How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s

The post How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

For many of us, our 30s are a dynamic time in life. During these busy years, jobs turn into careers and relationships are solidified by marriage or transformed by children.  Most people are also in their mid-30s when they purchase their first home.  While these are all expensive items, one thing you should not overlook is saving for retirement.

financial moves in your 30s

Retirement seems a long way off when you are 30, but is much closer when you turn 39.  The sooner you start saving and investing for your golden years, the more money you will have when the time comes. And, if you work it right, you may even be able to start your retirement earlier than expected.

Thirty-three percent of people ages 30 to 49 years old don’t have a retirement account. YIKES!! If you’re within this one-third of people, and in your 30s, you need to make retirement savings a priority.

If you aren’t in your 30s, these articles can help with retirement planning:

  • Retirement In Your 20s: What To Do NOW To Get On the Right Savings Path
  • Saving for Retirement in Your 40s
  • In Your 50s? There is Still Time to Save for Retirement
  • Why It’s Not Too Late to Save for Retirement in Your 60s

 

STRATEGIES TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT IN YOUR 30s

Invest in your 401(k)

If your company offers retirement savings through a 401(k), start by discussing your options with someone in human resources. They can get you set up with a plan that works well with your income and goals.

If you currently contribute to your company’s plan, make sure you are making the maximum contribution that they may match.  For example, if they match 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your contributions, that is FREE MONEY!  Make sure your contribution is 4% as they will give you 1% for free – for a total 5% contribution.

As you get a raise, continue to increase your contribution by 1% annually.  You will not miss the money and will be on target for achieving your savings goals.

 

Open an IRA

Another retirement vehicle to consider is an IRA.  An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an easy way to add more money to your retirement savings.  You can contribute up to $5,500 (subject to age and income limitations) and the contributions may be tax deductible (see your CPA).

 

Visit with a Financial Planner

Financial Planners are a must when you have investments and are saving for retirement.  They analyze and help ensure you are on the right path to achieving your financial goals.  They don’t usually charge for their services (if you invest with them) and can tailor a plan just for you.

 

Don’t change jobs

Sometimes it is tempting to change jobs because it looks better.  But, keep in mind that you will need to start over with service requirements and contributions to a retirement plan.  The company may also have a plan that is not nearly as robust as the one through your current employer, making you miss out on additional savings.

 

Diversify your investments

As you get older, the level of risk you can, or are willing to take, changes.  You can be much more aggressive in your 20s and early 30s, but as you approach your 40s, you may want to make adjustments.  Ask your investment or financial advisor about changes you should make each year.

 

FINANCIAL GOALS IN YOUR 30s

In addition to saving for retirement, there are goals you may want to achieve and financial rules you should follow once you hit your 30s.

Budget

Make sure you have a written budget you follow every month.  You should account for every penny you make — in essence giving every penny a job.  Don’t forget to include items such as additional retirement and emergency fund savings accounts.

 

Watch your Credit Report and Score

Each year, check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport (this is the free site mandated by the government and the only one you should use).  Check for errors such as items that should have been discharged, accounts you did not open and other issues so you can submit them for correction.

You should also know your credit score.  You can use a free site such as Credit Sesame to check your credit score, but keep in mind it is your vantage score (so not your true score – but it is pretty accurate). If you want to know your actual credit score, MyFico.com offers this and access to your credit reports from all agencies for a reasonable fee.

 

Save at least six months of income

Experts have always said you should save three months of your income in case of an emergency.  However, if we learned anything during the last recession, that isn’t quite enough. If you are single, work on saving at least six months of income and if you have a family, aim for nine.    You can increase your savings in many ways, such as eating out less, selling items and even getting a second job.

 

Have a will and health care directives

It is something none of us wants to think about, but it is important to not only have a will, but also health care directives as well.  For around $70 – $90 you can create one at LegalZoom. However, if your situatio is more complex, or you are not comfortable creating one yourself, it is important to reach out to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.

 

Check your life insurance

If you have kids, you need life insurance.  And, it is also wise to purchase policies on them as well.  If something happens to any of you, funeral expenses alone can be a financial burden.  Then, if there are medical expenses you need to pay for on top of burial costs, it can cause a lot of financial strain for your loved ones.

 

 

 

 

Invest Time, Too

A 2014 survey conducted by Charles Schwab, found that only 11 percent of workers spent five hours or more assessing their 401(k) investment options. This is far less time than how long many of us spend researching a new car or a vacation! If the idea of investments and the terminology attached overwhelms, you might consider taking a course.  It might be good to think about hiring someone to help.

A trained professional can ensure you are meeting your retirement goals. When you work with a financial planner, he or she will help you establish an account and assist with diversification – an important element to successful investment. A good financial planner can be invaluable when your accounts, and family, grow.

 

Steady As You Grow

Once children enter the picture, so do a host of excuses about why retirement saving is impossible. While it’s important to provide every avenue of support for your little ones, you must do so responsibly. For instance, starting a state-sponsored 529-college plan for your children is a great way to save for college expenses but it’s important to remember that they can always get a loan for school – you can’t for retirement.

What is your key takeaway for saving if you are in your 30s? Start putting more money away for retirement. While saving 10-15 percent of your income for retirement might be difficult, it will feel so good when you are comfortably retiring in your 60s.

 

saving for retirement in your 30s

The post How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Make Tough Decisions as a Couple

Marnie and Tom live in a nice suburb in the Midwest with their two young children. Marnie’s mother, Elaine, lives about an hour away.

When the kids were babies, Marnie's mother used to drive to Marnie and Tom's every day to see her grandkids and help out. But lately, Marnie's mother's health has been declining, so she can’t drive over anymore.

One day Marnie gets an idea: What if she and Tom sell their house and move closer to her mother? Then the kids would be able to see their grandmother more often. Plus, Marnie would be able to keep a closer eye on her mother in case her health gets worse. Seems like a perfect solution.

There’s only one problem—Tom doesn’t want to move. Tom likes the neighborhood they’re in. He thinks he and Marnie paid too much for their house, but other than that he’s very comfortable.

Tom says no.

Tough decisions and zero-sum situations

Faced with big decisions like this, a couple will ordinarily try to compromise. But in this case, there’s really no half-way. Economists call this kind of thing a zero-sum situation. Someone’s going to win, and someone’s going to lose.

For over thirty years, I’ve watched couples struggle with zero-sum problems. Some more successfully, and some less so.

Some classic zero-sum problems for couples involve whether or not to move—often for one partner’s career—and whether or not to have another child. But there are lots of others.    

For thirty years, I’ve watched couples struggle with zero-sum problems. Some more successfully, and some less so. Today, we’re going to talk about what works, and what doesn’t, when you’re faced with one of these situations.

Three ways not to make tough decisions as a couple

 First, let’s talk first about what doesn’t work. There are three main approaches that don’t work. Unfortunately, most couples try all three:

Mistake #1 – Trying to convince your partner they'll be better off

The first mistake is to try to convince your partner that they’ll be much happier if they do things your way. In Marnie’s case, this might involve demonstrating to Tom all the wonderful things about the neighborhood she'd like to move to. Wouldn't Tom be better off there? 

No one likes to be told they’ll be happier if they just do things your way.

 Here’s the problem: No one likes to be told they’ll be happier if they just do things your way. It's better to assume each person has good reasons for feeling the way they do. And that those reasons aren’t likely to change. In couples therapy, we call this "staying in your own lane."

Mistake #2 – Suggesting there's something wrong with your parnter for disagreeing

The second thing that doesn’t work is to suggest there’s something wrong with your partner. Otherwise, they'd see it your way. If only they were less anxious, less obsessive-compulsive, less oppositional, less stuck in their ways, or less damaged by unresolved childhood trauma. Then they’d surely agree with you!

A lot of people get sent to my office for therapy by their spouses for just this reason. Believe me when I tell you, it doesn’t work.

A lot of people get sent to my office for therapy by their spouses for just this reason. Believe me when I tell you, it doesn’t work. It usually just leads to a lot of bad feeling.

Mistake #3 – Appealing to your partner's love

The third thing that doesn’t work is to appeal to your partner’s love and insist that if they really love you as much as they say they do, they’ll give you what you want. Almost every couple tries this.

Marnie is no exception.

“Tom,” she says, one night as they're getting ready for bed, “Don’t you see how I can’t sleep at night worrying about my mother? I can't stop thinking about how she’s missing out on so much of our kids’ lives. Can’t you see what this is doing to me? Don’t you love me?”

