Change has to start somewhere, and for many people that change is easier to make if the starting point has some meaning. It can be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other date with some symbolic weight. Most commonly, people choose the beginning of the new year.
If you’re looking for some New Year’s resolutions that will truly change your life, consider adjusting your financial strategy. Here are five things you can do in 2021 to take your money game to the next level.
Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which makes this the perfect time to refinance your debt. Refinancing means switching your loans from your current lender to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate. Refinancing can save you thousands of dollars, depending on the original interest rate and total balance.
Â For example, letâs say you have a $200,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, and you refinance to a 3% interest rate. Your monthly payment will be $244 lower, and youâll save $31,173 in total interest over the life of the loan.Â
You can refinance auto loans, personal loans, and even student loans. However, if you have federal student loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing. Refinancing a federal student loan converts it into a private student loan. This means youâll give up extra perks and benefits like income-driven repayment plans and deferment and forbearance options.
Transfer Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, you can pay less interest by transferring the balance to a new card with 0% APR on balance transfers. These special discounts usually last between 12 to 18 months, during which time you wonât be charged interest on the credit card balance.
For instance, letâs say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you only make the minimum payments, youâll pay $1,223.61 in total interest. If you transfer that balance to a card with 0% APR for 12 months and repay the balance in that time, you wonât pay any interest.
There is often a small fee associated with balance transfers, around 3% of balance transfers. For example, if you transfer $5,000, youâll pay a $150 fee. That still leaves a net savings of $1,073.61 in the scenario outlined above.
Decrease Your Fixed Expenses
One of the best things to do for your budget in 2021 is to decrease fixed expenses like your car insurance, internet, cable, and cell phone. Call those providers and try to negotiate a lower rate.
Â Go through your transactions for the past few months and write down all the recurring subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DoorDash. Then, group them into categories like âfrequently use,â âsporadically useâ and ârarely useâ. Consider canceling anything you rarely use.
Â See if you can get a better deal on your most popular subscriptions. For example, if you and your significant other both pay for Spotify Premium, get a Spotify Duo account instead, and save yourself $83.88 a year.
Open a Better Bank Account
Most people are missing out on an easy way to earn money through your bank account. You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table if you still have a traditional savings account.
According to the FDIC, the current average interest rate on a savings account is 0.05%. Many high-yield savings accounts offer rates between .40% and .60%.Â
Letâs say you have $10,000 in a savings account with .05% interest. After one year, youâll have earned $5.04 in interest. If you moved that amount to a high-yield savings account with .5% interest, you would earn $49.92 in interest over that same time period.
If you’re not investing for retirement yet, this might be the most important financial resolution you can make. Thanks to the power of compound interest, you can start investing now and see huge growth by the time youâre ready to retire.
IRAs and 401(k)s are the two main retirement accounts. Anyone can open an IRA, while only those who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) can open one.
Â If you’re not sure how to invest in your retirement account, consider hiring a qualified financial planner through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
If youâre not ready to work with a financial planner, you can use a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront, which will create a portfolio based on your age, income, and expected retirement age. Robo advisors have low fees and are designed to help beginner investors.
How to Keep Financial Resolutions
First, start small. Pick one habit to change at a time. If you try to accomplish five goals at once, you’ll burn out quickly and give up.Â
When you decide on a resolution, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to talk to a financial planner about investing, break it down into the following steps:
1) Research financial planners through NAPFA
2) Send introductory emails to three financial planners
3) Choose the one that seems like the best fit
4) Schedule a consultation
Give yourself a deadline to accomplish each of these tasks, and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Another tip is to tie your resolutions to a bigger goal. Like dieting or starting a new exercise plan, changing your financial habits is hard. If you’re used to grabbing lunch with your co-workers every day, bringing leftovers from home instead will seem like a huge change.
The key is to imagine the future version of yourself who will benefit from the changes you make today. If your goal is to open and contribute to a retirement account, imagine yourself as a senior citizen living comfortably.
