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Medicare Vision Coverage: How to Save Money on Eyeglasses and Exams

These services are free to qualifying older Americans. It’s one of the only national programs that offers free eye exams for people on Original Medicare.
Members of AAA and AARP can get the following discounts at LensCrafters:
Like Walmart, Costco eye exam costs vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from to 0 for an exam.
Medicare Advantage plans also restrict the vision benefits they offer, including:
Finally, numerous local nonprofits offer free eye exams throughout the year. Call United Way’s 211 service to see if a program exists near you. Or Google “free eye exams near me.”

How Medicare Covers Vision

Plans are generally inexpensive — usually to a month — and premiums usually don’t increase with age like other types of health insurance.
Medicare Part B covers 80% of the cost for: 
Ready to stop worrying about money?
You can see if you qualify and apply for the program by filling out this form.

Original Medicare

The OneSight Vision Voucher program helps people in need receive free eyewear if they’re not able to cover the cost of eyeglasses with insurance.
Both retailers also offer a wide selection of eyeglasses in the to range.
Some diseases and conditions — such as lupus and shingles — can affect your vision even though they aren’t traditional eye diseases. Medicare Part B covers treatment for your eyes if you have one of the many conditions on this list from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Medicare Advantage

Original Medicare does not cover routine vision exams, eyeglasses or contact lenses. Lasik surgery isn’t covered either.
Retailers like Costco and Walmart offer optical centers with affordable pricing on eye exams and glasses.
Veterans can also qualify for free eyeglasses or contact lenses by meeting one of the following criteria:

  • how often you can replace glasses and/or contact lenses.
  • how often the plan will pay for eye exams.

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Older people with low incomes may also qualify for free or reduced eye exams at their local county health department.

Need a refresher on how Medicare works? Check out answers to seven frequently asked questions. 

Medicare Coverage for Other Eye Treatments and Conditions

There is also a program that provides free eyeglasses to those who qualify — but be prepared to jump through some hoops first.
In states that do provide vision benefits, basic eye exams are covered. Prescription glasses with basic frames are also usually covered, but each state has specific caps.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
Students at optometry schools sometimes provide free or discounted eye exams during clinics.

  • Certain treatments for serious eye conditions, including micro-invasive glaucoma surgery.
  • Cataract surgery. Medicare will pay to implant a conventional intraocular lens. It will also cover one pair of standard-frame eyeglasses or a set of contact lenses after cataract surgery.
  • Detached retina treatment.
  • Treatment for certain dry eye conditions.
  • Eye exam for people with diabetes to detect glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Annual glaucoma test for people at high-risk of developing the disease or with a family history of glaucoma.
  • Some tests and treatments for age-related macular degeneration.
  • An eye prosthesis (artificial eye) for patients with absence or shrinkage of an eye due to birth defect, injury or surgical removal.
Pro Tip
If you have an eye disease that causes low vision, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma, Medicare Part B will cover screening tests and standard treatment.

Here’s how it breaks down.

How to Save Money on Vision Care Costs

If you are also enrolled in Medicaid or Veterans Affairs health benefits, you may qualify for free or low-cost vision care.
Original Medicare does cover eye care related to illness or injury, including cataract surgery and glaucoma screenings. More on that shortly.
Many of these sites offer virtual “try on” features and come with convenient return policies so you can find frames and lenses that work for you.

How to Save Money on Eye Exams

If you have a serious eye disease like cataracts or glaucoma, Medicare Part B will generally pay for treatment.
You can use this tool to search for schools in your area — although the eye exams and care provided vary from school to school.

Discounts for AAA and AARP Members

To receive your AAA or AARP member discount, make sure to present your membership card at participating locations. 
Buying eyeglasses online is a cheap alternative to paying hundreds of dollars for a fancy pair at your optometrist’s office.

  • 30% off comprehensive eye exams.
  • 50% off a complete pair of eyeglasses (frame and lenses) and prescription sunglasses. Valid in-store and online.
  • 10% off disposable contact lenses.
  • 30% off non-prescription sunglasses.

According to a recent survey from Consumer Reports, people who bought glasses online paid a median of , while those who shopped in-store spent 4.