 “The answer’s still no,” says Tom. “And it has nothing to do with whether I love you or not.”

I'd be inclined to agree. Just because you love someone, that doesn't mean you're responsible for giving them everything they want. 

A better way to make tough decisions as a couple

The good news is there’s a much better method. There are three steps involved.

Step One:  Let’s make a deal

In business, this would be a no-brainer, right?  You’d never ask someone to give you something you want for free. Instead, you’d find out what their price is.  

In marriage, it’s the same thing. The main question is: What’s going to motivate the other person to do a deal?

Let’s see what happens when Marnie tries this approach.

One night in bed, just before they turn off the lights, Marnie turns over to face Tom.

“Tom, what can I give you to make you agree to move?” she asks.

Tom is silent.

“A promise to never complain ever again about you watching TV?”

Tom smiles. “It’s going to cost a lot more than that,” he says.

Marnie thinks some more. “How about if I agree to spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family?”

Tom shakes his head. But now Marnie has the idea. She’s not asking for favors anymore. She just wants to do this deal.         

“I'll do all the cooking and cleanup three times a week,” she says. "And we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family."  

Tom raises an eyebrow. Now he knows she's serious. "Let me think about it,” he says, and turns off the light.

Time for Step Two.

Step Two:  The $64,000 Question

The following night, Tom is sitting at his laptop paying bills. Suddenly it hits him. “Marnie,” he says, “I think I see a way to do this. If we’re going to move, let’s get a smaller house and start saving money again. What do you think?”    Marnie’s actually been hoping for a bigger house. It’s painful to hear that this is what Tom wants. But hey, now he’s named his price. That means he’s in the game.

To me, this looks promising. Marnie gets something she wants very much. And she pays for it, fair and square. Same thing on Tom’s side.

Marnie thinks for a minute.  

“Let’s see what we can find,” she says.

Step Three: The Price is Right

Now comes the fun part.

The following Sunday, Marnie and Tom drop the kids off with her mother and start house-hunting in earnest. After a few weekends, they find a house they both like well enough. It breaks Marnie’s heart to be downsizing, but it was the only way to make things work. And it helps that once they find a place Tom likes, Marnie gets him to agree to new cabinets and closets.

Decision making builds strong relationships

 A good deal will have both of your dreams in it. That’s important, because it means you’re both fully in. You never know how a move like this is going to work out. If it goes well, you both share the satisfaction. If not, you share the blame.

A good deal will have both of your dreams in it.

One sign of a good deal is that in the end, neither of you got everything you wanted. The final result didn’t look exactly like what either of you originally had in mind.

But hey, isn’t that the case with anything creative? Eventually you have to face reality. And in a couple’s relationship, reality often takes the form of the person next to you in bed.

Sometimes life brings you to a fork in the road, where no compromise is possible. When that happens, assume you’ll need to do some serious deal-making—as if your relationship depended on it. Which in fact, it will.

Eventually, you have to face reality. And in a couple’s relationship, reality often takes the form of the person next to you in bed.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

In the long run, how you settle the issue may matter more than which fork you take.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

I taught English in China to pay off my student loans

Hello! Here’s a guest post from a reader, Nick. Nick was feeling stuck a few years ago and wasn’t making progress on his student loans. He ended up researching a lot about salaries and the cost of living for English teachers in China and realized that he would be able to save far more money in China than back home. Even without teaching experience, and still living very comfortably, including taking vacations, it has been easy for him to save $20,000 in a year. For him, it had a huge impact on his life and financial freedom. Enjoy his story on how to teach English in China below!

I taught English in China to pay off my student loans #teachenglish #movetochina #makeextramoneyIt must have been about 4.5 years ago. I remember walking out of an interview in Chicago feeling completely dejected.

The interviewer mentioned the salary, and along with it, how most new hires take on a second job during the weekend. 

I wasn’t expecting to find an amazing job, but this was just too much. None of my past decisions looked particularly good on a resume. I had just returned from a 3.5-year stint traveling around Latin America while earning a very modest living playing online poker.

But, I was burnt out, making no progress on my student loans, and realizing it was time to get a normal job. I was actually really excited to do so but job hunting was incredibly frustrating and when I realized how little money I’d be earning, I began looking for alternative options. 

Somewhere along the way, I had heard about teachers in Asia making good money and motivated by the frustration of the job search, I began looking into it more seriously.

After spending countless hours reading online, I ended up settling on China as that seemed to be where it’d be easiest to save the most money. 

I’ve since been in China for four years, paid off my student loans, and finally feel comfortable with my finances. 

Without a doubt, moving to China isn’t for everyone or even most people. However, for those that are a little bit adventurous, not opposed to working as a teacher, and want to save money fast, it’s an option worth considering. 

It’s not at all difficult to save $20,000 per year, without needing to be particularly frugal, and still have plenty of vacation time. 

Related articles on how to make extra money:

  • 12 Work From Home Jobs That Can Earn You $1,000+ Each Month
  • 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
  • The Best Online Tutoring Jobs

How to start teaching English in China.

 

The demand for teachers in China

Chinese parents spend an average of $17,400 per year on extracurricular tutoring for their children. 

More than 60% of students receive tutoring outside of school at an average of six hours per week and English is among the most popular subjects for after school tutoring. 

While these numbers look insanely high from my Midwestern American point of view, it barely scratches the surface for the demand for English tutoring in China. 

In fact, English is a required subject in Chinese schools. Private schools often take this a step further, with many classes and programs taught exclusively in English. Meanwhile, the online tutoring industry has created lots of opportunities to teach English online

Chinese parents are obviously willing to pay for English education. This demand for English teachers becomes even more apparent when you consider just how huge of a country it is. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, there are 32 cities with more people than Chicago

 

The requirements to be an English teacher

It’s not difficult to become an English teacher in China. The huge demand has made for relatively lax requirements. These are…

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Two years of work experience
  • 120 hour TEFL certificate
  • Clear criminal background check
  • Pass a health check
  • Native English speaker

The bachelor’s degree doesn’t need to be in any specific subject, nor do the two years of work experience. The 120-hour TEFL is easy and pretty cheap to do online. 

Of course, having these doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to get a great job right off the bat. Some of the best schools will have a very rigorous hiring process. However, even a standard first job in China can allow you to save a lot of money. 

 

The types of English teaching jobs in China

Most foreign teachers in China come to teach English. However, there are other opportunities as well, such as with teaching sports, a specific subject, or as a homeroom teacher who teaches a variety of subjects. 

There’s a wide range of salaries and teaching environments, with the main positions being in kindergartens, public schools, international schools, training centers, and universities. Salaries, working hours, and work environment can vary quite a bit depending on the type of school.

Additionally, the chosen city will have a large impact on your life with bigger cities paying more but also having a higher cost of living. ESL Authority has a good breakdown of the different salary ranges for different school types and locations. 

My teaching experience in China has exclusively been in Beijing at two public schools and one international school. I’ll share a bit about my experiences and salary at these schools. 

 

Teaching at a public school in China

Public school teaching jobs typically focus on oral English, meaning you’ll help students with their speaking and listening comprehension. The class sizes tend to be quite large. I often had 30-40 students in a class and would see each class only a couple of times per week, while often teaching multiple classes and different grade levels. In a given week I’d see 200-300 students. 

At the public schools I taught, I earned around $1,600 per month, which included a round-trip plane ticket to America, and housing. A typical schedule for public schools would be Monday-Friday, from 8 am – 4 pm, with 16-20 classes per week, with each one lasting around 45 minutes. There would be a lot of down-time during the day which I used to study Chinese

Many public schools, but not all, will let foreign teachers leave if they don’t have classes. Both public schools I taught at while in Beijing allowed me to leave when my classes were finished, which meant I’d often be done for the day around 2 pm. 

Vacation time is very generous, exceeding 3 months for summer and winter vacation, plus all of the national holidays during the year. Both public schools I’ve taught at allowed foreigners to finish the semester earlier and start later than their Chinese counterparts which makes sense as foreign teachers aren’t usually responsible for grading homework or preparing exams. 

The salary at public schools is more than enough to live comfortably and save quite a bit of money. Still, many teachers use their substantial free time to teach extra on the side with private students or at training centers. Doing so can be quite lucrative with an average rate of around $30 per hour. 