When youâre tempted to skip this monthâs retirement contribution to buy concert tickets, think about your future self, what youâd want for them and how they would appreciate your sacrifice. It can also help to remember some of the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much easier your life would be right now if you had made a different choice.
The post The 5 Best Financial New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Annaâs email requesting help with her finances began with a unique confession.
âFarnoosh, my money problem garners little sympathy,â the 32-year-old wrote. âMy issue is that I make too much of it.â
Now, THIS is interesting, I thought. I immediately followed up with many questions.
Hereâs what I learned through our conversation:
The Denver-based Mint user earns $220,000 per year as an engineer. Annaâs also benefited from years of big bonuses and her net worth, not including her home equity, is close to a million dollars.
After paying taxes and health benefits and maxing out her 401(k), Anna takes home between $8,000 and $10,000 each month. Her expenses mainly consist of a $1,200 mortgage payment, car insurance, gas, food and utilities, amounting to maybe a few thousand dollars per month.
The rest either goes into savings where she stashes about $5,000 to $10,000 for unexpected expenses or into a brokerage account where she has roughly $800,000 invested. A wealth management firm manages that portfolio and charges, she says, an annual 1% fee.
Anna has no consumer debt, besides her mortgage, which amounts to about $338,000. Itâs a 30-year fixed rate loan with a 2.85% interest rate. The home has appreciated in recent years with about $100,000 in equity (including Annaâs initial 20% down payment).
So, what is the problem, exactly?
âMy big worry is that I don’t have the habits to manage money well,â Anna told me. Her sizeable bank balance has her feeling financially free, although she worries about getting carried away with spending sometimes.
âWhen I see money in my bank account I rationalize that âyea, that vacation is doable. I donât hold back on the things that may seem frivolous,ââ she says. But It seems she wants more financial grounding and to be able to evaluate expenditures and price tags more critically.
Annaâs situation may be unique, but I think relatable in the sense that we all would like to feel more thoughtful with how we spend, save and invest. And while some may do well with earning money, it should not be assumed that they can also manage that money well.
I applaud Anna for wanting to be sure that, even with an impressive net worth, she is actually making wise financial decisions.
Hereâs my advice.
Take a Deep Breath
No need to panic when spending on things and experiences that you enjoy. From what I can tell Annaâs prioritizing the serious financial stuff first like contributing the max to her 401(k) and saving all of her annual bonuses in a brokerage account. She has no credit card debt and pays all her bills on time. Thatâs terrific.
Sometimes we just want to hear that weâre on the right track with our money and I have a very simple way to measure this:
If you manage each paycheck by saving, investing and paying all your bills first, then by all means, youâre entitled to have fun with whatever is left without any fear or regret. Am I right?
If youâve done the good work of taking care of your future with your money, then donât hesitate treating yourself and others with the remaining funds today. Splurge away and enjoy your hard-earned money. And remember to enjoy the moment.
Ditch Your Money Managers
I do think Anna could find a better home for her investments.
Paying one percent of her managed assets to this firm may not seem that high of an annual fee. But when you think about Annaâs balance of $800,000, thatâs $8,000 this year. What about next year and the decades after that as she contributes more to the account? That fee, compounded over the next 30 years, will amount to – conservatively – over one million dollars. Ouch.
That doesnât even factor in the expense ratios for each mutual fund thatâs in her portfolio.
If all Anna seeks is investment assistance, she may be better suited stationing her money with an automated wealth platform or robo-advisor where her money is largely invested in low-fee index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETF) and the portfolio management fee is typically 0.50% or less.
Of course, breaking up with your financial advisor is not always so simple. Itâs especially hard for Anna, as she equated her money managers to âfather figures.â
If I were Anna, I would just explain to my advisors over email something like, “I want be more conservativeâ¯withâ¯my money and that includes being extra mindful of the various fees that I’m paying. To that end, Iâve decided to manage my money more independently. Iâm sure you can understand. I appreciateâ¯yourâ¯help over the years. Please let me know next steps.”
