Tampon Alternatives to Get You Through the Shortage

The reality of the tampon shortage is sinking in at checkout counters and in bathrooms across the country. Supply chain issues and inflation have teamed up to make an already complicated time of the month increasingly stressful.

You’ve probably noticed the roughly 10% price jump on your favorite tampons. Maybe your go-to brand is sold out all together and you’ve had to resort to a different variety. Or, perhaps you’ve driven from store to store in search of what you need. Even worse, if you’ve taken a peek at online tampon prices, you might have gasped along with the rest of us. Many products are unavailable online, too.

The price hike on tampons — when you can actually find them — is even more frustrating considering the so-called “pink tax.” The term refers to the markup on products marketed to women compared to similar items marketed to men. This includes hair care products, shaving cream, razors and deodorant, among other products used by men and women.

So, what can you do to see yourself through the tampon shortage? We’ve done the research on alternatives to tampons and came up with a robust list.

Some options, like the menstrual cup, have been around for a while and can save you up to $100 a year even in non-shortage times. Others, like period underwear, are relatively new and while an investment up front, they can be worth it for long-term savings.

5 Tampon Alternatives

We rounded up five alternatives to tampons and found the best cost-saving options, so check out this list for ideas to see you through the tampon shortage. You might actually opt to stay with the new product and continue to save money.

1. The Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup is a reusable bell-shaped cup, typically made of rubber or silicone. While the cup seems to be catching on fast, some versions of this period hack have been available since the 1930s.

Easily ordered from Amazon or directly from companies like Saalt, Lena, Intimina, Super Jennie, and Moon Cup, these eco-friendly cups could completely change your period experience. When properly maintained, most cups last for 10 years.

Plus, with prices ranging between $20 and $40, they are a cost effective alternative to tampons. We did the math, so you don’t have to.

A 36-count box of Tampax brand tampons is currently selling on Amazon for $30. According to the FDA, tampons should be replaced every four to eight hours so that’s three to six tampons in a 24-hour period. Say a period lasts (on average) four days. That’s 12 to 24 tampons.

By month three, you will have saved between $10 and $20 with the menstrual cup. If you change tampons more often or have a longer period, your savings kick in earlier. Multiply those savings over 10 years and, well, you can clearly see why the cup is cost effective.

2. The Menstrual Disc

The menstrual disc is a saucer-shaped disc usually made from silicone. While smaller than its cup cousin, the disc is no less mighty. In fact it has an even higher capacity and a few other characteristics that can make it a more flexible choice for some women. And you guessed it, it’s also reusable.

Expect to pay between $35 and $40 each if purchased directly from companies like Lumma, Flex, Cora, and Hello Disc, but some discs sell for less on Amazon.

Since these little saucers are reusable, they are an excellent cost effective alternative to tampons. We noticed that compared to the cup, the recommendation for disc replacement is far shorter, some in as little as two to three years. Still, a cost saving alternative to tampons.

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3. Period Underwear

Period underwear looks like normal bikinis, boxers or boy shorts but feature a built-in pad. After some rinsing, they can be laundered with the rest of your clothes.

This alternative to tampons might appeal to pad wearers who want a reusable option but aren’t interested in inserting cups or discs.

Per pair, period undies are $12 to $38 from companies such as Knix, Thinx, TomboyX, and Period. We also found this highly rated Innersy 3-pack for $21.99 direct from the company or $25.99 from Amazon.

Since you’ll likely need multiple pairs for each period day, period underwear is on the pricey side but the investment may be worth it over time.

4. Cloth Pads

Cloth pads are reusable menstrual pads made from natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo and hemp. They often come in bold colors or lively prints, adding some lightheartedness to an otherwise not so enjoyable time for many women.

Prices range from $12 to $20 per pad, available from Aisle, Party Pants, Glad Rags, and Tree Hugger.

This alternative to tampons is great for people with sensitive skin since reusable pads are made without chemicals or synthetic fabrics.

5. Disposable Pads

Ah, the old standby where many of us started our period journeys. Disposable pads are typically made from synthetic or semi-synthetic fibers.

Available in a wide range of sizes with characteristics like ultra-thin, maxi, overnight, scented or unscented, wings or wingless and anti-bunch — disposable pad prices are as varied as the options.

Packs of 32- to 48-count can be found for between $7 and $10, making disposable pads the most cost effective alternative to tampons in the short term.

And with sustainable brands like Cora and Joni you can still feel good about disposing of your pads.

Which Tampon Alternative Is Right For You?

A few handy quizzes can help set you on the right path and some of the considerations will be how much money you want to spend, your individual preferences and what is most convenient for your lifestyle.