Having said that, it’s not exactly legal to teach with a different school than the one that sponsored your visa. If you got caught, it could get you in trouble and you could have your visa canceled and your time in China cut short. But, it’s one of those things that nearly everyone does and almost nobody gets in trouble for. So, if you choose to teach on the side, you should be aware of the risks. 

It isn’t difficult to teach an extra six hours per week during the ~8 months of the school year. This would earn an extra $5,760. Teaching 20 hours per week during 2 months of the summer/winter vacation would earn an extra $4,800. Combining these with the public school salary would make your yearly after-tax income $29,760 – with housing already paid for.

Plus, you’d still have close to two months’ vacation throughout the year. 

While I didn’t keep good track of my earnings and expenses while teaching at the public schools, these numbers are very close to my own experience. 

 

My experience teaching at an international school in China

If you’re more interested in teaching a subject like history or math, as opposed to English, an international school would be your best bet. 

These are the schools where wealthy Chinese and expats typically send their children to study. Teaching positions at some of the better schools can be very competitive, often requiring a teaching license, graduate degree, and a number of years of experience. Of course, those who qualify for these positions will earn higher salaries. 

However, a large number of international schools don’t have any additional requirements for teachers above the bare minimum required to teach in China. 

The work at these schools can be very demanding, much like teaching in America would be, requiring things like communicating with parents, creating exams, giving and grading homework, and plenty of meetings. Vacation periods are typically shorter than those for public school teachers. Likewise, working hours may be from 8 am – 5 pm, but most international school teachers will find themselves with very little downtime throughout the day. 

On the plus side, class sizes are generally much smaller and salaries higher. While teaching at an international school, I earned around $2,800 per month or $33,600 per year after taxes, with housing and a round-trip plane ticket included. 

However, due to the shorter vacations and more tiring day-to-day work, I didn’t have any interest in tutoring on the side. 

 

What does a typical budget look like for an English teacher?

This can be hard to say as everyone has a different lifestyle and things they’re willing or not willing to spend money on. I’ll share my budget below. 

Housing and Healthcare – $0/mo – In China, especially in the bigger cities, rent would make up the largest portion of a budget. Fortunately for foreign teachers, most schools include housing or a housing allowance. Housing would typically be a one-bedroom apartment, which may be on or off-campus, depending on the school. Some teachers may choose to add some of their own money to the housing allowance so that they can stay in a nicer place. But, I’ve been happy with the provided accommodation and didn’t pay any extra.  Health insurance is also provided and many schools have gyms on campus that you can use for free. 

Food – $350/mo – You can spend a lot of money on food or not much at all, depending on your preferences. Cheaper meals can be had for under $3 but you could easily spend $30 on a meal if you choose to go to fancier places. It also depends on how much you cook vs eat out and whether you like buying imported groceries. Most schools will offer free lunch to their teachers. Even so, I tend to spend quite a bit on food but am cheaper in other areas, so my food budget would be something like:

Groceries: $150

Restaurants: $200

Entertainment – $100/mo – Being the old man I am, I rarely go out for drinks at bars and my preferred entertainment is also the cheaper kind – hanging out, eating, and playing games with friends. Still, my wife and I will go to the occasional show. 

Transportation – $60/mo – Public transportation in China is fantastic and a single trip on the subway or in a bus can cost less than 50 cents. Shared bikes are everywhere and extremely cheap. Even using Didi, the Chinese version of Uber, is very affordable.  This is another area where I spend more than necessary, often taking a Didi out of laziness when there are cheaper options. 

Utilities – $15/mo – I think most schools typically pay for household utilities, like electricity and water. At least, the schools I worked at did. So, the only expense here is my phone which is on a pay as you go plan.

Travel – $250/mo – Living in China and working as a teacher opens up lots of travel opportunities, both within China and around Asia. Unfortunately, although plentiful, teacher’s vacation time is usually during national holidays when the cost of tickets is a bit higher.  Still, I tend to go on at least one international trip a year and also like to travel within China. Plus, almost every school also provides a round-trip ticket to your home country. If I were to guess, I probably spend around $3,000 per year on travel. I know people who spend much more and others who spend much less, so this cost will depend a lot on each individual’s preferences. 

Miscellaneous – $50/mo – These are other expenses such as buying household appliances, clothes, and other random things. I’m not a big shopper, but random things do come up. 

Total Expenses – $825/mo or $9,900/year

Although I’m conscious of my spending, I wouldn’t say that I’m especially frugal while in China. Far much less than I’d be if I were still living in Michigan. 

Some people might consider my spending extravagant while others might think I’m cheap. For me, it’s a good balance of comfort and enjoying my lifestyle with saving for the future. 

 

How much money can you save teaching English in China?

In my experience, I earned between $29,760 and $33,600 per year with expenses around $9,900 per year. This led to savings between $19,860 and $23,700 per year. Unfortunately, I didn’t track my exact earnings and spending each year, but these ballpark numbers are pretty accurate. 

It’s not particularly difficult to save $20,000 in a year of teaching in China while still living comfortably, traveling, and leaving yourself with enough free time to pursue other interests.

Plenty of people save more than this each year. There are also opportunities to increase your earnings as you gain more experience. 

However, like most places, life can be as expensive as you make it. If you’re bad with money back home, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly become good with money by moving abroad. In fact, the money may disappear even faster than it would back home as there are lots of exciting ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities. 

But, if you’re somewhat frugal and work fairly hard, you’ll have no problem saving a lot of money. 

 

How to find a job teaching English in China

There are tons of websites with job listings for English teachers in China. I can’t comment on most sites as all the jobs I found started with a search on the eChinacities job board

The start of your job search can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re still not sure where you’d like to live in China. This isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of recruiters will earn more money if they can get a teacher to accept a lower salary. 

I’ve known teachers that came to China and received terrible salary packages, earning less than half of what a typical salary would be and with an apartment far from the school. These people tended to not do enough research beforehand and accepted the first offer they received.

I would strongly recommend talking with lots of recruiters before accepting any position. Be sure to ask tons of questions, and be willing to say no to a jobs that don’t fit your criteria. There is no shortage of opportunities, so be patient when looking for your ideal position. 

Before accepting any position, be sure to do your due diligence on the school.

Most schools are fine and professional, but there are some sketchy ones. You won’t always find much information online about the school, but if they’ve done shady things in the past, you’ll probably see people talking about it.

Asking to speak with any current or former teachers can give you a bit more insight into the school as well.

 

Final thoughts on teaching English in China

Not everyone will be excited to live in China and I can understand that. It’s far from home, the language is difficult, and many people have a negative perception of the country. 

However, I’ve really enjoyed my life here and the experience has been exceptionally positive. Sure, there are small annoyances, but these will happen anywhere. Plenty of people worry about air quality, and while still not great, it has been improving every year

Beijing is extremely modern with no shortage of interesting and unique things to do. Moving here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. 

I came here with only a few thousand dollars in the bank and what felt like an endless pit of student loan debt. In only a few years, I’ve been able to completely turn around my finances, pay off my loans, and save up a nice nest egg. 

I know that it’s not for everyone, but if you’re open to new experiences, can see yourself enjoying teaching, and want to save a lot of money, moving to China to teach English is an option worth considering. 

Nick Dahlhoff is an English teacher living in Beijing. Since moving there in 2016, he’s paid off his student loans, studied Chinese, gotten married and started a blog. At All Language Resources, he tests out lots of language learning resources to help language learners figure out which resources are worth using and which ones are better off avoiding. 

Would you take a job in another country to pay off your debt? Would you start teaching English in China?

The post I taught English in China to pay off my student loans appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

21 Side Hustles for Teachers In and Out of the Classroom

Educators are the ones that ignite a love of learning inside each of us and help mold us for future success in life. They’re essential to student growth, invaluable in their communities, work countless hours preparing lessons, and care for their students. Despite all of their dedication and responsibility, it’s a well-known fact that educators are often underpaid, and many turn to side hustles to make ends meet. 

If you’re a teacher looking for a way to supplement your income, there are many part-time opportunities that can fit your schedule and skillset. Whether you’re looking for work through the summer, or an extra gig for nights and weekends, we’ve put together this complete guide of side hustles for teachers. 

Jobs to Keep You Teaching

Jobs Online and On Apps

Jobs to Get You Outside

DIY Work From Home 

 
$17.53 an hour, though it varies widely by experience and specialty.

