According to the job website Ladders, the top-paid American athlete is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott who earns a jaw-dropping $107.5 million a year.

But just 45% of professional athletes in the U.S. report being satisfied that their salaries are enough for the cost of living in their area.

5 of 8

Police Officer

Photo of a torso of a police officer holding a firearmPhoto of a torso of a police officer holding a firearm
  • Number of workers: 665,000
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 121.7 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 15
  • Median annual salary: $64,610
  • Top pay: $102,530
  • Annual fatalities: 105 

Police work is truly risky business. Exhibit A: The number of work-related deaths for cops is the greatest of all the occupations on this list. Still, the fatality rate is just 18.6 per 100,000 workers, about on par with taxi drivers.

If you don’t mind mixing it up with the occasional physical altercation or high-speed chase, paychecks 59% higher than the national median may be worth sustaining some sprains, strains and tears (the most common injuries for police officers). You can enter the police academy after graduating from high school or getting your GED, though many agencies require some college coursework or a college degree. But you have to be at least 21 years old to become an officer (younger recruits can be cadets and do clerical work until they’re of age). A college degree can help fatten your paycheck, however. A B.A. in criminal justice can push salaries into six figures, according to Payscale.

Indeed.com reports the average base salary for a U.S. police officer is $55,390. This ranges from $46,900 for officers with less than a year of experience to $76,650 for those with more than ten years of experience. The highest paying city is San Jose, California, where officers make an average of $131,000. According to Indeed, 53% of police officers report being satisfied that their salaries are enough for the cost of living in their area. 

Note that while the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for wages for police officers refer to 2021, the most currently available injury and illness information dates to 2018.

6 of 8

Railroad Conductor/Yardmaster

Photo of a trainPhoto of a train
  • Number of workers: 48,030 
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 180 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 22
  • Median annual salary: $63,960
  • Top pay: $82,460
  • Annual fatalities: 11 in 2019

Train-track tragedies are as uncommon as they are heartbreaking. Overall, railroad safety has improved dramatically over the past decade. Heading the crews of freight and passenger trains and rail yards, railroad conductors and yardmasters have the highest rates of injury of all rail transportation workers, but they have the potential to score the biggest paychecks, too. You need just a high school diploma or the equivalent to get started, and you have to be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration to become a conductor. Most employers require one to three months of on-the-job training. Amtrak and some freight companies offer their own training programs, while smaller railroads may send you to a central facility or community college to prep you for the job.

7 of 8

Mining Machine Operator

Photo of a construction vehicle in a minePhoto of a construction vehicle in a mine
  • Number of workers: 14,740
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 248.0 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 23 for surface mining, 46 for underground and 60 for continuous Median annual salary: $60,300
  • Top pay: $78,060
  • Annual fatalities: 5 for surface mining, 7 for underground

Not surprisingly, pumping the Earth for its resources can really suck the life out of you. Extraction workers, a broad category of workers who mine and drill for oil, gas, coal and the like, recorded a total of 92 deaths and 3,990 injuries in 2011. And while some extraction jobs offer scant compensation for such risks, pay for certain mining machine operators is more tempting.

Education requirements are minimal to get started (some jobs don’t even require a high school diploma). But if you go into mining with a college degree, you stand to earn a fatter paycheck and added safety as a mining engineer. Indeed says mining engineers, who inspect mining areas and design underground systems of entries, exits and tunnels, make an average national salary of more than $97,000 as of April 2022. Their job is also dangerous as they are often close to heavy machinery and are exposed to air pollution and in danger of being hurt in a cave-in.

8 of 8

Electrician

Photo of a hand and a screwdriver working on wiresPhoto of a hand and a screwdriver working on wires
  • Number of workers: 729,600 in 2020
  • Rate of injuries/illnesses: 122.2 per 10,000 workers
  • Median workdays missed due to injury/illness: 15
  • Median annual salary: $60,040
  • Top pay: $82,930
  • Annual fatalities: 68 in 2019

With high demand to plug in our various devices at home and work, electricians are practically guaranteed prosperous careers. 

But this profession comes with its stumbling blocks — literally. Electricians’ injuries are most often caused by falls. That’s not surprising, considering they often spend lots of time at construction sites and on ladders. If you watch your step, you typically stand to enjoy paychecks 43% higher than the national median.

You can start your career as an electrician with a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and a paid four-year apprenticeship, which you can find through the U.S. Department of Labor. But having a Bachelor’s degree can help boost your income; according to Payscale, a college-educated electrician can earn up to about $93,000 a year. Most states also require you to be licensed.

According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for an electrician is about $56,800 as of May 2022.

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Become a Plumber in 2022

Licensed master plumbers have the highest earning potential. The top 10% of plumbers can earn ,920 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And on the high end, earning potential for master plumbers nearly reached 0,000 for the top 10%.
How Much School Do Plumbers Need?

How to Become a Plumber in 4 Steps

Potential education topics at a vocational school might include plumbing theory, water distribution, blueprint reading, draining and venting, pipe cutting and soldering and even electrical basics.
If you are currently a high school student interested in becoming a plumber, take all the math courses you can. In addition, choose classes like physics and shop to help you build an effective knowledge and skills base.
Becoming a plumber is all about licensure, so college is not a requirement. However, plumbers typically need to have their high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) to start an apprenticeship. A diploma or GED is also important if you plan to take any plumbing courses at a community college (more on that below).

1. Get Your High School Diploma or GED

To be considered a journeyman plumber, you will need to pass your state’s licensing exam. In general, you will need to renew this license every three to five years and take continuing education courses to maintain your licensed status.
A plumber’s skill set is varied. As a plumber, you will need the technical knowledge to diagnose plumbing problems and make repairs. You will also need to be proficient in using a wide variety of tools, including saws, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and torches. Remaining in top physical condition is crucial, as you will frequently do heavy lifting and perform tasks that require stamina, often in very hot or cold environments.
Most states require you to operate as a journeyman plumber for a set number of years (between two and five) before you can seek licensure as a master plumber. To earn your license, you’ll need to pass a written and practical exam.

2. Become an Apprentice

Upon completing your apprenticeship, you can apply to become a licensed journeyman plumber. Once you reach this status, you will be able to work unsupervised on commercial and residential projects.
Becoming a plumber does not require the college career path. Instead, you will complete high school and find work as an apprentice. After a few years, you can get licensed as a journeyman plumber and then a master plumber.
We’ve found the answers to the most commonly asked questions about becoming a plumber, including how long it takes until you’re repairing leaky sinks on your own.
To earn a plumbing license, you must first complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship and then pass the journeyman exam; an apprenticeship includes classroom instruction but no formal school program. Some plumbers choose to attend a year or two of plumbing trade school before their apprenticeship.
A plumbing apprenticeship program includes on-the-job training and some classroom instruction, but many plumbers choose to attend a vocational school as a first step. Plumbing trade schools may offer special certification or even a two-year associate degree.

3. Become a Journeyman Plumber

In general, you can find a plumbing apprenticeship program through trade unions, community colleges, trade schools and even private businesses. You might need to pass an exam or interview with a licensed plumber.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Plumber?
How Much Money Do Plumbers Make?

