7 Things to Do After College Besides Work

Numerous college students have a trajectory in mind for navigating life after college. For some, getting a job is their top goal. But, are there other things to do after college besides work?

Beyond looking for a traditional entry-level job, there are alternative choices for new grads—including internships, volunteering, grad school, spending time abroad, or serving in Americorps.

Naturally, the options available will differ depending on each person’s situation, as not all alternatives to work come with a paycheck attached.

Here’s a look at these seven things to do after college besides work.

1. Pursuing Internships

One popular alternative to working right after college is finding an internship. Generally, internships are temporary work opportunities, which are sometimes, but not always, paid.

Internships may give recent grads a chance to build up hands-on experience in a field or industry they believe they’re interested in working in full time. For some people, it could help determine whether the reality of working in a given sector meets their expectations.

Whatever grads learn during an internship, having on-the-job experience (even for those who opt to pursue a different career path) could make a job seeker stand out afterwards. Internships can help beef up a resume, especially for recent grads who don’t have much formal job experience.

A potential perk of internships is the chance to further grow your professional network—building relationships with more experienced workers in a particular department or job. Some interns may even be able to turn their short-term internship roles into a full-time position at the same company.

Starting out in an internship can be a great way for graduates to enter the workforce, “road testing” a specific job role or company.

2. Serving with AmeriCorps

Some graduates want to spend their time after college contributing to the greater good of American society. One possible option here is the Americorps program—supported by the US Federal Government.

So, what exactly is Americorps? Americorps is a national service program dedicated to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. There are three main programs that graduates can join in AmeriCorps: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State and National, and AmeriCorps Vista.

There’s a wide variety of options in AmeriCorps, when it comes to how you can serve. Graduates can work in emergency management, help fight poverty, or work in a classroom.

However graduates decide to serve through AmeriCorps, it may provide them with a rewarding professional experience and insights into a potential career.

Practically, Americorps members may also qualify for benefits such as student loan deferment, a living allowance, education awards (upon finishing their service), and skills training.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but AmeriCorps’ slogan is “Be the greater good.” Giving back to society could be a powerful way to spend some time after graduating—supporting organizations in need, while also establishing new professional connections.

3. Attending Grad School

When entering the workforce, graduates may encounter job postings with detailed employment requirements.

Some jobs require just a Bachelor’s degree, while others require a Master’s–think, for instance, of being a lawyer or medical doctor. Depending on their field of study and career goals, some students may opt to go right to graduate school after receiving their undergraduate degrees.

The number of jobs that expect graduate degrees is increasing in the US. Graduates might want to research their desired career fields and see if it’s common for people in these roles to need a master’s or terminal degree.

Some students may wish to take a break in between undergrad and grad school, while others find it easier to go straight through. This choice will vary from student to student, depending on the energy they have to continue school as well as their financial ability to attend graduate school.

Graduate school will be a commitment of time, energy and money. So, it’s advisable that students feel confident that a graduate degree is necessary for the line of work they’d like to end up in before they apply or enroll.

4. Volunteering for a Cause

Volunteering could be a great way for graduates to gain some extra skills before applying for a full-time job. Doing volunteer work may help graduates polish some essential soft skills, like interpersonal communication, interacting with clients or service recipients, and time management.

Another potential benefit to volunteering is the ability to network and forge new connections outside of college. The people-to-people connections made while volunteering could lead to mentorship and job offers.

Volunteering is something graduates can do after college besides work, while still fleshing out their resume or skills.

New grads may want to volunteer at an institution or organization that syncs with their values or, perhaps, pursue opportunities in sectors of the economy where they’d like to work later on (i.e., at a hospital).

On top of all these potential plus sides, volunteering just feels good. It makes people feel happier. And, after all of the stress that accompanies finishing up college, volunteering afterward could be the perfect way to recharge.

5. Serving Abroad

Similar to the last option, volunteering abroad can be attractive to some graduates. It may help grads gain similar skills they’d learn volunteering here at home, while also giving them the opportunity to learn how to interact with people from different cultures, try to learn a new language, and see new perspectives on solving problems.

Though it can be beneficial to the volunteers, volunteering abroad isn’t always as ethical as it seems. And, not all volunteering opportunities always benefit the local community.

It could take research to find organizations that are doing ethically responsible work abroad. One key thing to look for is organizations that put the locals first and have them directly involved in the work.

6. Taking a Gap Year

According to the Gap Year Association , a gap year is “a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.”

While a gap year is generally taken after high school or after college, one common purpose of the gap year is to take the time to learn more about oneself and the world at large—which can be beneficial after graduating from college and trying to figure out what to do next.

Not only might a gap year help grads build insights into what they’d like to do with their later careers, it may also help them home in on a greater purpose in life or build connections that could lead to future job opportunities.

Graduates might want to spend a gap year doing a variety of activities—including:

•   trying out seasonal jobs
•   volunteering
•   interning
•   teaching or tutoring
•   traveling

A gap year can be whatever the graduate thinks will be most beneficial for them.

7. Traveling Before Working

Going on a trip after graduation is a popular choice for graduates that can afford to travel after college. Traveling can be expensive, so graduates may want to budget in advance (if they want to have this experience post-graduation.

On top of just being really fun, travel can have beneficial impacts for an individual’s stress levels and mental health. Research from Cornell University published in 2014 suggests that the anticipation of planning a trip might have the potential to increase happiness.

Traveling after graduation is a convenient time to start ticking locations off that bucket list, because graduates won’t be held back by a limited vacation time. Going abroad before working can give students more time and flexibility to travel as much as they’d like (and can afford to!).

With proper research, graduates can find more affordable ways to travel—such as a multi-country rail pass, etc. It doesn’t have to be all luxury all the time. Budget travel is possible especially when making conscious decisions, like staying in hostels and using public transportation.

If graduates are determined to travel before working, they can accomplish this by saving money and budgeting well.

Navigating Post Graduation Decisions

Whether a recent grad opt to start their careers off right away or to pursue one of the above-mentioned things to do after college besides work, student loans are something that millions of university students have taken out.

After graduating (or if you’ve dropped below half-time enrollment or left school), the reality of paying back student loans sets in. The exact moment that grads will have to begin paying off their student loans will vary by the type of loan.

For federal loans, there are a couple of different times that repayment begins. Students who took out a Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Federal Family Education Loan, will all have a six month grace period before they’re required to make payments. Students who took out a Perkins loan will have a nine month grace period.

When it comes to the PLUS loan, it depends on the type of student that’s taken one out. Undergraduates will be required to start repayment as soon as the loan is paid out. Graduate and professional students with PLUS loans will be on automatic deferment while they’re in school and up to six months after graduating.

Some graduates opt to refinance their student loans. What does that mean? Well, refinancing student loans is when a lender pays off the existing loan with another loan that has a new interest rate. Refinancing can potentially lower monthly loan repayments or reduce the amount spent on interest over the life of the loan.

Both US federal and private student loans can be refinanced, but when federal student loans are refinanced by a private lender, the borrower forfeits guaranteed federal benefits—including loan forgiveness, deferment and forbearance, and income-driven repayment options.

Refinancing student loans may reduce money paid to interest. For graduates who have secured well-paying jobs and have improved their credit score since taking out their student loan, refinancing could come with a competitive interest rate and different repayment terms.

Graduating from college means officially entering the realm of adulthood, but that transition can take many forms. There are various financial tips that recent graduates may opt to look into.

Thinking about refinancing your student loans? With SoFi, you could get prequalified in just two minutes.



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Our Seasonal Guide to the Best Outdoor Gear Deals

Planning a vacation in the great outdoors in the next year? Now’s the time to start thinking about new gear and how you can get it for less.

Outdoor equipment can be pricey, but buying it at the right time of the year can get you the gear you covet at a better price. The savings will give you more cash to spend on the outdoor adventures themselves.

We’ve noted national retailers as good sources, however you might be able to get better details from Facebook’s Marketplace or Nextdoor for secondhand equipment. At Gear Trade you can buy both new and used equipment.

It’s time to get out there.

Guide to Buying Outdoor Gear at the Right Time

Ski Equipment

Best time to buy: Fall and March

Details: When ski shops shut down for the season, they usually have to clear out the inventory. Many of these stores stay in the outdoor gear business year-round, converting to bicycle or camping gear stores come spring and summer. But there’s always the question of what to do with all the bulky skis and snowboards that are left. The answer is usually to sell them cheaply. While the selection might not be great post-ski season, the prices are. Another option is to buy used ski equipment via GearTrade.com. Every week that an item doesn’t sell, the price drops so you can watch your favorite items until the price is right (unless someone else snags it first).

You’ll save: 50-60 percent

Where to buy it: Backcountry; REI; Gear Trade

Camping Equipment (Mostly Tents, Things to Sleep On)

Best time to buy: September

Details: In September, retailers don’t typically have many people clamoring to buy camping gear because it’s getting cold in much of the country, and they want to sell as much as possible, Priobrazhenskiy says. November through January are also good times to purchase when people are searching for holiday gifts. If you have a last-minute outing, you can find discounted items in late August as well, says Andrew Priobrazhenskiy, the CEO of DiscountReactor, an e-commerce business.

You’ll save: 50 percent

Where to buy: REI;  Dick’s Sporting Goods

Seasonal Sports Clothes (Ski Coats, Bathing Suits, Hiking Clothes and More)

Best time to buy: May

Details: If you wait until July or August, you’ll also be able to get your hands on great sale options and discounts as well, says Priobrazhenskiy.