  • Get started: Register online to become a tutor through sites like TutorMe, Tutor.com, and VaristyTutor, or set your own price and let parents at your school know you’re available.

2. Standardized Test Administrator

While test administrator requirements will vary across states and school districts, it’s needed everywhere there are schools. Administrators ensure that all testing procedures are followed, that no test materials are taken from the site, and that all tests are collected and submitted securely for grading. As schooling moves online, there are also plenty of opportunities to proctor exams from home. 

  • Pay: Test administrators earn between $32,500 and $43,500 on average for full-time work, and can earn as little as $24,000 a year.
  • Get started: Find your state testing service’s site to learn more and apply to become a test administrator. You can also apply to become a proctor with online proctoring companies like ProctorU.

3. Teach English Abroad 

Do you dream of traveling the world? Teaching abroad during the summer months is a great way to strengthen your skills as a teacher and experience other cultures. There are great options for short-term teaching jobs abroad, or you can teach foreign classrooms from home.  

  • Pay: This varies by region, but reaches as high as $5,000 a month. Keep in mind that some gigs cover room and board, while others require you to budget your own living costs.
  • Get started: You can learn more about the process and regions through International Schools Service and find international teaching jobs with sites like Teachaway and Go Overseas.

4. Adjunct Community College Professor 

More people are opting for community college to save on tuition, and there’s an increased demand for teachers in these programs. While some colleges may require a Master’s degree for employment, others only require a Bachelor’s and relevant teaching experience. Becoming an adjunct professor or teacher at a community college is a great way to continue teaching and change lives in a meaningful way. 

  • Pay: Adjunct faculty make a median of $2,700 per three-credit-hour course, though this varies between institutions and experience.
  • Get started: Check out the education requirements at your local colleges to see where your experience would be accepted. Then, decide what you want to teach, meet with a few other professors, and apply. 

5. Babysitting or Nannying 

Parents are always looking for someone responsible to watch after their little ones, and who better to trust than a teacher? Babysitting and other forms of childcare on nights and weekends is a flexible option that allows you to continue spending time with children while earning some under-the-table cash. 

  • Pay: Pay varies significantly by experience and location, so use this babysitting rate calculator to determine a fair price for your services.
  • Get started: Contact families you know for a smooth start to babysitting, or use sites like Care.com to match with families. You’ll likely need a background check to find nanny gigs online. 

 
Gridwise provides pay averages for major cities as well as other costs you should consider.

  • Get started: The first step is to download the app of your choice, then collect and submit the company’s required information. For example, Lyft requires:
    • At least one year of licensed driving experience
    • Pass both a DMV and criminal background check
    • Have your car inspected by a licensed mechanic
    • Drive an approved vehicle model

7. Delivery Services

If you’re not comfortable driving strangers, then you may want to consider delivery or shopping services instead. You can choose to deliver packages for companies like Amazon Flex, or deliver food and groceries as people need them. 

  • Pay: The average worker makes around $200 a month, though it’s heavily dependent on tips, location, and company.
  • Get started: Decide what you want to deliver, then choose the app that works best for you.
    • Postmates and Favor deliver everything from groceries to office supplies
    • DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub specialize in restaurant delivery
    • Shop and deliver groceries with Instacart and Shipt

8. Rent Out Your Extra Space 

If you have a spare room or apartment, you can rent it out for long- or short-term stays through services like Airbnb. This process is extra simple as you just have to set the dates and keep a clean and desirable place to stay. Just make sure you have updated insurance to cover any potential damages. 

Airbnb has over 7 million listings worldwide and has served over 750 million guests.

Even if you don’t have a room or home to rent, you can rent out parking spaces, lawns, swimming pools, and more. 

  • Pay: Airbnb hosts can make an average of $924 a month — the highest income of all gig economy services.
  • Get started: Register your space for free after deciding your rates, rules, and available hours. You can also check out these other sharing gigs to consider:
    • SniffSpot to share your yard with dogs
    • Swimply to rent your pool
    • JustPark and Spacer offer your parking spaces
    • Spinlister lets you rent sporting equipment
    • Getaround allows you to share your car when not in use

9. Virtual Assistant 

While a virtual assistant (VA) likely has some level of administrative work to do, they offer a number of different services including customer support, human resources, bookkeeping, and more. Most VAs are required to have experience in some type of administrative role. 

  • Pay: Virtual assistants make an average $15.77 an hour, but the pay can reach $27 an hour depending on experience and job needs.
  • Get started: A virtual assistant is their own boss, so you’ll want to follow some of the basic steps to building a business. Checkout Dollarspout’s guide to get started. 

10. Online Surveys

Online surveys may not be the most lucrative side hustle, but the money can add up. They’re convenient, quick, easy, and there are plenty of platforms to use online and on your phone. It’s a good option if you’re just looking for a little extra spending money. 

  • Pay: Each survey pays anywhere from $.10–$3, and there’s usually a minimum earned amount to reach before you can cash out. 
  • Get started: Choose a site like Swagbucks or InboxDollars to start receiving surveys and earning money. You can also earn Google credits you can use immediately with Google Opinion Rewards.

 
$15, but your location will affect prices. If you walk dogs for another company then you’ll have to pay them a cut, too.

  • Get started: Reach out to friends and neighbors to work independently, or join a service like Wag or Rover.

12. Tour Guide

If you live in a historic city or neighborhood, there may be an opportunity for you to offer walking tours of your area to summertime visitors. It’s a great opportunity to look at your city through a new lens and teach others about the area you love. Plus, being a guide will allow you to practice your public speaking skills, and you can use your knowledge of the area for future lesson plans! 

  • Pay: Tour guides make anywhere from $10–$20 an hour with an average of $24,343 a year base pay.
  • Get started: Jump right in as a peer-to-peer guide with Tours by Locals and Shiroube, or reach out to local organizations and attractions to see who’s hiring.

13. Summer Camp Counselor 

Relive your childhood memories of playgrounds, arts and crafts, and water balloon fights, not to mention spend all day in the gorgeous summer sun. You’ll be accustomed to the responsibility that comes with watching children all day, and you can let loose and have fun as a camp counselor.

  • Pay: Day camp counselors earn an average $10 an hour, and managers can make up to $20. Overnight camps pay a couple dollars more at an average of $13.
  • Get started: Local church, YMCA, and Parks and Recreation organizations often host summer and school break camps. You can also search other cities and overnight camps for a more unique camp experience.

14. Lifeguard

There’s nothing better than spending the summer in the sun, and lifeguarding is a great way to do that while protecting others. The American Red Cross offers lifeguard and water safety courses year-round, which will help you earn the necessary certifications and skills for the job.

  • Pay: Lifeguards earn an average of $12 an hour, though job experience may earn you a boost.
  • Get started: Once you complete your lifeguard training, you can apply to be a lifeguard at local pools, beaches, or even your school.

15. Coaching Local Youth Sports

If you were a competitive athlete or just love fitness, you may be able to make money as a youth sports coach. You’ll make the most as a private coach or by starting your own business. This way you can set your price and schedule, but it will be a lot of work in the beginning. 

  • Pay: You can set your own price, but most coaches earn around $14 an hour.
  • Get started: Start with coach training, then reach out to local organizations and meet other coaches in your area for opportunities and recommendations.

16. Lawn and Garden Care

Have a green thumb? You could earn some extra money in the summer months by going old-school and offering to mow lawns and tend to gardens. 

  • Pay: Landscapers earn around $14 on average with the opportunity to earn up to $20 an hour.
  • Get started: If you have your own equipment, advertise to your neighbors through Nextdoor and Facebook groups. Or you can work part-time for an established company.

 
Redbubble, or sell independently at markets and on social media. 

19. Farm for Cash

If you have the space and a green thumb, then consider selling food for cash. Garden vegetables and herbs can sell well on their own, or you can use them to make homemade sauces and salsas. Other products like eggs, honey, and flowers are also popular farmers market staples you can produce at home. Plus, your side hustle can double as a biology lesson.

  • Pay: Your product affects your price, but startup costs for selling at the market and purchasing basic booth needs are under $500.
  • Get started: Once you choose a product, plant it and get your business plan and certifications nailed down while they grow!

