23 Ideas for Cheap Christmas Decorations

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, but you live in an area that doesn’t get any snow, you can use spray snow to make your winter wonderland dreams come true. You can spray artificial snow on your windows to create a frosted look or spray your front door wreath to make it appear to be covered with snowflakes. A can of spray snow costs less than on Amazon.
Dress up your dining table to bring out the joy of the holiday season. Drape your table with a red, green or white tablecloth and fill a vase or tray with seasonal elements, such as pine cones, holly leaves, cranberries, sprigs of pine needles, jingle bells, candy canes or candles.
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23 Ideas for Cheap Christmas Decorations

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

1. Wall Christmas Trees

Turn empty flower pots into outdoor Christmas decor with just a little paint. You’ll need at least three pots of varying sizes. Paint them white if you want to create a snowman out of your flower pots or green to make a flower pot Christmas tree. Once dried, stack the pots on top of each other upside down and paint additional embellishments, like a face and buttons on your snowman or ornaments and tinsel on your Christmas tree.

2. Get an Artificial Christmas Tree

You can buy boxes of candy canes for cheap at grocery stores or dollar stores around this time of the year. Fill candy dishes full of these red and white striped treats to go on your tablescape, coffee table or end tables. Or hang one or two candy canes on your Christmas tree in place of buying more pricy ornaments.

A woman decorates a tiny Christmas tree.
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3. Get a Tiny Tree

The weather’s getting colder. The days are getting shorter. Before you know it, Christmas will be here.

4. Garland

Transform your doors into the biggest presents ever by covering them in wrapping paper. You can use wrapping paper to decorate your interior doors as well as your front door. Add ribbon or a big bow for extra embellishment.

5. DIY Ornaments

Talk about easy Christmas decorations that make your home merry. You can also stack your wrapped present props in an empty corner, by the base of your staircase or on your front porch.

6. Twinkling Lights

Rather than buying an advent calendar this year, make your own. This post from Country Living has several ideas. Come up with whatever little treat, token or message you want to open each day.

7. Window Stickers

Whether you use a kit or make your own gingerbread from scratch, a gingerbread house is a fun holiday project that can double as Christmas decor. Just know it probably won’t last long — so consider this a temporary decoration!

8. Candles

Bundling up on a snowy day to go to the Christmas tree farm and chop down the perfect tree may be a sweet holiday outing, but you’ll get more bang for your buck by opting for an artificial Christmas tree. Now, artificial trees can get pricy themselves, depending on what size and type you choose. However, you can reuse the tree for years to come, rather than having to put it out to the curb when the new year rolls around.

A front door is wrapped in wrapping paper.
Getty Images

9. Decorate Your Doors

Candles are a simple and low-cost way to add a bit of Christmas spirit to a room. You can create a tablescape with red, green, white or gold candles — or set them on the mantle or a wide window ledge. Set battery-operated votive candles inside Mason jars painted in holiday colors for a flame-free decor option.

10. Bells Around Door Knobs

This winter craft doubles as a cheap Christmas decoration. You may be able to make it with items you already have at home: white tube socks, rice, buttons, pins and a scrap of fabric. This post from Darkroom and Dearly tells you exactly how to create them.

11. Decorate With Ribbon

Instead of buying an expensive 7-foot tree, you can save money by getting a much smaller tree that’ll fit on your tabletop. In addition to spending less on the tree, you’ll save on the amount of lights and ornaments you’ll need to decorate it.

12. Wrap Empty Boxes

Dress up your windows with seasonal decals. You can find window stickers of snowflakes, ornaments, gingerbread men and more at the dollar store, craft store and major retailers like Walmart or Amazon. If stored properly, you can even reuse them for next year.

13. Holiday Cards Display

An easy way to light up the outside of your house without needing yards of string lights and a ladder is to use a light projector. You can buy one on Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart and similar retailers for under .

14. Make your Own Advent Calendar

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A boy eats a gingerbread house he made.
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15. Gingerbread House

Deck the halls without wrecking your finances. Here are 23 festive ideas for cheap Christmas decorations.

16. Display Your Kids’ Holiday Artwork

A flat Christmas tree hung on the wall is a great space saver and money saver. You can make wall Christmas trees out of a string of lights, garland, a large piece of felt or even Washi tape. Check out this article from Apartment Therapy for ideas. It looks festive with or without a tree topper!

17. Create a Holiday Tablescape

Make your home not only look but sound festive by tying jingle bells to some red or green ribbon and then wrapping them around your door knobs. Whenever someone opens a door, the kiddos in the house will be looking over their shoulders to see if Santa’s coming.

18. Sock Snowmen

While you’re out shopping for gifts, it can be very tempting to add a bunch of holiday decorations to your cart to help get your home looking merry and bright. But the cost of Christmas decorations often gets overlooked when making your holiday budget — and you end up spending way more than you thought you would.

A person decorates their Christmas tree with candy canes.
Getty Images

19. Candy Canes

To avoid that post-holiday regret, consider these low-budget suggestions for decorating for Christmas.

21. Fake Snow in Windows

Forget the store-bought ornaments, and pick up your hot glue gun. Create wonderful holiday memories while crafting ornaments you can hang on your tree or use as decor around the house. See this Good Housekeeping post for over 75 ideas for DIY Christmas ornaments.

22. Flower Pot Decorations

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

23. Light Projector

A string of lights can really spread holiday cheer. To save money, opt for shorter strings of light to cover smaller areas — such as a window or mantle piece, rather than along your gutters or around a 7 foot tree. You can also use a string of lights on a blank stretch of wall in the shape of a star or to spell out “Merry Christmas” in cursive.
You can use ribbon for more than just wrapping presents. Take some thick ribbon in Christmas colors like red, green or gold and use it to make bows to hang on your Christmas tree, your mantle and even on door knobs or drawer pulls. Tie them around a glass vase with a candle inside for a simple Christmas centerpiece. <!–

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Garland is a low-budget Christmas decoration that instantly adds holiday spirit to a room. In addition to stringing garland around your Christmas tree, you can hang strings of garland above your mantle, over your doorways, around your window frames or wrapped around the banister of your staircase. Instead of buying your garland, you can make your own using natural elements like dried citrus and pine cones, construction paper, popcorn or cheap ball ornaments.

12 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy for 2022

For all the changes we’ve experienced in recent years, some things remain regrettably the same. We all have bills to pay, and those bills generally come monthly. Whether it’s your mortgage, your car payment or even your regular phone and utility bills, you’re generally expected to pay every month.

While we’re in our working years, that’s not necessarily a problem, as paychecks generally come every two weeks. And even for those in retirement, Social Security and (if you’re lucky enough to have one) pension payments also come on a regular monthly schedule. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in our investment portfolios. 

That’s where monthly dividend stocks come into play.

Dividend-paying stocks generally pay quarterly, and most bonds pay semiannually, or twice per year. This has a way of making portfolio income lumpy, as dividend and interest payments often come in clusters.

Well, monthly dividend stocks can help smooth out that income stream and better align your inflows with your outflows.

“We’d never recommend buying a stock purely because it has a monthly dividend,” says Rachel Klinger, president of McCann Wealth Strategies, an investment adviser based in State College, Pennsylvania. “But monthly dividend stocks can be a nice addition to a portfolio and can add a little regularity to an investor’s income stream.”

Today, we’re going to look at 12 of the best monthly dividend stocks and funds to buy as we get ready to start 2022. You’ll see some similarities across the selections as monthly dividend stocks tend to be concentrated in a small handful of sectors such as real estate investment trusts (REITs), closed-end funds (CEFs) and business development companies (BDCs). These sectors tend to be more income-focused than growth-focused and sport yields that are vastly higher than the market average.

But in a market where the yield on the S&P 500 is currently 1.25%, that’s certainly welcome. 

The list isn’t particularly diversified, so it doesn’t make a complete portfolio. In other words, you don’t want to overload your portfolio with monthly dividend stocks. But they do allow exposure to a handful of niche sectors that add some income stability, so take a look and see if any of these monthly payers align with your investment style.

Data is as of Nov. 21. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price. Fund discount/premium to NAV and expense ratio provided by CEF Connect.

1 of 12

Realty Income

7-11 store7-11 store
  • Market value: $40.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 4.2%

Perhaps no stock in history has been more associated with monthly dividends than conservative triple-net retail REIT Realty Income (O, $70.91). The company went so far as to trademark the “The Monthly Dividend Company” as its official nickname.

Realty Income is a stock, of course, and its share price can be just as volatile as any other stock. But it’s still as close to a bond as you’re going to get in the stock market. It has stable recurring rental cash flows from its empire of more than 7,000 properties spread across roughly 650 tenants.

Realty Income focuses on high-traffic retail properties that are generally recession-proof and, perhaps more importantly, “Amazon.com-proof.” Perhaps no business is completely free of risk of competition from Amazon.com (AMZN) and other e-commerce titans, but Realty Income comes close. 

Its largest tenants include 7-Eleven, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), FedEx (FDX) and Home Depot (HD), among others. The portfolio had relatively high exposure to gyms and movie theaters, which made the pandemic painful. But as the world gets closer to normal with every passing day, Realty Income’s COVID-19 risk gets reduced that much more.