  • $55 comprehensive eye exam at participating independent eye doctors (Use this tool to find a location near you).
  • $10 off best in-store offer on a complete eyewear purchase at Target Optical.
  • 10% off contact lenses at Target Optical.
  • $10 off non-prescription sunglasses at Target Optical.
  • 30% off a complete pair of glasses at Glasses.com (Use code RP_30OFF_GL at check out).
Pro Tip
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Costco and Walmart

Medicaid will cover eye exams for adults ages 21 and older in most states — but not all.
Talk to your VA primary care provider or contact your nearest VA medical center or clinic for more information.
Here are the steps you need to take:
So how do you know, in your own case, what’s covered and what’s not?

EyeCare America

Its Seniors Program provides comprehensive eye exams and up to one year of followup care for any eye condition diagnosed during the initial exam.
The services above are covered whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. 
Fortunately, several programs and organizations offer free or discounted eyeglasses and exams for older adults.
EyeCare America is the public service arm of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  • Be age 65 or older.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • Not belong to an HMO or have eye care benefits through the VA.
  • Not have seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years.

Medicaid is a federally funded health insurance program for people with low incomes. It’s administered at the state-level, so each state determines its own vision benefits and limitations.
By law, both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage must cover the same basic vision services for eye diseases and chronic conditions.

Lions Club International

Check out OneSight’s website to learn more about its vision voucher program.
Research your specific state’s Medicaid vision coverage or contact your local Medicaid office for more information. Speaking with a local Medicaid office and your individual plan provider is the best way to understand your specific vision benefits.

Optometry Schools and Senior Discounts

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, routine vision care isn’t guaranteed.
Finally, to get these vision benefits, you will need to use certain eye care professionals and services within your specific Medicare Advantage plan network.
If you have VA health care benefits, the program will cover your routine eye exams and preventive vision testing.
At Walmart, eye exams average about , but prices vary by location.
Copays for eye exams with Medicaid are affordable, usually or less.
Here are some of the best ways to reduce your out-of-pocket costs on routine vision care when you’re enrolled in Medicare.

A man tries on eyeglasses.
Getty Images

Where to Get Free or Cheap Eyeglasses

For more information, reach out to your local Lions Club chapter.
Just a heads up: This program does not cover the cost of eyeglasses.

OneSight Vision Voucher Program

Medicare may not be your only form of insurance.
Here are a few ways to keep more money in your pocket without forgoing important eye care.

  1. Get a referral letter from a nonprofit organization verifying your visual and financial need for glasses. The letter must be written on company letterhead and include the Tax ID# of the nonprofit organization. Recommended nonprofits include churches, the Lions Club, Prevent Blindness, Red Cross and United Way.
  2. You’ll need a valid prescription from an eye doctor. If you don’t have a prescription that is less than two years old, you can ask the onsite doctors at a Luxottica Retail location if they can donate a free eye exam.
  3. Take your referral letter and prescription from an eye doctor to a participating Luxottica Retail location — which includes LensCrafters, Target Optical and Pearle Vision corporate stores — to get your free pair of eyeglasses.

Some privately administered Medicare Advantage plans cover eyeglasses and eye exams.

Cheap Online Eyeglass Retailers

Medicare beneficiaries can purchase private vision insurance to help offset the cost of eyeglasses and routine eye exams. According to KFF, medicare patients spent an average of 0 out of pocket on vision care in 2018.
The following groups can also qualify for free eyeglasses through the VA:
But that’s not the case for routine exams and eyeglasses.
You should carefully examine any private vision insurance plan benefits and costs before signing up. Make sure the plan actually saves you money on eyeglasses and routine exams.

Does It Make Sense to Buy Private Vision Insurance on Medicare?

But Original Medicare — which provides health insurance to about 37.7 million Americans — doesn’t pay for your new eyeglass frames or an annual vision exam.
Privacy Policy
Another option is asking local vision care providers if they offer any senior discounts or in-house financing plans. Make sure to call ahead and ask before scheduling an appointment.
To qualify for the EyeCare America Senior Program, you must:

Does the VA or Medicaid Cover Eyeglasses and Eye Exams?

You’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these covered treatments and services after meeting your Part B deductible.
The national average cost of a comprehensive eye exam is , according to All About Vision and other sources, but the figure can vary from to 0.