You’ll save: 50 percent

Where to buy: REI;  Patagonia; Moosejaw

Outdoor Cooking Gear

Best time to buy: February, June and August

Details: These items such as camp stoves and cooking supplies and utensils tend to go on sale during these months. This is when most people plan their camping and outdoor trips, and retailers want to snag the business, Priobrazhenskiy says.

You’ll save: Up to 60 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Stand Up Paddleboards, Surf Boards, Kiteboards, Windsurfers

Best time to buy: August

Details: Purchasing your water sports equipment at the end of the summer is best because many stores hold end-of-season clearance sales, says Holly Appleby, a marine conservation researcher and surf instructor who runs Ocean Today, a project dedicated to ocean education. If you purchase at the end of the season, however, ensure you have adequate storage for your new equipment. Surfboards and paddleboards should be stored out of the sun in a cool, dry place, Appleby says. And while many items can be purchased secondhand, Appleby cautions against purchasing water sports equipment this way. “Purchasing secondhand usually means you can get good deals year-round, but while you’ll likely save money, there’s a chance the safety of the item has been compromised,” she says.

You’ll save: 40 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; REI

Kayaks and Canoes

Best time to buy: End of August

Details: The prime season for paddling around lakes, rivers and other waterways in much of the United States is August. So the end of August is a great time to buy a discounted kayak, canoe or other piece of paddle equipment. Don’t want to store it for a year before you’ll get to use it? Memorial Day usually draws major lake equipment sales, as does Christmas. The worst time to purchase these items is spring, when the new inventory arrives in the stores. Often, you can find used paddling craft and equipment on Craigslist or on local Facebook groups for half the price during the spring and fall months.

Two people kayak in the water.
Getty Images

You’ll save: 40-50 percent

Where to buy: REI; Cabela’s

Hiking Gear

Best time to buy: March and April

Details: The majority of sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Camping World will have closeouts in the spring to make room for new gear and accessories for hiking such as boots, packs, navigation tools and trekking poles, says Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at Smarty and Smarty Plus. “It’s very important to take advantage of any available savings with trending coupons and rewards like cash back in order to assure the best price, regardless of the stores you’re shopping in,” Porwal says.

You’ll save: 10-40 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; Bass Pro Shops; Camping World

Bicycles and Helmets

Best time to buy: Fall

Details: This is when the stores get rid of the previous summer stock and to make room for new models. But you can also get good deals on Black Friday and around the Christmas season. If you’re looking for a specialist bike, such as a mountain bike or a road bike, these will be on sale whenever they’re out of race season (usually the winter months). Save even more by asking to purchase a demo bike. These are the bikes that shops lend to prospective buyers. They tend to be well-maintained, and are the equivalent of an open box item in an electronics store.

You’ll save: 20-35 percent

Where to buy: You should purchase bicycles at a local store to get the correct fit.

Fishing Gear

Best time to buy: February

Details: About two months after the December holiday season is the sweet spot: It’s too early to fish in much of the country except for all but hardy ice anglers and stores need to sell off their older gear. Make sure to look in the used sections as well because that’s where better deals can be found.

You’ll save: 25-40 percent

Where to buy: Cabela’s; Bass Pro Shops

Car Racks to Carry It All

Best time to buy: November

Details: Black Friday is the best time to snag racks for bikes, watercraft, skis, snowboards and more, but you’ll rarely see these for more than 20 percent off. Want a better deal? Look for these on EBay or Craigslist, or scour local Facebook Marketplace listings. These are sturdy so you don’t typically have to worry about it being damaged and often, people will use theirs for a trip or two before getting rid of it.

You’ll save: 20 percent

Where to buy: REI; Backcountry

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

10 Cities Near Boston To Live in 2021

The enchanting city of Boston is a beacon of history and culture. From the Freedom Trail to the thriving Financial District, the many charms of this city attract hopeful renters from across the globe. But one look at the average rent prices in Boston may leave you searching for less expensive relocation options.

Whether you are cost-conscious or prefer to live away from the big city vibe, rest assured that there are plenty of cities near Boston where you can still enjoy the best of this world-renowned region.

Here are 10 wonderful cities near Boston with access to the metropolis and unique charms of their own.

Newton, MA. Newton, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 9.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,641 (down 9.6 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,453 (down 11.8 percent since last year)

Newton is a quintessential New England town with 13 unique neighborhoods, charmingly called Newton’s “13 villages.” The communities offer something for every taste — from Chestnut Hill with its farmlands and chestnut trees to the prosperous business district of West Newton.

West Newton claims a convenient stop on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail, allowing Newton residents to bypass some truly awful Boston traffic and arrive in Back Bay in under 20 minutes.

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Concord, MA, one of the cities near bostonConcord, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 20 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,856 (up 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,725 (down 0.3 percent since last year)

The city of Concord is a fascinating mix of early-American history and modern natural wonders. The Concord Museum captures the uniqueness of the town since its incorporation in 1635, including Concord’s essential role in the American Revolutionary War. Historic houses in Concord display a charming style of architecture unique to New England.

The Walden Pond State Reservation offers locals and tourists a great place to hit the trails and go for a swim at lake beaches.

Outdoor adventures in Concord pair well with an inspiring visit to Thoreau House, the site of the transcendentalist poet’s home, and the legendary Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

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Natick, MA. Natick, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,118 (down 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,606 (down 5.7 percent since last year)

Natick is known for its Natick Town Center, a charming downtown with historic brick buildings and a cozy atmosphere. Residents enjoy many benefits, including access to a Community Center, the Sassamon Trace Golf Course and Memorial Beach.

On the opposite side of the town exists an entirely different scene with the massive Natick Mall. This shopping center draws in both business and excitement as the largest mall in Massachusetts.

Residents have the best of both worlds, with lovely farmlands in the eastern parts of Natick and the liveliness of the commercial area to the northwest.

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Salem, MA, one of the cities near bostonSalem, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,444 (up 0.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,049 (up 9.5 percent since last year)

Best known for being the home of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is rich in history.

The downtown and harbor areas comprise a wide web of streets offering countless shops, restaurants and museums. For a change of theme, visitors can explore worldwide art and culture on display at the Peabody Essex Museum and the historic House of the Seven Gables.

While the height of Salem’s excitement peaks in the month-long celebrations in October, locals enjoy year-round nightlife and a vibrant party scene.

A change of pace is easy to find with the numerous seaside beaches and the expansive nature preservatory at Salem Woods.

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Framingham, MA. Framingham, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.7 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,876 (down 7.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,357 (down 15.2 percent since last year)

Framingham is a commercial hub that acts as a midway point between Boston in the east and mini-metropolis Worcester farther to the west. In addition to its strategic location, Framingham residents enjoy in-town attractions such as the Garden in the Woods and Jack’s Abbey brewery.

Framingham has several residential neighborhoods and is a popular town for city commuters as the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail offers a comfortable ride to both Boston and Worcester.

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Boxborough, MA, one of the cities near bostonBoxborough, MA, one of the cities near boston

Photo source: Boxborough, MA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Boston: 29 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,806 (down 17.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,868 (down 21.6 percent since last year)

The cozy town of Boxborough is ideal for those wishing to partake in the joys of countryside life while keeping the conveniences of the big city within distance.

Locals here enjoy charming estates, lush greenery and a close-knit community. For schooling and other purposes, this town is often combined with nearby Acton as the Acton-Boxborough area.

Nature lovers enjoy the numerous Boxborough farms selling locally-grown produce. A breath of the wild is always at hand for residents who have access to in-town parks such as Flerra Meadows and the nearby Wachusett Mountain with its hiking trails and ski slopes.

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foxboro mafoxboro ma

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 30.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,144 (up 0.9 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,067 (down 5.3 percent since last year)

Written officially as “Foxborough,” locals refer to this town as “Foxboro” and the “Home of the New England Patriots.” The stunning Gillette Stadium here is the base of Massachusetts’ most beloved football team. During a game, locals across Massachusetts know to give Foxboro a wide berth as the traffic is as legendary as the team playing.

Luckily, Foxboro locals don’t have to leave town to have a great time. The expansive Patriot Place shopping plaza surrounding the stadium offers thrills such as an escape room and a themed cafe.

Fans of nature aren’t left out here — the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog, as well as the numerous bucolic farms and scenic landscape nearby, offer much to explore.

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Bridgewater, MA, one of the cities near bostonBridgewater, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 32.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,878 (up 1.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,211 (up 1.5 percent since last year)

A college town with a youthful vibe and lively downtown, Bridgewater is home to Bridgewater State University and boasts the high energy and hip scene of an international campus.

Bridgewater and neighboring towns East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater are great midway points between Boston and Cape Cod.

Residents can take the MBTA Commuter Rail from Bridgewater Station to reach the big city in under an hour or enjoy a scenic drive over the Bourne Bridge to bask on the Cape beaches.

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Gloucester, MA. Gloucester, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 36.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,760 (0.0 percent change since last year)

Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester is a dream come true for those who want to live by the sea. This peninsula paradise has beaches on two sides and is right next to the famous town of Rockport. Locals enjoy fresh seafood and an artsy scene — many creative souls appreciate the breathtaking scenery these towns have to offer.

Keep in mind that summer is the high season for coastal towns like Gloucester, and many of the beachy parts of Cape Ann cater to tourists and elderly snowbirds. While Gloucester is not as touristy as Rockport, year-round residents here should expect the liveliness of summer and a much quieter reprieve in winter.

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Plymouth, MA, one of the cities near bostonPlymouth, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 39.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,151 (up 2.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,700 (up 4.5 percent since last year)

Often referred to as “America’s hometown,” Plymouth, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620, offers rich history alongside spectacular views of the ocean. The Mayflower II is on display in the downtown memorial park, not far from the monument protecting Plymouth Rock.

