Tag: Seasonal

 

Halloween Costumes From Your Favorite Books

Do store-bought Halloween costume prices send you screaming in fear? If so, the DIY route might be for you.

By now you may be thinking: How can you scare up a unique and affordable costume? Luckily, we’ve got a bright idea for you: Dress up as your favorite literary figure. This will make you look smart and boost your savings – double win!

Here are 14 affordable, literary-inspired costume ideas, broken down by categories. Book lovers everywhere can now rejoice!

Well-Loved Children’s Books

An excellent children’s book never goes out of style. These kid-lit faves make perfect costume choices:

1. The mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

This one is easy as the main thing you need to imitate the lovable mouse from Numeroff’s series is a pair of overalls. You can then make mouse ears by gluing grey paper or felt semi-circles to a headband. If you have long hair you can also put your hair into two top buns for ears. Then, make a giant cookie with construction paper or carry around a bag of cookies.

You can also make it a family affair by dressing up as characters from the author’s other books. For example, you can dress as a pig and take along a box of pancake mix, or dress up as a dog carrying donuts.

2. Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

Camilla Cream is plagued with rainbow stripes after trying too hard to fit in with her peers. To create your own Camilla Cream, you’ll need to cover your face, neck, and arms with different colored paint stripes (make sure you get body paint!) From there, wear a black dress or shirt to make your rainbow skin pop.

3. Amelia Bedelia from Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish.

If you don’t have a maid’s costume hanging around, a black dress and rectangle-shaped piece of white lace will do. Adorn a black hat with faux daisies and then seal the deal by carrying around a fake chicken or a string of green beans.

4. Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

For this easy costume, all you need to do is draw a creative scene with purple marker on a white shirt. Then, walk around holding the purple crayon. Nailed it!

5. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole.

Ah, Ms. Frizzle: The science teacher we all wish we had! To transform into Ms. Frizzle, all you need to do is tease your hair or wear a big, bright orange wig. Then, pick a science theme and tape pictures relating to that theme to a dress and leggings.

YA Favorites

Young adult books may be promoted as a teenage category, but let’s be honest. You probably geek out on the following characters more than your younger cousins. Take a look:

6. Harry Potter from the namesake Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Did you really think we could put this list together and leave off Harry Potter? The classic circle glasses, lightning scar, and stick wand can all be yours for an affordable price. You can even use a black graduation robe (check the thrift store or borrow one from a recent grad). Voila! You’re Harry Potter!

7. Count Olaf and others from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

You can expect more love for your Lemony Snicket-inspired costumes this year thanks to the Netflix mini-series. There are so many interesting characters to choose from. For example, slap on a mustache and wrap a stuffed snake around your shoulders to become Uncle Monty.

Of course, Count Olaf provides enough costume ideas himself. For bonus points, don’t forget to sing out: “I’m handsome and I’m talented and love your bank account.”

8. Characters from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

Yes, you can become Katniss by rocking a bow and arrow as well as a dress that looks like fire. However, dressing up as Effie Trinket is where the real fun is at. From her ever-changing wigs and outlandish outfits, there are many looks to choose from. May the odds be ever in your favor.

9. Become an Ugly from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

For this costume idea, focus your efforts on your makeup with a flash tattoo from the Uglies trilogy. Tally Youngblood’s tattoo may be the most fun to replicate. She has Celtic swirls above her eye.

Adult Books

Love to read? Take a look at a few of our favorite literary costume ideas – inspired by popular adult books.

10. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Can you be any cooler than Lisbeth Salander? Luckily you can become her by coloring your hair black (if it’s not already black naturally) and slicking it back. Then, dress in black skinnies and a black jacket, and don’t go light on the fake tattoos, piercings, and metal jewelry.

11. Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Can’t choose between awesome period clothing and zombie makeup? You can have both if you dress as the undead Jane Bennet. Splatter red paint over a white regent-style dress, pin up your hair, and paint on your zombie face. You’re good to go!

12. Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another classic series with so much costume inspiration to draw from. Frodo Baggins may be the easiest and cheapest to pull off. You’ll need a brown cape, a ring on a chain, and furry feet. For the cape, you can tie brown cloth or a brown towel over your shoulders. For furry feet, glue sections of a wig to flip-flops.

13. Fifty Shades of Grey from the namesake book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

This costume is always good for a laugh. All you have to do is dress in grey tones and attach grey paint swatches to your outfit. Handcuffs are optional.

14. The old man from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

For this literary-inspired costume, you can take a trip into your dad or grandfather’s closet for some fashion choices. Add a white wig, facial hair and cane. You are now a literary genius. You’re welcome.

Be Inspired by Your Favorite Books

If none of these ideas suit your fancy, then be inspired by your favorite book. Look for ways to dress up as the title character. Or, if the book’s main characters have been overdone, try going for another character. Whatever you do, have fun with it. And, remember: By being a little creative, you’ll save a lot of money. What’s not to like about that? Happy Halloween!

 

Weird Holiday Hustles You May Not Have Thought Of

Don’t stress if dressing up as Santa’s elf isn’t your ideal way to make money this holiday season. You’ve got standards after all.

But the truth is: You may need some extra dough to buy holiday gifts for your relatives. And, a side hustle can be the perfect way to earn more money.