Medicaid Vision Coverage

However, vision benefits are pretty modest — plans offer about 0 worth of eyewear and eye exam coverage a year on average, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
AARP members also receive these discounts through other providers:
These undergraduates are closely supervised by faculty members, so it can be a cheap way to score a routine vision test.

  • At least 42 states offer some coverage for optometrist services.
  • At least 33 states offer some coverage for eyeglasses.

Some online retailers, like Zenni Optical, offer single prescription glasses starting at just . You’ll pay more for special coatings, progressive lenses and other add-ons.
For example, 47% of Medicare Advantage plans limit beneficiaries to one pair of eyeglasses every two years, according to the KFF analysis.
However, private insurance monthly premiums, copayments and deductibles may not make it worthwhile.
Once you’re clear on your coverage, make sure your eye doctor accepts Medicaid before scheduling an eye exam.

VA Vision Coverage

AAA and AARP members can receive discounts at participating LensCrafters and other retail locations nationwide.
Affordable eyeglass lenses and frames are easy to find online or at large retail stores like Walmart and Costco.
You’re on the hook for the full cost unless you have a separate private vision care policy or secondary insurance like Medicaid.

  • Have a disability linked to your military service for which you’re receiving VA disability payments.
  • Are a former prisoner of war,
  • Were awarded a Purple Heart.
  • Receive benefits under Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1151.
  • Receive an increased pension because you’re permanently housebound and in need of regular aid.
  • Experience vision problems caused by another  illness — such as stroke or diabetes — for which you’re receiving VA care.
  • Suffer from geriatric chronic illnesses (long-lasting illnesses that affect the elderly).

Eyeglasses and routine vision exams are pricey for Original Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Veterans with significant functional or cognitive impairments.
  • Veterans with a vision impairment severe enough that it interferes with their ability to participate in their own medical treatment.
  • Veterans who have service-connected vision disabilities rated 0%.

Whether you’re new to Medicare and wondering what to expect at your next eye exam, or you’re a long-time beneficiary trying to save money on glasses, our guide to Medicare vision coverage and affordable eye care is here to help.
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Nearly all Medicare Advantage plans — which are administered by private insurance companies like United Healthcare and Cigna — include some routine vision coverage.

20 Great Jobs For Retirees for Flexibility and Extra Cash

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Who even knows what “retired’’ means anymore?

You might have left the career you had in the 40-hour-a-week workforce. But now you don’t exactly want to be glued to your couch watching puppy videos. You want to be active, you want to work, and you want to make a little money to support your fun retirement plans.

While “retirement income’’ or “retirement job” might seem like oxymorons, they are a more reasonable pursuit today than in years past due to advancing life expectancies and improved health among older citizens.

Many people reach so-called retirement age and are in no way done with being productive. Many continue in freelance jobs and part-time gigs, whether in a brick-and mortar setting, from home, or even outdoors.

There are plenty of ways to bring in some extra money to augment pension, social security, or other retirement funds. We’ve rounded up 18 ideas for good jobs for retirees that offer part-time opportunities, flexible hours, or both.

20 Part-time Jobs for Retirees

Most of the examples here require your physical presence on-site, but there are remote jobs, too, such as virtual assistant and customer service work that can be done from the comfort of your home.

As you browse these possible jobs for retirees, keep in mind one warning: If you are collecting Social Security, you can only earn a certain amount each month before your benefits are reduced.

So let’s get to work, shall we?

1. Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers have never been more valuable than today. Covid has increased the chances that a teacher might be out of the classroom either awaiting test results or recuperating. When that happens, their students need someone to teach — and that could be you.

Most school districts have lenient requirements for substitute teachers, often requiring just a bachelor’s degree with no teaching experience.

To be successful, you need to be ready to deal with a room full of 20 or so children of varying ages. But it could pay off. School districts in Chicago, for example, pay as much as $200 a day for a full day of work.

If you have an advanced degree, you may also qualify to be an adjunct instructor at a community college or four-year university.

2. School Support Worker

Most schools are always looking for crossing guards, recess supervisors and other positions. A call to your local elementary, middle or high school could lead you to a good retirement job that would fit your schedule. Even better is searching online for jobs at your school district. This will give you a range of what’s out there.

This is a classic retirement job that gets you out of the house, allows you to have contact with neighbors, and lets you provide security and safety with another set of adult eyes on the children.