Planners know the drill and are used to having clients end relationships.â¯ Stay strong. Nobody can really argue with the fact that saving money is a good thing!
Establish Short and Long Term Goals
Anna wants to spend and save with more conviction. I think having some concrete, tangible goals can help.
For example, she shared that sheâd like to get married, have a family and own two homes â one near her office downtown and another in the mountains as a getaway.
So, the next step is to understand what these goals cost. What are, say, the going prices on a vacation home in her state? How much might she want to stash in a separate account for the future down payment on this property? Knowing the underlying costs of her goals can better direct how much to spend elsewhere.
Next time sheâs planning a vacation, she may be more inclined to price compare or hunt down better deals, as opposed to just judge whether the trip is financially âdoableâ by the amount of money in her bank account. Now sheâll have the image of that second home and its costs and will make a more informed choice.
Contribute to a Cause
Last but not least, when you feel you make more than enough, like Anna does, this is a great opportunity to be extra charitable. If sheâs seeking a way to give her money more meaning and feel purposeful in her financial life, this is a truly wonderful way to go about it. Discover a cause that youâre passionate about and make an impact as a volunteer and donor.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit: Managing Money When You Make Enough appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re thinking about how much is enough for retirement, you’re probably contemplating a retirement and need to know how to pay for it. If you are, that’s good because one of the challenges we face is how we’re going to fund our retirement.
Determining then how much retirement savings is enough depends on a number of factors, including your lifestyle and your current income. Either way, you want to make sure that you have plenty of money in your retirement savings so you don’t work too hard, or work at all, during your golden years.
If you’re already thinking about retirement and you’re not sure whether your savings is in good shape, it may make sense to speak with a financial advisor to help you set up a savings plan.
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How Much Is Enough For Retirement?
Your needs and expectations might be different in retirement than others. Because of that, there’s no magic number out there. In other words, how much is enough for retirement depends on a myriad of personal factors.
However, the conventional wisdom out there is that you should have $1 million to $1.5 million, or that your retirement savings should be 10 to 12 times your current income.
Even $1 million may not be enough to retire comfortably. According to a report from a major personal finance website, GoBankingRates, you could easily blow $1 million in as little as 12 years.
GoBankingRates concludes that a better way to figure out how long $1 million will last you largely depends on your state. For example, if you live in California, the report found, “$1 Million will last you 14 years, 3 months, 7 days.” Whereas if you live in Mississippi, “$1 Million will last you 23 years, 2 months, 2 days.” In other words, how much is enough for retirement largely depends on the state you reside.
For some, coming up with that much money to retire comfortably can be scary, especially if you haven’t saved any money for retirement, or, if your savings is not where it’s supposed to be.
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Your current lifestyle and expected lifestyle?
What is your current lifestyle? To determine how much you need to save for retirement, you should determine how much your expenses are currently now and whether you intend to keep the current lifestyle during retirement.
So, if you’re making $110,000 and live off of $90,000, then multiply $90,000 by 20 ($1,800,000). With that number in mind, start working toward a retirement saving goals. However, if you intend to eat and spend lavishly during retirement, then you’ll obviously have to save more. And the same is true if you intend to reduce your expenses during retirement: you can save less money now.
The best way to start saving for retirement is to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement account. It can be a Roth IRA, a traditional IRA or a 401(k) account. A 401k account should be your best choice, because the amount you can contribute every year is much more than a Roth IRA and traditional IRA.
1. See if you can max out your 401k. If you’re lucky enough to have a 401k plan at your job, you should contribute to it or max it out if you’re able to. The contribution limit for a 401k plan if you’re under 50 years old is $19,000 in 2019. If you’re funding a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA, the limit is $6,000. For more information, see How to Become a 401(k) Millionaire.