Put a Cup In It offers product comparisons and this useful quiz to help you identify the right cup for you. Period Nirvana has some easy to read charts comparing menstrual disc versus menstrual cup and offers a quiz to help you find the perfect cup or disc for you.

With any tampon alternative you use to get you through the shortage, read the directions and be sure to properly care for reusable products.

Even after the shortage is resolved, we might not go back to costly tampons because we love to save money on menstrual products. Period.

Save even more money on feminine hygiene products by making your own pads or getting help from services that offer free supplies. 
Cloth pads, disposable pads and a mensural cup are shown as tampon alternatives.
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What You Need to Know About Tampon Alternatives

Here are three things you should know before buying tampon alternatives.

1. Tampon Alternatives are (Mostly) Cost Effective

Even without a shortage driving up the cost of tampons, most alternative menstrual products are cost effective right out of the gate, while others require an investment up front but pay off over time.

But especially right now, the most popular alternatives are sure to save you money.  This is not only because of the cost of tampons, but also due to the possibility you might have to drive to two or three stores to find them. With gas prices on the rise, you want to avoid that and do what you can to save money on gas.

2. Tampon Alternatives are Safe

Some alternatives function similarly to tampons (if you use tampons, you get what we mean) but are made from medical grade plastic, rubber or silicone. And some function like pads, but are washable and consequently, reusable.

While most of us have been using tampons for years, it might surprise you that alternatives can actually be safer because they are less likely to harbor bacteria. When used and maintained as directed, they are a safe and healthy choice.

3. Tampon Alternatives are Environmentally Friendly

It’s always nice to know that in addition to saving money, you’re helping reduce waste. Most alternative menstrual products are reusable which makes them not only a smart choice for your wallet, but also for the earth.

Although some reusable alternatives are made with plastic, they can last up to 10 years. So, instead of throwing away three to four menstrual products a day made with materials that can contain up to 90% plastic, which takes years to break down, you’re reusing one product (or a handful of products) with far less environmental impact.

Contributor Veronica Matthews writes on lifestyle topics from North Carolina.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Retirement Comfort: How to Avoid Running Out of Money

Nowadays, we’re all living longer, and those life expectancy numbers are only going to rise. With people living up to three or four decades in retirement, it’s crucial you have enough money to enjoy all your retirement days. What do you do if you run out of money?

There are many ways people can run out of money, but there are some easy ways to avoid that.

Write Out Your Retirement Plan (and Check It Often)

The No. 1 question we get as financial experts is: Will I have enough money for retirement? No one wants to outlive their money, so our first piece of advice is to make a plan. Having a comprehensive plan before you head into retirement can save you headaches down the road.

To create a retirement plan, you need to answer some basic questions:

  • What are your income needs?
  • Do you have any additional income sources?
  • Will you have a shortcoming in your income needs?
  • If so, what resources will you have to address those shortcomings?

A financial adviser can help you answer those questions and start putting a plan in place. Having that retirement professional helps you identify your needs now and in the future.

Invest Your Money in the Right Place

An important part of your retirement plan is deciding where to invest your money. This is one of the reasons why when we are putting a retirement plan together, one of the first things we look at is our clients’ risk tolerance. This is one of the most important things to know before investing. If you are taking more risk than you are comfortable with and the market declines, you may panic and make a costly decision. Remember that an investment that works for one person may not be a good investment for you. Talk to a financial adviser to learn your options and what approach best suits your needs.

Don’t Fall Victim to Fraud

Phishing emails and scamming phone calls are becoming more and more common. This is especially true for those already in retirement. People are trying to take advantage of our older generations. On average, senior citizens lose $1 billion a year in scams. All retirees and even those getting close to retirement need to be informed and educated on avoiding scams.

First and foremost, research any purchase, donation or investment before you jump into it. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The consequences of falling victim to fraud could be far-reaching. You may think it will never happen to you, but it could. It happens more often than you think. Scammers are getting smarter and more sophisticated, especially with all of our information online.

If you are scammed or fall victim to fraud, you may not know it until it is too late. Always be proactive as opposed to reactive. Trust your gut, be concerned, and ask lots of questions. Don’t make a quick decision on your own. Always ask your financial planner if this financial decision is a smart one. 

Have a Budget and Stick to It

When most people get to retirement age, they want to maintain the same standard of living they have gotten used to. Having a budget can help get you there. While many of us may think of this as a simple step, it is surprising how many people do not have a budget.

Begin your budget planning by tracking all of your expenses. This will help you see where every single dollar is going. Start tracking your income, where it is coming from and exactly how much is coming in on a monthly basis. After tracking your income, make sure that your expenses are less than your monthly income. If they aren’t, find a way to cut back on some expenses. This budget will help you determine how much money you need on a monthly and annual basis to support the lifestyle you want and to help you continue that into retirement.