3. Tutor

There are hundreds of tutoring companies in the U.S. who work with kids of all ages to enhance their school education or prepare for college entrance exams. If you sign up with one, they’ll match you with work and you won’t need to market yourself as a tutor.

The hourly pay for these companies ranges from about $13 to $25. Requirements often are limited to a bachelor’s degree, although exam-prep work might require a recent ACT or SAT test score, or might require you to retake the exam for verbal or math instruction.

If you are interested in online tutoring, there are many good paying gigs out there. Match your skills to the openings.

A senior woman drives a school bus.
Getty Images

4. School Bus Driver

School bus drivers can earn up to $20 per hour. They have regular hours with the opportunity to earn extra for field trips or outings. Some states require a specific license (a commercial drivers license, or CDL, for example) or require you to pass a driving test to qualify.

Recent news reports indicate there are many job openings for school bus drivers.

The job is likely to include more than just driving, however. You may be asked to supervise students on the bus, and you may be called upon to discipline rowdy students or those who are making the trip unsafe. A tolerance for children of all ages is probably an important requirement.

5. Shuttle Bus Driver

There are dozens of different types of shuttle bus driver jobs. Most hotels have shuttles to and from airports. Senior citizen homes, churches and community centers often offer shuttles to shopping areas or grocery stores. Hourly pay for shuttle bus drivers can average above $13 per hour, and that’s not including tips from satisfied riders. Like school bus drivers, shuttle bus drivers have regular hours.

Depending on the particulars of the job, a commercial driver’s license might be required.

There are different state laws regarding licensing for shuttle bus drivers. A specialized license might be required if the bus holds a certain number of people or is a particular size. Your state motor vehicle website will tell you what’s required in your state, and any potential employer will know, too.

6. Tour Conductor

Tour guide is one of those jobs that, when you see someone doing it, you think, “Well, I could do that too!”

Businesses, organizations and sites that host tours come in many shapes and sizes, from historical sites to museums, from outdoor walking tours to behind-the-scenes workplace tours. They can be an everyday part of a business or scheduled by appointment. What do they all have in common? A tour leader.

These jobs require knowledge about the subject and the ability to tell a good story — often while walking backwards.

Tour guides make an average base salary of $20 per hour. Plus, they are often offered tips by tour participants.

This could be a dream job for someone who knows the topic well and likes to retell stories about history, natural science or architecture (among many other possibilities).

If this appeals to you, don’t overlook a special area of knowledge you’ve developed during all those years in the workplace. Know a lot about the manufacturing industry? Maybe you’re just the person to lead tours at a cheese factory.

Looking for a fun part-time side gig? Here’s how you can earn money visiting theme parks as a Disney nanny.

7. Patient Advocate

The job of a patient advocate is to assist someone who is struggling to cope with the healthcare system. A patient advocate deals with paperwork and appointments, and communicates with healthcare providers to get information on diagnosis, treatment and followup procedures.

Advocates might also be asked to work with insurance companies to understand coverage and costs. Many are asked to help a client obtain assistance with financial or legal issues. The range of duties can be as varied as the patient’s needs.

Being a patient advocate does not require any particular educational degree, but it is possible to become certified in this role.

These positions can be part- or full-time, and they pay well, averaging $18 an hour. So if you plan to collect Social Security benefits, make sure to check how your wage impacts your benefits.

A senior citizen plays with two children outside that she's babysitting. They are chasing each other with water guns.
Getty Images

8. Child Care Provider

Child care might be a bit of a political football these days, but rarely has it been more necessary. Single parents or two-parent families that require or want two incomes are likely to need child care, and that could take the form of a nanny or frequent babysitter.

A babysitter sits in a home with a child or children. A nanny is responsible for getting children to day care or other activities; they are a substitute parent in many cases.

Craigslist, Next Door or other neighborhood job sites are great ways to search for these positions, but your best bet is to work with your personal network. Let people know that you would be willing to work as a nanny or frequent babysitter, and, with the proper recommendation, you could have a very gratifying retirement job.

There are no actual nanny or babysitter licenses or certifications in the United States, but many families require that nannies be bonded, which is a guarantee of service. It is a protection against someone failing to show up for work; one such failure forfeits the bond and that area of work is no longer available to that nanny.