20. Begin Blogging

Blogging is a form of infopreneurship where you share your knowledge, build a professional reputation, and earn money. As a teacher, you can sell your lessons and resources, or write an e-book on effective classroom management. If you want a break from the classroom, share your experiences with gardening, business, or family instead. Once you build an audience, you can earn money through advertising or by selling your expertise as a speaker or writer. 

  • Pay: Bloggers earn an average $33,428 a year, but many make closer to $20,000.
  • Get started: Plan your blog topics and study up on how to market your blog, then get started writing. WordPress is a go-to for websites, but you can start out on simpler systems like Wix. 

21. Sell Stock Photos

If you dabble in photography, consider posting your photos on stock photo sites. You can make quite a bit from high-quality and desirable photos, but it’s becoming highly competitive. If you’re new to photography, then you may not make a lot, but if you’re already shooting then you might as well try to earn some money as you learn the basics. 

  • Pay: Stock photography can range from $.10–$80 a photo, and some sites charge you to post on them.
  • Get started: Start taking pictures that aren’t just pretty, but offer a story and context to them. Read up on royalties, then post your photos on sites like Alamy and Shutterstock. 

Many teachers and educators see side hustles or part-time work as a necessity to supplement their income. On the bright side, there are so many options these days that teachers can choose what works best for their schedule or lifestyle. Once you have a side hustle plan, set some savings goals and learn to budget your extra cash appropriately to get you there. 

Sources: Fortunly | Earnest | NEA | Statista 

The post 21 Side Hustles for Teachers In and Out of the Classroom appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Best Places to Celebrate Halloween in 2020

Image shows a carved and lit jack-o-lantern wearing a medical mask and sitting on some steps outside, surrounded by fallen leaves. SmartAsset analyzed various data sources (taking into account COVID-19) to find the best places to celebrate Halloween in 2020.

Halloween typically scares up a major boost in U.S. consumer spending, to the tune of $8.78 billion in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. Though this year’s celebration will be scaled down in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade group still projects that Americans will shell out $8.05 billion on things like candy, costumes, decorations and greeting cards. Despite the fact that many city governments are discouraging trick-or-treating and the CDC is recommending extensive safety guidelines, it’s still possible for families to get in the spirit of the holiday with the proper protocols in place. Whether you’re planning to don costumes and go house to house with your pod or attend a Zoom masquerade, not all locations are equally conducive to enjoying the festivities. That’s why SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find the best cities in the U.S. to celebrate Halloween in 2020.

To do this, we analyzed data for a total of 210 cities. We considered a range of metrics that we grouped into four categories: family friendliness, safety, weather and candy & costumes. For this year’s study, we included metrics like internet connection and recent COVID-19 infection rates to account for the different ways Americans will celebrate the holiday as a result of the pandemic. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s 2020 study on the best places to celebrate Halloween. Read our 2019 study on the best places to trick-or-treat here.

Key Findings

  • California cities take a number of hallowed spots at the top. Cities in the Golden State dominate the top 10 of this study. Five California cities – Vacaville, Fremont, Livermore, Oceanside and Menifee – are in the top 10, and there are four more in the top 15. The major factor driving a lot of these California cities to the top is their safety rating. Two of the above cities, Livermore and Fremont, rank in the top five for safety. The three other California cities finish within roughly the top 15% of the study for this category.
  • Halloween towns without frightening housing costs. A person who is burdened by housing costs is spending at least 30% of income on housing, with the threshold for “severely housing cost-burdened” at 50%. All the cities in our top 10 have housing costs below that 30% threshold, with residents of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina spending just 17.99% of income on housing costs (ranking first in the top 10 and fifth overall for this metric). The city in the top 10 with the highest housing costs as a percentage of income is Menifee, California, at 28.32% – still coming in below the 30% threshold. The average figure for this metric across all 210 cities in the study is 23.58%, so many families may still have some money left over – no doubt a “boo-n” for their costumes and candy budget.

1. Vacaville, CA

The best place to celebrate Halloween in 2020 is Vacaville, California. There are a study-topping 13.94 candy stores per 10,000 total establishments in Vacaville, which ensures trick-or-treaters will have plenty of sweet options to stick in their pumpkin pails and pillowcases. This, combined with a ranking of 38th out of 210 for the 34.84 costume shops per 10,000 total establishments (a top-quintile ranking), puts Vacaville at ninth in the candy & costumes index for this study. The city also finishes 32nd overall for the safety index, which includes a daily COVID-19 infection rate of 8.27 per 100,000 residents, 58th out of 210.

2. Sparks, NV

Trick-or-treaters who don’t have warm or waterproof costumes can rejoice: Sparks, Nevada has the fifth-best ranking for the weather category in this study. That includes a precipitation probability of just 1.0% on Halloween (ranking ninth out of 210) and an average temperature that is just 3.4 degrees off the ideal Halloween temperature of 60 (ranking 44th out of 210). Nearly 22% of the population in Sparks is younger than 14, the 33rd-highest percentage for this metric in the study and an indication that youngsters will have many in their demographic available to participate in some spooky fun.

3. Fremont, CA

Fremont, California ranks fourth in our study for the safety category. It is tied for the third-lowest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the study, at 3.31 each day per 100,000 residents. Fremont also finishes 24th out of 210 in terms of its relatively low violent crime rate, with just 211 cases per 100,000 residents each year. What’s more, the city finishes 16th in the family friendliness index, buoyed by a population where 95.07% of homes have internet access, seventh-best in this study and helpful for those who want to take their Monster Mash online.

4. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia also scores well in the safety category – ninth-best in the study out of all 210 cities. The violent crime rate in Virginia Beach is particularly low, ranking eighth overall, with just 117 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. In terms of COVID-19 cases, Virginia Beach falls just outside the top quartile, finishing 55th, with 8.16 new cases per 100,000 residents each day. The city also ranks 37th of 210 for its relatively large concentration of costume shops, at almost 35 per 10,000 total establishments.

5. Livermore, CA

The third California city in our top 10 is Livermore, located on the Bay Area’s eastern edge. Livermore ranks third in the safety category, on the strength of being tied for third-fewest new COVID-19 infections, at just 3.31 per 100,000 residents each day. Livermore also has the 21st-lowest rate of violent crime overall (ranking in the best 10% of the study), at 203 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. Furthermore, the city has the 14th-best family friendliness index in the study, powered by an eighth-place ranking for the percentage of homes with internet access, at 95.00%, making it that much easier to use the World Wide Web to show off that homespun spider web decor.

6. Elgin, IL

Elgin, Illinois ranks 11th out of 210 in the family friendliness category of our study. Housing costs represent just 19.87% of income on average, the 24th-best percentage for this metric overall. The population is 22.61% children under the age of 14, ranking 26th out of 210. Elgin is also a fairly festive place for Halloween. There are 12.29 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric in the study.

7. Mount Pleasant, SC

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ranks 12th overall for the candy & costumes category out of all 210 cities we analyzed. That includes having 52.93 costume shops per 10,000 establishments, the sixth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Mount Pleasant is also a relatively affordable place to live, having the fifth-lowest housing costs as a percentage of income overall, at just 17.99%.

8. Oceanside, CA

Although housing costs in Oceanside, California make up 28.02% of income (ranking 193rd out of 210), this coastal city near San Diego has the 14th-best weather index score in the study, which is great news for trick-or-treaters who don’t want to be soaked and shivering while they’re participating in contactless candy pickup. There is just a 1.4% chance of precipitation on Halloween in Oceanside (ranking 19th of 210). Plus, the average temperature there, at 8.2 degrees away from 60 degrees, ranks in the top half of the study.

9. Dearborn, MI

Dearborn, Michigan finishes in the top 45 for all four data categories we considered, including ranking 33rd of 210 (a top-quintile ranking) for the candy & costumes category. There are 34.57 costume shops for every 10,000 establishments, the 40th-best rate for this metric in the study. Dearborn is also a very young city: It has the fifth-highest percentage of residents younger than age 14, at 24.87%, which might help costumed kiddos feel a little less like the pandemic’s gotten everyone stuck in a real ghost town.

10. Menifee, CA

Menifee, California ranks 22nd out of 210 for the candy & costumes category. It has 6.78 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, ranking 32nd overall for this metric. It’s also unlikely your Halloween will be rained on in Menifee – there is a 0.6% chance of precipitation on Oct. 31, the best rate for this metric across all the cities we examined.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities to celebrate Halloween in 2020, we analyzed 210 cities in 10 metrics across four categories:

Family Friendliness Metrics

  • Percentage of residents 14 years or younger. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of households with internet access. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.

