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Things You Should Know Before Renting A Car & Driving In Morocco

Renting A Car In MoroccoTips For Renting A Car In Morocco Morocco Driving Guide

Renting a auto in Morocco and driving yourself is a great way to experience this beautiful country. But there are a few circumstances you should know before you embark on a road trip.

When Anna and I were planning our first trip-up to Morocco together, we were initially hesitant about leasing a gondola to explore the country by ourselves.

Morocco has a bit of a stature for crazy driving( and moves !).

But the more we experimented, the more we recognized hiring a car in Morocco wouldn’t be as difficult as we supposed, plus it would save us a lot of money.

We love the freedom of road journeys and scheduling our own excursion schedules. Morocco is such a diverse country that it became impression to tariff a vehicle so we could stop anywhere exploring regional villages, mountains, and deserts at our own pace.

Here are some important tips-off we learned from our experience renting a vehicle in Morocco, to help you save money and bide safe while driving all over the country!

What To Know Before Renting A Car In Morocco Matt & Anna in MoroccoDriving in Morocco was Awesome! Should You Rent A Car In Morocco?

Hey, if you’re a fan of bus tours, by all means, become book one. It’s a respectable course to see Morocco if you don’t have a lot of time.

No planning , no driving, merely sit back and make someone else do all the work!

But if you’re like me, you prefer the challenges facing independent travel.

True adventure, with no prepare planned or timetable. Driving around Morocco with the freedom to stop anywhere fun you happen to find along the way.

If that’s the kind of traveler you are, leasing a gondola in Morocco is the way to go!

Just keep in mind that driving times in Morocco can be longer then Google tells you. It helps if you have someone else to split the driving with.

Another nice thing about having a car was the ability to store events in the stalk, so you can explore metropolitans with small daypacks rather than lugging around a beings backpack or suitcase.

How to Rent A Car in MoroccoStarting our Road Trip in Marrakesh Where To Rent Your Car In Morocco

The best place to book your gondola is Discover Car Hire. They probe both local and international gondola rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to hire a gondola in Morocco.

We leased our automobile from the popular metropoli of Marrakech, taking a Southern road trip route towards Ouarzazate before pate on to Merzouga and the Sahara desert.

From the desert we drove North to the blue city of Chefchaouen for a few epoches, ultimately ending in Fez where we drooped off the car and flew out of the country. However there are many different types of routes you can take.

Camel Crossing Sign in MoroccoWhy Did the Camel Cross the Road? Car Rental Insurance In Morocco

Some of the rumors about driving in Morocco are true, and people can drive crazy now. That’s why I most recommend getting full insurance coverage.

Typically, rental autoes in Morocco come with a basic Conflict Damage Waiver( CDW ), but this isn’t exactly policy, and merely extends the car for up to 10,000 dirhams ($ 1000 USD) value of damage.

While you can often save money if you book your automobile with a credit card that includes car rental insurance, you Really need to read the fine print, because countless parties mistakenly assume their card extends them in Morocco.

If you get in a wreck driving in Morocco, rejected full coverage, and you suddenly learn your credit card doesn’t actually cover the damage — you’re shafted. I can’t tell you how many travel horror stories I’ve heard like this…

It’s why I frequently pre-book full coverage online for about$ 9 a period. It’s cheaper than at the counter — and then you won’t have to worry about coincidences at all!

Moroccan Road Trip in a Rental CarDriving through the Moroccan Desert How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Car In Morocco?

Renting a gondola in Morocco is going to cost you around $25 – $40 USD a date, depending on the type of car you get. Our 4 doorway sedan was about $30 per day.

I recommend lease a auto with an actual trunk( no hatchbacks) to hide your luggage from prying noses. It helps foreclose break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Gas( petrol) premiums in Morocco might seem inexpensive to Americans, but remember that the rest of the world paraphrases gas in Liters , not Gallons( 1 Gallon= 3.78 Liters ).

Currently, gas expenditures about$ 4 per gallon in Morocco. Remember that diesel vehicles are often cheaper in gas intake than regular gasoline too.

Age Requirements For Renting A Car

The minimum senility for driving in Morocco is 18 years old, however most car rental companies enforce their own age limit of 21 year olds to hire a car.

Cliff Overlook on Morocco Road TripStopping Anywhere is One of the Perks of Renting a Car Moroccan Driving Laws Tourists Should Know

The speed limits in Morocco are generally 60 kph in urban areas and 120 kph on highways. Police raced baits are very common, so pay attention to your speed.

I was actually gathered over for rush during our artery trip outside Ouarzazate, but they let me go after paying a small “fine”( bribe ?) of 150 dirhams( about $15 USD ).

You might also encounter the occasional police roadblock, but often they are only gesticulate sightseers through. Or they’ll simply ask you where you’re headed.

Moroccans drive on the right side of the road, just like in the United States. So you shouldn’t have any issues there( unless you’re British !).

International Driver’s License

No, you do not need an international driver’s license to drive in Morocco or payment a vehicle there. Just bring your passport, debit card, and your driver’s license from your home country.

Winding Roads in MoroccoSwitchbacks in the Atlas Mountains Tips For Driving In Morocco

Learn how to navigate the roundabout! Morocco is full of circuitous rather than stoplights, and if you’re brand-new to them, you might piss off the locals or come in a fender-bender.

Road traffic in Morocco comes in all types, sizes, and categories! Be prepared to dodge scooters, over-filled trucks, bus, bicycles, mules, sheep, camels, pedestrians, and more. It can be mayhem at times, especially in the cities.

Honking your horn in Morocco is a form of daily communication. It implies all sorts of things , not only” get out of my nature !” Honk to thank beings for letting you delivers, or to encourage camels to cross the road. Don’t be afraid of your tusk!

Avoid driving your rental car at night in Morocco. Street lighting is minimal, and artery brands can be too. Not to mention beings or animals abruptly appearing in the middle of the road.

Many Moroccans will use their turn signals to let you know when it’s safe to pass them. For instance, a big slow moving truck going uphill. They’ll affect their blinkers when the road is clear onward, so you don’t have to guess.

Car Rentals in MoroccoDriving in Morocco can be Hectic! Advice For Renting A Car In Morocco

Don’t diary a automobile without read the company recollects. You’ll meet spate of bad recollects for every company( parties love to complain online ), but try to pick one with the LEAST bad recollects. You may not always get the attain/ modeling/ type of car you booked. If they give you a smaller car, or a manual when you asked for an automated, be assertive and ask for an upgrade. Beware of inexplicable” cleaning fee” hidden fees. If it’s not in your contract, you don’t have to pay it. English is not spoken widely. You’ll have an easier time if “youre talking about” some French or Arabic. Communication isn’t inconceivable, but be patient. Inspect your vehicle completely and record video on your smartphone pointing out damage before “youre moving”. This is a backup if they try to charge you for impairment that was already there. Fee special attention to the interior extremely. A common rental car swindle is getting billed for” cigarette burns” on the seats — that they conveniently “forget” to distinguish on the original shattering assemble. Start sure your tank is full before you leave. Some car rental companionships in Morocco will start you with an empty-bellied gas container, forcing you to fill up immediately. Expend Google Maps on your smartphone for guidances. Bring your own hands-free adapter and buy an Moroccan SIM card at the airport.

Enjoy Your Moroccan Road Trip!

Exploring the small villages, concealed valleys, colorful mountains, and vast deserts of Morocco in a rental automobile was certainly the right choice for us.

Self-drive road jaunts get off the beaten track to see thoughts most people miss!

Check Car Rental Prices& Availability In Morocco Travel Planning Resources For Morocco Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera paraphernalium, and other handy movement accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find considers on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Payment A Car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing gondola premiums to find the best deal. They scour both local& international rental companies.

Work Accommodation is my favorite inn search engine. Or fee suites from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I notebook inexpensive inns online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term excursions. Protect yourself from possible gash& fraud abroad. Read more about why you should always carry advance guarantee.

Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Morocco Suggested Reading: In Arabian Nights

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Renting a car in Morocco isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow my tips for a successful road trip.

Renting a car in Morocco isn't as scary as it sounds if you follow my tips for a successful road trip.


Tips For Visiting Chefchaouen In Morocco My Favorite Travel Quotes Of All Time Travel Jobs That Let You Work Abroad How To Pick A Great Travel Backpack

Any questions about driving or hiring a car in Morocco? Are you planning a street expedition there? Drop me a letter in specific comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond escapade blog.

Read more:

Teach a Craft Or Run Errands — Plus 6 Other Gigs Perfect for Seniors

Older workers are re-entering or staying in the workforce in the highest numbers in decades. And many of them are giving the gig economy a shot.

According to the latest workforce projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the participation rate for seniors age 65 and up has increased nearly 20 percentage points since 1996.

Flexible work arrangements through side-gig apps and work-from-home jobs are making the transition easier. The customer-service and retail industries are also tapping into this burgeoning population of workers with targeted recruiting through AARP and churches.

All this amounts to a lot of competition among employers — and ripe job opportunities for retirees.

8 Jobs For Retirees

From errands to English-teaching or from ride-sharing to renting, these part-time jobs for seniors are tailor-fit for any older worker who wants to make a little extra money.

1. Become an Airbnb Host

Got a spare room, apartment, house ― even a tent in a serene backyard? You can rent it out for extra cash on Airbnb.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows folks to list their space for short-term rentals. Airbnb, after all, is short for Air Bed and Breakfast, which refers to the co-founders’ initial idea of charging guests to stay on air mattresses to help pay their San Francisco rent.

In our guide to becoming an Airbnb host, staff writer Carson Kohler outlines all the do’s and don’ts of hosting on Airbnb. The five big tenets to qualify are:

  1. You must be able to provide the essentials, including toilet paper, soap, linens, and at least one towel and pillow per guest.
  2. You must be responsive to your potential guests, answering requests and inquiries within 24 hours.
  3. You should accept reservation requests when you’re available.
  4. You should avoid cancellations. In fact, the Airbnb cancellation policy is pretty strict — you’ll find it outlined in our guide above.
  5. You should be able to keep a high overall rating from guests.

Before listing your home or apartment online, be sure to check with your local government, which may regulate or outright ban short-term rentals.

While there is no cost to register your rental, some things to consider are fees Airbnb charges every time someone books your space, in addition to municipal short-term rental taxes. Depending on your area, taxes and fees could reach as high as 21% of your listing price.

2. Chauffeur With Uber or Lyft

An smiling older woman drives a car.

By now, you probably know the gist of driving with ride-sharing services: You use an app to connect with people who need rides. You drive them somewhere in your own car, and they pay automatically through the app.

The two biggest players in the space — Uber and Lyft — have an intense rivalry, but both apps are fair options if you’re just starting out.

Each app is fundamentally the same for drivers: You log in when you want to work, wait for a notification that means someone’s hailed a ride, then pick them up and drop them off at their destination. You earn money based on how many rides you take, and you automatically get paid each week (or more often, if you choose) through direct deposit.

To become a driver, applicants need:

  • To be at least 21 years old.
  • A four-door automobile, 2002 or newer.
  • A valid U.S. driver’s license.
  • At least a year of driving experience.

Beyond that, senior editor Dana Sitar breaks down the nuances in our Lyft vs Uber guide.


3. Rent out Your Car

If you don’t feel like chaufferring others around — or driving at all, for that matter — you can rent out your unused car.

If you try to do that on your own, you’ll probably invalidate your insurance. And you have to find customers.

But companies like GetAround and Turo will find the customers for you and provide the insurance. Even General Motors launched a car-sharing service called Maven for owners of a GM vehicle (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC) that’s a 2015 model or newer.

Creating an account with all three companies is free.

Listing your car on GetAround costs $20 a month, plus a one-time $99 installation fee for a remote receiver to unlock your car for customers. Maven and Turo don’t charge monthly fees but take a percentage of earnings from your listing.

According to Maven estimates, renting out your car for a day could earn you between $80 and $225 depending on the model.

Payout is in as little as five days (for Turo) or as much as a month (for Maven).

4. Run Errands for Others

Through side-gig apps like TaskRabbit and Postmates, getting paid to run errands is as easy as it’s ever been. With both apps, users can browse through a list of tasks that locals need help with. Grocery runs, picking up a package from the UPS store, taking someone’s animal to obedience training — all fair game.

Postmates is focused on delivery-related tasks. You can deliver via car, bicycle or foot. Just create a free account, then you’ll receive a welcome kit in the mail within a week (a free delivery bag and a prepaid card to make your purchases). Link the card to the Postmates Fleet app, and you’re off to earning extra money.

TaskRabbit works a little differently. The services are much broader, including home improvement, maintenance, administrative, cleaning, event planning and — of course — delivery and other errand-related tasks. Creating an account is also free.

Income from both apps varies on a task-by-task basis. There aren’t any minimums in the amount of tasks you’re required to complete, either. You’ll be able to see the rates and choose to accept them before embarking on the errand.

While not average earnings, some high-performing users make more than $2,000 a month. See how these Taskers made thousands using TaskRabbit.

5. Teach Your Craft at Michael’s

A ship in a bottle rests on the sand at a beach.

Can you knit? Do needlepoint? Build a ship in a bottle? These crafts, once thought of a throw-backs, are back in a big way.

The arts-and-crafts retailer Michael’s unveiled its Community Classroom in late 2018. The program offers a way to connect local “Makers,” aka people skilled in hands-on crafts, to teach at the nearest Michael’s. It’s up to the teachers, however, to recruit students for their classes. Michaels splits the profits from student registration, with Michael’s keeping 30% of the course price, and the teachers pocketing 70%.

The program is still in beta as it expands to all U.S. Michael’s locations, but most Michael’s stores currently offer it. No previous teaching experience is required and the program is open to everyone — not just Michael’s employees.

To become a Community Classroom instructor, submit a proposal that includes:

  • A detailed description of what you plan to teach.
  • A personal bio that explains your expertise, including a photo of yourself.
  • Logistics, such as the location, required materials for the lesson, date and time.

Accepted instructors receive Community Classroom ID and a 15% in-store discount.

6. Tutor English Online

English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teachers are in high demand. To keep up, many international education companies hire virtual teachers and offer bonuses if they refer other teachers to their platform. Overall, requirements to become an ESL teacher are pretty low.

In most cases, teaching English online requires a bachelor’s degree (in any field) but not always. Several companies hire ESL teachers with associate’s degrees, or no degree at all.

To qualify, ESL teachers must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be fluent in English, usually with citizenship from a native-English-speaking country.
  • Have a smartphone, computer or tablet with high-speed internet access.
  • A high-school diploma.

Teachers who meet the minimum requirements can expect hourly rates between $10 and $16. Top-performing or well-credentialed candidates frequently make more than $25 an hour.

Prefered candidates have a bachelor’s degree, early-morning or late-evening availability, previous teaching or tutoring experience and a certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

In our guide to teaching English online, we dive deeper into the job requirements plus offer specifics on seven of the top ESL companies.

7. Work at Your Favorite Store

As the labor market remains tight, companies that would normally fill customer service positions with teenagers have flipped the script, instead opting for seniors who have decades of soft skills well-suited for the roles.

In-demand industries include fast-food restaurants, retail stores and call centers. Companies with frequent national hiring events (typically near the holiday season at the end of each year) include Aldi, Amazon, Gap, Inc., Sitel, Target, Taco Bell and UPS.

Pro Tip

Job-hunting trends are always in flux. Don’t know where to start? AARP has loads of resources, including the Back to Work program for people re-entering the workforce after 50.

Never attended a big hiring event? We covered all you need to know to land a job at an in-store hiring event near you. Big things to remember: do your research before the event, come with some questions and dress to impress. A copy of your resume won’t hurt, either.

8. Work From Home

Rather not work in a store? Snag a work-from-home job. Several of the companies mentioned above hire remotely, and overall the remote workforce is booming.

