How to Get the Best Price on a Rental Car – 10 Simple Steps

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Do you recognize this scenario? You’re planning to rent a small car for a vacation or business trip. Yet somehow, when you walk away from the car rental counter, you’re holding the keys to a much bigger car with a much bigger price tag. 

If this has happened to you, it was no accident. You were a victim of upselling — one of the many tricks car rental companies use to squeeze more money out of you. They lure you, scare you, or badger you into driving away with a bigger car than you planned. 

To save money on car rentals, you need to beat the agencies at their own game. First, do some research to figure out exactly what car you need. Then, shop around and use discounts to make sure you pay the lowest possible rate for it. 

How to Get the Best Price on a Rental Car

Getting the best rate on your car rental is largely a matter of doing your homework. You have to know what kind of car you need, when to book it, and where to shop for the best prices. You also need to know how to avoid tricky upsells and hidden fees.

1. Know What You Need

If you’ve ever rented a car before, you know rental companies often try to upsell you. When you arrive to pick up your vehicle, they don’t hand over the keys right away. 

Instead, they suggest you upgrade to a larger model than the one you booked. Often, they say it will offer more comfort, more power, or even better gas mileage. 

That last statement is unlikely to be true. In general, bigger cars use more gas than smaller ones. If you let the rental clerk talk you into a bigger model, you’ll end up paying more for gas and the car itself.

As for the extra room and extra power, they probably don’t matter. If you’re driving by yourself or with just one or two other people, a compact car should have enough space. And you’re unlikely to need more power unless you’re planning to drive up steep mountain roads or in deep snow.

If there’s any doubt in your mind about how much car you need, do some research before you book. Look for reviews of the model you’re considering and see what owners say about its comfort, mileage, and power. 

Then, when the clerk starts trying to sell you on a bigger model, you can say with confidence that the one you booked is just fine for your needs.

2. Book Early, Especially During Peak Travel Times

Car rental companies have a limited number of cars in their fleets. During peak travel times, every vehicle is in demand as customers flock to travel destinations. And when demand outstrips supply, prices go up. That’s simple economics.

So if you’re traveling during a busy travel season, reserve your car as far in advance as possible. You’ll avoid paying a premium for booking during the busy season or, worse still, finding the vehicle you want is unavailable.

3. Take Advantage of Discounts

Never pay full price for a rental car without checking for discounts first. There are all kinds of programs that can offer you a better price on a rental, including:

  • Military Discounts. Many car rental companies, including Alamo and Budget, offer discounts for military service members and veterans. Some also have special deals for other government employees or first responders, such as firefighters and police. If you belong to any of these groups, always ask about discounts when booking a rental.
  • USAA Rates. If your spouse or parent is in the military, you could get a discount through USAA. This financial provider serves active military members, veterans, and their spouses and children. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz have special USAA rates. 
  • Senior Discounts. Several rental car agencies work with AARP to provide discounts for older adults. AARP members can save up to 30% at Avis, Budget, and Payless. And all travelers over 50 can get lower prices from Hertz through its Fifty Plus program.
  • Corporate Codes. Many businesses have partnerships with car rental companies. Their employees get better rates, and the agencies benefit from the extra business. Check your corporate travel site to see if your company has such a program. 
  • University Codes. Universities also cut deals with rental car agencies. Both students and alumni can get lower daily rates and other perks, such as a free additional driver. Check the student benefits or alumni deals page for rental car discounts.
  • Frequent Flyer Programs. Some frequent flyer programs can get you a reduced rate on a car rental. For instance, United MileagePlus members enjoy discounts and earn bonus miles when they rent through Hertz.
  • AAA. Being a member of AAA gets you discounts on all kinds of services, including rental cars. Currently, members can save between 8% and 20% off the base rate with Thrifty, Dollar, or Hertz. Check your local AAA website for the latest deals.
  • Costco. This warehouse club offers discounts on a lot more than groceries. One of the many benefits of Costco membership is its discounts on car rentals from Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise. Visit the Costco Travel site to access the latest exclusive deals.

4. Join a Loyalty Program

Many rental car agencies have loyalty programs that offer various discounts and perks. Most loyalty programs are free to join, and it takes only a few minutes to sign up.  

Joining one of these programs could get you benefits like:

  • Free upgrades
  • The ability to skip the line when you pick up your rental
  • A guarantee the car you sign up for will be available
  • An account that stores your rental preferences for future use
  • Rewards points you can cash in for free rentals or upgrades

And there’s nothing to stop you from signing up for multiple programs. You could join one for each rental agency you use. In fact, if you’ve already reached elite status with one company, you can usually carry over that status when you sign up for another agency’s program as well.

Some agencies, such as Avis and Hertz, also have special programs just for small-business owners. If you own a small business, these programs can give you a percentage off the base price every time you rent a car.

5. Compare Prices

Joining a loyalty program doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to one car rental company. It always makes sense to shop around and see if another company can offer a better price.

You could do that by calling several companies for quotes, but you don’t have to. There are several websites you can use to check rental prices across multiple agencies. 

One leading comparison site is AutoSlash. This free site factors in discounts from AAA and Costco and searches for online coupons to cut your rental price. It even notifies you if the rental rate drops after you book your car. That allows you to cancel it and rebook at the lower price.

However, AutoSlash isn’t the only site in the business. Other places to look for deals include CarRentals.com, Kayak, and Priceline.

6. Check Smaller Car Rental Companies

When you’re comparing prices, don’t limit yourself to the major rental car agencies. Small off-brand agencies such as Fox Rent A Car can offer significantly lower rates than the big companies.

These small agencies aren’t available everywhere, and they may not show up in results from sites like AutoSlash. But if there’s one in your area, it’s worth a call to see if they can beat the big companies’ prices. To find small local agencies, search the Internet for “car rental near me.”

7. Look for Coupon Codes

When you’re searching for rental car prices, do an extra search for coupon codes you can tack on at checkout. With the right code, you can save as much as 50% off the regular rental rate. 

On top of that, you can often combine these coupon codes with other discounts. For instance, they sometimes stack with savings from loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs.

If you shop through AutoSlash, it automatically seeks coupon codes for you. Other places to look for deals include Groupon and LivingSocial. Also, money-saving browser extensions like Capital One Shopping search for coupon codes and apply them every time you shop. 

8. Read the Fine Print

It’s not unusual to see online ads promising car rentals as low as $15 per day. These prices sound too good to be true — and they are. The price you pay is usually much higher due to taxes and fees excluded from the advertised rate. 

You can’t avoid all these extra fees. However, you can at least be aware of them to avoid any surprises. And you can always say no to extraneous car rental fees.

When comparing prices, look at the final price with all taxes and fees included. That way, you know you’re comparing apples to apples. 

9. Prepay

Most car rental companies offer two different daily rental rates: one for prepayment and a higher one for paying when you pick up the car (or simply renting on the spot). For instance, Budget charges rates up to 35% less when you pay ahead.

