Meal Prep 101: How to make 20 meals for $25

This guest post is written by Richmond Howard for Good Financial Cents. Richmond runs the blog MealPrepify.

Four years ago my wife and I were almost broke. It was our first year of marriage and I had been out of a job for almost five months.

I wasn’t making money and I was about to start going to grad school. It’s hard to pay for grad school when you’re broke so I was applying for scholarships.

One of the scholarships required you to input a monthly budget of how much you were spending. Makes sense — they want to make sure you’re being a good steward of your resources and that you actually need the financial help.

The problem was I had no idea what we were actually spending. We were just kinda going by feel and trying to be frugal. We created an account with Mint and synced all of our accounts.

I still remember when my wife and I were sitting there watching the screen–waiting for all of the data to get sorted out to see the breakdown of our monthly spending.

It all looked normal at first. Our rent was $725. Car insurance was $200. Wifi was $30. Phone bill was around $100. Gym $40. Everything was checking out except one category.

Food / Restaurants: $825

Neither of us believed it, but it was our anniversary month so we chalked it up to the fancy dinner we went to. Surely, that’s what it was… We went back another month and saw $760. Then $730. Then back to $800.

The realization hit us hard.

For the last six months while I was unemployed and we were struggling to make ends meet — watching our bank accounts start to dip — we were spending more on food than rent for just our little family of two.

Like most people, we ate out too often for fun and for convenience.

Like most people, we were throwing away too much food that never got cooked.

Our food bill was out of control. We knew we had to find a way to save money on food, but we didn’t know how. We already felt like we were frugal when it came to food and we didn’t want to go back to the college diet of ramen and the chicken that’s marked down because it’s about to expire.

We wanted to eat real food that was good for us and good for our wallet.

We made a few major changes:

  • We completely stopped eating out for about two months.
  • We planned out our meals and didn’t let anything go to waste.

That worked for a while! We were eating all of our meals at home and our food spending dropped from $750+ to around $350.

It was exhausting though. We were cooking and cleaning multiple meals a day. It felt like we lived in the kitchen.

Then we started meal prepping.

We’d wake up early on Sundays to pick a few recipes and map out what we were going to eat that week. After church, we’d head straight to the grocery store and spent our afternoons making a week’s worth of food.

It took some time to get the hang of it, but meal prepping was a total game-changer for us. We started saving money and we weren’t spending 15 hours a week in the kitchen.

Here I am three years later and I now run a blog called MealPrepify where I help people learn how to meal prep and find great recipes so they can save time, money, and eat healthy doing it.

Today I want to give you my best tips and tricks to help you start saving money by meal prepping! I’ve also shared our favorite meal plan that we’ve used almost every single month to save money on food.

Meal Prep 101: 9 Tips to Start Meal Prepping

  • When I first started meal prepping, I was totally overwhelmed.
  • How do I pick recipes?
  • How much should I make?
  • How long will the food last?
  • Do I need to meal plan or just cook stuff and hope it goes together?

When I started looking for resources on meal prepping, most of it wasn’t helpful. The recipes they recommended were elaborate or unhealthy. The meal plans didn’t fit what I liked, and I usually ended up spending more time and money than I was saving.

Here are some helpful meal prep tips to get you started the right way:

1. Restaurant spending freeze

If you want to start meal prepping, the first thing you’ve got to do is stop eating out. If you’re anything like me, this is the hardest part. My wife and I are foodies and we love to try new places all over Houston, especially BBQ.

But there’s no way around it. If you want to save money on food and make meal prepping a habit, you have to force yourself to do it.

Your restaurant spending freeze doesn’t have to be forever, but commit for one month and see what happens. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save when you stop eating out.

2. Start small

The biggest mistake people make is trying to meal prep too much the first time. Start small. Pick 1-2 recipes you know you love and double the ingredients. The last thing you want to do is make a bunch of food that’ll go to waste.

3. Look in the freezer and pantry

The best place to start meal prepping is with stuff you’ve already got. Go make a list of all the meat you’ve got sitting in your freezer and find a way to meal prep with it. You’ll save money, reduce waste, and clear out space.

4. Create a list of super cheap meals

The key to saving money with meal prepping is to find cheap meals that you can make over and over again. My wife and I have a rotation of 7-10 meals that we absolutely love. They also keep our grocery budget in line and allow us to splurge in other places.

5. Find ingredient overlaps

The best meal prep hack is finding ingredients that work for multiple recipes. The fewer ingredients I have to buy at the grocery store, prep, chop, and cook, the better!

Grilled chicken is one of these for me. I’ll eat grilled chicken with a side of roasted vegetables, on a salad, or in a sweet potato. When I’m in a big hurry, I’ll grab a baggie of grilled chicken for a high-protein snack.

Bell peppers are another one. You can use bell peppers for fajitas, asian stir fries, or by themselves as a healthy snack.

6. Create a set time for meal prepping

If you want to meal prep consistently, then pick a set time to meal prep every week. My wife and I cook a week’s worth of lunches every Saturday afternoon and then we’ll double the amount for whatever we cook for dinner on Monday.

7. Get good storage containers

After you’ve finished all your meal prepping, you need to a way to store and save it all. We used to use regular plastic tupperware containers, but after a while we decided to upgrade to these glassware containers, which are better for heating, storing in the freezer, and cleaning in the dishwasher.

8. Map out your week

Meal prepping takes meal planning. Every Saturday morning, my wife and I wake up and we map out our entire week of meals. 

We actually put our meal plan into a google spreadsheet so we can see exactly what we’ll be eating. Then we put together a grocery list of everything we need to buy that week. We usually try to stock up on some healthy snacks as well.

The best part about keeping track of your meal plans is that you have your own bank of meal plans to pull from. Whenever we’re in a hurry we just pick a meal plan we’ve done before and head to the store!

9. Use the crockpot

There’s no question that using a crock pot is the easiest way to meal prep. All you have to do is dump in your ingredients, press a button, and wait 6-8 hours.

Turn it on before you go to bed and wake up with lunch and dinner already prepared. Here are some of our favorite cheap crockpot meals you can make for less than $3 a serving!

Sample Meal Plan: How we made 20 meals for $25 in one hour

People make meal planning way more complicated than it needs to be. I always pick three recipes that I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ideally they are cheap, healthy, and have some overlap in ingredients.

This is one of my go-to meal plans. It takes me about an hour of work to make 20 meals for $25.

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Meal prepping for breakfast is tough. Leftover eggs are rubbery and gross.

About a year ago I started making overnight oats and it was a game changer. Easy to make and incredibly cheap.

Overnight oats don’t require any cooking. Put them in a mason jar the night before with milk or water and they’re ready to go in the morning. The ratio is typically two parts liquid to one part oats. I typically do 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup water, and 1 cup milk.

You can add anything you want to the oats to fix them up! My favorites are strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.

The oats need at least four hours to soak, but will last for 3-4 days. I usually add liquid to half my jars and then on Wednesday I’ll add milk and water to the second batch.

Every morning, grab a mason jar from the fridge and you’re ready to eat. Overnight oats are good cold or warmed up.

Est. price: $0.50/ serving

Lunch: Sheet pan chicken fajitas

My wife and I love using sheet pan recipes because they save time on clean-up and we can meal prep a week’s worth of lunch in one batch.

You can make these chicken fajitas in a few easy steps.

  1. Put 2lbs of chicken breast/thighs into a ziploc bag or bowl and cover it with your marinade of choice. I use a store bought marinade to save time and make it as easy as possible. Marinade for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
  2. Slice 1 green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion.
  3. Cover the sheet pan with foil and dump the bell peppers & chicken on it.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 or so and check to make sure it’s done.
  5. Once the fajitas are made, you can eat them however you want! Stuff some tortillas or eat them with rice and beans. Eat the fajitas with some mixed greens and avocado for a healthy salad.