At current prices, Realty Income yields about 4.2%. While that’s not a monster yield, remember that the 10-year Treasury yields only 1.6%. 

It’s not the raw yield we’re looking for here, but rather income consistency and growth. As of this writing, Realty Income has made 616 consecutive monthly dividend payments and has raised its dividend for 96 consecutive quarters – making it a proud member of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats. Since going public in 1994, Realty Income has grown its dividend at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5%, well ahead of inflation.

2 of 12

Stag Industrial

warehousewarehouse
  • Market value: $7.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.4%

Realty Income was pretty darn close to “Amazon.com-proof.” But fellow monthly payer STAG Industrial (STAG, $42.77) proactively benefits from the rise of internet commerce.

STAG invests in logistics and light industrial properties. You know those gritty warehouse properties you might see near the airport with 18-wheelers constantly coming and going? That’s exactly the kind of property that STAG buys and holds.

It’s a foregone conclusion that e-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, and STAG is positioned to profit from it. Approximately 40% of STAG’s portfolio handles e-commerce fulfillment or other activity, and Amazon.com is its largest tenant.

E-commerce spiked during the pandemic for obvious reasons. As stores have reopened, the effects of that spike have dissipated somewhat, but the trend here is clear. We’re making a larger percentage of our purchases online.

Yet there’s still plenty of room for growth. As crazy as this might sound, only about 15% of retail sales are made online, according to Statista. Furthermore, the logistical space is highly fragmented, and Stag’s management estimates the value of their market to be around $1 trillion. In other words, it’s unlikely STAG will be running out of opportunities any time soon.

STAG isn’t sexy. But it’s one of the best monthly dividend stocks to buy in 2022, with a long road of growth in front of it. And its 3.4% yield is competitive in this market.

3 of 12

Gladstone Commercial

industrial parkindustrial park
  • Market value: $838.2 million
  • Dividend yield: 6.7%

For another gritty industrial play, consider the shares of Gladstone Commercial (GOOD, $22.49). Gladstone Commercial, like STAG, has a large portfolio of logistical and light industrial properties. Approximately 48% of its rental revenues come from industrial properties with another 48% coming from office properties. The remaining 4% is split between retail properties, at 3%, and medical offices at 1%.

It’s a diversified portfolio that has had little difficulty navigating the crazy volatility of the past few years. As of Sept. 30, 2021, the REIT had a portfolio of 127 properties spread across 27 states and leased to 109 distinct tenants. In management’s own words, “We have grown our portfolio 18% per year in a consistent, disciplined manner since our IPO in 2003. Our occupancy stands at 97.7% and has never dipped below 95.0%.”

That’s not a bad run.

Gladstone Commercial has also been one of the most consistent monthly dividend stocks, paying one uninterrupted since January 2005. GOOD currently yields an attractive 6.7%.

4 of 12

EPR Properties

movie theater and tub of popcornmovie theater and tub of popcorn
  • Market value: $3.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 6.1%

The COVID-19 pandemic was rough on a lot of landlords. But few were as uniquely battered as EPR Properties (EPR, $49.21). EPR owns a diverse and eclectic portfolio of movie theaters, amusement parks, ski parks, “eat and play” properties like Topgolf, and a host of others.

EPR specializes in experiences over things … which is just about the worst way to be positioned at a time when social distancing was the norm. Essentially every property EPR owned was closed for at least a time, and crowds still haven’t returned to pre-COVID levels across much of the portfolio.

But the key here is that the worst is long behind EPR Properties, and the more normal life becomes, the better the outlook for EPR’s tenants.

EPR was a consistent dividend payer and raiser pre-pandemic. But with its tenants facing an existential crisis, the REIT cut its dividend in 2020. With business conditions massively improving in 2021, EPR reinstated its monthly dividend in July, and the shares now yield an attractive 6.1%. If you believe in life after COVID, EPR is one of the best monthly dividend stocks to play it.

5 of 12

LTC Properties

senior living propertysenior living property
  • Market value: $1.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 6.7%

For one final “traditional” REIT, consider the shares of LTC Properties (LTC, $34.24).

LTC faces some short-term headwinds due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, but its longer-term outlook is bright. LTC is a REIT with a portfolio roughly split equally between senior living properties and skilled nursing facilities.

Needless to say, COVID-19 was hard on this sector. Nursing homes were particularly susceptible to outbreaks, and nursing home residents were at particularly high risk given their age. 

Senior living properties are different in that the tenants are generally younger and live independently without medical care. But a lot of would-be tenants were reluctant to move out of their homes and into a more densely populated building during a raging pandemic. And many still are.

These lingering effects won’t disappear tomorrow. But ultimately, senior living facilities offer an attractive, active lifestyle for many seniors, and that hasn’t fundamentally changed. And home care might be a viable option for many seniors in need of skilled nursing. Ultimately there comes a point where there are few alternatives to the care of a nursing home.

Importantly, the longer-term demographic trends here are all but unstoppable. The peak of the Baby Boomer generation are in their early-to-mid-60s today, far too young to need long-term care. But over the course of the next two decades, demand will continue to build as more and more boomers age into the proper age bracket for these services.

At 6.7%, LTC is one of the higher-yielding monthly dividend stocks on this list.

6 of 12

AGNC Investment

couple going over financials with mortgage brokercouple going over financials with mortgage broker
  • Market value: $8.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 9.0%

AGNC Investment (AGNC, $15.98) is a REIT, strictly speaking, but it’s very different from the likes of Realty Income, STAG or any of the others covered on this list of monthly dividend stocks. Rather than own properties, AGNC owns a portfolio of mortgage securities. This gives it the same tax benefits of a REIT – no federal income taxes so long as the company distributes at least 90% of its net income as dividends – but a very different return profile.

Mortgage REITs (mREITs) are designed to be income vehicles with capital gains not really much of a priority. As such, they tend to be monster yielders. Case in point: AGNC yields 9%.

Say “AGNC” out loud. It sounds a lot like “agency,” right?

There’s a reason for that. AGNC invests exclusively in agency mortgage-backed securities, meaning bonds and other securities issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae or the Federal Home Loan Banks. This makes it one of the safest plays in this space.

And here’s a nice kicker: AGNC almost always trades at a premium to book value, which makes sense. You and I lack the capacity to replicate what AGNC does in house and lack access to financing on the same terms. Those benefits have value, which show up in a premium share price. Yet today, AGNC trades at a 9% discount to book value. That’s a fantastic price for the stock in this space.

7 of 12

Dynex Capital

little house on chartlittle house on chart
  • Market value: $640.6 million
  • Dividend yield: 8.9%

Along the same lines, let’s take a look at Dynex Capital (DX, $17.47). Like AGNC, Dynex is a mortgage REIT, though its portfolio is a little more diverse. Approximately 85% of its portfolio is invested in agency residential mortgage-backed securities – bonds made out of the mortgages of ordinary Americans – but it also has exposure to commercial mortgage-backed securities and a small allocation to non-agency securities.

It’s important to remember that the mortgage REIT sector was eviscerated by the COVID-19 bear market. When the world first went under lockdown, it wasn’t immediately clear that millions of Americans would be able to continue paying their mortgages, which led investors to sell first and ask questions later. In the bloodbath that followed, many mortgage REITs took catastrophic losses and some failed altogether.

Dynex is one of the survivors. And frankly, any mortgage REIT that could survive the upheaval of 2020 is one that can likely survive the apocalypse. Your risk of ruin should be very modest here.

Dynex trades at a slight discount to book value and sports a juicy 8.9% yield. We could see some volatility in the space if the Fed ever gets around to raising rates, but for now this looks like one of the best monthly dividend stocks to buy if you’re looking to really pick up some yield.

8 of 12

Broadmark Realty

real estate contract with keys and penreal estate contract with keys and pen
  • Market value: $1.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.6%

Broadmark Realty (BRMK, $9.75) isn’t a “mortgage REIT,” per se, as it doesn’t own mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. But it does something awfully similar. Broadmark manages a portfolio of deed of trust loans for the purpose of funding development or investment in real estate.

This is a little different than AGNC or Dynex. These mortgage REITs primarily trade standardized mortgage-backed securities. Broadmark instead deals with the less-liquid world of construction loans.

Still, BRMK runs a conservative book. The weighted average loan-to-value of its portfolio is a very modest 60%. In other words, Broadmark would lend no more than $60,000 for a property valued at $100,000. This gives the company a wide margin of error in the event of a default by a borrower.

At current prices, Broadmark yields an attractive 8.6%. The company initiated its monthly dividend in late 2019 and sailed through the pandemic with no major issues.  

9 of 12

Main Street Capital

person doing business on computerperson doing business on computer
  • Market value: $3.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: 5.5%

We know that the pandemic hit Main Street a lot harder than Wall Street. It is what it is.

But what about business development companies. This is where the proverbial Main Street means the proverbial Wall Street. BDCs provide debt and equity capital mostly to middle-market companies. These are entities that have gotten a little big to get financing from bank loans and retained earnings but aren’t quite big enough yet to warrant a stock or bond IPO. BDCs exist to bridge that gap.