But despite the savings, prepaying isn’t always the smart move. If you prepay for your car and have to change your plans, you could get hit with a hefty cancellation fee. 

For instance, Alamo charges $50 for canceling a prepaid rental or $100 if you cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice. Canceling a regular reservation is only $50 with less than 24 hours’ notice and free if you cancel earlier than that. 

To avoid these fees, don’t prepay for your rental unless your travel schedule is fixed.

10. Use a Rewards Card

Once you’ve decided which car to rent and where, there’s still one more way to save: by choosing the right card to pay with. Many travel rewards credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer special perks and discounts on car rentals. 

Depending on the card, you could pay a lower daily or weekly rate or earn extra rewards points. You could also get perks like free upgrades, free rental car insurance, a free additional driver, or a grace period on late returns.

Moreover, if you already have rewards points on one of these cards, you can sometimes get a bonus by cashing them in for travel deals, including car rentals. If your card offers a 50% bonus on travel, you could book a $30-per-day car rental with only $20 worth of rewards.


Final Word

There’s one tip that could potentially save you more than anything else. When planning your trip, think carefully about whether you need a rental car at all. 

In some cases, you can get by without a car. Instead, you can rely on a combination of rides from friends, public transportation, and ridesharing. 

That works particularly well if you only need the vehicle to get to and from the airport. In that case, paying by the ride is probably cheaper than renting a car that will spend most of the trip parked.

Another option is to take advantage of the sharing economy. It’s often possible to get a car through a peer-to-peer service like Turo for much less than a traditional rental. 

These services can offer access to vehicles rental agencies don’t have, such as sports cars or electric vehicles. And you don’t have to deal with any high-pressure sales tactics at the rental counter.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

These Healthcare Stocks Should Thrive in 2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, routine doctor and hospital visits, along with deferred medical procedures such as cataract surgery and heart valve replacements, are returning to normal.

The pandemic has been a global tragedy, but if there is one silver lining it is that the miraculous development of effective COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year is helping to usher in a golden age for the pharmaceutical and health sciences industries.

“We’re seeing a revolution today in vaccine development,” says Andy Acker, manager of Janus Henderson Global Life Sciences.

Before COVID arrived, the fastest vaccine approval had been four years, and the average was 10 years; with COVID, two vaccines were approved in about 10 months. Validation of the mRNA technology used by Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) in their vaccines means that it will now be adopted to treat other medical indications. (The mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.)

In truth, the COVID-19 medical challenge and the dramatic success of the vaccines have only served to accelerate a powerful trend of innovation in medicine. For instance, the sharply declining cost of gene sequencing is pushing forward the growing field of precision medicine, which aims to tailor treatments to specific diseases, such as cancer.

“The science is exponentially improving for better outcomes,” says Neal Kaufman, manager of Baron Health Care fund.

Of course, the healthcare sector is also riding the (global) demographic wave of aging populations. At CVS Health drugstores, the number of prescription medicines purchased by people age 65 or older is three to four times that of 20- to 40-year-old people, says Jason Kritzer, co­manager of Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences.

In rapidly developing countries with expanding middle classes, such as China, quality healthcare is likely to be one of the first things people rising out of poverty will spend money on.

With innovation and some of these secular trends in mind, we identified six intriguing healthcare stocks that literally span the alphabet, from letter A to letter Z. We particularly like companies that address large and growing end markets, especially global ones. We give extra points to businesses that have less exposure to pricing pressure from insurance com­panies or the government. Returns and other data are through Nov. 5.

healthcare stockshealthcare stocks

1 of 7

Align Technology

Share price: $687

Market cap: $54 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 50

Maker of the Invisalign brand of clear, plastic braces for teeth, Align Technology (symbol ALGN) is a disruptive force in the global teeth-correction market, rapidly gobbling market share from traditional wires and brackets. Jeff Mueller, comanager of Polen Global Growth, credits the “Zoom effect” for accelerating the adoption of the aesthetically pleasing aligners: Workers stuck at home during the pandemic were staring at their own teeth every day on Zoom. “Vanity is increasing around the world,” Mueller says, adding that, due to the rise of smartphones, the internet and social media, “more people are taking pictures of themselves than ever before in the history of mankind.”

A lot of technology is used in the Invisalign process. It employs intra-oral scanners and modeling software, plus mass-customization manufacturing using 3D printing at several plants around the globe (each set of teeth is unique, and individuals change their aligners every two weeks). Because braces are generally for cosmetic purposes, they are not subject to pricing pressure from insurance companies or the government.

Align Technology’s revenues are currently growing by 25% to 30% a year as its market penetration rises, and Mueller expects earnings to continue to compound at double digits for quite a while.

2 of 7

Merck

Share price: $82

Market cap: $206 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 11

Dividend yield: 3.2%

CFRA analyst Sel Hardy thinks that Merck’s (MRK) COVID-19 antiviral pill, molnupiravir, is “a game changer.” The drug maker has applied for emergency-authorization use from the government; approval was expected before the end of 2021. Merck projects that global sales of the oral medication, which has demonstrated strong efficacy against multiple variants of COVID, could be $5 billion to $7 billion by the end of 2022.

Apart from this breakthrough drug, Hardy likes the way Merck is positioned. Sales of Keytruda, its versatile oncology drug, topped $14 billion in 2020 and continue to grow; its animal health division is expanding; and the firm’s $12 billion acquisition of Acceleron Pharma, a biotech firm with strengths in blood and cardiovascular treatments, will augment Merck’s product pipeline.

Hardy thinks Merck, which yields 3.2%, can compound earnings by at least 10% a year for the next three years.

3 of 7

Novo Nordisk

Share price: $113

Market cap: $259 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 31

Dividend yield: 1.3%

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (NVO) focuses on two global pandemics: diabetes and obesity. The World Health Organization projects that the number of diabetics will expand from 460 million to 580 million by 2030, and it estimates that there are nearly 800 million obese people around the world. Novo pioneered insulin injections a century ago and has remained a global leader in diabetes care ever since. Multibillion-dollar drugs include Ozempic, a once-weekly prescription for adults with Type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar, and NovoRapid, a fast-acting insulin treatment. Novo’s sales are evenly split between North America and the rest of the world.

Investors such as Samantha Pandolfi, comanager of Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences, are also excited about rapid growth in Novo’s newer weight-management business. Wegovy, prescribed for obese people with another disease, such as diabetes, was approved by the FDA in June 2021. Tests show Wegovy typically delivers a weight loss of 15% to 17%, and Pandolfi says sales are off to a blazing start. The century-old firm plows an impressive 12% of sales back into research and development, which helps it stay ahead of the competition and generate earnings growth in the low double digits.