Est. price: $1.50/serving

Dinner: Quick coconut chicken curry

This coconut chicken curry recipe is one of our weeknight go-to meals! It’s cheap, healthy, and here’s how you make it:

  1. Put 2lbs chicken breast or thighs into a ziploc or bowl. Rub 4 tbsp curry paste all over them.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil to a cooking pan and get hot. Add red onion and saute with 2 more tbsp curry paste. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken to the pan and sear both sides (2 minutes a side).
  4. Add coconut milk and put in oven for 12 minutes @ 400 degrees.
  5. When it’s done, you can eat the chicken curry with pita bread, rice, or by itself!

Est. price: $2.50/serving

Grocery List

If you want to give this meal plan a try, here’s a grocery list you can print off and take with you to the store.

  • Oatmeal
  • Milk
  • Optional oatmeal toppings you want: fruit, berries, nuts
  • 2lbs Chicken breast
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 onions
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup rice
  • Fajita marinade
  • 2lbs chicken thighs
  • 1.5 cup coconut milk
  • 4-6 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion

Take Your Next Step in Meal Prepping

I don’t know where you’re at in life, but I truly believe that meal prepping can help everyone.

It can help the entrepreneur eat healthy and save money to reinvest in their business. It can help the young professional save money to put towards retirement. Meal prepping can save the stay at home parent hours of time every week in planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

Take your first step today!

The post Meal Prep 101: How to make 20 meals for $25 appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

15 best paid survey sites in 2020

If you have some spare time and are looking for ways to make a little extra money, you could try filling out surveys for money. With survey companies paying out millions of dollars to users each year, it’s a legitimate way to earn an income online.

Or is it? There’s a natural skepticism whenever this topic is brought up in personal finance circles, and for good reason. For starters, far too many people have been burned by the claims of ‘scammy’ survey sites in the past, walking away with nothing more than a whole lot of wasted time. And, let’s face it, you’re never going to get rich filling out online surveys. Forget rich, you’re going to struggle just to get to minimum wage.

So why even bother? Survey sites are definitely not for everyone, yet they remain very popular. If you stick to the most reputable ones, there is money to be made. We’re not talking rent-erasing money, but it might cover the cost of your monthly Netflix subscription, or subsidize your coffee habit, which for some people is worth the effort.

In this article, I’ve selected what I think are the best online survey companies out there today. Most have been around for several years and have established a fairly solid reputation. Some are better than others, without a doubt. Before we dive in, here are a few tips on ways to maximize your online survey earnings.

How to earn more with online surveys

As I already mentioned, if you’re looking to make money with only one survey site, you’ll likely be disappointed. Most sites pay very little per survey, often less than $1, while the sites that claim to pay more, say $5 per survey, tend to send very few surveys your way. Still, if you’re willing to put in the time, there are things you can do to maximize your earnings.

Sign up on more sites – It only makes sense, but by signing up for more sites, you’ll increase your potential earnings by increasing the number of surveys you qualify for.

Opt for the higher paying activities – In addition to taking surveys, many of these sites will reward you for other activities, such as searching the web, watching videos, or participating in focus groups (rare). Simple tasks pay less than more detailed ones. Pay attention to the higher paying activities, and stick with those.

Register for sweepstakes – Many survey websites provide an option to use your points to register in sweepstakes, where the prizes can be as much as $500, or $1000. While there is no guarantee you will win, consider taking the chance with some of your points, to improve your odds of a better payout.

Survey Junkie

Top Feature: Quick payment via PayPal

Typical Earnings: $1 – $3 per survey

Survey Junkie has been around since 2013 and is one of my favorites. They reward users with points for completing surveys, which are then converted to dollars. Surveys are worth between 50 and 450 points each, with 100 points equalling $1. Earnings can be paid out via PayPal or in the form of e-gift cards. Unlike many companies on this list, Survey Junkie sticks to what they know best, surveys. There are no rewards for shopping online, browsing the internet, or watching videos. You can cash out as soon as your earnings reach $10, which is a nice feature, and payments via PayPal are processed within 24 hours, which is very quick when compared to many of its competitors.

SwagBucks

Top Feature: More options to earn money

Typical Earnings: $1 per survey

Swagbucks is more than just surveys, rewarding users for shopping online, searching the web, playing games, and more. Survey earnings can be very minimal, less than $1 per, but you have no shortage of options to make money. Like Survey Junkie, SwagBucks users are compensated in the form of cash via PayPal, and gift cards. A nice feature is the ability to redeem gift cards for as little as $3, while the minimum PayPal cash payout is $25. To help you get paid sooner, SwagBucks offers a $5 sign up bonus.

Pinecone Research

Top Feature: Offer payment via check

Typical Earnings: minimum $3 per survey

Pinecone Research is another long standing survey company that rewards you with points for completing surveys. They pay well for surveys, at a minimum of $3 each. The catch is that because they are searching for a specific demographic at different times, they operate on an invite only basis so the number of survey opportunities are limited. Still, it’s worth signing up as a way of padding diversifying your survey income. Pinecone is run by Nielsen, the same organization that measures television viewership ratings.

MyPoints

Top Feature: $5 bonus after completing 5 surveys

Typical Earnings: $.30-$.50 per survey

MyPoints is owned by Prodege, the same company that owns SwagBucks. They’re similar in that you can earn points a number of ways, including online shopping, watching videos, and playing games. They offer plenty of survey opportunities, but the earnings per survey tend to be very low. You do get a $5 bonus after completing your first 5 surveys however. Payment options include PayPal cash and gift cards.

Inbox Dollars

Top Feature: $5 sign up bonus

Typical Earnings: $.50 – $5 per survey

Inbox Dollars pays cash for completing a variety of activities online: answering surveys, fulfilling offers, watching videos, playing games etc. While you can earn up to $5 when you complete a survey, the average payout is much lower than that. A positive is that they have a large number of surveys to choose from, so if you have the time, you can increase your earnings that way. Before you complete a survey, or an activity, Inbox Dollars will let you know how much you’ll be paid. That way, you can decide if it’s worth your time. You can receive payment via gift cards, PayPal cash, or a check in the mail. The minimum payout amount is $30.

Opinion Outpost

Top Feature:Convert points to travel credits

Typical Earnings: $.30 – $3 per survey

When you complete surveys with Opinion Outpost, you’ll earn points that can be converted a number of ways. In addition to receiving PayPal cash or gift cards, you can turn your earnings into travel credits, by joining the MileagePlus program. As with most survey companies, you’ll be required to fill out a questionnaire when you register, so that Opinion Outpost can collect your demographic information and make sure you’re legit. According to their website, survey topics are varied, and include anything from electronics and medicine, to sports and politics, even your eating habits.

VIP Voice

Top Feature: Sweepstakes entries

Typical Earnings: No cash payout, sweepstakes entries

VIP Voice works a bit differently than the other survey companies on this list. You earn points for completing surveys, but they can’t be converted into cash or gift cards. Instead, points can be used to enter sweepstakes, or online auctions on sites like Bidland and Sweepland. The problem with this is that there is no guarantee that you’ll be compensated for the time you spend completing surveys. If you don’t mind the idea of taking your chances with sweepstakes, then there are plenty of surveys you can fill out with VIPVoice. Upon signing up, you are entered into their registration sweepstakes, for a chance to win $1000.

LifePoints

Top Feature: 10 LifePoints at sign up

Typical Earnings: $.50 – $1 per survey

With LifePoints, you can convert points for PayPal cash once you reach a minimum $20 payout. The downside is that the amount you earn per survey is fairly low, usually less than $1. They do claim to have paid more than $20 million out to members in the past year alone, however. Survey invites are sent out via email, and the number you receive each month will vary based on the type of data being collected, and your suitability to complete the survey. While LifePoints lacks the optionality of a Survey Junkie or Swagbucks, it works well if you’re looking for a basic survey site.

