Rakuten cashback can help you save money when shopping online! Most of us shop online anyway; wouldnât it be nice to get some cash back along the way? Currently, Rakuten offers up to 40% cashback on your purchases. Plus, you receive $25 referral bonus and a 10$ bonus when you sign up.
Keep reading to learn how you can earn Rakuten cashback on your purchases.
What is Rakuten and how do you get cashback?
Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) is a website that gives you a percentage off when you shop online. Rakuten is a legit website with an A rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
To get cashback from Rakuten, you simply go to their website www.rakuten.com, or the Rakuten app. You then create or login to your account. There are over 2,500 stores. All of the major stores are in there. They include the best retailers like Amazon, Macyâs, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, you name it. Besides cash back, you also get discounts special promotions and store deals.
Earn 40% cashback when you shop through Rakuten
When you shop through Rakuten at your favorite store, you have the opportunity to earn up to 40% cashback. Each store will list how much cash back you will earn.
There are no fees, no forms to fill out. You simply click on the store of your choice and start earning cash back on your purchases.
How to earn $10 bonus from Rakuten?
Not only will you get cash back on your purchases through Rakuten, you will also receive a $10 bonus just to sign up. But in order for you to get cash bonus, youâll have to spend at least $25 dollars shopping at your store through Rakuten shopping portal. Join Rakuten for free and get a $10 bonus money today just for signing up.
How do you get your free money from Rakuten?
You get your free money by getting a check or via PayPal payment. Rakuten will send you your free money every quarter.
The bottom line is if youâre going to shop online, why donât you get cashback on your purchases. As long as you are buying things you need, it makes sense to sign up for Rakuten which offers cashback from retailers on clothing, beauty supplies, groceries, ect. This free money can go towards your bills and pay down your debt.
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The post Rakuten: Earn Up To 40% Cashback + $10 Sign Up Bonus appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
According to numbers for the 2018 holiday shopping season, American shoppers incurred an average debt of just over $1,000. And not everyone could pay that debt off quickly, leading to expensive, long-term credit card debt for some.
But holiday shopping debt isnât the only financial burden people face. Many enter the season with other debt. If thatâs you, donât let debt ruin the holidays. Instead, consider some of these tips to manage debt before the holidays so you can enjoy the festivities with reduced stress.
1. Find Out Exactly Where You Stand Financially
Before you create a plan to tackle your debt, ensure youâre accounting for all of it. According to a 2019 study, around one in five adult Americans werenât sure if they had credit card debt when asked.
Even if you think you have a handle on your debt, itâs a good idea to give your reports a once-over. This lets you ensure you didnât miss something important and that no one has used your identity to run up debt in your name. That could come as a nasty surprise if you try to use or obtain credit for holiday shopping.
You can get a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Normally, you can get one per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. But because of assistance measures put in place for COVID-19, you can get a free copy from each bureau every week through April 2021. You can also get a free Credit Report Card from Credit.com, which includes your Experian VantageScore 3.0 and regular updates on what is affecting your scores.
2. Create a Monthly Budget
Once you know everything you owe, sit down and take a look at your monthly budget. List all of your regular expenses and decide where you can cut to help put more money toward your debt.
Use tools such as credit card debt calculators to determine how much you should pay every month on debt to reduce it in a certain amount of time. This helps you understand how much money you should be putting toward debt to pay it off before the holidays arrive.
3. Choose a Method for Paying Down Debt
Every situation is different, so the way you pay down debt depends on what might work best for your situation. Here are a few tips to consider.
Go with a Basic Snowball Method
The Snowball Method means you line up all your debts by total balance. You make a minimum payment on each while throwing anything extra at the debt with the smallest balance. You do so because youâll be able to pay off that one the fastest.
Once you pay off the first debt, you take everything you were putting on it each month and add it to what youâre paying on the next-smallest balance. As you pay off each debt, you have more money to put toward the next one. By the time you reach the biggest debt, you can pay it off fairly quickly.
Make Use of Balance Transfer Cards
If itâs not realistic to pay down all of your debt before the holidays, you might want to concentrate on getting your finances in order and ensuring your debt costs as little as possible. One way to do that is to make use of a balance transfer card.
These cards let you transfer existing high-interest credit card debt to a card that has 0% APR for a period of time. If you can pay the debt off within that timeâwhich can range from a year to two years on averageâyou can save a lot in interest.
Consider Taking Out a Personal Loan to Consolidate Debt
If youâre dealing with high-interest debt or payments that simply add up to more than you can handle every month, you might consider a personal loan to consolidate debt. A debt consolidation loan doesnât get rid of your debt, but it might make it more manageable. You might end up with a single monthly payment that reduces how much you must worry about during the holidays.
4. Set a Holiday Budget and Stick to It
Once you have a plan for dealing with your existing debt, ensure you donât re-create it with your holiday spending this year. Spend smart during the holidays. Make a list of what you want to do, the meals and treats you want to make, and the gifts you want to buy.
Assign everything on your list a dollar amount, and then take another look. Can you realistically afford all of this? You might need to make some priority decisions and reduce your list to fit a holiday budget you can afford without racking up too much debt this season.
5. Use Credit to Your Advantage
If you donât let debt ruin the holidays, you might be able to use credit as a financial tool to your advantage as you shop or participate in festivities. The right rewards credit cards help you earn points or miles as you spendâand you can earn even more points for spending in certain categories.
For example, you might have a cash-back credit card that gives you more cash back in the final quarter of the year on travel or grocery shopping. You could use that card to fund expenses as you go visit relatives or prepare a feast when they come to your home.
If you spend on your card only what you were going to spend with cash anyway, you can pay your balances off immediately. That means you get those rewards without any interest cost for doing so. If you donât have a rewards credit card, you can find options to consider in the Credit.com credit card marketplace. Here are a couple to start with.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express
on American Express’s secure website
0% for 12 months on purchases
Rates and Fees
Snapshot of Card Features
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
Plan ItÂ® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
$95 Annual Fee.
Card Details +
This card gives you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases. You can also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit, making it a potentially good card to use when youâre traveling. The Blue Cash PreferredÂ® card allows you to earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards MastercardÂ® Credit Card
on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago’s secure website
0% on Purchases for 12 months
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on purchases
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on balance transfers
Rates and Fees
Snapshot of Card Features
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 12.90% â 22.90% (V), based on your creditworthiness
Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
Earn Points on Every Purchase! Itâs simple: $1 = 1 Point
No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
Select Your Rewards Your Way
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Card Details +
The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards MastercardÂ® allows you to earn 5X rewards up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories. Categories include dining, groceries, fuel, travel, and other popular spending areas. If youâll be spending in a certain category during the holidays, you could earn extra rewards points to redeem on travel or other purchases.
Itâs never too early or too late to start planning financially for big seasons such as the holidays. If youâre ready to take a step toward that plan today, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. Reward It from ExtraCredit connects you with personalized offers and offers cashback rewards when you sign up and are approved for them.
Reward Yourself This Holiday Season
The post Don’t Let Debt Ruin the Holidays: Proactive Steps appeared first on Credit.com.
Are you looking for the best money books for young adults?