4 of 7

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Share price: $617

Market cap: $243 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 29

Dividend yield: 0.2%

Eddie Yoon, manager of Fidelity Select Health Care Portfolio, calls Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) “the Walmart of life sciences.” Whether it’s a big pharma, biotech or university lab, customers come to this health sciences supermarket for analytical tools, lab equipment and services, and diagnostic kits and consumables. “They are the partner of choice for any pharma or biotech company of any size,” says Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds. Thermo has benefited from increased demand for its products and services due to COVID-19, and now the firm is poised to benefit from the rise in research and development spending among drug companies around the world.

One thing that distinguishes Thermo, according to health care stock analysts, is the quality of its management. The firm has successfully integrated several strategic acquisitions that helped broaden its menu of products and services. Tommy Sternberg, an analyst at William Blair, notes that Thermo is particularly adroit at staying close to customers and understanding what their scientists are working on. “They do a fantastic job of getting to know customers and their needs, and learning from customers to come up with more solutions more quickly,” says Sternberg.

5 of 7

UnitedHealth Group

Share price: $456

Market cap: $429 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 21

Dividend yield: 1.3%

The U.S. spends a staggering $4 trillion a year on health care. UnitedHealth (UNH)—with annual revenues of nearly $300 billion, a market value of $430 billion and 330,000 employees—is the industry’s largest player. As the top private health care insurance provider, it leads in managed care. Its OptumHealth unit offers pharmacy benefits and owns physician’s practices and surgical centers. Eaton Vance’s Kritzer calls Optum, an industry leader in the digitization of services, “a very large health IT company inside an insurance giant.” United helps the federal government manage costs through its Medicare Advantage plan (the most popular private plan). Plus, it enjoys high customer satisfaction, and it is counting a growing number of seniors as customers (about 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day). Despite United’s massive size, William Blair’s Sternberg thinks it can sustain earnings-per-share growth of about 15% annually.

6 of 7

Zoetis

Share price: $217

Market cap: $103 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 42

Dividend yield: 0.5%

Like Align Tech­nology’s Invisalign, Zoetis’s (ZTS) main business—companion-animal health—was already riding a tailwind that picked up force thanks to lifestyle changes during the pandemic. Pet-ownership rates spiked as people grew more isolated and sought the companionship of dogs and cats, according to David Kalis, comanager of The Future Fund Active ETF. Zoetis markets vaccines, prescription drugs and diagnostic equipment directly to veterinarians. The industry is regulated, with FDA approval required for the drugs, but Zoetis benefits from the lack of insurance company price pressures and the fragmented nature of the firm’s customer base, notes Eaton Vance’s Pandolfi.

In fact, companion-animal ownership is growing globally, driven by aging populations and shrinking family sizes. Pet owners are treating their pets better, addressing ailments such as skin irritation and arthritis, and visiting the vet more frequently, says Pandolfi. Zoetis books about half of sales overseas; roughly 60% of revenues come from the companion-animal business and 40% from the less-profitable and slower-growing livestock animal division.

7 of 7

Invest in a Fund

Given the complexity and diversity of the health care sector, investing in a fund makes a lot of sense for many investors. Here are our favorites (returns and other data are through November 5).

Baron Health Care (symbol BHCFX, expense ratio 1.10%) is a young fund off to a sizzling start. Over the past three years, it returned 29.2% annualized, or nearly twice the return of the S&P 1500 Health Care index. Manager Neal Kaufman and assistant manager Joshua Riegelhaupt look for innovative, fast-growing companies. The largest holding is Natera, a clinical genetic-testing outfit.

Fidelity Select Health Care (FSPHX, 0.69%) is a member of the Kiplinger 25, the list of our favorite no-load funds. The fund has a 19.8% three-year annualized return, ahead of the 17.0% average annual gain of its peers. Eddie Yoon, who has piloted the fund since 2008, says he’s light on large pharmaceutical companies in the portfolio, preferring makers of devices used to help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments. The fund’s top three holdings are UnitedHealth, Boston Scientific and Danaher.

Ziad Bakri, a former physician, runs T. Rowe Price Health Sciences (PRHSX, 0.76%), which has returned 21% annualized over the past three years. Nearly one-third of assets are invested in biotechnology, a high-risk, high-return segment of health care. Top positions include Thermo Fisher Scientific and Intuitive Surgical.

If you prefer investing through exchange-traded funds, Simplify Health Care (PINK, $26, 0.50%) is an intriguing, actively managed ETF that launched on October 7. Through November 5, just shy of one month, it returned 5.9%. Manager Michael Taylor, a virologist by training who spent 20 years investing in health care stocks at some prominent hedge funds, expresses his views by increasing or decreasing the fund’s weighting of stocks in relation to the MSCI US Health Care Index.

Source: kiplinger.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP): What Are They?

We live in a world of service providers: health service providers, cloud service providers, internet service providers — the list goes on. And when we’re talking about cryptocurrency, virtual asset service providers (VASP) are inevitably part of the conversation.

Just what exactly is a VASP? And why should you know about them if you’re interested in cryptocurrency? This article will cover everything you need to know.

What are Virtual Assets (VAs)?

Most, if not all, cryptocurrencies and digital tokens are virtual assets. As outlined by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) , a virtual asset fits the following criteria:

•   It’s a digital store or representation of value.

•   It can be digitally traded or transacted, or used for payment or investment.

•   It doesn’t include a digital representation of fiat currency or securities.

Virtual assets that can be traded or exchanged require a medium upon which those trades can be executed. That’s where VASPs come into play.

What is a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP)?

A VASP is a platform used to buy, sell, exchange, or otherwise interact with the cryptocurrency market. In other words, VASPs are crypto exchanges — or, at least the framework and theory behind a digital currency exchange.

The acronym “VASP” was coined by the FATF, which is an intergovernmental, international body that shores up standards and regulations — or promotes the use of them — in an effort to curb money laundering and stop the financing of terrorism.

Given that different types of virtual currency can and may be used for illicit or illegal activities, the FATF is stepping in to create some rules and frameworks for entities in the crypto space to operate within. Just as many cryptocurrency platforms must abide by existing regulations and compliance protocols, they may also be subject to additional guidelines and scrutiny from the FATF.

What Makes VASPs Unique?

In order for an organization to be classified as a VASP, it must tick certain boxes. In guidance issued in June 2019, the FATF asserted that a VASP is a business that conducts at least one of the following activities:

•   Acts as an exchange for virtual assets or fiat currencies

•   Acts as an exchange between one or more types of virtual assets

•   Acts as a medium of transfer for virtual assets

•   Provides safekeeping or administration of instruments that allow entities to control virtual assets

•   Participates in or provides financial services related to an offer or sale of a virtual asset

What Are Some VASP Types?

The FATF guidelines clearly describe crypto exchanges, as well as other participants in the crypto markets, including:

•   Mining pools

•   Investment vehicles

•   Digital wallet providers

•   Companies offering escrow services (transferring digital assets between two parties, ensuring a transaction goes down smoothly). And yes, companies providing these services may be classified as VASPs, after the FATF expanded and clarified its definition of a VASP in.