4. Become a Master Plumber

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Depending on your state, you may be able to earn special endorsements and certifications. For example, in the Lone Star State, in addition to your Texas plumbing license, you can obtain endorsements for medical gas piping installation, multipurpose residential fire protection sprinkler installation and water supply protection installation and repair.
Scroll on to learn how to become a plumber — and what you can expect out of the career.

Wondering how to become a plumber? Our guide covers the education, apprenticeship and licensing requirements on your journey to getting certified as a licensed plumber — and offers a peek into the day-to-day, job outlook and typical salary.

Optional: Go to a Trade School

Earning a special degree or certification can give you a leg-up when applying for competitive apprenticeships.
In high school, math will be crucial to your role as a plumber. Each day, plumbers use concepts from algebra and geometry, and they’re regularly calculating using various units of measure.
At the journey level, you can work for a plumbing company or start your own business.

How Much Do Plumbers Make?

Plumbers can work on both residential and commercial projects. The day-to-day duties might include remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, replacing and repairing water and drain lines, installing new water heaters, installing new faucets, installing new toilets and installing water filtration systems.
In 2021, the median pay for plumbers was ,880, but the top 10% earned ,920.
As a master plumber, you’ll reach peak earning potential and can even run your own plumbing business.

What Do Plumbers Do?

If you want to work in a supervisory capacity or be able to employ additional plumbers for your business, you will need to become a licensed master plumber.

Necessary Skills

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Plumbing apprenticeships generally last four to five years, during which time you’ll receive roughly 2,000 hours of on-the-job training in the plumbing trade, plus technical instruction. During this time, you’ll learn about local plumbing codes and regulations, how to read blueprints and OSHA safety regulations.Advanced education may cover topics like plumbing fixtures and drainage systems. Unlike pursuing a college degree, however, plumbing apprenticeships are paid.

Challenges

The median pay for plumbers last year was ,880, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though the labor is tough, hours can be long and the work can be dangerous, becoming a licensed plumber may be well worth it if you have the necessary skills and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Plumber

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Becoming a licensed plumber takes at least four to five years, as this is the general length of an apprenticeship. Some aspiring plumbers choose a year or two of vocational school before their apprenticeship. After completing an apprenticeship, you can earn your journeyman and then master plumber license.
As an apprentice plumber, you won’t be able to tackle projects yourself. Instead, you will shadow a journeyman plumber or a master plumber, depending on the program.
License laws and types vary by state. Determine the state that you wish to operate in as a plumber, and research those specific guidelines. The steps below offer a more general look at how to become a plumber.
Plumbers need to be able to cut and solder pipes, diagnose and troubleshoot issues with plumbing systems and interpret (or even draw) blueprints. If you run your own plumbing company, you will also need to handle advertising, scheduling, taxes and billing — or hire someone to do that for you.
An apprenticeship offers on-the-job experience and classroom education. Programs vary by state and organization in terms of structure, length and application process.
Skilled plumbers fulfill a crucial need in society, and demand for plumbers continues to grow. Though the manual labor is often grueling, a career in plumbing can be quite lucrative — and doesn’t require expensive schooling and massive student loan debt.

Once you have your diploma or GED, the next step to becoming a licensed plumbing contractor is either attending plumbing school or completing an apprenticeship. Plumbing school is typically optional (but we’ve got more details below); many plumbing hopefuls skip straight to an apprenticeship. <!–

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While the BLS targets 5% job growth through 2030, the increase in home renovation projects due to the ongoing pandemic may create even more plumbing jobs in the years ahead.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

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Additional Resources

Adoption is a life-changing journey. Whether the choice to adopt comes after years of expensive infertility treatments or is a route you’ve always wanted to take, the choice to welcome a new family member is rarely a financial one, but rather a decision of the heart.

But at some point, prospective adoptive parents have to consider the costs. It’s unlikely your decision to adopt will boil down to numbers. But it helps to know what to expect. 

The figures can vary depending on your adoption journey, from almost nothing to upward of $70,000. But you can use them as a baseline to help you financially prepare for starting a family and to make an informed decision about which type of adoption makes the most sense for you.


How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

There are three basic types of adoption: domestic infant adoption (sometimes called private adoption), international adoption, and public adoption. 


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But if you’re looking to adopt a baby, private and international adoption are the only two real options. Because of the way the foster care system operates, it’s exceedingly rare to be able to adopt an infant through public adoption. Their primary goal is reunifying families whenever possible, which can take years.     

But regardless of your adopted child’s age, some costs are common to all three, such as the expense of a home study, which involves visits by a social worker and background and financial checks. Other costs are unique to the adoption route you choose, such as the travel expenses involved with international adoption.

And the costs vary wildly, so it’s crucial you understand the ins and outs of each adoption type.


Domestic Infant Adoption

When adopting a baby in the United States, you have two options: adopting through an agency or independent adoption.

Costs of Adopting an Infant Through an Agency: $25,000 – $70,000 

Adopting through an agency is more expensive, but there’s also a higher success rate. Also, some agencies offer a sliding scale for those who need help affording adoption, which can potentially save you a few thousand dollars, depending on your income. However, each state has its own laws that regulate adoption fees, including sliding scale fee structures. 

Average Costs of Domestic Agency Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $45,000
Legal Fees $2,500 – $6,000
Birth Mother Expenses $4,000 – $16,250
Home Study Fee $2,750

Adoption agencies are typically full-service operations. Thus, their fees generally include everything involved in the adoption process, which can be complex. The journey to bring a child home involves many parties, including attorneys, social workers, physicians, counselors, government administrators, and adoption specialists. 

There are also costs associated with matching birth parents and adoptive parents. For example, there are advertising expenses to find expectant mothers. And then there are medical expenses and court costs to ensure the health of the mother and child during pregnancy as well as the safety and security of the child after placement.

When you adopt through an agency, it typically completes the entire process from beginning to end, hence the expense. 

Adoption agencies that charge more include more services. For example, if you find an agency with fees at the lower end, it’s likely because their fee doesn’t include the costs of hiring an attorney, unlimited advertising for birth parents, certain birth mother expenses, or adoption disruption insurance (a guarantee you won’t lose your money if the birth mother changes her mind).

So always ask for a written, line-by-line breakdown of the agency’s costs to see what services its rate covers before signing with it. 

Costs of an Independent Adoption With an Attorney Only:  $10,000 – $40,000

If agency adoption is too expensive but you’d still like to adopt a newborn, you can save a lot of money by hiring an attorney to facilitate an independent adoption. Independent adoption happens when prospective parents locate a birth parent on their own and use an attorney to process the necessary paperwork.

Average Costs of Independent (Attorney) Adoption

Legal Fees $3,000 – $6,000
Advertising Fees $0 – $1,000
Birth Mother Expenses $6,000 – $30,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an independent adoption can range from $10,000 to $40,000, though it could go higher based on your circumstances. The final bill depends on how much you need to spend to find an expectant mother and how much you pay for medical and living expenses, which may be regulated by state law. 

Further, adopting independently is a bit like trying to sell a house without a realtor. You must find a birth mom on your own, which means advertising for and vetting birth moms without help. 

So, while it can be cheaper, you still have to go it alone. And if you have trouble finding a birth mother, your costs can quickly add up. Agencies give a flat rate no matter how much advertising it takes. If you have trouble finding someone, you could quickly blow past the $40,000 mark.