Today, I want to talk about the best money and life books for new high school graduates, college graduates, and other young adults. These would be great for graduation gifts, or just for yourself!
I wasn’t always good with money when I was younger. I bought more clothes than I needed, financed a new car, spent a lot going out to eat, and spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. It took me several years to realize how my spending habits were affecting the rest of my life.
I think this is fairly common when you’re younger, and there are lots of great financial books for young adults that can help you understand how money works and how to prepare for the future.
The best money books for young adults explain personal finance topics like saving, investing, making more money, and more. And, reading them when you’re young can help you get on the right track with your money from a young age.
Rather than spending years playing catch up with your money, you can get started on a great path now.
I often get questions from young readers who are looking for help with their money, and I also get questions about how to help a young person with their money. These books are a great gift for yourself or someone you know.
For me, I love to give books as gifts, especially personal finance books for high school and college graduation gifts. And the best money books for young adults on this list make for great gifts – I’ve even given some of these books as gifts.
If you want to change your life, then I recommend that you start reading personal finance books. Yes, money is not everything, but improving your financial situation can help you gain control of your life.
Related: 6 Simple Steps That Will Teach You How To Write A Check
There are many different books listed below, so you will be sure to find at least one or two that meet your needs.
The best personal finance books may help you learn how to:
Understand basic financial concepts in an easier way
Reach financial independence or retire early
Take on your own yearlong shopping ban
Deal with and pay off debt
Better manage the 168 hours a week you have
Become more confident
Invest for your future
Choose your own dreams and adventures
Find the best path to pay off your student loans
Here are 15 of the best money books for young adults.
1. Broke Millennial
Broke Millennial was written by Erin Lowry, and is a must-read for young adults. She makes the topic of money entertaining, fun, and relatable for young adults. You won’t be bored with this money book!
Erin gives readers a step-by-step plan to stop being broke, and she discusses many topics, from tricky ones like how to manage student loans, how to discuss money with your partner, and more.
Please click here to check out Broke Millennial.
Another one of the best money books for young adults is Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. Erin recently published this one and it’s a great read, as it covers the topic of investing without making you feel dumb.
2. Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way
Work Optional is another one of my top picks for best money books for young adults, as it was written by one of my favorite writers, Tanja Hester. This personal finance book will show you how to reach financial independence so that you can live the life you want.
I know retirement feels very far away when you’re younger, but this book explains how early retirement is a possibility if you start saving money now. Yes, retiring before the traditional age of 65 can happen, and it starts with the kind of guidance you’ll get in this book.
Please click here to check out Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.
3. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
If you’re looking for one of the best financial books for graduation gifts, check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. In this book, Cait writes about her yearlong shopping ban which will inspire you to simplify your own life and address your relationship with material possessions.
Cait talks about how for a full year, she only bought groceries, toiletries, and gas, and how it impacted her life. This is a great read for young adults as it is so easy to get into a spending cycle when you get your first real job and start earning larger paychecks.
Please click here to check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.
4. Dear Debt
Dear Debt was written by Melanie Lockert and focuses on people’s relationships with debt in a funny and endearing way.
Dear Debt is a must read for anyone who has debt or is taking on debt. Melanie shares her personal experience paying off $80,000 of student loan debt, how it affected her mindset, and more. This is one of the best money books for young adults because it’s a personal story about overcoming debt. There’s also tons of great money advice that will help others overcome the debt that may be holding them back.
Please click here to check out Dear Debt.
5. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
Do you ever wish that you had more time in your week?
This book, written by Laura Vanderkam, focuses on helping people manage their time better so they can focus on what really matters.
Laura writes about tips and tricks to live a more efficient life. She teaches you how to prioritize things in your life, from how to get enough sleep every night to finding time for hobbies you’ve been wanting to try. You will learn how to use your 168 hours a week to make your life better, as you’ll learn many great life-changing strategies.
Please click here to check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People
How to Win Friends and Influence People was written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and has sold over 15,000,000 copies worldwide. This is one of the most best-selling books ever, and for good reason!
This book will show you how to approach situations differently, become more confident, and get people to like you. This is one of the best money books for young adults that people of all ages will benefit from, because this book is all about living a happier and more successful life at any age.
Please click here to check out How to Win Friends and Influence People.
7. Quit Like A Millionaire
Quit Like A Millionaire was written by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, who are well-known people in the FIRE community. And, if you’re not familiar with FIRE, it stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. Everyone approaches FIRE differently, but the point is to stop letting money hold you back from living the life you want.
Kristy retired early at the age of 31 with a million dollars, and has a very inspirational story. In this book, she explains how that was possible and how it can be a reality for you too. This is a great guide on how to save more money, retire early, and live the life that you want.
In this book, you’ll learn a step-by-step guide on how to reach success, whatever that may mean for you. This is a fun and inspirational book that will open you up to new possibilities and opportunities.
Please click here to check out Quit Like A Millionaire.
8. Get Money
Get Money is a book by Kristin Wong, and it’s an engaging read that will teach you how to manage your money.
Kristin gives you a step-by-step personal finance guide that will show you what you need to do in order to stop letting money control your life. You will learn how to create a budget, pay off your debt, build a better credit score, negotiate, and how to start investing.
Please click here to check out Get Money.
9. Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need
Financial Freedom was written by Grant Sabatier, who decided that he needed to change his life by learning how to make more money.
Here’s a bio I found about Grant to show you how awesome he is!
“In 2010, 24-year old Grant Sabatier woke up to find he had $2.26 in his bank account. Five years later, he had a net worth of over $1.25 million, and CNBC began calling him ‘The Millennial Millionaire.’ By age 30, he had reached financial independence. Along the way he uncovered that most of the accepted wisdom about money, work, and retirement is either incorrect, incomplete, or so old-school it’s obsolete.”
In his book, Grant writes about how to reach financial freedom through steps such as building side hustles, traveling the world for less, building an investment portfolio, and more.
Please click here to check out Financial Freedom.
10. The Simple Path To Wealth
The Simple Path To Wealth was written by JL Collins, and it’s one of the most popular and best money books for young adults that’s available.
Collins writes about many important financial topics in his book, such as how to avoid debt, how to build wealth, what the 4% rule is and how to use it to your advantage, and more.
This is an easy book to read, and it makes complicated personal finance topics much easier to understand. Many people have said that JL Collins is the reason why they were able to retire early, thanks a lot to his website and book.
Please click here to check out The Simple Path To Wealth.
11. Student Loan Solution
Student Loan Solution was written by David Carlson, and it’s a great book for anyone who has student loan debt.
Student loans can be extremely difficult to understand, as there is so much different terminology as well as different ways to pay them back (such as loan forgiveness, consolidation, and so on). This book explains a 5-step process that will help you to better understand your student loans, the best ways to pay them off, and more.
Please click here to check out Student Loan Solution.
12. The Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door is another classic personal finance book, and it was written by Thomas J. Stanley.
In his book, he writes about the common traits of those who are wealthy, and how the wealthy can be even someone such as your neighbor, even though you might not realize it. This book shows readers that anyone can retire with wealth, not just your traditional multi-millionaires living in huge mansions with airplanes.
This is one of the best finance books for graduation gifts because it will make you rethink what it means to be rich, which is important to understand from a young age.