In an early 2021 update , the FATF also stated that decentralized exchanges, decentralized platforms, and DApps may also be considered VASPs, as well as platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer crypto transactions.

Recommended: What is a dApp?

What Businesses are Not VASPs?

There are numerous types of crypto-related entities that are not VASPs, including but not limited to:

•   Individual crypto miners

•   Individuals participating in a Bitcoin mining pool

•   Individual traders

•   Central banks

In short, if you’re just a regular Joe who’s trading or otherwise participating in the crypto markets or validating a blockchain network, you’re not a VASP.

Other Key Terms to Know When Talking About VASPs

In order to get a full picture of VASPs, it’s important to understand a couple of other terms: Digital Asset Entity (DAE), and Digital Asset Customer (DAC).

The distinction between these specific types of entities — which may exist in more than one type of classification (an entity could be both a DAE and a VASP, for instance) — can have an impact on how the entity is regulated.

What is a Digital Asset Entity (DAE)?

A Digital Asset Entity refers to some of the various businesses and organizations in the digital transaction space. For example, a VASP is a DAE. But the DAE umbrella includes many other types of organizations, such as gambling platforms, that may not necessarily be labeled as traditional financial institutions.

What is a Digital Asset Customer (DAC)?

A Digital Asset Customer is an entity that makes use of the services of a DAE. You or anyone else can be a DAC, as you may utilize a financial institution’s services to engage with the cryptocurrency markets.

What Are Some Examples of VASPs?

There are several different types of businesses or platforms that can fit the description of a VASP, or that may take some role in the transaction process. Those can include centralized and decentralized exchanges, mining pools, investment vehicles, and more.

Here are some examples of companies or platforms that fit the description of a VASP:

•   Centralized exchange: These exchanges that act as a third party between crypto buyers and sellers. Examples include Coinbase and Kraken .

•   Decentralized exchange: These exchanges eliminate the need for a third-party middleman to execute trades or transactions. Examples include Uniswap and Venus .

•   Escrow service: There are also a lot of companies that provide escrow services (many exchanges offer the service, too) for digital asset transactions, such as Escaroo or Bitrated .

•   Investment vehicles: Crypto-tied investment vehicles, which may take the form of securities like crypto ETFs, are becoming more common and mainstream. One example: BITO , a Bitcoin-linked ETF that hit stock exchanges in October 2021.

The Takeaway

VASPs are businesses or companies that facilitate the exchange of virtual assets. Virtual assets can include things like cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, for example), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or utility tokens (like Filecoin).

Had your fill of crypto-related acronyms? Ready to start investing in crypto? With SoFi Invest®, investors can trade more than two dozen cryptocurrencies, including Chainlink, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Solana, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Cardano, and Enjin Coin.

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Where to Post Jobs for Free: The Top 11 Free Job Posting Sites

It’s free to post jobs to AngelList, but you’ll only have limited access to its core features. You’ll have to subscribe to a premium plan to fully view resumes, candidate profiles and other essential elements.
Some job sites only let you post jobs to their job boards. Others let you post to several other job boards with one listing. And then there’s ZipRecruiter, which lets you post to over 100 job boards around the web.
It’s completely free to post job ads to this free job posting site. But you’ll need a premium subscription to fully view a resume, access contact information, export contacts lists or reach out to job seekers directly.
The best free job posting sites all want to make money from the massive amount of web traffic they attract. If you want to fill job listings within a certain time frame, you’ll have to pay to make any meaningful progress.

11 of the Best Free Job Boards

Free job posting sites give recruiters and employers the opportunity to test the effectiveness of a job board or resume database — who’d want to launch a major recruitment campaign on a site they haven’t learned to use?

ZipRecruiter

You can post up to 10 jobs for free, for seven days. Once the trial period ends, you’ll have to pay for those job postings or pull them down.
Job search engines and aggregators like ZipRecruiter and SimplyHired are some of the more balanced free job posting sites around. Their business models make it cost-effective to reach large numbers of job seekers at various watering holes around the internet.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
It’s completely free to sign up for a Facebook account and post ads. But if you want to reach anyone, you’ll have to pay just like you would with any of the other free job posting sites in this roundup.
Glassdoor lets you post jobs for free in addition to providing inside details about companies and job openings. But recruiters and hiring managers may miss some of the requisite tools, such as resume search, found on other free job posting sites.

How Free is it?

Here’s a rundown of 11 of the top job boards for posting a free job listing, along with details on just how free they really are.

Indeed

Depending on the subscription level you sign up to test out, you can post one to five jobs for free. However, you don’t get a lot of road to ride this free test drive, as the trial period is only four days long.
Indeed uses a pay-per-performance model for job postings. You can post jobs for free, but you’ll have to pay when a candidate engages with your job posts.
SimplyHired brings a suite of HR tools to the table to assist in onboarding new employees and managing the ones already on board, but it doesn’t include an applicant tracking system to help get them there.
To recruit talent entirely free, consider leveraging the free components of job boards and social networks.
While this job board is big, you’ll only reach candidates who choose to join the fray and spend significant time on this job site. While sites like ZipRecruiter will share your job to over 100 other job boards and use AI to help you determine which job sites to focus on.
There’s no upfront charge for posting job openings on SimplyHired. You can even view the resumes of job seekers who apply to your job posting. However, the fees kick in if you want to see who’s behind the resumes your job postings attracted.

How Free is it?

Indeed has grown into one of the most visited of the free job posting sites around. Despite its heavy traffic, a perceived overabundance of low-end jobs and unskilled job seekers has hurt the job board’s reputation among some recruiters and hiring managers.
Not everyone is on Indeed. But, for better or worse, plenty of people are.

SimplyHired

However, don’t expect to learn intimate details about job seekers on Facebook. Many of them will only share a limited amount of information publicly, if at all — and don’t hold your breath expecting any of them to accept a stranger’s friend request.
Monster has to be commended for its staying power. This job board has been around since 1994, making it the oldest of the free job posting sites that are active today.
Still, there’s plenty of good to balance it out.

How Free is it?

Yep, Post Job Free is a free job posting site. You won’t get charged for free job ads after a certain amount of time has passed or once someone expresses interest in one of your job openings.

Glassdoor

Want qualified resumes to hit your desk ASAP? ZipRecruiter has tens of millions of resumes in its curated database. You can search resumes by keyword, proximity, upload date and more — plus, you can create job alerts to notify you when relevant resumes are uploaded to this job site.
You can place a free job post locally on popular job boards like ZipRecruiter, Monster and Indeed — or even on popular social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. However, you’ll have to pay for the critical tools needed to interact with qualified candidates.

How Free is it?

Privacy Policy

Monster

You can post as many jobs as you want, free of charge, to this free job posting site. Though, you could face serious problems attracting any real interest in your job postings if you don’t promote them, which isn’t free to do.
It compares favorably with free job posting sites like ZipRecruiter and other sites that share your job postings across multiple job boards and social networking sites.
That powerful AI can also help candidates find your job postings. And it can promote your job ads, help you determine where to focus your recruitment efforts and even invite qualified candidates to apply.