A budget is a helpful tool on your journey of financial planning. But also make sure you have an emergency fund set aside. We saw how crucial this was for many people at the height of the pandemic. Try to have at least three to six months of expenses in that fund should you lose your job, experience car trouble or have an emergency house repair.

No matter how close or far you are from retirement, you want to make sure you will have enough money. Don’t be afraid to ask your financial planner what you need to do. You want to continue living the lifestyle you have become accustomed to well into your golden years, and achieving that starts with a plan.

Founder & CEO, Drake and Associates

Tony Drake is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™and the founder and CEO of Drake & Associates in Waukesha, Wis. Tony is an Investment Adviser Representative and has helped clients prepare for retirement for more than a decade. He hosts The Retirement Ready Radio Show on WTMJ Radio each week and is featured regularly on TV stations in Milwaukee. Tony is passionate about building strong relationships with his clients so he can help them build a strong plan for their retirement.

Source: kiplinger.com

7 Ways to Show Proof of Renters Insurance to Your Landlord

No one wants to have an apartment break-in happen to them or lose their personal belongings to an unexpected tornado but sometimes life happens. When the unexpected occurs, everyone wants financial coverage and know that they have a backup plan or safeguard in place.

That’s where renters insurance comes in. While property owners will have insurance policies covering the apartment complex and building in place, it’s often up to the tenants to provide their own renters insurance where the policy covers personal belongings. In fact, most landlords are requiring proof of renters insurance to rent their property before signing the lease.

We’ll help you understand the fundamentals of a basic tenant insurance policy and provide ideas on how to show proof of renters insurance if your landlords require it.

What is a renters insurance policy?

Simply put, insurance is protection against financial loss. Renters insurance is a type of insurance policy that’s specific to tenants and renters only. Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance does not usually cover the structure of the building, but it does cover the renter’s personal property that’s housed inside the apartment.

Renters insurance exists to protect you and your personal belongings should an incident — like theft or fire — occur while you rent. The insurance policy would then pay you for the damage caused to your belongings. Renters insurance also protects renters from liability in case someone gets hurt within your apartment.

Renters insurance covers property from a burglary

Why every renter needs renters insurance coverage

Landlords are requiring tenants to provide proof of renters insurance. This helps safeguard property managers from liability, but it also protects renters. People who have renters insurance can breathe easy knowing it protects their personal property. Here are a few reasons you need to purchase renters insurance:

  • Offers protection of your personal items from theft or natural disasters
  • Covers you from personal liability if someone is hurt within your apartment
  • Often required to sign a new lease
  • Sometimes required for lease renewal
  • Can save you money should something happen to your personal belongings
  • Provides peace of mind to tenants
  • Helps expedite the rental process and avoid waiting periods if you already have a policy

Regardless of the reason you purchase renters insurance, it’s smart to have it when you live in a rental unit.

What exactly does renters insurance cover?

We’ve talked about the benefits of having renters insurance, but what exactly does renters insurance cover? Your coverage will vary based on your insurance company and policy, but in most cases, renters insurance policies offer these types of coverage:

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage includes repairs or replacements for lost or damaged property, such as furniture, electronics and clothing. Depending on the policy, it may cover the costs of things like jewelry, but you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to see how much coverage comes with your plan.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects the tenant in case an injury occurs to someone within the apartment and needs medical attention. There’s often a cap on how much liability coverage there is, so read your policy carefully.

Renters insurance will cover a hotel room if you

Additional living expenses coverage

Additional living expenses coverage includes the cost of hotel or travel bills should your apartment become unlivable due to an incident that occurs on-site. This part of a policy will not cover property damage to the building itself — that’s usually the landlord’s responsibility — but it will cover your hotel bills while you find a new place to rent.

You’ll likely have increased premiums when you purchase more coverage and it’s up to you to determine how much renters insurance you need and how much coverage your landlord requires. Do your research to select the best policy for you.

How to show proof of renters insurance to your landlord

We’ve mentioned that landlords require proof of insurance to rent a rental property. But how do you show proof of renters insurance to a landlord? Here are several ways to show proof of renters insurance.

1. Provide the declarations page to your landlord

Every renters insurance policy will have a declarations page that outlines the details of your coverage. The declarations page will include things like your name, the policy number and how much coverage you purchased. You can send a digital copy directly to property management as proof.

Send a digital copy to your landlord.

2. Share a digital file with the landlord

You can show digital proof of your insurance by emailing the landlord a copy of the entire policy or the declarations page itself. When you send electronic proof, you have a digital footprint that shows your communication with the landlord. You can even ask your landlord to store this electronic copy on their property management software so you have a record of it.

3. Show them the physical copy of the renters insurance policy

If you’re more old-school, you can print out a physical copy of the policy as a way of showing proof of coverage. Print out a copy for your records and print out a second copy for the landlord to have, as well.