Not sure what type of side gig is best for you? Take a look at these 7 weird holiday hustles and start saving money right away for the upcoming holiday season.

1. Mobile Gift Wrapper

If you actually like wrapping presents, then you have a real gift. Many people are willing to pay someone to wrap their presents, yet they don’t have the time to drag bags full of gifts to and from the mall’s gift-wrapping kiosk. Here’s where you step in. Instead of working at the mall, you can start your own mobile gift wrapping business. You simply go to your client’s house or workplace, wrap the presents, and leave – with cash in hand.

2. Gift Idea Generator

If only someone would pay you for your amazing shopping skills. Well, someone just might do this, especially if that someone is strapped for time. Here’s where you take over and charge by the hour to generate unique gift ideas for those who simply don’t want to shop for themselves.

 

The easiest way to organize this type of business is to take orders through an online form. This way the shopper can specify a budget, gift preferences, and give you details about their gift recipients. You create the list of presents and then place the orders – for an hourly fee, of course.

3. Christmas Light Installer

Another major holiday pain point is hanging Christmas lights. So, why not offer a service to hang and then take down holiday lights?

 

All you need to start is an appealing flyer. From there, be prepared to go door-to-door handing out your flyers and discussing your services. You can also broaden your reach by advertising your business to senior care facilities, small shops, and more.

 

If you are tech-savvy, you have even more to offer. People love lights that are synched with music.

4. Rent Out Baby Items

Tired of having your home look like a daycare? Why not rent out your baby gear to families visiting your area for the holidays?

 

Kaylee Garcia did this last Christmas using BabyQuip, an online platform that allows individuals to rent out baby gear. Garcia, who lives in central Washington, customized her profile to include snow gear and toys. According to BabyQuip stats, an average baby equipment renter earns $600 a month. As for Garcia: She likes helping other families, as well as earning extra cash.

“The best part is that I get to help families pack light and travel happy.”

5. Toy Dealer

You aren’t the only one strapped for cash this season. Parents are also on the prowl for awesome toy deals. Why not help these parents out by buying and selling used toys in great condition?

Take a look at Jeff Neal, who considers himself an expert at this. Neal, owner of The Critter Depot, purchases Lego blocks for two to three cents a piece online and then sells them for double in larger lots on Craigslist.

“They only sell when Christmas is around the corner,” says Neal. “I tried selling them during spring and summer, but there’s never any interest.

6. DJ Jingle Bells

If you know how to drop a sick beat, then you can make some easy money this holiday season. Think about it. If you’ve always wanted to DJ, now is your chance. Start out by offering holiday-themed party music packages. You can advertise your services for office parties, as well as school events and dances.

7. Toy Installer

Are you handy with tools and a pro at reading boring instruction manuals? This may be the perfect side gig for you – and a skill that parents are willing to pay for. Just think: You could be assembling Barbie’s 500-piece dream house and outdoor play equipment – for a fee, of course. If you offer Christmas Eve or Christmas Day rush assembly, even better. Don’t forget to charge a premium for that.

Get Ho-Ho-Hustling

As you can see, you don’t need a lot of money to launch a holiday side gig. You can try one of the ideas here or come up with your own business. All you need is an entrepreneurial hustle and bank app that lets you accept payments easily and instantly. And, while you’re at it: Don’t forget to automate your savings as this will help you save even more money without even thinking about it.

So, are you ready to make some extra money this holiday season? We thought so!

 

The Best Halloween Costumes That Cost $20 Or Less

Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, many adults love the spooky, candy-filled holiday.

Besides getting your fill of your favorite candy, you may have your sights set on hosting or attending a Halloween party this year. If this is the case, you’ll need to scare up a costume. But, of course, you probably want to come up with a costume that won’t break the bank and blow through your hard-earned savings.

Take a look at 10 costume ideas that will give you the best boo for your buck:

Pumpkin Pie

For this costume, you’ll start with a simple orange shirt. From there, you can draw a pie on felt, cut it out and glue it onto your orange shirt. To top it off, create a whipped cream topping by adding cotton balls or fluff to a regular black headband. Voila, pumpkin pie has arrived!

50 Shades of Grey

This idea is also easy peasy – and cheap to make. You’ll need a black or grey shirt, and a bunch of grey paint samples swatches from your local hardware store. To attach the paint samples to your shirt, use glue or double-sided tape. Aim to glue on 50 shades of grey. Get it?

A Target Employee

Here’s yet another costume that starts off with a simple shirt. You’ll need a red-collared shirt, a pair of khakis, a black belt and black boots. Create a name tag and write your name on it. Clip on either a fake or real walkie-talkie, and your outfit is good to go.

An Emoji

There are many variations of this costume. A few of the cheaper options would be the dancer emoji (just wear a red dress and a flower in your hair) or the person with bunny ears (you’ll need a blue or purple T-shirt and bunny ears). You can even create the dancing duo (black shorts and a T-shirt with black bunny ears) if you’re coordinating costumes with someone else.

A Nerd

You most likely have the makings for this costume in your home somewhere – meaning you may not have to spend any money at all. For a few ideas: Wear a plaid or collared shirt with pants and suspenders (or a bowtie), throw on a pair of glasses, and carry around a calculator.