Taking classes in CPR or other emergency response techniques, which offer certifications upon completion, can improve your chances of being hired.

Nannies are likely to make $15 an hour on average. Babysitter earnings vary widely by affluence of the neighborhood. Check out The Penny Hoarder’s tips on how to get paid up to $21 an hour babysitting.

9. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are independent contractors who offer business services virtually. Those services can include website management, website design, marketing assistance, social media postings, blog writing, email correspondence or any number of clerical duties that can be carried out with a computer and phone. This kind of work is often well-suited to flexible hours.

As of this writing, ZipRecruiter showed more than 221,000 virtual assistant jobs, suggesting that a virtual assistant could make up to $60,000 a year, depending on the work required.

You are more likely to work on an hourly wage determined by your experience and amount of work you are required to perform. There are also job firms that provide virtual assistants; you can sign on with them and accept work as it is offered to you.

Any task that can be done virtually via computer is likely to be requested by a virtual assistant. Firms would rather pay a freelancer than an employee to do the work.

10. Bookkeeper

You have a good head for numbers. You are in charge of your own finances, and you perhaps worked in an accounting role at a previous job.

Many small or civic organizations cannot afford, nor do they truly need, a full-time bookkeeper or accounting service. They are not in it for the money. Often, they are charitable or non-profit organizations. But they need occasional bookkeeping, often with an eye towards tax advantages.

A part-time bookkeeper job often requires simple financial recordkeeping or upkeep of other financial records. Part-time bookkeepers are usually former accountants or have experience as a bookkeeper. They may be asked to track invoices, but most companies use financial services for paychecks.

The average salary for a part-time bookkeeper is around $20 per hour.

11. Umpire and Referee

This is a perfect retirement job if you have a sports background and the ability to withstand criticism.

Competitive sports programs need officials for their games. Baseball, basketball, soccer and football all have leagues at various ages that need officiating. Depending on where you live, the work can be constant. If you get certified for multiple sports, you can work all weekend long and often during the week.

While high-level programs require officials to get licensed or certified, lower-level and youth group programs require just a basic knowledge of the rules. Look around your community for sports leagues in need of umpires or referees.

Pay is often dependent on the age of the players and the competitive level of the organization, but officials are likely to make at least $25 per game. At higher levels where certification is required, you can earn $100 per game.

A man walks a gaggle of dogs at his dog walking job.
Getty Images

12. Pet Sitting and Pet Walker

For between $10 and $15 an hour, you can earn money by pet-sitting in a home or, if the pet happens to be a dog, you can walk the animal. Pet-sitting is a good job for retirees who want to work outdoors without a lot of physical requirements other than being able to walk while pulling or being pulled.

Pet sitter/walker is also a good line of work to get into because one job can lead to another. Pet owners tend to concentrate around each other, and they will give recommendations to other pet owners about a reliable person who can watch Fido or Fluffy while they are on vacation.

If you are going to house-sit the animal, you will likely get paid more for also keeping an eye on the property while the owner is away.

13. Freelance Writer

Although freelance writers no longer provide articles — it’s called “content” now — freelance writing is a gig that can offer the freedom to accept the assignments you want. There are firms that will connect freelance writers to people or companies in need of blogs, resumes, cover letters, marketing content and more.

According to Indeed, the average hourly pay for a freelance writer is a bit over $20, but you are often paid by assignment or by word, so the pay varies. If you have knowledge in certain topics like science and medicine, the pay can be higher.

Writing skills rarely diminish, but the requirements for writing change over time. A knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to open more doors. Many jobs that use job search websites like Indeed ask for candidates to take a writing test, but many of those are simple grammar or proofreading tests.

While there are occasional situations where someone needs a one-off writing assignment, freelance writer jobs often offer consistent, if sporadic, work. A retiree who can write could have a client for years. Check out this Penny Hoarder article on places hiring freelance writers.

14. Call Center Employee

Just to be clear, we are talking about taking calls from customers, not making calls. A call center representative answers incoming calls from customers or potential customers and either answers questions or sends the caller to someone else who can answer.

As much as this is a remote job, it is definitely a people-person retirement job. You are likely to be talking to someone who is upset or unhappy, and you are the first line of communication for the company you are representing. You need to be capable of being friendly and helpful in the face of unpleasant conversation.