Vindale Research

Top Feature: $1 sign up bonus

Typical Earnings: $1 – $5 per survey

Vindale Research doesn’t incorporate a point system, meaning that your earnings are expressed as a dollar value only. This way, you always know what you’ve earned, at a glance. Payment is via PayPal, but you will need a minimum of $50 before you can cash out. Of note, Vindale offers other earning opportunities that pay more than surveys. For example, you may be able to write product reviews, which pay as much as $75 each. Of course, these opportunities don’t come along very often.

Prize Rebel

Top Feature: Offers a bonus loyalty program

Typical Earnings: $.40 – $.60 per survey

Prize Rebel has been around for more than 10 years, during which they’ve paid out over $19 million to their members. With Prize Rebel, signing up is easy, as they only require your name and email address to open a free account. They will gather more of your personal demographic information when you complete your first survey, but you’ll earn points for doing so. What makes prize Rebel standout is their loyalty bonus program, which rewards members based on the number of surveys they complete. You can earn a bonus of up to 3% on your earnings, not to mention a 3% discount when you redeem your prize (Diamond level). 500 points equal to $5, and earnings can be redeemed for PayPal cash, gift cards, or Dwolla cash.

Survey Club

Top Feature: Variety of earnings options

Typical Earnings: Up to $5 per survey

With Survey Club, you can earn up to $5 per survey, although the vast majority will be much lower than that. They also give users the opportunity to participate in focus groups, some of which pay handsomely, up to $200 per hour. Survey Club doesn’t actually host surveys, rather they steer towards surveys on other websites. What makes Survey Club standout from their competition is the ways in which you can earn. Not only can you be paid in cash or gift cards, you can also make charitable contributions, receive a prepaid debit card, and enter draws and sweepstakes. The minimum earnings required to cash out is $25.

Harris Poll Online

Top Feature: $10,000 sweepstakes entry with every completed survey

Typical Earnings: $1 per survey

With Harris Poll Online, you earn points for completing surveys, which can be redeemed for purchases at a number of leading websites. Their screening process is quite detailed, as they lead you through a series of demographics questions. To complete surveys, you must login in to the Harris website, surveys aren’t sent via email. At an average of around $1 per survey, the earn rate is modest, but the more you visit their site and take surveys, the more money you’ll make. I do like the fact that they enter you into a draw for a $10,000 sweepstakes every time you complete a survey, and they also allow you to make charitable donations with your earnings.

OneOpinion

Top Feature: Lightning fast sign up process

Typical Earnings: Up to $5 per survey

The sign up process with OneOpinion is very quick, which allows you to start earning without a lot of effort. Their surveys pay as much as $5 each, but typical earnings are lower than that. Users earn points that can be exchanged for gift cards (there is no PayPal option with OneOpinion). You’ll need to accumulate $25 worth of points before you can redeem, and 1,000 points has a value of $1.

Ipsos iSay

Top Feature: Low minimum payout

Typical Earnings: Up to $1 per survey

iSay by Ipsos is similar to most other survey sites in that you earn points that can be converted to PayPal cash or used to redeem gift cards. The payout per survey is very low, but Ipsos does have a unique point multiplier, that rewards users loyalty with bonus points after they reach a certain number of surveys. After completing 5 surveys, for example, you’ll receive 25 bonus points. One thing I like about iSay, is that they have a low minimum payout. You only need 500 points ($5 value) before you can redeem for PayPal cash. With iSay, 100 points has a value of $1.

ProOpinion

Top Feature: Targeted surveys based on area of expertise

Typical Earnings: Not available

The sign up process with ProOpinion is quite detailed. That’s because their mandate is to select surveys that align closely to your individual expertise. When you complete surveys, you earn points that can be redeemed one of 4 ways: PayPal cash, Amazon gift cards, Apple store & iTunes gift cards, and charitable donations via The American Red Cross. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on the Pro Opinion website regarding the points you earn, and how much they’re worth. Other sites are more transparent. The data collected is used in articles and other content found on the Pro Opinion website. The information provided is geared towards helping business professionals learn and grow.

The benefits of completing online surveys

There you have it, my list of top paid survey sites for 2020. If you’ve read through these mini-reviews and are interested in getting paid to take surveys, my recommendation would be to start with Survey Junkie and Swagbucks, and go from there. If you need more motivation, there’s another reason filling out online surveys may be beneficial.

On the homepage of the Survey Junkie website, is the caption, “Share your opinion to help brands deliver better products and services”. Personally, I like the idea of having a voice, of being able to influence the direction a company takes with its products and services, even if it’s in a very small way.

Source: getrichslowly.org

How Much Cash Do You Really Need to Buy a Home?

Are you ready to buy a home? You’re not alone—in 2019, more than five million people bought an existing home. And that doesn’t even include the number of people who purchased new construction.

The point is, the housing market is always bustling and busy. And if it’s your first time buying a home, it might seem a bit daunting. You might have a couple of questions—how much money do you need to buy a home? And how can you even get those funds?

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. We’re here to guide you towards saving up, so hopefully you’ll be able to afford your dream home. Keep reading to learn more!

How Much Do You Need for a Down Payment?

Let’s start with one of the first payments you might have to make—a down payment. When someone takes out a mortgage loan, they’ll put down a percentage of the home’s price. That’s the down payment.

You might’ve heard that down payments are about 20% of the total cost of your new home. That can be true, but it really just depends on your mortgage. There are mortgage options that require little to no down payment, and how much you need often depends on your eligibility for different programs. Here are some different loan options:

1. USDA Mortgage

The USDA guarantees mortgages for eligible buyers primarily in rural areas. These loans do not have down payment requirements. To qualify for a USDA loan:

  • The property must meet eligibility requirements as to where it’s located.
  • Your household must fall within the income requirements, which depend on your state.
  • You must meet credit, income and other requirements of the lender, though they may be less rigorous than loans not backed by a government entity.

2. Conventional Mortgage

Conventional mortgages are financed through traditional lenders and not through a government entity. Depending on your credit and other factors, you may not need to put down 20% on such loans. Some lenders may allow as little as a five percent down payment, for example. But you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put down less than 20%.

3. FHA Mortgage

FHA loans, like USDA loans, are partially guaranteed by a government agency. In this case, it’s the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). A down payment on these loans may be as low as 3.5%. Requirements for an FHA loan can include:

  • You’re purchasing a primary home.
  • The home in question meets certain requirements related to value and cost.
  • A debt-to-income ratio between 43% and 56.9%.
  • You meet other credit requirements, though these may not be as strict as with conventional loans.

How much do you need to make to buy a $200K house?

Given the above information, here’s what your down payment might look like on a home worth $200,000:

  • USDA loan: Potentially $0
  • Conventional loan: From $10,000 to $40,000
  • FHA Loan: As low as $7,000

These are just some options for mortgages with low down payment requirements. Working with a broker or shopping around online can help you find the right mortgage. In addition to the down payment, you do need to ensure that you can afford the mortgage and make the monthly payments.

Don’t Forget the Cash You’ll Need for Closing

Closing costs are typically between three and six percent of your mortgage’s principal. That’s how much you’re borrowing, so the less you put down, the more your closing costs might be.

Here’s a range of closing costs assuming a cost of three percent of the low range home purchase, when buying with less than 20% down:

  • For a home purchase between $500,000 and $600,000, you’ll need at least $15,000 for closing costs
  • Between $300,000 and $500,000, at least $9,000 for closing costs
  • Between $150,000 and $300,000, at least $4,500 for closing costs

Where Can You Get the Money to Buy a Home?

These numbers should give you an idea of how much cash you’ll need for a home purchase. Acceptable sources for procuring cash to close on a house can be one or any of the following:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Checking/ savings
  • A money market account
  • Retirement account
  • Gift money

The key here is that the money needs to be documented. You have to be able to prove you had it and didn’t borrow it simply for the purpose of making your down payment or covering closing costs.