If you don’t have a pair of glasses or if you don’t want to ruin your good pair, wear some cheapo glasses that you can purchase at your local dollar store. To take things up a notch, break the glasses in half and tape them together with white masking tape.

Aerobics Trainer

This is yet another outfit idea that you may have sitting around your house. To transform into an 80s aerobics trainer, you’ll need some crazy print leggings, a bodysuit to layer over them, and leg warmers. You’ll also need either a big ponytail holder or an extra wide pink headband. Finish the look off with some wild and crazy blue eyeshadow, bright pink or orange blush, and a bubblegum pink lip color.

If you don’t have these items, they can easily be found at a thrift store, keeping your cost under $20. And, if you don’t like makeup or don’t want to buy it, you don’t have to wear it. It just adds a little more pizzazz to the costume.

An Extreme Couponer

If you get the weekly newspaper, or if you can get your hands on some expired coupons, an extreme couponer is a great (and almost free) halloween costume. Some ideas include carrying around the coupons in your hand or taping them to your clothes. You can also carry grocery bags of empty food boxes for good measure. Why not show off the deals you scored?

A Shopaholic

If you want to be the opposite of an extreme couponer, become a shopaholic. All you need for this costume is a lot of random shopping bags. You can either use old ones that you have lying around in the house, or start collecting them while out shopping.

Or, if you’re willing to get a little more creative, you can always go to a mall and ask the local store employees for extra bags. Some won’t care and will gladly help you out, but others may require you to buy something. If this is the case, move onto the next store.

Rosie the Riveter

An oldie but goodie, Rosie the Riveter is a DIY woman’s dream costume. All you need is a chambray top, a red bandana, red lipstick, and red heels or flats. If you can fit them in your budget, you can also throw in some temporary tattoos for your “flashin’ the guns” arm.

If you don’t own a chambray top, the best and cheapest option would be to grab one at the thrift store or borrow one. If you don’t have red shoes, it’s also fine to wear your regular shoes. People will be staring at the lipstick and bandana so they may not even notice your footwear.

A Jellyfish

This is a unique and inexpensive crowd-pleaser. To create a jellyfish costume, start with a white umbrella. Then, glue white ribbon or string to the bottom of the umbrella, making sure that it’s long enough to float all the way to the ground when you’re standing under the umbrella. From there, you can wear all white, gold or silver. Neon colors also work well if you’ll be partying throughout the night.

Go as Whatever You Want

At the end of the day, Halloween is supposed to be fun. If these costumes don’t interest you, there are hundreds of DIY and cheap costumes that you can make or buy. The most important thing to remember is that Halloween doesn’t have to break your bank.

 

How to Prepare for Holiday Travels

If you’re like me, any mention of the holidays in September is likely to make you cringe. “Too soon!” your mind screams.

But tell that to your wallet. And your bank account. The holidays may seem far away but you know how time works in adult years…basically the season of visiting your relatives will be here tomorrow.

Luckily for you: we’re here with a friendly nudge to get your financial butt in gear and prepare for holiday travels.

What should you consider before booking a flight?

Booking flights for holiday travel should never be a haphazard affair. It requires some thought and research to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Holiday flight prices can be truly scary, so to find the best prices, here’s what you need to consider:

  • What airports are nearby?
  • Are your dates flexible?
  • Will you need extra luggage space for gifts?
  • What is the baggage policy?
  • Do you have credit card points that you can use to cover or offset this trip?

By searching different airports and dates, you may be able to save some serious money. For example, I booked a flight recently and the difference between flying out of Los Angeles compared to Burbank was more than $100. Another pro tip: consider flying out on a red eye or flying on the day of the holiday for better deals. I’ve done both, and while not super fun, I did save money and still arrived in time to celebrate with family.

And, here’s another thing to think about: if you know you’ll need to check your bag(s), research baggage fees ahead of time. This way you’ll know what to expect and can plan for the possible added expense. Lastly, check your credit card to see if you have miles or cash back that can offset this trip. Depending on the card, you may also have other travel perks like access to an airport lounge or waived baggage fees.

How far in advance should you book your flight?

Finding the best flight price can be a little tricky but buying at the last minute during the holiday season is definitely a no-no. So, when exactly should you book your flight for your holiday travels?

According to travel site SkyScanner.com, booking flights for the holidays is cheapest in September. In September, prices are on average, 5 percent cheaper. And, booking 14 weeks before Christmas – the week of September 17 – is the best week to book flights. If booked during this time, you’ll score an average of 7 percent in savings.

To get the best deal, you can also set up a price alert using SkyScanner or Google Flights. CheapAir also has a calendar of some of the best days to fly if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What time should you book your flight?

According to the Holiday Flight Report created by CheapAir, the best time to buy for Thanksgiving is in August or September. For Christmas – as shown above – the best time is in September.

If you want to go a step further, the best day and time to book your flight may be a Tuesday around 3 p.m., according to FareCompare.com.

How much should you budget for holiday travel?

Holiday flights are always more expensive because the demand is so high. Airlines know people will be traveling during this time and they can charge a premium.

Even buying at the best time can still be fairly expensive. According to The 2018 CheapAir Holiday Flights Report, you can expect to pay around $400-$500 per flight on average.