The appropriately named Main Street Capital (MAIN, $46.61) is a best-in-class BDC based in Houston, Texas. The last two years were not particularly easy for Main Street’s portfolio companies, as many smaller firms were less able to navigate the lockdowns. But the company persevered, and its share price recently climbed above its pre-pandemic highs.

Main Street has a conservative monthly dividend model in that it pays a relatively modest monthly dividend, but then uses any excess earnings to issue special dividends twice per year. This keeps Main Street out of trouble and prevents it from suffering the embarrassment of a dividend cut in years where earnings might be temporarily depressed.

As far as monthly dividend stocks go, Main Street’s regular payout works out to a respectable 5.6%, and this does not include the special dividends.

10 of 12

Prospect Capital

man signing contractman signing contract
  • Market value: $3.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.0%

For another high-yielding, monthly-paying BDC, consider the shares of Prospect Capital (PSEC, $8.97).

Like most BDCs, Prospect Capital provides debt and equity financing to middle-market companies. The company has been publicly traded since 2004, so it’s proven to be a survivor in what has been a wildly volatile two decades.

Prospect Capital is objectively cheap, as it trades at just 89% of book value. Book value itself can be somewhat subjective, of course. But the 11% gives us a good degree of wiggle room. It’s safe to say the company, even under conservative assumptions, is selling for less than the value of its underlying portfolio. It also yields a very healthy 8.0%.

As a general rule, insider buying is a good sign. When the management team is using their own money to buy shares, that shows a commitment to the company and an alignment of interests. Well, over the course of the past two years, the management team bought more than 29 million PSEC shares combined. These weren’t stock options or executive stock grants. These are shares that the insiders bought themselves in their brokerage accounts.

That’s commitment.

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Ecofin Sustainable and Social Impact Term Fund

Ecofin logoEcofin logo
  • Assets under management: $269.7 million
  • Distribution Rate: 6.0%*
  • Discount/premium to NAV: -14.3%
  • Expense ratio: 2.28%**

There’s something to be said for orphan stocks. There are certain stocks or funds that simply don’t have a “normal” go-to buying clientele.

As a case in point, consider the Ecofin Sustainable and Social Impact Term Fund (TEAF, $15.00). This is a fund that straddles the divide between traditional energy infrastructure like pipelines and green energy projects like solar panels. It also invests in “social impact” sectors like education and senior living. Approximately 68% of the portfolio is dedicated to sustainable infrastructure with energy infrastructure and social impact investments making up 13% and 19%, respectively.

But this isn’t the only way the fund is eclectic. It’s also a unique mixture of public and private investments. 52% is invested in publicly traded stocks with the remaining 48% invested in private, non-traded companies.

Is it any wonder that Wall Street has no idea what to do with this thing?

This lack of obvious buying clientele helps to explain why the fund trades at a large discount to net asset value of 15%.

That’s okay. We can buy this orphan stock, enjoy its 6% yield, and wait for that discount to NAV to close. And close it will. The fund is scheduled to liquidate in about 10 years, meaning the assets will be sold off and cash will be distributed to investors. Buying and holding this position at a deep discount would seem like a no-brainer of a strategy. 

Learn more about TEAF at the Ecofin provider site.

* Distribution rate is an annualized reflection of the most recent payout and is a standard measure for CEFs. Distributions can be a combination of dividends, interest income, realized capital gains and return of capital.

** Includes 1.50% in management fees, 0.28% in other expenses and 0.50% in interest expenses.

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BlackRock Municipal 2030 Target Term

BlackRock logoBlackRock logo
  • Assets under management: $1.9 billion 
  • Distribution rate: 2.9%
  • Discount/premium to NAV: -4.6%
  • Expense ratio: 1.01%**

We’ll wrap this up with another term fund, the BlackRock Municipal 2030 Target Term Fund (BTT, $25.49).

As its name suggests, the fund is designed to be liquidated in 2030, roughly eight years from now. A lot can happen in eight years, of course. But buying a portfolio of safe municipal bonds trading at a more than 4% discount to book value would seem like a smart move.

The biggest selling point of muni bonds is, of course, the tax-free income. The bond interest isn’t subject to federal income taxes. And while city, state and local bonds aren’t “risk free” – only the U.S. government can make that claim – defaults and financial distress in this space is rare. So, you’re getting a safe, tax-free payout. That’s not too shabby.

As of Oct. 29, 2021, BTT’s portfolio was spread across 633 holdings with its largest holding accounting for about 3.4%.

BTT sports a dividend yield of 2.9%. That’s not “high yield” by any stretch of the imagination. But remember, the payout is tax free, and if you’re in the 37% tax bracket, your tax-equivalent yield is a much more palatable 4.6%.

Learn more about BTT at the BlackRock provider site.

** Includes 0.40% in management fees, 0.61% in interest and other expenses

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Financially Prepare for a Child – 13 Steps to Take

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Stressed about how much it costs to have and raise kids?

Having extra mouths to feed barely scratches the surface of the expenses to come. From larger housing to larger cars, higher health care costs to higher education, diapers to child care, strap in for a costly ride.

But like everything else in life, it helps to be prepared. The better your financial planning, the better you can navigate the costs without derailing your current lifestyle. 

How to Financially Prepare for a Child

If you tried to make every ideal financial move before having kids, you’d reach retirement age before even trying. So don’t think of these as prerequisites for trying to get pregnant. 

Instead, think of them as parts of your larger financial plan that apply more than ever as you start having children.

1. Reconsider Your Income

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing low-paying work you love. I never believed my mother — an educator — when she said, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” She proved me wrong by achieving a seven-figure net worth through frugal living, working a side hustle (tutoring), and consistent investing. 

But your motivation matters. There’s a difference between choosing a modest-income career because you’re passionate about it and being stuck in one due to inertia. 

I know teachers who love what they do and wouldn’t want another job even if someone offered to double their salary. Others coast their way through every tedious lesson plan. 

If you don’t love what you do, go back to the drawing board. That goes doubly if you also don’t love your salary. 

Brainstorm jobs that provide fulfillment and meaning to you personally. Then get creative and explore remote positions, jobs that provide free housing, or jobs that pay well even without a college degree. 

Choose a career that fulfills you both personally and financially. It doesn’t need to pay a huge salary, but aim to get up every morning happy with the career choice you made. 

2. Enroll in Health Insurance

Pregnancy is expensive. So are delivery, infant checkups, and pediatric health care in general. If you do nothing else before your baby arrives, get health insurance. 

Fortunately, not having insurance through your employer doesn’t mean you have to go without it. Explore options for health insurance without employer coverage. There are even part-time jobs that provide medical insurance. 

Note that families with a high-deductible health insurance plan may well burn through every dollar of that deductible over the course of pregnancy, delivery, and the first few months of life. Plan accordingly. 

Low-income families can explore the Children’s Health Insurance Program as another option.

3. Revamp Your Budget

Once upon a time, I spent more money on happy hours, dinners out, concerts, and entertainment in general. My budget looked different before I got married, and then it changed again after my wife and I had children. 

That’s normal. Your budget isn’t static. It’s a living thing that evolves over time alongside your life. And if you do it right, you can save more money even after having children. I managed to do it through a mix of house hacking, getting rid of a car, and moving overseas. 

If you don’t have one, create a formal budget. If you do have one, look over all your budgeting categories and start brainstorming ways to spend less and save more. 

4. Check Your Emergency Fund

You never know when an emergency or unexpected job loss could leave you without an income. And when you have children, the stakes are higher. 

As you prepare for the responsibility of a family, set up an emergency fund to cover two to 12 months’ worth of expenses. 

How much you need depends on the stability of your income and expenses. The more variable each is, the more months of living expenses you should stash away. An average person needs three to six months’ expenses, but people with inconsistent incomes or living expenses need closer to a year’s worth. 

You can always temporarily cut out costs like entertainment or a gym membership to save on expenses. But needs like electricity and food are nonnegotiable. 

And while some of your expenses may go down while you’re unemployed (such as gasoline), others may go up. For example, if you spend $200 per month on employer-subsidized health insurance, that expense may rise while you’re unemployed, as you may be forced onto a new plan or required to pay for your current plan in full.

5. Get Serious About Paying Off Unsecured Debts

Many people have unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, personal loans, and student loans. And those often come with high interest rates that exceed the long-term returns you can earn by investing. 

That makes paying off your unsecured debts a high priority. Follow a structured plan to pay them off quickly, such as the debt snowball method. 

Once you incur the added expenses that come with having kids, you’re less likely to have room in your budget to chip away at that old debt. Plus, the interest on it can make the expenses your child requires that much harder to manage.

While baby-related expenses tend to be significant initially, they don’t completely go away once your children are done with diapers. In fact, school-age kids can cost more than infants because they require more expensive clothing and food as well as money for activities like soccer lessons and ballet classes.

6. Plan for Child Care

Child care is the elephant in the room when planning the financial costs of having children. 

Explore all your child care options, from nannies and au pairs to day care to relatives and friends. If one parent doesn’t love their job, you can explore becoming a single-income family, with one parent staying home for the first few years of your children’s lives. 