Please click here to check out The Millionaire Next Door.
13. The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know
The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance, written by Michele Cagan, is one that I learned about from my readers. What’s great about this book is that it gives you a visual guide to important personal finance topics, and many people learn better from visuals.
This book is different in that it is full of infographics, which make it fun and easy to read. You will learn how to find a bank, build an emergency fund, how to pick health and property insurance, and more.
Please click here to check out The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance.
14. Choose FI
Choose FI was written by Chris Mamula, Brad Barrett, and Jonathan Mendonsa. These guys are behind one of my favorite Facebook communities, Choose FI, and they explain how to reach financial independence and retire early.
While retiring early may seem out of reach if you’ve just graduated, this book teaches you how to “choose your own adventure” and improve your financial situation.
Please click here to check out Choose FI.
15. I Will Teach You To Be Rich
I Will Teach You To Be Rich was written by Ramit Sethi and is a excellent book for beginners. It would make a great gift for a recent high school or college graduate.
Ramit’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich is packed full of great lessons, and it is written in a fun way. He covers the basics of personal finance such as budgeting, saving money, investing, and more.
Please click here to check out I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
What do you think are the best money books for young adults?
The post 15 Of The Best Money Books For Young Adults â Learn How To Live The Life You Want appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
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!
It 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:
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.
Meal Planning Can Help Save You $1,600 a Year on Your Grocery Budget!
Hmmm… donuts, pizza & mojitos OH MY! Isn’t it amazing how one stray sentence can totally take over your mind! Food is tasty, a treat, and can be downright mesmerizing! It can also be one of our biggest budget busters! We want what we want and when we want it (sometimes we hate wanting it (I’m talking to you brownies!) This gets us into trouble with our waistline as well as our wallet!
I have my fingers crossed that one day there will be a resurgence in renaissance body love, all curvy & pale Yet, I know that eating healthy needs to be a top priority. I know this because I tell myself this almost daily. You too? We want to do what’s best for our bodies and our wallet, yet sometimes those two things don’t always align. I mean, 1 lb organic strawberries in February can be $8.99! (don’t choke!)
So how do we align saving money on food while eating healthy? The answer is simple, yet kind of intimidating at first glance. It’s meal planning on a budget! DON’T WORRY and don’t get overwhelmed; it can be a lot easier than you imagine. I’m going to walk you through the main points to nail this piece of the grocery budget puzzle. So you never have to worry about hearing, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” ever again!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info
Feeding our body healthy foods has been a long time passion of mine. Previous to Money for the Mamas, I taught kids how food grows at combo learning farm & CSA. For 90 minutes, we talked about soil, farm animals, water quality, and most importantly, how our food grows and why fruits & vegetables are so important. I also did a stint with the State of Oregon and the national level, Farm to School movement, which helps schools create programing around healthy foods. Fantastic work, which is both heartbreaking and hugely rewarding!
With that experience, I know that meal planning can be a great solution, as moms, I know how we want to do our best to provide healthy foods for our family. Yet, rising food costs do not make this easy for us.
The Street reports that in 2018, the average American household spends $7,729 per year on food, which is about 12.8% of our after-tax income. Yet, with our current situation (August 2020), costs are rising. “April of this year food prices had the largest monthly increase in 46 years!” says ABC News.
There are many different ways that you can save money on groceries, but today we’re just going to talk about one specific element, meal planning on a budget! Which can still be healthy family meals, you just need to plan things out (and plan for the days when you “just can’t even” think of cooking)!
Now, I’m not going to say that an occasional frozen pizza doesn’t sneak into my freezer (and my belly), but I try really hard to balance those not so healthy items with better for you options.
Meal planning to save money on groceries
Let’s get down to specifics on exactly how meal planning can save you money in your grocery budget.
Saving money by not buying foods that you won’t eat
I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve bought veggies with the best intentions of eating them! And then that sad and guilt-ridden sound of the “thunk” as the jicama falls into the trash. Arg!
When you meal plan, you decide what you are cooking and eating and when, there is a “plan”, not some vague intention. When you know that on Tuesday it’s spaghetti squash & meatball night, you can be dang sure that the veggies are getting eaten and will not go to waste!
Speaking of food waste, you all know the squishy, greeny brown scenario at the bottom of the produce drawer. But what does this look like to our wallet? According to Marketwatch, “As much as 40% of food goes uneaten in the U.S! Americans throw away $165 billion in wasted food every year.” According to Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, some 160 billion pounds of discarded food also clogs up landfills.
What that means is roughly, “219 lbs of food per person is wasted a year” quotes RTS (waste experts), and that’s $1,600 a year for a typical sized family!
Think of taking your grocery budget, pulling out 40% of the money, and just throwing it in the trash! Oh. Hell. No.
That’s crazy! Yet, we don’t intend to do; it just happens. And meal planning is one of the best ways to combat this by buying only what you know you will use for that week (or however often you go to the store).
Know your food costs
You can still buy most of the same foods but know which of your local stores have the best prices. For example, there are two stores of the same chain, maybe 4 miles apart, and one of them has consistently lower prices than the other. So I always go to the cheaper one.
Also, when you sit down to do your weekly menu, you can look at store flyers to see who might have chicken breasts on sale, or who has digital coupons for your favorite brand of cheese.
You may go to a Kroger store for chicken and then go to Target for sale on frozen burritos (a favorite late-night snack of my husband). Yet, for this to be a genuine savings, you need to consider the cost of your time & gas driving to multiple stores. If you’re spending 45 minutes driving to a store to save $.40 per pound on beef, that’s not saving! Your time is valuable, so absolutely count that into the equation.
Many times stores will have loss leaders (items they sell at a loss just to get people into their store”. Did I mention that I worked in a grocery store for six years? No? Well, I did. It is a fantastic, socially conscious store (B-Corp certified) that helped bring healthy and local food to the communities they serve.
Yet, they weren’t cheap. Even with a staff member discount, I was paying a lot for my groceries. Yet I knew that certain times of the year, they would offer boneless skinless chicken breasts at $2 off the regular price (that was basically at cost for the store), $4.99 vs. $6.99. I bought enough chicken to last a long time. We’re talking like 20 breasts. Then I would take them home, portion two breasts into a freezer bag and boom, chicken for months!
I knew about these times, so I planned it into my budget. Other times of year stores have a sale is their anniversary day (or founder days), or holidays. Each chain is a little bit different, so don’t be shy. Ask them when their big sales are!
Go the extra mile and ask them which days they mark their items down. For example, canned goods may go on Tuesday, boxed goods on Wednesday. Or they may go by the department, dry grocery on Monday, and perishable grocery (dairy and such) on Friday. Ask them what time of day they start and when they finish. Then see if you can go in near to the time that they are wrapping up.
Meal planning saves you time
As a super duper busy mom (aren’t we all?), one of the things I hate most is standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to fix. When this happens, my mind immediately goes blank; nothing in the refrigerator looks good to eat. In the past, I would waste maybe 10-30 minutes a day just trying to decide what to make. What a waste!
By meal planning, you always know because you posted the weekly menu on the fridge! And what’s better is that your family never needs to ask you, “what’s for dinner?”