On top of that, you’ll want to consider your accommodations. Will you have a place to stay or will you need to book a hotel or an AirBnB? You will also want to budget for any activities and entertainment during your time away. And, of course, make sure to budget in the amount you may need to spend on gifts once you arrive at your destination. Indeed, the amount you need to save for your trip will depend on your particular situation.

Regardless, holiday travel is pricey, so start saving up now! Using Chime, you can save easily with our Automatic Savings program. You can also save effortlessly when you spend money with our round up option.

Another tip: set aside a portion of your paycheck for your holiday travels. I have a savings account that I named “Travel Fund” and I set aside money each time I get paid. Having that money in a special account helps minimize stress during the holidays — which let’s face it, on its own is fairly stressful, even without all the extra costs.

Remember: the holidays are all about spending time with family and getting some much-needed down time. You don’t want to add debt to the mix so saving now can help you avoid using credit to pay for something you can’t afford.

Final word

You may think it’s too soon to start thinking about holiday travel plans, but in reality it’s never too early to start saving for the holidays. Being prepared and booking flights early can help you score the best deals and avoid the stress of scrambling at the last minute.

To boot, a little preparation, budgeting, and booking ahead can save you future headaches and allow you to enjoy the holidays — without worrying about money.

 

Hygge Hacks for Healthy Finances

Have you ever heard of hygge?

The concept of hygge has been around for centuries, but it has recently resurfaced as a popular lifestyle trend. In fact, the word hygge was on the short-list for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016.

So, what does hygge mean? While it can’t be directly translated into English, this well-known word in Denmark loosely means “coziness.” It’s the practice of slowing down and prioritizing time spent with the ones you care about and doing more of the things you love the most. Incorporating hygge into your life can help you find more joy, but it can also improve your finances.

Read on to learn more about how practicing hygge can help you can spend less, save more, and prioritize your financial future.

Does hygge lead to happiness?

Hygge is a Danish concept (pronounced hoo-ga). According to Visit Denmark’s website, hygge is described as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Visit Denmark goes on to say: “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.”

And they must be onto something. Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world for the last four years, according to studies done by the World Happiness report.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate some hygge into your daily life.

What does hygge have to do with your finances?

The concept of hygge means trying to find joy in the little things in life – and usually those things are cheap or even free.

You don’t need a fancy lifestyle in order to be happy. You don’t need an enormous house, expensive cars, or luxury vacations to find joy or peace. You can find hygge by slowing down, taking in the moment, and spending more time doing the things you truly love.

How to embrace the concept of hygge this year

There are dozens of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life – for free. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay in instead of going out

You can have just as much fun spending an evening at home as you can going out to a fancy and expensive restaurant. So, try having a hygge-ful evening by lighting the fireplace, baking some cookies and reading a book.

By staying in, you won’t just sneak in your fill of hygge, but you could save a good chunk of change simply by not going out on the town.

  • Give hygge-related gifts

Gifts can not only be expensive, but can often be forgotten after a year or two. Maybe it’s time for you to give the folks you care about the gift of hygge.

Gifts like candles, cozy socks, books, and gourmet coffee make great gifts and these presents also give the gift of well, presence. These gifts won’t break your budget and your loved ones will also get the chance to incorporate hygge into their lives.

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal

What could be more hygge than a home-cooked meal? By cooking at home more often, you’ll get to regularly enjoy the benefits of hygge.

Not only can you eat dinner in your favorite and most comfortable clothing, but you can create a warm and inviting ambiance by lighting candles and dimming the lights. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll save a boatload of cash.

So, instead of going out, invite your friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Or, lower the cost and increase the hygge even more by hosting a potluck, where everyone can bring over their favorite, home-cooked dishes to share.

  • Decorate with frugal, hygge decor

With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to invoke a sense of coziness in your home and practice hygge while you’re at it. Fortunately, home decor doesn’t have to be pricey – there are plenty of frugal ways to liven up your home.

You can decorate with candles, family photos and plants. From there, get creative. These items are easy to find, don’t cost much money, and up the hygge level of your home.

Prioritize time with family and friends

The bottom line: the idea behind hygge is to spend time doing more of the things that are truly important to you.

As you can see by the examples here, you don’t have to plan extravagant get-togethers or even leave the house in order to enjoy time with your loved ones. In fact, most people can claim that the best memories spent with family or friends are the times spent just sitting around, catching up at home.

Now it’s your turn to up your hygge ante. So, invite guests over, crack open a bottle, and enjoy shared plates around the fireplace this winter. By doing so, you’ll save money while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

18 Ways to Earn Money Online This Summer

If you need extra cash to pay down debt or save money, there are plenty of ways to earn money online. From automating your bank account to selling your photos through an app, it’s possible to boost your cash flow without ever leaving your couch.

To help you find the best options available to earn more money, we’ve put together a list of 18 ways to boost your savings. Take a look:

1. Open a new bank account

Switching banks can sound like a daunting task. But many banks offer bonuses to people who sign up for an account, set up direct deposit and use their debit card. Some of these perks can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.

Chime’s Automatic Savings program, for example, connects your savings account to your debit card. Every time you use the card, Chime rounds up the transaction to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up amount directly into your savings account. Cha-ching!

2. Use a cash-back website

Sites like Topcashback, Ebates and Swagbucks offer cash back when you use their shopping portals to shop at your favorite retailers. Ebates and Swagbucks even have browser extensions that notify you if you’re eligible to score cash back on a site you’re visiting. Some stores offer upwards of 10% back.