4. Have your insurance agent contact your landlord to confirm

If your landlord will accept verbal confirmation, you can ask the insurance company to call the landlord directly to show proof of insurance. Let your landlord know when your insurance agent will contact them so they can prepare for the call.

5. Add the landlord as an interested party to the policy

On any insurance policy, you can add an interested party to the policy. This is one way to show proof that the tenant has insurance. When the insurance agent is writing the policy, they will add the landlord as an interested party and then, notify the landlord upon completion of the policy.

6. Share the policy number and insurance agency with your landlord

Another way to show proof when renting is to share details of the policy with your landlord. You can share things like the number of the policy, the name of the insurance company and agent or the amount of coverage purchased.

Simply tell your landlord you have renters insurance.

7. Give verbal assurances of your renters insurance policy

Depending on the property managers, you can show proof by giving verbal confirmation of coverage. While this is only as good as your word, some landlords are OK with this type of proof. Keep in mind that there’s often no digital or written record of verbal assurances, so it’s not the most concrete or secure way to show proof of renters insurance.

These are some of the most common and accurate ways to show proof of coverage when property owners require proof.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and ranges from $15 to $20 a month, or $180 to $220 per year. The cost of the policy will depend on how much coverage you purchase. Some landlords will even require that you have a certain amount of coverage, but that varies by location, by the landlord and even by state. When you’re analyzing your budget, it’s important to include renters insurance with your other utilities.

Keep in mind that most policies renew annually and if you don’t automatically renew your policy lapses and you may temporarily lose coverage. You also need to pencil in the cost of compensation for the agent, if they charge a fee to draft a policy.

Signing the renters insurance policy.

How to get a renters insurance policy of your own

If you’re trying to rent an apartment and can’t sign the lease until you have proof of renters insurance, then it’s time to find a policy for you. There are ways to find an insurance agency who you get you set up:

  • Ask your new landlord for a recommendation
  • Use your existing insurance agency and bundle it with your car insurance, for example, to save money
  • Use an online comparison tool to find an insurance company
  • Do an online search to find an insurance agency
  • Ask your neighbors who they use
  • Go to your local insurance broker

Proof of renters insurance is key

Once your policy is in place, you’ll be happy to know that you can then sign the lease, move into your new apartment and feel secure knowing you’re protected from the unexpected.

Source: apartmentguide.com

SuperRare Review – One-of-a-Kind Digital NFT & Blockchain Artworks

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SuperRare is a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace founded by John Crain in 2018 and built on the Ethereum blockchain. SuperRare has become one of the top 10 NFT marketplaces based on all-time sales volume, according to Statista. 

SuperRare isn’t like most other NFT platforms you’ll find online. Although all marketplaces claim to focus on crypto art, many of the digital assets they sell are highly pixelated, computer-generated works that would have never passed as art before the NFT boom. 

That’s not the case with SuperRare. The platform is centered around the artistic value of NFTs and doesn’t offer access to any collections of multiple similar pieces. All NFTs you’ll find on the platform are truly one-of-a-kind digital artworks. 

Key Features of SuperRare

When you sign up for SuperRare, you’ll have access to several features. Some of the most appealing to NFT enthusiasts include:

Straightforward Pricing

SuperRare’s fee structure is simple. There are two transaction fees charged:

  1. The Buyer Fee. The buyer will always pay a 3% buyer fee when making a purchase on the platform. 
  2. Primary Sale Fee. The first sale of an NFT is known as the primary sale. The platform retains 15% of the sale price on all primary sales, leaving 85% of the sale price for the artist. Keep in mind that this fee is only charged on primary sales. You won’t pay fees on secondary sales if you’re the seller.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the platform’s fees aren’t the only fees you’ll pay when buying or selling NFTs. Blockchains have their own fees, known as gas fees, that are dictated by the demand on the blockchain at the time of the sale. On the Ethereum network, where SuperRare is built, gas prices can be as low as a few bucks but have been as high as hundreds of dollars in ETH.

The best way to make sure you pay the lowest gas fees possible is to time your trades when the market is less active. There’s less demand on the blockchain at night or early in the morning. So, there’s less demand on the blockchain during these times. As such, making NFT transactions during these times could give you significant savings on gas fees. 

Built on the Ethereum Blockchain

Although Bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum is the most actively developed blockchain. Blockchains are decentralized systems that store data in smart contracts, making it possible to validate transactions and verify ownership. 

As with any technology, there’s a major benefit to using the most actively developed options. SuperRare runs on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning the NFT exchange is built on a blockchain that’s proven itself to be reliable, secure, and accessible. 