The most popular remote jobs are in customer service. In these gigs, workers typically respond to customers over the phone, via email or through instant messages. Tracking trends in customer complaints and questions are a large part of these roles as well.

Pro Tip

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

Companies that frequently hire remote customer-service jobs include AAA, American Express and Apple — as well as several others that don’t start with the letter A.

There are many other remote job opportunities out there besides customer service, too. Other popular fields include IT, media and marketing.

Basic computing skills are needed for all remote jobs, and your home office could need a little updating to land certain gigs. Before you apply to your online dream job, review what home-office essentials are commonly required by remote employers.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

Staff Writer Carson Kohler contributed to this article.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Lion King Sir John x Luminess Cosmetics Collection Is Here!

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A Peek Into May at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

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It was Spirit Week at Kaitlynn and Silas’ school and they had so much fun planning their outfits. This was crazy sock day and Silas wore peanut butter and jelly socks while Kaitlynn wore movie popcorn and Sprite socks.

You can see some pictures and a video of their Prehistoric costumes here.

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Silas made a tornado simulator (just like Kathrynne’s) for his Science Fair project. He worked so hard on it and did the lion’s share of the work himself.

He just needed our help with putting the simulator together and doing some of the research for his report and board (since he’d never done a school project quite at this level before).

high energy

Kathrynne and I flew to Utah for me to speak at the Everything Food conference. I love it when it works out for me to take one of my kids with me!

High School

I loved getting to speak on one of my very favorite topics — increasing your engagement with Instagram. After taking almost two years off from doing any conference speaking, I said yes to some opportunities again this year to see how it would feel to be back on the road.

We created some very clear boundaries of what I would say yes to in order that I wouldn’t completely exhaust myself (like I did unintentionally back when I was traveling and speaking a lot more!) and y’all, I just LOVED being back on the road getting to speak again. And I came home fired up and excited for the next speaking event — yay!

I’m excited and hopeful that I’ll continue to find it life-giving because I so love getting to meet you all in person. It’s one of my very favorite things! (Psst! If you’ve asked me to speak at your event in the past few years and I’ve said no, go ahead and ask again because I just might say yes now that I’m in a better place with more capacity and better personal boundaries!)

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She’s 14 and she loves hanging out with me.

I don’t say this to gloat, because just between you and me, I’ve made a ridiculous amount of mistakes as a mom.

I say this to push against the commonly touted belief that the teenage years are awful and hard and miserable. That you just grimace and hold on and try to make it through.

Honestly, yes, there are challenges. Yes, it’s like learning a completely new dance…

It’s letting go and seeing your child no longer need you like they once did.

It’s giving your teen space to learn and process and make mistakes.

It’s listening a lot more and instructing a lot less.

It’s realizing she is growing wings and, much as I want to, clipping her wings to selfishly keep her close to me will only hurt us both in the long run.

It’s a new dance and some days I misstep. But I’m loving it and so grateful for these beautiful years.

Mamas of littles, don’t dread the teen years. I’m here to tell you that, so far, they’ve been pretty amazing!

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After we got back home from Utah (which was absolutely breath-taking, by the way!), I took Kathrynne and a group of her friends to see the new Avengers movie.


We went to TopGolf for Silas’ birthday.

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10 years ago, I gave birth to this high energy, insanely extroverted BOY!

He brings so much life to our home and he is friends with pretty much everyone he meets. (Oftentimes, we’re out somewhere and he’ll holler out to someone he sees that he kind of knows from somewhere. I’ll be all, “Who is that?” And he’ll respond with something like, “Oh, I met him once at the park two years ago.”)

But despite his incredibly outgoing personality, I love that he is still very much a Mama’s boy.

In fact, one Sunday recently, he was telling me about how one of the men on stage has grown kids in multiple countries (he had read his bio in the church program.) I said, “Maybe that will be you all someday.” He gave me a shocked look and was like, “Never, Mom! I have to live close to you!”

He has decided he and his wife will live on our street so he can come spend time with me every day.

I love this boy so much! Being his mom has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

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TopGolf rolled out the red carpet for his birthday — including banners, a birthday card, a shark dressed up, and free Injectable Donut Holes.

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One of the highlights of May was getting to interview our pastor on the podcast. Have you listened to his episode yet? It was one of the highest-downloaded episodes yet.

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Kathrynne had her 8th grade banquet at school in May. It was such a special time of the teachers speaking words of blessing over each of the students and commissioning them as they move up to high school.

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I posted this on Instagram:

She doesn’t like me to talk about her or share her pictures much online. And I 100% respect that.

But y’all, I wish you could meet this girl. (Warning: Sappy proud mom post forthcoming…)

She’s wise beyond her years. She has the most caring heart for others. And I so often look at her and think, “How did I get to be your mom?”

I have watched her step outside her comfort zone and step out in bravery in big ways this year. I’ve seen her wrestle with her faith and wrestle through difficult relationships.

She’s made mistakes and she’s owned them and asked forgiveness. She’s come alongside kids that are being made fun of and stood up for them. She’s befriended those who are struggling. And she’s worked really hard in school, too.

I know that people say it makes them sad to see their kids growing up. On the one hand, yes, I’m sad knowing that she’s going to be in HIGH SCHOOL in the fall (how did that happen??). On the other hand, I just love stepping back watching her grow up and grow into all that God has called her to be.


We love you, Kathrynne, and we’re so proud of you and grateful to be your parents. ❤️

P.S. I took this picture at her 8th grade banquet. When I looked at it afterwards on my phone, it literally took my breath away! I know she’s growing up, but I sometimes don’t realize just how quickly she is until I see a picture like this!

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And the same day, Kaitlynn had her 7th grade formal. I loved getting to do her hair for it.

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She’d been planning for months what she was going to wear and how she was going to fix her hair. I just love how much she loves beauty.

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Her favorite part of her outfit was her shoes. She ordered multiple different pairs from Amazon to try out (with free returns!) before she landed on these. She’s so different than me in so many ways (hello, I’m all about comfortable shoes!), but I love the life and creativity she brings into our home.

little quarterback

I loved getting to have one of my childhood friends and her family come over for dinner on their roadtrip in Tennessee.

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Kathrynne won a special math award for her class at the end of year awards ceremony.


We kicked off our #100DaysofSummerFun challenge! Want to join us? Here are the details:

As our kids get older, we cherish our time together all together as a family more and more. With this in mind, our family committed to be intentional to do something fun all together as a family every day for the next 100 days.

I’ll be documenting it here on Instagram stories as a way to stay accountable — and maybe to inspire your family to prioritize family fun, too.

It doesn’t have to be something expensive or complicated. You know I’m all about keeping it simple! For instance, it could be something like taking a family walk or having a family basketball game.

Want to join us? Here’s to a fun summer filled with memories!

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“What is the most important thing to remember?” I asked him on the drive to his last playoff flag football game.

“No matter what happens. No matter if the other team creams you. No matter if they have amazing plays & they block & intercept everything you throw. No matter if you miss every rushing opportunity. No matter if everyone is frustrated with you. No matter what, you get to choose how you respond.”

We talked about how to respond with graciousness in the face of defeat. We talked about how the most important thing was to represent Jesus in everything you do.

Then we prayed together & my little quarterback & rusher went out to lead his team in the biggest game of his life so far.

They were playing against the undefeated team. This team was good, really good. I knew that the game would likely be brutal.

But Silas went out and led his team with a quiet confidence and grace — and they WON!!! Then they went on to win the championship game, too!!!

Here’s the thing: Sure I was the insanely proud mama hollering & yelling for my boy on the sidelines. But this wasn’t about the scoreboard so much as it was about the character that my boy displayed.

For an entire year, my prayer for him has been that he would have a gracious, humble spirit. That he would learn to submit to leadership. That he would use his incredibly strong personality for good. That he would rather be kind than right.

He’s struggled a lot with this. There have been a lot of conversations, prayers, & lost privileges.

But the past few months, I have seen so many answers to those prayers on the football field…when a call has been made that he didn’t agree with, when his coaches asked him to do things he didn’t want to do, & when his team lost.

He’s had opportunity after opportunity to be kind rather than right, to be gracious even when he wanted to be angry.

It might have just seemed like two Flag Football games on Tuesday night with 9 & 10 years olds. And yet, for me, it was about so much more than that.

Mamas, keep praying for your strong kids. Keep having the hard conversations. Speak life. Believe that God can use their strength and stubbornness for good. Don’t give up!

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Some days, parenting is amazing. Other days, it’s just plain hard.

One night in May, I had come up with the idea for us to take a picnic dinner to Fort Negley for our #100daysofsummerfun activity for the day.

Instead of excitement over my idea, the response was more like if I had announced that we were going to go spend 3 hours cleaning toilets.

There were bad attitudes and rolled eyes and whining and fighting all the way there. When we got there, there was more complaining, “This looks so boring!” “Why are we doing this?”

Then, as soon as we started down the trail, two children had a big fight and we had to separate them for 30 minutes so they could cool down.

Inside, I was irritated and thinking, “Why are we even bothering to try to do fun stuff together?? Let’s just go home!”

But then I heard that phrase that has become my mantra for parenting, “Lean in and love.”

I walked with one child and said to them, “I know you’re really upset. I’m sorry.”

This opened the door for them to share their heart with me. Frustrations they were feeling over their sibling. Frustrations they were feeling over situations in life. And I just listened.

When they were finished, I said: “You know, I’ve felt like that a lot, too.”

This child looked at me with surprise: “You have?? You don’t ever seem like you are frustrated like this.”

We ended up having a really beautiful heart-to-heart talk together on the trail where I shared some similar feelings I’ve felt recently and I was able to not give answers or solutions, but to just show empathy — which was what they needed.

By the time we headed for the car, everyone was laughing and joking and in much better spirits.

It wasn’t the family evening I envisioned and I don’t think the kids will be begging to go back any time soon! 😉 But I’m so glad we didn’t turn around and leave when we got there (like I seriously considered doing!)

Maybe today you’ll find yourself in a similar situation — whether it’s deal with defiant toddlers, difficult teens, frustrating co-workers, or just dealing with someone with a bad attitude. Choose to press in, press through, and lean in and love. ❤️


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Silas and Kaitlynn both made the honor roll! They’ve worked really, really hard for this and we were super proud of them!

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We loved getting to have a big group of friends over on Memorial Day weekend for a cookout!

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I just loving opening our home (or our backyard, as was the case this time!) to friends — new and old!


We took a fairly impromptu road trip at the end of May to hit three states we hadn’t all visited yet: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

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A little family football game at a rest stop!

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We went to IKEA for the first time ever… and I’m sorry to say that I was underwhelmed.


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Minnehaha Falls was incredible!

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We had such a great time on our trip and I have so much more I want to share about it that I plan to do individual posts on the things we did in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. (Sadly, it was raining the entire time we were in Iowa so we didn’t get to do much while we were there.)

Look for those posts coming soon — hopefully next week!

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An Appreciation of My Father

I’m pretty sure that my father will read this sometime today or tomorrow, or else my mother will read it aloud to him. In either case, I’ll start off with the most important thing: thank you, dad, for everything I’ve written about below and so much more.

My father is in his mid seventies now, and simply typing that is almost unbelievable to me. I have a lifetime of memories and experiences and lessons from him, but an awful lot of them come from my memories of him when he was approximately the same age I am now, so I guess that realizing this lately – that my earlier memories of him are from when he was roughly the same age that I am now – has caused me to think a lot about him, the kind of person he’s been, the life he’s led, and the lessons that I’ve learned from him.

My most vibrant memories of him from when I was young was that he was pretty much constantly busy with something. He had a factory job where he seemed to be constantly switching shifts and alternating between working overtime and having periods where he was laid off. Almost every moment when he was at home and not sleeping, he was doing something. He was a part-time commercial fisherman. He had multiple very large gardens, some summers having four or more that were several hundred square feet each. At various times in my childhood, we had a goat, several pigs, a chicken pen and shed full of hens and a rooster, and a bunch of rabbits, all raised for our own food, and he was largely responsible (outside of specific chores he handed down to myself and my brothers) for keeping those systems going. He knew how to handle a lot of different repairs on older cars and would often handle those repairs in our driveway or our garage. He was a pretty good welder. He was really good at foraging for berries and mushrooms in the woods. That’s just a partial list of the things he had going and could do.

Part of the reason he was able to pull all of this off is that he typically worked an evening shift at his factory job, which he did most of the time when I was growing up. This meant that he would go to work each day around 2 in the afternoon, work a roughly 3 PM to 11:30 PM shift, and get home slightly after midnight each night. He’d collapse in bed and then wake up around 7 or 8, spending the morning tackling a seemingly endless list of chores from all of those side gigs, eat lunch, take a brief nap, and then head to work again.

What did I learn from all of that? Work ethic. He kept busy until he was genuinely tired, and then he would rest at the end of the day for a while. There was never much downtime with him; he was constantly doing something, whether it was going to work or working on some project.

Of course, this meant that during the school year, I’d usually only see my father for perhaps a brief moment in the morning each day if he happened to wake up before the bus got there, but usually I wouldn’t see him from Sunday evening until Saturday morning when he was working a full week. My mother was often the only parent around during the week when I was in school through all of elementary school and well into high school when he had enough seniority to consistently get on the day shift.

I knew that he was always working hard for us in an incredibly reliable way. He’d get up, go into work, never be late, and do his job well. He always had plenty of overtime opportunities, too. He never missed work unless he seemed to be on death’s door due to illness. He taught me, through his actions, that a big part of success was showing up reliably and doing what you’re supposed to reliably. When I look at life through that lens, it’s pretty apparent that simply showing up and being reliable in terms of what you say you’ll do is an enormous part of being valued and trusted by others.

When I was younger, I understood why my father wasn’t always there, but I didn’t like it. Whenever I had some sort of event after school or something like that, he was almost always working; the person in the crowd was always my mother and sometimes my maternal grandmother. I recognize now that this experience was part of my motivation to find a flexible career path.

This does not mean my father was absent, oh no. What it meant was that weekends and summers tended to be a giant blur of activity. My childhood involved a lot of mushroom hunting, a lot of fishing, a lot of gardening, and all kinds of things of that nature. On the weekends, I would often tag along with him on whatever he might be doing that day, and I saw the number of things he always had going on.

What really stuck with me about all of this was that my father was really just balancing a number of streams of income for our family all the time. He made a blue collar income from the factory, but when things were good (particularly in the summer), that was supplemented by his fishing income, by having a ton of fresh produce for “free” from the garden (and some of the excess would be sold), and by a few dollars here and a few dollars there from all kinds of things, from collecting aluminum cans to doing a bit of spot welding.

This really inspired me to have a lot of side gigs of my own for just that purpose – to diversify my own income to provide further stability for me and for my family, regardless of what may come. The Simple Dollar started as a side gig. I had (and still occasionally have) a side gig of repairing computers for people in my community. I’ve written books and freelance articles as a side gig. My wife and I have a decent vegetable garden that keeps our food costs low in the middle to late summer. I’ve dabbled in many other side gigs over the years as well, with varying degrees of success. If I suddenly were out of work, my family would not have to suffer without an income for very long, as there are lots of ways I can immediately amp up a different income stream.

At the same time, having a lot of side gigs means developing a lot of useful skills. You have to develop some time management skills. You have to develop some personal interaction skills. You have to develop technical skills for whatever your specific side gig happens to entail. I watched these skills at work all the time as I watched my father growing up, and I’d like to think that, at my best moments, I possess a lot of these skills, too. I can design a website. I can catch a fish. I can grow pretty much anything from seed. I can write a treatise. I can write complex computer code. I can fix a ton of different devices. I can converse with all kinds of people and get along with them. I’m good at managing my time. I’m good at solving the problems life has put before me. I’m good at learning things quickly. Much of that is due to side gigs, and the inspiration for all of that is my father.