3. Get rid of your stuff

Unless you’re a staunch minimalist, you likely have unused items lying around. Why not sell your stuff on sites and apps like Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Wouldn’t you rather get paid for those books you’ve already read?

4. Sell your photos

Are you an amateur or budding photographer? You may be happy to find out that you can actually turn your photos into cash. Foap is an app that allows you to get paid for the pictures you take on your phone.

Just upload your images, and if a brand, agency or individual wants to buy your photo, you’ll get paid five dollars through the app. There’s no limit to how many times you can license the same photo.

5. Lose weight

Shedding a few pounds isn’t always easy, but earning cash to do so can be an extra motivator. HealthyWage and DietBet are two websites that reward you for betting on yourself. If you achieve your goal, you get paid.

Here’s how it works. You track your weight throughout each challenge and work toward a specific goal. How much you earn typically depends on the type of challenge you choose, the amount you contribute to the pot at the beginning, and how many other people achieve their goals.

6. Go grocery shopping

Clipping coupons can be time-consuming. Why not use an app to save money on groceries instead?

Ibotta, for example, is a cash-back app that offers rebates on various items and products at your local grocery store. All you have to do is choose which products in the app to buy, then take a picture of your receipt after you’re done shopping.

7. Find unclaimed money

It may sound unbelievable, but it’s possible that you’re owed hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You may have refunds from various merchants, old savings accounts and other sources. You may have completely forgot that you even had these accounts in the first place.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is an organization which maintains a database of unclaimed money for individuals in each state. To see if you’ve left money on the table somewhere, visit Unclaimed.org. Check your current state of residence as well as other places you’ve lived to make sure you don’t miss anything. If you find missed money that belongs to you, you’ll need to answer some questions to prove your identity. You’ll then provide your current contact information and voila, a check will arrive in the mail.

8. Shop for a new car insurance policy

If you’re a good driver, a 2017 NerdWallet report shows that you could save $416.52 per year by shopping around for car insurance. Wow.

Where to start? Compare at least three or four car insurance companies to see if you can get a better deal than what you’re currently paying. Also, call your current insurer to see if it’s willing to match the lower rates you find elsewhere. Make it a habit of negotiating and seeking lower auto insurance rates once a year.

9. Get rid of unwanted gift cards

From time to time, we all get gift cards to retailers we would never shop at. Instead of letting these unwanted gift cards gather dust, sell them online through websites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. Depending on the brand, you can get up to 80% or 90% of the card’s face value in cash.

10. Get crafty

Do you like to make beaded jewelry, handcrafted ceramic pots or anything else that’s artsy? Etsy is a popular website for people with a talent for crafts. If you have been thinking about selling your wares online, why not just do it?

Your earnings can vary depending on the quality and demand for your products, but it’s possible to earn some serious extra dough from your hobby.

11. Rent out a room

Got a spare bedroom in your house? Why not turn it into cash? Airbnb and VRBO allow just about anyone to rent out a room, a couch or their entire home to travelers looking to save on accommodations.

This option is best if you live in a popular tourist destination or major city, and you’ll have to be comfortable with having strangers stay in your place. But it’s possible to earn hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month. As an example of how much you can earn, a quick search on Airbnb for a private room in Chicago yielded an average rental rate of $109 per night.

12. Lend your money to others

Investing in the stock market can be risky, especially if you’re a newbie investor. Instead, consider investing in people by lending some of your cash and earning interest.

LendingClub and Prosper are top peer-to-peer lending marketplaces that allow you to lend money to people looking to borrow in the form of personal loans. LendingClub claims historical returns of three to eight percent a year and Prosper says you can earn an estimated return of 7.3% on average.

13. Invest your spare change

If you like Chime’s Automatic Savings program mentioned above, you may want to consider Acorns, a micro-investing app. All you have to do is connect your bank account or credit card. Every time you use your card or checking account, Acorns will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and invest the round up amount in exchange-traded mutual funds.

14. Run errands or do handyman work

If you have spare time and the right skills, you can earn some money on the side through TaskRabbit.

The TaskRabbit website matches people in need of home services with “Taskers” who are eager to help and earn extra cash. You can sign up to offer various services, including grocery shopping, furniture assembly, moving and packing, and general handyman work.

15. Online focus groups

Both large and small companies spend a lot of money doing market and consumer research to get feedback on their products. You can participate in such focus groups online through websites like FocusGroup, Fieldwork and Inspired Opinions.

Keep in mind, however, that some focus groups may require that you attend in person.

16. Test out apps and websites

One of the many ways app and website developers make improvements is by asking consumers for their feedback.

UserTesting pays you to use apps and visit websites, and then offer up your opinions. You’ll complete a few tasks while recording your thoughts as you speak them aloud. You can earn $10 for every 20-minute video you complete, for an hourly rate of $30.

17. Use coupon codes

Online retailers often create coupon codes and promotions to entice shoppers to buy something. But unless you receive every retailer’s e-newsletter, you likely won’t ever hear about these deals.

Luckily, websites like Honey and RetailMeNot offer browser extensions that let you know when a website you’re on has available coupon codes. While you’re technically not earning money through these tools, you’ll keep more of your cash in your wallet.