Whatever you decide, plan and budget accordingly — because parental leave will be over before you blink. 

7. Plan for Baby Essentials

My wife wouldn’t let me try this experiment, but I believe you could get everything you need for an infant for free — or almost anything. 

Diapers cost money, and there are some things you should never buy used for safety reasons. Everything else you can get either free through services like Freecycle or inexpensively used via eBay, Craigslist, or local garage sales. 

Whether you buy used or new, get creative to save money on baby gear. See this baby supplies checklist from The Bump to ensure you plan for every need. 

8. Update Your Will

Your estate plan does more than tell your family and friends who gets your autographed guitars after you die. It also makes provisions for child care if you die prematurely. Your will can include provisions for an unborn child, which you can amend after they’re born.

You have a couple of options for creating a will (or any other estate planning documents):

  • Do It Yourself. You don’t need a lawyer to create a valid will. You simply need to be 18 or older and of sound mind. You also need to sign your will in front of two witnesses and ensure it’s accessible once you die. You can use an online service like Trust & Will to draft one affordably.
  • Hire an Attorney. The cost is significantly more, but a lawyer handles all the details for you. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a basic will. If your assets and estate are complex or you need to establish a trust, it could cost upward of $10,000.

Optional Financial Moves to Consider

Some moves could help you feel more ready for kids, though they aren’t strictly necessary. If you can’t do them, no need to worry. In fact, some people may decide holding off on these is smarter than doing it before they have kids. 

So consider this type of financial planning purely optional: a list of ideas for thought rather than more reasons to fret. 

9. Reevaluate Your Housing

You can care for an infant in a studio apartment. They certainly won’t know the difference. But that doesn’t mean you’d enjoy it. 

As a long-term planning exercise, think about what type of home you want to live in for the next few years. You don’t need extra bedrooms or bathrooms right away, as infants can sleep in the same room as you for a while. Even when they move out of your room, they could move into a room with an older sibling. 

But you may decide you want a larger home, so start thinking about what that looks like and how to pay for it. Only buy a home if you plan to stay for at least a few years, as closing costs on either end of the transaction make it cheaper to rent otherwise. 

10. Reevaluate Your Transportation

If you and your spouse each drive two-seat sports cars, one of you may need to swap it out for a more family-friendly option. 

Of course, you don’t always need a car. My wife and I don’t have one. We simply take the car seat with us when we hire an Uber. I also installed a baby seat on my bike so I can transport my daughter that way too. 

Consider the public transportation, walkability, and bikeability of the area you live in. It’s possible you could live without a car too.

But most Americans drive cars as their primary means of transportation, so if yours is either too small to fit your whole family or unreliable, it’s probably time to get a different one. But explore used cars first as a more budget-friendly option. 

Give yourself more flexibility by choosing three to five models you’d be happy to buy, and shop around among both dealerships and individual owners to find the ideal used car for you and your growing family.  

11. Buy Life Insurance or Disability Insurance

In households with one breadwinner or a partner who significantly outearns the other, life insurance makes sense. You want to ensure your family would survive financially if it lost that primary breadwinner. 

Life insurance policies come in two broad buckets:

  • Term Life Insurance. Term life offers coverage for a specified period. It’s generally cheaper and comes with a guaranteed set death benefit. With term life insurance, your premiums increase at preset intervals, such as 10, 20, or 30 years.
  • Whole or Universal Life Insurance. Also known as permanent life insurance, whole or universal life insurance death benefits never expire as long as you pay premiums. These policies often also provide certain living benefits, such as the ability to borrow money against the policy.

As a rule of thumb, your death benefit should be six to eight times your annual salary. But there are other considerations to take into account, such as your homeownership status and anticipated number of dependents as well as how much you can afford. 

If you’re unsure about your coverage needs, talk to an independent financial advisor and shop around for the right plan. You can compare policies on sites like Policygenius and GoCompare.

The same concepts apply to long-term disability insurance. Both protect against the risk of the breadwinner losing their ability to earn. 

Granted, not everyone needs life insurance or disability insurance.

For example, my wife and I live on one income even though we both work. We live on her income and save every dime of mine. And we don’t have life or disability insurance because we maintain low living expenses relative to our income and a high savings rate to build our net worth quickly. 

If either of us kicked the bucket tomorrow, each of our incomes would be enough in itself to support ourselves and our child, and the surviving spouse would have a hefty nest egg to fall back on in a crunch. 

Avoiding the need for life insurance and disability insurance by “self-insuring” are two of the many hidden benefits of pursuing a financially independent lifestyle. Once you build enough money, you can opt out of life and disability insurance. 

12. Double Down on Retirement Investments

I joke that my backup plan for retirement is my daughter. If she were old enough to get the joke, she wouldn’t laugh. 

The worst thing you can put on your adult children is asking them to take care of you in retirement. It adds a burden on them in an already hectic time of their lives, when they’re trying to start and raise their own families. 

Before you even consider setting aside money for their college education, take a closer look at your retirement investments. If you have the slightest worries about them, put more money into your tax-sheltered retirement accounts long before saving money for your kids’ college tuition. 

They have many other ways to pay for college, but you only have one way to pay for your retirement. 

Invest money now so it can start compounding, and decide what to do with it later. You can withdraw contributions from a Roth individual retirement account tax- and penalty-free to put toward any costs, but you can only use 529 plans or ESAs for education costs.

13. Invest to Help With College Costs

Not paying your kids’ college tuition doesn’t make you a bad parent. Young adults who pay for their own college education often take the experience much more seriously. And many parents question whether to help with college even when they can afford it. 

Even small amounts invested when your child is young can compound into significant sums by the time they turn 18. If you decide to chip in, you have several tax-friendly options to do so. 

  • 529 Plan. Your 529 college savings plan earnings grow and remain tax-free if you spend them on qualified educational expenses. 
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account. A Coverdell ESA works similarly to a Roth IRA for education expenses. There are income limits ($110,000 for single filers and $220,000 for married), and the maximum allowable yearly contribution is $2,000, regardless of your income.
  • Upromise.Upromise allows you to earn cash back to use to pay for college. Unlike 529 plans and ESAs, you don’t have to contribute additional money. Rather, you earn cash back on expenses like online retail purchases and restaurant meals.

In all cases, you can open the accounts early and designate your child as a beneficiary after birth.


Final Word

As much as I preach fiscal responsibility, I know firsthand that putting off children doesn’t always make sense, financially or otherwise.

My wife and I married in our early 30s and agreed to spend one year building a foundation for our marriage before having children. Then one year became two, then three. 

I started a business, and my wife worried about money. Then we went through a rough patch in our marriage. We survived it but had reached our late 30s by that point. 

When we finally started trying in earnest, nothing happened, which kicked off a stretch of infertility questions and interventions. Eventually, we did have a child, but not all couples are so lucky. 

Many of my friends haven’t experienced the joy of having children despite spending large sums of money — not to mention enduring immense heartache — trying to do so. In one of life’s bitter ironies, many delayed trying for children because they worried about money. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I know plenty of parents without much money who have multiple children. And every one of them finds a way to make it work.

There’s no perfect time to have children. They disrupt your life in every possible way. But like billions of parents with less money than you have, you’ll find a way to make it work too.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

Food Delivery Advice from an Uber Eats Driver Who Made Bank

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The Salem, Oregon, resident made thousands of dollars in June 2020 delivering food for Uber Eats, an app for gig work that proved especially popular during the pandemic.
The very premise of Lyon’s challenge is a goal. It gave him something to focus on and the motivation he needed to make it through grueling 12-hour days.
What you earn from Uber Eats is heavily determined by your market — the city or metropolitan area you deliver in.
“Make sure you look approachable,” Lyon said.

Uber Eats Tips and Tricks From a Driver Who Made $8,357 in One Month

Of the hundreds of orders Lyon completed in June, he got some pretty weird requests from customers. One person asked if he could deliver a pack of cigarettes along with the food order. Lyon told the guy that he didn’t have the money on him to buy the cigarettes on his own, thinking it would end there.
Results may vary in your market. The key is to adapt to your locale. “My days were long,” he said. “I would do all that stuff to kind of break it up and have fun.”

1. Set Goals. Even Tiny Ones Help

Lyon vowed not to fall into that temptation. He carried only in cash, and that was strictly for gas. If he had downtime, he’d listen to podcasts or practice Spanish — while positioning himself for his next order.
Many factors went into his paycheck but none more than his sheer determination. He drove 12 hours — the maximum Uber Eats allows — for 30 days without a single day off.
“When you’re starting, accept every single order and then find your own trends in your own area,” he said.
Lyon drove primarily in Salem, Oregon. If you were to do the same challenge in a different city, you may make more or less than he did. A perfect example of this played out over TikTok. About halfway through June, another Uber Eats driver posed a challenge to Lyon: Who could make more money in a day?
A bigger city doesn’t always equate to better profits though, Lyon noted. Heavy traffic is likelier and could slow you down. You may have to pay to park to make the delivery.