As such, typical hourly pay is $15 as a call center representative.

15. Freelance Bartender

Freelance bartending doesn’t require bartending school and can earn you good money working at large events or small, private parties. Hourly pay for freelance bartenders can be anywhere from $20 to $50 even before tips.

If you can memorize lots of cocktail recipes, if you have an outgoing personality and a steady hand, and if you’re willing to cut people off if needed, this could be a fit for you. Your best bet might be starting out tending bar for people you know and then building a network of referrals.

Plan on some up-front costs, such as a portable bar (if the host doesn’t have one) and basic bar tools. The host is expected to supply the alcohol and mixers. And to protect against possible liability you might want to consider an annual liability policy.

16. Shopping Specialist

Is it the shopping or the buying that you enjoy? If it’s the shopping, then you might consider becoming someone’s personal shopper.

The job title describes the job. You are given a shopping list and the means to make the purchase, and you chase after the items.

Certainly, many people already have personal shoppers and don’t know it. When they contact a grocery store and provide an itemized list of goods they want, someone does the “shopping,” and the items are then delivered.

But true personal shoppers are more likely to purchase clothing and accessories than groceries. A personal shopper often finds items and then sends photos and descriptions to the person who hired them to get approval.

Some high-end clothing stores offer personal shopper services as well. These positions might be a little less “personal,” as they might be a one-day relationship. But the concept is the same.

Personal shoppers who go after groceries or staples are likely to make typical hourly pay of $14 to $20. Those who work for a service are likely on a wage or salary determined by the service rather than by the client.

There’s also money to be made as a mystery shopper. Mystery shoppers are sometimes called evaluators or secret shoppers and often work on their own time. Their job is to document their shopping experiences and report back to the owners to help them improve customer service.

Got what it takes to be a mystery shopper? We’ve rounded up five companies that are hiring retail sleuths. 

17. Security Guard

A security guard who does not carry a weapon serves as a presence to discourage inappropriate behavior. While many large businesses like Target or Wal-Mart hire security personnel from a service, small employers such as charitable or service organizations are likely to hire someone who is reliable and gives the appearance of authority.

The responsibilities of a security guard depend on the needs of the company being guarded. There may be requirements that go beyond just being a presence, but the differences depend on the needs of the company.

Hourly pay for security guards without weapons training is likely to be between $10 and $17. Night-time security guards are likely to make more than daytime ones.

This is a good job for retirees who do not mind a bit of boredom.

Security guards who do carry weapons require special training and weapons licensing, and is an entirely different job pursuit, perhaps not as well-suited to a retirement job.

18. Seasonal Job Employee

Remember when you had a summer job as a teenager or a part-time job during your winter break from college? The same logic can work when you’re thinking about some extra retirement income.

Many seasonal jobs are defined by the weather, which is defined by the time of year and the climate where you live. Seasonal jobs are popular, never go out of style (except when the season changes), and can actually be a fun job to look forward to.

Ski resorts in the winter and water parks in the summer are two great examples of places that require seasonal employees. It is not necessary to be a ski instructor or a lifeguard, either. These places require assistance in areas outside of their main purpose: security, transportation, customer service. Even the National Park Service hires seasonal temps.

Also included in seasonal work are holiday positions during the months of October-December. On-site customer service, truck unloading, shelving of new goods, and custodial services are among the positions for which big box stores are likely to need employees. For example in 2021, we tallied more than 1 million seasonal jobs at national retailers and delivery services.

Some stores hold hiring events in October to fill these positions, but they often continue searching for employees throughout the final three months of the year.

A man takes out a croissant out of a display case for a customer who is purchasing it.
Getty Images

19. Baker/Butcher

Perhaps you grew up baking your own bread, and your cupcakes were legendary at your kid’s school events.

Perhaps you know your way around a rump roast, or can identify all the various cuts of meat they offer at your local butcher.

You could turn your lifelong interest in food preparation into a part-time job, and you are likely to be welcomed because you don’t need as much training as a newbie. Your local grocery store would be a good place to start, letting the hiring manager know that you have some background as a butcher or baker.

These are speciality skills, and as such get paid better than some other positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a butcher’s hourly wage is approximately $17.15 an hour. Payscale.com lists the average hourly wage for a baker at just under $13 per hour.