How Free is it?

Beyond attracting throngs of site visitors, Facebook’s marketing tools can help you promote your job ads to relevant audiences. However, you’ll have to pay to promote your ads.

Facebook

Not all job boards will let you post jobs for free. And the majority of the free job posting sites will want to be compensated at some point.
There’s something so invaluable about having the latitude to learn how to have success on a new job board before dipping into your recruitment budget to post jobs.
More of a niche job board, AngelList is like LinkedIn for tech companies and startups. It offers a full host of hiring tools that includes a resume database, support for applicant tracking system integration, templates, advanced search and more — but much of that comes with a price tag.

How Free is it?

Posting a job ad to Monster is made easier thanks to a collection of more than 2,000 job description templates. And you can keep track of interested job seekers with Monster’s native applicant tracking system, though there is no support for third-party ATS solutions.

Post Job Free

For many job seekers, Glassdoor’s biggest draw is the ability to peek inside of an organization to get a feel for what the culture is like there. Its company pages offer insights from current and former employees.
Features like resume search require a monthly subscription, while its applicant tracking integrations are quote-based.

How Free is it?

It’s completely free to post a job on Chegg, but you can only post internships. While you can view the full details of those who apply, you won’t find a native applicant tracking system on the site.

Talent.com (Formerly Neuvoo)

We’ve put together this chart to help you visualize the key differences between the five best free job posting sites.

How Free is it?

If you’re looking for a free job posting site, then there’s a chance you’re looking for interns rather than full-time employees. Chegg, an education-focused community, facilitates internships and you can post your gigs to the site for free.

Chegg

We’ve rounded up 15 of the top free job posting sites to help you get an idea of which ones you could have success with before even creating an account with them.

How Free is it?

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

AngelList

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How Free is it?

Unlike ZipRecruiter, which houses over 30 million resumes, SimplyHired doesn’t include a resume database. So you can’t pursue candidates by searching them out.

Hubstaff Talent

If the number of resumes hosted on the site feels overwhelming, it’s fine — really. ZipRecruiter’s AI can help you wade through the resumes and find the most qualified candidates for your job opening.

How Free is it?

The site supports third-party applicant tracking systems and includes a native tracking system. However, you might find its native solution a bit lacking in comparison to popular tools you’ll find on the market — there’s no solution for managing offers or onboarding new hires.

Comparing the Top 5

Popular job boards and social networking sites provide the broadest reach for connecting with job seekers of all levels. However, these free job boards and social networking sites may limit your job ad’s visibility or your ability to interact with candidates, unless you pay to do so.

Features ZipRecruiter Indeed SimplyHired Glassdoor Monster
Screening Tools Yes Yes No No Yes, some services outsourced
Native Applicant Tracking System Yes Limited No No Yes
Third Party ATS Support Yes Yes No No No
Free Trial Period Yes No No No Yes
Pay-Per-Performance Pricing Yes Yes Yes Ues Yes

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Post Local Jobs for Free?

Some of the factors ZipRecruiter’s AI matching technology considers include the terms a candidate has searched, qualifications, certifications, past applications, experience and more.

Can I Post Jobs on Craigslist for Free?

ZipRecruiter is free to try. Its pricing model compares favorably to performance-based, free job postings because those job sites typically hit you with a paywall as soon as your job ad generates any amount of interest from anyone — qualified or not.

How Can I Recruit Employees for Free?

You don’t have to pay a single cent to post jobs to Hubstaff Talent. So how does this site make money off of a bunch of free job listings? It offers premium tools for managing freelancers — you can track time, collect screenshots of work, monitor team analytics and more.
Most employers can post jobs on Craigslist for free, but in certain areas you’ll have to pay for each job posting.

Bottom Line

Looking for freelancers? Hubstaff is a free job posting site built to bring employers and contractors together.
Another important point to consider about this job board is its monthly visitors. It draws significantly less traffic than rivals like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. <!–

–>


This is one of the more straightforward of the free job postings sites. But if you want to get any promotion to boost your job postings, you’ll need to pay for it. Its sponsored jobs are based on a pay-per-performance pricing model.

What Will Cause the Next Housing Crash?

I think I finally know what’s going to cause the next major financial collapse. Crypto. Ignore the fact that the word “cry” is part of the word.

For the record, I don’t have anything against crypto, I just believe it’s a classic case of something climbing too high, too fast.

Don’t believe me? Look at silly meme coins like Doge and Shiba Inu coin, which rallied because Elon Musk recently acquired a Shiba Inu puppy.

Over time, the crypto industry could resemble something like the Internet, but similar to the Internet, growing pains will accompany its upward trajectory.

And because more and more investors are piling into cryptocurrencies, it’s just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. The question is will it take housing with it?

Staples Center Becomes Crypto.com Arena

In the latest piece of ominous news, the long-named Staples Center will become known as Crypto.com Arena in a 20-year deal.

Apparently, Crypto.com shelled out more than $700 million for the naming rights, which makes it one of the most expensive deals in sports history.

The arena’s new logo will debut on Christmas day when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets.

And all of Staples Center signage is expected to be replaced with the new brand by around June 2022.

When I saw the news, it just kind of hit me that this whole crypto thing is getting out of control. Even my wife shared the news, and the tone was decidedly dubious.

There’s just something that smells off about the whole thing, even if the company is perfectly sound and a long-term winner.

If you remember the dot-com era, the toys.com, the pets.com, and so on, you might be feeling similar vibes today.

As noted, this doesn’t mean the whole idea is wrong or destined to fail, it’s just that a major correction will probably take place.

But what’s interesting is the concentration of investment in crypto, which is also probably super leveraged, has the ability to take down the entire financial system.

This could mean that crypto inadvertently stops the housing market bull run in its tracks, even if housing is otherwise sound.

Risks to the Housing Market

I started compiling a list of risks to the housing market a few months ago because I expect things to cool off in a couple years.

While I don’t think real estate is going down anytime soon, I do believe it will at least begin to face resistance in late 2023 and more so in 2024.

As I wrote yesterday, investors are still super bullish on real estate so chances are everyday Joes will also be buying for some time.

But if and when that takes a turn, we could see home prices flatten and eventually fall.

The crypto piece is definitely interesting, and before this Staples Center name change a friend told me another interesting trend.

He’s a real estate photographer who keeps a close eye on who’s buying real estate in Southern California.

I forget all the different “phases” of buyers he mentioned, but I believe there were the regular folk, the Instagram/YouTube and all-around influencer people, and the latest the crypto investors.

So the individuals buying the expensive homes of late are the crypto winners. That gave me pause knowing how fickle this nascent industry can be.