Buy Art That Isn’t Listed for Sale

SuperRare’s website displays some digital artworks for sale and others that don’t seem to be. However, everything’s for sale for the right price, and the platform makes it possible to make an offer, even when assets aren’t “listed” for sale. 

If you find a digital item that’s a must-have for your art collection on the SuperRare platform and it’s not listed for sale, simply use the offer feature. The offer you make will be sent to the verified owner of the piece. The owner then decides whether to take your offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer. 

Compatible with Four Cryptocurrency Wallet Providers

Crypto collectibles must be stored securely in a crypto wallet. The NFT marketplace is compatible with four of the most popular crypto wallets. 

The supported wallet brands include MetaMask, FortMatic/Magic, Crypto.com Wallet, and Argent. 

Focused on Art

If you’re an art enthusiast, the fact that the platform is actually focused on art is a major draw. All NFT providers call non-fungible tokens digital art. But let’s be frank here, a majority of images that are minted as NFTs would never have been considered art in the past. Suddenly, a pixelated image of a punk or one of endless iterations of cartoon apes can be claimed to be artwork worth real money.

There’s a chance for that fad to fade, but real art will always have value. 

The SuperRare platform is where some of the top artists sell their single-edition works. You’ll find the same genres of art you’d expect to see in art galleries and museums. Some of the most popular on the website include realism, photography, and animations. 

No matter what type of crypto art you’re looking for, there’s a great chance the platform has something that’s appealing to your visual sensibilities. 

Automatic Royalties on Secondary Sales

If you’re a collector who buys an NFT, you can resell or relist it as a secondary sale to another buyer. The original creator of the NFT often receives a royalty on this secondary transaction.

Although most NFT platforms offer the option to earn royalties on secondary sales, the option is automatic with SuperRare. Artists automatically earn a fixed 10% royalty on all sales of their art in the secondary market. 


Advantages of SuperRare

The platform is one of the top 10 NFT marketplaces online today, offering a long list of advantages to collectors, artists, and enthusiasts. Some of the biggest advantages of the platform include:

  • Artists Automatically Earn Royalties. Traditional artists usually only make money off of the first sale of original works. As a crypto artist, you’ll automatically earn a 10% royalty on all secondary market sales when using SuperRare.  
  • Built on Ethereum. The Ethereum blockchain is the most popular and most actively developed blockchain in the world. Because SuperRare is built on the leading blockchain, you can expect reliability and stability as you transact. 
  • Own Unique Art. You won’t find copies or collections of pieces that look the same on the platform. All art you come across will be single-run productions designed for individual sale. You can rest assured the art you buy on the platform is unique. 
  • Sellers Don’t Pay Fees on Secondary Transactions. The 3% transaction fee is only charged to the buyer. That means you can resell your NFTs without owing a cut to the platform.

Disadvantages of SuperRare

There are plenty of reasons to consider signing up for SuperRare, but there are also a few drawbacks. The most important to consider are:

  • Gas Fees. Etherium provides reliability and security, but gas fees can be very high during peak demand periods. If you’re an artist or a seller, you pay gas fees when you mint NFTs and when you accept an offer from a buyer. If you’re a buyer, you pay gas fees when you buy fixed-price NFTs.
  • Only Accepts ETH Payments. Most NFT marketplaces accept a wide range of cryptocurrency payments, and some accept fiat-money payments like credit cards and debit cards. Unfortunately, SuperRare only accepts ether (ETH) — the native coin of the Ethereum blockchain — as a payment method. 
  • High Transaction Fee. The 3% transaction fee is high compared to popular NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible, which only charge 2.5% transaction fees.  
  • No Custom Royalty Settings. You’ll always earn a 10% royalty on secondary sales of your art through the platform. However, other marketplaces allow you to customize your royalty, with some caps as high as 50%. 

How SuperRare Stacks Up

OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace in the world, so it’s SuperRare’s biggest competitor. Here’s how the two compare:

SuperRare OpenSea
Pay Gas Fees When Minting? Yes No; gas fees are paid only when the NFT sells. 
Payment Methods Ether (ETH) Credit cards, debit cards, and more than 150 different cryptocurrencies. 
Who Pays Transaction Fees? Buyer Seller
Types of NFTs Sold Only single-edition digital artworks.  All kinds of NFTs. 

Final Word

The digital art industry is booming, and many expect it to continue on an upward trajectory. It’s not surprising if you want to get involved. However, SuperRare isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. 

The platform is best for you if you’re an artist who produces one-off digital works or a photographer who’s looking for a simple way to bring your work to a mass audience. It’s also a great option if you’re an art collector who wants to find something truly unique. 

If you’re more interested in collections like CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, and Bored Apes, popular options like OpenSea are your best bet. 