18. Play with apps on your phone

If you enjoy exploring new apps on your phone, you might as well get paid doing it, right?

AppKarma allows you to earn cash and gift cards just for downloading and playing with different apps on your phone. While you won’t get rich doing this, it may be worth it if you have the time and enjoy trying new apps.

Are you ready to save more cash?

There are countless ways to earn money online and boost your savings. The 18 options listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. As you do your own research, you’re bound to find something that suits your skills, passions and wallet.

 

15 Hidden Summer Expenses to Budget For

Summer is the perfect time to relax — but that doesn’t mean you should get lax with your budget, especially because there are some extra expenses that pop up during the warmer months. Here are 15 expenses you’ll want to think of as you get your budget ready for the summer.

1. Utilities

Your place doesn’t have to feel like a meat locker, but you’ll be boosting the air-conditioning to beat the heat. That said, here are a few ways to lower your AC bill during the summer.

2. Travel fees

There are a lot of different fees you encounter when you’re traveling that you wouldn’t otherwise, like checked baggage fees, skycap or even mobile data fees when you’re out of range. These are all things to think through ahead of time (and some may even be travel fees you don’t need to pay).

3. Banking fees

While we’re talking fees, let’s mention ATM fees and foreign transaction fees. If you travel somewhere where your bank doesn’t have ATMs and you need to get cash, you may get hit with a fee. If your credit card doesn’t waive foreign transaction fees, you’ll want to build that expense into your budget.

You can skip a lot of fees, though. Here are 14 fees you should never pay — and how to avoid them.

4. Sunscreen

Yes, I know we’re supposed to be using sunscreen on the daily, but the amount you use goes up in the summer. The good news is some FSAs will cover sunscreen as long as it’s SPF 15 or greater, so check with your provider to see if you’re eligible.

5. Bug spray

Bye, mosquitos.

6. Barbecue supplies

From propane or charcoal to cleaning brushes, you’ll certainly boost your use of the grill during the summer.

Genius tip: Instead of buying a new set of outdoor cooking tools, see what multi-purpose items you already have in your kitchen.

7. Yard care

Flowers, veggie gardens, lawn and tree care … all sorts of yard work comes with the warmer temps. Plus, everything will need to be watered, boosting your water bill.

Genius tip: If you need to have a landscaper come in, be sure to get several estimates so you don’t overpay. Vet companies online, too, so you know their track record.

8. Gasoline

Packing up and heading out on a road trip will mean you’re boosting the miles on your car, as well as your fuel bill. (A good gas credit card could at least help you net rewards on filling your tank.) Plus, when you’re on the road, you’ll probably spend more on …

9. Convenience store stops

Chips, drinks and other road trip essentials aren’t usually taking up a line item on your budget. But who can have a road trip without ’em?

Genius tip: Stock up on supplies from the grocery store before heading out. They’ll likely be less straining on your budget than gas station items.

10. Parking

While we’re talking driving, once you get to your destination, you’ll need to leave your car somewhere and that can be costly. Some hotels offer free parking to guests, while others don’t, so this may be a factor in choosing where you stay.

11. Car rental insurance

If you’re renting a car when you get to your destination, you’ll want auto insurance. That said, it’s a good idea to check ahead of time to see if you already have coverage, as your personal insurance policy or even your credit card often covers you.

12. Activities for the kids

The kids will need things to do during the day when they’re out of school but also when you’re traveling. Every summer, my Mom had new travel games or books for me for the long car rides to the lake. Whether you’re driving or flying, you’ll probably wind up buying something for the kids to do while traveling.

13. Beach rentals

Many resorts or beaches offer umbrellas, chairs or cabanas for a fee. The fee is usually pretty reasonable, and worth it if you can’t bring your own supplies, whether because you’re coming from far away or because the resort won’t allow it. Be sure to ask what the charge is, though, so you can compare apples to apples when deciding what hotel provides the best value.

14. Tipping

Being away from home often means going to restaurants or getting delivery and, unless you’re going to a Danny Meyer style restaurant, you’ll need to add in a tip. Also think about tips for maid services in hotel rooms and cruise ship gratuities when setting your vacation budget.

15. Wardrobe

Goodbye, boots and sweaters. Hello, flip flops and tank tops! Stick to the essentials and comparison-shop for must-have apparel so you don’t overspend.

Not everything you do during the season will cost more. In fact, here are 50 things you can get for free this summer.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

How to Make Money With Your Car This Summer

If you have a car, you likely use it to get from one place to the next. And, while you may feel lucky to have your own wheels, that car may cost you a pretty penny to maintain and insure.

But, what if you used your car to actually help you make more money on the side and pay for your gas and maintenance bills? This would turn your car into more of an investment and a solid income stream, right? Well, you’re in luck. You can now make money with your car. Here are a few ways you can do so – starting this summer.

Drive for Uber or Lyft

Becoming an Uber or Lyft driver is a popular side hustle opportunity. The demand for rideshare drivers is high and will remain so as long as people keep using rideshare apps to get around. I should know – my husband is an Uber and Lyft driver.

I love that you can choose your own hours and earn a flexible income. In my husband’s case, he works long and varying hours at his full-time job so he could not commit to a second job with fixed hours. Initially, he stayed up late a few nights a week driving for Uber. After a while, he started driving for Lyft too and the extra income has helped him pay off his car loan early. It has also helped us save for vacations and pay off other debts.