Enthusiasts of early American history will enjoy exploring the world-renowned Plimouth Plantation, where Plymouth residents enjoy a steep discount.

Locals and tourists alike love strolling downtown Plymouth with its waterfront shops and a picturesque harbor. Outside of the main commercial areas, scenic cranberry bogs and numerous nature parks dot the landscape.

Business picks up around Thanksgiving time, but unlike many other coastal parts of Massachusetts that host seasonal residents, Plymouth enjoys a steady population year-round.

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Make one of these cities near Boston your home city

Between a prosperous city life and oceanside charms, it is no wonder that Boston and its surrounding area have some of the most sought-after real estate in the country. Whether you want to bask in the rich history of the region or live an idyllic life by the sea, you can find your ideal place in one of these great cities near Boston.

Properties are in high demand, and space is exclusive, so start looking for your new home today.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

13 Ways a Food Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money on Groceries

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Virtually no market has been left untouched, and that’s especially true of Americans’ grocery shopping and food-related habits.

People are eating at home more often and even baking their own bread. And food preservation systems like vacuum sealers are surging in popularity, according to The Business of Business magazine. It makes sense. With all the stocking up we have to do to limit the number of grocery trips we take, we now need a way to keep all our spoils from spoiling.

With an initial investment of between $20 and $100 or more, depending on type and quality, plus the cost of vacuum-seal bags or storage containers, it costs a little to get started. But ultimately, they can save you much more money in the long run.

Ways a Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money

One of the selling points of vacuum sealing is that it can help you save money. But can it really save you enough to justify its expense? That depends on what you’re currently doing to save on food and other goods. But if any of these cost-cutting measures would help, the vacuum sealer is probably worth much more than its weight in gold.

1. Eliminate Food Waste

Food waste is a significant problem in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans discard between 30% and 40% of their food.

A separate 2020 study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (and covered by Forbes) backed that up, finding that the average household wasted 31.9%. Those researchers estimated this waste to cost the average household $1,866 per year. A family that can cut food waste in half can save nearly $1,000 per year.

And a vacuum sealer can help you do that. For example, you can buy a large package of meat, cook half of it, and vacuum-seal the rest for later in the week.

You can do something similar with other foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables or cheese. Use only the amount you need, then seal the rest for later, and you’ll finally manage to get through every last bite before it goes bad. But wrap cheese in parchment or wax paper before sealing it to absorb the cheese’s natural moisture (which can cause it to deteriorate) and prevent sticking.

For foods you plan to reach for frequently, such as cheese and fruit, use a plastic vacuum-seal container or reusable plastic bag with a handheld model. For foods you plan to use all at once, such as meat, you can use a traditional countertop model with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags.

2. Buy in Bulk

If you’ve ever been to a warehouse store like Costco, you’re familiar with the absolutely massive packages of food they sell. Buying meat in 20-pound bulk packages can be cheaper than buying it in a grocery store, but what family can eat 20 pounds of beef before it goes bad?

There are just some things you shouldn’t buy in bulk if you can’t eat them quickly enough. But a vacuum sealer changes the game by extending the shelf life of what you buy.

Using a countertop sealer and custom bags from rolls, you can seal and store many kinds of food long term if you follow the best method for each.

  • Meat. Seal meat in meal-size portions. According to United Kingdom vacuum-sealer company Grutto, vacuum-sealed meat lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator and between two and three years in the freezer. According to FoodSafety.gov, that’s double to triple the time compared to storing without the seal. How long a specific meat lasts depends on the variety. But in general, discard any meat that smells off, has undergone a color change, or feels slimy or sticky.
  • Beans. According to USA Emergency Supply, dry beans can stay good for up to 10 years at room temperature. If you vacuum-seal the beans, which reduces the amount of moisture that can reach them, that can extend their shelf by another 10 years.
  • Rice. White rice has a long shelf life, but brown rice can go bad within six months at room temperature. According to USA Emergency Supply, vacuum-sealing brown rice can extend its life to as long as two years and extend white rice’s shelf life to a full decade.
  • Flours and Meals. Flour usually has a shelf life of about a year, but USA Emergency Supply notes that vacuum-sealing it can make it last for up to five years at room temperature. To seal flour, place it in your freezer for four days to a week to kill any insects or bugs in it. Then, place the flour in a brown paper bag. Label the bag if desired and fold the top over, but don’t roll it down (air must be able to escape). Place the paper bag in a vacuum-seal bag and seal it. Wrapping it in a paper bag first prevents flour from getting sucked into the sealer. Note that the vacuum-sealing process compresses your flour, so this method is best used by those who measure their flour by weight (ounces or grams) rather than volume (cups). You can use the same approach to seal other dry powdered or ground goods, such as cornmeal, corn flour, or breadcrumbs.
  • Cheese. Wrap your cheese in some parchment or wax paper to absorb its natural moisture before sealing. According to online cheese seller Cheesy Place, this storage method can extend cheese’s freshness by months or longer. However, soft cheeses don’t tend to freeze well.

Before you run out and stock up on everything on this list, note that you’re only saving money if you’re getting a good deal on things you’d buy and use anyway.

3. DIY Dump Recipes

Cooking after a long workday is a daunting task. Sometimes, all you want is something simple with as little prep work as possible.

On days when chopping, slicing, and cutting sounds like a colossal chore, dump recipes can help you put a home-cooked meal on the table with minimal effort. All you have to do is dump the ingredients into a casserole dish or slow cooker or scatter them on a sheet pan, no other prep required.

With a vacuum sealer, you can make DIY dump-meal packets and toss them in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

4. Batch Cooking

Mornings can be chaotic, especially if multiple people are trying to get out of the house. But taking some time to batch-cook ensures you have a filling breakfast that doesn’t involve golden arches, even when you’re short on time.

Batch cooking involves spending a day or two, usually over the weekend, whipping up large batches of food for the week or month ahead. And a vacuum sealer makes your batch-cooked food last even longer.

For example, spend a Saturday putting together some vacuum-sealed breakfast pouches with nuke-and-go meals like breakfast burritos, pancakes, or mini-quiches for days when time just isn’t on your side. Just pre-freeze anything that might squash when sealed, such as rolls. You can then store them in either the freezer or fridge.

And batch cooking isn’t just suitable for breakfast foods.

At lunch, being limited to an hour-long break makes it tough to avoid popping out for fast food every day. But things like hand pies, soup, chili, and stir-fries all keep well in a vacuum-sealed packet. Freeze hand pies before sealing to keep them from squashing. For liquids like soups and chilies, pour the contents into a regular zip-close bag and freeze them flat. Then remove them from the zip-close bag, and vacuum-seal them, placing them back in the freezer for long-term storage or in the fridge for use that week.

If you store them in the freezer, transfer them to the refrigerator the night before. By the time lunch rolls around the next day, they should be mostly defrosted, and a microwave can finish the job.

You can even use a vacuum sealer to batch-cook weeknight freezer meals for evenings when cooking just isn’t an option. Batch-cook large quantities of dishes like lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or meatballs for spaghetti or subs, and vacuum-seal them in meal-size portions.

For lasagna, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes, pre-freeze them in smaller containers before removing them to a vacuum-sealer bag.

5. Long-Term Leftovers

Cooking large meals means having leftovers. But it can get boring to eat the same thing repeatedly, especially if you make a considerable amount.

Having a vacuum sealer means you can seal and store these leftovers for weeks or months instead of days like you can in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze leftovers into homemade TV dinners. For example, instead of freezing a leftover half of meatloaf, quart of mashed potatoes, and leftover veggies separately, put enough of each for one person into several vacuum-seal storage containers. All you have to do when you want something easy to eat is take it out of the freezer and reheat. They’re perfect for lunches or hectic school nights when you’re eating dinner solo.

6. Buy Food in Season

If you visit the grocery store, you can buy many fruits and vegetables year-round, but you may notice the price and quality of some foods varies throughout the year. Even though modern supply chains mean you can buy most food items any time of year, fruits and veggies are seasonal products.

With a vacuum sealer, you can buy food while it’s in season — or pick it from your own garden — when it’s at its cheapest and freshest. When you seal it, you preserve its freshness and quality.

Before vacuum-sealing vegetables, blanch them by boiling them for a few minutes, then dropping them into an ice bath. Dry them thoroughly, and place them in a vacuum-seal bag. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, blanching helps preserve the veggies’ flavor, color, and texture.

According to Food Vac Bags, sealed and frozen vegetables stay fresh for two or three years in the freezer compared to the normal eight to 12 months the National Center for Food Preservation says vegetables can stay frozen without vacuum sealing.

To vacuum-seal fresh fruit, start by cutting (if necessary) and freezing the fruit on a flat baking sheet. That prevents it from getting squashed during the sealing process. Place the frozen fruit into bags (preferably in single-use serving sizes) and seal. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, sealed frozen fruit can stay good for up to 12 months. And according to VacMaster, sealed fruit stays fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge.

7. Store Herbs & Spices

Dried herbs and spices have a long shelf life, but they tend to lose their flavor relatively quickly. If you compare the smell and taste of a new spice jar with one that’s a year or two old, you’ll notice the difference.

People use some spices frequently throughout the year, but others are more seasonal. For example, cloves are a popular component in wintery dishes but may not appear as often during other seasons.