Resources to meal planning on a budget
Luckily, many women have masted the art of meal planning (hey, no reason that we need to reinvent the wheel!). So let’s dive in to see how others have meal planned on a budget.
The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle
If you’re a one-stop-shop kind of mom (me!), then you’re going to love this fantastic resource! It’s a bundle of 58 products all around meal planning, tied up in one neat package! You just buy it once (for a crazy low price), and you have access to all 58 items! You need to act fast, as it’s only on sale for the week of August 17th – 21st!
There are 11 Cookbooks, 15 Meal Plans, 11 eBooks, 9 eCourses, 10 Printables, 1 Membership, and a Summit. (Plus some great free bonuses and an early bird buyer special thank you gift!)
The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is a great option because it’s all around this very specific topic of healthy meal planning (not all are low cost specific). Still, the bundle as a whole is very cost-effective, so you can meal plan on a budget (and there are a few resources around being budget-conscious).
Here are the main categories that the bundle covers…
How to get started meal planning
Quick & easy
Real food & nutrition
Now, you may be wondering why you would ever need 58 items all around the same topic? Totally fair question by the way. Let’s just say it like it is; we won’t vibe with everyone we meet or learn effectively from one particular teaching style. So in the bundle, some information may overlap, but that’s a good thing!
So many times, I read about a topic that I already know a lot about. Yet, one person says something in a specific way, or in a particular tone where it just “clicks” for me! The lightbulb goes off, and I suddenly “get it”! I am thrilled when this happens as it could have something that I didn’t quite understand, or never really knew why it was a big deal.
The great thing about this bundle is that they are giving everyone a free jumpstart by hosting a free Meal Planning Bootcamp starting August 11th. Yes, that’s coming up soon! Here, you can get a taste of some of the information, and get geared up to start your own meal planning journey.
The best part is that it’s a challenge, so you are participating right alongside other women just like you! Going through things together, so you can bounce ideas off of each other, learn from those who tried XYZ, and help others with your own experiences. Don’t forget that it’s free! Yup, zero cost to join in and participate!
Now don’t worry, if you’re reading this after August 11th. The bundle still exists, but it’s only available for a limited time. However, they bring it back annually, and sometimes they even do a flash sale after a few months (no guarantees though). So still sign up with your name and email, and then you will be on the list to get notified once it becomes available again!
Ultimate Bundles also offers a phenomenal resource on learning about all things personal finance! Check out their Master Your Money Super Bundle right here!
If you haven’t watched Frankie work his magic in the kitchen, then you are missing out! He doesn’t do meal prep, per se, but his expertise is in cooking cheaply, using leftovers, AND he’s damn entertaining too! Check out one of my favorite video’s down below (hint – save this video for after Thanksgiving!)
Grab some meal planning printables to help meal plan on a budget
Oh, organizing… did you ever know that you’re my hero? Everything that I would like to be? For you are the wind beneath my wings. Or something like that. Yup, organizing makes my heart happy!
That’s why I am such a huge fan of my Organized Home printables, and I created one specifically for meal planning! This packet has…
weekly menu planner
food inventory tracker (so you never lose steaks under the frozen spinach again!)
family favorite meals list (that are easy go to’s when short on time & energy)
grocery shopping list, broken up by department (no circling back to aisle 7 five different times!)
Let me at ’em!
This meal planner & grocery list is an instant download so you can print it in just 2 minutes from now! (save it to your hard drive so you can print as many copies as you want!)
Freezer meals are essential to meal planning on a budget
One of the very best things that you can do is plan on failing!
Yup, I freely admit that somedays I am a Hot Mess Mom! I am frazzled, I am running 54 errands, going to the eye doctor and end up getting my eyes dilated for what seems like forever, and on and on the tragedy of life turns into a comedy! And I am DONE!
That means I need to plan on things not going great, so on those days, I need something up my sleeve because I know that going to the drive-thru isn’t all that cheap, nor is it healthy!
There are two options for us Hot Mess Moms…
One – Frozen Meals – pizza, burritos, corndogs & tater tots (yum), etc. Now, these aren’t the healthiest, but they are cheap. Besides, who doesn’t like tater tots! So I am fine with doing this a few nights here and there.
Two – Freezer Meals! These are my secret weapon for when times are tough. For example, before I gave birth, I did a whole day of nothing but freezer meal prep, as I knew once the baby came, I would need all the help I could get!
A great resource that I have found is My Freeze Easy! It’s a freezer meal planning & prep plan, where you get access to new monthly freezer recipes! There are some great customizations too; gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, instant pot, etc.!
Now not only are these designed to save time, but they stem from the $5 Meal Plan program, so all the recipes are budget-friendly!
If you’re not quite sure about diving into freezer meals, Erin (the founder) has a great free workshop to introduce you to freezer cooking, so you can feel it out and see if it’s something you might like. Again don’t worry, it’s not a 90-minute life or death training. She’s a mom; she knows you’re busy! It’s three videos for a total of approx 20 minutes. easy peasy, right! (Pssst… you get three free recipes & shopping list, nice!)
Some of you may be a bit wary of freezing meals, especially produce. I mean, does freezing take away all the good vitamins & nutrients? Answer: Not at all! According to Healthline, “Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness (while fresh is picked before it’s ripe). They are often washed, blanched, frozen, and packaged within a few hours of being harvested. Frozen produce is nutritionally, similar to fresh produce. When nutrient decreases are reported in frozen produce, they’re generally small.”
They mentioned that most of the nutrient loss happens with extended periods of storage in the freezer, like two years or more. So generally speaking, frozen fruits & vegetables are a great way to get your vitamins!
The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle does have a freezer meal cookbook, but it’s not as customizable as My Freeze Easy plan! BUT, I know that the thought of buying 58 items, like the bundle, can cause your brain to shut down from overwhelm. So here’s one great resource. Easy Peasy!
Look to Pinterest for inspiration
So this is a love/hate relationship. Everything looks great, yet it can be overwhelming. Simply put in the search bar “Meal planning on a budget”, or “easy dinners”, “crockpot dinners,” or “frugal foods”. So many options will come up.
I have a secret board just for “dinners to try”, and then maybe once a month I’ll go in and pick a few to try during the next month, and I work those into my meal plan. I may find a new favorite, or it may be a dud.
Oh, and don’t forget while you’re on Pinterest checking out meals, head on over here, and follow me for lots of budget-friendly inspiration!
Know your grocery budget (and stick to it)
If you want to do meal planning to save money, you need to know your grocery budget! Better yet, if you’re stocking up on things at a low price, then you need to know how much of your grocery budget is for regular food, and how much is for stocking up. You can’t blow everything on your stockpile, and you can’t spend every last dime on your weekly veg.
A good place to start is 75/25 split. So 75% of your grocery budget is for everyday shopping, while 25% of your grocery budget is for stocking up. Initially, you may find you’re spending a bit more on your stockpile, but it will taper down as you go on and build up your pantry.
Some things that I stockpile when the prices are good…
Cereal (I only buy if it’s $1 a box)
Meat (buy in bulk and divide into 1 lb portions then freeze)
Paper goods (paper towels, TP)
Health & beauty – soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc
In talking about budgeting did your stomach do a little flip? I know you’ve been meaning to get back to budgeting, so here’s a great resource! It’s my Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series, and it goes through everything you ever wanted to know about it!