How much you earn driving for Uber or Lyft will depend on which city you’re driving in, the time of day you operate (drivers tend to make a little more during rush hour times), and how often you drive. Uber and Lyft pay via direct deposit weekly so it’s ideal to have a bank account that makes it easy and painless to set up direct deposit payments.

Uber Eats

If driving people around makes you a little nervous, you can try driving for Uber Eats. Uber Eats partners with local restaurants so customers can order food on the app and drivers like you can use your car to deliver the food order.

While the average Uber driver can expect to make $20+ per hour, Uber Eats drivers make around eight to $12 per hour after factoring in vehicle expenses. They earn less than Uber drivers because Uber Eats trips are generally shorter. Also, Uber is more popular than Uber Eats currently, so Uber drivers have a greater opportunity to increase earnings. Regardless, both are great ways to make money simply by driving around in your car.

Make Deliveries with Amazon and Other Sites

With Amazon being the biggest online retailer to date, it’s no surprise that the company ships a ton of packages each day.

You can cash in on this by delivering Amazon packages in your local area. The program is called Amazon Flex and delivery drivers can make $18 to $24 per hour. Like Uber, you can set your own schedule by working as little or as much as you want. Amazon Flex is available in over 50 cities so far and they are adding more all the time.

Another delivery option you may want to consider is delivering food orders with Postmates (very similar to Uber Eats) or becoming a tasker for TaskRabbit.

TaskRabbit allows you to find small odds jobs you enjoy at the pay rate you choose. Taskers are paid to deliver items, run errands, help move furniture, perform handyman work, and more. What I love about this option is that you can decide how much you get paid per task. You just need to register online, attend an orientation in your city and start making money.

Advertise

If you drive your car a lot, you can make money by placing ads on it. Some companies will pay you hundreds per month to drive around with their ads on your car.

Carvertise is one of the best sites to use to place ads on your car for extra money. Another good site is Wrapify. How much you earn depends on whether you wrap your entire car or showcase a partial ad. According to Wrapify, you can earn around $84 to $140 per month just by wrapping a panel around your car, and $264 to $452 by wrapping your full car with an ad.

Some brands will require you to drive a certain number of miles during the ad campaign. This makes it a great opportunity for someone who already drives a lot or commutes to work daily. What I love about this opportunity is that the ads are easy to remove when the campaign is over. This way you can keep making money with other ads.

Rent Out Your Car

Say you don’t drive your car a lot but still want to make money with it. Consider renting your car out to others for some quick and extra cash. This is a good idea if you work from home and don’t use your car much or have a two-car household.

Turo is a car sharing company that lets you rent out your car while you’re not using it. Turo makes it easy and even offers liability insurance. Better yet, you can choose which days you want to make your car available and set your own daily price.

Owning a Car Has Its Perks

While some may say it’s cheaper to go without a car, there are tons of extra income opportunities when you do have a vehicle. By using the options above, you can use your car to make extra money to help you pay off debt, boost your savings, start investing or fund a large purchase in cash.

Wondering if any of these extra income ideas are worth it? Try one out for a week or so and see for yourself. You may find a low-effort way to make extra money for the long-term.

 

Budgeting for Summer Vacation

School bells are ringing for the last time this school year. Kids and their families are looking forward to a great summer season filled with warm weather, fun activities, and maybe even a vacation. But that summer vacation may be more expensive than many can afford.

Recent data from Bankrate shows that nearly one-quarter of Americans will skip a vacation this summer due to financial reasons, while roughly another quarter are skipping out due to a demanding work schedule and other family obligations. If you do want to make a summer vacation a reality, it is important to focus on your budget to make it happen.

The cost of a summer vacation

Vacations are not cheap, but they don’t have to cost so much they are not attainable. If you want to take your family of four on a vacation, you’ll spend around $1,000 to $5,000 depending on your accommodations, travel, meals, and activities. But keep in mind you have a lot of control here.

A summer road trip is one of the cheaper ways to get out of town. If you bring a cooler and plan out meals, camp some of the time, only pick hotels with free breakfast, and stick with lower cost attractions, you can enjoy a trip filled with wonderful memories on a tight budget. Depending on your destination and planning, this could easily come in below a $1,000 total cost.

Taking the family to Hawaii or Europe, on the other hand, is rarely an inexpensive proposition. You can expect expensive airfare, hotels, and food to easily surpass $1,000 per traveler depending on how long you travel and the quality of accommodations.

If you live paycheck to paycheck, coming up with even $100 for a home repair is a struggle, let alone $4,000 to take the family to Europe. But money isn’t the only thing holding people back from vacations.

Competing priorities

The Bankrate data said that among those skipping the summer vacation, half said money is the main factor. But for 25%, family responsibilities were the contributing factor. Another 22% can’t take time off from work.

While many employers offer paid time off, a huge number of employees skip taking those days or leave a large number unused. A study from Glassdoor found that half of vacation days go unused and two-thirds of Americans work while on vacation anyway.

For entrepreneurs like us, getting away may be a pipedream. Do as much as possible ahead of time so you can avoid plugging in while away. And putting a vacation auto-away message on can help you avoid the guilt of not responding to emails quickly while away.