20. Specialty Store Employee

You know which hardware store to go to to get advice from someone who has fixed a toilet in their life. You know which fabric store to go to where the employees know the difference between chiffon and silk.

You could be one of those employees.

During your life, you have become knowledgeable about some aspect of household or everyday life. People with your knowledge are hired by companies to help people who do not yet have that experience. Stores that serve a specific type of customer would love to hire someone they don’t have to train extensively.

According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for a hardware store employee is just under $13. Indeed says a sales associate at a specialty store will make an average of just over $10 an hour, maybe more now that minimum wages are increasing across the country.

Pro Tip

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Refinance a Car Loan – 6 Easy Steps for Better Auto Payments

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Additional Resources

Sometimes, you need to buy a car, even if your credit isn’t in a good place. If that happened to you, you might be stuck with a high-interest-rate car loan. 

While the auto loan you drove away with isn’t the best, you have some options. Any change in your financial situation for the better means you can qualify for a better loan, allowing you to refinance to get more favorable loan terms.

If you want lower monthly payments and a lower interest rate, refinancing your current auto loan is the way to go. 

How to Refinance a Car Loan

Refinancing your current loan can reduce your monthly payment, lower your interest rate, or shorten the loan term for a faster payoff. If you play your cards right, you’ll save money in the long run and reach your other personal finance goals sooner. 


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But before you call a lender, follow these steps to ensure you get the best deal possible.

1. Determine Whether Refinancing Makes Sense for You

Refinancing isn’t right for everyone. The process takes time and can cost money, so you want to ensure you’ll benefit financially before you jump in. 

Ask yourself a few questions before you decide to go forward. 

  • What Interest Rates Are Available? Interest rates were at historic lows for a while but are starting to climb again. Before you start the refinancing process, confirm the available rates are actually lower than what you’re currently paying.
  • Does Your Current Loan Have a Prepayment Penalty? Some car loans have a prepayment penalty, meaning you have to pay a fee to pay off your loan before the end of the term. Depending on the size of the penalty, it can make it more expensive to refinance.
  • How Much Is Your Car Worth? The value of some vehicles drops quickly once you bring them home. If your car is older or doesn’t have a great reputation, it might not have a high enough value to justify refinancing your loan and a lender might not let you take out a new one.
  • How Long Do You Have Left on Your Original Loan? If you just got a loan and have a few years left to pay off it, refinancing it may be the right move. But if you’re almost finished paying off the loan, it might not make sense to get another one.
  • Do You Have Upcoming Large Purchases? You might want to hold off on refinancing if you have other big-time purchases coming up. For example, if you want to get a mortgage on a new home within the next few months, refinancing your car loan might be a roadblock to getting the best terms on a home loan.
  • How Much Does Refinancing Cost? In addition to the interest you pay, car loans typically have loan origination fees, a type of processing fee. Depending on the size of the fee, refinancing might cost you more money than it saves you.

2. Check Your Credit

You might not have had the best credit when you got your loan, but if you’ve been making on-time payments for a year or so, you’re likely in better shape now than you originally were.

The only way to know for sure is to check your credit score. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to do now. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com, provide your information, and access your reports from the three credit bureaus for free.

Generally, you can only access your report for free once per year. But the bureaus loosened up their rules during the COVID-19 pandemic and now let people take a peek at their reports weekly for free, though that’s unlikely to last.

Your credit card, credit union, or bank might also give you free access to your credit report and credit score. Often, free credit monitoring is available through a financial institution’s mobile app or website. 

If you don’t like what you see on your credit report, you have options. First, reach out to the credit reporting agency if you notice any mistakes on the report. Mistakes can include:

  • Closed accounts being reported as open accounts.
  • A misspelling of your name.
  • Accounts belonging to someone else, usually a person with a similar name.
  • Multiple listings of the same debt.

If you’re not happy with your credit report because of your own actions, such as late payments or missed payments, you can take steps to improve your credit. But raising your credit score can take time.

Anything over 780 will get you the best rates, while a score between 661 and 780 will get you a decent rate. If your score is under 660, you can still get a car loan, but the interest rate will be high.

If you’re happy with your credit score and the results of your credit check, you can proceed with the next steps. 