Tip for Meal Planning on a Budget – Leftovers are your friend!
Don’t forget to plan on having a leftover day for dinners! Make it one day at the end of the week to clean out your fridge before the next week’s shopping trip.
Make it easy!
Have Leftover Day be as easy as possible for your family by getting some great clear glass meal storage containers! That way, you can easily see what’s in there to eat, and by buying glass containers, you can reheat these directly in the microwave without worry. It’s known that microwaving food in plastic containers isn’t the best choice.
Harvard Health states that “When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.”
Now, I’m not a scientist, nor am I a fearmonger. But if I don’t need to take a risk, and can easily avoid it, I will. So I bought glass containers for my family.
I love these Pyrex containers. They are a perfect size (3 cup) and stack great in the fridge! So after dinner is over, if there are leftovers, I immediately portion the items out into meals in the containers. So all my husband has to do is grab one, take off the lid and heat it up and BAM, full dinner/lunch!
Pyrex 3-Cup Rectangle Food Storage
pack of 4 or 6
Glass is pre-heated oven, microwave, fridge and freezer safe, & dishwasher safe
Non-porous glass won’t absorb stains or odors
Make leftovers new & different!
If your family doesn’t love the idea of leftovers, then you can easily shake things up! All you need to do is change how it’s served. For example, get some tortillas to make items into a wrap, or add on soup & salad to make small amounts of leftovers stretch into a full meal.
Here are some other ideas to give your leftovers a makeover with a different presentation
make it a wrap
turn it into soup
add a grain and have a buddha bowl
make a frittata or an omelet
use leftovers as fillings for a quesadilla
or as a topping on pizza
Just Google “what to do with leftover ________”, and you should get some fun ideas! Or just go to Big Oven’s Use Up Leftovers feature! You add in your three main ingredients, and it gives you a bunch of tasty options!
At the end of the day
Our Mom List never seems to get shorter, does it? You cross four things off, and then two hours later, you add seven more things! ARG! Yet, there are some things (like meal planning) that can reduce your mental and physical load over time. Meal planning may take a few rounds for you to work out the kinks, but overall you will save so much time and money!
Imagine what you would do with 40% more of that grocery budget? (as you won’t be throwing away rotted out lettuce, or wait, was the broccoli? Yesh, it’s hard to tell now that it’s a squishy stinky blob.
Meal planning on a budget can give you that 40% back! Remember, RTS estimated that it was $1,600 on average, a year per family! What would you do with an extra $1,600 a year? Use it to fund a family vacation? Revamp your back patio living space? Use it to help offset the cost of braces for your youngest? There are so many things!
Articles related to meal planning on a budget:
How to Motivated While Saving Money
Your Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series
Tell me in the comments, If you started meal planning on a budget, what would you do with the $1,600 that’s back in your pocket?
The post The Frugal Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning on a Budget appeared first on Money for the Mamas.
Educators are the ones that ignite a love of learning inside each of us and help mold us for future success in life. Theyâre 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, itâs a well-known fact that educators are often underpaid, and many turn to side hustles to make ends meet.Â
If youâre a teacher looking for a way to supplement your income, there are many part-time opportunities that can fit your schedule and skillset. Whether youâre looking for work through the summer, or an extra gig for nights and weekends, weâve put together this complete guide of side hustles for teachers.Â
Jobs to Keep You Teaching
Jobs Online and On Apps
Jobs to Get You Outside
DIY Work From HomeÂ
$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 youâre available.
2. Standardized Test Administrator
While test administrator requirements will vary across states and school districts, itâs 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.Â
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 serviceâs 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 AbroadÂ
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.Â Â
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 ProfessorÂ
More people are opting for community college to save on tuition, and thereâs an increased demand for teachers in these programs. While some colleges may require a Masterâs degree for employment, others only require a Bachelorâs 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.Â
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.Â
5. Babysitting or NannyingÂ
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.Â
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. Youâll likely need a background check to find nanny gigs online.Â
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 companyâs 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 youâre 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.Â
Pay: The average worker makes around $200 a month, though itâs 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 SpaceÂ
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.Â
Even if you donât have a room or home to rent, you can rent out parking spaces, lawns, swimming pools, and more.Â
Pay: Airbnb hosts can make an average of $924 a month â 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 AssistantÂ
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.Â
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 youâll want to follow some of the basic steps to building a business. Checkout Dollarspoutâs guide to get started.Â
10. Online Surveys
Online surveys may not be the most lucrative side hustle, but the money can add up. Theyâre convenient, quick, easy, and there are plenty of platforms to use online and on your phone. Itâs a good option if youâre just looking for a little extra spending money.Â
Pay: Each survey pays anywhere from $.10â$3, and thereâs usually a minimum earned amount to reach before you can cash out.Â
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 youâll 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. Itâs 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!Â
Pay: Tour guides make anywhere from $10â$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 whoâs hiring.
13. Summer Camp CounselorÂ
Relive your childhood memories of playgrounds, arts and crafts, and water balloon fights, not to mention spend all day in the gorgeous summer sun. Youâll 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.
Thereâs 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. Youâll 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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
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 itâs becoming highly competitive. If youâre new to photography, then you may not make a lot, but if youâre already shooting then you might as well try to earn some money as you learn the basics.Â
Pay: Stock photography can range from $.10â$80 a photo, and some sites charge you to post on them.
Get started: Start taking pictures that arenât just pretty, but offer a story and context to them. Read up on royalties, then post your photos on sites like Alamy and Shutterstock.Â
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.Â
Sources: Fortunly | Earnest | NEA | StatistaÂ
The post 21 Side Hustles for Teachers In and Out of the Classroom appeared first on MintLife Blog.
You may not realize it, but behind the scenes the Federal Reserve is quietly influencing your everyday life when it comes to borrowing, saving and even spending. Serving as the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve, or Fed, is responsible for managing the country’s monetary policy. A big part of its job is adjusting the federal funds rateâthe short-term interest rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight. The Fed decides whether or not to raise or lower this benchmark interest rate in order to reach maximum employment and stable inflation.
OK, wait. Policymakers, the economics behind employment and inflation, overnight lending between banks… so how does a change in interest rate affect your decision to spend or save, you ask? To borrow from a popular saying: âSo goes the federal funds rate, so goes consumer interest rates,” says Riley Adams, a certified public accountant and founder of personal finance website Young and the Invested. Whether it goes up or down, a change to the federal funds rate could have a ripple effect in the same direction for borrowers, savers and spendersâan important proof point for why the federal funds rate matters for consumers.
If this is news to you and the federal funds rate hasn’t really been on your radar, have no fear. What follows will help you more fully answer the question: How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me? Then you’ll be on your way to making the best money management decisions for your financial goals and the current interest rate environment.
A low interest rate environment makes borrowing more attractive
The answer to “how does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me?” can be very beneficial in a low-rate environment if you have debt or are looking for new borrowing opportunities. When the Fed cuts rates, borrowing money tends to become less expensive since banks and lenders also typically lower rates on their credit products.