Create an automatic vacation savings fund

If you do want to take a vacation but find money is holding you back, consider creating a dedicated vacation savings account. You can put cash in from your direct deposit or a recurring transfer from checking without even thinking about it!

To take it a step further, consider apps like Qapital that can help you put money away on a schedule or based on some fun, automated actions. A few months ago I put $1 into my savings fund every time Donald Trump put out a new message on Twitter, as an example of what is possible for automatic savings.

This can be a simple setup or something more complex. It’s up to you to decide the best path to success.

Don’t forget travel hacking

If you want to supercharge your travel opportunities without going crazy on costs, remember that you can earn valuable miles and points for travel rewards from your credit cards and other sources.

I started travel hacking nearly a decade ago, and it has brought me huge rewards. I’ve been able to visit England, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Canada, Israel, and destinations all over the United States for pennies on the dollar. For example, a few years ago I took my then girlfriend (now wife) to my cousin’s wedding near Tel Aviv. We paid about $150 each round-trip for our flights.

I just booked a July 4th trip to visit my family in Denver, also with miles and points. Flights for three of us plus a lap child cost about $33 out-of-pocket. About two weeks later I’m off on a solo trip to Chicago and Philadelphia for an all-in cash cost of less than $20.

Make your dream vacation a reality

Vacations are an amazing way to see the world and spend time with the people you love most, but don’t let the cost keep you from going or send you into debt. By using smart budgeting and travel hacking techniques, your affordable vacation may be just around the corner.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

Know Your Worth: Personal Finances for the LGBTQIA Community

Did you know that the purchasing power of the LGBTQIA community is almost $1 trillion? Yet at the same time, there are a lot of financial challenges that people in these communities face.

“We often tell people that the fundamentals of money aren’t different for queer people but the nuances and concerns are unique,” says John Schneider, who blogs with his husband David Auten at Debt Free Guys.

“This means that, to the extent that we can, queer people must be more vigilant with our money management, avoid debt as much as possible, diversify income streams, work harder, save and invest more.”

Here at Chime, we’d like to celebrate Pride Month by featuring some of the financial challenges facing the queer community. On that note, we’ve compiled specific steps queer people can take to improve their finances. Take a look:

Start a side hustle

As crazy as it sounds, it’s still legal to fire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation in 28 states. Trans people can even be fired legally on the basis of their gender in 30 states. Even worse, three states (Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) have gone in the complete opposite direction and passed laws banning local anti-discrimination laws from being passed.

While we can work to pressure politicians to change laws, Schneider and Auten also suggest supporting groups like Out Leadership, which promotes LQBT+ people at higher echelons of the private sector. In the meantime, queer people can help buffer themselves against possible job loss (and earn more income) by starting up side hustles.

Start college planning early

“Many queer/gender-non-conforming youth are kicked out of their parents’ house or have to go no-contact with parents that don’t approve of their sexuality or gender expression,” says Lillian Karabaic from the Oh My Dollar podcast/radio show.

“Unfortunately, this means that they often can’t get access to their parents’ income information for the FAFSA,” says Karabaic.

And, because this information is required in order for almost all college students under the age of 24 to receive financial aid or scholarships, many queer young adults end up with substantial student loan debt. In fact, according to a 2018 survey, queer college students graduated with $16,000 more in student loan debt than non-queer people.

What to do? There’s no easy answer but for starters, it’s a good idea for queer people to begin planning for college early.

Learn about healthcare options

We all know that queer people are often systematically discriminated against at their jobs. It turns out that this can come back to haunt you when it comes to healthcare.

“Many same-sex married couples (like many straight couples) rely on one partner’s employer health insurance benefits to cover the other partner and any children,” says Karabaic.

“Unfortunately, this requires folks to disclose their spouse’s gender to their employer, which can result in them getting fired,” she says.

That’s why it’s a good idea for queer people to learn about all the alternatives available to them, such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, or community-based support programs.

Make saving for retirement a priority

Most queer people won’t deny that saving for retirement is a priority, according to a 2017 survey. However, for a variety of reasons, it’s harder for most queer people to save as much as the general population.

On average, 40% of the general population has an employer-sponsored retirement account, compared to 35% for LGBT+ people. And, 30% of the general population also has an IRA, while only 18% of LGBT+ people do.

Another factor to consider is that LGBT+ people are more likely to rank themselves as “spenders” rather than “savers” — a factor that comes from data which shows that queer people save 5% less on average than the general population.

Retirement is one of the most difficult things to save for. But if you can prioritize savings and find ways to reach your goals, you can cross retirement worries off of your list.

Financial education is key

Just because someone identifies as queer doesn’t mean she or he will face the same financial challenges as another queer person.

For example, according to one 2009 study, 21% of African-American lesbian couples live in poverty. But if you’re a white lesbian couple? That number drops to just 4%. The bottom line: all queer people face unfair financial challenges in some way or another.

So, if you’re a queer person, you can take action by educating yourself on the particular challenges of your situation and learning how you can counteract it. And, if you’re a straight person, you can help the queer community by listening to what they have to say, supporting political change, and acting as advocates on their behalf. After all, we’re all in this together. By lifting each other up we can all achieve our financial goals, whatever they may be.

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