Pro Tip
Some Uber Eats drivers pass on smaller orders in hopes to land larger ones. But that can backfire for inexperienced drivers. Lyon said he put that strategy to the test and found, on average, he was making an order no matter how selective he was being.

2. Take a Great Profile Pic

And to cut down on costs, his own food was homemade.
“I knew I needed to do at least 20 trips to get around that 0-a-day mark,” he said. “So that was always my goal. Anything after that was icing on the cake.”
When the paychecks from your side hustle start rolling in, it’s easy to think all that money is profit. However, quite a bit of it actually goes toward expenses and taxes. It’s one of the biggest pains of being a 1099 worker.
Before we get started, let’s be clear: What Lyon earned is not typical. Far from it.
Uber Eats gives drivers a referral code that they can share with other people to get them to start delivering, too. Once the new driver completes a certain amount of deliveries, the recruiter earns money. But the amount fluctuates depending on the market. Sometimes it’s 0 per 50 trips. Other times, it’s per 50 trips.

This is the main photo used for Sam Lyon's Uber Eats account.
For his Uber Eats profile, Lyon used a selfie taken in his car — then realized he couldn’t change the picture once it was uploaded. Photo courtesy of Sam Lyon

3. Manage Expectations Based on Your Market

Referral bonuses are “definitely not worth the time,” according to Lyon.
Sam Lyon pushed his earning potential in the gig economy to its limits.
And if you’re keeping track of expenses like gas and car depreciation, you can factor that into the amount you’re withholding for Uncle Sam. Lyon’s system was pretty simple. He had a fixed amount for gas, a day. That totaled 9. He had one oil change (), and also factored in his car’s depreciation (0) based on the miles he drove.
“If I was delivering to a suburb, my downtime would be spent driving the extra mile or two to be parked next to a McDonalds, an Applebees, a Red Robin.”
They both delivered food for 12 straight hours. The difference was that the other driver lived 45 miles north in Portland, Oregon. That turned out to be a crucial factor— the challenger made 3 to Lyon’s 8.
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Downtime between orders trips up many new delivery drivers. You’re delivering food all day, after all. You might be tempted to go through the drive-thru for yourself. But idle spending can eat into your earnings.

Need a banking service that’s built for freelancers, helping you save for taxes and keep track of your expenses? Check out Lili. (It’s free!)

4. Learn From the Trends in Your Area

And that’s coming from someone who had hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok.
“In pending invites, I would make ,320,” Lyon said as he read off of the stats in his driver profile. “In successful invites, I made “You know what? Why not? I’ll do it. I picked up the money and got him the cigarettes. When I got back, he paid me the change as well. And I made a quick [tip],” he said.
“You can stop by here. I’ll put the money downstairs and you can come grab it,” the customer responded.
“See what kind of restaurants you like and which ones you want to avoid, he said”
Lyon is a big proponent of the quantity-over-quality approach to accepting orders.
The first picture you choose is the one you’re stuck with. Uber policy allows drivers to change their picture only if something happens that alters their appearance since the original photo. In that situation, you’d have to contact customer support.
He challenged himself to make as much money as possible in that one month. To do so, he drove 12 hours a day for 30 days straight.

5. Occupy Your Downtime

Lyon went for it.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
His specific challenge may not be replicable (or even advisable) in every circumstance. But if you’re a current or aspiring delivery-app gig worker, you can apply Lyon’s tips for Uber Eats drivers to maximize your own profits.
“Depending on what city you’re in, there are a lot of moped Uber drivers, there are a lot of bike Uber drivers. You can’t really compete [in a car] in those urban, downtown areas,” he said.
Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

6. Don’t Waste Time With Referral Bonuses

“Suburbs are just front porch and then you’re gone.”
In an interview with The Penny Hoarder, Lyon broke down his earnings and what he learned from his 30-day challenge. He also offered some Uber Eats driver tips that other gig workers can use.

“I think goal setting was huge for my success,” Lyon said. “Setting markers in what you want to achieve are extremely important.”
It breaks down like this: His total earnings were ,357. His expenses account for ,148, and he set aside an estimated 30% of the difference for taxes, about ,100. That brought his actual profits to roughly ,100.
“I would go home and spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing food and eating before going back on the road,” he said. “I did not have any fast food during that 30 days.”

A man checks his phone in his car.
Lyon encourages indulging customers’ odd requests, as it can lead to a big tip. Photo courtsey of Sam Lyon

7. Indulge Odd Requests. They Could Lead to Big Tips

Before you start your gig, have a professional or financial goal in mind. That can keep you on track — and keep you from burning out.
“I would definitely keep in mind you will have to pay those taxes later. It’s not automatically coming out of what you earned,” Lyon said. “Personally, I set aside 30% of what I make. That way, I have a little bit of wiggle room.”
“It started off as a beautiful day. The birds were chirping. The sun was shining,” Lyon said in a video. “The perfect day for two gladiators to enter the arena.”
When you’re making your Uber Eats driver profile, don’t blast through it thinking you can go back and change it later — especially the photo step.
Keep your side hustle in check. Here’s how to create an exit plan so that you can enter the gig economy, meet your goals and get out.
Setting aside 30% might seem steep, but it’s usually an overestimate. Lyon, like most taxpayers, would rather have a refund come tax time than a hefty tax bill.

8. Track Your Expenses

Ready to stop worrying about money?
In the end, Lyon made ,357 and documented his journey on the video-sharing site TikTok, where he goes by the moniker SabbiLyon. Each day, he recorded a short video to log his progress — amassing more than 200,000 followers and millions of views along the way. Lyon entertained just about every odd request he got. They usually led to big tips.
Once you get a sense of those trends, you can then experiment to try to maximize your pay.
In the time it would take him to land a big order, he says he could have been delivering three smaller orders.
After a week or so of driving, he was able to see how much money was possible to make given his parameters. So he aimed for a specific target: ,000 by the end of June.To reach that, he would try to make at least 20 deliveries a day. He didn’t worry much about the pay of each delivery because they ended up averaging about an order. <!–

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The app shows you potential earnings based on the amount you would have earned if all the people you invited completed their first 50 trips.

What Is a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan?

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are available to students who demonstrate financial need. The federal government subsidizes this type of loan by paying the interest that accrues while the student is enrolled at least half-time and during qualifying periods of deferment, such as the grace period.

It’s one of three federal student loans available to student borrowers. The others include Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans. Read on for more information about the benefits of Direct Subsidized loans and details about other types of student loans available to eligible students.

What Are the Benefits of a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan?

Like any other student loan, you will be responsible for paying back your Federal Direct Subsidized Loan after you finish school, but unlike many other student loans, you won’t be responsible for paying interest while you are in school or during your grace period. The government subsidizes this type of loan by paying the interest on your behalf.

Since the government is paying the interest, it is not capitalized on the loan when you graduate. When interest is capitalized, it means it is added to the principal value of the loan. This becomes the new principal value and interest will accrue based on this new balance. Since there is no interest to capitalize, the amount you originally borrowed and the amount you’ll have to repay after your grace period ends will be the same.

Recommended: Understanding Capitalized Interest on Student Loans

Interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan won’t start accruing until the grace period is over. This might sound like a minor detail, but not having to pay interest while you are in school can drastically cut down the overall cost of your loan.

Other benefits of a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan? Like other federal student loans, you are not obligated to make payments during school.

How Do You Apply for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan?

In order to apply for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA®. The FAFSA is available for free online, and contains questions about you and your family’s financial circumstances.

The information you submit through the FAFSA is transmitted to your school, and is used to determine what types of aid and how much for which you may be eligible. The FAFSA must be completed annually.

How Is Your Eligibility for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan Determined?

After the FAFSA has been reviewed, you will receive a Student Aid Report , which will explain your eligibility for the various types of federal financial aid. What type of aid and how much aid you are eligible for depends on many different circumstances, including the amount the federal government expects you and your family to contribute to your educational costs, your current enrollment status in school, and the cost of attending your particular college.

The financial aid staff at your school is responsible for determining exactly how much and what type of federal loans you are eligible for.

Because Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are a need-based form of federal financial aid, you must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify. These requirements are largely based on your expected family contribution, or how much the federal government expects that you and your family can put towards your educational expenses.

There are also limits on the amount of subsidized loans you can borrow each year, regardless of your financial need. For the 2021-2022 school year, the limit on subsidized loans was $3,500 for first-year undergraduates, $4,500 for second-year undergraduates, and $5,500 for third-year undergraduates and beyond.

Graduate and professional students are not eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans.

Paying Back a Direct Subsidized Student Loan

Like other types of student loans, you will need to start paying back your Federal Direct Subsidized Loan if you leave school or after graduation. After graduation, borrowers with Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are eligible for a six-month grace period before repayment is required.

Some people with Direct Student Loans may potentially qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF is available to qualifying college graduates who work in certain fields like government, the nonprofit sector, or healthcare, and allows some federal student loans to be forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments.

Actually getting approved for PSLF can be extremely challenging due to stringent requirements. In October 2021, the the Department of Education announced plans to overhaul the program in order to improve upon the program’s accessibility.