Vacuum-sealing spices can help preserve their freshness longer. If you notice you haven’t used certain spices for a while, place them in a small paper bag with the top folded or a plastic zip-close bag with a couple of small holes in it, then place that bag in a larger vacuum-seal bag. Pre-bagging prevents the spice from getting sucked into the vacuum, which could damage the machine. You can unseal them when you need them and don’t have to worry about them losing flavor over time.

You can also use a vacuum sealer to preserve fresh herbs as an alternative to store-bought dried ones. First, blanch the herbs by dropping them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. That helps them stay fresh for even longer in a vacuum-sealed packet. Just make sure you let the herbs dry completely before sealing them.

Note that herbs might not look nice after vacuum sealing, so they won’t be good garnishes. Vacuum-sealing just preserves their flavor. According to FoodSaver, frozen, vacuum-sealed herbs can stay fresh for months.

8. Save Space in Your Kitchen

Vacuum-sealing eliminates a lot of bulk. That can save you space in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, meaning you can worry less about space.

For example, vacuum-sealed meats, like ground beef, can have a much slimmer profile than meat packaged in the Styrofoam trays from the grocery store. Repackaging them in your own vacuum-seal bags also lets you control the quantity and shape of each chub.

If you like soup and chili, you can vacuum-seal loads of it without taking up too much room. To save space, spoon it into a zip-close bag, seal it carefully, and place it on a flat surface, like a baking sheet, to freeze. You can then remove the frozen meal from the zip-close bag and seal it in a custom bag. That gives you a flat package that’s easy to store in the freezer, either by stacking multiple bags or storing them straight up and down, like a file folder. The flat freezing method also makes it defrost quickly.

Sealing things like beans or grains lets you customize the way you store your dry goods. Some of these products come in awkward packages that are floppy and cumbersome in tight storage spaces. Vacuum-sealing pulls out all the air, creating a sturdy package that doesn’t shift as you search for other goods. Use reusable bags with a handheld sealer so you can grab what you need and reseal. Or you can use a vacuum-seal canister for even greater stability.

You can also seal bags of frozen vegetables or fruits in a single layer to reduce the amount of space they take up in your freezer. That makes it easier to keep them out of the way until you need them. You can also try sealing vegetables in smaller servings so you can use them in a meal without having to reseal what you don’t need.

9. Marinate Faster

Marinating meat or vegetables before cooking adds flavor. But marinating takes precious time. Many recipes call for placing food in the marinade hours before you cook — or even the night before — hardly ideal for on-the-go parents or professionals.

Vacuum-sealing the food in plastic bags can help you marinate it much faster. Make your marinade and pour it over the food into a custom bag made from a bag roll, then vacuum-seal it. With this method, marination takes only half an hour, though you can leave it longer if you want more flavor or tenderness.

When marinating, avoid letting liquid get into your vacuum sealer. A popular strategy is the paper towel method. Just put a paper towel between the food and the top of the bag. The towel catches liquid before it gets sucked into the vacuum sealer. As an alternative to paper products, you can use cheesecloth or something similar.

10. Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking relies on cooking food sealed in glass jars or plastic bags in a water bath at a precisely regulated temperature. You can use a sous vide cooker without a vacuum sealer, but vacuum-sealing yields the best results.

Using a sous vide cooker makes it easy to cook meat to the exact doneness you desire. Since you can set the temperature of the water bath precisely, the food never heats above a set temperature. That means getting the perfect level of doneness every time you cook with no risk of going over. If you like, you can even give it a quick sear on high heat after it’s done.

That’s fantastic news for those pricey steaks you splurged on. But it can also save you money by letting you buy cheaper cuts of meat. According to Serious Eats, sous vide’s low and slow cooking with consistent temperatures tenderizes the meat.

Sous vide machines are perfect for summer cooking since they don’t heat your home the way ovens do. Plus, you can keep the sous vide running while you’re not home.

You can use it to cook almost anything that benefits from cooking at precise temperatures, such as eggs or meat.

And with sous vide, you can cook your sides along with your mains. For example, toss some sliced potatoes, smashed garlic, milk, and butter for mashed potatoes into one vacuum-seal pack and some broccoli, olive oil, salt, and pepper into another and cook those along with a salmon steak or pork roast.

You can even sous vide foods straight from the freezer.

11. Waterproof Your Valuables & Emergency Supplies

If you’re planning a trip to the beach, expecting a large storm, or simply want to keep your valuables safe, you can use your vacuum sealer to waterproof them.

For example, you can seal things like important documents, your kids’ priceless artwork, and comic books or magazines. But be careful, as the vacuum could transfer the ink to other surfaces, make pages stick together, and crimp the edges. Instead, place them between cardboard sheets to prevent damage, then slide them into a custom-size bag from a roll and use the seal-only function. To ensure they’re also protected from fire, place them inside a fire-resistant envelope before sealing.

Vacuum-sealing is also a safe and efficient way to store emergency supplies like matches, candles, batteries, and flashlights. If a storm knocks out your power or damages your home, you’ll have dry equipment you can use while you wait for help. You can also seal away some cash so you have emergency funds to use during a disaster, when credit card networks may be down.

12. Camping & Hiking

Packing for a hike or family camping trip can be challenging, especially if you plan to stay overnight. You can only fit so much in your backpack without it becoming overly bulky, and you want to minimize weight as much as possible.

The vacuum-pack method works best for consumables or things you can otherwise leave on the trail or at the campsite unless you want to use reusable bags and pack a handheld sealer in your backpack.

A vacuum sealer draws the air from your provisions’ packaging, making it easier to carry more supplies. As a bonus, it weatherproofs the things in your bag so you can keep essentials like food and clothing dry, even if you’re hiking or camping in the rain. And it’s cheaper than buying larger bags or more expensive waterproofing equipment.

13. Save Storage Space in Every Room

The kitchen isn’t the only place storage space is at a premium. Vacuum sealers can help you pack away things you don’t use frequently and reduce the amount of space they take up.

If you want to vacuum-seal bulky items, like comforters and winter coats, you must buy special bags that work with your vacuum cleaner. But you can use your regular countertop kitchen vacuum sealer for smaller items.

For example, you can use a vacuum sealer to store seasonal items, like heavy winter socks, mittens and gloves, and scarves, until it gets cold again. You can just put the bags at the bottom of your sock drawer, where they take up a fraction of the space.

You can also use a sealer to seal things for backup or long-term storage, such as old baby clothing you plan to reuse for your next child or extra tea towels, handkerchiefs, or bulk-purchased cotton balls to protect them from water damage and pests, even if you store them in the garage.


Types of Vacuum Sealers

Before you buy a vacuum sealer, it’s crucial you understand the pros and cons of the different types of sealers and the kinds of containers they work with.

  • Countertop. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers are the most versatile. But they need space on your countertop, at least temporarily, which is a negative if countertop or storage space is already at a premium. Countertop sealers are designed to work with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags. But most also work with generic sealable containers and reusable bags via a hose you can attach to the unit. Countertop vacuum sealers tend to have the most efficient seal of the three when used with the bag rolls. But if you need to access something frequently, such as cheese or snacks, you have to create and seal a new bag each time. And they’re clunky to use with containers and bags if you don’t plan to keep it on your counter. Countertop sealers usually cost between $25 and $50 for a cheaper model, such as the NutriChef, up to $200 or more for a high-end model like the FoodSaver V4840.
  • Handheld. Smaller handheld vacuum sealers don’t take up much space. However, they only work with specially designed boxes or bags that are more expensive than generic vacuum-seal bag rolls. Handheld sealers often run between $20 for a budget unit and $30 for a more powerful sealer like the MXBold. That said, they’re not as powerful as countertop models, and some air will eventually get into the package after you seal it due to points of entry and escape in the sealing hole and zipper. That makes them best for short-term sealing or foods you reach for frequently.
  • Specialized Vacuum Sealers. There are a lot of specialized sealers that are designed to fit different needs. One example of this is the Vacuvita, which starts at $300. It sits on your countertop full time and is intended for frequent sealing and unsealing. It’s also more suitable for things like bread and chips, which a traditional sealer would crush. But it doesn’t lend itself to long-term storage. Then there are chamber vacuum sealers, like the VacMaster chamber sealer. They’re expensive but highly efficient and quieter than many other sealers. They’re great for people who want to customize how they seal food or who have lots of things to seal at once. It can also vacuum-seal liquid like marinades and soups for long-term storage. Chamber sealers are often commercial equipment, but there are comparatively less expensive prosumer (professional-consumer) models for home use.

The solution you seek may rely on having more than one kind of sealer. But you’ll most certainly need more than one type of storage solution. And there are several types to choose from.

  • Bag Rolls. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers work with special bag rolls, which are customizable. They’re essentially long tubes of plastic. You use the vacuum sealer’s seal function to melt the plastic together on one open end of the bag, cut the bag to the size you want, and fill it. Then you use the vacuum-and-seal function to pull out the air and seal the remaining open end. They’re also relatively inexpensive. However, you can’t reuse them, which means you need to restock regularly. These are optimum for long-term storage because they have the best seal and lose less vacuum over time than any other storage method.
  • Reusable Bags. Reusable bags are a fixed size and more expensive than bag rolls. But you can use them more than once, which can save you money in the long run. They’re suitable for foods you plan to use often because you can reseal them rather than discard them and start over like you have to do with bags from rolls. But they aren’t as impervious as the custom bags. The sealing hole and zipper are potential points of air introduction, and they can lose vacuum over time, meaning they’re not ideal for long-term storage. They can be a pain to clean and fully dry, and it’s best to avoid using them for things like raw meat or foods that can stain, such as tomato sauce.
  • Specialized Mason Jar Lids. You can buy special vacuum-seal Mason jar lids to seal jarred foods. For long-term storage, these are best for staples like cereal and dry goods. Vacuum-sealing with them isn’t meant to take the place of proper canning techniques. But they’re fine for short-term storage of things like soup and chili.
  • Plastic Storage Containers. For leftovers and meal prep, you can’t beat vacuum-seal storage containers. They’re expensive but reusable. But over time, these containers’ seals may weaken, especially if the initial seal isn’t good or there’s too much moisture in the container.