Another reason independent adoption costs can vary more widely than those through a private agency is because in most states, adoptive parents won’t have their costs reimbursed if a birth mother changes her mind, what’s commonly called a disrupted adoption. Most adoption agencies build disruption insurance into their fee structures. 


International Adoption: $26,500 – $73,000

Those unfamiliar with the adoption process often believe it’s less expensive to adopt a child from another country. But the reverse is more often true. 

Average Costs of International Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $30,000
Legal Fees $500 – $6,000
Immigration Application Fee $1,000 – $2,000
Dossier Preparation and Clearance $1,000 – 2,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000
In-Country Adoption Expenses $2,000 – $10,000
Travel Expenses $5,000 – $15,000
Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an international adoption can range from just over $20,000 to more than $70,000. The wide variance is due to the different requirements of each country. 

International adoption (also called intercountry adoption) has some similarities to domestic adoption. But it has its own unique steps and expenses that can quickly escalate beyond the cost of domestic adoption.

The costs of international adoptions can include immigration processing and court costs (both in the foreign country and the U.S.), travel expenses, foreign and domestic legal fees, foreign agency fees, passport and visa fees, medical examinations, and in-country adoptions expenses (such as foster care for the child, donations to the orphanage, and payments for the in-country adoption liaisons).

The costs also depend on whether a government or private agency, orphanage, nonprofit organization, attorney, or a combination of entities is managing the adoption. 

Additionally, some international adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin, while others must be finalized in the U.S., depending on the laws of your state, further adding to the total cost. And depending on the country’s regulations, you may have to plan an extended stay, which means time off work and (potentially) lost wages.


Public Adoption: $0 – $2,500

The least expensive route to growing your family is unquestionably public adoption, or adopting through the foster care system. It’s very difficult to adopt a baby, though. So this option is best for those who wish to adopt an older child.

Public adoption costs next to nothing because the government subsidizes many associated fees and expenses. 

Average Costs of Public Adoption

Agency Fees Usually $0
Legal Fees $0 – $2,000
Home Study Fee $0 – $500

Federal and state financial adoption assistance programs exist to encourage the adoption of children with special needs that make them difficult to place, such as older children, sibling groups, or those with physical or mental disabilities. 

Thus, most prospective parents who are adopting through public agencies will find their state is often willing to waive most or all of the fees associated with adopting through the foster care system, including both the home study fee and attorney fees. 

Additionally, if you become a foster parent and apply to foster-to-adopt, the government subsidizes some of your future adopted child’s living expenses while you await finalization. 

But if you have your heart set on adopting a newborn, foster care adoption isn’t the route for you. It’s nearly impossible to adopt an infant that way. 

Some babies in the foster care system were abandoned by their biological parents or taken by the state due to abuse, neglect, or drug addiction. But no child in the system — infant or otherwise — is immediately available for adoption. 

The state’s No. 1 priority is to reunite children with their biological families. That includes extensive sessions with counselors and social workers. If that effort ultimately proves unsuccessful, the state next tries to place the child with a biological relative. 

Only after these efforts — which could take several years — are children placed for adoption. Thus, by the time babies in foster care become eligible for adoption, they’re no longer babies. But if they were placed with a foster family, that family gets the first chance at adoption. 
However, if you’re interested in adopting an older child and are prepared to help them work through the trauma, the rewards can be immense. My parents adopted my little brother from foster care at the age of 6, and his presence has enriched our family in myriad ways.

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Factors That Influence Adoption Costs

Every adoption is unique, and though adoption agencies typically try to work within your budget, unforeseen costs can occasionally raise the base projected cost. And that can have a significant impact on your overall family budget.


Birth Mother Expenses

Depending on your state’s adoption laws, a birth mother may be eligible for coverage of certain expenses. You may have to pay medical expenses related to the pregnancy, including insurance coverage if she’s not already covered or eligible for Medicaid.

If you work with an agency, they should take care of helping her find coverage. But you may still be responsible for some medical expenses, such as doctor copays. Once you’re matched with a birth mother, her medical expenses become your medical expenses. 

Adoption agencies typically work these into their overall fee structure but allow for variances that could affect your cost. For example, you may pay more or less depending on what stage of pregnancy the mother’s in when the agency matches you. If you’re matched in the ninth month, there will be fewer expenses.

And if you’re adopting independently, some or all of the medical costs the birth mother incurs as a result of the pregnancy may be your responsibility as defined by the laws of your state. Consult with an adoption lawyer for more information.  

Additionally, in some states, you may need to cover other birth mother expenses. Birth mother expenses are court-approved funds adoptive families provide to help prospective birth mothers with pregnancy-related expenses. In addition to medical care, costs could include living expenses like maternity clothing, groceries, rent, and transportation. 

Some states that allow birth mothers to request living expenses cap the total amount. For example, Ohio caps the amount birth mothers can be reimbursed for living expenses at $3,000 and Connecticut at $1,500. Other states have no cap but permit a judge to set one on an individual basis. 

Thus, these expenses can vary widely from one adoption to another.


Advertising

The longer you have to wait for a birth mother match, the more money an agency must pay toward advertising to find you one. Ask the adoption agency how they deal with this variable cost. Some charge one flat fee regardless of the amount of advertising required; others set a variable cost.

And if you’re doing an independent adoption, you’ll be covering this expense on your own. If you don’t already know a birth mother to adopt from, you’ll need to find one. That means drawing on your personal connections, using social networks or community organizations, utilizing adoptive family websites, posting print ads, or seeking referrals from adoption attorneys. 

It could take a long time to find a birth mother if you don’t have extensive networking options. And that can substantially drive up your adoption costs. Depending on how long it takes you to find someone, fees for print and online advertising can range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands. 


Attorney Fees

Lawyers are necessary for dealing with the legal aspects of any adoption. These include the original consent to adoption and termination of parental rights as well as the court proceedings to finalize the arrangement. 

However, the fees can vary considerably based on the type of adoption you opt for. Attorney fees can also vary depending on other factors, including:

  • The Complexity of the Case. Will they need to represent you multiple times in court? All adoptions must eventually be finalized before a judge. But some adoptions — such as international adoptions or those in which birth mother expenses must be court-ordered — could require more paperwork or court appearances than others.
  • The Number of Hours the Attorney Works on the Case. Lawyers charge by the hour. Even if you don’t have to appear in court more than once, adoption can involve a lot of paperwork.
  • The Number of Additional Attorneys or Support Staff Needed. Depending on the complexity of your case or who you hire, you may be represented by a law firm rather than a single attorney. Additionally, your lawyer may use a support team to fulfill basic tasks like clerical work.

Depending on your case, rates are often negotiable. And while attorneys often charge by the hour, many offer a flat fee for certain types of cases. 

For example, a family law attorney might charge a flat fee for a straightforward adoption case that requires a simple filing of paperwork and one court appearance. But they might charge by the hour for a more complex case, such as an international adoption.

Regardless, most lawyers offer payment options so clients can find an arrangement that works for their budget. And all lawyers have fee agreements informing clients of costs upfront. So ensure you thoroughly read the agreement beforehand. 


Time Off

Unfortunately, in the U.S., paid parental leave isn’t guaranteed by law, and many workplaces don’t have this benefit. Even when they do, it may not apply to adoptive parents. So check with your human resources department about whether your workplace offers adoption benefits. 