2. Automate your retirement savings. If you’re contributing to an employer 401k plan, that money automatically gets deducted from your paycheck. But if you’re funding a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA, you have to do it yourself. So set up an automatic deposit for your retirement account from a savings account. If your employer offers direct deposit, you can have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into that savings account.
Related: The Best 5 Places For Your Savings Account.
How long do you expect to live? Have your parents or grandparents lived through 80’s or 90’s or 100’s? If so, there is a chance you might live longer in retirement if you’re in good health. Therefore, you need to adjust your savings goal higher.
Consider seeking financial advice.
Saving money for retirement may not be your strong suit. Therefore, you may need to work with a financial advisor to boost your retirement income. For example, if you have a lot of money sitting in your retirement savings account, a financial advisor can help with investment options.
Figuring out how much is enough for retirement depends on how much retirement will cost you and what lifestyle you intend to have. Once you know the answer to these two questions, you can start working towards your savings goal.
How much money you will need in retirement? Use this retirement calculator below to determine whether you are on tract and determine how much you’ll need to save a month.
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Working With The Right Financial Advisor
You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
The post How Much Is Enough For Retirement? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
It amazes us how quickly our girls are growing up. Next month when school starts up again, weâll have a fourth-grader and a kindergartener.
Even though we have some time before they are ready to move out of the house, we want to spend time now prepare them for the big transition. As a parent, you probably feel the same way too.Â
One crucial piece of a financial foundation kids and in particular, teens, need to master is learning to budget (and sticking with it),
While theyâre home now, you have a fantastic opportunity to get them comfortable with handling their money.
If youâre not sure where to start, here are some tips from fellow parents and experts in the personal finance space to make teaching this life skill a bit easier less stressful for you and your teen!
Teach Your Teen to Budget for Real Life
Teens or not, whenever most people hear the word budget, they also hear the word ânoâ. To them, budgets feel like a strict diet. Just as fad diets fail, an unrealistic or extreme budget will more than likely discourage your teen and they will quit.
The first step before you even talk about the numbers is to discuss exactly what a successful and sustainable budget should be. When done right, a budget is something that helps you move your money towards your goals. Explain to them that at its root, budget is simply a plan about what theyâd like to do.
You want a budget that can cover:
Â Â Essential bills
Â Â Future goals
Â Â Discretionary expenses
When your teenâs budget covers those goals, theyâre not only putting their finances in a good spot, but theyâre moving closer to their specific long term dreams.
Creating a Doable Budget (Theyâll Actually Enjoy!)
Once your teen(s) understands how a budget works, itâs important for them to create a budget that they can use in the real world. You can honestly budget however you want, but an easy budget to get your teen started is the 50/20/30.
Quite simplify, the 50/20/30 budget puts money into those three main buckets:
Â Â 50%Â goes towards essentials
Â Â 20% towards savings (or investing)
Â Â 30% for fun and discretionary expenses
I appreciate how easy and flexible this budget can be. You can adjust the percentages for your teenâs needs, but it gives them some ballpark idea of how to portion their finances when they are out on their own.
How do you start them out on this budget?
With teens, you may have expenses like clothing or their cellphone bill count as essentials, or you may want to give your child the experience of being responsible for a small, shared family bill while they are still at home.
For older teens, you could even charge them a nominal ârentâ to offset their portion of the bills. In some cases, parents give that money back to their child as a gift to help with moving expenses (like for their security deposit) or use as additional savings.Â
However you decide, talk it over so your teen understands why youâre doing it this way.
Share Your Family Budget
Creating a budget isnât complicated, but it can difficult if your teen has no idea what to expect. Knowledge can be empowering.
While we may take it for granted since have to deal with the numbers, but your teen may not be aware of how much it takes to keep the lights on and roof over their heads. If you havenât already shared your own budget already, now is the time.
Not knowing also puts them at a disadvantage when they start searching for a place or are comparing prices on expenses. Being armed with the numbers makes your teenager a more informed consumer.