Just ensure whatever container you buy works with your sealer model.


Final Word

Vacuum sealers are useful kitchen gadgets that can help you save space and money. However, they’re not one-size-fits-all. You may even need a couple of different types of vacuum sealers to meet your needs.

For example, a countertop model that works with bag rolls can help you vacuum-seal foods for long-term storage. But you’ll probably prefer to keep a handheld model for everyday use, like storing leftovers in the fridge or sealing cheese or deli meat for lunches.

With vacuum sealers, the possibilities are endless. You can vacuum-seal almost anything, so you might find new and interesting ways to save space and safely store things throughout your home.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Sell In May & Go Away – Should You Follow This Investing Strategy?

There are many adages that have been followed in the stock market for decades. Some are based in truth, some are built of overwhelming investor opinion as a result of a statistical anomaly, and some have no factual basis at all. Nonetheless, they often drive the investment decisions made by the masses.

One of these old adages, “sell in May and go away,” suggests that investors should sell their stocks in May and seek alternative investment vehicles, coming back late in the year to take advantage of holiday-fueled gains. Although this adage is widely quoted, it leads to a bit of a conundrum for beginner investors.

If the power of investing comes from buy-and-hold investments that generate compound gains, why would you want to divest your portfolio for six months of the year? Would you really produce stronger average returns if you were to sell your stock holdings in May and wait until November to reinvest?

The fact of the matter is that the sell-in-May-and-go-away strategy is fundamentally flawed, but is there any kernel of truth to this popular adage?

The Idea Behind the Sell-in-May-and-Go-Away Theory

The idea behind the theory that investors should sell in May and go away is simple. Essentially, the adage suggests that declines generally take place in the May-to-October period. Therefore, by selling at the beginning of May, you can avoid declines experienced in the fall or summer months.

Those who follow the sell-in-May-and-go-away trading strategy believe that, due to low participation rates in the summer months, investments during these months are risky, ultimately resulting in decreasing average gains.

So, why are there believed to be fewer market participants in the months from May through October? There are a few reasons:

  • It’s a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. No matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert investor, there’s a strong chance that you’ve come across this adage at some point. The sheer popularity of the idea makes it somewhat true by scaring some would-be market participants out of participation after May.
  • Many People Take Vacations at This Time. The summer months are also when professionals are most likely to take their vacations. Experts who spend their days on Wall Street look forward to those few months a year when it’s somewhat acceptable to step away from the office for a couple of weeks. Because summer vacations are all the rage, many believe that vacationing equates to fewer investors participating in public markets.
  • People Begin Saving for the Holidays. Finally, once the welcoming feel of the new year wears off, many in the middle class begin to look toward the future and plan for the holiday season that’s ahead. This planning generally includes increased saving and reduced consumer spending in the run-up to the holiday shopping season. As a result, it is believed that company revenues will underperform in May through October when compared to revenues in November through April. As a result, many expect a bear market in the summer months and a bull market in the winter months.

At the same time, there are some general beliefs that suggest that the winter and spring seasons are met with increased investor participation:

  • Holiday Spending. The winter months are home to many holidays, some of which are the largest gift-giving and traveling holidays of the year. This is where you find Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and Easter. As a result, spending during the “holiday season” is generally higher, leading to increasing revenues for companies and higher valuations for the stocks that represent them.
  • New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s Day is an important holiday for Americans. It marks the beginning of resolutions, often to improve both physical and financial health. As a result, tons of consumers who have not invested in the past begin to take an interest in the market, looking to build a stronger financial foundation on which to build their futures and leading to increased investor participation overall during the first quarter of the year.
  • Speculation. As the new year comes into play, investors start to speculate with regard to the innovative new products and services that will be released in the year ahead. This speculation is believed to lead to more growth in market participants.

Pro tip: Earn a $30 bonus when you open and fund a new trading account from M1 Finance. With M1 Finance, you can customize your portfolio with stocks and ETFs, plus you can invest in fractional shares.


Is There Any Truth To the Sell-in-May-and-Go-Away Theory?

Many in the investing community suggest that selling in May and not coming back for several months is a good idea, but does the historical data back up the theory? Are there really trends based on seasonality that will lead to predictable declines from May through November?

Well, yes and no. Much like the October Effect, selling in May and vanishing until late November or early December is a strategy that’s based on a kernel of truth, but greatly misses the mark. Here’s a chart breaking down what 92 years of historical data tells us about the flagship benchmark index in the United States, the S&P 500 index:

Month Years Up Years Down Average Monthly Returns
January 57 35 1.2%
February 48 44 -0.1%
March 55 37 0.5%
April 59 33 1.5%
May 53 39 -0.1%
June 52 40 0.8%
July 54 38 1.6%
August 53 39 0.6%
September 42 49 -1.0%
October 54 38 0.4%
November 56 36 0.8%
December 57 25 1.3%

The 6 Months From May Through November

As you can see from the chart above, one trend is immediately clear. If you sell in May and don’t come back, 92 years of historical data says that you’ll miss out on the month known for producing the largest market returns: July. That’s right, July has produced a whopping average return of 1.6% for the month.

Going a bit deeper into the market data, out of the six months from May through November, only one month had more years with negative returns than positive returns. Therefore, investing during these months would theoretically produce more gains than it would losses, if history continues to repeat itself.

Digging into the actual returns also shows that investments during these taboo months will likely result in positive returns. In fact, when you average the average monthly returns column across this six-month period, you’ll find that the average gains throughout this period work out to about 0.52% per month.

The 6 Months From December Through April

A brief look at the chart above suggests that there may be some truth to this adage after all. Three of the top four months by average S&P 500 index gains over the past 92 years take place within this six-month period. Moreover, there’s only one month in the period that the average returns over the past 92 years have been negative.

Moreover, every single month in this six-month period has a history consisting of more years in the green than years in the red.

Averaging the average monthly returns in the six-month period from December through April gives you a total average return per month of 0.73%. Comparing that to the 0.52% realized in the months from May through November shows that there may indeed be some truth to the adage.

Ultimately, investments in the United States equities market are more likely to produce slightly strong gains in the winter and spring months than in the summer and fall months, on average, suggesting that the seasonal pattern results in stronger gains from December through April than May through November.

Does This Mean You Should Divest All Your Equity Holdings in May?

So, should you indeed “sell in May and go away?” Absolutely not! Although it may be a good idea to rebalance your portfolio quarterly, the decision to sell any or all of your equity holdings shouldn’t be based simply on seasonality. Investment decisions should be based on detailed research, inclusive of the most up-to-date data no matter what season of the year it is.

Sure, there is some historical truth that some months of the year tend to see better performance than others, but that’s based on broad averages and measured in terms of the market as a whole. No matter what time of the year, or even the current condition of the market, there will always be gems that can prove to be excellent investment opportunities.

Instead of selling your assets based on seasonal volatility in the stock market, or what the S&P 500 index or Dow Jones Industrial Average may be doing at any given moment, it’s best to follow an investment strategy that includes rebalancing your portfolio on a quarterly basis. We’ll review this process shortly.

Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Trade Ideas can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.


Dangers Associated With the Sell-in-May-and-Go-Away Theory

Broad statements like “sell in May and go away” have the potential to come with portfolio-devastating consequences, especially when taken literally. The reason boils down to the real power of investing: compound gains.

Over time, your earnings start to earn money, which then earns more money. This is how small monthly contributions to a portfolio have the potential to turn into millions of dollars over the course of your lifetime.

If you take your money completely out of the market for six months out of each year, what you’re actually doing is robbing yourself of half of the compound gains you could be enjoying. When the market dips, it tends to be short-term — and is often followed by a significant recovery. Completely robbing yourself of compound gains because you’re fearful of the declines associated with a short-term dip in the market is a costly mistake.


Why the Average Investor Shouldn’t Try to Time the Market

There’s one big factor that lies at the heart of the “sell-in-May-and-go-away adage. The entire idea is based on timing the market. Market-timing is a dangerous prospect in and of itself.

The market ebbs and flows with consumer opinion, and predicting when it will ebb or when it will flow is extremely difficult. The best day traders, stock analysts, and investing gurus get it wrong sometimes, even though they have access to and a detailed understanding of some of the most complex and accurate tools available today.

Without serious experience in detailed technical and fundamental analysis, and a grasp of macroeconomics, attempting to time the market is akin to attempting to get a royal flush in a poker game. Sure, you’ll make a killing if things go well, but if things go wrong you’re going to lose — it’s a gamble.


The Alternative: Quarterly Rebalancing

A more sound alternative to selling in May and going away is to engage in regular portfolio rebalancing on an ongoing basis. Many choose to do this quarterly, making incremental changes four times per year rather than making dramatic moves in May and then again at the end of the year. The process of rebalancing includes the following:

  • Calculate Returns. Start by combing through your portfolio and determining what your annualized rate of return has been on each of your holdings. While calculating the annualized rate of return may seem to be a daunting task, Key Bank solves that problem with their free Annual Rate of Return Calculator. This information also may be available through your brokerage.
  • Compare Returns. Once you know the annualized returns on your investments, compare them to benchmarks to see how your investments are performing. It’s best to compare your investments to the most similar benchmarks. For example, if you’re looking at a tech stock within your portfolio, you may want to look at a few similar stocks in the sector as well as the Nasdaq Composite Index. If you’re looking into the performance of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or a mutual fund, dive into the performance of the underlying asset to ensure that its returns are similar or outpacing the benchmark.
  • Adjust as Needed To Meet Your Goals. After digging into your returns and comparing those to the returns seen by comparable benchmarks, you’ll be able to quickly determine which investments in your portfolio are underperforming. Simply sell these assets and consider either investing the funds into high performance stocks in your portfolio or using the funds to take part in new opportunities.