Whether your employer offers paid time off, all adoptive parents are entitled to up to 12 weeks (three months) of leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. The act equally guarantees maternity and paternity leave for biological and adoptive parents.

But it only guarantees your job and health insurance. It doesn’t guarantee paid time off. If your company doesn’t provide paid parental leave, you need to plan for lost wages.


Final Word

The costs of adoption may feel formidable, especially if you have your heart set on adopting an infant through domestic or international adoption. But they don’t have to be insurmountable.

Many resources are available to help families afford to adopt, including options for post-placement reimbursement, like the adoption tax credit. Talk with adoption professionals to explore your options before completely ruling it out. 

Also, talk with other families who’ve adopted. Many are happy to share stories of how they were able to afford adoption, especially if it helps others fulfill their dreams of a family.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Understanding the Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness Program

Parent PLUS loan forgiveness provides financial relief to parents who borrowed money to cover the cost of their children’s college or career school. It isn’t always a quick fix, but there are certain federal and private programs that might offer the financial assistance needed to help them get on track.

To receive federal relief for Parent PLUS loans, parent borrowers have a few options.

They can consolidate the loan in order to enroll in an Income-Contingent Repayment plan after 25 years, pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness after 10 years, or choose from a number of private student loan assistance programs or refinancing options.

Keep reading to learn more about what the available student loan forgiveness possibilities are for Parent PLUS loans.

Will Parent Plus Loans Be Included in Student Loan Forgiveness?

Parent PLUS loans are eligible for several of the same student loan forgiveness programs as federal student loans for students, including:

•   Borrower Defense Loan Discharge

•   Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge

•   Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

That said, Parent PLUS loans generally have fewer repayment options in the first place and the eligibility requirements for these forgiveness programs can be strict and may require borrowers to consolidate their PLUS loan, such as with PSLF. This can make it tricky for borrowers to navigate how to use these federal relief programs to their advantage.

Refinancing is another option for Parent PLUS loan borrowers — applying for a new private student loan with an, ideally, lower interest rate. That said, some lenders offer less flexibility for repayment and the fine print can be lengthy, so there’s an inherent risk associated with refinancing Parent PLUS loans. It’s also worth noting that refinancing a PLUS loan will eliminate it from any federal repayment plans or forgiveness options.

Recommended: What Is a Parent PLUS Loan?

Parent Student Loan Forgiveness Program

When it comes to student loan forgiveness, the programs aren’t just available for the students. Parents who are on the hook for student loan debt can also qualify for student loan forgiveness.

As previously mentioned, a Parent PLUS loan may be eligible for Parent Student Loan Forgiveness through two specific federal programs:

•   Income-Contingent Repayment

•   The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

There are also a few private student loan forgiveness options, which we’ll get into below.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

An Income-Contingent Repayment plan, or ICR plan, is the only income-driven repayment plan that’s available for Parent PLUS borrowers. In order to qualify, parent borrowers must first consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, then repay that loan under the ICR plan.

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in a Direct Consolidation Loan could be eligible for Income-Contingent Repayment, but only if the borrower entered their repayment period on or after July 1, 2006.

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in the Federal Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) is also eligible for ICR if it’s included in the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan.

ICR determines a borrower’s monthly payment based on 20% of their discretionary income or the amount by which their AGI exceeds 100% of the poverty line. After a 25-year repayment term, or 300 payments, the remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

Typically, the IRS considers canceled debt a form of taxable income, but the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 made all student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Borrowers with Parent PLUS loans may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, but in order to pursue that option must first consolidate the Parent PLUS loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Then, after they’ve made 120 qualifying payments (ten year’s worth), borrowers become eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The parent borrower (not the student) must be employed full-time in a qualifying public service job. PSLF also has strict requirements such as certifying employment so it’s important to follow instructions closely if pursuing this option.

The Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) is another option for Parent PLUS borrowers if some or all of their 120 qualifying payments were made under either a graduated repayment plan or an extended repayment plan. The catch here is that the last year of their payments must have been at least as much as they would if they had paid under an ICR plan.

Refinance Parent Plus Loans

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is another option that could provide some financial relief.

For borrowers who don’t qualify for any of the loan forgiveness options above, it may be possible to lower their monthly payments by refinancing Parent PLUS student loans with a private lender.

In doing so, you’ll lose the government benefits associated with your federal loans, as briefly mentioned above, such as:

•   Student loan forgiveness

•   Forbearance options or options to defer your student loans

•   Choice of repayment options

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan into the dependent’s name is another option, which some borrowers opt for once their child has graduated and started working. Not all loan servicers are willing to offer this type of refinancing option, though.

Transfer Parent Plus Student Loan to Student

Transferring Parent PLUS loans to a student can be complicated. There isn’t a federal loan program available that will conduct this exchange, and, as mentioned above, some private lenders won’t offer this option.

That said, some private lenders, like SoFi, allow dependents to take out a refinanced student loan and use it to pay off the PLUS loan of their parent.

Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness Parent Plus

When it comes to Parent PLUS loans, there are a few ways to get out of student loan debt legally, including the scenarios outlined below.

Student Loan Forgiveness Death of Parent

Federal student loans qualify for loan discharge when the borrower passes away. In the case of Parent PLUS loans, they are also discharged if the student who received the borrowed funds passes away.

In order to qualify for federal loan discharge due to death, borrowers must provide a copy of a death certificate to either the U.S. Department of Education or the loan servicer.

Recommended: Can Student Loans Be Discharged?

State Parent PLUS Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Many individual states offer some sort of student loan repayment assistance or student loan forgiveness programs for Parent PLUS loan borrowers.

For an overview of options available in different states, you can take a look at The College Investor’s State-by-State Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness . For information on student loan and aid available take a look at the SoFi guide on state-by-state student aid available for borrowers.

Disability

In the event of the borrower becoming totally and permanently disabled, a Parent PLUS loan may be discharged. To qualify for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge , borrowers must complete and submit a TPD discharge application, as well as documentation showing that they meet the requirements for being considered totally and permanently disabled. Note that in order to qualify for TPD, the parent borrower must be considered disabled. This type of forgiveness does not apply to Parent PLUS loans in the event that the student becomes disabled.

Bankruptcy

If a borrower can demonstrate undue financial hardship upon repaying the student loan, they might be able to discharge their Parent PLUS loan. Note having student loans discharged in bankruptcy is extremely rare. Proving “undue hardship” varies depending on the court that’s granting it, but most rulings abide by the Brunner test, which requires the debtor to meet all three of these criteria in order to discharge the student loan:

•   Poverty – Maintaining a minimal standard of living for the borrower and their dependents is deemed impossible if they’re forced to repay their student loans.

•   Persistence – The borrower’s current financial situation will likely continue for the majority of the repayment period.

•   Good faith – The borrower has made a “good faith” effort to repay their student loans.

Closed School Discharge

For parent borrowers whose children attended a school that closed while they were enrolled or who withdrew from the school during a “lookback period” of 120 days before its closure, a Closed School Discharge is another available form of student loan forgiveness.

In some circumstances, the government may extend the lookback period even further. For example, The Department of Education has changed the lookback period to 180 days for loans that were issued after July 1, 2020.