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Earn a $150 cash bonus when you sign up for a new Albert account, receive a qualifying direct deposit, and use your Albert debit card. No monthly fees.

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Editorial Note:
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Understanding the 50/20/30 Rule: Our Easy-to-Follow Guide

Figuring out and sticking to a budget isn’t super fun for most people but it certainly is a smart way to to handle your money.

The 50/20/30 rule is one of many budgeting plans that help us get spending under control. This plan works well for households where no more than 50% of the money coming is spent on living expenses. As housing prices rise across the country, this is becoming more difficult for many Americans.

The 50/20/30 budget plan was popularized by Vermont Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy expert and creator of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and her daughter, business executive Amelia Warren Tyagi, in their co-authored book, “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.”

The book was published in 2006, prior to the Great Recession and the housing bubble burst. Since that time, income inequality has risen, and recently inflation has gotten out of control.

How to Use the 50/20/30 Budget Plan

Using this budget plan isn’t particularly difficult but will require you to assess monthly expenses in comparison with household income. The goal of the 50/20/30 budget is to break down your monthly after-tax income and focus your spending in three broad categories: Essential living (50%), financial goals (20%) and personal spending (30%).

While this budgeting method might have worked for many middle-income families when it was published, the number of households it actually applies to is shrinking. However, if you live in that sweet spot, the 50/20/30 budget can still be a great strategy to implement.

Essential Living: 50%

With the 50/20/30 budget, you should spend 50% of your income on essential living expenses. These can include:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Car insurance and/or car payments
  • Phone and internet
  • Gas for your work commute
  • Credit card and loan minimum payments
  • Other: Bills that are essential and probably no fun at all. Examples include prescription medicine or daycare costs.

Let’s take a closer look at these numbers and see just why they can be so unrealistic for so many people.

The average American household brought in $67,521 in 2020 – and that was before the economic impact of the pandemic. That averages out to about $5,627/month before taxes.

According to Realtor.com, the average rent in March 2022 was $1,807/month across the top 50 metro areas. According to the USDA, a thrifty family of four can currently expect to pay over $901/month for groceries. These two expenses alone push the family up to 48% of their monthly income.

So if you have utilities? Car payments? Insurance or phone bills? If you’re the average American household — or, heaven forbid, lower-income — you can forget about it. The 50/20/30 budget won’t work for you because your basic expenses take up more than 50% of your take-home pay.

Financial Goals: 20%

Let’s say you are lucky enough to have your basic expenses account for 50% or less of your monthly take-home pay. You’d then want to look at your financial goals, allocating another 20% of your monthly budget to the cause.

Financial goals can include things like:

  • Investments: This includes your 401(k) and all other investments. Don’t have any yet? It’s never too late to start investing.
  • Savings: One of the biggest steps to financial health is having emergency savings so you don’t step backward every time an unexpected expense pops up.
  • Debt-reduction payments: This is for payments on your credit cards, student loans and any other debts that are above the minimum payment.

Personal Spending: 30%

This is the category that makes this budget work for the budget-averse — when they have a high enough income, that is.

Personal spending is all of the stuff you like to spend money on but don’t really need. And at 30% of your monthly income, that can mean a lot of freedom.These expenses can include things like:

  • Dining out
  • Vacations
  • Going out for movies or drinks
  • Netflix and other in-home entertainment options
  • Shopping for clothes, decor, etc.

Now, here’s where you have to get careful at higher income levels. Let’s say both you and your spouse pull in $200,000/year each. That makes your monthly household income about $33,333/month.

That means 30% of your budget would be $11,111.

Could you spend that much on personal spending every month?

Maybe.

But odds are you’d really have to try. For high-income households, you’re probably going to want to readjust your percentages so they’re more oriented towards your financial goals rather than pursuing lavish expenses every single month.

Getting to a place where the 50/20/30 rule could work

Most people don’t fit into the 50/20/30 budget because their income is too low and their essential expenses are too high. If you find yourself in this boat, here are some things that can help on the saving money side:

And here are some ways you can side hustle to increase your income:

When the 50/20/30 Budget Works

This method works well for those within certain income limits who are new to budgeting, or are put off by rigid spreadsheets.

Splitting your expenses into these three broad categories will get you thinking about the value of your purchases, while providing flexibility as you find your frugal footing.

And by building discretionary spending into your financial plan, you’ll be able to enjoy what’s most important to you while you find places to cut spending.

When the 50/20/30 Budget Doesn’t Work

For some, the numbers simply won’t add up.

Maybe you have two jobs and still can’t earn double the price of rent in your area. Maybe your daycare options are limited. Or maybe your student loan debt eats up most of your paycheck.

For others, you may need to adjust the percentages if you make so much money that 30% on personal spending would be ridiculous.

If the 50/20/30 budget isn’t for you, that’s OK.