My father was very careful with his money in many ways. He was a bit of a collector of random items that he found for free, and he could find uses for all kinds of stuff. He never liked to throw anything away and sometimes that meant an overly cluttered garage and shed, but when something needed doing or fixing, he usually had a tool or an item that would fit the bill. We always used stuff until it broke, and even when it broke, we’d often fix it up and keep on going with it.

I particularly remember my old Nintendo Game Boy, which was a faithful companion of mine on road trips. I used and abused that thing and, over the years, it broke in several different ways. Many families wold have just tossed it out after the first breakage, but not us. My old man would go out in the garage, find some super glue, and get the thing back in working order, or he’d mess around in the battery compartment until the batteries would again stay in place and deliver a charge. It wasn’t junk until it broke and he couldn’t fix it, and even then, we might hold onto the item for spare parts.

Another thing that my father did that didn’t really click with me until I was older was that he boxed out time for genuine leisure. He didn’t like to just sit around doing nothing, but he made sure there was time for doing things that he genuinely enjoyed doing. He would go squirrel hunting. He would go fishing (for fun with a pole, not commercially). He absolutely loved puzzles, both then and now; jigsaw puzzles and logic puzzles like sudoku are his wheelhouse (I actually think this scratches a mental itch for him similar to how strategic board games scratch an itch for me). Camping was a consistent part of growing up; most summers involved at least one camping trip of some length at least until I approached high school age. The important thing to note is that he really blocked off time for these things. There might be things left undone, but if he was planning to spend a few hours fishing one day, that time was sacrosanct and we went fishing.

Perhaps more than anything, though, his love for reading and learning new things has rubbed off on me. He’d read the newspaper virtually every morning, and still does. He’d dive into articles and editorials on things he knew little about just to learn what they were about. Most evenings, when he was physically tired but his mind wasn’t ready for bed yet, he’d kick back with a book of some kind for half an hour or so – often it was a western, but it could be some nonfiction book about gardening or, sometimes, a magazine on any sort of topic.

What do I do when I get up each morning? I usually read for a while, usually for the purpose of learning something, to get my mind going. What do I do before I go to bed basically every night? I read for a while, usually a novel of some kind. Those kinds of patterns rub off, and it’s why I make it a point to read where my kids can see me reading. Now, all three of my kids often read in the last half an hour or so before they go to sleep – usually a novel of some kind.

There’s no denying that we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my parents always made sure that there was enough to go around for the things we needed. There were always nutritious meals on the table and clothes on our backs. We didn’t travel much; most of our summer “vacations” were camping trips not too terribly far from home. I only remember two real “vacations” in my childhood, and they were both just two or three day affairs. When I was young, my mother was a stay-at-home mom that made the most out of the money that my father earned, meaning that together they found ways to transform even the leanest money moments into meals and clothing and security and togetherness, the things I most needed as a child.

That doesn’t mean I went without things that I wanted. They made absolutely sure that I always had books to read and things to occupy my mind, as I was an endlessly curious kid.

I also remember a few moments of unexpected splurges and surprises, but it was the rarity and surprise of those moments that really make them stand out. I remember that when I was very young, around six or seven years old, I was very into Masters of the Universe action figures. A local five-and-dime store was going out of business and my father and I went to see what was on sale there. They had a bin that had a whole bunch of Masters of the Universe figures in it and a sign that said $1 each. I didn’t even ask for any – I was just looking through them a bit while my father looked at some other items, but when he came back, he just stood there for a minute, probably figuring out what he could afford in his head, and said, “Get five of ’em.” You never saw a happier seven year old toting around bags with his new action figures in them.

I remember vividly one winter when my father’s factory almost went out of business and they had to lay off almost everyone for several months. Wintertime was really hard on my father’s side gigs, too, so there wasn’t much money to go around. Christmas was really lean that year, without many presents, and I remember sensing that my parents were really worried. I know my father was doing everything he could to bring in money, including doing some rather dangerous ice fishing where he would cut large holes in the ice and dredge for fish. He was using virtually every trick he could think of to keep enough money coming in so that there was food on the table and the mortgage got paid.

When the factory finally started up again, I actually didn’t know about it at first because my father started working a really unusual overnight shift; he would actually leave for work after I went to bed and get home just after I went to school and sleep during the day, getting up about the time I got home from school. From my perspective, things hadn’t really changed at all.

What I do remember is that after about two weeks of this, my father came home from being out and about on some errand and he came into the room with a huge grin on his face and pulled out from under his coat a video game that I had wanted for several months and had hoped to get for Christmas but didn’t.

When I was younger, I just remember the utter surprise of the gift and how excited I was. Now that I’m older, I see how much care went into it. My parents obviously knew what I wanted for Christmas and they couldn’t afford it, but they didn’t forget. They just made Christmas perfectly wonderful anyway, even though they had little money and couldn’t afford the video game I wanted, and then when they could afford it, they remembered and surprised me with it. It wasn’t the video game that mattered, it was the care and thought and love behind it. They loved me deeply, wanted me to be happy, thought about me, and made tough choices in the background so I wouldn’t have to think about them at all. I was loved and cared for even when we didn’t have much, and that’s really what the memory of that video game was all about.

My dad is older now; as I mentioned earlier, he’s in his mid seventies and, like everyone, he doesn’t get around with the speed and vigor that he’s used to. He’s still there for me, though, offering little bits of advice to me here and there and being a wonderful grandpa to my kids. I love watching him sort through coins with my oldest son (the child I have who has an interest in coin collecting), marveling at the growing artistic skill of my daughter (who I firmly believe has the potential to be a professional fantasy artist), having surprisingly deep conversations with my youngest son, and laughing at all of their shenanigans. He won’t always be here, and the thought of my life without him around is just a little sadder, but I know from my own life routines that there will still be a lot of him in the world when he’s not here any more.

There are so many threads from all of these stories that tie directly into the life that I’m leading right now. There are so many great examples and lessons that he gave me that I put to use literally every single day in my life, from how to be a good father to how to keep our spending low, from keeping up a lot of side gigs and projects and hobbies to using stuff until it wears out, from never getting tired of reading and learning new things to being a good husband, much of what I am today comes from him, to knowing how to love and care for your children and your wife without much money by putting care and thought first, and many of the lessons and ideas I’ve shared on The Simple Dollar comes from a awkward little kid with glasses making muddy trenches in the garden with his father or riding alongside him in a pickup truck.

Thanks, Dad, for everything.

The post An Appreciation of My Father appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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My Podcast Production Process, Start to Finish

In this post, I’ll walk through my terminated podcast make process for The Side Hustle Show.

If you’re not familiar with the picture, it’s a top-rated and gifted triumphing business podcast with more than 8 million life-time downloads.

I’ve been develop the podcast weekly since 2013, and though I know this process will continue to evolve, here’s what it looks like today.

podcast production process step by step

The Hook

Every episode starts with what I announce” the rob .” That is, what’s the tilt or fib we’re trying to tell?

Why is it interesting or compelling?

Since podcast growth mostly happens via word of mouth, the hook is critical. Why should someone invest their time in this, and once they do, is it good enough they can’t help but tell their friends about it?

For me, the best-performing episodes are side gyps or marketing tricks who the hell is 😛 TAGEND

Relatable Repeatable Don’t require a huge upfront investment

What are some examples of ” robs” that have doing well?

Financial Independence Fast-Track: How to Replace Your Salary by Buying Mini Businesses 10 Creative Side Hustles that Make Real Money How to Start a Business You Care About — With No Business Ideas and No Money

These episodes have all out-performed their peers( escapades released around the same time ). I accept one reason why is I got the rob right. The material was relevant to the audience and the deed was pressuring enough to download.

The hook is step one. Then I go out and is an attempt to perceive the best person to tell that story.

Guest Selection

The Side Hustle Show is primarily interview-based. That takes a lot of the pressure off me to monologue for half an hour, and instead lets me showcase other qualified and insightful entrepreneurs.

I source patrons in several different ways.

Personal Network

When I firstly started the reveal, naturally my first guests came from my own-small, at that time-personal network. I spidered out from there by asking,” who else do you think would be a good fit ?”

Interesting parties tend to know other interesting parties. Let them fill your guest pipeline.

Even years into doing the demonstrate, this still works. For example, Jacques Hopkins targeted me to the stunning success floor of Nate Dodson, who’s selling $40 k+ per month of an online trend on growing and exchanging microgreens.

Society/ Referrals

Today, many of my best guests come from inside The Side Hustle Nation community. These are parties responding to my emails, attending meetups, or affixing in the Facebook group.

For example, I detected Jodi Carlson, creator of a $ 5k a month part-time girl scout blog, when she are responding to one of my newsletters. I filled Nikko Mendoza, developer of 3D-printed clothing armor at a Side Hustle Nation meetup.

Inbound Slopes

The final source of guests-and perhaps least reliable-is inbound tars. At this phase, I receive various tars a week from people who want to be on the show.

Some of those are great, like Austin Miller’s empire of free homes. But most are pretty lame. They come from PR companies or podcast booking agencies and don’t fully understand the nature of the show.

I set up a standard” pitch form” to pour these through, which has helped.

If you’re struggling to find quality guests, you might check out a free asset like

Vetting Guests

These daytimes, I rarely go into an interview completely cold. In most cases, I’ll do a pre-interview call.

Those 15 -3 0 instant announces aid me estimates 😛 TAGEND

Does this person speak clearly Are they energized about specific topics A general, subjective feel if they’re right for the appearance and public

These pre-interview calls also help me interpret my preserve process and objectives for the show.

If for whatever reason we don’t do a pre-interview call, I generally just listened to one or two interrogations the guest has done on other shows.

Creating an Outline

After the pre-interview, I’ll create an outline based on our conversation and the person’s expertise.

This is more for the sake of my own party, but I’ve found it helps structure the bouts in a way that helps deliver the promised hook.

For example, many Side Hustle Show episode outlines follow this basic structure 😛 TAGEND

Where’d you come up with that theme?( Creation) How’d you get your firstly clients/ patrons/ traffic?( Traction) What happened next?( Swelling) How does the business make money?( Monetization) What’s working today in terms of marketing?( Marketing) What’s next for you/ what are you working on now?( Future) #1 gratuity for Side Hustle Nation.

During the recording, of course we make the conversation flow, but this general summarize improves me steer the bout where I want it to go.


I normally schedule sound recordings while on the pre-interview calls. Otherwise, I use the calendar booking tool ScheduleOnce.

I try to batch all my assembles and recordings on Tuesdays, because that free-spokens up the rest of the week for other projects.

We block off an hour to record, but don’t commonly use the full time.

Established Beliefs and Getting Good Audio

In the docket invite, I send the guests the proposed outline for the episode, along with some greenbacks on what makes a great Side Hustle Show episode.

Among those are the two large-hearted the specific objectives of the present 😛 TAGEND

Put the public first. Help listeners learn about a new business or marketing strategy. This is the ONLY reason they tune in. Showcase your distinct expertise and make you definitely sounds like a genius.

( I created a TextExpander snippet to quickly sort these specifications .)

Lately, I’ve been offering to send clients my favorite fund external mic. This removes the din character variable from the equation so I know they’ll chime great.

Since it’s a podcast-audio is all we’ve got-it’s got to reverberate good. The mic is actually on credit, and I just ask the guest to hang onto it until I have the next client lined up, at which point they drop it in the mail and pass it along.

Day of Recording

When recording day is here, I fire up Zencastr and get to work. Zencastr is a freemium browser-based register implement, that gets better audio than Zoom and theoretically escapes VOIP slows you sometimes get on Skype.

The downside is it’s not perfect; it can still be glitchy, announces can put, and tapes might not finalize.( In such cases, there’s a way for the participants to recover a backup of their audio-thankfully it’s only happened formerly for me so far !)

Local Backup

In addition to having Zencastr movement, I take a neighbourhood backup of my audio line directly into Audacity. I’ll give my writer the choice of tracks to use.


Before we start recording, I expend a few minutes chatting with the guest. The theory here is to make sure we have a strong connection, that they reverberate OK, and to double-check any specific websites or URLs they have to plug, together with how to declare their name.


After the recording, a duet circumstances happen right away.

First, I try and fill in any observes I was taking during the call, and come up with 2-3 large-scale takeaways from the conversation. This helps me in order to establish the intro/ outro later.

The second event is to generate a rough transcription of the interrogation. I use an AI transcription service announced Sonix to get this done.

( Actually I upload the registers to a specific folder in Dropbox, which triggers an email to my VA via IFTTT, who organizes a stereo move from the registers and uploads it to Sonix .)

Sonix isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. For me, it’s basically an instrument to spawn revising the establish easier. I use it to 😛 TAGEND

figure out where to start the interview highlight parts of the conversation to trim

I then legislates the transcription file along to my editor, with my records and highlights.

You can get 100 minutes of audio rewritten free when join through my referral link.

Intro/ Outro/ Ad Scripting and Recording

My next time in the podcast production process is to write the intro, outro, and ad scripts for the register. This can be a little time-consuming, but I believe it’s important.

In the intro to my demoes, I want to accomplish a few cases circumstances 😛 TAGEND

Explain what’s in it for the listener to stick around, and why the person presenting is qualified to teach that. Tell where they can find the substantiate greenbacks or produce magnet for the episode Push my pre-roll sponsors

I try and get this done in the first 2-3 minutes.

After the interview, I 😛 TAGEND

Do another ad blot Present my exceed takeaways from the appearance Offering a call to action for the indicate documents or precede magnet again Thank you for listening, and taunt the next chapter( if I know what’s going to be)

There’s a certain consistency to these elements, that I’ve takens clues from traditional radio on. It lets regular listeners know what to expect when you obstruct a same design and language.

After this is written out, I record my intro and outro in a single track.

I create a show structure outline to let the journalist know which constituents should go where.

Editing the Episode

The next stair is to edit the raw audio and bit all the components of the display together.

For help with that, I use a service announced Podcast Fast Track.( After years of doing it all myself !)

How this works in practice is I upload all the audio registers to Dropbox, along with the Sonix transcription and my establish organize records. Then I just let my editor know the episode is ready for him to work his magic.

After the Edits

Once the writer is done, he uploads the accomplished bout back into a separate Dropbox folder. This triggers an email( IFTTT ftw !) to my columnist, so he can download the audio and drawing the summary and depict indicates for the episode.

Final Listen

I listen to the whole episode start to finish for caliber check. I don’t frequently have much to change in this final check, but will occasionally decorate added slice of audio I don’t think are necessary.

I’ve considered ceasing this step, but every marry weeks I catch something and I’m glad I listened.( I discover material on other shows too, that readily would have been caught if the legion or someone else on the team had given a final listen .)

I likewise check the show memoes and summary to make sure they’re ready to publish.

Upload to Libsyn and Schedule for Release

Once I’m happy with the final audio, I’ll upload it to my media host, Libsyn, and schedule it for release.

That likewise necessitates adding the Smart Podcast Player shortcode to the present records page for the episode.

For episodes that have a specific lead magnet, I overstep that file along to my virtual helper, which is able to then install it via LeadPages to the site.

Release Day

Every Thursday is podcast era! It’s the most exciting day of the week because I know all this work is about to pay off and thousands of people are going to hear the most recent developments episode.

I don’t request or await my client to share their interview, but I do cause them know their episode is live and thank them for joining me.

And most Thursdays, I’ll send a broadcast newsletter email to my register to promote the latest episode and any blog content for that week.

I do this because I’ve seen it work on me; there are a handful of podcasts I just listened to but am not subscribed to. If I get an email from the host exchanging me on their latest occurrence, I’m far more likely to download it and listen, becoming a bigger fan of theirs in the process.