Borrower Defense

Borrower Defense Loan Discharge is available to Parent PLUS borrowers whose children were misled by their college or university or whose college or university engaged in certain forms of misconduct or violation of state laws.

To make a case for borrower defense, the Parent PLUS borrower must be able to demonstrate that their school violated a state law directly related to their federal student loan.

Explore Private Student Loan Options for Parents

Banks, credit unions, state loan agencies and other lenders typically offer private student loans for parents who want to help their children pay for college and refinancing options for parents and students.

Refinancing options will vary by lenders and some may be willing to refinance a Parent PLUS loan into a private refinanced loan in the student’s name. In addition to competitive interest rates and member benefits, SoFi does allow students to take over their parent’s loan during the refinancing process. Interest rates and terms may vary based on individual criteria such as income, credit score, and history.

If you decide refinancing a Parent PLUS loan makes sense for you, SoFi makes it simple. The application process is entirely online and SoFi offers flexible repayment options to help you land a loan that fits your budget. You can find your rate in a few minutes and checking if you prequalify won’t affect your credit score.*

The Takeaway

Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness offers financial relief to parents who borrowed money to help their child pay for college.

To receive federal relief for Parent PLUS loans, parent borrowers can enroll in an Income-Contingent Repayment plan, pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness, transfer their student loan to another student, take advantage of a state Parent PLUS student loan forgiveness program, or opt for private student loan assistance or refinancing.

Learn more about refinancing a Parent PLUS loan with SoFi.


*Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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.

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.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’swebsite .
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.
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.

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Source: sofi.com

How to Become a 911 Operator

Ever consider what it’s like to be a 911 emergency operator?

Well now’s the time to think about it. The job is in high demand these days and it doesn’t require a college degree, saves lives and is never boring. The average starting salary is $38,000 and the national average pay is about $48,000, which isn’t super high but the job usually has good medical benefits.

In most states it takes about four to six weeks to get certified and then several months of on-the-job training. New hires are paid while they are trained.

Yes, there is certainly stress involved, but agencies have services to help employees deal with that. And not every call is a life-or-death situation; there are plenty of non-emergency situations such as stolen cars or lost dogs.

St. Johns County in Florida is just one of hundreds of agencies across the country looking to hire so-called “heroes in headsets.” It’s offering a starting salary of $41,000, which is boosted with overtime. There’s also a bonus of $2,000 for completing the certification.

“There has been a need for 911 professionals for as long as I can remember,” said April Heinze, Operations Director for 911 and Public Safety Answering Point at NENA, the National Emergency Number Association. That need has become much greater with COVID-19, which discouraged many from working in office settings or high-contact jobs like public safety. Thus the pool of potential employees has gotten smaller. “You’re starting to see more and more municipalities offering signing bonuses to encourage people to apply.”

For the right person, a job in emergency communications can become a rewarding career. As with healthcare, working in public safety is a chance to help people in need.

“When you go home at the end of your day you think about all of the people you helped. You may have saved lives that day. You are able to do a large amount of good on a daily basis,” Heinze said. Her organization represents tens of thousands of 911 first responders.

Here’s a link to 911-operator openings in each state. This isn’t comprehensive, however, so check the municipalities near you about openings, which are sometimes described as emergency dispatcher or 911 dispatcher.

How to Become a 911 Operator

First, be 18 and have a high school diploma or GED. The hiring process involves pre-employment testing and interviews. Most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in person or online. After that, employees train on the job for six to 12 months. Expect a drug screening.

Pros of Being a 911 Operator

The pros of being a 911 operator include good medical benefits, paid vacation time, job satisfaction especially if you like to help people and a lively workplace. It’s a job that’s rarely boring.

Good Benefits

The most common employers are police departments, public safety departments, fire stations, and emergency management call centers. Aside from a few nonprofit organizations, most of these agencies are operated by municipalities.

“In many cases there are many really good benefits. Some localities still have great retirement benefits. You typically get decent sick time and vacation time and can earn other types of time off as well,” Heinze said. “There’s opportunity for overtime and holiday pay. You get paid holidays off and may end up getting double time if you work on a holiday.”

Job Satisfaction

There’s no going home wondering if you made a difference in the world. “You have a great sense of self worth. You are able to do some fantastic things in your day,” Heinze said. “You make a difference in many people’s lives in one day’s time on a weekly and monthly and annual basis.”

Exciting Work

Along with the above tasks, emergency dispatchers must analyze situations and consider what more could be happening. Heinze pointed to a scenario in which a caller complains that her neighbor’s dog is barking incessantly. The 911 dispatcher has to figure out whether the dog’s owner could have had a medical emergency or there could be a break-in taking place.

Major Multitasking

This can be a pro or a con depending on the person. For some, emergency communications work might seem overwhelming. But for people who have a passion for operating on all cylinders, a 911 call taker offers a wide variety of work.

Once you are fully trained in emergency communications, you’ll take calls, dispatch emergency responders and check data and background records all at one time, said Heinze.

Cons of Being a 911 Operator

The cons are stressful work and long hiring process then after that on-the-job training and shadowing an experienced dispatcher. As you can imagine, the hiring personnel want to make sure that 911 operators can handle the pressure of hearing and helping people in distress.

Stress

Clearly, this isn’t an easy job. It’s very hard to take numerous calls that include trauma and crimes in process. Heinze said many municipalities have peer support groups, mentors and outside counseling to help dispatchers cope with the stress.

Long Hiring Process

This is not a job you can apply for and expect to start two weeks later. Heinze estimates it can take up to three months to be hired.

The pre-employment testing process includes several interviews, aptitude tests, a psychological evaluation and lengthy background checks. Some agencies go a step further, asking applicants who make it to the final stage of hiring to shadow someone on the job to make sure it’s something they want to do.

What Makes a Good Emergency Dispatcher?

The most important characteristic for an emergency dispatcher is the ability to be calm in stressful situations. A good emergency dispatcher has good communication skills and is personable. Typing is a required skill, as is empathy.

Here are more details on the skills employers will look for:

  • Customer service. If you’re good at customer service, you will likely make a good emergency call-taker.
  • Typing abilities. Most 911 dispatchers need to type between 30 to 45 words per minute without error.
  • Communication skills. Not only are you communicating with people in distress, you must be able to calmly talk with a wide variety of people. “You have to handle calls from every different generation, from a child caller to the elderly, someone with a mental disorder, intoxicated people, deaf or hard of hearing people,” Heinze said.
  • Empathy. It’s good to have a calming voice and provide an empathetic ear that’s ready to help.

These skills will give you a good foundation for your training, where you will learn about:

  • Telecommunications
  • Critical incident stress
  • Suicide intervention
  • Emergency medical dispatch
  • Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
  • Hazardous materials
  • Domestic violence
  • Terrorism

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the 911 Operator Profession

We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most common questions about being a 911 dispatcher.

How Do I Become a 911 Operator?

Applicants must be 18 and have a high school diploma, GED or college degree to apply for 911 operator positions, and then go through a series of tests and interviews. Once you are hired, most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in a classroom or online setting. After that, employees will train on the job for six to 12 months.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a 911 Operator?

Pros include job satisfaction, good work benefits and an exciting, meaningful job. Cons are high stress, up to a three-month hiring process and major multitasking.

How Stressful Is It to Be a 911 Operator?