In a low-rate environment, for example, you could see lower rates on:
Private student loans
Home equity lines of credit
Why the federal funds rate matters for consumers and the credit cards in your wallet has to do with minimum payments and interest charges. A Federal Reserve rate cut could translate to a lower minimum payment on credit cards and a lower cost to carry a balance from one month to the next. For loans, a Fed rate cut could mean lower monthly payments and less interest paid out over the life of the loan. Lower borrowing costs can add money back to your budget that you could use to spend, save or apply to your financial goal of choice.
How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me when it comes to homeownership, you ask? There’s good news there, too. When the Fed lowers rates, homeowners with an adjustable-rate mortgage or homebuyers shopping for one may experience a rate reduction, since the rates for this type of mortgage typically track with the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate. The lower your mortgage rate, the lower your monthly payment and the more home you might be able to afford. Good deal. Note that fixed-rate mortgages are less directly impacted by a Fed rate cut.
Chad Rixse, director of financial planning at Forefront Wealth Partners, says that when rates are falling, it may be a good time to consider refinancing or consolidating existing debt, such as private student loans, home loans and car loans. (Definitions: Refinancing means replacing your existing loan with a new one at a lower rate. Consolidating means paying off multiple loans with a single new loan.)
When analyzing “how does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me?” Adams adds that consumers should be mindful of how much rates have dropped to determine the value of refinancing or consolidating. Using mortgages as an example: “They should not consider refinancing a mortgage after a 25 basis point (0.25%) cut in the rates because the associated costs and fees will outweigh any interest savings,” Adams says. “If rates move meaningfully lower (1.00%+), they should be on the lookout for refinancing offers, assuming they have significant time remaining on their mortgage and can benefit from lower interest costs.”
âSo goes the federal funds rate, so goes consumer interest rates.”
When rates rise, savers reap the benefits
How does the Federal Reserve interest rate affect me when rates go up? In a higher interest rate environment, your savings may actually be able to get a little more love.
“If interest rates rise, this benefits savers by possibly earning more interest on their bank deposits, assuming their bank indexes interest rates on deposits to remain competitive against other banks,” Adams says.
For your list of “ways the Fed interest rate affects me,” consider that these savings vehicles could earn more interest when rates rise:
Certificates of deposit (CDs)
Money market accounts
Interest-bearing checking accounts
You can take advantage of higher savings interest rates and get the most from your savings efforts by increasing the amount of money stashed in your interest-earning savings accounts. The higher the balance, the more you will earn.
If you’re focused on saving and there’s a chance rates could drop in the near term, you may want to lock in a higher rate while you can with a long-term, fixed-rate CD. That way, you can continue to earn a higher rate throughout the CD’s term even if the Fed cuts the federal funds rate and rates start to drop on deposit accounts.
A simple way to reach your goals.
Watch your savings grow with aÂ CD.
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Interest rates can affect spending habits
Why the federal funds rate matters for consumers even extends into purchasing power and everyday spending.
âBy raising the federal funds rate, the Fed makes it more attractive for banks to hold extra capital,” says James McGrath, a housing market expert and licensed real estate broker at New York-based real estate firm Yoreevo. âWhen more money is locked away in vaults, there is less available to make loans and buy things, which slows growth and inflation.”
If inflation is kept to a minimum by the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, prices for things you buy every dayâthink groceries or personal care itemsâhave less room to increase. If a Fed rate change keeps those everyday prices low, you can put more of your money toward savings or paying off high-interest debt.
On the flip side, McGrath says the Fed can lower rates to spur spending. That puts more money into the economy, but it does open up the potential for prices to rise, he says. If you’re wondering “what ways the Fed interest rate affects me?” consider that higher prices could mean that your money has to stretch further to buy the same things.
How to handle interest rate changes
By now, you should have a better understanding of why the federal funds rate matters for consumers. While there’s nothing you can do to control the Federal Reserve’s rate changes, you can control how you react to rising or falling rates.
Look at your overall financial situation against the backdrop of what’s happening with rates. Your list of ways the Fed interest rate affects me might be different than someone else’s. Ask yourself how you can take advantage of rising or falling rates for maximum financial benefit when it comes to your borrowing, saving and spending priorities. For example, if the Fed hikes rates and you’ve been building up a college savings fund for your children, you may be motivated to put more into savings to take advantage of higher returns. If rates are cut and you’ve been in the market for a loan for some time, now could be the time to jump on it.
Note that the ways the Fed interest rate affects me may also depend on more than just one Fed rate change. “Small changes don’t amount to significant differences over time,” Adams says. “It’s when a long-term rate increase or decrease path becomes the norm that consumers should pay more attention,” he adds.
Above all, remember that rate increases and decreases are a normal part of what the Fed does. âRemain calm and carry on,” Rixse suggests. âDon’t let panic or negative emotions guide your decision-making.”
The post How Does the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Affect Me? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
You can do plenty of things to improve your budget, and it's not all about pain and suffering, as many would have you believe. Everyone has a few things they overspend on. The challenge lies in identifying those particular items and weeding them out. A good place to begin is with restaurant spending, grocery bills, and impulse buying. A wise general philosophy is to assign a destination for every dollar you earn and place that category on your budget. Try cutting restaurant expenditures in half, reducing impulse buys at convenience stores, and shopping for groceries just once each week to regulate what goes toward food items.
Refinance your education debt
If you have any education debt still hanging around after all these years, refinancing student loans through a private lender is a way to lessen your monthly expenses. Not only can you get a longer repayment period, but have the chance to snag a favorable interest rate. But the clincher for money-saving enthusiasts is that your monthly payments can instantly go way down. That means extra cash for whatever you want. Use the excess to fatten savings or IRA accounts, or pay off high-interest credit card debt.
Install a programmable thermostat
For less than $20, it's possible to chop at least three percent off your utility bills and perhaps much more than that.
Programmable thermostats are easy to install. You don't need special tools or advanced skills. Be sensible about summer and winter settings and you'll see a difference in your electric bill almost immediately, especially during the hottest months of the year. Don't forget to program the device to go into low-use mode while you're away for long weekends or longer vacations.
Join a shopping club
Although shopping clubs come with annual membership fees, the savings on groceries, household items, and gasoline usually offset them within a month or two of actively using the membership. That leaves the other months of the year for you to save money on household necessities.
For people who drive a lot, shopping clubs with on-site gas stations offer one of the best deals going. Not only do the clubs offer gasoline for about 10 cents off the regular price, but some also offer free car washes and coupons for repair work at participating shops. Although shopping clubs are a win for most anyone, a family of three or more can log thousands per year in savings.
Refinance your home or car
If you have owned your home or car long enough to ride the interest rate waves, you likely qualify for a refinancing agreement. This strategy is excellent for consumers who have better credit now than when they made the original purchase.
Young couples are perfectly positioned to refinance a home after several years of making payments on it. Likewise, anyone who still owes on a vehicle and can get a lower interest rate should look into a car or truck refi. Not only can you get additional months to pay off the obligation, but with a lower rate, you stand to save a nice chunk of money.
Take bagged lunches to work
One of the oldest, more reliable ways to instantly cut personal expenses is to prepare and take your own lunch to work each day. Not only do you save money by not eating out or buying lunch in the company cafeteria, but you also have added control over what you eat. That means you're doing a favor for your wallet and your health at the same time.