Don’t have cash available from any of the above-mentioned sources? There are other sources you can use as long as they can be paper-trailed, such as your tax refund or a security deposit refund on your current home rental.

Plan for Other Important Costs

While down payments and closing costs are the biggest out-of-pocket expenses involved in buying a home with a mortgage, you may need to cover other costs. There might be some additional home buying and moving-in costs. Those could include inspections, the cost of any necessary repairs not covered by the sellers and moving fees.

Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

Saving up the right amount of money is just one step in buying a home. You must also ensure your credit score is in order. Lenders look at different credit scores when they consider someone for a mortgage. Sign up for ExtraCredit to get a look at 28 of your FICO Scores to understand how lenders might see you as a borrower. Once you check your scores, you can decide whether you need to build your score or start shopping for your mortgage.

Sign up for ExtraCredit today!

The post How Much Cash Do You Really Need to Buy a Home? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates?

Just about everybody with a wallet is impacted by the Federal Reserve. That means you—homeowners and prospective buyers. Whether you’re already nestled in to the house of your dreams or still looking to find it, you’ll probably want to track what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. When the Fed (as it’s commonly referred to) cuts its federal funds rate—the rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight—the move could impact your mortgage costs.

The Fed’s overall goal when it cuts the federal funds rate is to stimulate the economy by spurring consumers to spend and borrow. This is good news if you are carrying debt because borrowing tends to become less expensive following a Fed rate cut (think: lower credit card APRs). But in the case of homeownership, what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates can be a double-edged sword.

What happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates depends on many factors.

The connection between a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates isn’t so crystal clear because the federal funds rate doesn’t directly influence the rate on every type of home loan.

“Mortgage rates are formed by global market forces, and the Federal Reserve participates in those market forces but isn’t always the most important factor,” says Holden Lewis, who’s been covering the mortgage industry for nearly 20 years and is also a regular contributor to NerdWallet.

To understand which side of the sword you’re on, you’ll need an answer to the question, “How does a Fed rate cut affect mortgage rates?” Read on to find out if you stand to potentially gain on your mortgage in a low-rate environment:

How a fixed-rate mortgage moves—or doesn’t

A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains the same for the entire length of the loan. If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates if you are an existing homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage? Nothing should happen to your monthly payments following a Fed rate cut because your rate has already been locked in.

“For current homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage set at a previous higher level, the existing mortgage rate stays put,” Lewis says.

If you’re a prospective homebuyer shopping around for a fixed-rate mortgage, the news of what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates may be different.

For prospective homebuyers: If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before.”

– Holden Lewis, mortgage expert and NerdWallet contributor

The federal funds rate does not directly impact the rates on this type of home loan, so a Fed rate cut doesn’t guarantee that lenders will start offering lower mortgage rates. However, the 10-year Treasury yield does tend to influence fixed-rate mortgages, and this yield often moves in the same direction as the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before,” Lewis says. It’s also possible that rates on fixed mortgages will not fall following a Fed rate cut.

How an adjustable-rate mortgage follows the Fed

An adjustable-rate mortgage (commonly referred to as an ARM) is a home loan with an interest rate that can fluctuate periodically—also known as variable rate. There is often a fixed period of time during which the initial rate stays the same, and then it adjusts on a regular interval. (For instance, with a 5/1 ARM, the initial rate stays locked in for five years and then adjusts each year thereafter.)

So back to the burning question: If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? The rates on an ARM typically track with the index that the loan uses, e.g., the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you may see your rate change.

“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments,” says Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management.

Since ARMs are often adjusted annually after the fixed period, you may not feel the impact of the Fed rate cut until your ARM’s next annual loan adjustment. For instance, if there is one (or more) rate cuts during the course of a year, the savings from the rate reduction(s) would hit all at once at the time of your reset.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates for prospective homebuyers considering an ARM? An even lower rate could be in your future—at least for a specific period of time.

“If you’re looking for a shorter-term mortgage, say a 5/1 ARM, you could save considerably on interest,” Stroud says. That’s because the introductory rate of an ARM is usually lower than the rate of a fixed-rate mortgage, Stroud explains. Add that benefit to lower rates fueled by a Fed rate cut and an ARM could be enticing if it supports your financial goals and plans.

“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments.” 

– Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management

Benefits of other variable-rate loans following a rate cut

If you have a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates on your mind and are a borrower with other types of variable-rate loans, you could be impacted following a Fed rate cut. Borrowers with variable-rate home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and adjustable-rate Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA ARMs), for example, may end up ahead of the curve when the Fed cuts its rate, according to Lewis:

  • A HELOC is typically a “second mortgage” that provides you access to cash for goals like debt consolidation or home improvement and is a revolving line of credit, using your home as collateral. A Fed rate cut could result in lower rates for variable-rate HELOCs that track with the prime rate. If you are an existing homeowner with a HELOC, you could see your monthly payments drop following a Fed rate cut.
  • An FHA ARM is an ARM insured by the federal government. If you’re wondering about a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, know that this type of mortgage behaves much like a conventional variable-rate loan when the Fed cuts it rate, Lewis says. Existing homeowners with an FHA ARM could see a rate drop, and prospective homebuyers could also benefit from lower rates following a Fed rate cut.

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option for existing homeowners.

Refinancing: A silver lining for fixed rates

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option if you have an existing fixed-rate loan. The process of refinancing replaces an existing loan with a new one that pays off your old loan’s debt. You then make payments on your new loan, so the goal is to refinance at a time when you can get better terms.

“If someone buys a home one year and a Fed rate cut results in a mortgage rate reduction, for example, it presents a real refinance opportunity for homeowners,” Lewis says. “Just a small percentage point reduction could possibly trim a few hundred bucks from your monthly payments.”

Before a refinancing decision is made based on a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, you should consider any upfront costs and fees associated with refinancing to ensure they don’t offset any potential savings.

Managing your finances as a homeowner

You might be expecting some savings in your future now that you’re armed with information on what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. Whether you’re a homebuyer and financing your new home is going to cost you less with a lower interest rate, or you’re an existing homeowner with an ARM that may come with lower monthly payments, Stroud suggests to use any uncovered savings wisely.

“Invest that cash back into your property, pay down your home equity debt or borrow with it,” she says.

Understanding the connection between the Fed rate cut and mortgage rates can help you better manage your finances as a homeowner.

While news of a Fed rate cut may entice you to analyze how your mortgage will be impacted, remember there are many factors that help to determine your mortgage rate, including your credit score, home price, loan amount and down payment. The Fed’s actions are only one piece of a larger equation.

Even though the Fed’s rate decisions may dominate headlines immediately following a rate cut, your home is a long-term investment and one you’ll likely maintain for years. To best prepare for what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates is to always manage your home finances responsibly and be sure to make choices that will lead you down the right path based on your financial goals.

*This should not be considered tax or investment advice. Please consult a financial planner or tax advisor if you have questions.

NMLS ID 684042

The post What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider

Buying a second home is a major expense. You might have several reasons for wanting to buy a second house. Perhaps, you’re buying a second home for vacations or weekend getaways. Or, it might be that you want to use it as a rental property for rental income. However, there are things to consider before buying a second home.

The benefits of buying a second home

If you’re buying a second home for rental income, you’ll benefit from many perks, especially tax advantages.

For example, you will be able to deduct interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance and other expenses against the property’s income.

Even if the value of the property declines, you will still be able to deduct depreciation from your taxes.

While these benefits are great, the mortgage requirements for a second home are much stricter than for a mortgage on your primary residence. So, make sure you can afford it.

8 Things To Consider When Buying A Second Home

1. Financing options: When you bought your first home, you had available to you what’s called an FHA loan – a government loan program.

FHA loans are an appealing and favorite choice among first time home buyers due to their relatively low down payment requirement.

FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment and a relatively low credit score of 580. However, FHA loans are not available to second home buyers.

That is because FHA requires the home to be the borrower’s primary residence. So, if you’re thinking of buying a second home, you will need to either use a conventional loan or financing it with your own cash.

2. A larger down payment: If you’re using a conventional loan for your second home, you will need to come up with a larger down payment.

Lenders for a conventional loan usually requires a 20% down payment of the home purchase price.

But for a second home which will be used as a rental property or vacation home, expect lenders to ask for 30% or even 35%.

3. A higher credit score. For an FHA loan, you only need a credit score of 580 to qualify. But for a conventional loan on a second home, you will need much higher credit score — usually 750 or higher.

4. Expect a Higher Interest Rate: Lenders will likely charge you a higher interest rate on your second home than your primary residence.

The reason is because they see a second home — be it a vacation home or a rental property — as riskier. They feel that you are more likely to default on a mortgage on your second home than on your primary residence.

5. Do your research: Just as you did your homework when you bought your place to live in, buying a second home is no different.

In fact, you’ll need to spend more time researching rental property. That means researching the neighborhood you will want to invest in, knowing the zoning laws for a particular area, the sales price for the homes in the area.

You will need to know if the area has adequate public transportation, schools, grocery shopping, etc,– things that potential tenants will need.

6. Be prepared to be a landlord: if you’re buying a second home to rent, be prepared to be a landlord.

And be prepared to deal with all of the headaches that come with being a landlord. Do you have sufficient time? Can you deal with problems?

Owning a rental property and being a landlord is time consuming. It is also hard hard work and you have to do your due diligence.

You can hire a property manager to run the property for you. But if that is not feasible, you’ll have to do it yourself.

That means, screening new tenants, collecting rent, dealing with delinquent tenants, fixing problems in the property, such as a broken pipe.

So before buying a second home, make sure you have sufficient time and make sure you can deal with the day-to-day headaches that come with being a landlord.

7. Do you have a stable income? Dealing with a second mortgage on your second home is doable.

While you may be able to afford upfront costs, if you don’t have a stable income, you may have to think twice about whether it is a good idea.

Plus, you still have to consider the additional expenses of owning a second home such as insurance, property taxes, maintenance, repairs, property management fees, etc.

8. Are you out of credit card debt? If you have paid off outstanding and high interest credit card debts, then purchasing a second home may make sense.

But if you’re still struggling to pay your debt, you may need to put buying a second home on hold. 

The bottom line

If you’re thinking about buying a second home, whether it is for investment or vacation, be prepared to save some money, budget for expenses, and come up with a bigger down payment.

More importantly, spend as much time, if not more, researching for the home just as you did when your purchased your primary home.

Speak with the Right Financial Advisor

  • If you have questions about your finances, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
  • Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Health Insurance

Whether you are acquiring it through your employer or on your own, shopping for health insurance coverage is a task that many adults will be faced with at some point. Health coverage is not a one-size-fits all amenity, and it comes in many forms such as Point of Service (POS), Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and more. 

Buying health insurance is a big commitment, so do the research and look over all your options before making any hasty decisions. Technical information about different health insurance policies can be overwhelming, which is why seeking the help of a licensed insurance agent or a health insurance broker might be your best bet. In the following sections we will discuss ways you can prepare to meet with a health insurance agent as well as what questions to ask. 

How to prepare to meet with a health insurance agent 

Health insurance exists to protect us financially when we get sick or injured, which is why it’s so important for you to look at plans that fit the unique needs of you and your family. Whether you are an employer shopping for insurance plans for your employees, or just an individual browsing your options, choosing a caring agent who takes their job seriously is key to finding the right plan. To start, you will want to work with an insurance agent who is experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Finding the right agent to work with isn’t the only important piece of the puzzle, you’ll also want to do your part as well. Coming prepared to the appointment will help things run more smoothly and will ensure that you to ask the right questions. 

Before meeting with the insurance agent, make sure that you:

  • Know how much you are willing to pay: Before your appointment with an insurance agency, you should consider how much risk you want to assume for yourself versus how much risk you want the insurance company to assume for you. In other words, would you rather make higher monthly insurance payments and have a lower deductible or would you rather pay a lower monthly insurance payment and have a higher deductible? If you’re okay with paying a hefty deductible during a medical crisis, then you might consider choosing a plan with a lower monthly payment. On the other hand, someone who needs more consistent medical care might opt for a plan with a lower deductible. 
  • Research the insurance agency that you will be doing business with: Ask friends and loved ones for feedback on the agencies they’ve worked with and find out how their experience was. If you are an employer, do some research to see what agencies other companies do business with. The important thing is that you choose an agency that you trust. 
  • Know what to bring with you: In order for the agent to help you the best they can, they will need to know as much information as possible about yours and your family’s medical history. The agent will want to know about any of yours or your family’s medical conditions and personal habits such as drinking, smoking, diet, etc. Call in advance and find out exactly what you need to bring. Be truthful and thorough so that your agent can find the best health insurance policy for you. 
  • Make a list of the questions that you will want to ask: It’s easy to get overwhelmed during these appointments. Writing down your questions will not only help you to be more organized, but it will also lower your chances of forgetting to bring up important topics.  

Questions to ask your health insurance agents

Before meeting with a licensed insurance agent, you should write down a list of questions that you want to have answered during your appointment. Here are some questions you should be asking your agent about your insurance before buying:

    • How much will it cost? This is probably the most dreaded part of the conversation, but it has to be discussed! The overall cost of your health insurance policy will depend on your premium, deductible and out-of-pocket-max. When browsing through plans, you’ll want to take notes on how much these three items will cost up front, because each plan varies in rates.
      • Premium: Health insurance premiums are rates that you will pay every month in order to secure your coverage. The initial payment you receive will be a premium, and will continue monthly. 
      • Deductible: If your plan has a deductible of $2,000, then that means you will be responsible for paying the first $2,000 of health care before your plan begins covering certain costs. Once you pay your deductible, you’ll pay significantly less for your health care. 
  • Out-of-pocket max: This is basically the maximum amount of money that you will ever have to be responsible for paying while covered—as long as you stay in-network, that is. Let’s say your out-of-pocket max is $5,000, but you end up needing surgery that costs $30,000. You would only have to worry about paying $5,000. Additionally, if you’ve already reached your $2,000 deductible, then you would only have to pay $3,000. The purpose of an out-of-pocket max is to protect you from having to pay extremely expensive bills, but remember—the surgery would need to happen at a medical facility that is in-network.  
  • Is my current doctor covered? If you’re already receiving health care, you’ll want to know if your current doctor is a part of any prospective insurance company’s network of health providers. This information should be fairly simple to find out but could be an important factor in your decision. If you are currently taking any medications, you’ll also want to ask your agent to check the formulary to see if your prescriptions are covered.
  • Who do I contact when I have questions? It’s important to find out if your prospective health insurance company has a customer service team you can call or message when you need to inquire about bills, claims, copays or anything else insurance-related. Does the company have a separate phone number to call when you want help finding a health care provider? Is this customer service line automated or will you be speaking to an actual insurance representative? These questions are important to determine what kind of support is available long after you’ve signed a contract. 

What happens during an emergency? When going to see a doctor for a normal visit, you have time to plan and make sure that the doctor is in-network. However, during an emergency, we may not have the same luxury. It’s possible that in a case where you need dire medical attention, the closest health care provider may not be in-network. You should ask about your prospective company’s policy on emergencies and what the standard routine consists of.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Health Insurance is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

The 5 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Woman using best hyaluronic acid serum

Hyaluronic acid has gained a reputation of being a miracle product for the skin, and for good reason. It relieves dry skin, accelerates the healing of wounds, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And that’s just to start. It can be a key ingredient in moisturizers and face masks, or it can be concentrated in a serum that you can apply as part of your everyday skincare routine. 