When Your Teen Breaks Their Budget
Will there be times where your teenager will mess up with their budget? Probably so. However, thatâs not necessarily a bad thing. As parents, we tend to want to protect our kids, but we also have to prepare them for the real world. As Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, pointed out we should let our kids make financial mistakes.Â
Wouldnât it be better for your child to break the clothing budget while theyâre still at home allowing you to help guide them through rather than having break their monthly budget while they are on their own and have bills to pay?
Mistakes will happen, theyâre a part of life so giving your teen time to work those them and adjust their budget is a blessing for their future selves.
Essential Accounts for Your TeenÂ to Have
Since weâre talking about budgets, we should also mention some essential accounts youâd want your kid to have so they can practice managing their money.
Opening up student checking and savings accounts (usually free low on fees as well as not having minimum balance requirements) are good foundational accounts for your teen. They can deal with real-world situations pending charges, automatic transfers, and direct deposits.
As Family Balance Sheet founder Kristia Ludwick pointed out, teens should have the skill of balancing a checkbook even if they decide to go all-digital with their banking.
If they work, talk it over together and see if they can open up an IRA and start contributing. It doesnât have to be much. The idea is to get them familiar and comfortable with the basics of investing.
Even if they put in $25 a paycheck, having them practice setting aside money in their budget for both long and short term goals is an invaluable lesson. You can also encourage them to contribute by offering a match for what they put in.
How Teens Can Easily Stay on Top of Their Money
With several accounts to keep tabs on, your teen is going to need an easy system to track their budget and goals.
With Mint, they can link up their accounts in one secure spot. They can also add their budget along with any savings goals they want to hit and make sure they stick with them.
Hopefully, these ideas and tips will make it easier to help your teen transition into a self-sufficient adult.
The post How to Teach Your Teen to Budget Like a Pro appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Hello! Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery business? Well, good news, this article will tell you what you need to know. Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that will teach you how to start your own side hustle baking and selling dog treats.
Hi! My name is Kristin Larsen, and I runBelieve in a Budget, a blog about personal finance and my experience with various side hustles. (It feels like I’ve tried them all over the years!)
As I’ve written about before here on Making Sense of Cents, my favorite online side hustle is working as a Pinterest virtual assistant. Managing Pinterest accounts is a great way to earn an income entirely online.
But today, I’m here to talk about a completely different side hustle, one that can be run entirely offline if you want (or entirely online, or a combination!).
While I love being able to work from home (or anywhere) on my computer, there is something to be said about stepping away from the computer and doing work that doesn’t involve the ‘virtual world’ – work that requires you to move around a little instead of being planted in front of a screen all day long!
In the case of this side hustle, it involves moving around the kitchen baking up beautiful and delicious dog treats.
Yes, dog treats!
The side hustle I’m speaking of is starting a dog treat bakery and I’m so excited to share it with you today. As a successful dog treat baker myself, I know first-hand how in-demand and lucrative this business can be.
How do you start a dog bakery?
How I Took My Dog Treat Bakery from Passion to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job
My dog treat bakery story started over ten years ago when I was an interior architect and designer at my 9-5 job.
At the time, I was the proud dog mom of Bella, a sweet-but-very-high-maintenance pup. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to give her a birthday treat that fit her ‘diva dog’ personality.
I went to the local pet store and perused the aisles, but all I could find were treats filled with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce that looked like they had been sitting on the shelves for years. After a disappointing visit, I walked out the door and decided that I was going to bake Bella a treat.
This was kind of laughable since baking was not something I had done much of in my life, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work.
I decided to do some research by going to a local bakery and spending a lot of time staring at the baked goods (awkward!), trying to figure out which one I could recreate for Bella. I finally decided on a pretty cupcake adorned with white icing.
I went home, researched dog-safe ingredients and got to work planning Bella’s birthday treat. After a quick trip to Target to buy a mini cupcake tin, I started baking.