Final Word

Although there is some truth to the idea that, historically, stocks do perform better during some parts of the year than others, market-timing is extremely difficult and often stumps even the most successful experts in the investing space.

Instead of worrying about which seasons stocks are slated to do best, it’s best to pay close attention to your investments all year round. Most importantly, make sure to take the time to occasionally rebalance your portfolio and stick to a solid investing strategy. You don’t have to always be trading, but making quarterly adjustments to your investment portfolio will likely serve you well.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How To Plan a Frugal (Not Cheap) Wedding for Less Than $4,000

The average wedding and reception in 2019 (the most recent pre-COVID year for which data is available) was $28,000, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study. Given that the median American household income charts in around $69,000, (according to the Census Bureau), that means the average wedding devours nearly half a year’s worth of income.

Many people dream of a beautiful, unforgettable wedding, but not many long for the financial aftermath. The best solution is to take a serious look at all of the expenses involved with a wedding and find realistic, frugal ways to cut back on the expense without tinkering with the magic or the memories. The strategies below can collectively shave away 10s of thousands of dollars from the budget of an average wedding.

According to our calculations, a typical American wedding comes to about $28.5k, which we detail below. By paring down here and there, we got it down to $3,950, if you go with a guest list of 50. (The Knot Real Study says the typical wedding has 131 guests.) If you follow all of our ideas, you’ll reach under $4k in your final tally.

Different people look for different things in their wedding, so go through the list below and choose the ideas that work for you.

In this article

17 steps for a frugal (not cheap) wedding on a budget

Start planning early

The more time you give yourself to plan, the easier it becomes to identify bargains and help make them into a reality. Since so many wedding features are expensive, investing more time yourself can cut those costs down quickly.

Strategy: Give yourself an extra few months between the start of planning and the event
Savings: $0 directly, but it gives you time to implement the strategies below

Choose a location near your guests

Choose a location for your wedding that’s close to the largest number of your guests. While this won’t directly save you money, it will make the next tip much more likely to succeed.

Strategy: Choose a location that’s very convenient for most of the guests
Savings: $0 directly, but it enables some of the strategies below

Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts

Talk to some of the friends and family you’re inviting to the wedding and ask them if they would be willing to provide help at the wedding in lieu of a gift. This is particularly true if you have someone on the guest list with a particular talent.

Guests for your wedding might be able to help with photography, provide emcee services, tend the bar at the reception, or perform any of the other endless tasks that a wedding entails. While some guests may prefer not to do this, others will relish the chance.

Many of the roles at our own wedding were provided by family and friends. From our perspective, we felt that everything would be much more meaningful if people we loved were actually involved with the ceremony in some way, and many of them jumped at the chance. Some of them provided supplies as their wedding gift, while others provided discounts.

Getting even a little help can easily shave 5% off of the total cost of the wedding.

Strategy: Ask family and friends for assistance at the ceremony in lieu of gifts
Savings: $1,400

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Hold the ceremony at home or outdoors

According to The Knot, the average wedding venue costs $10,500, adding up to around a third of the total cost of the big day. While trimming the guest list can certainly help reduce this cost, another approach is to think outside the box with your venue.

You might consider hosting the wedding at someone’s home, particularly if they have a nice yard or plenty of space. If your guest list is small, that’s much more feasible.

Strategy: Have the wedding and reception at a friend or family member’s property
Savings: $10,500

Another approach is to see if you can use a public park for the wedding and utilize any structures the parks and recreation department may have for a reception. Many such departments have nice older houses near parks that can be used for events like this. Contacting local parks services in my area found that such venues were available with a range of $1,000 to $4,000, though there would be some additional costs to help set up some services. While there will still be a notable cost involved for this, it’s often significantly lower than paying for a full-service venue.

Strategy: Have the wedding and reception at a park
Savings: $6,500

Do the catering yourself or hire a family-owned restaurant

While trimming the guest list saves quite a bit on catering, you can save more by finding a low-cost catering option. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average cost per catered plate is $51, so if you have 50 guests, that’s $2,550 in meal expenses even with a reduced guest list.

For our own wedding, catering was provided by family and friends, who prepared and served the meal in lieu of (and in addition to) a wedding gift. This may work for you if you have someone who is interested in stepping up to that task.

Strategy: Have friends and family cater for you in lieu of a gift
Savings: $2,550

If not, try asking a local family-owned restaurant to cater for you. They might be hesitant to cater a large event, but if your guest list is already relatively small, they may be willing to do this and work with you on a less expensive option. If a local family-owned restaurant can cater and save 25% per plate, that’s still a nice savings.

Strategy: Ask a locally owned restaurant to cater the meal instead of a wedding catering service
Savings: $638

Buy a small cake or cupcakes from a grocery store

Brides Magazine reports that the average cost of a wedding cake is $350. This is an area where the cost can easily be trimmed by having something a bit more simple. Rather than heading straight to a wedding cake specialist, see what options are available for a smaller, simpler cake from a grocery store. In my area, the local grocery store chain, Hy-Vee, offered an enormous variety of cake options, ranging from very classy tiered wedding cakes that almost matched the $350 tag to much simpler options that would serve 50 guests for around $100.

Strategy: Look at grocery stores for cake options
Savings: $250

Another option is to simply buy cupcakes. You can buy large numbers of cupcakes from many bakeries for as little as $1 each. Pair that with a $30 cake stand and you can provide 70 cupcakes with a beautiful display for just $100.

Strategy: Buy cupcakes and arrange them yourself
Savings: $250

Go minimal with the flowers

Wedding Wire reports that the average cost of flowers at a wedding is $1,500. That’s a lot of money!

Keep the flowers simple! Stick with a simple bouquet and simple arrangements at the wedding, then reuse them as part of the reception. The bouquet itself averages $160, but you can drastically cut your floral expense in other ways by simply having minimal arrangements, relying on seasonal flowers, and using lots of greenery. Wedding Wire’s estimates for less-expensive floral setups range from $175 to $700, so if you simply get into that range with these tips, you’ll be doing great.

Strategy: Cut back on the flowers
Savings: $900

Make your own invitations

Again, according to The Knot, the average cost for wedding invitations is $590. This cost can easily be trimmed, however, by getting a DIY wedding invitation kit and printing them yourself.

My wife and I did this for our own wedding after balking at the hundreds of dollars for more traditional invitations. We chose a nice DIY kit that cost around $70 for our guest list and printed them ourselves. If you have access to a professional-quality printer and can do basic layout, you can easily create a very classy wedding invitation on your own for $100, with another $50 for any extra inserts and $50 for postage.

Strategy: Print your own wedding invitations
Savings: $390

Consider skipping attendants and have them involved in other ways

Rather than having several attendants for the bride and groom, consider trimming that number down to a single attendant for each, or none at all. This not only reduces the complications of the event, including hard choices about who to include, but can also eliminate small incidental costs such as bridesmaid bouquets. You can include people close to you in other ways, such as asking them to do a reading during your ceremony.

Strategy: Minimize your wedding party
Savings: Small, but helps with the next tip

If you do have attendants, go minimal with attendant gifts and make them personal

According to The Knot, the average wedding expense includes $400 in gifts, including party favors. However, most of that $400 goes toward gifts for the attendants. By keeping the wedding party small, you can cut out most of the cost, and with the smaller number, you can be more thoughtful and selective when it comes to a gift.

Strategy: Minimize attendant gifts and make them personal
Savings: $200

Borrow stereo equipment or use yours from home

If you’re having a small event anyway, hiring a DJ might be overkill. Wedding Wire reports that the average DJ cost is $1,000, so you may be able to forgo that cost by setting up your own speakers attached to a computer for a small dance. For music, you are legally allowed to use a music streaming service like Spotify (but such events may violate the terms of service of such services depending on specifics). For emcee services, ask your most outgoing friend to help.

Strategy: Do the DJing yourself
Savings: $1,000

Stock the bar yourself

A wedding bartender typically costs $35 per hour, but that doesn’t include the cost of the alcohol, which adds up to $2,300, according to The Knot. You can save a lot of money here by simply hiring someone to bartend and providing the alcohol yourself, provided the venue is OK with that (check with them). You can save as much as 50% by sourcing your own alcohol.

Strategy: Source your own alcohol and hire a separate bartender (or ask a friend)
Savings: $1,150

Contact the local university

If you’re looking for live music for the ceremony or want a professional photographer, one approach to consider is to contact the local university. There may be music students or budding photographers who would love an opportunity to get started in the field and may charge a very reasonable price as they don’t yet have a large resume to lean on. Often, new people in a field are excited to prove themselves, so they’ll not only charge a reasonable price, but they’ll go the extra mile to perform well and build a reputation. Simply trimming even 20% off of the average wedding musician cost and the average wedding photographer cost adds up. There’s a risk, of course, when using a new person, but they’re also going to be very focused on the task at hand, as this is an opportunity for them.