Other than a hypothetical crypto bust, I see these other potential risks:

  • Forbearance ending (COVID-related job losses)
  • Single-family home investors selling all at once
  • A spike in mortgage rates
  • Eventual overbuilding (zoning changes and pent up building)
  • Climate change
  • Contentious presidential election

There are plenty of potential dangers lurking in the housing market’s path, and it could be a combination that leads to the next housing crash.

As I’ve said before, I see the next housing crash happening around 2024, or at least beginning around that time.

Sprinkle in a U.S. presidential election that is likely to be a real barn burner, and well, it starts to make a lot of sense.

Why is doesn’t happen earlier might be a celebratory year related to us getting through COVID, hopefully.

How Bad Will the Next Housing Crash Be?

While I do see another financial collapse on the horizon, it may not actually be that bad. And housing could actually hold up pretty well.

If you look back at the dot-com bubble, Bay Area home prices fell about 10% after the technology stock market rout.

Of course, the pullback was pretty short-lived and eventually home prices were back on their merry way in 2002 and beyond.

Back then, it wasn’t housing’s fault, and this next time around that could be true as well.

While home prices are a lot more expensive than they were just a few years ago, or heck even last year, the housing market still mostly makes sense.

There is a short supply of homes available that exceeds demand. And mortgage rates are super low, which drives prices up but keeps mortgage payments affordable for buyers.

Sure, home buyers don’t want to spend this much on a house, but most can afford it and weather any storm that comes along.

Back in 2008, this wasn’t the case, which explained the massive real estate market collapse.

In other words, if you’re sitting back waiting for that next big opportunity, you might be disappointed.

Home prices will probably come down at some point relatively soon, but the discount might not be worth the wait.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

25 Tips to Save Money on Christmas Decorations This Year

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

For all its joy and cheer, Christmastime pulls us in many different directions — physically, emotionally, and financially. It can be tough to keep up with all the demands, including your holiday budget.

You can’t control the cost of perfect gifts for everyone on your list. You can’t control the unpredictable expenses that always seem to come with the season. But you can go out of your way to save money on Christmas decorations, leaving plenty left over to spread holiday cheer. There are plenty of ways to deck the halls in style for less. 

Ways to Save Money on Christmas Decorations

You can save money on holiday decorations with these tips for proper planning, smart sourcing, and strategic shopping. 

Plan Before You Go

Planning your holiday decor before you start shopping gives you more opportunities to think strategically and find savings. 

1. Start Planning Early

The further ahead you plan your holiday decorations, the more time you have to set up chances to save. 

You can shop around, buy just what you need, and avoid last-minute markups. You’re also more likely to find what you’re looking for instead of making do with whatever’s left on the shelves. 

If you wait until mid-December, you have to hastily buy what’s available without any research. And you’re often stuck at a specialty or big-box store just when they’ve marked up prices the most. 

2. Pick a Theme

What do you want your holiday decorations to look like this year? You have lots of options. 

You can go classic with a Dickens theme. Or focus on the religious meaning with a peaceful Nativity scene. Or perhaps your kids or grandkids are all about the latest Disney princess.

No matter what you decide, once you’ve settled on a theme, it narrows the types of decorations that make sense. It doesn’t matter how cute a novelty or bauble is. If it doesn’t fit the theme, it stays out of the cart.

3. Decide Where to Decorate

Themes and goals do little to help you save if you fill your cart with vaguely appropriate stuff you’re unsure how you plan to use. Go through your house and decide what kind of thing might go in each location. 

You don’t have to make final decisions yet. Just know what space you have available. 

That open spot on the side table might accommodate a wicker basket filled with clove-spiked oranges or a holiday-themed candy bowl. But a taper candle or nutcracker will be dwarfed by that space.

Take notes. Use online images to help you envision the final look. You can even take pictures of your home and use a graphics editor like Photoshop to create mock-ups. 

4. Set a Budget

Run the numbers for your holiday budget. Don’t forget to include what you’d like to spend on holiday gifts, travel, entertaining, and fun. From whatever’s left over, set a maximum amount to spend on decorations this year. 

Then remember the saying. “It’s called a budget because you don’t budge.” This budget is a promise to yourself, so keep that promise. 

5. Make a List

Going grocery shopping with a list can save you big on food bills. And the same applies to your Christmas decoration shopping. 

Once you have a plan and budget, write down the things you need and how much it’s likely to cost. Don’t forget to include related expenses like batteries and tea lights. 

If the things you want send you over budget, rethink each decoration. Put anything you decide to cut on a wish list. You may be able to get them if you get a fantastic deal or find an alternative before you go shopping.

Otherwise, once you’ve got your list under budget, stick to it to ensure you don’t overspend, no matter what cool upgrade shows up in your decor shopping journey. 

Think Before You Shop

You have a plan, but you’re not ready to shop yet. Before you head to the store, think about how you can get the most bang for your buck, how fancy your decorations need to be, and alternatives to buying brand-new decorations.

Every decoration you can save on or get for free is a decoration you can move from your wish list to the shopping list.

6. Embrace the Power of Showrooming

“Showrooming” is a term retailers use to describe going into a store to physically interact with a product only to buy it cheaper online. Retailers hate showrooming because it cuts into their profits. 

But for a consumer, showrooming is a fantastic opportunity. Many online listings fail to give a good enough sense of the size, colors, and quality of the product. The wait for shipping can mean receiving a disappointing decoration with little time to do anything about it. 

Don’t just walk away once you’ve settled on a product. Many big-box stores match Internet pricing if you can show them what’s available. But don’t just buy it, either. Wait until you’ve seen what’s out there.

7. Invest in Quality Where It Counts

Imagine you have to choose between a $120 door wreath and a $12 one. If the cheap one lasts just one year, and the expensive one lasts 10 years or more, the expensive wreath is the better choice. 

It’s better to buy just one or two quality things each year and amass a stellar collection over time than buy lots of cheap stuff you continuously replace. So aim to buy a few high-quality pieces each year instead of large collections of cheap baubles that will break or wear out. 

Your tree is one of the best examples. A quality artificial Christmas tree lasts 10 years or more and costs just two to three times as much as a live tree of a comparable size. That means it’s between three and five times as good a deal before you even consider the fire hazard or costs of watering and disposal.

That said, some things, such as fads and kids picks your children will outgrow, are better cheap and disposable. You can pick those up at the dollar store or a budget retailer. 

As you’re making your plan, decide what needs to be an investment piece and what you can cheap out on.

8. Opt for Multitaskers

Items that serve just one purpose are the bane of budget-conscious shopping. Decorative ones are the worst of the lot. They get used once each year and spend the rest of the time in storage. 

A Christmas tree is a must in most households. But consider forgoing the Santas, reindeer, and candy canes for more general decorations. For example:

  • Pine boughs and holly, which can stay up for most of winter
  • White lights instead of multicolored, which you can string outside all summer
  • Snowflake and winter art celebrating the weather more than the holiday

As you map out your Christmas decoration plan, incorporate as many of these elements as possible.