Your Turn

What do “youre thinking about” this podcast creation process? Anything you’d conversion or do differently?

What have you discovered most effective in streamlining the production of your own show?

Pin it for later 😛 TAGEND

podcast production process

********* Stock photo By Branislav Nenin via Shutterstock

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Investing in Bonds 101: A Smart Investor’s Cheat Sheet

Investment conversations typically focus on stocks, but any financial adviser will tell you a portfolio is strongest when it’s diversified. That means investing in more than just stocks — by investing in bonds as well.

Bonds are inherently low-risk investment options, but they also don’t have the high potential earnings of stocks. Instead, they provide balance against high-risk (but high-yield) stocks.

What Are Bonds?

When you need to buy something you don’t have all the money for, you take out a loan. Sometimes, corporations and federal and local governments need to take out loans to fund projects, so they issue bonds.

They promise to pay back lenders (that’s you!) in a set amount of years on the bond’s maturity date, or when the bond ends. A corporation or government body can issue bonds for anything from funding research for a new product to raising money to build new infrastructure.

The issuer of the bond also makes interest payments along the way, typically twice a year.

One exception: zero-coupon bonds, which don’t pay interest until the maturity date. This makes them popular investments for newborns with the idea that they’ll mature in time for college tuition.

3 Types of Bonds Explained

There are three main types of bonds to know about as a beginner: municipal bonds, treasury bonds and corporate bonds.

Municipal Bonds

Municipal bonds are issued by cities, states and other local municipalities to fund projects like building new roads or renovating parks.

That’s why municipal bonds are a double win: Not only are they an investment for your long-term financial portfolio, but as a citizen, you enjoy the rewards of your investment by using the services of your city and state every day.

An added win: Interest on municipal bonds is exempt from federal taxes. When you purchase municipal bonds in your own state, the interest is also exempt from state and local taxes.

One drawback: Municipal bonds typically pay lower interest rates than other bonds.

Treasury Bonds

Also called T-bonds, treasury bonds are issued by Uncle Sam. They are entirely backed by the federal government, and they typically last at least 10 years. They’re tax-free at the state and local levels, but you’ll still pay federal taxes on them.

The biggest draw of a treasury bond? It’s essentially risk-free unless the U.S. government goes under. And if that happens, we probably have bigger things to worry about.

Treasury bonds typically yield similar interest rates as comparable municipal bonds.

Corporate Bonds

Corporate bonds are the riskiest of the three types of bonds, though again, bonds are low-risk overall.

Unlike the previous two categories of bonds, corporate bonds are issued by companies. Purchasing a bond from a company is different from purchasing stock, which gives you partial ownership in that company, whereas with corporate bonds, you’re lending a company funds for specific projects.

The biggest draw of corporate bonds is that they pay out the highest interest rate of the three main categories of bonds.

4 Benefits of Investing in Bonds

Investing in bonds yields several key benefits:

1. They Are Generally Safe Investments

All investments carry risk, but it is very unlikely that the issuer of a government or high-quality corporate bond will default — but if they do, you lose out on that investment.

Because the stock market can be so volatile, bonds can balance out the high risk of stock investments.

2. They Are a Steady Stream of Income

Bonds offer some regularity to your income stream, because you can typically count on interest payments twice a year. This makes budgeting somewhat easier.

3. They Give You the Chance to Give Back

Municipal bonds in particular are appealing because they give you a sense of bettering your own community. The same can be said of treasury bonds, just on a larger scale.

Even corporate bonds can instill a sense of investing purpose if you are passionate about a specific product or brand.

4. They’re Easy to Manage

If you don’t use a financial adviser, playing the stock market can be tough. When do you buy? When do you sell? And how do you do those things?

With bonds, you can earn income just by buying once and letting the bonds mature — although some investors do sell their bonds before the maturity date at a profit.

3 Drawbacks to Investing in Bonds

Bonds are not without drawbacks. Here are just a few:

1. Bonds Aren’t High Earners for Your Portfolio

Bonds are great in terms of stability in your portfolio and balance out high-risk stocks. However, the lower the risk, the lower the reward. Compared to stocks, bond growth is minimal.

Large stocks have had average annual returns of 10% since 1926, while large government bonds earned average annual returns of 5% to 6% over the same period, CNN Money reports.

2. There Is Still Risk Involved

Keeping your money in a money market or savings account carries no risk, as long as the financial institution is properly insured. Bonds, however, carry some risk, though it is small compared with that of stocks. A bond issuer can potentially default on the bonds, meaning you might not earn interest, might lose your principal investment or both.

Another type of risk with bonds is called interest rate risk. When interest rates rise, bond prices — and thus the value of your bonds — could decrease because investors can earn higher interest rates elsewhere. When interest rates drop, your bonds could be easier to sell if they’re paying interest rates that are higher than the current market rate.

Inflation is also a risk: If the interest you’re earning from a bond doesn’t keep up with inflation, you’re essentially losing money, because the value of your investment is going down.

3. Your Funds Are Tied up

When you purchase bonds, you generally need to be committed to investing for the long haul. With savings accounts, you can access your money when you need it, and stocks can be bought and traded as you see fit. Bonds, however, require you to wait until they mature to get the full rewards of the investment.

How to Invest in Bonds

Unlike stocks, which are traded on the public exchange, bonds must be purchased from brokers — unless you are interested in government bonds, which you buy from the United States directly. Knowing if you are getting a fair interest rate can be challenging, but you can check recent rates via the Financial Industry Regulation Authority.

You can use bond ratings from Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s to assess the strength of a bond. In general, you should concern yourself with a bond’s credit quality and its duration.

Individual Bonds vs. Bond Funds

How much money you can invest in bonds depends on several factors. Individual bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury, for example, are sold in $100 increments. Municipal and corporate bonds are usually sold at the $10,000 level or higher, sometimes even reaching $100,000.

Bond mutual funds are an alternative to purchasing individual bonds. They represent a range of investments all poured into a single bucket. If one of the bonds defaults in that fund, you still have the other bonds to protect your investment.

However, when you purchase individual bonds, you will need to thoroughly research the issuers before putting your faith in them.

If you are serious about investing for your future, bonds will typically play an important role in your portfolio — but not the leading role. To figure out the right balance for your portfolio, talking with a financial adviser is a good place to start.

Timothy Moore is a market research editor and freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, travel, pet care and the automotive industry. His work has been featured on, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Summer Vacation!

Well, apparently I need a vacation after my European vacation! I’ve come home to a Real Life in which I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. The yard needs pruning, the house needs cleaning, my body needs exercise, friends need visiting, and this website needs lots of work behind the scenes.

Rather than try to spread myself to thin — my modus operandi — I’m going to do the wise thing: I’m going to take a break. For the next two weeks, I won’t be publishing anything new here at Get Rich Slowly. (I will, however, continue to send out the Friday emails. And I’ll continue to update the Spare Change section on the front page with cool links from other sites.)

While this isn’t an ideal solution, I think it’s best for the long-term. I have a lot of travel coming up later this summer. (I’m basically on the road from August 15th to October 15th.) If I don’t make time now to take care of things, I’ll wish I had.

So, go outside and enjoy the summer sun! I’ll see you again on July 1st.

The post Summer Vacation! appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

The best checking accounts of 2019

My checking account pays me $83 per year for using it.


First, I have an APY that gives me $5 per year. That’s pretty small, but it’s a start.

Then I have an ATM fee reimbursement. All my ATM fees get refunded at the end of the month. If I use the ATM once per month with an average fee of $4, that’s $48 per year.

And finally, my checking account has no foreign transaction fees. I travel internationally twice per year and usually withdraw $500 each time from international ATMs. Some banks have foreign transaction fees as high as 3%. That would cost me $30 for the year. Instead, I pay $0.

Not to mention that I have no minimums and no maintenance fees.

That’s a pretty sweet deal for a checking account.

Our financial lives revolve around our checking account. The majority of our cash and earnings pass through it and we access it all the time. Instead of having a checking account that dings you with fees and limits, get one with the perks that help you live your rich life.

The best checking account for you is largely going to depend on just a few things:

  1. Start with the best default: Charles Schwab checking. This is what I use.
  2. Do you want extra help with saving and budgeting? If so, get Simple.
  3. Do you deal with large amounts of cash or foreign currency regularly? If so, get a bank with a local branch.
  4. Is convenience a priority for you? If so, get a checking account at a bank that you already use.
  5. Do you want a cash back program on your debit card because you’re against using credit cards? If so, get Axos or Discover checking.

The best banks with the best checking accounts

Based on our criteria for what makes a great checking account, we’ve narrowed the options down to this list:

When building this list, we looked at these factors:

User experience

The user experience on a checking account matters a lot.

Unlike a savings account that we might check a few times per year, we’re in our checking accounts all the time. The online and mobile apps need to be decent. Thankfully, most banks have invested in their apps over the past few years, so the overall quality is much higher than it used to be.

We’ve only included checking accounts that have great online and mobile apps.


I see no reason to ever get a checking account with a minimum balance or maintenance fee. Every bank used to have them. And the big banks were the worst offenders. Then some upstart banks released no-fee checking accounts, which forced most banks to remove their fees.

Nearly all the banks in our list have no minimum balance or maintenance fees. And if they do, we’ve made sure to call them out.

In our opinion, there are too many amazing checking accounts without regular fees to settle for an account that does have them.


As you consider the different checking account options, keep convenience in mind. Over time, simplifying your accounts and prioritizing a single bank will become a higher priority.

In the beginning, perks tend to matter more than convenience. Then it tends to flip at a certain point in your financial journey.

Take ATM reimbursements for example. Saving $3-5 every month makes a big difference early on. Then when you reach a certain level, skipping the ATM reimbursement to simplify your life starts to sound pretty appealing.

There’s no right answer here, it comes down to your preference. If you’re not sure, use these guidelines:

  • If you don’t care about having another bank login or you’re setting up your accounts for the first time, maximize your perks. Find the account with the best set of perks.
  • If the thought of managing another account feels like a headache, feel free to sacrifice a few perks in order to get a checking account at a bank that you’re already using.

We looked for checking accounts that either had great perks or other popular offerings that could be bundled together.


Right off the bat, we excluded several checking accounts from our list. Mostly from major banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

While not every major bank is horrible, a few of them definitely are. Wells Fargo committed one of the largest banking scandals of all time. And the list of horror stories from Bank of America is seemingly endless.

Some big banks are decent (like Chase), but we didn’t even consider offers from Wells Fargo or Bank of America. These are terrible banks. No matter how good their accounts, we recommend staying away.

Why APY doesn’t matter for your checking account

Lots of checking accounts promote their annual percentage yield (APY). Get another 0.40% return on your cash, sounds pretty amazing right?

Having an APY is completely worthless on a checking account. It’s effectively zero.

I’ve personally used the Charles Schwab checking account for years, which has a 0.40% APY, one of the highest out there.

And yet it earns me only $5 per year.

Why so little? There’s no reason to sit on a bunch of cash in a checking account. Even if you have a relatively high cash reserve (for whatever reason), you’re much better off putting that cash into a savings account, which gets you an even higher APY.

Sacrificing the $5 that you might make from a checking account APY in order to get another perk that’s more valuable is well worth the cost. When you’re looking through checking accounts, don’t even consider the APY. It sounds good in theory but has no real impact on your finances.

Best checking account reviews

Here’s how our top checking accounts all break down.


Axos has three primary checking accounts, and each has a different set of perks:






Up to 1.25%


Monthly fee




Minimum balance



$1,500 average daily balance to get 1% cash back up to $2,000 per month

Mobile deposit




ATM reimbursement

Unlimited for U.S. ATMs

Unlimited for U.S. ATMs

Unlimited for U.S. ATMs

Foreign transaction fees




Physical branches




The Rewards and CashBack accounts need a bit more explanation.

First, you can’t get an APY and cash back on the same account. You have to pick one or the other by choosing from one of the accounts.

For the APY on the Rewards account, it’s up to 1.25%. You’ll get 0.4166% each time you meet one of these conditions (do all three for a total APY of 1.25%):

  • Get monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more.
  • Use your debit card for a total of 10 transactions per month (min $3 per transaction).
  • Use your debit 5 more times for a total of 15 transactions per month (min $3 per transaction).

On the CashBack account, you have to maintain an average daily balance of $1,500 over the month. The 1% cash back will also only apply to “signature-based transactions.” This means that the debit card has to be run as credit. Confusing right? Here’s another way to think of it: if your debit card is run as a debit card and you enter your pin, you don’t get cash back. You have to pick the credit option each time you use the card. And the cash back is limited to a maximum of $2,000 per month.

At first, the cash back sounds amazing. Cash back on a checking account seems like an incredible perk.

The problem is that the cash back will only apply when you’re using your debit card. With the minimum balance and the “signature-based” restriction, it’s not nearly as attractive as it could be. That’s an awful lot of restrictions when you could simply use a cash back credit card instead. By using a credit card, the cash back rewards will be much higher and with fewer restrictions.

I’d only consider Axos if you’re completely against using credit cards and want a checking card that has a debit card with some rewards. In that case, this is one way to get a cash back program without a credit card.

Even the APY Rewards account isn’t that interesting. In order to get the full 1.25% APY, you have to be using your debit card regularly. And if you’re using your debit card, you’re not using your credit card. The extra APY isn’t worth forgoing a credit card rewards program.

Charles Schwab


  • APY: 0.40%
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursements: Unlimited
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Physical branches: They do exist but there’s usually only 1-2 per city

For perks, Charles Schwab is the undisputed champion.

There are no monthly maintenance or minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees, unlimited ATM reimbursement without any restrictions, and an APY.

If you travel internationally or are looking for the checking account with the best perks, get the Charles Schwab checking account. We can’t recommend it enough.

There is a small catch when opening a Charles Schwab checking account: They require that you also open a brokerage account with them. There are no fees or minimum balance on the brokerage account — it’s completely free. The only requirement is to open the account. You never have to do anything with it. Schwab is hoping that you’ll use them as a brokerage when you’re ready to have one later.

The only real downside to the Charles Schwab checking account is the limited physical branches. If you handle cash or deal with foreign currency frequently, their branches might be extremely inconvenient for you.

As long as you do all of your banking online or get lucky by having a branch near you, get a Charles Schwab checking account.


HSBC has quite a few checking accounts to choose from:

Basic Banking

Choice Checking






0.01% on balances above $5

0.01% on balances above $5

Monthly fee

$3/month regardless of balance

$15/month if minimum balance isn’t met

$25/month if minimum balance isn’t met

$50/month if minimum balance isn’t met

Minimum balance


None with direct deposit or $1,500

$5,000 minimum balance w/ direct deposit or $10,000

$100,000 across accounts

Mobile deposit





ATM reimbursement

None, fee of $2.50 when using out-of-network ATMs

None, fee of $2.50 when using out-of-network ATMs

4 times per statement (U.S. only and doesn’t include NY)

Unlimited (U.S. only)

Foreign transaction fees





Physical branches





Compared to the other accounts in this list, HSBC’s offerings aren’t great. There are monthly fees that are somewhat difficult to get waived, the ATM reimbursement is limited, and the foreign transaction fees are super high. None of the perks get competitive until you’re at the Premier level, which requires a $100,000 balance.

Why include HSBC at all?

One reason: some folks need a truly global bank. If you’re doing business internationally, have homes in multiple countries, or have an international lifestyle, the support of a global bank could be well worth the extra fees and lack of perks.

For most folks, skip HSBC entirely and choose one of the other options in this list.



  • APY: 0.60%
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: Up to $10 per statement
  • Foreign transaction fees: Up to 1% of transaction
  • Physical branches: None

Ally has a pretty solid checking account.