There are plenty of other budgeting methods to choose from:

  • Zero-based budgeting
  • Envelope budgeting
  • Bare-bones budgeting
  • Bullet journal budgeting
  • Kakeibo
  • Calendar budgeting
  • Half-payment method
  • Paycheck budgeting

What’s most important is that you zero in on eliminating debt and growing your personal wealth, regardless of the budgeting method you choose to use.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Former Penny Hoarder writer Tyler Omoth contributed to this report. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

These 3 Companies Help Regular People Borrow up to $250,000

So, you have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and the burden of paying off all that — and interest — is gobbling up your income.

Instead of financially treading water making minimum payments and paying maximum interest, make the smart move, and take out a debt consolidation loan. It’s a personal loan, usually at a lower interest rate that you can use to pay off your high-interest credit cards.

In the long term, you can save a ton of money, but first you have to shop around for a loan.

Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet, you can go window-shopping at an online marketplace that’ll help pinpoint the best loan for you.

We recommend you try more than one site and see what kind of results you get. Heck, try them all if you want. It won’t take long, and you have nothing to lose: Seeing your options won’t cost you anything, and it won’t hurt your credit score.

1. This Company Will Lend You Up to $250,000 

While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a website called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster.

Fiona can help you borrow up to $250,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 2.49% and terms from 6 to 144 months.

Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free t0 check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.

2. This Company Has an A+ With the Better Business Bureau

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off all of your balances.

AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR, and it keeps your information confidential and secure. After 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

3. This Company Will Let You Skip Your Credit Card Payments This Month

No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) could be paid by the end of this month.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called Credible knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Credible will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

Credible won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

7 Ways to Score Free Dental for Seniors on Medicare

Affording dental work can be tough if you’re an older American on Medicare.

That’s because Original Medicare — which covers a majority of beneficiaries — doesn’t include routine dental care.

Congress is considering whether to add dental coverage to Medicare as part of a $3.5 trillion social spending package — but progress has been slow.

For now, older adults are mostly on the hook when it comes to paying for their own oral health care.

Here are seven ways to get free or reduced dental care. We’ll also explain what limited dental benefits Medicare coverage provides, along with other options like private insurers and Medicaid.

7 Places to Get Cheap or Free Dental Care for Seniors

Medicare beneficiaries who use dental services spent an average of $874 a year out-of-pocket, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That’s a lot of money, especially if you’re on a fixed income.

Here are a few tips and tricks to save big on oral health.

1. The Dental Lifeline Network

This program by the American Dental Association offers free, comprehensive dental treatment to specific groups, including people ages 65 and older.

You can use this tool on the Dental Lifeline Network website to learn about the specific program details in your state.

Heads up: Due to long wait lists, several states and counties are no longer accepting new applications for the Dental Lifeline Network program. When we did a quick search, states like Texas, California and Kentucky weren’t accepting new applications.

2. Community Health Clinics

Federally funded community health clinics provide reduced-cost or free dental care services to people with low incomes.

Many operate on a sliding scale system while others offer flexible payment plans.

Wait lists can be long, so it’s important to reach out to your local clinic early.

Follow this link to find the nearest community health clinic near you.

3. Dental Schools

Some dental schools offer low-cost cleanings and other routine care to members of the community.

Most of these teaching facilities have clinics that give dentists-in-training an opportunity to practice their skills while providing care at a reduced cost.

You can search for a program in your area by visiting the American Dental Association website.

There’s no guarantee that a dental program in your area currently offers free or reduced dental care. You’ll need to contact each program individually to see what’s available.

When you call, make sure to ask about any fees up front.

4. NeedyMeds.com

This website offers a comprehensive list of dental offices with sliding scale payment options, community health center locations and dental school clinics.

It does a great job breaking down requirements and eligibility (if any) for services in your area, and provides contact information for each service.

Just enter your zip code into this search tool to get started.

5. Talk With Your Dentist

It might be difficult to ask for help, but being honest with your dentist about your financial situation can help.

Your dentist may be able to offer a less expensive treatment, help you set up a payment plan or provide a sliding scale payment option.

Ask if you can receive a discount for referring a friend. Or, see if it’s possible to knock off a few bucks in exchange for a positive online review of the dentist office.

6. Sign Up for a Dental Savings Plan

Dental savings plans aren’t dental insurance, but they may still be able to save you money.

Here’s how it works.

With a dental savings plan, you pay an annual fee, then get a 10% to 60% discount on most dental services such as exams, cleanings, fillings, root canals and crowns.

The plan contracts with dentists who agree to reduce their fees, then you pay the participating dentist directly using your discount.

You’ll still pay out of pocket for those services, but the idea is that you won’t pay as much as you would without the plan.