9. Shop Your Home First

Before you set foot in a store, go through your home. Pull out all the Christmas decorations, winter equipment, and general decorations. Look in your donations box and the toy trunks. 

You may find exactly what you need or things that are close enough. You may even find something that’s even better than you planned.

Depending on how established your household is, it can cut half or more of the items off your shopping list. As a bonus, it means you have fewer new things to find a home for when the season is over.

10. Shop Your Neighbors & Family

After you’ve run through the potential decorations in your home, check with people you know. Find out if they can lend you anything for this year’s plan and offer to return the favor.

Better yet, set up a neighborhood decoration swap. At a swap, participants meet to exchange their unwanted stuff for things they need without spending a dime. 

11. Team Up With Friends & Family

Warehouse clubs, retail supply outlets, and large online lots sell goods in bulk at a discount. During the season, you can find decorations like wreaths, tree baubles, and lights among those deals. 

The problem is you only need one household’s worth of decor. Buying the bulk package for everything you need won’t save you money.

Fortunately, nearly everyone you know probably wants or needs them too. So go in on the bulk purchase and split it. That helps you save on your purchase without ordering more than you need. 

Take this one step further by getting together with three to six other households. Plan several Christmas decoration themes you all like. You need the same number of themes as you have households. 

Avoid fads and pop culture phenomena. A “Frozen” Christmas theme may look dated in three to six years (or your kids may have lost interest). 

You each buy the decorations for one theme, then trade at the end of every season. That gives all participating households several years’ worth of Christmas decor for the cost of just one year’s supplies. 

Just ensure you set a budget range to ensure everyone feels they got their money’s worth each year. For example, every household should spend a minimum of $75 but no more than $100. You can also establish rules like avoiding tall pieces that don’t fit in every house.

12. DIY It

Before you buy anything, look into what you can make yourself. Homemade decorations ranging from popcorn strings to paper snowflakes to small wrapped boxes can save you a surprising amount of money over buying something comparable. 

Or come up with something unique. For example, string last year’s Christmas cards on twine for an attractive, meaningful garland you can update every year. 

You can turn the whole project into family time with the kids. Each age group has something to offer, and they can be proud of the finished product knowing they contributed.

But note that some DIY projects cost more than just buying the alternative. For example, you could easily copy that wine bottle message display you found on Etsy, but when you can’t buy in bulk like the original designer, the cost of supplies adds up fast. It’s cheaper to buy it from the Etsy shop.

Do your homework and choose homemade only when it saves money. 


Shop Smart

Knowing where to shop (and not shop), how to get discounts and earn rewards, and when and how to compare products can save you a lot if you take the time.

13. Start at the Thrift Store

Thrift shops can be an excellent source of clothing, books, games, and toys. But many also put out seasonal items when the time is right. Some might need some TLC, like a touch of paint or stitching up a tear. 

Even if you can’t find holiday decor, you might find some inexpensive supplies for a seasonal DIY. For example, pick up a well-loved doll or broken jack-in-the-box for your Isle of Misfit Toys display.

14. Shop the Dollar Store

While quality is essential for decor you need to last, the Christmas season often calls for stuff you can only use once, such as fake snow or tinsel strands. 

You can also find inexpensive candles, jars and vases, artificial flowers, and baskets to fill with holiday-themed baubles like pine cones and Christmas balls. Things like these should last for years if you take care of them. A creative mind can turn them into eye-catching decorations on a budget. 

While dollar store selection varies by retailer and location, many carry a surprising variety of Christmas-themed goodies for less than big-box retailers. For example, Target sells Christmas stockings for $5 and up, but my local Dollar Tree sells perfectly good ones for a buck. 

But if you need more than a few pieces, check other options for decoration sets. For instance, Target offers several packs of multiple decorations for $25 to $30. If that pack contains more than 25 or 30 individual pieces, you’d spend more replicating it at the dollar store.

15. Shop at the Craft Store

When you’re picking up supplies for your family night DIY, don’t overlook the craft store’s other finds.

In addition to craft supplies, you can often find Christmas-themed components that can serve as decorations. For example, you can nab scented or glittery pine cones, miniature reindeer and Santas, and assorted season-themed picture frames. And they tend to cost a fraction of what you’d pay for something similar in the Christmas aisle elsewhere. 

16. Be Careful at Big-Box Stores

Big-box stores like Home Depot, Target, and Best Buy can be a blessing or a curse for saving money on Christmas decorations. They carry some products at prices lower than other retailers but tend to mark up other items substantially. 

Their general profit model is to bring you in for a good deal. Then, once you’re inside, they bet on you noticing other things you want or need. And you pay more than you should because it’s convenient.

Stick to your list and only take advantage of the good deals when shopping at these locations. 

17. Avoid Specialty Stores

Local holiday pop-up stores appear every season in unused storefronts or holiday markets. 

They’re almost always far more expensive than big-box stores and the Internet. Sometimes, they have really neat, exclusive decor, but they’re rarely worth the extra cost. 

Closely related are the year-round specialty shops like Hallmark and Disney stores. Their price tags are similarly out of proportion with other options. 

18. Run Everything by Amazon

Amazon has immense buying power in multiple industries, meaning they can outprice almost all their competition on a multitude of products. 

So before you buy anything from another retailer, check to see if Amazon can do better. If they can and you can receive it in time, that’s the better choice. That’s especially true for Prime members, who get free shipping on almost everything on the site.

This plan is especially frugal if you have an Amazon rewards or Amazon Prime rewards credit card. Both cards offer cash back on every purchase. But stick to your budget and avoid a standing balance. 

19. Leverage Customer Loyalty Programs

If you have loyalty rewards cards at stores that sell Christmas supplies, now is the time to use them. For example, the Kohl’s rewards you racked up in November could get you discounts on mantel decorations or lights and garlands.

Run the numbers first. Stores with rewards programs typically have slightly higher prices than the competition. So ensure the savings provides a lower final price than you’d pay elsewhere.

20. Remember Shipping

When you shop online for decorations, don’t forget to account for shipping costs. A discounted online purchase can cost the same or more as an in-store buy after you cover the cost of transportation.

It’s crucial to keep an eye on shipping costs with large objects like inflatable yard decorations or an artificial tree. Shipping them costs the retailer real money, and they pass that cost on to you. 

If possible, stick to retailers that offer free shipping, like Amazon and Overstock. 

21. Don’t Skip Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are best known for deep discounts on high-ticket gifts. During these events, you can find good savings on decorations or related products like craft supplies, LED candles, and batteries.  

22. Learn to Love Singles’ Day

Singles’ Day is a popular Asian shopping holiday that falls on Nov. 11. Although it’s a newer phenomenon, it already dwarfs Black Friday in terms of overall dollars spent. Singles’ Day sales are only available from Asia-based retailers. So look closely at shipping costs and estimated shipping times to avoid nasty surprises.

23. Use Cash-Back Apps & Browser Extensions

Cash-back apps like Ibotta and Rakuten give you cash back on purchases made at member stores. It’s the equivalent of using a coupon at the register. These deals focus primarily on groceries and restaurants but include retailers who deal in holiday decor. So you can find deals if you look.