Yes, it can be stressful taking calls from people in life threatening situations. Agencies provide counseling, peer support groups and mentor support to help emergency dispatchers deal with stress.

Is a 911 Operator a Good Job?

It is a good job if it you are the kind of person who can remain calm in an emergency and you like to help people. Average starting pay is $38,000 for a meaningful career. In addition to the salary, most 911 operators work for a government agency with retirement benefits, sick time and paid vacation. There is also potential for overtime pay and the chance to advance to a higher salary.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter in North Carolina and Florida. She is author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Thinking about Rolling Your 401(k) into an IRA? 7 Deciding Factors to Consider

The Department of Labor has outlined new rules for advisers to follow when rolling over retirement plans. Whether it is a 401(k) to an IRA or an IRA from one custodian to another, there are several considerations that need to be evaluated before making a change. If you are initiating a rollover on your own, it may be beneficial for you to evaluate these items as well.

You should be able to get all the information you need on your plan from your statements, Annual Participant Fee Disclosure and Summary Plan Description. If you do not have access to these documents, you can usually request them from your human resource department.

All-In Fees and Expenses

Before deciding whether to do a rollover, you will want to compare the fees within your 401(k) plan vs. the fees for the IRA. Fees in the 401(k) could include any mutual fund loads, plan expenses and any underlying fees. Sometimes the fees may be higher in your 401(k), but there may be additional benefits to keeping your funds in the 401(k) wrapper.

It would be up to you to decide whether any benefits are worth the fees. For example, if you are opening an IRA and moving over to an investment adviser there will be additional management fees paid to your adviser, but you may also receive financial advice, retirement planning or wealth management services.

Available Services

Some retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, provide added creditor protection, the ability to take out a loan or take hardship withdrawals, which are not available with IRAs. In certain circumstances you may be able to keep some asset protection if 401(k) funds are rolled into a separate IRA and not commingled with other IRA funds. Some 401(k) providers provide investment education to participants that may be valuable if you are a younger investor.  You will also want to look at your vesting schedule and company match to determine whether they may be affected. In addition, some retirement plans offer Roth 401(k) contributions, which may not be available to you otherwise.

Available Investments and/or Products

Several 401(k)s offer participants limited investment options. On one hand, that could be viewed as a positive, because when there are too many choices it can confuse participants and make it harder to manage the plan. However, some plans’ limited options may be  more expensive, such as actively managed funds, and they might not offer any low-cost index options.

If you roll over funds into an IRA you then have access to a much wider universe of investments. That said, this should not be your only decision criteria. Some company retirement plans offer a “BrokerageLink” option, which allows you to move funds from the “core” 401(k) account to a brokerage account –  another way to access more investment options. Some plans have restrictions on what can be invested in a BrokerageLink so you would want to consult the plan document before deciding.

Guaranteed Income/or Interest Rates

Are you invested in anything earning a guaranteed interest rate that you will lose by moving from a 401(k) to an IRA or other plan? For example, TIAA CREF’s 401(k) offering has TIAA Traditional, which could be earning 3%-4% –  a great return in this environment. You may not want to roll out funds into an IRA and lose access to this option.

Tax Considerations

If you are required distribution age but still working past retirement (providing you are not an over 5% owner in the company), you can defer taking money out of your 401(k). Unfortunately, if you have an IRA on the side, that IRA is subject to required distributions at age 72, even if you continue to work. If you leave the funds in the 401(k) you can still contribute and don’t have to take money out.

One caveat related to the Roth part of a 401(k): If you are age 72 and a greater than 5% owner or retired you have to take a distribution from the Roth side. A way to get around this is to roll the Roth 401(k) balance into a Roth IRA prior to age 72.

Also, if you happen to be in a zero-income year and all you have is retirement funds and need cash, it may make sense to take a taxable distribution rather than do a rollover.

Distribution Considerations

If your 401(k) retirement account is invested in an insurance product or annuity you will want to evaluate whether there are any surrender charges. Usually annuities cannot be moved to IRAs in kind. Some annuity products may have certain benefits that will be lost if liquidated, so you will want to make sure you understand how your product works before making a decision.

Some plans may offer annuity options rather than a lump sum, which would be lost if you roll your 401(k) over to an IRA. You will want to look at the financial implications of the lump sum vs. the annuity options to see which option is better for your situation, especially if you have a spouse who can receive survivor benefits.

You will also want to check if there are any in-service distributions options or guaranteed payment options.

Beneficiary Considerations

If you are married, your 401(k) must list your spouse as beneficiary unless your spouse signs a waiver. You can list anyone on an IRA as a beneficiary, so you may want to review your estate planning and beneficiaries if you make any changes.

Senior Financial Adviser, Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial Wealth Management

Roxanne Alexander is a senior financial adviser with Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial handling client analysis on investments, insurance, annuities, college planning and developing investment policies. Prior to this, she was a senior vice president at Evensky & Katz working with both individual and institutional clients. She has a bachelor’s in accounting and business management from the University of the West Indies, she received an MBA at the University of Miami in finance and investments.

Source: kiplinger.com

How Psychology Affects Your Search for a Financial Adviser

Selecting the right financial adviser is an important but difficult decision. Key considerations include whether your prospective adviser has the right technical skills, charges fair fees and puts your interests first. Focus on these factors and you’ll find thousands of qualified advisers. But which factors should you prioritize when finding the best one for you?

Turns out, you should be looking to psychology. A 2019 Vanguard study found that a client’s emotional relationship with their adviser – not their fees or technical skills – accounted for over half of the perceived value of the engagement. These feelings have real consequences for your bottom line.

Another series of Vanguard studies found clients who work with advisers have better investment returns than those who don’t. To explain this effect, the studies examined the individual impact of numerous factors, including a range of technical skills, like optimizing asset location and implementing the most cost-effective strategies. Turns out behavioral coaching, a psychological factor, accounted for half the total effect – double that of the most impactful technical skill.

While you’re interviewing a prospective adviser, here are some other considerations and questions to ask:

What are your values?

Financial planning is the process of helping clients achieve their goals – whether those goals are to be financially independent, support a charity or anything in between. Advisers are trained to respect and help fulfill all their clients’ goals. But if your goals and values are contrary to an advisers’, it can be difficult for them to take your perspective and make the best recommendations. For example, an adviser who tends to prioritize attaining financial independence may consistently push back on your goal to donate 10% of your income to charity.

An adviser who shares your deeply held values will have an easier time empathizing with your financial situation and is more likely to make recommendations that you’ll implement.

Will we get along?

Would if we could be friends with everyone, but some personalities just don’t mesh. Don’t think you need to overthink this (although you’re welcome to). Consider what kinds of people you tend to get along with. Remember that you may be spending many years working with your adviser, so it helps to like them and feel like you get along.

At a minimum, feel free to avoid working with someone who gives you a bad first impression. While our first impressions are not always accurate, they can tell us a lot – and quickly! For example, one study found it takes just a fraction of a second to decide whether you should trust someone.

How will you communicate your recommendations and coach me?

It is critical that you fully understand the recommendations your adviser is making. Otherwise, you won’t implement them! Consider your learning style. How do you understand things most easily: in writing? With charts and graphs? Whatever your answer, find an adviser whose communication style matches your learning style.