Beyond Subsidized Loans: Other Options Available to Student Borrowers

Since borrower eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans is based on borrower need, and there are annual borrowing limits, students may be interested in learning about other loan options available to them. There are three other types of federal loans and some borrowers may consider private student loans.

The three types of federal loans available outside of Direct Subsidized Loans are:

•   Direct Unsubsidized Loans. These loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. Unlike Direct Subsidized Loans, borrowers are responsible for paying the interest on these loans while they are enrolled in school and during their grace period. Eligibility is not based on financial need.

•   Direct PLUS Loans. PLUS Loans are options for graduate and professional students, or parents of students who are interested in borrowing a loan to help their child pay for college. Eligibility for this type of loan is not based on need, but the application process does require a credit check.

•   Direct Consolidation Loan. This federal loan isn’t awarded to borrowers as a part of their financial aid package. Instead, a Direct Consolidation Loan allows borrowers with multiple federal loans to combine (or consolidate) them into a single loan. The loan’s new interest rate is the weighted average, rounded up to the nearest one eighth of a percent, of the interest rates on the existing loans.

Private student loans are offered by private lenders. They are not required to offer the same borrower benefits or protections — think of things like PSFL or income-driven repayment plans — as federal student loans. Because of this, private loans are generally considered after borrowers have reviewed all of their other financing options.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

To apply for private student loans, potential borrowers will need to fill out an application directly with the lender of their choice. The loan’s terms and interest rates will be influenced by factors including the borrowers financial situation and credit history, among others.

The Takeaway

Borrowers with Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are not responsible for the interest that accrues while they are enrolled in school at least half-time or during the grace period or other qualifying periods of deferment. The interest is subsidized by the U.S. government. To qualify for this type of federal student loan, borrowers must be qualifying undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.

Other options for students looking to pay for college may include Direct Unsubsidized or PLUS Loans, scholarships and grants, or work-study. After reviewing those options, borrowers still looking for resources to pay for school may consider private student loans as an option.

SoFi offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students or their parents and there are no fees — that means there are no late fees, no application fees, or origination fees.

Interested in learning more about using a private student loan to pay for college? See what SoFi has to offer.


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.

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.
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.
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Source: sofi.com

Glassdoor vs. Indeed: 2021 Comparison

There are so many job boards out there in the world — some being a better choice than others, depending on your needs. So let’s compare two of the top job search engines out there — Glassdoor vs. Indeed — to help you make a decision on which one you should be using, whether as a job seeker or an employer looking to post job listings.

Glassdoor and Indeed are owned by the same holding company, but they operate as separate entities. They both function as a way to improve recruiting and hiring, but they can serve different purposes. Many companies find success using both websites to complement their recruiting efforts.

Another website that addresses many of the options on both sides, in one location, is ZipRecruiter. If neither Indeed nor Glassdoor has everything job seekers or employers need, it may be a better choice to find qualified candidates or land your next role. Read on to understand which job board will help you achieve your professional goals.

What is Glassdoor?

Glassdoor goes beyond the typical job board and features employer branding solutions for companies in the hiring process and gives job seekers the ability to research companies before applying to the jobs posted. In addition to seeing job postings, job seekers can read more about potential companies, including their benefits and salary information. Employers can post photos of the office and from events, too, to give potential candidates a better understanding of what the company culture is like.

A particularly unique feature of Glassdoor is that current and former employees (as well as people who have only interviewed with them) can leave employee reviews for other candidates to see. Pros, cons, feedback on the interview process and what can be done to improve all help job seekers get a more in depth look into the company.

As for size, there are 50 million unique monthly users on Glassdoor, nearly 20 million less than Indeed.

What is Indeed?

Indeed is the largest job-searching website in the world — there are tens of millions of employers posting jobs and hundreds of millions of applicants hoping to find their next role. It’s main and only focus is as a job-search engine.

There are more than 70 million monthly users coming to Indeed to search for their next role, twice what Glassdoor has. With such a large audience, it’s a great option for employers to upload free job postings and for applicants to find plenty of job openings.

How Does Glassdoor Work for Employers?

When looking to hire for more niche roles, Glassdoor is a great solution for employers looking to showcase their business and company culture. The ability to create a brand that job seekers are interested in can be a huge advantage during the recruiting process.

Companies can create a brand page for free, as well as utilize the insights that Glassdoor provides to improve employee and interviewee experiences.

With a paid membership, hiring managers can use premium features on Glassdoor like competitor comparisons, branded advertising to get in front of more qualified candidates, and review analysis.

Because Glassdoor’s main focus isn’t the job search, but instead a branding site for companies, there aren’t as many features for recruiters to utilize as there are on a job site like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. There’s no applicant tracking system, nor can employers conduct a resume search.

How Does Indeed Work for Employers?

Employers can post a basic job opening for free on Indeed, making it an ideal platform for hiring managers working on a budget. But as great as the free option is, that also means the competition is stiff to get your job posting seen. How many other employers are competing for the eyes of qualified candidates?

Indeed’s solution to that problem is a paid job post. For as little as a few bucks a day, employers can post sponsored jobs and make sure the job postings get in front of the most applicants. When you pay for a post, you can invite people to apply for your job after finding resume matches.

Other free solutions for employers include adding screener questions and the ability to message and virtually interview candidates. It’s not possible to repost jobs from other websites onto Indeed.

Indeed also simplifies the screening process by grouping qualified applicants to the top of a dashboard, automatically declining applicants and helping to schedule interviews all within their website.

The Differences and Similarities for a Job Seeker: Glassdoor vs. Indeed

For job seekers, Glassdoor is a window into what it will be like to work for a company. When perusing the job board, they’ll be able to see not only the job postings, but an estimated salary range, company description and company reviews plus the benefits that are offered.

The uniquely detailed insight into an employer brand isn’t a feature that exists on Indeed, but if using both Glassdoor and Indeed together, candidates can pop back and forth between the two websites to get the information they need before applying on either website.

Another difference is the amount of available jobs and competition from other job seekers. Glassdoor jobs tend to be more niche, but there are  about 20 million less users searching for jobs on the site each month as there are on Indeed. On the flip side, Indeed can be overwhelming with the amount of available jobs to search through.

Glassdoor’s job board requires an account for all job seekers to be able to view jobs, salaries and reviews from previous and current employees — but it’s free to use.

Indeed is free for every job seeker and doesn’t necessarily require an account to search for job postings  and apply for jobs. Job seekers can create an account to post their resume and make it easier for recruiters to contact them, but it’s not necessary.

The job search engines on both sites let job seekers filter their search results by job title or keyword and location. Plus, they can get email job alerts when a job posting that matches their search is added to the website.

Can’t Decide Between Glassdoor vs. Indeed? Try ZipRecruiter

If you’re comparing Indeed vs. Glassdoor to decide which job board to use, a third option is ZipRecruiter. It’s a more streamlined way to post jobs and recruit top talent without being behind an account wall — or having to flip between two different sites — and it also happens to be the No. 1 job search engine online.

ZipRecruiter has a free trial for companies (it’s always free for people looking for new opportunities), then prices start as low as $16 per day for one reusable job post. The features that come with the cost make it worthwhile, if you’re serious about filling your positions quickly.

Each job posting can be syndicated to more than 100 other job boards, multiplying the number of qualified job seekers that will see your listing. Employers can also conduct a resume search and see potential candidates’ employment history before inviting them to apply to a specific position instead of waiting for future employees to find them.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Comparing Indeed vs Craigslist for Employers

Do you need to fill a job opening? Are you looking to hire a qualified applicant with a minimum of hassles?

In that case, you’ve no doubt considered using a popular jobs board like Indeed or Craigslist. But what’s the difference between the two? Which one would be best for what you need?

A third website that competes with them is ZipRecruiter, which can post a job opening to up to 100 job boards at the same time. If neither Indeed nor Craigslist has exactly what you need, ZipRecruiter might be a better choice to find qualified candidates for your job vacancy.

As for Indeed and Craigslist, there are key differences between them. In this guide, we’ll do a side-by-side comparison between these two platforms — how they work, what they cost and what kind of job seekers they’re aimed at.

What Is Indeed?

Launched in 2004, Indeed is a free job board that also offers paid, premium options to make life easier for job seekers and employers alike.

Because it’s free, employers gain access to a diverse candidate pool that’s brimming with talent. And job seekers don’t have to pay to apply for jobs, upload their resume to Indeed’s database, or create job alerts for roles they’re interested in.

For employers, the free features of Indeed take the risk out of testing the waters of the talent pool. But its premium features, such as sponsored postings and a subscription to Indeed’s resume database, are what really make Indeed useful for employers.

Other top features of Indeed’s job board include company pages, support for third-party applicant-tracking systems and Instant Match, a tool that matches candidate resumes to your job ads.

What is Craigslist?

Founded in 1995, Craigslist is best known for being a classified-ads marketplace where people can find nearly anything — furniture, rooms to rent, missed connections and even legal help.

But a major portion of Craigslist’s business is as one of the top job search sites where job seekers can find part-time work, manual labor, side gigs and more.

How Indeed Works for Employers

Employers can post a basic job opening for free on Indeed, making it an ideal platform for hiring managers who are operating on a budget. But as great as the free option is, that also means the competition is stiff to get your job postings seen. How many other employers are competing for the eyes of qualified candidates?