If you’re looking to give this versatile product a spin, any of the five below are excellent picks that won’t break your budget. (See also: The 5 Best Stay-At-Home Skincare Essentials)

Top 5 Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a best-seller on Amazon and can be used on all skin types. This serum is natural and organic, and improves overall skin texture and brightness. You’ll see a noticeable difference in your skin in terms of plumpness, softness, and balance. And it’s cruelty-free, paraben-free, and without dyes or fragrances. 

It’s also backed by over 15,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $15.00 at Amazon.com

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 Serum

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 Serum is famous for a reason. This brand creates simple, straightforward skincare products for all skin types. The hyaluronic acid + B5 serum has a concentration of 2% for multi-depth hydration in a water-based formula and the B5 also enhances surface hydration.

This serum is cruelty-free and backed by over 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $16.95 at Amazon.com

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid is the perfect blend of ingredients that your skin needs. Vitamin C blends with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E in this advanced formula to target common signs of aging, including dark spots, sun spots, brightness, firmness, wrinkles, and fine lines. And it’s free of synthetic color additives, fragrance, and stabilizers, while dynamic active botanicals like Aloe Vera, MSM, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Witch Hazel, and organic Jojoba oil make this serum feel silky smooth on the skin.

It also has over 15,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $19.99 at Amazon.com

Yeouth Pure Hyaluronic Acid 

Yeouth’s Pure Hyaluronic Acid can diminish signs of dark circles, age spots, and puffiness when used regularly. This formula is made from naturally-derived ingredients that protect and nourish even the most sensitive skin, including delicate skin around the eyes and lips. It boosts collagen production and holds in moisture. 

It’s also cruelty-free and paraben-free, and backed by over 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Currently $21.95 at Amazon.com

Tree of Life Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The Tree of Life Hyaluronic Acid Serum also has vitamin C and vitamin E, and this formula is infused with special anti-aging ingredients designed to further enhance and activate hyaluronic acid’s moisturizing properties. Hyaluronic acid is known for helping the skin stay supple and soft and reducing wrinkles and age spots.

It’s backed by outstanding online reviews, including over 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. 

Currently $10.95 at Amazon.com

And those are our recommendations for the best stay-at-home kitchen essentials. As always, be sure to check Wise Bread’s Buying Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!


Source: feeds.killeraces.com

How to Host a Money Stress Free Thanksgiving

From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated by some of the links that appear in this article. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation of the posting.  Mint Partners had no influence on the creation, direction or focus of this article unless otherwise specifically stated.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. It’s the countdown to Christmas, the first real family gathering since Easter or Fourth of July. For some people, it’s the only time they see their families. For many of us, it’s a wonderful time to celebrate gratitude and to be surrounded by the people you love most.

For others, it’s a stressful, labor-intensive, marathon that only ends when your last uncle leaves. In many instances, the end of Thanksgiving is the best part.

That’s not the only problem. Hosting Thanksgiving is a huge financial endeavor. Feeding a dozen people (or more) can be a huge strain, especially on top of other holiday expenses.

But this year can be different. This year, you’ll be composed, organized and dare I say it, even frugal. This year you’ll actually be glad for Thanksgiving. Want to learn how? Read on.

Ask for More Help

It’s not uncommon if you’re hosting Thanksgiving to take on all the work yourself. Especially if you’re a young adult, hosting your first Thanksgiving is a sign that you’re a real grown-up.

Paying for a Thanksgiving meal for a dozen people can add up quickly and sometimes there’s no reason why you should take on the burden by yourself. Ask everyone who’s coming to bring a side dish while you take on the responsibility of cooking the turkey. If you delegate sides appropriately, you can end up with a meal that not only costs less but is less time-intensive.

If you feel odd about asking people to pitch in, don’t. Almost everyone is happy to help, especially if it means they get to decide how they want to make the stuffing.

Choose Chicken

Buying a turkey on Thanksgiving is a quintessential tradition, but it can also be a costly one. A whole turkey can cost $1.50 per pound compared to the average whole chicken which can be less than $1 per pound.

If your friends and family aren’t die-hard traditionalists, you can probably get away with serving the latter bird. If you really plan ahead you can find a chicken on sale so you spend even less.

If you still want to do a turkey, buy one pound of turkey per guest instead of 1.5-2 pounds. You don’t need to have a ton of turkey leftovers, especially since it’s so expensive.

Aim for Fewer Leftovers

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a meal of Thanksgiving leftovers the next day. I love to pick out my favorites and make a smorgasbord sandwich out of them. But if you’re not careful you might end up with too many leftovers that you can’t use up before they go bad. If this has always been the case, then aim to cut back and have as little remaining as possible. When you do have leftovers, freeze a few so they don’t go bad.

You can freeze anything from cranberry sauce to stuffing to turkey. Dairy items sometimes lose consistency in the freezing process, but it’s still worth trying. When you do freezer meals remember to label them and put them in the freezer right away you won’t forget.

Watch Where You Buy Groceries

It’s always important to comparison shop your groceries, but it’s never more important than on a big holiday. Every store will have its own specials and deals and you might be surprised where you find the best option. My husband and I have recently been shopping a lot at Aldi, a chain more popular in the south in the Midwest. It’s a grocery store without a lot of extra frills so you can find deals way better than any of the other national brands.

We’ve also discovered the secret of ethnic grocery stores where produce prices are often 50% of what I see in my neighborhood grocery store. Before buying your Thanksgiving fixings, check out those stores to see if what you need is cheaper. Remember no one cares if you’re buying generic marshmallows for your sweet potato casserole. They just care that you follow Grandma’s recipe.

If you find yourself spending more on groceries, you may want a credit card that helps you maximize your rewards. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.

Simplify your Meals

If you’re like me, you probably have a variety of picky eaters in your family. Some people are vegan, some are vegetarian and some are changing their diet every week.

That can make it tempting to make a few different kinds of the same meal to please everyone, but making green bean casserole for your Whole30 aunt and a version for everyone else just isn’t cost-efficient. Take everyone’s diet into account and find a version that will suit everyone instead of making slightly different ones. You don’t need to be like Monica from Friends making three different kinds of mashed potatoes so Ross, Phoebe, and Joey will all be happy.

Use Easy Decorations

Everyone wants the Martha Stewart-Thanksgiving centerpiece, but few of us are that crafty. Instead, use squash in a decorative bowl as your centerpiece. It’ll look more natural and minimalist. Plus you won’t have to throw away the decor when the meal’s over.

If you have little cousins you can also enlist them to make pretty decorations before the meal gets started. If you do decide to buy decorations, make sure you store them properly so they can be used next year too.

Skip the Fancy Dinnerware

I’m one of those millennials who skipped the traditional bridal registry in favor of a honeymoon fund so I never got a ceramic gravy boat or silver platter when I got married. That means that when I host people I put chips in a mixing bowl and leave the dip in the package it came in. So far I’ve found that none of my guests care how I’m serving the food as long as it’s good.

Your Thanksgiving family and friends won’t mind either. Don’t feel like you have to rush out to get serveware that matches. If you truly don’t have a large enough platter head to Goodwill or a thrift store where you can find all those items for just a few dollars.

The post How to Host a Money Stress Free Thanksgiving appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

15 Home Business Ideas & The Free Courses You Need To Get Started

Are you looking for a work from home job or some at home business ideas?

If so, then I have a great list of free resources, such as courses and guides, that will help you find the best option and learn how to get started. Plus, all of the courses and guides in this article are free!

home business ideasIf you’re looking to make extra money, or even a full-time income, working from home is a great option. There are lots of realistic home business ideas that allow you to work on a flexible schedule.

In fact, around 50% of U.S. businesses are home based, and that number is expected to grow well into the future.

But, many people don’t know what kind of options are available or how to get started with their in home business ideas.

This article is a good starting point because I’m going to tell you about 15 different profitable home based business ideas and link to free courses, workshops, and guides that will help you kick off each of these ideas.