3. Gather the Relevant Documents

You need to give the lender several documents when applying for a car loan. To make the loan application process go as smoothly as possible, get your paperwork in order before contacting any lenders. You need to have:

  • Personal Details. The lender will most likely need your Social Security number, driver’s license, current address, and details about other loans or financial obligations you have.
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your car’s VIN is like its fingerprint. It’s a 17-character code that identifies your specific vehicle. It’s usually on the driver’s side where the dashboard meets the windshield. It’s on a metal plate and should be visible from the outside. Along with the VIN, it helps to have other details about your car, like the number of miles on it and its model year.
  • Proof of Insurance. You most likely need to have auto insurance just to own a vehicle legally. Your lender needs to see proof of coverage.
  • Proof of Income. Gather proof of your income, such as your pay stubs, W-2s, or income tax returns. Your income influences whether you can get approved for a refinance and the rate you get.
  • Details About Your Current Loan. When you refinance, you pay off the existing loan with the new loan. The lender needs to see the details of your current loan, such as the lender name and amount. 

4. Get Prequalified

It pays to shop around when refinancing your car loan. Prequalification gives you a good idea of the interest rate, loan term, and amount you can borrow. 

Getting prequalified isn’t the same as submitting a loan application. The lender just looks at your current loan, your credit, and the type of car. Using that information, they can give you a rough estimate of the type of loan you can get. 

Prequalification is a soft credit inquiry, so it won’t cause your score to drop. It’s also not a guarantee of anything. You might prequalify for a certain rate, but once the lender does a hard credit check and looks more closely at your financial documents, you might end up with a different loan offer.

Still, find out if you can get prequalification from several lenders before moving forward. 

If you can’t get a lender to prequalify you, now isn’t the time to refinance. It could be due to your credit, which you can fix, or the age or value of your car, which you can’t.

5. Compare Offers

Ideally, several lenders will prequalify you. The more prequalification offers you have, the better you can compare car loans. The loan term, interest rate, and monthly payment affect how expensive the new car loan will be.

  • Loan Term. The loan term is how long you have to pay off the balance. A longer term usually means a lower monthly payment, but you’ll pay more interest over time. You can choose the loan term, usually in 12-month increments, usually up to 84 months (seven years).
  • Interest Rate. Ideally, when you refinance your car loan, you get a lower interest rate than you currently have. The rate available to you can vary from lender to lender.
  • Monthly Payment. The monthly payment is how much you have to pay every month, including principal and interest. A rock-bottom monthly payment looks appealing but often means the loan term is longer and you pay more in the long run. A higher monthly payment gets your loan paid off sooner but might strain your budget.
  • Fees. Your new auto loan might have several fees, such as a lender fee, origination fee, and title fee. Compare the costs of each fee and weigh the fees’ costs against the cost of interest. For example, a loan with higher upfront fees might have a significantly lower interest rate, so you still save money in the long run.

When you’re reviewing your offers, the big question to ask yourself is whether you want lower payments at a higher cost over time so it fits into your monthly budget or bigger payments at a lower cost so you can pay your debt off sooner (and cheaper).

6. Submit Your Application

Once you’ve picked a lender to work with, the rest is pretty easy. Fill out the application and provide any documentation or details the lender requests. 

As you go through the refinancing process, keep making payments on your current car loan. You’re still responsible for the payments until the new lender approves your application and pays off the current debt.

If all goes well, you’ll get approval from your lender. You can then read and sign the contract for the new loan. When reviewing the contract, be clear on when your first payment is due and when the refinancing company will pay off the current debt. If you have a payment coming due before the refinancing is complete, pay it to avoid a late payment showing up on your credit.


Final Word

If your current car loan has a high interest rate, high monthly payment, or just doesn’t work for you, refinancing can get you a more affordable loan or give you the financial flexibility to reach other financial goals. 

Compared to refinancing a mortgage, refinancing a car loan is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to have your car appraised or go through a complex closing process all over again. Once you’ve submitted your application, you can expect the refinancing process to be over and done in a matter of hours.

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Amy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia, PA. Her interest in personal finance and budgeting began when she was earning an MFA in theater, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country (Brooklyn, NY) on a student’s budget. You can read more of her work on her website, Amy E. Freeman.

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