Safety Metrics

  • Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
  • Property crime rate. This is the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
  • Daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. This is the seven-day moving average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 17. Data comes from Halloween2020.org.

Halloween Weather Metrics

  • Precipitation probability. This is the chance it rains 0.5 inches or snows 0.1 inches on Halloween. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Average temperature. This is the average maximum temperature on Oct. 31, from 1981 to 2010. We compared the average maximum temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which we think is the perfect temperature for trick-or-treating. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Candy & Costumes Metrics

  • Concentration of candy stores. The number of candy stores (including confectionary and nut stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey
  • Concentration of costume shops. The number of costume shops (including clothing accessory stores, other clothing stores and formal wear and costume rental stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric, assigning equal weight to every metric except for the two crime metrics, which each received a half-weight. Then we averaged the rankings across the four categories listed above. For each category, the city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0. We created our final ranking by calculating each city’s average score for all three categories.

Tips for Managing Your Money to Avoid Spooky Surprises

  • Save yourself the toil and trouble. Organizing your finances doesn’t need to be a nightmare. A financial advisor can help make your life much easier. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Make sure your mortgage doesn’t haunt you. If you want to buy a home in one of these great Halloween cities, which are also fantastic locations to lay down roots as a family, consider using SmartAsset’s free mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be.
  • Budgets don’t have to be blood-sucking. A budget can help you get on track to be able to spend a bit extra in October to enjoy Halloween properly. Use SmartAsset’s budget calculator to avoid vampiric bites to your savings account.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/cglade

The post Best Places to Celebrate Halloween in 2020 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

75 Personal Finance Rules of Thumb

A “rule of thumb” is a mental shortcut. It’s a heuristic. It’s not always true, but it’s usually true. It saves you time and brainpower. Rather than re-inventing the wheel for every money problem you face, personal finance rules of thumb let you apply wisdom from the past to reach quick solutions.

I’m going to do my best Buzzfeed impression today and give you a list of 75 personal finance rules of thumb. Some are efficient packets of advice while others are mathematical shortcuts to save brain space. Either way, I bet you’ll learn a thing or two—quickly—from this list.

The Basics

These basic personal finance rules of thumb apply to everybody. They’re simple and universal.

1. The Order of Operations (since this is one of the bedrocks of personal finance, I wrote a PDF explaining all the details. Since you’re a reader here, it’s free.)

2. Insurance protects wealth. It doesn’t build wealth.

3. Cash is good for current expenses and emergencies, but nothing more. Holding too much cash means you’re losing long-term value.

4. Time is money. Wealth is a measure of how much time your money can buy.

5. Set specific financial goals. Specific numbers, specific dates. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

6. Keep an eye on your credit score. Check-in at least once a year.

7. Converting wages to salary: $1/per hour = $2000 per year.

8. Don’t mess with City Hall. Don’t cheat on your taxes.

9. You can afford anything. You can’t afford everything.

10. Money saved is money earned. When you look at your bottom line, saving a dollar has the equivalent effect as earning a dollar. Saving and earning are equally important.

Budgeting

I love budgeting, but not everyone is as zealous as me. Still, if you’re looking to budget (or even if you’re not), I think these budgeting rules of thumb are worth following.

11. You need a budget. The key to getting your financial life under control is making a budget and sticking to it. That is the first step for every financial decision.

12. The 50-30-20 rule of budgeting. After taxes, 50% of your money should cover needs, 30% should cover wants, and 20% should repay debts or invest.

13. Use “sinking funds” to save for rainy days. You know it’ll rain eventually.

14. Don’t mix savings and checking. One saves, the other spends.

15. Children cost about $10,000 per kid, per year. Family planning = financial planning.

16. Spend less than you earn. You might say, “Duh!” But if you’re not measuring your spending (e.g. with a budget), are you sure you meet this rule?

Investing & Retirement

Basic investing, in my opinion, is a ‘must know’ for future financial success. The following rules of thumb will help you dip your toe in those waters.

17. Don’t handpick stocks. Choose index funds instead. Very simple, very effective.

18. People who invest full-time are smarter than you. You can’t beat them.

19. The Rule of 72 (it’s doctor-approved). An investment annual growth rate multiplied by its doubling time equals (roughly) 72. A 4% investment will double in 18 years (4*18 = 72). A 12% investment will double in 6 years (12*6 = 72).

20. “Don’t do something, just sit there.” -Jack Bogle, on how bad it is to worry about your investments and act on those emotions.

21. Get the employer match. If your employer has a retirement program (e.g. 401k, pension), make sure you get all the free money you can.

22. Balance pre-tax and post-tax investments. It’s hard to know what tax rates will be like when you retire, so balancing between pre-tax and post-tax investing now will also keep your tax bill balanced later.

23. Keep costs low. Investing fees and expense ratios can eat up your profits. So keep those fees as low as possible.

24. Don’t touch your retirement money. It can be tempting to dip into long-term savings for an important current need. But fight that urge. You’ll thank yourself later.

25. Rebalancing should be part of your investing plan. Portfolios that start diversified can become concentrated some one asset does well and others do poorly. Rebalancing helps you rest your diversification and low er your risk.

26. The 4% Rule for retirement. Save enough money for retirement so that your first year of expenses equals 4% (or less) of your total nest egg.

27. Save for your retirement first, your kids’ college second. Retirees don’t get scholarships.

28. $1 invested in stocks today = $10 in 30 years.

29. Inflation is about 3% per year. If you want to be conservative, use 3.5% in your money math.

30. Stocks earn 7% per year, after adjusting for inflation.

31. Own your age in bonds. Or, own 120 minus your age in bonds. The heuristic used to be that a 30-year old should have a portfolio that’s 30% bonds, 40-year old 40% bonds, etc. More recently, the “120 minus your age” rule has become more prevalent. 30-year old should own 10% bonds, 40-year old 20% bonds, etc.

32. Don’t invest in the unknown. Or as Warren Buffett suggests, “Invest in what you know.”

Home & Auto

For many of you, home and car ownership contribute to your everyday finances. The following personal finance rules of thumb will be especially helpful for you.

33. Your house’s sticker price should be less than 3x your family’s combined income. Being “house poor”—or having too expensive of a house compared to your income—is one of the most common financial pitfalls. Avoid it if you can.

34. Broken appliance? Replace it if 1) the appliance is 8+ years old or 2) the repair would cost more than half of a new appliance.

35. Used car or new car? The cost difference isn’t what it used to be. The choice is even.

36. A car’s total lifetime cost is about 3x its sticker price. Choose wisely!

37. 20-4-10 rule of buying a vehicle. Put 20% of the vehicle down in cash, with a loan of 4 years or less, with a monthly payment that is less than 10% of your monthly income.

38. Re-financing a mortgage makes sense once interest rates drop by 1% (or more) from your current rate.

39. Don’t pre-pay your mortgage (unless your other bases are fully covered). Mortgages interest is deductible, and current interest rates are low. While pre-paying your mortgage saves you that little bit of interest, there’s likely a better use for you extra cash.

40. Set aside 1% of your home’s value each year for future maintenance and repairs.

41. The average car costs about 50 cents per mile over the course of its life.

42. Paying interest on a depreciating asset (e.g. a car) is losing twice.

43. Your main home isn’t an investment. You shouldn’t plan on both living in your house forever and selling it for profit. The logic doesn’t work.

44. Pay cash for cars, if you can. Paying interest on a car is a losing move.

45. If you’re buying a fixer-upper, consider the 70% rule to sort out worthy properties.

46. If you’re buying a rental property, the 1% rule easily evaluates if you’ll get a positive cash flow.

Spending & Debt

Do you spend money? (“What kind of question is that?”) Then these personal finance rules of thumb will apply to you.

47. Pay off your credit card every month.

48. In debt? Use psychology to help yourself. Consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche.

49. When making a purchase, consider cost-per-use.

50. Make your spending tangible with a ‘cash diet.’

51. Never pay full price. Shop around and do your research to get the best deals. You can earn cash back when you shop online, score a discount with a coupon code, or a voucher for free shipping.

52. Buying experiences makes you happier than buying things.

53. Shop by yourself. Peer pressure increases spending.

54. Shop with a list, and stick to it. Stores are designed to pull you into purchases you weren’t expecting.

55. Spend on the person you are, not the person you want to be. I love cooking, but I can’t justify $1000 of professional-grade kitchenware.