There are lots of valuable paid courses out there, but if you’re not sure about an idea, you might not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a course. That’s why free courses and guides are a great way to start.

You can learn more about each of these small business ideas, learn some of the basic skills, how much money you can earn, and more. You get to test these ideas a little bit before you invest a lot of time and money.

No matter what kind of business you decide to start, I think you’ll really enjoy starting one from home. 

I have been working from home since 2013, and I wouldn’t change it for anything! I absolutely love and enjoy running a business from home.

It has allowed me to travel full-time, save enough money to retire early, love what I do each day, and more.

Many people love running home based businesses for those reasons, but it also cuts your commute, allows you to earn money in your spare time, be your own boss, work on a flexible schedule, and more.

So, to help you get started, today I will explain some of the best small business ideas from home and which free online courses can help you get started.

Here is a quick list of the free work at home courses and resources I’m sharing:

  1. Selling Printables on Etsy Ebook
  2. Sell on Amazon Starter Course
  3. How To Start a Blog Course
  4. Build A Voiceover Action Plan From Scratch Minicourse
  5. Start An Online Advertising Business From Scratch
  6. Start Your Virtual Bookkeeping Business
  7. Turn Your Passion For Visiting Thrift Stores, Yard Sales & Flea Markets Into A Profitable Reselling Business In As Little As 14 Days
  8. General Transcription Mini-Course
  9. Become a Proofreader 76 Minute Webinar
  10. Court Transcript Proofreading Mini Course
  11. Podcast Virtual Assistant Workbooks
  12. Make Money Writing Romance Novels ecourse
  13. Pinterest Virtual Assistant Training Workshop
  14. Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Business
  15. Self-Publishing Your First Book

Below, I will be diving deeper into what each option is like, as well as more information about each of those free resources.

Below are 15 home business ideas.

 

1. Sell printables on Etsy.

Are you looking for a smart home business idea that allows you to use your creativity? Are you wondering “What can I sell from home to make money?”

If so, I recommend checking out this option. See, creating printables on Etsy can be a great side hustle because you just need to create one digital file per product, which you can then sell an unlimited number of times.

Printables are digital products that customers can download and print at home. Examples include grocery shopping checklists, gift tags, candy bar wrappers, printable quotes for wall art, and patterns.

You can sign up for this free ebook that helps you figure out where to start when it comes to selling printables on Etsy.

Related content on successful home business ideas:

  • 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More
  • 15 Of My Best Working From Home Tips So You Can Succeed
  • 15 Outdoor Jobs For People Who Love Being Outside
  • 24 Of The Best Work From Home Jobs & How To Avoid Scams

 

2. Sell items on Amazon.

Yes, you can make money selling items on Amazon. Actually, this is one of the home business ideas with low start up costs because you can literally start selling items from around your house. Make money while you declutter your home, what’s not to love?!

The first year that my friend Jessica ran her Amazon FBA business, working less than 20 hours a week total, she made over $100,000 profit!

This free course shows you how to start a profitable Amazon business in a 9-part video course. You’ll learn:

  • The exact steps to follow to set up your Amazon Seller account
  • Two easy and affordable ways to find items to sell
  • How to choose profitable inventory that customers actually want to buy

Click here to sign up for the FREE Amazon FBA Starter Course!

 

3. Start a blog to work at home.

For obvious reasons, blogging is my favorite on this list of profitable home business ideas.

It is a business that allows me to travel full-time, have a flexible schedule, earn somewhat passive income, and more.

Blogging changed my life for the better, and it allows me to earn thousands of dollars a month, all by doing something that I love.

My blog was created on a whim as a way to track my personal finance progress. And when I first started my blog, I honestly didn’t even know that this was going to be one of the best small profitable business ideas out there. At least that’s been the case for me! 

You can easily learn how to start a blog with my free How To Start a Blog Course.

Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:

    • Day 1: Reasons you should start a blog
    • Day 2: How to determine what to blog about
    • Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress – my tutorial makes it very easy to start a blog)
    • Day 4: How to make money blogging
    • Day 5: My tips for making passive income from blogging
    • Day 6: How to grow your traffic and followers
    • Day 7: Miscellaneous blogging tips that will help you be successful

 

4. Become a voice over actor.

A voice over actor is the person you hear but rarely see on YouTube videos, radio ads, explainer videos, corporate narration, documentaries, e-learning courses, audiobooks, TV commercials, video games, movies, and cartoons.

In 2014, Carrie Olsen replaced her salaried day job to become a full-time voice over actor. People are constantly asking her how she got her start and how they can too.

So, she created Build A Voiceover Action Plan From Scratch Minicourse — This free course will help you learn about becoming a voice over artist, even if you’re brand new!

 

5. Run Facebook ads for local businesses.

Did you know that you can make a living from Facebook? With Facebook advertising, you can help businesses expand their reach.

And, yes, this is a skill that you can learn without any prior experience in marketing or advertising.

The going rate for Facebook Ad management is $1,000 – $1,500 per month, per client.

Last year, business owners spent over $88,000,000 per day on Facebook ads. This is expected to continue to grow, and it is one of the largest advertising spaces that exists.

My friend Bobby Hoyt knows a lot about this topic. Bobby is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance blog Millennial Money Man full-time, as well as a digital marketing agency for local businesses that he started in 2015.

Bobby has a free webinar on this topic too. His webinar, Start An Online Advertising Business From Scratch, will teach you how to start this business even if you’re brand new, how to find paying clients, and more.

 

stay-at home business ideas

6. Start a bookkeeping business.

A bookkeeper is someone who tracks the finances of a business. They may handle payroll, billing and invoicing, etc.

These are all skills you can learn without being an accountant or having any previous experience.

Ben, from Bookkeeper Launch, helps people get started as bookkeepers even when they don’t have any experience. Ben is a CPA who founded his business after realizing that many businesses needed better bookkeepers. 

Start Your Virtual Bookkeeping Business will teach you more about running your own virtual bookkeeping business. You’ll learn:

  • Is a bookkeeping business for you?
  • What exactly is a bookkeeping business? What kind of work do they do?
  • How much money can you make as a bookkeeper?
  • How do you find clients?

 

7. Search for items to resell.

Have you ever found something that you thought you could resell to make a profit?

Melissa’s family earned $133,000 in one year by buying and selling items that they’ve found at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets.

Some of the best flipped items that they’ve sold include:

  • An item that they bought for $10 and flipped for $200 just 6 minutes later
  • A security tower they bought for $6,200 and flipped for $25,000 just one month later
  • A prosthetic leg that they bought for $30 at a flea market and sold for $1,000 on eBay the next day

This is one of the home business ideas that anyone can start because you can start off selling things in your own house — I know we all have lots of stuff in our house that we could stand to get rid of. Then once you get a feel for the work, you can start purchasing items to resell.

Melissa has a great free webinar, Turn Your Passion For Visiting Thrift Stores, Yard Sales & Flea Markets Into A Profitable Reselling Business In As Little As 14 Days, that will help you learn how to make money by flipping items.

 

8. Transcribe audio or video content into text.

Transcription is when you turn audio or video content into a text document. You listen to what’s being said and type it up.

There are many businesses looking for transcriptionists too – since general transcriptionists convert audio and video to text for virtually any industry, there really isn’t a typical client. Some examples include marketers, authors, filmmakers, academics, speakers, and conferences of all types.

Beginning transcriptionists earn around $15 an hour and it goes up from there.

You can learn more in the Free General Transcription Mini-Course. In this course, you will learn what it takes to become a transcriptionist, how much money you can earn, how you can find jobs, and more.

 

9. Become a general proofreader.

Proofreading is one of the most flexible and detail-orientated home business ideas that work. All you need to work as a proofreader is a laptop or tablet, an internet connection, and a good eye for finding mistakes.

Proofreaders look for punctuation mistakes, misspelled words, lack of consistency, and formatting errors.