But let’s be clear: Dental discount plans aren’t free. The average cost for plans in Orlando, Florida, for example, ranged between $135 to $170 a year.

You can visit DentalPlans to find a plan in your area.

7. Shop Around

Dentists can charge widely different prices for the same exact procedure.

When you’re paying out of pocket, it pays to shop around.

You can find average prices in your area by using FAIR Health, a national nonprofit organization. The site lets you search by specific procedures, so you get the average cost for a root canal or teeth cleanings in your area.

Armed with knowledge, call around to different dentist offices for quotes. Ask about senior discounts.

You can also look for discounted dental care on sites like Groupon.

A quick search on Groupon for dental services in Houston, Texas, showed numerous x-ray, exam and cleaning packages for $25 to $50. One office even offered $700 toward dental implants for just $40!

If you live in a high cost-of-living area, driving to a less expensive area is another smart way to save money.

A senior citizen laughs as a dentist shows him dentures.
Getty Images

Does Medicare Cover Dental Care?

Yes and no.

Original Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for routine dental, vision or hearing benefits.

Original Medicare will only cover dental work if it’s deemed medically necessary, i.e. you were hospitalized after a traumatic injury that also affected your jaw, teeth or mouth.

Here are the other dental services covered by Medicare Part B:

  • Dental services that are critical to a larger procedure like facial reconstruction after an accident.
  • Tooth extraction that is needed to prepare for radiation treatment.
  • Oral exams that are done to prepare for a kidney transplant or heart valve replacement.

So if you’re looking for standard dental care like teeth cleaning, X-rays, fillings, extractions, dentures and more — the cost comes out of your pocket.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are administered by private insurance companies. They must provide the same basic coverage as Original Medicare, but plans may offer additional benefits, such as dental.

About 94% of private Medicare Advantage plans provide some dental coverage, but the amount of coverage varies by plan.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly all Medicare Advantage plans that include dental offer coverage for oral exams, cleanings and x-rays.

But benefits for more advanced dental work like root canals, implants and dentures can carry substantial copays, depending on the plan.

Medicare Advantage plans almost always impose restrictions, including annual dollar caps and how often you can get certain benefits, such as dental implants.

The average annual limit on dental benefits among Medicare Advantage plans that offer more extensive benefits was about $1,300 in 2021, according to KFF.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to check the plan’s summary of benefits or evidence of coverage to see exactly what dental work is covered. It can vary widely from plan to plan.

Other Dental Insurance for Seniors

About half of all Medicare beneficiaries — 47% — did not have any form of dental coverage in 2019, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Besides Medicare Advantage plans, other sources of dental coverage for seniors include Medicaid and private plans, such as employer-sponsored retiree plans and individually purchased dental plans.

Private Dental Insurance for Seniors

A standalone dental policy for people 65 and older is typically $20 to $50 a month, according to AARP. These dental insurance policies usually come with an annual deductible of $50 to $100.

Dental insurance plans usually cover checkups and cleanings 100% but you will probably owe 20% to 50% for other services, such as tooth extractions or dentures.

The devil is in the details with private dental plans: It’s important to shop around and carefully compare benefits to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about private dental insurance plans:

  • You can’t enroll in a dental plan through the federal ACA Marketplace if you’re already enrolled in Medicare.
  • ​​Private dental policies usually don’t charge higher monthly premiums if you’re over 65 or in poor health.
  • An insurance company may require you to undergo a waiting period before you can get expensive procedures.
  • Some plans won’t cover pre-existing dental conditions you had before enrolling in coverage.
  • You may be restricted to an in-network dentist, so check to see if your dentist is on the list.

Medicaid

About one in five Medicare beneficiaries is also enrolled in Medicaid, sometimes referred to as being “dual enrolled.”

Medicare usually pays as your primary insurance when you’re dual enrolled. But if you need dental work done or even a yearly cleaning, consulting your Medicaid handbook is a smart move.

If you meet Medicaid low income requirements in your state, you may be able to receive free or low-cost dental care for certain procedures and services.

But it’s not a guarantee. While most states provide at least some emergency dental services, only 36 states and Washington, D.C. offer limited or comprehensive dental benefits for adults, according to the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP).

Even if your state Medicaid program includes dental, it may not pay out much. Of the 36 states with routine dental care coverage, only 23 states offer an annual expenditure cap of $1,000 or more.

Adult Medicaid recipients in Arkansas, for example, only receive up to $500 of dental services a year. So if you need a $3,000 root canal and you’re dual enrolled with Original Medicare, you can expect to pay $2,500 out of pocket in that state.

According to Medicaid’s national website, “States have flexibility to determine what dental benefits are provided…There are no minimum requirements for adult dental coverage.”

To find the Medicare office contact information for your state, click here.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com