However, it’s not as good as Charles Schwab. First, it has a 1% fee on foreign transactions. That’s a deal-breaker for me when traveling. Second, the ATM reimbursement is limited to $10 per statement. Third, while the APY is higher than the Charles Schwab checking account, the APY doesn’t matter on checking accounts anyway. Lastly, Ally doesn’t have any physical branches at all.

Ally has a good checking account, but you’ll be better off with Charles Schwab.

Capital One 360


  • APY: $0 – $50,000 is 0.20%, $50,000 – $100,000 is 0.75%, and over $100,000 is 1%
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: Up to $15 per statement
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Physical branches: A couple of branches or “cafes” in a few cities

Getting a 1% APY sounds nice but the Capital One 360 Checking tiers make it completely irrelevant.

Why would you have $100,000 in your checking account anyway? Even if you’re sitting on cash deliberately, it should be in a savings account, which will always have a much higher APY. And with the lower APY of 0.20% on lower balances, the value ends up being minor.

Don’t factor the APY into your decision to get the Capital One checking account.

That said, all the other perks for this account are pretty good. No maintenance or minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees, an ATM reimbursement up to $15 per statement, and a couple of physical branches if you’re in a major city.

While it’s not quite as good as the Charles Schwab account, it’s really close.

I’d strongly consider getting a Capital One 360 checking account if I already had a Capital One credit card. Being able to keep my accounts consolidated would be a huge bonus.



  • APY: None
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: None
  • Foreign transaction fees: None but good luck trying to get a Discover card accepted internationally
  • Physical branches: None
  • Cash back: 1% on up to $3,000 of debit card purchases

The Discover checking account is a bland account. There’s nothing bad about it, but there’s nothing good about it either.

It does have two main perks: no foreign transaction fees and cash back. The foreign transaction fees are irrelevant. I wouldn’t even attempt to use Discover when traveling internationally, I stick to a Visa card. The cash back at 1% is nice, but you’d have to skip a credit card rewards program in order to use the debit card. This is only valuable if you’ve decided to avoid credit cards entirely. It’s also limited to $30 worth of cash back per month. That’s extremely low.

I’d avoid the Discover checking account unless I was already using Discover credit cards and desperately wanted the extra simplicity from having all my accounts in one place. Or if I was avoiding credit cards entirely and wanted a debit card with a cash back program.


Chase actually has three checking accounts:

Chase Total Checking

Chase Premier Plus Checking

Chase Sapphire Checking





Monthly fee

$12, waived if you have $500 of direct deposits, a balance of $1,500 at the beginning of every day, or an average balance of $5,000 across your checking and savings accounts

$25, waived if you have an average balance of $15,000 across your checking and savings accounts or a Chase mortgage with linked payments

$25, waived if you have an average balance of $75,000 across your checking and savings accounts

Minimum balance




Mobile deposit




ATM reimbursement


4 times per statement


Foreign transaction fees




Physical branches




The hurdles that Chase requires in order to get the monthly fee waived is annoying. This is the main downside of the Chase checking accounts.

However, they could still be the best accounts for you. I’d seriously consider a Chase checking account if I was also planning on getting a Chase savings account and knew that I’d easily hit their balance requirements in order to get the monthly fee waived. We have a deep-dive on all the best savings accounts here.

Once we factor out the monthly fee, the Premier Plus and Sapphire Checking are both decent offers. APY doesn’t really matter anyway, both have mobile banking and deposits, no foreign transaction fees, and ATM reimbursements. Plus, we get the added bonus of being able to walk into a physical branch since Chase branches are in most cities.

Basically, the Chase checking accounts are a competitive checking account with all the benefits of a major bank. And if you have the Chase credit cards, you could get all your accounts with one bank, making everything really convenient.



  • APY: 0.01% with $1,000 or more
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: $25 to open the account, then no minimum balance after that
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: Up to $15 per statement but there is a $2 fee from USAA on every ATM withdrawal after the first 10 per statement
  • Foreign transaction fees: 1%
  • Physical branches: Branches in Colorado Springs, West Point, Annapolis, and San Antonio
  • Military perks: If you’re part of the military, there’s no initial deposit required, you get a pre-filled 1199A, and you get paid a day early

If you’re in the military, there are a few unique perks that other checking accounts don’t have. But I wouldn’t call them game-changing perks. The 1199A is a direct deposit form. You only have to fill this out once when setting up your new account (unless you switch jobs). This only saves you 15 minutes of time.

Getting paid a day early is kind of nice but only impacts you during the first payment cycle. Then your paychecks will have to last the same number of days as they usually would.

Otherwise, none of the perks are that great. The ATM reimbursement only lasts until $15 and then USAA hits you with a fee after the first 10 per statement. There’s also that 1% foreign transaction fee to watch out for, so you’d want to avoid using this account when traveling internationally.

On the whole, there are better checking accounts to choose from. I’d only consider the USSA checking account if you’re already doing a lot of business with USAA and want to keep your accounts in one place. For example, their car insurance is pretty good.



  • APY: 2.02% on “Protected Goals” with a balance of at least $2,000
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: None
  • Foreign transaction fees: Up to 1%
  • Physical branches: None

Simple does things a bit differently than the other banks. Instead of splitting your balances between checkings and savings, Simple has “Goals” and “Save to Spend” sections.

In other words, Simple is more of a combined checking and savings account with an amazing UI that helps you control your spending.

You’ll set up as many Goals as you want and when you want to hit your savings goals. Like saving $2,000 for a trip to Italy in 6 months. Then Simple automatically figures out how much you need to save and regularly reduces that amount from your Safe to Spend amount.

Your Safe to Spend amount is your total balance, minus your Goals and scheduled bills over the next 30 days. Whenever you’re wondering if you can afford something, simply check the Safe to Spend amount and if there’s enough, go for it. This helps immensely with guilt-free spending.

Simple also has a set of reports to track spending across categories over time.

I highly recommend Simple if you’d like an account that makes it easier to save and budget.



  • APY: None
  • Monthly fee: None
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Mobile deposit: Yes
  • ATM reimbursement: None and Chime has a $2.50 fee for any out-of-network ATM
  • Foreign transaction fees: No fees on foreign transactions but you do get the $2.50 ATM fee since Chime’s in-network ATMs are only in the U.S.
  • Physical branches: None
  • Early direct deposit: Yes
  • Send checks by mail: Yes, Chime will send the check for you
  • Round-up savings: Automatically round up every transaction to the nearest dollar, placing that extra amount into a savings account

Chime is another bank that combines your checking and savings accounts. It’s similar to Simple.

It has a great UI and a nifty way to help you save. It’ll automatically round up your charges to the nearest dollar, putting the difference in a savings account. Saving a few pennies will add up fast. If you’ve had trouble saving in the past, this will help a lot with hitting your savings goals.

You can also transfer up to 10% of your pay into a savings account. While this is a nice touch, it’s possible to set up an automatic transfer between any checking and savings accounts.

On the whole, we recommend Simple over Chime, since Simple has more features to help you with saving and budgeting.

The 5-step process to finding the best checking account for you

  1. Start with the best default: Charles Schwab checking.
  2. Do you want extra help with saving and budgeting? If so, get Simple.
  3. Do you deal with large amounts of cash or foreign currency regularly? If so, get a bank with a local branch.
  4. Is convenience a priority for you? If so, get a checking account at a bank that you already use.
  5. Do you want a cash back program on your debit card because you’re against using credit cards? If so, get Axos or Discover checking.

Step 1: Start with the best default checking account

If we look at the value of perks across different checking accounts, Charles Schwab beats all the other accounts easily. There are no maintenance fees, no foreign exchange fees, unlimited reimbursement on ATMs worldwide, and an APY.

If you’re looking for the most valuable checking account and the following steps don’t apply to you, we recommend getting Charles Schwab.

For the other options that we’re about to walk through, evaluate those accounts against the Charles Schwab checking account.

Step 2: Do you want extra help with saving and budgeting?

Let’s say that you’re earlier in your financial journey and still developing habits around saving and budgeting.

In that case, I strongly recommend giving Simple a try. It’s a combined savings and checking account with an interface built around helping you save. It’ll also figure out all your bills for you, telling you exactly what you can spend at any given moment, completely guilt-free.

Yes, Simple’s APY on its savings account isn’t as high as other savings accounts. And the perks on its checking account aren’t as valuable as Charles Schwab. But the extra support you get with saving and spending is well worth it in my opinion.

Step 3: Do you deal with large amounts of cash or foreign currency regularly?

As much as I love doing everything online, there are two good reasons to choose a checking account that has fewer perks in order to have a bank with a physical branch nearby.

1. Large cash withdrawals or deposits

If, for whatever reason, you deal with large amounts of cash regularly, you really need a physical branch.

Take my friend for example. One of his main hobbies is gambling. He treats it as an expense and always stays within his budget. He’s in the fortunate position of being able to do this.

He heads out to Las Vegas once or twice a year and withdraws a bundle of cash for the trip. Neither of us has personally tried to see how many consecutive withdrawals we can make from a single ATM, but we don’t really want to find out. In situations like this, a local bank completely solves the problem.

If you need to withdraw more cash than a typical ATM can handle even once or twice a year, it’s worth getting a checking account at a local bank.

2. Foreign currency

If you deal with foreign currency regularly, I’ve found it immensely helpful to have a physical branch nearby.

Years ago, I did a workshop for a Canadian startup accelerator and got paid $4,000 in Canadian dollars. They mailed me a check. While it’s possible to do a mobile deposit with normal checks through my Charles Schwab account, that doesn’t work for checks in other currencies. Luckily, Charles Schwab tends to have a branch in most cities. I still had to drive all the way across the city multiple times to get the deposit sorted out. Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with this again. But if I did, I’d get a checking account at a large, local bank just for depositing checks in foreign currencies.

Another perk of having a local branch: exchanging foreign currency back into U.S. dollars. After any international trip, I always end up with $50-100 worth of leftover foreign currency. I consider the airport currency exchange kiosks a complete rip-off. Not only are the exchange rates terrible, a lot of them don’t accept smaller bills. Having a local branch completely solves my leftover foreign currency problem. I can simply walk in, give them whatever I have left, and they deposit it into my account at a decent exchange rate. Problem solved.

So if you’re dealing with foreign currency or large amounts of cash even a few times a year, it’s worth getting a checking account with a local branch, even if the perks aren’t as good. Hopefully, one of the banks in our list has a local branch near you. If you’re not sure, start with Chase, since they have branches all over the U.S.

Step 4: Is convenience a priority for you?

Before jumping into a new account, ask yourself how much you value convenience.

Do you really want to manage a dozen different financial accounts? I know that seems like a lot, but when you factor in checking, multiple credit cards, a mortgage, student loans, 401Ks, brokerage accounts, savings, joint accounts, and all the accounts for your spouse, it adds up really fast.

The more time goes on, the more you’ll value simplicity across your accounts. I know multiple people who have gladly paid ATM fees again just to get a few of their accounts under the same bank.

Capital One is a great option for simplicity, since they have great credit card offers and they have a really strong checking account. While Chase’s checking accounts aren’t as good, their credit cards tend to be among the best. And if you use Discover cards, definitely consider Discover’s checking account.

Step 5: Do you want a cash back program on your debit card because you’re against using credit cards?

Generally, you want to use credit cards for the majority of your spending. With all the travel rewards and cash back credit card options out there, it’s free money back in your pocket. As long as you pay off your credit cards every month, there’s no downside.

But what if you’re still against credit cards? Some folks have trouble controlling their spending on credit cards and others are philosophically opposed. Or maybe their credit score is too low to get a credit card.

If that’s you, there are a few cash back programs on debit cards for checking accounts. Axos and Discover both have great options.

Again, a cash back program on a debit card will always be inferior to credit card cash back offers. You will get less money back by going this route. That said, it may still be worth it for you if you’re trying to avoid credit cards entirely.

The best checking accounts of 2019 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Summer Vacation!

Well, apparently I need a vacation after my European vacation! I’ve come home to a Real Life in which I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. The yard needs pruning, the house needs cleaning, my body needs exercise, friends need visiting, and this website needs lots of work behind the scenes.

Rather than try to spread myself to thin — my modus operandi — I’m going to do the wise thing: I’m going to take a break. For the next two weeks, I won’t be publishing anything new here at Get Rich Slowly. (I will, however, continue to send out the Friday emails. And I’ll continue to update the Spare Change section on the front page with cool links from other sites.)

While this isn’t an ideal solution, I think it’s best for the long-term. I have a lot of travel coming up later this summer. (I’m basically on the road from August 15th to October 15th.) If I don’t make time now to take care of things, I’ll wish I had.

So, go outside and enjoy the summer sun! I’ll see you again on July 1st.

The post Summer Vacation! appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

How To Monitor Your Credit Score With Your Credit Card

Many credit cards offer credit monitoring, so it’s easy to monitor your score. Here’s how to monitor your credit score with your credit card.Many credit cards offer credit monitoring, so it’s easy to monitor your score. Here’s how to monitor your credit score with your credit card.

The post How To Monitor Your Credit Score With Your Credit Card appeared first on Money Under 30.

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The best rewards credit cards of 2019

If your goal is to maximize rewards, get the best bonuses, and play the points game no matter the cost…

You’re on the wrong page.

We have a different philosophy on rewards credit cards.

It’s the same philosophy that we have for all of personal finance: ignore the small stuff and focus on the Big Wins.

Points hacking is small stuff.

Finding a great rewards card you can depend on and then never thinking about it again is a big win.

Finding the best card for you is pretty simple when your goal is to maximize your rewards with the least amount of effort possible. The main decision you’ll need to make is to get a travel points or a cash back card. We’ve sorted through hundreds of credit card offers to find the best card for both categories.

There are a few other situation-specific cards to consider too. All-in, there are only six cards that are worth looking at.

We’ve done a deep dive on all these cards below.

What makes a great rewards card

The usual advice focuses on how to squeeze out every last percentage point from restaurants, gas, groceries, and 50 other categories.

I disagree.

You see, we need to factor in the effort required to get the rewards.

Some cards have rotating spending categories and all sorts of hoops for you to jump through in order to hit some hypothetical maximum reward.

At I Will Teach You To Be Rich, we’re adamantly against these types of games.

A few extra rewards points are not going to fundamentally change your lifestyle. Automating your finances, getting a great rewards card that doesn’t require ongoing effort, and then focusing on bigger wins WILL change your life.

The best rewards credit cards have rewards programs that are easy to understand, require little to no maintenance, and yield at least 1.5% back in cash or rewards. Add in a few perks and you’ve got a great card.

Should you get a travel or cash back rewards card?

Whether to get a travel or cash back card comes down to one simple question.

What’s more important to you, the value of the rewards or simplicity?

If you want to get every dollar in rewards possible, travel rewards programs always beat cash back cards. For credit card companies, there’s always a percentage of people who forget to spend their points, so they’re able to increase the value of their points over a more straightforward cash back program.

Of course, don’t get a travel points card if you hate to travel. That would be … unhelpful. It’s still worth it as long as you travel once per year.

Maximizing the value of your rewards does come with an extra cost though. You’ll have to manage your points. They’ll accrue in your credit card account and you’ll have to make choices on when and where to spend them. For example, different redemption methods have different values. The American Express Membership Rewards points are worth $0.07 on Amazon and $0.10 on Uber. Every card has its own redemption methods with its own values.

You could use the rule of thumb of always redeeming your points for miles on an airline program. This is a good rule, and it’ll usually maximize the value of your points. But you still have to transfer your points to miles. Each credit card points program will transfer to some airline programs and not others. And once you get your points into the right miles program, you’ll have to deal with whatever points restrictions your airline has (blackout dates, only certain flights being available, etc.). To add even more complexity, some credit card programs allow you to book flights and hotels directly through them, but then there’s a separate set of restrictions and point values that you have to deal with.