56. The bigger the purchase, the more time it deserves. Organic vs. normal peanut butter? Don’t spend 10 minutes thinking about it. $100K on a timeshare? Don’t pull the trigger when you’re three margaritas deep.

57. Use less than 30% of your available credit. Credit usage plays a major role in your credit score. Consistently maxing out your credit hurts your credit score. Aim to keep your usage low (paying off every month, preferably).

58. Unexpected windfall? Use 5% or less to treat yourself, but use the rest wisely (e.g. invest for later).

59. Aim to keep your student loans less than one year’s salary in your field.

The Mental Side of Personal Finance

At the end of the day, you are what you do. Psychology and behavior play an essential role in personal finance. That’s why these behavioral rules of thumb are vital.

60. Consider peace of mind. Paying off your mortgage isn’t always the optimum use of extra money. But the peace of mind that comes with eliminating debt—it’s huge.

61. Small habits build up to big impacts. It feels like a baby step now, but give yourself time.

62. Give your brain some time. Humans might rule the animal kingdom, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t impulsive. Give your brain some time to think before making big financial decisions.

63. The 30 Day Rule. Wait 30 days before you make a purchase of a “want” above a certain dollar amount. If you still want it after waiting and you can afford it, then buy it.  

64. Pay yourself first. Put money away (into savings or investment accounts) before you ever have a chance to spend it.

65. As a family, don’t fall into the two-income trap. If you can, try to support your lifestyle off of only one income. Should one spouse lose their job, the family finances will still be stable.

66. Every dollar counts. Money is fungible. There are plenty of ways to supplement your income stream.

67. Savor what you have before buying new stuff. Consider the fulfillment curve.

68. Negotiating your salary can be one of the most important financial moves you make. Increasing your income might be more important than anything else on this list.

69. Direct deposit is the nudge you need. If you don’t see your paycheck, you’re less likely to spend it.

70. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Instead, use comparisons to set goals. (net worth).

71. Learning is earning. Education is 5x more impactful to work-life earnings than other demographics.

72. If you wouldn’t pay in cash, then don’t pay in credit. Swiping a credit card feels so easy compared to handing over a stack of cash. Don’t let your brain fool itself.

73. Envision a leaky bucket. Water leaking from the bottom is just as consequential as water entering the top. We often ignore financial leaks (e.g. fees), since they’re not as glamorous—but we shouldn’t.

74. Forget the Joneses. Use comparisons to motivate healthier habits, not useless spending.

75. Talk about money! I know it’s sometimes frowned upon (like politics or religion), but you can learn a ton from talking to your peers about money. Unsure where to start? You can talk to me!

The Last Personal Finance Rule of Thumb

Last but not least, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Boom! Got ’em again! Ben Franklin streaks in for another meta appearance. Thanks Ben!

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

This article—just like every other—is supported by readers like you.

Source: bestinterest.blog

For Those Who Want Life To Speed Up – Are You Dreaming Too Much About Tomorrow?

Are you dying for time to pass? Many people are. The future is important, but being happy in the present is as well. It's all about a healthy balance.

“First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now I am dying, and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.” – Sustainable Human

I recently saw this quote and it really made me think.

Pretty much everyone, myself included, is guilty of wanting to rush through life instead of trying to live in the present while also preparing for the future.

When I was younger, I wanted to be older so I could have more money, a bigger house, etc. I wanted to rush through high school, college and so on.

I dreamt of the future and spent much of my time dwelling on that.

It’s easy to focus on what you hope your life will be like, but for me, I am living a better life now because I’m no longer trying to rush towards the next stage thinking that it will be better than the present.

When you are only living in the future, you are stealing your present from yourself. It can be hard, but learning to live in the present means you can see how amazing your life already is.

We all look at the years ahead of us, and perhaps it’s things like wanting your life to speed up so that you can graduate from college, regain your freedom once your children are out of the house, and so on.

However, when was the last time you:

  • Spent time thinking or relaxing by yourself, with no distractions?
  • Went on a walk or hike without any electronics?
  • Stopped to enjoy the day – such as the smells, the sun, or the weather?
  • Spent meaningful time with your family, including grandparents and other extended family members?
  • Felt truly happy in a particular moment?

While thinking about the future is important, being able to be happy in the present is truly a gift!

Related reading on how to live in the present:

  • 8 Things To Stop Being Afraid Of So You Can Be Rich, Happy, And Successful
  • 10 Daily Challenges To Improve Your Life
  • Are Your Excuses Making You Broke And Unsuccessful?
  • Be More Confident And Get What You Want In Life
  • Are You Making Your Life Difficult? 18 Ideas To Simplify Your Life
  • How To Reach Your 2018 Goals

Now, trying to live in the present doesn’t mean that you should give up on your future and not save for retirement, or something else along those lines. However, it does mean that you should have a healthy balance – living now and planning for your future.

If you ask anyone older than you about what they regret the most, it’s probably not enjoying life as much as they could.

Instead of rushing through your life to the next phase, you should think about what you can do today to enjoy your life now. And no, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy life – you can do so on a budget.

Life goes by quickly, so finding happiness now is important.

After all, you only have this one chance.

 

Here are my tips on how to better live in the present and enjoy life:

  1. Think positively. Being positive can help you in many ways. Negative thoughts are something that plague many of us each and every day; however, they can wreck any happiness that you may be feeling. When learning to live in the present, negativity will definitely hold you back.
  2. Get rid of the “extra” in your life. The average person has a lot of extra stuff. In fact, the average house has over 300,000 items in it. That is a lot of stuff that could be messing with your mind and making you unhappy. If you are feeling bogged down by the clutter, try donating or selling some items from your home.
  3. Smile more. Just a simple smile can completely change your day. Thinking about happy things can easily change your outlook on life.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others. You may find that you are comparing yourself to others and coming up with reasons for why something is impossible for you. By comparing yourself to others and minimizing their accomplishments, you are just holding yourself back. Sure, you may not be able to reach a goal as quickly as someone else, or it may require that you work even harder. But, that doesn’t mean that everything is impossible for you. Everyone is on a different path, and there are people who are better off than you and people who are worse off. Instead of comparing your path to those around you, you should focus on what you can do to make your dream a reality.
  5. Keep a journal. While I don’t currently have a journal, I do have this blog, which acts as a journal in a way. I am about to begin journaling in the form of paper and pen because keeping a journal can help you reflect on your past while making it easy to see how you are progressing towards your goals. Plus, spilling your heart out every so often is great for the mind and for the soul.
  6. Sit silently. When was the last time you just sat down in complete silence with no distractions? For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence. Sitting silently can help you reflect on your life and what’s going on in the world around you. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind.
  7. Appreciate the small things in life. When we take the time to see them, we all have small accomplishments and moments of bliss that happen every single day. Take the time to appreciate these small things. Whether it be enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the food you are eating, and so on, these small things can add up to a great deal of happiness.
  8. You can still dream. Remember, you can still dream. Today’s article is not saying that dreaming about the future is bad. Dreaming and setting goals for yourself is extremely important. The key here, though, is to have a healthy balance. Plan for the future, but enjoy the present as well.

Are you guilty of wanting to rush life? Are you currently happy and finding ways to live in the present? Why or why not?

The post For Those Who Want Life To Speed Up – Are You Dreaming Too Much About Tomorrow? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Savings Bond

U.S. savings bondsSavings bonds can be a safe way to save money for the long term while earning interest. You might use savings bonds to help pay for your child’s college, for example, or to set aside money for your grandchildren. Once you redeem them, you can collect the face value of the bond along with any interest earned. It’s important to realize, however, that interest on savings bonds can be taxed. If you’re wondering, how you can avoid paying taxes on savings bonds there are a few things to keep in mind. Of course, one key thing to keep in mind is that a financial advisor can be immensely helpful in minimizing your taxes.

How Savings Bonds Work

Savings bonds are issued by the U.S. Treasury. The most common savings bonds issued are Series EE bonds. These electronically issued bonds earn interest if you hold them for 30 years. Depending on when you purchased Series EE bonds, they may earn either a fixed or variable interest rate.