Each transaction is only worth a small amount, but the savings accumulate into a single larger periodic payment. Depending on the app you choose, you can receive it via a cash-transfer app like PayPal, check, or free gift card.

You can get similar results online from browser extensions like Capital One Shopping or Honey. These interact with your shopping cart, automatically scanning the Web for coupons to reduce your price for whatever you buy.

24. Pay With Cash-Back Credit Cards

Use cash-back credit cards to pay for all your Christmas purchases, including decorations. When you use one of these cards, a percentage of your purchase becomes a rewards credit on your account. 

Later, you can redeem those rewards to reduce the balance on your card or receive a cash payment or gift card. Some cards have other options, like airline miles.

When buying Christmas decorations with cash-back cards, use the one with the best rewards for your needs. 

For example, say you have two credit cards. The Capital One Quicksilver card offers 1.5% back on all purchases, while the Costco Anywhere Visa gives 1% cash back everywhere and 2% at Costco. So opt for the Quicksilver when you’re at most retailers, but switch to the Costco card when you’re in the warehouse store.

You can also look at reciprocal discounts from your credit card-associated frequent flyer plan. For example, American’s Simply Miles program offers discounts or extra miles for purchases at 30 retailers. Some of yours might give blanket discounts or other deals at shops where you want to buy your decor. 

But use caution. Spending too much on credit cards can saddle you with debt for months to come. The interest can cost more than the value of the rewards. Only spend what you can afford to pay back immediately, and pay off the balance as soon as possible. 

25. Stack Discounts

You can save even more by stacking discount opportunities. 

For example, you might look at Ibotta and find it has a 7% cash back offer at Michaels craft store for purchases of up to $100 in value. With that in mind, you find they have an inflatable snowman yard decoration for just over $100. 

After a little more research, you find a 20% off coupon on the Michaels website. Between that and the Ibotta deal, you’re at a total of 27% saved. 

But don’t stop there. At the register, pay with a 2%-cash-back credit card to get even more rewards. 

Discount stacking requires research and planning but can add up to hundreds of dollars unspent or returned to you over a holiday season.


Final Word

If you really want to save money, take this year off. Use what you have or leave your home undecorated. Take the money you would have spent on Christmas decor, and put it in a savings account until January.

With the holiday season in everybody’s rearview mirror, whatever stock stores still have goes on deep discount. You can pick up all your Christmas cheer for pennies on the dollar. It’s something you can do every year. Use January’s purchases at the end of the year, then buy upgrades in January.

You can’t use this strategy to save on Christmas decorations this year, but it’s a strong strategy for budget-friendly holidays for a lifetime. 

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Source: moneycrashers.com

What’s Stopping You from Making the Jump to a New Career?

We have all seen the headlines about available jobs, but not enough people are applying for them in these COVID-challenged times. Why?

 “Sarah,” a 10-year HR veteran in the IT staffing field, has a theory. As she told me, “When asked, ‘Why don’t you want to come back to work?’ so often we hear, ‘I just want to do something else, but right now, I don’t really know what, and I’m a bit afraid of doing much of anything outside of what I know.’”

Sarah admitted, “I also feel that way and just wish there was a by-the-numbers guidebook on steps I can take to start my own company. Dennis, have you got any suggestions?”

I do indeed and just finished reading a timely prescription for anyone who wants to make that jump from one career to another, or to becoming an entrepreneur. In fact, that is the title of best-selling author Kim Perell’s new book, Jump.

Laid off at her first job out of college at an internet startup that went bankrupt, Kim began a journey as an entrepreneur from her kitchen table with a $10,000 loan from her 80-year-old grandmother, and grew her digital marketing company to over $100 million in annual revenue.

I asked Kim, “When thinking of the people who want something better in their lives — to literally jump out of where they are now — but just don’t, what are the biggest mistakes they are making?”

1. They wait until they are ‘ready.’

The reality is, you will never be ready!  You will never have 100% of the skills you believe are necessary to take that ideal job.  If you have at least 70%-80% of the qualifications needed, STILL apply for it! Believe in yourself, trust in your ability and take the risk.

2. They wait for the perfect opportunity – the perfect time.

If you do that, you will be waiting forever. There is no perfect time. Right now there are a record number of job openings in the U.S. It’s likely that a number of those who could be applying for new opportunities are waiting for the right time, too.

3. They think, ‘I don’t have time to look for a different job or start a business.’

Really? There are 24 hours in a day. After accounting for sleep and work, there are still several free hours. Use the time to make this exploration a priority! Excuses will only keep you where you are; action will bring you closer to success.

4. They allow their fears of the unknown to be paralyzing.

Be brave. There’s no growth or challenge in your comfort zone. While your fears and anxieties may be valid, they should not stop you from moving forward. Use your fear as fuel, not an excuse.

5. They fail to ask: ‘What is the worst that can happen if I don’t make a change?’

If you do that, you will stay stuck. You will never truly learn your potential for growth if you keep doing the same thing and expect to feel different. Avoiding change will stifle your happiness and growth.

6. They think, ‘I don’t need a plan. I will figure it out.’

Success doesn’t happen by accident. The absence of a plan can be detrimental to achieving your goals. You would not go on a hike in a forest without a map, and the same applies to planning for a career change. Without a clear plan, you are more likely to get lost, distracted and off track. With a clear plan, and specific action steps you need to take, you will be setting yourself up for success.

Establish a success plan of one year, two years, and so on.

7. They think, ‘I can do this alone!’

 Consequences: You will not be able to leverage your network for help or find a mentor to guide you. Most people want to help. The majority of employers want applicants who are referred by people they trust. Begin by asking your friends and family for connections or if they know of job openings.

8. They think, ‘I don’t have a choice.’

If you truly believe this, you will stay stuck. The truth is you do have a choice. It may be a difficult one to make, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have one. It’s always scary making a change, but regret is far scarier.

9. They think, ‘I am too old to make a change.’

 Let this negative type of thinking hold you back and you will miss out on chances for future success. Belief in your abilities and competence is critical. It’s never too late to venture into an area where you have the basic skills needed to succeed. Inspiration and innovation can come at any age. The world is changing faster than ever, and no matter your age, you can evolve right along with it.

10. They think that belief is enough to get your business started.

Not true. Simply believing there is a market for your idea or product isn’t enough. Do your research, educate yourself on the competitive landscape.

11. They fail to assemble the right team.

You need honest people who will level with you, and this includes an experienced business lawyer and accountant. Your chances for success diminish greatly without them. Life and business are team sports.

Concluding our interview, with a broad smile, Kim says, “I even tell my kids, I want you to jump instead of standing still!”

Attorney at Law, Author of “You and the Law”

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California’s Kern County District Attorney’s Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, “You and the Law.” Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. “I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift.” 

Source: kiplinger.com