Don't fall into the rut of eating at your desk. Consider taking your bagged meal outside and enjoying the scenery, taking a walk after eating, or joining friends in the cafeteria to socialize.
Use public transportation as often as possible
If you live on or near a bus or light-rail route, do the logistical planning necessary to travel to work at least a few times each week by public transit instead of by car.
Unless you reside in a small town, chances are you have access to buses and trains for commuting purposes. Once you get into a habit of using the public transit system, consider buying a one-month or annual pass, which can represent a major discount on one-time fare prices. Public transportation can take a bit longer to get you to your destination, but it's easy enough to make use of the time reading, catching up on work, or just relaxing.
Use credit cards wisely
If you use credit cards to make purchases you can't afford, you're headed for trouble. But if you use your plastic wisely, you can reap real benefits.
If you have a good credit rating, you'll likely qualify for cashback cards that give a percentage of your money back on some or all of your purchases. You can use that cash to pay for a portion of your monthly credit card bill. You could also let your cashback savings accumulate and use it to pay for larger purchases in the future.
Just make sure not to outspend your monthly budget so you're able to pay your credit card balance off in full each month. Keeping a balance on your cards is counterproductive because you'll also be paying interest fees.
Writing a check. Itâs one of those things you always wanted to know how to do right but were probably too afraid to ask. Well, fear no longer: in this guide, weâll walk you through the basics of check-writing, from how to fill out the lines you need, to knowing when itâs best to use a check â and when itâs not. Weâve also included a printable practice check at the bottom of the article so you can give it a shot before filling out a real one.
In this article, weâll cover everything from how to write a check to the best situations to use one. Read through if you want to know everything you need to about writing a check, or click on a link below to jump straight to the section youâre most interested in.
What Is a Check?
Where Can I Get a Checkbook?
How Do You Fill Out a Check?
What Do I Do After Writing a Check?
Check Writing Security Tips
Alternatives to Writing a Check
Before we get into the details of learning how to fill out a check, letâs start with the basics.
What Is a Check?
A check is basically a statement in writing that you agree to pay some amount of money to whomever youâre making the check out to. It lets the bank know that they can withdraw those funds from your financial accounts and direct deposit it into the payeeâs account (thatâs the person who youâre paying). If youâre unsure about how much to keep in checking for checks you may be writing, check out our post on that for a brief explanation.
Checks are useful in a variety of situations. You can use a check to:
Pay your monthly rent
Make a large purchase without a card
Send money as a gift
Pay for groceries
Pay for hired work like a housekeeper or gardener
Basically, theyâre good for situations where youâre paying large sums of money that wouldnât be convenient to pay for in cash, and where youâd rather not use a credit or debit card.
Where can I get a checkbook?
You can usually get a checkbook straight from your bank for free or a small fee, and theyâre also available from retailers like Costco and Walmart. Custom checks are also available online from sites like Checks.com, but be careful where you order from, as some sites may not be secure â or could even be a scam.
Before you get started making payments with checks, however, youâll need to know how to fill one out.
How Do You Fill Out a Check?
Knowing how to write a check is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. First, take a look at this graphic that shows the way that all the necessary fields of a check should be filled out.
Next, weâll walk through each step to make sure you know what goes into filling out each line. We get it â itâs a little nerve racking signing over money to someone on a little piece of paper. Knowing how to fill it out correctly will give you more confidence the next time you have to send a check.
Start with the payee, the person who youâre sending money to. Thereâs usually text that reads âpay to the order ofâ beside a line that youâll fill in. On that line, simply write the first and last name of the person who youâre paying, or the name of the company youâre paying if itâs not an individual person. Be sure that you spell everything correctly, as misspelling a name could result in the check not going through.
Fill in the amount in words that you are paying your payee. This part is a little weird, since you usually write numbers out in numerals, but itâs an important security step. The dollar amount should be written in words, and any cents can be written as a fraction out of 100. For example, if you were paying your landlord $925.50 for rent and utilities, youâd write out âNine hundred twenty five dollars and 50/100.â
Fill in the amount in numbers in the box on the top right of the check. This is a bit easier. In the case of the example above, youâd just write out $925.50. Often, the dollar sign is already written on the check, so you just have to make sure that the numerals are written out correctly. Important note: be sure that you double-check that the amount you wrote in words matches the amount you wrote in numerals.
The optional memo line is located on the bottom left of the check. Though leaving this blank wonât invalidate the check, itâs usually smart to include a brief description so that your payee knows what the money is for. For example, in the rent check example, including âSeptember rentâ on the memo line is a good way for you and your landlord to keep track of your rent payments.
The date is on the top right of the check. Fill in the date of the day you fill out the check â this ensures that you and your recipient can keep track of when the payment occurred.
Sign your check on the line on the bottom right. This line shows that you have officially agreed to pay the listed amount. Be sure that the name you sign matches the one on file with your bank or the check may not be valid. Itâs also a good idea to have a consistent signature, that way thereâs little doubt youâve authorized the check.
Thatâs it! Thatâs all it takes to know how to fill out a check. If you need a little practice filling out a check before youâre ready to send one, try out our printable practice check.
Note:In addition to the parts that youâll fill in, a check includes the routing number and account number for the bank account that itâs withdrawing from. You donât need to worry about those when you learn how to write a check, but when you receive your checkbook, be sure to double check that the number match your bank. You want to know which bank account your check will be drawing from when itâs cashed.
What Do I Do After Writing a Check?
Once youâve written the check, make sure to note in a check register the amount that youâve paid. Check registers are often included in the backs of checkbooks, but you can also keep a separate one if that is more convenient for you.
Whether you use a paper register or a digital one, itâs important to record how much youâve paid because, until your payee cashes the check and itâs processed at your bank, your account will still list those funds as available. Recording the amount that youâve paid gives you a more accurate picture of the amount that is in your checking account, and will be necessary when itâs time to balance your checkbook.
Note:Making sure to track cash and checks is always an important way to stay on your budget. While you will likely be able to see your credit card purchases online as soon as they happen, checks and cash donât leave as easy a trail. Maintaining a written log and using an app like Mint are helpful ways to keep an eye on the full picture of your spending as you wait for checks to clear.
Check Writing Security Tips
Because checks are physical pieces of paper, they arenât password protected and arenât as easy to track as electronic payments (more on that in the next section). So, there are some security risks that you should keep in mind if you plan on using your checkbook.
That said, checks are generally a secure way of paying for things if theyâre filled out carefully and properly. Check out these tips before filling out your check to ensure that you arenât scammed or defrauded.
Never leave a check blank. Thereâs a reason signing your check was the last step listed above. If you sign a check and hand it over without a dollar amount specified, your payee can simply enter whatever quantity they wish and withdraw that from your bank account. The same goes for the payee line. If you had a signed check made out for $500 without a payee, and it slipped out of your bag, anyone could pick it up, enter their name, and pay themselves. Be sure that you always wait until you know the dollar amount and payee before you sign your check.
Use a pen. For the same reasons you wouldnât want to hand anyone a blank check, itâs a good idea to use pen when filling it out. A check written in pencil could be easily tampered with, so be sure your writing is clear and permanent to avoid check fraud.