Sounds like a pain? It is.

For me, the extra hassle is worth the free international flights that I’ve been able to get.

If the extra hassle of a travel rewards programs sounds exhausting, get a cash back rewards card instead.

Cash back cards still have plenty of benefit without any work:

  • You get a straight percentage back on all charges to your card.
  • The cash back shows up on your statements either automatically or with very little effort. Worst case, you’ll have to log in and hit a button to initiate the cash back.
  • While some cash back cards have maximum payouts, rotating categories, and other nonsense, there’s plenty of cards that keep things ultra simple.

That’s as simple as it’s going to get.

Here’s how to make your decision:

  • To maximize the value of your points, get a travel rewards card.
  • To maximize simplicity, get a cash back card.

How we evaluate credit cards

These are the criteria that we used to whittle hundreds of credit cards down to the few cards that we recommend.

Rewards or cash back program

How many points or how much cash back does a card earn? And under what conditions?

This is where the bulk of rewards value comes from, so when in doubt, choose the card with the better rewards program.

And watch for restrictions on rewards. It’s common to have a points boost of 5X on a spending category combined with a cap or restriction on how that charge is made. Some of the travel cards force you to book through their website in order to get the full points bonus on that charge. To me, that significantly reduces the value of the card. I place a lot of value on flexibility and choice.

Get a deep understanding of your card’s rewards program so you know exactly how it’ll work.

Bonus value

Most credit cards have a bonus offer for new customers. It usually works like this:

Get X if you spend $Y within Z days.

Hit that milestone and you’ll get the bonus added to your account within a few months.

Be careful with these though. If the spending amount is a huge stretch for you, it’s a sign that the card isn’t a good fit for your current spending habits. Whenever I’m looking at a bonus program, I only consider it if I can easily hit the spending amounts that trigger the bonus.

One hack is to get a new card around the same time that you’re making a larger purchase that you already planned and saved for. Furniture is a great fit for this. If you’re already planning on getting a new couch or mattress, that could get you the bonus on its own. Get your new card, make the purchase, immediately pay down the balance with the money you already saved, get your bonus.

While it’s good to look around for the best bonus promo on the card you want, we never choose cards based on the bonus program alone:

  • You’ll be using the card for years, the perks matter a lot more than the bonus.
  • Points are not created equal. One card might offer 100,000 bonus points while another offers 60,000 points. There’s no way to tell which one has the better deal without really digging into the value of their points programs.
  • Just about every great card has a decent bonus.
  • Point hackers will chase bonus programs but we don’t recommend that approach. There are more important things for you to focus on.

We recommend choosing the card you want based on the rewards program and perks. Then accept whatever bonus the card happens to offer.


There are a number of perks that you might get from your credit card. For some, perks are more important than rewards.

Most credit cards have a host of perks that we all forget about, like car rental insurance and lost luggage protection. Standard perks that come with most cards:

  • Rental car insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Return protection
  • Extended warranties
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Lost luggage replacement

These perks are so ubiquitous that you don’t have to factor them in when choosing the card you want. If one of them is super important to you, double check and make sure the card you’re considering does have it.

There ARE perks that only come with certain cards. These are the perks we get excited about. They include:

  • Uber reimbursement
  • Global Entry and TSA Precheck reimbursement
  • Lounge access
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Hotel upgrades and credits

If a perk is super valuable to you, it could be worth getting a less valuable rewards program just for the perk. Frankly, this is why most people get the American Express Platinum. Access to the Centurion lounges makes flying much more enjoyable.


Some credit card fees matter more than others.

While we absolutely hate maintenance fees on checking and savings accounts, all the best rewards cards have annual fees. The rewards and perks easily cover the annual fees as long as you’re regularly using the card. Cards tend to fall into three tiers with their annual fees:

  • No annual fee: There are no-fee cash back and rewards cards out there. The perks and rewards will be limited but it is possible to get a no-annual-fee rewards card.
  • $100 annual fee: Most of the good rewards programs start with annual fees in $90-100 range. This is a good level for your first rewards card.
  • $500 annual fee: The best cards are at this level, like the American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve. They have perks none of the other cards have.

If cash is tight and you’re watching every dollar, get a no-annual-fee card. Once you’re more financially comfortable, the $100 annual fee cards open up the real rewards programs. And after you’re making $100,000 or more per year, get one of the $500 annual fee cards to maximize your rewards.

There are other fees to look out for too, like the foreign transaction fee.

I hate foreign transaction fees. I travel internationally a few times a year and I only choose cards without them. Traveling is expensive enough — the last thing I want is a 1-3% charge on top of everything.

Even if you don’t travel and you don’t think this is a big deal, you can still get hit with a foreign transaction fee within the U.S. The fee triggers any time a charge goes through a foreign bank. So if you buy something online, even if the price is in U.S. dollars, you could get an extra fee without realizing it.

Plenty of cards still have foreign transaction fees, so watch for this if you travel.


Some folks love playing points games.

I am not one of those people.

I want 1-2 cards that I can always default to. I’d much rather get 80% of the value without having to spend any time thinking about points.

No matter how good the rewards program is, it’s just not worth the effort if I have to actively think about it. I have plenty of more important things that need my attention.

When looking at rewards programs, look out for these common traps:

  • Rotating rewards categories. Cards that change the rules are never worth the extra effort in our opinion.
  • Increased rewards for minor spending categories. I don’t really care if I get 10X points when buying 7-Eleven slushies. Give me a break. I need categories where I spend regularly.
  • Points that get locked up in obscure programs. Yes, a random hotel credit card might give more points per dollar than other cards. But are the points worth anything if you can only use them at a hotel you never wanted to go to?

If a rewards program has too many restrictions, we don’t include it in our recommended cards.

What about the card APR?

I never pay attention to it. I can’t even tell you what the APRs are on my cards because I always pay the balance off every month.

Look, if you don’t pay off your balance every month, it’s not worth doing a rewards program at all. You’ll pay more in interest than you’ll ever get back in rewards. Get out of debt, get ahead of your spending, and build a habit of paying off your balances.

First build the financial habits and stability to pay off your balance every month. Then, and only then, should you get a rewards credit card.

The two best rewards credit cards

So what are the best rewards and cash back cards? Here are our recommendations.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The best overall rewards credit card

  • “Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named “”Best Premium Travel Credit Card”” for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®”

If you travel at all, get this card. The perks are phenomenal.

First, you get $300 reimbursed every year on travel charges. I just booked a domestic flight yesterday and I got the whole flight reimbursed.

No foreign transaction fees either. The card’s also a Visa, which is the most widely accepted card internationally. That’s as good as it gets for having a reliable credit card to use internationally.

Global Entry and TSA Precheck were game changers for me when traveling. Half my stress and anxiety when traveling was eliminated. I never imagined how much better I’d feel without having to take my shoes off or my laptop out when going through security. Getting the application reimbursed is an amazing perk. Pro-tip: Get Global Entry, which includes TSA Precheck and is only slightly more expensive.

I spend a lot on travel and food. For racking up points, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is perfect for me. I get 3X on the majority of my spending. If only they had 3X points on cashmere sweaters, I would be in heaven.

There is one big downside: the $450 annual fee. That’s high for a lot of people.

The travel and Global Entry reimbursements do cover most of the fee. With the $300 annual travel reimbursement, the annual fee comes down to $150. We also have the $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. These programs last 5 years, so that equals $20 per year. Basically, the real annual fee is $130.

When most travel rewards cards have annual fees of $95, paying $130 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to get 3X points on travel and restaurants is a fantastic deal.

Citi Double Cash

The best cash back credit card

  • “Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% – 25.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click ‘Apply Now’ to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*”

I love the simplicity of this card. 2% cash back, no nonsense. Get your first 1% cash back when you spend, get another 1% when you pay down the charge. There’s no cash back limits and no annual fee either.

You won’t get cash back on any balance transfers but that’s pretty reasonable in our view.

There isn’t much in the way of perks, but that’s not why you should be considering this card in the first place.

It’s a no-frills, ultra-simple, maximize your cash back card.

For those of you who want to get a card and never think about your rewards every again, the Citi Double Cash is the card for you.

There is one major downside to the Citi Double Cash card. It has a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is super high. If you travel regularly, the 3% fee will stack up fast and negate any of the cash back rewards that you’ve earned. So only get the Citi Double Cash card if you rarely travel internationally. If you do travel regularly, I have another cash back option for you later on in this post.

Other cards to consider

Depending on your circumstances, there are a few other cards that could be the best option for you. Let’s go through them.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • “Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel”

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a slightly less valuable points program and fewer perks than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And the Sapphire Preferred comes with a smaller annual fee at $95.

You’ll still get 2X points on travel at restaurants, a great bonus offer, and no foreign transaction fees.

But you’ll be missing the travel credit, Priority Pass™ Select for lounge access, and the Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit. And you’ll only be getting 2X points instead of 3X points on travel and restaurants.

We recommend getting the Sapphire Preferred if the $450 annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve is too much of a stretch. The Sapphire Preferred is a great first step into the world of rewards credit cards that have annual fees. Plus, you can always upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve later.

If you make more than $100,000 per year, you should probably go straight to the Sapphire Reserve card.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

  • “One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Capital One:”

Yes, the 1.5% cash back isn’t as high as the 2% cash back from the Citi Double Cash.

But the Capital One Quicksilver has no foreign transaction fees, which means it’s perfect for folks who travel internationally and want the simplicity of a cash back card.

The annual fee does depend on your credit score. If it’s good enough, it’ll be waived. Otherwise the annual fee is $39.

If you travel internationally once per year and want a cash back card, we recommend getting the Capital One Quicksilver card.

American Express Platinum

  • “Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.”

The Amex Platinum is all about the perks. If you’re looking to get perks that none of the other cards have, this is the card for you.

The Uber reimbursement is awesome. I easily spend $15/month on Uber rides, so that’s money right back in my pocket.

What’s the Uber VIP status that comes with the card? It’s an exclusive option that will match you with drivers who have a rating of 4.8 and above. It’s certainly nice, but it’s only available in a handful of cities. It also means you could wait a lot longer in order to get a driver with a high enough rating. It’s cool, but I wouldn’t get too excited by it.

The 5X points on flights and hotels booked directly with airlines is a pretty amazing perk. But I wouldn’t use it myself on flights. Honestly, I only book flights directly through airlines. I’ve heard too many horror stories from sites like Expedia or Orbitz. A good friend of mine booked a flight through Expedia and the airline never received the notice, so they didn’t reserve a ticket for him. He didn’t find out until he showed up for his connecting flight and had to buy another ticket on the spot for a crazy price. The worst part is it took him 9 months to get a refund from Expedia. I avoid that nonsense completely by finding the flight I want through Hipmunk or Google Flights, then booking directly through the airline.

One of the best perks of the Amex Platinum is getting access to the Centurion Lounges. These lounges are swanky — some of the nicest lounges out there. Unfortunately, they’re not in that many airports yet. Check to see if your main airport has one there. If you fly out of or through one of these airports regularly, this perk is a game-changer and is worth the annual fee on its own.

What about the 1000+ other lounges?

Credit card companies always inflate lounge access numbers. They’ll include a bunch of third-rate lounges that you’ll never want to go to anyway. Or they’ll add airport restaurants that offer a $20 discount off your meal in order to call that a “lounge.” When looking at lounge perks, I always check the exact lounges that are included in the airports that I fly through regularly.

So don’t assume you’ll be able to walk into any lounge. The majority of lounges will be out of your reach.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

  • “Earn a $200 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%) – that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.”

Do you have a long commute and spend over $100 per week in groceries?

For families, getting 6% cash back on groceries is amazing. Most families easily spend over $100 per week on groceries, so it won’t be hard to hit the annual cash back limit. You’ll hit it if you spend $115 per week — that works out to $360 in cash back per year on groceries that you have to buy anyway. That’s like getting 3 weeks of groceries for free. It’s too bad there’s a cap. This card would be incredible if there wasn’t one.

The other key perk on the American Express Blue Cash is the 3% cash back on gas. Right now, this wouldn’t do anything for me since I live in a city and rarely drive. But when I was growing up, gas was one of my biggest expense categories. I lived in a small town in Colorado that was 45 minutes from anything. My family and I were filling up our gas tanks every 2-3 days. Getting 3% cash back would have been amazing.

You’ll also get 3% cash back on streaming subscriptions and transit (taxis/rideshare, buses, parking, tolls, trains, etc.). The streaming cash back is nice, but there’s only so much any of us can spend on streaming in a given month. And while I know folks that spend a ton of money on rideshares, they tend to get the Chase Reserve card since they spend even more money on travel and restaurants. The cash back on these categories will help but I wouldn’t expect it to make a major difference in your rewards.

Watch out for the 2.7% foreign transaction fee on this card. I’d avoid using it when traveling internationally.

In other words, if you have a family and a long commute, consider getting the Amex Blue Cash to maximize your rewards on groceries and gas.

Should you get multiple rewards cards?

Don’t even consider having multiple cards until you’re comfortably spending over $3,000 per month.

I do recommend getting two rewards cards sooner rather than later if you want an American Express card. As great as the American Express cards are, plenty of businesses don’t accept them. So you’ll want a backup Visa or Mastercard when you can’t use your American Express. For a backup rewards card, I’d get one with a lower annual fee since you won’t be using it as often.

I might consider getting two rewards cards if my lifestyle covered multiple rewards programs. Let’s say I was spending a lot of money on gas, restaurants, and travel every month. In that case, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Blue Cash Preferred would be a great combo. I’d put all my groceries and gas on my American Express Blue Cash Preferred and put my travel and restaurant expenses on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’d rack up a ton of points and cash back with a system that I could easily remember.

I set a limit for myself of only having 2-3 cards. After that, things get too complicated.

The best rewards credit cards of 2019 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

6 Affordable Vacations to Take with Your Pet

6 Affordable Vacations to Take with Your Pet

Summer is here, and it’s time to start filling your calendar with fun excursions! These suggestions for affordable vacations with pets are intentionally vague in terms of destination. They’re the kind of trips you can take anywhere in the country, with a little creativity and a bit of planning.

What’s important to remember is that taking a vacation with a pet doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Going simple can be highly rewarding. Perhaps there is something on this list that you’ve never tried before. Make this the summer that you and your pet take the plunge and experience something new!

6 Affordable Vacations to Take with Your Pet |


6 Affordable Vacations to Take with Your Pet
Go Camping

Car or tent camping is one of the most economical ways to vacation, and a great way to spend a few days with your pooch. Many campgrounds are pet friendly, as long as you keep your furry travel companion on a leash. If you’ve never camped with your dog before, you may want to practice in your living room or the backyard before you set out for the woods. Set up the tent and have a sleepover!

Bureau of Land Management

Federal campgrounds tend to be less expensive than those that are privately-owned or run by the state. But keep in mind that they may also have fewer amenities. If you’re counting on electric outlets and shower facilities, do some careful research before selecting your site. Some federal campgrounds provide only drinking water and composting toilets – and some don’t even have that. These are the kinds of places we love because they’re less crowded and offer first-come, first-served campsites when other campgrounds may be booked well in advance.

Another great option is camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Depending on where you choose, these spots are very inexpensive or free, making for super affordable vacations with your pet! BLM locations are generally undeveloped, so there will be no amenities, and campers can usually stay up to 14 days.


Take A Bicycle Tour

Consider taking a cycling vacation with your dog! The idea might sound daunting at first, but remember – you set the pace and decide how far to go. Cycling is a lot of fun, and moving along more slowly allows you to see things you’d otherwise miss.

If you don’t have equipment like panniers or a trailer for your dog, ask around to see if you can borrow them from a friend or rent them from your local bike shop. Before you head out, spend some time acclimating your dog to riding in a trailer, like you would if you were teaching her to use a kennel for the first time. Once she’s used to the trailer indoors, transition to short rides around the block, gradually increasing the distance over a few weeks.