Strategy: Contact the local university to find budding photographers or musicians who may want the opportunity
Savings: $800

Split the cost of decorations – and consider buying used

Non-floral wedding decorations can cost $600. This can be a perfect opportunity to go minimal by looking for used decorations. If you know someone who is getting married, you may be able to split the cost of decorations with them so that you both use them, cutting the cost by half. If you know of any recent weddings, you can also contact them and ask what they did with the decorations.

Strategy: Split the cost of decorations or buy them used
Savings: $300

If you’re getting married in a church, ask the auxiliary for help

If you’re getting married in a church or in the hall of a civic organization, ask if the auxiliary club associated with that venue has suggestions or ideas. While they might not be able to directly provide a lot of savings, they may be able to offer ideas and small services that can save a little, and they sometimes can point you to something unexpected that can be a huge savings.

Strategy: Ask the auxiliary club associated with the church or other organization where your wedding is being held for help
Savings: Small, but potentially big

Buy the wedding dress off the rack and on sale, or borrow and modify

The Knot reports that the average wedding dress costs $1,600, which is a tremendous cost for an item you’ll likely wear once. A much better idea? See if anyone in your family or among your close friends has their old dress and, if possible, see if you can borrow it. It may need some modifications to make it work well, but spending $200 on adjustments is better than $1,600 on a dress. If this isn’t an option, look for a used dress and modify it similarly — this will still be cheaper than buying a new one.

Strategy: Borrow or buy a wedding dress
Savings: $600-$1,400

Choose affordable, simple wedding rings

According to the Brides American Wedding survey, the average wedding ring pair cost $1,610. This is on top of the engagement ring, of course. A simple wedding band might be a great option, however. A simple band is low cost, understated, and won’t snag on clothing. If you go simple and simply cut 25% off of the cost of the rings, that’s a nice savings.

Strategy: Go with simple wedding bands
Savings: $400

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Working Capital Loans

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, average revenues from 2018 to 2019 for businesses were up 10 percent, but many companies still struggled to convert those higher revenues to cash. When a business doesn’t have the cash flow to support daily or growth expenses for any reason, working capital loans might be an option. Find out more about working capital below to help you decide if this funding source is right for your company

What Is a Working Capital Loan?

Working capital loans are a type of funding that helps ensure businesses have the capital they need to continue operating during periods when it might be difficult to cover daily expenses while meeting new demands or growth. For example, if a business has tied up its cash flow in inventory for the holiday rush season, working capital funds can pay the bills—such as employee wages and rent—until holiday revenues are in.

It’s important to note that working capital isn’t meant to make investments or buy long-term assets such as equipment. If you need equipment, you may need to take out a secured loan for it. Working capital loans are meant to cover the standard operating expenses of the business such as regular debt payments, wages, rent and utilities.

Working capital loans help ensure businesses have the capital they need to continue operating during periods when it might be difficult to cover daily expenses while meeting new demands or growth.

Working Capital Financing Options

You can get working capital loans from a variety of sources. Some of the most common options are summarized below.

Short-Term Loan

What is it? You might be able to borrow money for a few months to help fund expenses until seasonal income comes in or a large invoice is paid.

Pros: It might be a good way to balance cash flow during seasonal upticks in expenses or downturns in income.

Cons: Because the terms of the loan are short, the lender may charge a relatively large fee to make money from the deal in lieu of interest paid out over a longer period of time.

Merchant Cash Advance

What is it? A cash advance offered by the bank or agency that handles your payment processes. For example, businesses that accept money through PayPal may be eligible for a Payment Working Capital loan.

Pros: These loans are typically easy to get if you have a solid history processing payments through that bank or agency. That’s because the loan isn’t based on your personal credit or the credit of your business. It’s typically based on how much average revenue you process through that payment method.

Cons: Typically, merchant cash advances are paid back as a percentage of your sales over time. That lowers your cash flow for the immediate future and can make it more difficult to budget for business expenses if you overcommit on the loan.

Bank Line of Credit

What is it? A revolving line of credit that you can draw from and pay back and then draw from again—similar to a credit card.

Pros: A line of credit is flexible and ongoing, which means it’s there when you need it, but you don’t have to draw on it if you don’t need to. It can also be a good way to balance cash flow if your revenue tends to fluctuate.

Cons: You may need decent personal or business credit to get approved for a line of credit. It can also be tempting to rely too heavily on it, temporarily masking serious financial problems until they might be too late to resolve.

SBA Loan

What is it? You can get certain types of loans through programs approved by the Small Business Administration. Some of these loans can be used for working capital.

Pros: While the terms and rates associated with SBA loans vary, they may be more favorable than those of traditional loans.

Cons: SBA loans can be easier to qualify for from a credit perspective, but they do have specific requirements, such as documentation. You may also be limited on what you can use the funds for.

Trade Credit

What is it? Trade credit occurs when you purchase goods on an account and pay for them later. Typically, if you pay within the agreed-upon period, you don’t pay interest on this debt.

Pros: Trade credit is low-cost and is generally a common business practice, which means it might be available to you from various vendors.

Cons: This isn’t a form of credit you can use to cover expenses other than goods purchased, but that might free up some cash for other uses.

Who Offers Working Capital Loans?

Working capital loans are offered by a variety of organizations. Banks, credit card companies and payment networks might all offer working capital loans. Some organizations specialize in this type of lending and work with businesses that can demonstrate a strong historic revenue to provide working capital loans or lines of credit.

Working Capital Loan Interest Rates and Fees

As with any type of lending, working capital loans do cost your business in the form of interest rates and fees. With a few exceptions, such as certain trade credit arrangements, working capital comes with varied rates and costs. If the lender makes money via interest, your own credit or the creditworthiness of the business may be used to determine how much interest is charged.

Some working capital loans don’t include interest. The lender instead charges a flat fee that is incorporated into the total amount paid back during the loan process.

Is a Working Capital Loan Right for Your Business?

As with any form of debt, working capital loans have benefits and disadvantages. Understanding the common pros and cons can help you determine whether working capital loans are a good decision for your business.

Benefits

Working capital can provide the cash influx you need at just the right time. It’s a financial tool for helping businesses cover costs during various seasons or scale up for growth. If you’re careful about how you use the credit associated with working capital loans, they may not be as expensive as some other forms of financing.

Drawbacks

Working capital loans come with some of the same drawbacks of any debt, including interest or other costs. But a bigger potential disadvantage is the temptation to lean heavily on working capital even when you know that your business is in trouble financially. Working capital is meant to be a temporary bridge, not a crutch your business can lean on permanently.

Pros and cons of working capital loans

Other Options for Increasing Your Work Capital

Working capital is a measurement of how well a company can use its current assets to pay its current liabilities. It’s an important statistic for you to be aware of as a business owner, because it indicates how financially healthy your company is. If you need to improve your working capital but don’t want to receive financing from a third party, consider these other ways to increase your working capital:

  • Cutting business expenses, including unnecessary travel or acquisitions.
  • Increasing income by hosting a sale or increasing prices if the market will support it.
  • Collecting past-due invoices.
  • Selling valuable business assets that may not be required at this time.

As you weigh your different options for working capital financing, don’t forget to stay on top of your business credit score and your personal credit score, too. To learn more about the latter, check out Lexington Law’s guide to credit.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

The Best Parks and Green Spaces in Philadelphia

From the moment William Penn, founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania, set aside Philadelphia’s Five Great Public Squares as part of his “Greene Countrie Towne” city plan, Philadelphia has been recognized for its amazing public green spaces and parks, large and small, urban and woodsy. Nearly every neighborhood contains an inviting, safe, inspiring public space. But what are some of the best?

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park PhiladelphiaFairmount Park Philadelphia
Fairmount Park

Every discussion of Philadelphia parks must start with Fairmount Park, the largest space within the world’s largest urban park system.

Stretching from the Strawberry Mansion to the Spring Garden neighborhoods, the East Park half of Fairmount Park lies on the Schuylkill River’s east bank. This side features scenic running and biking trails that wind past historic sites such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boathouse Row, with its famous light display, large plateaus near Brewerytown, which include the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course and Strawberry Green Driving Range and the vast Fairmount Park Athletic Field, where you can hop into a pickup hoops game or join an organized sports league. For a quieter outing, the recently renovated East Park Reservoir is one of the best bird-watching enclaves in the city.

Across the river, though still in Fairmount Park, the West Park runs from the Wynnefield neighborhood down to Mantua. Here you can take the kids to the first-in-the-nation Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum or the John B. Kelly Pool right next door.

For a more adult excursion, take in a concert and an amazing view at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts or fling a Frisbee at the Edgely Ultimate Fields. In the winter, Philadelphians of all ages take to Belmont Plateau for the city’s best sledding hills.

Wooded parks

Wissahickon Valley ParkWissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park

For everything Fairmount Park has to offer, other city parks boast their own perks. The expansive Wissahickon Valley Park extends from Chestnut Hill through East Falls in North Philly. There you’ll find people on mountain bikes and on foot traveling the winding gravel paths of forested Forbidden Drive, youngsters learning while having fun at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Tree House and anglers casting into the trout-stocked Wissahickon Creek.

Running from Bustleton to the Delaware River in Northeast Philly’s Holmesburg section, Pennypack Park is a 1,300-acre wooded creekside hiking and biking oasis that provides nature programs at Pennypack Environmental Center, a full working farmstead with cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens at Friends of Fox Chase Farm, and King’s Highway Bridge, the oldest in-use stone bridge in America.

In extreme South Philly, you’ll find Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, adjacent to the professional sports complex, which contains a full 18-hole golf course, a nationally-celebrated skateboard park and the Meadow Lake Gazebo, long a popular spot for wedding photos.