You take content that other people have written and then go over it with a fine-tooth comb. You might be proofreading blog posts, print articles, academic articles, website copy, ad copy, books, student papers, emails, and more.

In one year, Caitlin made slightly over $43,000 by being a freelance proofreader.

Caitlin put together a FREE 76-minute workshop, where she answers all of the most common questions about becoming a proofreader, and she even shows you how to use the most popular tools used by proofreaders around the world. You can sign up for free here.

 

10. Become a court transcript proofreader.

Becoming a court transcript proofreader is a more focused version of the last idea.

Here’s what it’s like:

“Court reporters use digital stenography machines in combination with computer-aided transcription software to write verbatim records of various legal proceedings. They report depositions, trials, hearings, arbitrations, case management conferences, compulsory medical examinations, examinations under oath, and pretty much any other type of legal proceeding. Because of the sensitive nature of legal proceedings, it’s imperative that as many errors as possible be eliminated from transcripts — an especially major error could ruin an entire trial!”

Due to this, many court reporters also use court transcript proofreaders.

There is more training that goes into becoming a court transcript proofreader, and that is why I separated it from the general proofreading job above.

Caitlin, mentioned above, also has a great FREE 7 day course just for people who are interested in becoming a court transcript proofreader.

 

Home business ideas with low startup costs

11. Become a podcast virtual assistant.

There’s a big demand for podcast virtual assistants right now.

This is because there are over 800,000 podcasts out there, and that number just continues to grow. Podcasts are still a pretty new area, and that opens the door for lots of home business ideas that help out with all of these podcasts.

While the podcast host is responsible for recording themselves, other tasks like editing and publication take time, so many podcasters outsource their work to freelancers or virtual assistants. Also, some podcasters may not know how to do those things, or they may choose to focus their time on other areas.

Some of the different services you can offer as a podcast virtual assistant include:

  • Audio editing
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Show note creation

You can sign up here for free information that will tell you more about how to become a podcast VA. In this free resource, you’ll learn exactly what a podcast virtual assistant is, the services you can offer, and starting rates.

 

12. Write romance novels.

My friend Yuwanda Black has found one of the most interesting home business ideas – she writes romance novels, and in one month, she was able to make over $3,000!

With her free Making Money Writing Romance ecourse, she teaches you how to make money writing and self-publishing romance novels.

It is taught from first-hand experience, which Yuwanda has because she’s written and self-published 50 romance novellas since 2013. And, she continues to publish today.

 

13. Work as a Pinterest virtual assistant.

Working as a Pinterest virtual assistant is a growing field as more and more business owners are using Pinterest to grow their business.

Pinterest VAs help businesses improve their reach by doing things like:

  • Designing Pinterest images for a website
  • Helping business owners set up their Pinterest account
  • Scheduling pins because this can be time consuming for the average business owner
  • Brainstorming a marketing plan

Click here and click on “Free Training Workshop” to learn how to become a Pinterest virtual assistant and find your first client. In this free course, you’ll learn what you need to do to get started, what services to offer, and how much to charge as a Pinterest virtual assistant.

 

14. Work as a virtual assistant.

If you’re looking for home business ideas with low startup costs, then virtual assisting is a great one!

Virtual assistance is a field that is growing very quickly and it is one of the very popular stay-at home business ideas.

Not only does the internet allow us to complete more of our daily tasks online, more and more people are working online. This presents a good opportunity for more virtual assistants.

Virtual assistant tasks may include social media management, formatting and editing content, scheduling appointments or travel, email management, and more. Basically, you can get paid to do any task that needs to be done in someone’s business, but doesn’t need to be done by them.

If this is one of the home business ideas you’re interested in, I recommend checking out Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Business. In that link, you’ll receive a free worksheet and workbook that will help you decide what virtual assistant services you can offer (there are over 150 choices!).

 

15. Write your own eBook for work from home ideas.

Writing your own eBook is a great way to make money from home, and there is probably something super helpful that you could write about (even if you think otherwise!).

In fact, my friend Alyssa self-published her first book and has sold more than 13,000 copies.

She is now earning a great passive income of over $200 a day from her book ($6,500 in one month alone!).

Learn more at Self-Publishing Your First Book. This free series will teach you what it takes to publish a book, including the strategies used to launch a book, writing tips, and more.

 

What is the best home business to start? What are the most successful small businesses?

As you can see, there are plenty of different home business ideas out there, and this list is only scratching the surface. There are full-time home based business ideas, and then there are part-time business ideas.

The best business home based ideas are going to be different for everyone. For example, some people are naturally good proofreaders, while others will have a knack for finding the right items for reselling.

I would think about what kinds of things you’re good at, what interests you, the skills you already have, etc. That may narrow the choices down some. 

But, what I love about the home business ideas on this list is that the free courses and guides listed mean you can learn more about any of them without a big investment. You can explore ideas without feeling like you’re wasting your money.

What home business ideas are you interested in?

The post 15 Home Business Ideas & The Free Courses You Need To Get Started appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly

The post Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Everyone wants to get out of debt fast.  But the reality is that it took you time to get into debt, so it may take a while to get it paid off.  But, that doesn’t mean it needs to take you forever to become debt free.

How to Get out of Debt - Tips to pay off debt fast

Debt can cause a lot of stress and financial anxiety. If you are in this situation, it might feel like you will never get there.  You keep paying and your debt balances don’t seem to drop at all!

My husband and I were in this situation a few years ago.  We just felt like we were drowning in debt.  Between two loans, a credit card and home equity loan, we were spending a lot more money than we wanted.

We made the decision that we were going to work ourselves out from under our debt.  It was not going to be easy, but it was something we both wanted.  There were a few things we did to help us reach our goal to be debt free.

 

SIX TIPS TO PAY OFF DEBT QUICKLY

1. One debt at a time

When you are in debt “up to your eyeballs,”  all you can think about is trying to get rid of all of it as soon as possible. It makes you lose focus.

When you start, find one debt on which to focus.  Rather than put an extra $10 on every single debt, send in an additional $50 on just one debt – until you pay it in full.

An additional payment on a single debt allows you to see real progress.  Each month you will see the balance dropping.  That helps to keep you motivated.

Read More: Which Way to Pay off Your Debts

 

2. Automate it

Once your budget is in place, and you have found a way to make an additional payment on your debt, automate the process.

By doing this, you will be less tempted to use any “extra” money towards either another debt or something else.  When the payment is automatically deducted from your account, it removes the temptation not to make the payment you want.

Read More:  Why You Should Automate Your Savings

 

3. Set goals

When we were working out from under our debt, we set up goals and rewards.  One sacrifice we made when working out from under our debt was that we did not have meals out.  It was NOT easy.  We decided to reward ourselves for our hard work by having a nice dinner out when we paid off a debt.

That gave us a goal. Determine what goals you know will work and set them. Make sure they are in writing and visible, so you are reminded of them every single day.

Read More:  The Importance of Financial Goals

 

4. Make more money

We all want to make more money.  However, if you are in debt, you need more income.  More money helps you pay off your debt more quickly.

Read More:  75+ Ways to Make Money at Home

 

5. Decide not to spend more

The most important thing you must do to pay off your debt is to stop spending.  Cut up the credit cards and do not use them.  If you shop out of boredom, find a new hobby or way to entertain yourself.   Before you can get out of debt, you have to stop building up more debt.

Read More: 12 Reasons Why You Keep Overspending

 

6. All excess cash towards debt

When you get any extra money, be it a tax return, bonus, refund – anything at all, toss it at your debt.  It is tempting to use a windfall for a new gadget or shopping trip. However, when you are in debt, you need to have laser focus, and any time you have even $5 left over out of your budget, you pay it towards your debt.

Your debt doesn’t need to take forever to pay off.  You just need to have a plan and stick with it.

 

quickly pay off debt

The post Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com