READ MORE ⇒  A Complete Guide to Cycling With Your Dog

Start with a weekend tour from your front door. Many cities have bike paths that lead to known cycle routes or quiet country roads outside of town. Check your local tourism board website for ideas, or follow the routes used by local bicycle races. (Bonus: the race markers are often left along the road, so you won’t have to check your map as often!). Another option is to check Wikiloc, which has thousands of bike routes all over the world.

car camping
Plan A Road Trip

Flying is expensive and can be stressful, and larger dogs aren’t permitted on trains like Amtrak. That makes road tripping a natural choice for affordable vacations with your pet. If you pair it with tent or car camping, then you’ve really got yourself a budget vacation!

Order's The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

The beauty of taking a road trips with a pet is that you’re able to explore destinations and attractions you’ll both enjoy. If you love hiking, apps like AllTrails can help you locate local favorites. And if you prefer shopping, sampling the local fare at pet friendly eateries, or laying on the beach,’s road trip planner will provide you with a nice selection of options. 

dog friendly


Rent An RV Or Campervan

If you prefer to take your home with you everywhere you go, try renting an RV or Campervan. There are several pet friendly RV rental companies, and some only charge a pet fee if the RV requires additional cleaning. So, do the clean up yourself and you’re good to go!

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for RVing with Pets

While the cost to rent an RV or van might seem high at first, you save on hotel fees and eating out. Find a BLM campground and prepare your own meals in the on-board kitchen, and this becomes a great alternative for affordable vacations.

Renting an Adventure Van with Pets |
Schedule A Staycation

Don’t overlook your own backyard! Visit your local tourism office and pick up some pamphlets about nearby attractions to check out. You could also find a new trail, visit the local botanical garden, or try paddle boarding with your pup on a nearby lake.

Even if you’ve lived in the same place for years, it’s amazing the things you’ll find to do when you play tourist in your hometown.

Free Traffic Generator
Find Hotels Without Pet Fees

With more and more folks traveling with their pets, hotels are becoming more pet friendly. However, some take advantage and charging exorbitant pet fees. Private accommodations, like AirBnb and vacation rentals, may do the same – so carefully check the pet policy before making your reservations.

Luckily, there are plenty of great hotel options that allow pets to stay for free, like Kimpton Hotels, Red Roof Inn, and some La Quinta locations. These chains are located throughout the US, so you should have no problem tracking one down in your ideal destination.

READ MORE ⇒   Hotel Chains Where Pets Stay Free

furry travel companion

We hope these tips help you plan a budget-friendly vacation with your best friend. If you have other ideas for saving money on a pet friendly trip, please leave a comment below!


Accommodations | Destinations | Trip Planner

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The Hartford Renters Insurance Review

If you don’t own your home (or no longer do), but you still have plenty of prized possessions, purchasing a renters insurance policy makes sense. This coverage is very affordable nationwide, with average costs of $188 per year according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). However, your coverage could easily save you thousands of dollars if you need to file a claim someday.

Renters insurance from The Hartford is offered in conjunction with AARP, and it comes with the same benefits most renters insurance policies offer. Not only can you get a free quote online, but you can customize your policy to meet your unique needs.

If you’re in the market for renter’s insurance, it’s always best to purchase it sooner rather than later — and definitely before you forget. Keep reading to learn more how renters insurance works when you purchase it from The Hartford, what is included, and how you can save.

The Hartford Renters Insurance: Key Takeaways

  • Apply for a free, no obligation quote online.
  • Qualify for special discounts on your policy.
  • Cover personal belongings such as your clothing, furniture, jewelry, electronics and more.
  • Beef up your policy with special add-ons.

Find the Best Renter Insurance

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

The Hartford Renters Insurance Review

Buying renter’s insurance is a smart move if you want to protect yourself financially against losses caused by fire or other types of household damage. Fortunately, The Hartford offers inexpensive renters insurance policies, as well as the ability to get a free quote and start your policy online.

Renters insurance from The Hartford and the AARP covers a wide range of personal items and liabilities you may have, including personal property like your appliances, furniture, clothing, and electronics. Your renters insurance policy will also pay for personal liability, medical payments, property damage to others, and your living expenses if you need to find a new place to live.

While the above types of coverage are standard within renters insurance policies from The Hartford, you do have the option to tailor your policy to meet your unique needs. You can pay more for higher liability limits, for example, or boost the total level of coverage you have for personal possessions.

The Hartford also offers several types of “add-on” coverage you can pay for to broaden the scope of your renters insurance policy. Those add-ons include:

  • ProtectorPLUS Zero Deductible Benefit: This add-on waives up to $5,000 of your deductible if you experience a loss of $27,500 or more.
  • Personal Liability Coverage: This benefit protects you against losses caused by libel or slander
  • Replacement Cost Coverage: This coverage replaces your items at their actual replacement cost instead of the actual cost value.
  • Earthquake Coverage: This coverage protects your personal possessions in the event of an earthquake.
  • Water Backup Coverage: This add-on protects your valuables in the event of a sump pump overflow or water backup.
  • Additional Insurance Riders: Also keep in mind that you can add additional insurance riders for valuables you own, such as jewelry or antiques.

How to Get a Quote from The Hartford

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Like most other large insurance companies, The Hartford makes it easy to get a free quote for one of their policies online. Keep in mind that, while the average cost of renters insurance is relatively low, the cost of your policy is heavily influenced by where you live, the type of coverage you buy, and even your credit score.

Once you head to the company website, information you’ll need to provide to get a free quote includes:

  • Your name
  • Address of residence
  • Length of time at residence
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Housing information, such as the type and size of property
  • Past claims

Once you fill out an application with The Hartford, you’ll receive an estimate of your new renter’s insurance policy along with the opportunity to tweak your coverage limits or add on additional coverage. The entire process is easy, and there’s no obligation to move forward with your quote.

The Hartford Renter’s Insurance Discounts

Like other companies that offer renters insurance, The Hartford offers a few different ways to cut down on the cost of your policy if you’re on a tight budget. You can opt out of any additional coverage, for example. You can also accept lower coverage rates overall, provided you think it’s enough to protect yourself and your possessions.

The Hartford also offers a few discounts you can access if you meet their criteria. Those include:

  • Multi-policy discounts: Save up to 20% off the cost of your renter’s insurance policy by bundling it with an auto insurance policy.
  • 24-hour security credit: Save even more on your policy if your rental building offers 24-hour, in-house security.
  • Renewal discounts: The Hartford offers ongoing discounts to customers who renew their policies year after year.

How We Rate The Hartford Renters Insurance

At The Simple Dollar, we aim to provide a general overview of each insurer’s products and services through a standard rating process. With that in mind, we considered policy offerings and overall customer satisfaction using J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Renter’s Insurance Study. We also measured financial solvency based on reports from A.M. Best., S&P, and Moody’s.

After a thorough research and discovery period, here’s how The Hartford Renters Insurance stacks up:

The Hartford Renters Insurance at a Glance
Overall Rating
Claims Satisfaction 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑
Coverage Options 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑
Financial Solvency 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕
Customer Satisfaction 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑

The Bottom Line

Anyone with enough possessions can benefit from a high-quality renter’s insurance policy, and The Hartford is one of the top companies to consider. Not only are their renter’s insurance policies broad in scope, but you can tailor them to your specific needs and add on additional coverage to protect the items you value the most.

Before you buy a policy, however, we suggest comparing rates from three different companies. See how each of the policies you consider stack up in terms of coverage and cost, then choose the best policy for your needs.


The post The Hartford Renters Insurance Review appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Nervous About Choosing the Right Ring? We’ve Got You Covered

How to Buy an Engagement Ring

Next to a residence and a vehicle, an booking ring is likely one of the most important one obtains a boy can represent. It’s only logical you want to make sure you have the excellent resounding to propose with. Our engagement hoop buying template has everything you need to know to pick the perfect participation echoing for your special someone.

RELATED: How to Plan a Bachelor Party

What to Know Before You Head to the Store to Make an Engagement Ring Purchase

One of the first things to consider when buying an participation echoing is if your partner has given you any reminders. If they’ve shown you photographs of doughnuts they affection, or have a Pinterest board set up, that’s a good neighbourhood to start. Pay attention to any comments they descend about celebrities’ or friends’ engagement doughnuts extremely. You can also take a peek at their current jewelry collection to get a sense of what stones, metals, and styles they currently wear, which can make it easier to narrow down your alternatives formerly you’re in the store.

So, formerly you have an idea of your partner’s style, just how much should you spend on an involvement resounding? While the aged proverb that you are able to invest 2-3 months salary was actually a clever marketing campaign in the 1930 s, the math doesn’t hold up.

While it’s essential that you don’t head to the store without a plan, how much you spend eventually comes down to how much you can afford. After all, it’s the feeling and commitment that disappears along with the ring and the proposal that matters the most- not how much you spend on the ring itself. In information, some experts would suggest that it’s financially foolhardy to go into debt for such a acquire. Wouldn’t you very invest a little extra on the ceremony or your honeymoon anyways?

“A knowledgeable jeweler is a great resource when it comes to your budget, ” says Katherine Bodoh, RJ, CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratory. “Tell them the price compas you have in mind, and they can show you options that will fit your budget.”

According to The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of an commitment resounding is around $5,680, down slightly from its first year prior. That’s a real investment, so it’s important to get the most bang for your buck.

You should also try to find out your partner’s ring size before heading to the jeweler, if at all possible. One space to do this is to bring one of their rings with you to the store. You can also size your own thumbs and compare them to your partners in order to get an approximate size. Finally, if neither of those are an option, you can always just go with the law of averages. The Swiss Gemological Laboratory notes however the average adult woman’s reverberate size is between 5 and 7, while the average adult man’s ring size is between 9 and 11.

Important Engagement Ring Factors

The most important factors when choosing a diamond engagement peal are known as the 4Cs. The 4Cs stand for chipped, colouring, precision, and carat value, and they are the primary features that outlines a diamond’s quality.

Cut: Of all the 4Cs, chipped has the greatest effect on a diamond’s beauty, says Bodoh. “In determining the quality of the trimmed, the diamond grader estimates the cutter’s skill in the fashioning of the diamond. The more accurate the piece, the more captivating the diamond is to the eye.” She emphasized the need for a well-cut stone requires more than enough sparkle on your beloved’s hand.

Color: The dye of gem-quality diamonds occurs in many colors says Bodoh, who notes however diamonds normally series from colorless to light gold or light brown. She adds that other natural hues such as blue, red, or pink are known as “fancy, ” and their dye grading is different from colorless diamonds.

Clarity: “Diamonds can have internal attributes known as inclusions or external peculiarities known as disfigures, ” says Bodoh. “Diamonds without inclusions or imperfections are rare, and most can only be seen with magnification.” Keep in judgment that diamonds with no perceptible inclusions tend to be more expensive. Bodoh says some “imperfections” can be hidden with a tactical mount.

Carat Weight: Finally, the carat is the diamond’s physical weight assessed in metric carats. Bodoh explains that one carat equals 1/5 gram and shall be divided into 100 pitches. When it comes to carat force, Bodoh has a tip for those who have budget deliberations: go for slightly less than the nearest carat. “A. 90 carat diamond will save you fund over a one carat diamond. A somewhat smaller well-cut diamond can actually appear larger than a larger diamond with a smaller cut. Cut really is key to a diamond’s beauty.”

Bodoh’s formula for how to buy an participation ring is simple. Sparkle+ Brightness+ Contrast= Overall beauty.

“These are qualities you can ask your jeweler to discuss, so that you have a better understanding of what makes a particular diamond so beautiful.”

RELATED: Top 10 Rationales to Get Married

Choosing Precious Metal

When it comes to engagement sounds, lily-white golden and platinum are some of the most popular options, a Maison Birks Bridal Expert told AskMen. Both are great, but each have peculiar pros and cons.

“Platinum has a higher price point because it is rarer than golden. It’s likewise more expensive due to its high-pitched concentration and durability, which procreates it much less susceptible to scrapings, ” said the expert. “Gold, on the other hand, is a soft metal. In order to make a secure band, gold should be required to mingled with other metals and alloys. This means that less of the precious metal is being used and farther makes down the premium. White gold doesn’t exist in the natural world and so, unlike platinum, these strips will need to be re-plated over time to maintain their color. Likewise, keep in mind that while these two metals may look similar, white golden has a shiny silver finish, whereas platinum has more of a white-haired undertone.”

For those with a classic impression of wording, either alternative efforts, but the Maison Birks Bridal Expert says they’ve likewise learnt a growing interest in yellow and rose golden the past few years.

“Think of the items your marriage wears on a day-to-day basis. Usually a person will have a preference, and this can help when it comes to choosing the perfect metal for an engagement ring.”

Bodoh said here today something to be reminded is that the color of the metal bordering the diamond( if that’s your stone of choice) can affect how it looks.

“If you want a colorless diamond, a yellowish gold ring can create an effect that draws the diamond give out a yellow hue.”

Engagement Ring Shapes

After metal, the form of the stones in a peal is another thing to consider when buying an engagement ring.

Popular stone conditions( sometimes confused with cut) include 😛 TAGEND











The Maison Birks Bridal Expert says that while resounding appearances are always changing in popularity, directions are often confined to the world of celebrity.

“Meghan Markle’s three-stone engagement resound accompanied a resurgence of interest in the style. Some other standouts include the emerald chipped, which affords a prism-like effect, and the infinity circle, which loops around the finger and formulates the diamond beautifully.”

When selecting a ring shape and placing for your marriage, to be considered their personal form. Do they stick with more classic and traditional slice or are they more quirky and trendy?

“At the end of the working day, round is still our number one shape and a great option for anyone. You can also make a classic chassis more unique by altering the setting.” For example, the company offers a “North Star” ring which peculiarities an exceptional five-prong setting that creates a beautiful star-like effect around the diamond.

RELATED: How to Be the Best Man at a Wedding

Engagement Ring Gemstones

When it comes to choosing a gemstone for your partner’s engagement doughnut, Bodoh recommends those that speak to a couple and relations between the two countries. She says it’s best to select a gemstone that is at least a nine on the Mohs’ Scale of Mineral Hardness, which determines the durability of minerals and gemstones.

“Diamonds are a 10 on the Mohs’ scale, attaining them one of the most difficult of and most sturdy choices, ” says Bodoh. “Other great choices are sapphires and rubies.”

Bodoh notes that the price of a gemstone depends on several factors.

“In a diamond, you have to look at the reduction, hue, and clarity ingredients. The sizing things somewhat less depending on the quality of these characteristics. The higher the chip, color, or clarity point, the more costly the diamond will be. These influences is also available transactions off to match your budget and what’s important to you, ” she says. “With colored pearls, the quality of the color is the most determining factor in price, along with considerations of related oddity, native land, and standard grading factors such as trimmed, precision, and carat weight.”

No matter what stone( s) you finish up with, Bodoh says shoppers should ever ask to see diamonds that come with a grading report from a reputable diamond-grading laboratory to ensure the quality of the stone. And, it’s important to see and touch the jewelry in person, so that you can try it on and look at it in different lighting plights is how it sparkles.

“There’s a personalized level of customer service that you get from a credentialed professional jeweler that you cannot get online.”

Engagement Ring Settings

Once you’ve chosen your stone and metal, consider the appropriate means that the stone is “set” onto the ring.

Prong: Prongs are the most common placing, and use a small metal claw to hold the gemstone securely in place. Prongs can be rounded, flat, targeted, vshaped, or even heartshaped, and most stones will have either three, four or six prongs containing them in place. Keep in memory that the more prongs the more secure the stone is, although you will be able to see lower levels of it.