About an hour later, her birthday cupcake was baked, iced and ready to serve. Despite its small size, it was a huge success – she loved it!
As soon as I saw how much she loved her treat, you could say I became a little obsessed with making wholesome, healthy treats for her. Soon, I started gifting them to friends and family.
I went from developing a single cupcake recipe to developing over 20 different dog treat recipes – everything from treat bones to cookies to brownies to cakes!
Pretty soon, the friends and family who were on the receiving end of my gifts were saying: ‘Kristin, our dog(s) LOVED your treats. Can we buy some to gift? Can my friends/family/co-workers/neighbors buy some?’
With those questions, Diva Dog Bakery™ was born!
My little ‘obsession’ quickly became a side hustle, first bringing in $100 to $200 a month, then over $500 a month, just selling through word-of-mouth.It was the easiest money I had ever made!
In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up losing my 9-5 job a few months after I started Diva Dog Bakery™. It was during the Great Recession, so I couldn’t find a job in my industry anywhere. My unemployment checks weren’t enough and I was quickly going through my savings.
I was initially stuck in a ‘dog treat bakery = side hustle’ mindset, so it didn’t immediately occur to me to try to turn my side hustle into a full-time business. But when my money was drying up, it finally clicked: I can turn this into a full-time business!
I went all-in on my bakery and hustled hard. I sold at multiple farmers markets every Saturday (shout-out to my parents who helped me ‘be’ in multiple locations at once!), started a successful Etsy shop and also sold products wholesale.
Pretty soon, I went from going broke to making a solid $3,000 to $4,000 per month… despite the economy being in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic!
The especially exciting thing about my earnings is this was nearly ten years ago when the dog treat industry wasn’t nearly as hot. These days, my efforts could easily bring in double that!
The Opportunities in the Dog Treat Industry (Why You Should Start a Dog Treat Bakery)
When I first started my dog treat bakery, the idea of buying homemade cupcakes or brownies or cookies for your dog was still considered a little ‘out there.’
These days, dog owners are much more tuned in to the idea of pampering their pooches and they’re willing to spend money to make it happen.
Here are a few interesting stats for you:
The dog treat market is incredibly hot right now and getting even hotter… to the tune of almost 7 BILLION dollars in sales in just 2020 alone! (source)
Over six out of ten dog owners are concerned about the safety of the dog treats they purchase. (source)
Dog owners are especially interested in purchasing dog treats with wholesome, easy-to-pronounce ingredients. (source)
It’s never been a better time to get started with a homemade dog treat bakery!
How Much You Can Earn Baking Dog Treats at Home
If you just want to run a fun-but-profitable hobby, you can easily earn $500 to $1,000 a month with a dog treat bakery as a side hustle.
At this level, you can do all of the work yourself in just a few hours a week. If you have kids, you can also have them pitch in. A dog treat bakery is a great family business!
If you want to turn your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, you can scale it into four figures a month, or even five figures a month.
If you want to scale your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, expect to work 30 to 35 hours a week yourself. If you want to have a heavy farmers market presence, you will probably need to bring on some help for a few hours each week so you can have a presence at multiple farmers markets at the same time. (The best ones are usually on Saturday mornings.)
If things get really busy, you can bring on baking help, marketing help, shipping help and more! You can make this business as big (or as small) as you’d like.
Where to Sell Your Dog Treats
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can run your dog treat baking business in a way that suits your lifestyle. You can run it offline, online, or both!
There are so many ways and places to sell your treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Wholesale to local businesses (e.g., pet stores, veterinarian offices, gift shops)
Social media for local sales
Social media for nationwide sales
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dog Treat Bakery?
Like nearly all businesses, starting a dog treat bakery comes with a few start-up costs, but you will easily earn these back when sales start coming in, or you can even take pre-sale orders! (Have I mentioned that the profit margin on dog treats is amazing?!)