Try out the line method. Following the same reasoning, you wouldnât want someone to turn your check for $500 into a check for $5500. You can prevent this by drawing a line from the edge of the space where youâve written the amount to the start of your first letter. Follow this up by filling the entire numerical quantity box with the numerals for your amount.
Keep a record. Whether you opt for a checkbook that makes carbon copies of every check you write, or simply record all your transactions in a check register, keeping a handy list of all your paid checks is a good way to make sure you notice if something goes wrong. Itâs also just helpful when youâre trying to sort out how much money youâve spent and what youâve spent it on.
Checks are generally a secure way to pay for things, but they might not be your best option for every situation.
Alternatives to Writing a Check
Writing a check might be a useful way to make a payment in some situations, but in todayâs world of tech, card payments and online banking, thereâs often an easier and more secure alternative to pay or transfer funds.
Here are some situations where you might use a check along with some alternatives that could be a better option.
Paying rent. There are plenty of landlords who keep things old school and only accept checks. However, many contemporary apartment complexes or apartments owned by property management companies will invest in an online payment portal for their residents. If you have the option to set up a payment portal, this is a much safer way of paying rent â plus, it eliminates the cost and hassle of mailing a check.
Making a large purchase. Credit cards are scary, but they often are a much better way of making large purchases. This is because many credit cards offer perks like cash back or airline miles, and consistently paying off your balance can seriously boost your credit. Plus, credit cards have stronger fraud protection than checks.
Buying groceries. Credit cards are also a great option here. Many grocery stores, or retailers that also sell groceries, offer credit cards themselves. These can be used to gain points or discounts, lowering your grocery bill monthly.
Knowing how to write a check can be a handy and secure way to pay for something if you do it correctly. The guidelines in this post should help you start writing checks safely and carefully, and if you need a little extra practice, try out our printable practice check below. Itâs a good way to feel confident before you put your pen (never pencil!) on the next check you write.
The post How to Write a Check (Step by Step Guide to Filling Out a Check) appeared first on MintLife Blog.
March was a mixed month in my financial world. I ended March with a slightly higher net worth (up 0.6%) but my spending was the highest it’s been this year: $5989.10. Yet, that spending was mostly mindful. I wasn’t frittering away money on silly things.
If I wasn’t buying dumb stuff, then where did my money go? A few worthwhile places:
I spent $653.31 on the yard and garden. Specifically, Kim and I tore out a big cedar tree in the corner of the yard, then converted that space to a small orchard. I use the word “orchard” loosely here. We planted three fruit trees, four blueberries, four grape vines, and a bunch of strawberries. I hope to write about this more in the near future.
I spent $625.72 on health and fitness. In the middle of the month, I had quite a scare. Out of nowhere, I had chest pains, so I visited the local hospital ER. My co-pays and prescriptions are reflected in March’s spending — and there’s more to come. (We’re about to have a l-o-n-g article on the $6800 hospital bill I received in the mail yesterday. That’ll happen in April or May.) Meanwhile, Kim had knee surgery at the end of the month. I paid for some of her stuff out of my pocket.
I spent $579.36 on gifts in March, which is very very unusual.
I paid the $450 annual fee on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. (Yes, I know this seems like a lot. But remember the card comes with a $300 travel credit, which means my effective annual fee is $150. I believe I receive $150 in value from the card’s other benefits.)
I don’t consider any of that spending frivolous although I recognize that some of it isn’t necessary. (Do we need an orchard? Do I need to give gifts?)
That said, I did have some weak spots in my spending. I bought several movies on iTunes. In fact, I spent $72.63 on iTunes in March. I need to be careful lest I return to my former profligate ways. No more looking in the iTunes store! I also spent $230.15 on alcohol during the month (most of which was beer).
How did I do with groceries? As you know, my food spending had grown out of control, which is one of the primary reasons I’m tracking my spending in detail this year. Last year, I spent over $1000 per month in food. This year, I’m spending less than $700 per month.
I was very proud of my food spending for most of March. I spent a total of $658.21 during the month: $468.27 on groceries and $184.24 on dining out. That’s my lowest monthly food total in two years (excepting months during which I’ve been on the road).
Going into the last week of March, I’d only spent $241.87 on groceries. That’s amazing! Things fell apart, however, when I stocked up on food for Kim’s convalescence. Meanwhile, we only had three restaurant meals during the month. For one of those, I paid for two guests. Not bad. Not bad.
Now that we’ve made it through the first three months of 2019, I was curious how my quarterly spending compared to last year. Monthly spending can fluctuate quite a bit. You can get a better idea of your actual habits by looking at a bigger picture.
Here are some highlights:
I spent $116.56 at the iTunes store during the first quarter of 2019. That’s less than I spent on movies and TV shows during any single month last year, so that’s a win.
I spent $2076.54 on food for the quarter, which is lower than any quarter in 2018. I spent $1179.53 on groceries, $323.52 on HelloFresh, and $542.29 on dining out. That restaurant spending is another big win. The grocery spending was good — better than any quarter in 2018 — but I feel like I can do better.
I spent a lot on health and fitness during the first three months of the year: $1752.60. And the thing is, it’s not going to get much better.
This year, I decided to separate hot tub expenses into its own category. I spent $151.88 on hot tub stuff (chemicals, etc.) during the first three months of the year. And, no, that doesn’t include electricity.
Our zoo — three cats and a dog — cost us $447.54 during the first quarter of 2019.
You know where I could save big bucks? By drinking less. I spent $586.36 on alcohol during the first three months of the year (and that includes four weeks during which I didn’t drink a drop!). That’s $6.44 per day. Time for me to cut back on my craft beer obsession…
I spent a total of $15,364.85 during the first quarter of 2019, an average of $5121.62 per month. That’s not a great number, to be honest. It’s pretty much what I was spending last year. Still, I’m trying not to get too stressed about things…yet.
The whole point of this exercise is for me to figure out where I’m spending my money and why. Once I have a clear picture, I can make some course corrections.
April is the Cruelest Month
Unfortunately, April is going to have some crazy, crazy spending numbers. My accountant called yesterday to give me my tax bill. I owe $20,000. (I’m not joking.) The hospital called too. They wanted to let me know that I owe them $6800 for the ER visit in the middle of March. To cap things off, payment is due on the vacation that Kim and I booked a year ago. We’ll be headed to Greece and Italy in August — but we’re paying for it today.
Fortunately, I knew that some of these expenses were looming, so I have cash set aside to pay for taxes and our trip. (The ER visit was a surprise, obviously, and I don’t have money set aside for that.) That doesn’t change the fact that April’s expenses are going to be insane, though. It just means I’m somewhat prepared for the insanity.
The upside to having a $6800 hospital bill so early in the year? It gives me a chance to make maximum use of my health insurance! My max “out of pocket” is $7900 annually. Since it looks like I’m going to hit that, it makes sense to address all medical issues that are bugging me in 2019.
At the end of 2018, I had a net worth of $1,334,227.20. At the end of March, my net worth was $1,397,545.18. That’s a leap of more than $63,000 (or 4.75%). That’s great! In reality, this simply reflects a hot stock market. My investment accounts are up $77,933.04 this year (11.45%).