Tiffany: A specific sixprong solitaire determining designed by Tiffany& Co. in 1886, this setting maximizes a diamond’s sparkle.

Bezel: A bezel determining hampers the diamond or gemstone in place with a tradition realise thin metal rim or formulate, and is also available full( surrounding the stone completely) or part( leaving the sides open ).

Composite: A composite direct is an excellent way to get the appearance of a larger stone, without totally blowing national budgets. It orders a group of smaller diamonds together for the look of one larger stone, and is also sometimes called a cluster setting.

Tension: Tension settles use the tension of the ring’s band to hold the stone in place, throwing the appearing that the stone is floating.

Channel: A channel-set ring peculiarity small-scale flutes, or canals, where diamonds or other gemstones are slid into, prior to being sealed in securely.

Bar: The disallow positioning is similar to the channel fixed, however, the stones are only closed in on two sides, rather than all around.

Pave: The pave naming applications various small-scale diamonds positioned closely together for a carpetlike influence along the band.

Halo: The halo placing is an excellent way to enhance the appearance of a smaller diamond, as it refers to the placement of minuscule gemstones around a larger center stone to make it appear larger.

Cathedral: A cathedral define applies arches of metal to hold the stones above the shank( party) in order to shape them materialize larger.

Engagement Ring Buying GuideAskMen

Buying Custom

The Maison Birks Bridal Expert says there is a misconception around the word custom, with beings automatically assuming patronage= expensive, but that’s not always been! While they might not be more expensive, they do make more time.

“Custom reverberates can take a lot longer and it’s important to give yourself a suitable timeline, ” they said. “Make sure that the jeweler you choose is case and in tune with your see and needs.”

They say that you should bring inspiration images along to your consultation to reach the process of designing a custom booking echoing smoother, and be open to the artistic process that comes from collaborating with a jeweler.

“You may go in thinking you know exactly what you want and be pleasantly surprised by something new.”

Creating a custom-made ring does take longer and compels greater involvement, but allows you to give your special someone something one-of-a-kind.

“You have to be OK with not getting to see, touch or feel the ring until it’s perfectly finished. But having the ability to create something completely one-of-a-kind is a splendid opportunity.”

Buying an Antique Engagement Ring

It’s important that you speak with a professional if you’re considering buying an antique engagement hoop, as it’s easy to get duped.

“Don’t be fooled by the words ‘Art Deco Style’ when you’re on the hunt for an’ Art Deco’ ring, ” says the Maison Birks Bridal Expert. “There are many re-creations out there and costume jewelry parading as the real thing.”

They say it’s important to do your research when buying an antique ring.

“There are many accumulates out there with phenomenal reputations for result stunning antique peals. Just make sure that when you do find an relic ring, you get onto validated with a gemologist if it’s missing articles of authentication”

Giving Your Partner an Engagement Ring That’s a Family Heirloom

Alternatively, renovating an heirloom part is also an option. Birks Concierge specifies a service where its professionals will work with jewelers to re-imagine a cherished heirloom. Other collects may provide this service as well, so inquire if you want to keep a special stone or ring in the family.

While no one likes to think that their wedding won’t work out, if the heirloom is important to you and you don’t want your marriage to have it in the event of a divide, make sure both parties sign a contract territory as such before the nuptial day.

Engagement Rings for Same-Sex Partner

If you’re a humankind buying a ring for a male partner, you’re in luck! Over the years, more diverse alternatives have become available.

Some duets choose to wear according booking resounds, while others opt for different reverberates. In some partnerships exclusively person or persons wears the involvement reverberating- there really is no hard and fast etiquette for same-sex engagement rings.

This is also an area where the Maison Birks Bridal Excerpt says a custom-made reverberating is a great choice.

“Having the freedom to create something that truly represents your relationship allows you to create something special.”

How to Protect Your Engagement Ring Investment

Bodoh says the best way to protect your engagement ring is to insure it.

“First, get an appraisal from a Certified Gemologist( r) Appraiser or an Independent Certified Gemologist( r) Appraiser. Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group offers personal plans for jewelry customers, ” she says. “It’s so easy. You can get insurance in minutes.”

She also notes that care is different for colored gemstones vs. diamonds.

“Make sure you make the ring back to your jeweler every two years for inspections and restores, such as prong retipping. If needed, get the advice of a credentialed jeweler considering care and maintenance, and make sure the fragment is reappraised every two years.”

Too Consider …

Depending on where you buy your date resounding, the retailer might offer additional business such as free cleansing, resizing, or special warranties. That proceeds for habit slice extremely! Some retailers, like Maison Birks, Peoples, or Jared offer diamond trade-up platforms, where you can upgrade your significant other’s ring at the full value of the original buy price.

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Heading to College? Here’s Help to Sort Through Types of Student Loans

It’s no secret that the cost of education has skyrocketed in America and continues to be a core issue with which politicians, educators, activists and students grapple. The average total tuition and fees plus room-and-board charges in 2018-19 for an in-state, public four-year college was $21,370, according to a College Board report.

How are students paying for that? With student loans. Lots of student loans.

Outstanding student loan debt rose to $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Federal Reserve.

While we can advocate for change within and outside of the political system, we must play ball in the meantime — that means getting familiar with the types of student loans available to us so that we can make the best financial choices for our current and future situations.

Student loans fall into two major categories — federal and private. Each of those has its own set of subcategories. While federal loans are typically the better option for students (more on that in a bit), it is impossible for many to fund an entire college education with just federal loans. Thus, it is important to take some time to familiarize yourself with the various types of federal student loans while also considering private loans.

Federal Student Loans

For the sake of simplicity, there are two main types of federal student loans to consider: Subsidized Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

You may have heard of another federal student loan option called Perkins Loans. But as of September 30, 2017, the federal government ended that loan program; final disbursements were on June 30, 2018.

You’ll also come across two types of PLUS Loans: Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS Loans. Beyond that, you can consider consolidating your various types of student loans into one: a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Stafford Loans

Stafford Loans are either subsidized (government helps with interest payments) and unsubsidized (no help). They typically offer better rates than other loans.

If you’re planning to receive federal loan aid, the Stafford Loan (also called a Direct Loan) is the one to know. Funding for this common student loan comes from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP) and can be offered as subsidized or unsubsidized.

Subsidized Stafford Loans afford you the ability to defer any interest payments until after you graduate. Instead, the federal government will pay the interest rates while you are in school at least halftime, as well as during the six-month grace period that follows graduation, (in theory, you would be spending that time looking for a job.)

Subsidized Stafford Loans are great for college students because it means less time spent working to pay for school and more time focusing on studying and writing papers. Interest rates for all subsidized Stafford Loans and all unsubsidized undergraduate Stafford Loans have a fixed interest rate of 5.05% for loans disbursed before July 1, 2019, according to the Federal Student Aid Office. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans for graduate students clock in at a 6.6% interest rate.

Subsidized Stafford Loans are not for everyone, however. According to the Federal Student Aid Office, students must demonstrate a financial need when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

Pro Tip

In addition to the interest, you’ll have to pay fees on all Stafford Loans. Fees are calculated as a percentage of the loan amount and are proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement.

There are limits to the amount of money you can borrow via a subsidized Stafford Loan, and it largely depends on your family’s situation and your current year in school. The Federal Student Aid Office offers a helpful table that breaks down the credit limits for this loan, though please note your school may not actually grant this amount.

There are also Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, which are easier to obtain, as you won’t need to prove any financial need. However, the federal government will not make payments on your interest while you are in school. You can still defer these payments until after graduation, but you will be responsible for the entire interest amount.

PLUS Loans

There are two types of PLUS Loans: Parent and Grad. The maximum loan amount is the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid. PLUS loans have higher interest rates.

The federal government offers PLUS loans to two sets of applicants: parents and grad students.

Though grad students are eligible to apply for the latter without their parents, PLUS stands for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students. To obtain a Parent PLUS Loan, your parent(s) or guardian(s) must apply. However, you must still fill out the FAFSA form before your parents can apply for a PLUS loan.

PLUS Loans are designed to pay for expenses not covered by other financial aid, but they come with higher interest rates — the current interest rate is 7.6%.

Direct Consolidation Loans

Consolidation loans combine multiple loan payments into one for convenience. They could lengthen your payback timeframe and cost you more in interest over time.

The final federal student loan type is the Direct Consolidation Loan. This loan, according to the Federal Student Aid Office, is a no-fee option to group your various loans into one single monthly payment — thereby consolidating your student loans into one.

Why would you need to do this? Because the government doesn’t make anything easy — that’s the short answer. The longer answer is that, though you may rely on the Stafford Loan every year, there’s a good chance that each year — or even each semester — that money is coming from a different lender.

Pro Tip

Don’t fall for private companies that contact you, offering to help you consolidate your federal loans — for a fee. There is no application fee to complete a Direct Consolidation Loan application.

For example, assume you are in school for four years at two semesters a year with a different lender for each semester. That means you’ll have eight different payments to make each month, presumably with several different due dates, just for your federal loans.

Direct Consolidation Loans make this less of a headache for you and also make it more difficult for you to miss a payment (since there’s only one to remember) and incur a late fee.

Beware: There are some downsides to consolidating your loan. Consolidating could very easily draw out the payback time on your loans, meaning you may end up paying more over time and you’ll have to deal with the looming fear of student loans for longer than you had planned.

Private Loans

Private loans can help cover costs above and beyond your federal loans. They require a good credit history and may have high interest rates.

Federal loans should usually be your first line of defense when grants and scholarships are not enough to fund your education. However, given that Stafford Loans have caps and PLUS Loans require parent participation and the rates can be too high, you might need to seek additional funding. That’s where private loans come in.

Pro Tip

Think of private education loans as a necessary evil — they’re not great, but they’re there if you need them.

These loans are more like the personal loans you might take out with your lending institution. Given that most college students are in their late teens or early twenties, however, these can be challenging to get. You’ll need a cosigner and/or good credit to earn a private education loan.

With private education loans, there is a lot more left up to your unique situation. Interest rates could be fixed or variable and will depend on your credit history. You may also have to make payments while still in school.

Health Professions Student Loans

Health Professions Student Loans are options for students studying medicine in specific areas. They are based on financial need.

Health Professions Student Loans are reserved for those studying in specific areas of medicine, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Degree areas that qualify for this type of loan include dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatric and veterinary medicine. These loans are need-based and competitive.

Alternatively, students who are studying allopathic or osteopathic medicine can apply for Primary Care Loans, while students who are working toward their diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing can apply for Nursing Student Loans. These two loan types are also need-based and competitive.

Schools must participate in these loan programs for students to be eligible; before enrolling, make sure your school of choice will have these options available.

Given the rising costs of higher education, it’s likely you’ll need to tap into loans to help finance your education, but before you start looking at loans, exhaust these other options for paying for college.

Timothy Moore is a proud graduate of Wright State University and now works as a full-time editor and freelancer in his free time. He lives with his partner and their two dogs in Nashville, Tennessee. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed to this post.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

This High School Dropout Found His Path in the Trades. Now He Makes $100K

After dropping out of high school, Freddie Cruz found himself delivering the same milk he drank in the school lunch rooms. It was an inauspicious end to what once appeared to be a bright future in football — college and all.

“I didn’t finish high school because I didn’t have the aspiration to do it anymore,” said the 44-year-old Cruz, who played running back before a brutal career-ending injury. “I gave up.”

Now, eight years into a career as a crane operator, Cruz pulls down six figures doing something he loves all day. That dream job placed on The Penny Hoarder’s Best Jobs of 2019 that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree.

“I wish I would’ve known about this business years ago,” he says. “I probably would’ve been on the verge of retiring now.”

Trade Jobs Offer Endless Opportunities

Cruz always dabbled in the trades. When he was 19, he briefly worked as a carpenter on a job site in Tampa before taking up trucking full-time.

He made plenty of money on the road, but now sees there would have been more opportunity — and less time away from family — if he had stayed in a career in the traditional trades.

Some of the jobs with the lowest wage gap between men and women are in the trades. In fact, analysts look to women to make up for the shortfall of workers in the construction industry.

Of the top 25 jobs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow the fastest over the next decade, 20% are in the trades. If you look at careers that don’t require a college degree, that number jumps to more than half.

And as Cruz’ experience shows, you can haul in more than $100,000 a year in these types of jobs. In 2017, we spoke to an electrician who also makes six figures.

One of the biggest perks, Cruz says, is that while you’re training to become a full-time, credentialed crane operator (or other similar skilled labor occupation) you can still make more than $60,000 as an apprentice. That’s what he made for the four years he trained under senior crane operators.

“The funny thing is, you’re getting paid to pay your dues, which is awesome,” Cruz says.

Sure beats student loan debt, right?

Despite the pros of working in the trades, they remain an often-overlooked option — and a well-kept secret. Cruz only heard about the sweet life as a crane operator through word of mouth.

“The money’s there. I just don’t think we publicize it enough,” he says. “It’s word of mouth — somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody gets you in.”

Trade Jobs Offer Multiple Entry Points Bypassing College

One of Cruz’s lifelong friends came to him with a tip about 10 years ago: There’s lots of cash to be made as a crane operator. Cruz and another friend (the three were truck drivers at the time) laughed him off.

By the time the friend got an apprentice job through the local union a year later, Cruz was intrigued. But, the only open positions would have required more than an hour commute, so he turned it down.

“A year and a half goes by and the guy finally calls again and says that this is the last time I’m going to offer you the job, take it or leave it,” he says. “I said I’ll take it, and it was the best move I made.”

Checking in at your local crane operators’ union is the best way to get started in this career, as it is with a number of trade careers. From there, it can take up to a year for the organization to secure an apprenticeship with a local company.

Once you land an apprenticeship, you spend four years working your way up to running the full rig. Along the way, you’ll learn the minutiae of crane upkeep, along with basic operation. Don’t expect your supervisor to babysit.

Cruz was told to arrive at his first jobsite eight years ago at 6:30 a.m. He got there on time, but was immediately harangued by the senior crane operator — the machine should’ve been tuned up, cleaned and ready to roll by 6:30… And where was his coffee?

But that tough love is necessary when you plan to run a 150,000-pound machine capable of killing your coworkers.


“When I finally became an operator, he was one of the first guys who came up to me and said ‘congratulations, I knew you could do it,’” Cruz says.

Since Cruz entered the field, crane operating trade schools have popped up around the U.S. Many offer training and certification in six months, but Cruz is adamant about going the apprentice route and getting on-the-job experience.

You will still need a certification through the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators in most states.

Trade Jobs Can Make Every Day a New Adventure

Cruz has helped tear down a water tower, pulled a barge out of the water, replaced nuclear plant turbines and recovered the body of a landscaper who had been crushed by a fallen branch.

The next two times he went out on a job after that, he could barely bring himself to get into a crane. He moved some material with a forklift to avoid getting into the cab again.

Pro Tip

Before diving into a particular trade, reach out to a local construction company or union and ask to see a job site.

Poke around and see which craft looks the most interesting to you and best matches your strengths. Then ask to shadow someone on the job.

“I was trying to figure out a way not to do the job,” Cruz says. “I was afraid to get in (the crane) for some reason.”

But eight years into this career, he has learned to cope with the stresses and gained perspective.

After Cruz dropped out of high school, he was left with no prospects and a pregnant girlfriend. His father, who owned a cleaning company and worked as a truck driver and butcher, said he “wasn’t going to raise a bum.”

Cruz’ father didn’t live long enough to see everything his son achieved, even without a diploma. Cruz can give his kids a life that his father couldn’t afford for him — and he considers that the definition of success.

“I’m sure that he would say his son never graduated from high school, never pursued his dream as a football player, but at the end of the day he’s making a six-figure income,” Cruz says. “I guess he didn’t do too bad for himself.”

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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