Indeed’s solution to that problem is a paid job post. For as little as a few bucks a day, employers can post sponsored jobs and make sure the job postings get in front of the most applicants who are job searching. When you pay for a post, you can invite people to apply for your job after finding resume matches.

Other free solutions for employers include adding screener questions and the ability to message and virtually interview candidates. It’s not possible to repost jobs from other websites onto Indeed.

Indeed also simplifies the screening process by grouping qualified applicants to the top of a dashboard, automatically declining applicants and helping to schedule interviews all within their website.

How Craigslist Works for Employers

Craigslist Jobs is a cost-effective solution for employers looking to fill jobs. There are no subscriptions required, just a flat fee for each job posting. You don’t even need to create an account to post jobs if you don’t want to.

Craigslist job postings are strictly a no-frills experience, though. You go without flashy features like resume searches or the ability to manage applicants. Job listings won’t be syndicated to 100 other job boards like with ZipRecruiter, either. But if a hiring manager knows exactly what they’re looking for, they can upload new job openings to the Craigslist job boards in a matter of minutes.

Employers looking to hire via Craigslist job postings can get an unlimited number of emails from potential candidates. On the downside, you won’t be able to search through any sort of resume database to find qualified local candidates.

Indeed vs. Craigslist: What They Cost

Indeed starts out free. There’s no charge for posting a help-wanted ad on the site.

If you want to post jobs and attract more eyeballs to your job posting, though, it costs. Indeed has a pay-per-click model where pricing is based on user engagement with job posts. The total cost is based on the budget you set and the amount of time you choose to advertise the job.

Also, 30 resume views per month costs $100, while 100 resume views per month costs $250.

As for Craigslist, it’s by far the cheapest option for employers looking to speed up their hiring process. A 30-day job posting costs between $10 and $75, depending on the location. Individual listings can’t be swapped out for new ones — instead, employers will need to create a new posting, but they can post as many jobs as they want at any given time. All you need to do is pay with your credit card for a new listing.

Indeed vs. Craigslist: the Bottom Line

When it comes to comparing job boards, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you make a decision on where to start.

A Craigslist job search is no-frills. Applying to a Craigslist job is similar to how people acquire things from other Craigslist posts — job searching users need to email or call the poster and hope to hear back from them. There isn’t a way to track applications or answer screening questions to make yourself stand out.

Side gigs, part-time and manual labor tend to have more options in a Craigslist job search, while job boards like Indeed or ZipRecruiter are better known for full-time positions.

If you’re a job seeker starting a job search, think about what kind of job you’re looking for. Are you looking for a side gig, or something that doesn’t require a university degree? Craigslist can be a good solution for you to land a job quickly.

Employers on a small budget will also benefit from Craigslist’s affordable job board. For as little as $10 each, you can post as many jobs as they want — but you’ll have to do a lot more leg work when it comes to sorting through unqualified applicants and manually handling the entire hiring process.

Now, with the ability to simply syndicate job postings, create sponsored jobs, boost team collaboration and take advantage of the job site’s artificial intelligence, there’s a reason why ZipRecruiter has been named the No. 1 website for employers’ hiring needs. It has a nearly perfect rating on TrustPilot, taking it to the top spot above all the other job boards.

As for people who are job searching and hoping to get plenty of resume views on their job search, ZipRecruiter has thousands of potential employers and millions of jobs to search through. And with the recruiting process made simple for a potential employer, it then makes it easier for job seekers to make it through the job search process.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday: When to Score the Best Deals

To make things easier, Prime members can send a gift to someone with just the recipient’s cell phone number. No need to ruin the surprise by asking someone’s physical address.

Walmart + members will get early access to these deals. Offers will be available first online and then in stores.
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Amazon began holiday deals in early October to get things started early. They have a “Holiday Gift List” feature you can make and share with people to help them buy you a gift you want. You can also ask friends and family members for their lists.
Night owls might be able to find the best prices since many retailers post new deals at midnight.
Katherine Cullen, NRF’s senior director of Industry and Consumer Insights, said there is a lot of excitement around Thanksgiving weekend shopping this year.

Holiday Shopping on Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday

Returns are extended until Jan. 16.
Best Buy started offering sale prices early in November with more deals launching closer to Thanksgiving.
The NRF also said on average consumers plan to spend 7.73 on gifts this year, which is close to what it was last year, but less than it was pre-pandemic.
According to 2020 data from Salesforce, the average discount rate was 28% on Thanksgiving Thursday and then grew to 29% by Cyber Monday.
Deals labeled as “Holiday Best” will be the best price of the season, no matter when you see it. If a price goes lower, you can ask for a price match up until Dec. 24. They will also match a competitor’s price for 14 days.
There are deals to be had tied to both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mostly in the five categories of tech, beauty, clothing, toys and home products. Take a deep breath though, pandemic-caused supply chain issues may make certain items in those categories difficult to find.
The best deals on Black Friday are traditionally for expensive big ticket items like TVs, laptops, phones, and other technology. (But, again, some of those items may be tough to get in time for the holiday. An IOU maybe and hope for January delivery?)

When Are the Best Deals?

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
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To help shoppers prepare for online holiday sales, many retailers have released details about their pricing, returns, and more.
“It’s kind of a signal that people are looking to bring back some of the traditions they had in the past in terms of how they shopped over Thanksgiving weekend,” Cullen said.
To help you get what you want, it may pay off to prepare a bit whether you plan to physically go into a store or shop online during the holiday weekend or before.

A man looks at holiday deals on his laptop on Cyber Monday.
The average discount on Cyber Monday is about 30% and the sales usually extend over five days or more. Bebeto Matthews/AP Images

What’s the Average Discount?

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Quantities of an item might be limited, so once they’re gone, they’re gone and so are the major discounts.
Here’s how you can prepare for the biggest shopping time of the year.
They’re calling it “Black Friday Deals for Days” with several shopping events leading up to Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Items will be available while supplies last.
The NRF survey showed about two-thirds of people who planned to shop on Black Friday were heading into brick and mortar stores.
“Last year, we were in a very different place. There was a lot of uncertainty and people felt a lot of concern around shopping in stores and shopping in person. We’re just in a different place this year. What it means is we are expecting to see a lot more shopping in stores.”

How to Prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Bicycles won’t be plentiful but skateboards are, according to Amazon which promises delivery on many models well before Christmas. Game consoles? A tough get. TVs? More likely.

  • Make a list: (and check it twice) Having an idea of what you want to buy can help you focus your energy when you either go into a store or go online.
  • Look at ads: Many stores have already released their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some have even started their sales.
  • Use online tools: Cullen suggested utilizing the tools many stores have online about quantities available both online and in stores and how many people are shopping for that particular item. It can help you find what you need.
  • Know sale dates: Many stores are offering great deals long before Black Friday, so if you wait until then, it may be too late. If there is something you know you want, look at the store’s web site to see if you can get it now.
  • Check return policies: Some stores will allow you to return an item to a brick and mortar store if you no longer want the item. Others require online returns. Many retailers have extended their return policies beyond their usual 14, 30, 60, or 90 days from date of purchase to some time after the new year.
  • Consider price adjustments or price matching: Some retailers will offer price adjustments if you buy an item and then either they later offer it at a lower price or a competitor does. Just be aware, some retailers exclude Black Friday deals from these practices since the quantities are limited for many items.
  • Follow stores on social media: Cullen said many stores will offer specials on top of specials and social media might be a good way to snag them when they happen.

They’re offering what they call a “Black Friday Price Guarantee” where if you buy something and the price goes down before Black Friday, they will refund the difference.

Store Specific Information

Traditionally, the deals are usually the best for fashion, small appliances, and beauty items but Cullen said since everything is basically becoming a five-day shopping period, the categories for the sales are blurring also.
What was once the traditional start of the holiday season has morphed into several weeks of sales, some starting in early October. Then there’s Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, both of which happen after Black Friday. For 2021, those dates are Black Friday (Nov. 26), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 27) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

Amazon

Nearly half of shoppers (49%) started buying gifts before November, which is up from 42% last year, according to the NRF.
But with some items in short supply, experts are warning us to not hold out for a better deal if you find something you like,

Best Buy

“We do encourage people, particularly with what’s going on the supply chains right now, is if you see an item that you’re looking for on sale at a price you’re willing to pay, don’t wait,” Cullen warned. “Inventory is a little tighter this year. We are hearing from retailers this year that they are offering promotions and discounts, but they’re not holding off until the last minute to offer those, so if you see something you’re looking for, go ahead and buy it.”
Walmart says they reinvented the Black Friday shopping experience in 2020 and are returning it this year.
American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage shoppers to patronize small and local businesses and not just large retailers during the holiday shopping season. Many small stores will offer deals the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Target

Black Friday and its epic sales have become a way to get customers who have the day off into stores to spend money. Now, many of the deals are also online.
“What we see changing is more of a move towards deals of the hour with different items and different release times throughout the day,” Cullen said. “Customers should keep an eye out for some of those things because something unexpected might pop up on sale.”