You can buy up to $10,000 in savings bonds per year if you file taxes as a single person. The cap doubles to $20,000 for married couples who file a joint return. If you decide you want to use some or all of your tax refund money to purchase savings bonds, you can earmark an additional $5,000 for Series I bonds. These are paper bonds, not electronic ones.

When Do You Pay Taxes on Savings Bond Interest?

When you’ll have to pay taxes on Treasury-issued savings bonds typically depends on the type of bond involved and how long you hold the bond. The Treasury gives you two options:

  • Report interest each year and pay taxes on it annually
  • Defer reporting interest until you redeem the bonds or give up ownership of the bond and it’s reissued or the bond is no longer earning interest because it’s matured

According to the Treasury Department, it’s typical to defer reporting interest until you redeem bonds at maturity. With electronic Series EE bonds, the redemption process is automatic and interest is reported to the IRS. Interest earnings on bonds are reported on IRS Form 1099-INT.

It’s important to keep in mind that savings bond interest is subject to more than one type of tax. If you hold savings bonds and redeem them with interest earned, that interest is subject to federal income tax and federal gift taxes. You won’t pay state or local income tax on interest earnings but you may pay state or inheritance taxes if those apply where you live.

How Can I Avoid Paying Taxes on Savings Bonds?

Whether you have to pay taxes on savings bonds depends on who owns it. Generally, taxes are owed on interest earned if you’re the only bond owner or you use your own funds to buy a bond that you co-own with someone else.

If you buy a bond but someone else is named as its only owner, they would be responsible for the taxes due. When you co-own a bond with someone else and share in funding it, or if you live in a community property state, you’d also share responsibility for the taxes owed with your co-owner or spouse.

Use the Education Exclusion 

The word "TAX" spelled out with blocksWith that in mind, you have one option for avoiding taxes on savings bonds: the education exclusion. You can skip paying taxes on interest earned with Series EE and Series I savings bonds if you’re using the money to pay for qualified higher education costs. That includes expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse or a qualified dependent. Only certain qualified higher education costs are covered, including:

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Some books
  • Equipment, such as a computer

You can still use savings bonds to pay for other education expenses, such as room and board or activity fees, but you wouldn’t be able to avoid paying taxes on interest.

Additionally, there are a few other rules that apply when using savings bonds to pay for higher education:

  • Bonds must have been issued after 1989
  • Bond owners must have been at least 24 years of age at the time the bonds were issued
  • Education costs must be paid using bond funds in the year the bonds are redeemed
  • Funds can only be used to pay for expenses at a school that’s eligible to participate in federal student aid programs

If you’re married you and your spouse have to file a joint return to take advantage of the education exclusion. And any money from a savings bond redemption that doesn’t go toward higher education expenses can still be taxed at a prorated amount.

There are also income thresholds you need to observe. For 2020, single tax filers can earn up to $82,350 and benefit from the full exclusion. Married couples filing jointly can do so with up to $123,550 in income. Once your income passes those limits, the amount of interest you can exclude is reduced until it eventually phases out altogether.

Roll Savings Bonds Into a College Savings Account

Another strategy for how to avoid taxes on savings bond interest involves rolling the money into a college savings account. You can roll savings bonds into a 529 college savings plan or a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) to avoid taxes.

There are some advantages to either approach. With a 529 college savings plan, you can continue saving money on a tax-advantaged basis for higher education. You won’t pay any taxes on money that’s withdrawn for qualified education expenses. And if you have multiple children, you can reassign the account to a different beneficiary if one child decides he or she doesn’t want to go to college or doesn’t use up all the money in the account.

Contributions to 529 college savings accounts aren’t tax-deductible at the federal level, though some states do allow you to deduct contributions. You don’t have to live in any particular state to invest in that state’s 529 and plans can have very generous lifetime contribution limits. Keep in mind that gift tax exclusion limits still apply to any money you add to a 529 on a yearly basis.

Coverdell ESAs have lower annual contribution limits, capped at $2,000 per child. You can only contribute to one of these accounts on behalf of a child up to their 18th birthday. Withdrawals are tax-free when the money is used for qualified education expenses. But you have to withdraw all the funds by age 30 to avoid a tax penalty.

The Bottom Line

A Patriot BondSavings bonds typically offer a lower rate of return compared to stocks, mutual funds or other higher-risk securities. But they can be a good savings option if you want something that can earn interest over the long term. Minimizing the taxes you pay on that interest may be possible if you have children and you plan to use some or all of your savings bonds to help pay for college. Talking to a tax professional can also help with finding other college tax savings strategies.

Tips for Investing

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about the best ways to manage savings bonds in your portfolio. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be difficult. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can make it easy to connect with professional advisors locally in just minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • Savings bonds purchased on behalf of grandchildren don’t receive the same tax treatment for higher education purposes. Generally, the education exclusion only applies if the grandparent is claiming a grandchild on their taxes as a dependent. If your parents are interested in helping pay for your child’s college expenses, you may encourage them to open a 529 college savings account instead, then roll the bonds into it to avoid paying taxes on interest earned.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/JJ Gouin, ©iStock.com/stockstudioX, ©iStock.com/larryhw

The post How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Savings Bond appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Escape your home for a safe holiday staycation

With the 2020 holidays upon us, it’s likely you’ve spent some time considering how you’ll have a COVID-safe celebration. Should you stay? Should you go? Is travel to your family even an option this year as some states impose new travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods?

Perhaps for safety’s sake, you’ve decided to stay put. But you also recognize that being “home for the holidays” doesn’t have the same cozy appeal as it used to when you’ve already been home working from home for months on end. What you might need is a staycation – the getaway for when you can’t get away.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Ask Stephanie a question.

Get away for the holidays without going away

Traditionally, when we think about holiday travel, we’re most likely planning how to get ourselves to a faraway destination – whether that’s to see family across the country, or to flee from some combination of family, holiday hustles and winter weather.

This year, I’ve personally decided I won’t be among the holiday crowds attempting to fly on the busiest travel days of the year. Instead, I’ll be sticking closer to home, celebrating in my own city with a staycation – and testing a theory that there is no place like a Hyatt for the holidays.

If you’re planning to stay close to home like me, here’s some good news: Your credit card points work just as well for living it up in luxury in your hometown as they do when you’re on the road.

Some more good news: You’ll save lots of points and dollars by not flying anywhere this holiday – so go ahead and book the suite!

How to use your credit card points to book a staycation

If you live in or near a city, finding a hotel to tuck into for a few days over the holiday period should be pretty straightforward.

To plan a staycation, I normally start by checking what’s available near me by searching the website for each of the hotel groups in whose loyalty programs I participate.

Here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, I found plenty of options at varying price points when I looked up Marriott, IHG, Hilton and Hyatt – the four hotel programs in which I currently have points.

For example, a few weeks ago, I decided to take an early holiday staycation at the Hyatt Centric Downtown Portland. I chose the hotel because of its location right in the middle of the city, and because Hyatt has a 25% points-back offer on award stays and free parking for The World of Hyatt Credit Card holders through the end of the year.

I paid 30,000 World of Hyatt points for a two-night stay, got 7,500 points back, and got upgraded to a suite thanks to my World of Hyatt elite status. Without points, the suite would have cost $355 dollars a night – plus the free valet parking saved me another $47 a day. I was able to get a $804 value for 22,500 rewards points. Even though I was less than two miles from my actual house, I felt a world away.

How to use travel rewards to book a staycation

If you don’t already have a hotel-branded rewards credit card for earning points in a specific hotel program like World of Hyatt, or if you live in a location where there aren’t many chain hotels, you’ll likely have more luck booking a staycation using travel rewards points.

You can book directly through the respective program’s travel planning portal. Flexible bank programs include Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points.

Once you find a hotel you want to visit, and before you make the booking, you’ll want to check to make sure the hotel amenities that excite you for your staycation are going to be open and accessible.

Other than being snuggled up in a warm bed that I didn’t make myself, the best part of my staycation weekend at the Hyatt Centric Portland was the food.

Masia, the hotel’s signature restaurant designed by Portland’s award-winning Spanish chef Jose Chesa, was finally open and serving after a long COVID closure. Since I live in a city where indoor dining still hasn’t made a full comeback (and is now taking a pause for the holiday season), it was a rather delightful experience to spend two mornings lingering over a long breakfast.

If you’re booking more than a week in advance, you should also make sure your reservation is flexible or cancelable should your own plans change, or the COVID regulations in your state or county change and require the hotel to amend their offerings.

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