Often, recommendations take some time to implement and have many steps. Some folks struggle to follow through – especially if they have anxiety around money. The best advisers coach their clients throughout the process.

Not all great coaches are the same. Phil Jackson, winner of 11 NBA championships, was known as a “Zen Master.” Bill Belichick, the NFL coach with the most Super Bowl wins, is much more detail-oriented and logistical. Consider what motivates you to stick with a plan and try to find an adviser who fits your coaching needs.   

Keep in mind that some folks are better communicators than others. How well an adviser communicates has a real impact on their clients. For example, a study investigating clients’ trust in their financial advisers found the adviser’s communication skills were twice as important as their technical competency.

Do you have good experiences working with people from my background?

Individual differences are not the only thing to consider when selecting a financial adviser. Your adviser’s cultural background and cultural competency can affect whether you have a successful relationship.

When people share similar experiences and backgrounds, they often have an easier time communicating and empathizing with one another. Moreover, financial advising has not always been offered or provided equitably to women, people of color and members of many other minority backgrounds. Research released by The American College Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality underscores this point: Three in five Black women expressed difficulty in finding financial professionals or advisers they trust, per the study.  It’s why efforts like the CFP® Board’s diversity and inclusion initiatives are critical to increase the representation of people from all backgrounds in financial planning and meet the needs of our diverse society.

That said, the client and adviser don’t need to share a cultural connection to have a successful relationship. Many financial advisers have excellent cross-cultural communication and cultural competence. Some of the best thinking comes when people with different perspectives can work together to come up with innovative solutions.

Ultimately, you should establish a relationship you value with an adviser you trust. Exactly how you make that decision is up to you. To start that process, consider resources like https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/ and https://www.xyplanningnetwork.com/ that can connect you with  advisers held to fiduciary standard.

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning, The American College of Financial Services

Matt J. Goren is an Assistant Professor of Financial Planning at The American College of Financial Services who focuses on the interplay of personal finance and psychology. In addition to teaching and developing content, he provides strategic consulting on financial literacy initiatives and hosts a personal finance radio show, Nothing Funny About Money, which was named 2018’s most outstanding consumer financial information resource by the AFCPE.

Source: kiplinger.com

Dear Penny: Is Using Retirement Money So My Daughter Can Graduate a Mistake?

Dear Penny,
A big advantage of Parent PLUS loans is that you can qualify for something called income-contingent repayment. Basically, your payment is capped at 20% of your disposable income. You’re planning to retire soon, so I’m assuming your income will drop soon as well. That means you could qualify for an extremely low payment once your daughter graduates.
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She is a good kid with some special problems that she overcomes daily. I want her to have this degree and a chance in life. She worked very hard to overcome all of the physical and mental challenges in her life, BUT expenses are starting to affect my retirement. Any advice?
Sometimes I get antsy when parents talk about spending retirement money on their child’s education. But we’re talking about one year of college, not four. I think you’d deeply regret not giving your daughter the financial support she needs to make it through this final year.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].
Contact the financial aid office for your daughter’s school if you haven’t already done so. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, bases financial aid on income from two years earlier. For example, aid for the 2022-23 school year will be based on 2020 income. But some schools offer a process called professional judgment where administrators can adjust FAFSA information based on major life changes, like a parent’s retirement, on a case-by-case basis.
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Your daughter has no doubt overcome her challenges thanks to her own grit, but also because of your love and support as a parent. You’re making a sacrifice to pay for her last year of school because you believe in her. Once she graduates, paying off any debt you’ve incurred will be another challenge you’ll need to conquer together.
-J.
Keep in mind, a Parent PLUS loan is only an option if your daughter is considered a dependent student. For example, if she’s 24 or older or she has dependent children of her own, unfortunately, you wouldn’t be eligible.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
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Dear J.,
With private student loans — whether you take them out in your name or co-sign for your daughter — you’re at the mercy of your lender if you’re struggling with payments. So I’d vote in favor of a Parent PLUS loan, even if you find a private loan with a lower interest rate.
If you can’t get a Parent PLUS loan, I’d suggest splitting taking half from your retirement funds and a private loan for the other half. Neither is an ideal option, but sometimes life forces us to choose between less-than-perfect options.
What makes me nervous about using retirement money is that virtually everyone’s investments have taken a hit in recent months. You want to limit your withdrawals as much as possible right now so that your money can recover. But at least since you’re 67, you won’t pay an early withdrawal penalty.
Now let’s address your daughter’s role. I don’t know if she currently has a job. If she is able to work some to help defray costs without jeopardizing her studies, that should be on the table.
My daughter is in her last year of college. I don’t have any more money to pay for it. So for her last year, should I take from retirement monies or get a loan? 
If financial aid can’t make up the shortfall, a Parent PLUS loan is a good solution. A Parent PLUS loan is a federal student loan that you, as the parent, are responsible for repaying.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

But I want her to focus on her studies so that she can actually complete her final year of coursework in a year. Stretching out the timeline further could pose a greater risk to your retirement. So I wouldn’t ask your daughter to get a job if she’s not already working or work more hours if she has a job.

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By taking half from your retirement and half as a loan, you can minimize the damage to your nest egg while taking less debt into retirement. If you’re able to work just a bit longer to pay some of these expenses in cash, even better.

Student Loan Interest Rates for June 2022

There’s no way around it — college is expensive. This means that for many students, taking out a loan is the only way to realistically cover these expenses. And, like most other loans, student loans accrue interest.

In this article, we’ll explore the current interest rates across the most common student loan products, including federal and private student loans.

When we discuss federal interest rates on student loans in this article, we’re referring to what the rates would be when the freeze is lifted.

Comparing Rates Between Federal, Private and Refinance Loans

Something you may notice is that, at the lowest end, private lenders seem to offer better interest rates than federal. It is important to note that these lowest interest rates are very difficult to get — your credit needs to be outstanding.

It’s also important to remember that, although fixed interest rates appear to have a higher range in the tables below, your interest rate by definition can change. So, while you may qualify for a lower interest rate on a variable-rate loan, it’s entirely possible that this rate will eventually go up and become higher than you would have gotten with the fixed-rate loan. This is simply the tradeoff (and risk) of variable interest rates.

Federal Loan Interest Rates at a Glance

Loan Type Borrower Fixed Interest Rate Loan Fee
Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergrad students 3.73% 1.057%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or professional students 5.28% 1.057%
Direct PLUS Loans Parents and graduate or professional students 6.28% 4.228%

Federal rates increased across the board for the 2021-2022 school year by nearly a whole percentage point. That’s unfortunate, but they are still lower than they have been for years, and generally much lower than an equivalent private student loan.

Federal loans come in two basic types: subsidized and unsubsidized. The primary difference is around when the interest starts accruing:

  • Subsidized student loan: Interest is paid by the Education Department as long as you’re enrolled at least half-time in college.
  • Unsubsidized student loan: Interest begins to accrue as soon as the loan is dispersed.

There are some other differences, but they’re relatively minor compared to this.

The last thing to cover with federal loans is the loan fee (also known as the origination fee). This fee is calculated as a percentage of the total loan amount and then deducted automatically from each disbursement. In practice, this means you’ll receive a smaller loan than the amount you actually borrowed.