Walmart

Over the years, the lines between the days have become blurry, creating one mishmash of sales that blend together.
Gone are the days when you needed to pitch a tent in front of a big box store to be the first in line on Black Friday and get the best deals for the holiday shopping season.
Target began advertising holiday deals on Oc. 31. They start each Sunday and last a week and are available for online, in store pickup, and in store purchase.
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Here is some basic information about a few big retailers to help you get the best deals.

31 New Orleans Secrets That Only Real Locals Know are True

Down in the Big Easy, the drinks flow generously and jazzy melodies breeze through the streets.

Maybe it’s the voodoo, or maybe the conglomeration of all the people that make up this great city, but there’s something magical about New Orleans. It’s big but feels comforting, and makes total sense why so many call it home. Visitors far and wide will say it’s otherworldly, but locals know there’s nothing quite like it, between the city itself and all the secret hangouts only they know about. This intangible magic is what keeps locals around, quite literally, come hell or high water. Here are all the New Orleans secrets you need to know.

You’re a real New Orleanian when:

1. You’ve attended your fair share of hurricane parties. What better time to hang out with fun company and have some strong drinks than when you don’t know if your home will be there after the storm, right?

2. You get outraged when people say, “Why don’t you just evacuate?” when a storm’s coming, because you know it’s an option most New Orleans residents can’t afford.

3. If it’s not purple, green and yellow, it better be black and gold. Go, Saints!

4. You know every nearly life-threatening pothole in a half-mile radius around you. Hopefully, the city will fix them soon, but you doubt it. In the meantime, it’s not unusual for locals to shove their Mardi Gras beads in them out of spite.

crawfish

crawfish

5. It’s not springtime, it’s crawfish season.

6. You know it’s not all about Bourbon Street. Actually, you wouldn’t be caught dead in the tourist trap. Instead, you head for Royal Street or Frenchman Street. There are still plenty of places to get a drink there — and everywhere in New Orleans, for that matter — but the environment is a little laxer, and there are plenty of street artists playing wonderful medleys, too.

7. Jazz has a special place in your heart, and you know a concert could never come close to listening to your neighbors’ songs seeping through the walls or any random person playing on the street.

8. You know better than to ever touch anything on a voodoo shrine. And if you’ve ever accidentally bumped into anything at a shrine — say Marie Laveau’s — you know to visit her gravesite to give her a gift, so she’ll lift the hex off of you.

9. Tiana from Disney’s “Princess and the Frog” is based on the wonderful late Leah Chase and the Dooky Chase Restaurant (which has the best lunch buffets).

New Orleans front porch

New Orleans front porch

10. People don’t sit on their back porch. Find ’em out on their front porch or balcony taking in the sites and sounds the neighborhood has to offer.

11. Whether you find yourself on the Streetcar or an RTA — because you know driving from the French Quarter just to the Garden District will take longer than it did for Bush to send help after Katrina — if you see a lost tourist, you’re going to help them out.

12. You know all about the goat jaws, the booze, the sardines and the bodies uncovered in New Orleans. Chalk it up to buried treasure.

13. You know you can carry a king cake through New Orleans airport security, no questions asked.

14. You head over to Magazine Street to get some peace and quiet, but you start to miss the mayhem pretty quickly.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

15. You love Mardi Gras, but you know that there are more New Orleans festivals to enjoy than just the big one. Sure, Mardi Gras takes the (king) cake, but New Orleans can turn anything into a party. Hell, there’s even a tomato festival down here.

16. A yummy New Orleans secret is that there’s nothing quite like mastering the skill of not covering yourself in powdered sugar at Café du Monde. It’s a talent that takes time to cultivate.

17. When friends visit, you take them to the French Market to stock up on New Orleans goodies instead of the touristy souvenir shops that are a dime a dozen.

18. It was cool at one point, but now all the filming in the French Quarter has gotten out of hand and you just wish they wouldn’t shut down three blocks of the city for another “Girls Trip” or “NCIS: New Orleans.”

19. Acceptable names for New Orleans include: New Orleans, the Birthplace of Jazz, Crescent City, Creole City and, very occasionally, Nola. Read: not N’Awlins.

Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

20. Fleur de lis. Everywhere.

21. You have masks and beads hanging somewhere in your house. It’s a fact.

22. You know to-go drinks aren’t limited just to Bourbon Street. Not only can you enjoy them all over the French Quarter, but Louisiana doesn’t have any laws prohibiting open carry unless you’re in a vehicle. But even that doesn’t deter the existence of drive-thru daiquiri bars.

23. A creepy New Orleans secret: Sure, the aboveground graveyards in New Orleans are a hot spot for tourists, but you, too, give in to the lure and visit every now and then. The Cities of Death are just too intriguing to ignore. Whether it’s Nicholas Cage’s pre-made eternal pyramid or any run-of-the-mill grave, each one is intriguing and it’s all thanks to the water tables being abnormally high in New Orleans.

The French Quarter

The French Quarter

24. At one point in your life, you probably paid way too much to rent out an apartment in the French Quarter, which only lasted a couple of years before you grew up and got too tired for the never-ending party.

25. Most New Orleanians are just a little bit obsessed with true crime. And with books like the Axeman of New Orleans, Bonnie and Clyde’s ambush and the tragic tale of Zach and Addie. How could they not be intrigued?

26. The Singing Oak is the perfect pick-me-up on hard days.

27. You probably do all your local shopping on Oak Street, Royal Street or Magazine Street. They’re loaded with boutiques, antiques and galleries where you can find just about anything.

28. You’ve got your gumbo recipe on lockdown. Everyone’s is a little different, but one thing’s for sure: Get that roux a dark brown, baby!

29. Roux is practically New Orleans’ love language. All good things start with roux (or a drink).

30. You’ve definitely cooled off with a sky-high helping of Hansen’s Sno Bliz in the heat of the summer.

Red beans

Red beans

31. On Mondays, we eat red beans.

How’d we do? Comment below to share your favorite New Orleans secrets, or to let us know if we left anything out!

If you think this city is right for you, check out these apartments for rent in New Orleans. And remember: Laissez les bons temp rouler!

Source: rent.com

8 Services You Didn’t Know Social Security Offers

Agenturfotografin / Shutterstock.com

What is the Social Security Administration good for? A typical first response would be “helping seniors weather the costs of retirement,” and that’s certainly true. But that’s not all it does.

As with Social Security itself, many Americans don’t understand exactly how the agency running the program works — or how to take full advantage of it.

Following are several services you may not have realized the SSA provides.

1. Benefits for non-retirees

WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

If you know nothing else about the SSA, you probably know it provides retirement benefits to people of a certain age. That’s what Social Security is all about, right?

But it also provides benefits to many others — widows, parents, children, the disabled and the blind.

Learn about these types of benefits and their eligibility requirements in our story, “7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking.”

2. Help with Medicare drug costs

Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors, is technically administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

However, Social Security helps keep things simple by handling enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B. It also handles applications for “Extra Help,” a program that lowers the cost of Medicare Part D for eligible seniors by about $5,000 per year, according to SSA estimates.

3. Replacement Medicare cards

Jigsaw puzzle with the word "Medicare" on one piece.
Lemau Studio / Shutterstock.com

If you lose your Social Security card, it makes sense you’d go to the SSA to request a replacement.

What you might not know is that you can also request a replacement Medicare card from the SSA online. (You can also do this over the phone by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.)

4. Proof of income

Couple meeting with loan officer
megaflopp / Shutterstock.com

In certain situations, such as when applying for government assistance, an apartment, mortgage or some other loan, you might be required to provide proof of income.

One piece of evidence might come from the SSA, in what’s called a Social Security Benefit Verification Letter.

Contrary to what the name suggests, you don’t need to be receiving benefits to get one. In fact, as the SSA website points out, these letters can also be used as proof that you don’t receive benefits or haven’t in the past.

5. Baby name ideas

Tania Kolinko / Shutterstock.com

While it may never have occurred to you, the SSA naturally has a wealth of information about the names of Americans — it has to put them on all the cards, after all.

So if you’re curious about the most popular baby names in the country, the SSA has information going all the way back to 1880. You can find out the most frequently given names in a given year, decade, or over the past century, even broken down by state.

6. Calculators for many common questions

Thinking senior woman
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

The prospect of retirement raises lots of questions: How long will I live? When should I stop working? How much money can I get from the government in various scenarios?

The SSA maintains several calculators to help with these questions and more.

7. A blast from the past

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever had a “back in my day” conversation with someone about your first job?

The SSA can tell you exactly how much you earned in any given year in your online “earnings record.”

Even if you’re not interested in a little trip down memory lane, you should still regularly check your earnings record. As we explain in “9 Social Security Terms Everyone Should Know,” it can get harder to correct any possible errors over time, due to the loss of your tax records and employer information.

8. Representative payees

Senior couple in front of their home
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes people become unable to manage the money they are receiving from Social Security or Supplemental Security Income. In those cases, Social Security can appoint what are called representative payees to manage money on their behalf.

You can designate a few people you trust to be your payee should the need arise. Or, as necessary, the SSA can choose for you among friends, family or qualified organizations.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com