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, a little farther south in Eastwick next to the Philadelphia International Airport, is a top hiking, canoeing and fishing spot within a stunning environmentally-protected tidal marsh.

Urban parks

Spruce Street Harbor ParkSpruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photo courtesy of Anastasia Navickas

If you prefer parks that feel part of the city rather than those that feel like you left the city, Philadelphia won’t disappoint.

Atop the Circa Centre South Garage in University City is Cira Green, a new rooftop greenspace boasting seasonal coffee carts, summer movies and some of the best views of downtown.

Named by Jetsetter Magazine as one of the “World’s Best Urban Beaches,” Spruce Street Harbor Park at Penn’s Landing is an eclectic recreational sanctuary along the Delaware River with seasonal food and beer trucks, a riverside boardwalk and a cluster of more than 50 cozy hammocks, which hang under spectacular LED lights strung amongst the trees.

From biking to basketball to bird-watching, Philadelphia’s city parks and green spaces offer unlimited means of escape from the bustle of urban life.

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Working Capital Loans – Lexington Law

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, average revenues from 2018 to 2019 for businesses were up 10 percent, but many companies still struggled to convert those higher revenues to cash. When a business doesn’t have the cash flow to support daily or growth expenses for any reason, working capital loans might be an option. Find out more about working capital below to help you decide if this funding source is right for your company

What Is a Working Capital Loan?

Working capital loans are a type of funding that helps ensure businesses have the capital they need to continue operating during periods when it might be difficult to cover daily expenses while meeting new demands or growth. For example, if a business has tied up its cash flow in inventory for the holiday rush season, working capital funds can pay the bills—such as employee wages and rent—until holiday revenues are in.

It’s important to note that working capital isn’t meant to make investments or buy long-term assets such as equipment. If you need equipment, you may need to take out a secured loan for it. Working capital loans are meant to cover the standard operating expenses of the business such as regular debt payments, wages, rent and utilities.

Working capital loans help ensure businesses have the capital they need to continue operating during periods when it might be difficult to cover daily expenses while meeting new demands or growth.

Working Capital Financing Options

You can get working capital loans from a variety of sources. Some of the most common options are summarized below.

Short-Term Loan

What is it? You might be able to borrow money for a few months to help fund expenses until seasonal income comes in or a large invoice is paid.

Pros: It might be a good way to balance cash flow during seasonal upticks in expenses or downturns in income.

Cons: Because the terms of the loan are short, the lender may charge a relatively large fee to make money from the deal in lieu of interest paid out over a longer period of time.

Merchant Cash Advance

What is it? A cash advance offered by the bank or agency that handles your payment processes. For example, businesses that accept money through PayPal may be eligible for a Payment Working Capital loan.

Pros: These loans are typically easy to get if you have a solid history processing payments through that bank or agency. That’s because the loan isn’t based on your personal credit or the credit of your business. It’s typically based on how much average revenue you process through that payment method.

Cons: Typically, merchant cash advances are paid back as a percentage of your sales over time. That lowers your cash flow for the immediate future and can make it more difficult to budget for business expenses if you overcommit on the loan.

Bank Line of Credit

What is it? A revolving line of credit that you can draw from and pay back and then draw from again—similar to a credit card.

Pros: A line of credit is flexible and ongoing, which means it’s there when you need it, but you don’t have to draw on it if you don’t need to. It can also be a good way to balance cash flow if your revenue tends to fluctuate.

Cons: You may need decent personal or business credit to get approved for a line of credit. It can also be tempting to rely too heavily on it, temporarily masking serious financial problems until they might be too late to resolve.

SBA Loan

What is it? You can get certain types of loans through programs approved by the Small Business Administration. Some of these loans can be used for working capital.

Pros: While the terms and rates associated with SBA loans vary, they may be more favorable than those of traditional loans.

Cons: SBA loans can be easier to qualify for from a credit perspective, but they do have specific requirements, such as documentation. You may also be limited on what you can use the funds for.

Trade Credit

What is it? Trade credit occurs when you purchase goods on an account and pay for them later. Typically, if you pay within the agreed-upon period, you don’t pay interest on this debt.

Pros: Trade credit is low-cost and is generally a common business practice, which means it might be available to you from various vendors.

Cons: This isn’t a form of credit you can use to cover expenses other than goods purchased, but that might free up some cash for other uses.

Who Offers Working Capital Loans?

Working capital loans are offered by a variety of organizations. Banks, credit card companies and payment networks might all offer working capital loans. Some organizations specialize in this type of lending and work with businesses that can demonstrate a strong historic revenue to provide working capital loans or lines of credit.

Working Capital Loan Interest Rates and Fees

As with any type of lending, working capital loans do cost your business in the form of interest rates and fees. With a few exceptions, such as certain trade credit arrangements, working capital comes with varied rates and costs. If the lender makes money via interest, your own credit or the creditworthiness of the business may be used to determine how much interest is charged.

Some working capital loans don’t include interest. The lender instead charges a flat fee that is incorporated into the total amount paid back during the loan process.

Is a Working Capital Loan Right for Your Business?

As with any form of debt, working capital loans have benefits and disadvantages. Understanding the common pros and cons can help you determine whether working capital loans are a good decision for your business.

Benefits

Working capital can provide the cash influx you need at just the right time. It’s a financial tool for helping businesses cover costs during various seasons or scale up for growth. If you’re careful about how you use the credit associated with working capital loans, they may not be as expensive as some other forms of financing.

Drawbacks

Working capital loans come with some of the same drawbacks of any debt, including interest or other costs. But a bigger potential disadvantage is the temptation to lean heavily on working capital even when you know that your business is in trouble financially. Working capital is meant to be a temporary bridge, not a crutch your business can lean on permanently.

Pros and cons of working capital loans

Other Options for Increasing Your Work Capital

Working capital is a measurement of how well a company can use its current assets to pay its current liabilities. It’s an important statistic for you to be aware of as a business owner, because it indicates how financially healthy your company is. If you need to improve your working capital but don’t want to receive financing from a third party, consider these other ways to increase your working capital:

  • Cutting business expenses, including unnecessary travel or acquisitions.
  • Increasing income by hosting a sale or increasing prices if the market will support it.
  • Collecting past-due invoices.
  • Selling valuable business assets that may not be required at this time.

As you weigh your different options for working capital financing, don’t forget to stay on top of your business credit score and your personal credit score, too. To learn more about the latter, check out Lexington Law’s guide to credit.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

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Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

The holidays are full of friends, family, and festivities – all of which can be expensive. But I believe that you can host a beautiful and delicious dinner party for your friends and family without breaking the bank. So I’ve put together some tips on how to decorate and what to serve, as well as provided an example dinner party menu.

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

1. Thrift your plates.

Don’t fret if you don’t have a collection of nice china just waiting for the perfect occasion. Head to your local Goodwill or favorite thrift store and grab some mismatched plates! They can be fun and festive, or perhaps you’ll get lucky and find a set you love. Thrift store plates are often priced around $0.50 – $2.00, making them an amazingly cost effective way to decorate your table.

2. Use plants and spray paint to help you decorate cheaply.

Eucalyptus and evergreen leaves are a beautiful and seasonal way to bring life to your tablescape without breaking the bank. If you want to get even more festive, get a can of gold or silver spray paint, and buy some cheap decorations from your local Dollar Store. Once you spray them gold, they will look like an expensive and beautiful table decoration!

3. Make it a BYOB event.

Food and decorations are expensive enough; don’t add to your budget by also providing alcohol for everyone. Make sure your guests know it’s a BYOB event, that way you can just focus on the food and bringing people together!

4. Serve soup as your main course.

Soup is cost effective, cozy, nourishing, and easy to make. It will take the stress away from an elaborate main course, and everyone will leave feeling satisfied. Check out the example dinner party menu below for recipe ideas!

5. Make it meatless.

A vegetarian dinner party will simply be cheaper to make, because meat is an expensive addition to a meal. I promise, with the menu I’ve provided, no one will leave feeling hungry. Plus, the holidays are already full of heavy, unhealthy food – why not lighten it up a bit?

6. Don’t go overboard with desserts.

You probably have a house full of desserts around the holidays, so don’t go crazy making tons of cookies for your guests. Instead, try repurposing some of the food gifts you’ve been given by serving them to your guests. Or you can make just one kind of cookie, but I wouldn’t suggest more – people are already overloaded with sugar this time of year.

Example Menu

  • Appetizer – Polenta Cranberry & Brie Bites, makes 10 bites / total cost $11.62

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tube pre-cooked polenta / $1.99
  • 1 block brie cheese / $6.99
  • 1 cup arugula / $1.99
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries / $0.65
  • honey, drizzled

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 450.
  • Slice your polenta in ½ inch thick rounds, and lay them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, and bake for a total of 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the polenta and turn the oven on broil.
  • Top each polenta round with a slice of brie and put back in the oven to broil for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melty.
  • Top each round with arugula, cranberries and a drizzle of honey.

SERVE IT UP!

TOTAL COST : $53.48 / $48.83, serving 6

The pricing estimates on each recipe are based on prices at my local Whole Foods in NYC, so they can vary depending on your location. They do not include the price of “pantry staples” like olive oil, spices, honey, etc. The exact cost will change depending on those elements, but generally I think it’s possible to have a dinner party that costs about $10 per head including decorations!

Don’t be afraid to invite people over for dinner this holiday season, and make it a party. There are tons of ways to make hosting a dinner party cost effective! I hope my suggestions and meal plan inspire you to give it a try. Happy holidays, folks!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Source: mint.intuit.com