Private Loan Interest Rates at a Glance

Loan Type Interest Rates
Fixed rate 3.34% to 14.99%
Variable rate 1.04% to 11.99%

The wide variation in interest rate ranges is due to two factors: different lenders offering different rates, and the fact that the rate you’ll get is impacted by your credit and other factors.

As mentioned above, fixed interest rates tend to have higher rates on paper, but you don’t have to worry about that rate increasing on you, which is a very real possibility with variable-rate loans.

Loan Refinance Interest Rates at a Glance

Loan Type Interest Rates
Fixed rate 2.59% to 9.15%
Variable rate 1.88% to 8.9%

If your credit is good, it’s possible to refinance your existing student loan to get a lower interest rate. This is not always possible, but it can be an option worth exploring. These refinanced interest rates can themselves be lower than “normal” private rates, so it can be an option worth exploring.

How Student Loan Interest Rates Are Determined

Although federal and private loans are technically different, they often follow similar trends. In other words, when federal student loan interest rates go up, private rates are likely to do the same. Likewise for when they go down. Let’s look at what actually goes into determining federal and private interest rates.

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates

These student loan interest rates are set each year by Congress, based on the high yield of the 10-year Treasury note auction in May. The new rate applies to loans disbursed from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.

Federal student loan rates are always fixed. This means that they won’t change during the life of the loan — whatever interest rate you get when you take out the loan is what you’ll keep until it’s paid off (it changes with student loan refinancing).

Private Student Loan Interest Rates

These loans are funded by banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. As such, interest rates vary between the different lenders, and it’s worth shopping around whenever possible.

Private lenders usually offer both fixed-rate and variable-rate loans. Fixed-rate means that your interest rate remains the same over the life of the loan. It can neither increase nor decrease.

A variable interest rate, on the other hand, means that your interest rate can fluctuate with the market. Sometimes you can get lucky and have it go down for a period of time. However, the risk with variable-rate loans is that the interest rate goes up significantly and you end up paying much more than anticipated.

It’s important to keep this in mind when selecting a loan. It may be worthwhile to take a slightly higher fixed interest rate rather than assume the risks of a variable rate.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Student Loans

The interest rate cuts in 2020 had a major ripple effect on student loan interest rates. Despite the slowly recovering economy, interest rates remain lower than they’ve been in years, for federal student loans and private fixed-rate and variable interest rate loans. This is excellent news for student loan borrowers, and we hope to see these rates remain low in the coming year.

Currently, all federal student loan debt is frozen until Sept. 1, 2022. This means that rates are set to zero and no payments are due until that date. This loan repayment freeze originally began in March 2020  at the outset of the pandemic and has been extended six times at this point.

The Pros and Cons of Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans

Let’s explore the pros and cons of the two major classes of student loans — federal and private. Neither is perfect, as we’ll see. Rather, each is suited to particular situations and types of borrowers.

Federal Student Loans


Pros

  • Flexible repayment plans. Federal loans are eligible for income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness. These can be a huge help if you find yourself in a tough financial spot.
  • Much lower requirements. It’s almost always much easier to qualify for a federal loan than it is a private student loan, particularly if you want a good interest rate.
  • More affordable overall. Most of the time you’ll end up paying less on federal student loans than on a private student loan.


Cons

  • Origination fees. Federal student loans are subject to small origination fees, which aren’t part of a private student loan. This means your loan disbursements are usually going to be smaller.
  • Borrowing limits for undergraduates. This means some students may actually need to take out a small private loan in addition to the federal loan to cover their full college costs.
  • Can’t choose your loan servicer. Federal student loans are turned over to a loan servicer to handle the payments and administration of that loan. Some of them have sketchy reputations

Private Student Loans


Pros

  • Larger loans. If you know that you’ll need a certain amount of money, and it’s more than federal loans can offer, it might make more sense to simply go private.
  • Potentially lower rates. A private loan may have lower rates, particularly with student loan refinancing. That said, you’ll need an excellent credit score to get these lowest rates.
  • No origination fees. Private student loans don’t have the origination fees that come with federal student loans.


Cons

  • More difficult to qualify for. Private loans have stricter requirements, particularly around credit histories. Federal student loans are almost always easier to qualify for.
  • Generally higher interest rates. Unless your credit is outstanding, you’ll almost always get a better interest rate with a federal student loan.
  • Less flexibility in repayment options. Some private lenders are willing to work with borrowers on this, but there’s no law or regulation forcing them to, and thus, no guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Student Loan Interest Rates

If you still have questions about student loan interest rates, don’t worry — we’ve got answers. Here are some of the most common questions.

What is the Interest Rate on Student Loans Right Now?

Student loan interest rates range from a low of 1.04% to a high of almost 15%. The rates depend on whether you’re looking at federal or private, which type of loan, which private lender you go with, your credit history, and more. 

That said, here’s the quick bullet list:

  • Federal direct for undergraduate students: 3.34%
  • Federal unsubsidized for grad students: 5.28%
  • Federal Direct PLUS for parents and graduate students: 6.28%
  • Private fixed-rate loans: 3.34% to 14.99%
  • Private variable-rate loans: 1.04% to 11.99%

Will Student Loan Interest Rates Go Up in 2022?

This is a hard question to answer. They are expected to remain fairly low for the foreseeable future, but this can always change. For the 2021-2022 school year, federal rates did increase, but they are still a good bit lower than they were prior to the pandemic.

Are Student Loan Rates Dropping?

Rates increased for the 2021-2022 school year, but remain lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. So while they didn’t drop this year, they have dropped significantly compared to a few years ago.

What’s the Difference Between a Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Student Loan

A subsidized federal student loan is one in which interest is paid by the U.S. Department of Education Department while you’re enrolled at least half-time in college. An unsubsidized loan, on the other hand, begins accruing interest immediately on disbursement, even if you’re still enrolled in school.

Subsidized student loans have a six-month grace period after graduating. During this time, no payments are due, and the Education Department continues to pay the interest on the loan.

An unsubsidized loan, on the other hand, begins accruing interest immediately on disbursement, even if you’re still enrolled in school. The student is responsible for this interest. Unsubsidized loans still have a six-month grace period after graduation, but interest continues to accrue during this time. The interest then capitalizes, which means it gets added to the original loan amount.

When Do Student Loan Interest Rates Start?

Federal student loan rates are set each spring and go into effect July 1, running until June 30 of the following year. At that point, the new interest rate will take effect.

What is Student Loan Refinancing?

Student loan refinancing is a way to decrease the amount of interest paid on your loan. Essentially, when you refinance, the new lender pays off your existing loan and gives you a new one with new terms.  

Not everyone can refinance — there are fairly strict rules to evaluate your credit and income to determine eligibility. Additionally, you generally reset the length of your loan term when you refinance, so it can sometimes end up costing you more money. 

Finally, while you can refinance a federal loan, you lose the extra benefits they come with, including income-based repayment options.

What is Income-based Repayment?

This is a special repayment option available to federal borrowers that lets you tailor your monthly payments to your income. These plans are typically based on a percentage of your monthly disposable income. This can be quite a bit lower than you’d otherwise pay. The tradeoff is that it can take much longer to pay off the loan. 

Additionally, loans on these repayment plans are automatically forgiven after 20-25 years of payments.

Penny Hoarder contributor Dave Schafer has been writing professionally for nearly a decade, covering topics ranging from personal finance to software and consumer tech.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com