Typical start-up costs for homemade dog treat bakeries in the U.S.* include:
$20 to $50 for the initial ingredients, plus a few inexpensive baking tools if you don’t already have them in your kitchen
$0 to $75 for treat packaging costs
$25 to $50 for a business license
Between a $25 one-off fee to up to a $50 per-treat fee to register your treats with your state – this will depend on your state’s regulations
*Costs and laws outside of the U.S. will vary from what is listed here.
Are Dog Treat Bakeries Regulated?
Yes, but not nearly as much as‘people food’ bakeries. (Good for would-be dog treat bakers, but a little sad for our furry friends!)
In the U.S., the exact regulations you will need to follow are decided by your state and sometimes your local area (e.g., county, city). This is easy information to find out by contacting the following agencies:
State department of agriculture or feed control office
State and local health departments
You can also contact your state’s business agency and tell them you want to start a pet treat bakery. Many states have information on file about pet treat bakeries that tell you everything you need to do.
Don’t be intimidated by this process – in most cases, all you have to do is fill out a few forms and pay a few small registration fees!
How to Get Started as a Dog Treat Baker
When I first started Diva Dog Bakery™, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Although I saw success pretty quickly, there was a lot of trial-and-error because I had no one to guide me. I didn’t know anyone who owned a bakery, let alone a dog treat bakery.
The one thing I definitely did right at the beginning – and what I recommend to you if you want to become a homemade dog treat baker – was to spend some time in the kitchen learning how to make treats.
Because I wasn’t much of a baker (and maybe you aren’t either), getting a little baking experience under my belt was very helpful.
I also tested out my treats on my dogs and the dogs of some of my friends and family. Dogs may not be able to talk, but you can tell pretty easily which treats they love eating and which treats they’ll turn their nose up at!
With this data, you can start to package up and sell the most-liked treats. You can scale it from there and start to build up your business.
If the idea of going it alone on a dog treat bakery business sounds a little intimidating, I’d like to welcome you to join the Diva Dog Bakery™ course where I’ll teach you exactly how to build a thriving dog treat bakery business!
Here’s what the course covers:
How to best make and store dog treats (this is where you’ll practice your baking techniques)
How to turn your hobby into a legal dog treat business
How to package your treats beautifully without hours of effort (beautifully packaged treats command premium prices!)
How to price your dog treats so you maximize your revenue
Where to sell your dog treats: offline, online or both
The best methods for accepting payment
How to most efficiently and inexpensively ship and deliver your treats
The best ways to promote your business so you build up a following of raving fans and repeat customers!
You’ll also receive valuable bonuses, including:
My full dog treat recipe book, which includes the most popular and profitable recipes I used in my bakery
Guaranteed analysis/nutrition labels to use on your treats (required by certain states)
30 days of free access to the Diva Dog Bakery™ Community so you can get all of your questions answered while you grow your business, including live training
It has been so exciting to help new dog treat bakers launch their businesses! Cheering on every baking success and every business success is truly the best part of my day.
Lessons Learned from a Cupcake… and a Phone Call
I like to say that Diva Dog Bakery™ started with a cupcake.
But it really, truly started when, after gifting treats to friends, one of those friends called me and said: ‘Kristin, can I buy a bag of your dog treats?’
Until that moment, I had no idea that anyone would actually want to pay for the treats I had been making as a labor of love.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: there is a market out there for so many different products and services. Whether it’s a product or service that we dream up on our own or that we learn from a course, there is probably someone who wants to buy it from us.
We just have to figure out a way to make that sale happen… and then make it happen again and again!
Dog Treat Bakeries are a Great Business to Start
If you’re interested in starting a business that’s ‘outside the box’ of the typical online businesses, then I highly recommend starting a dog treat bakery.
The industry is booming, the work is enjoyable, the profit margin is fantastic and (maybe the best reason of all) you have the cutest customers!
To get started on your dog treat bakery journey, I’m offering a free dog treat bakery workshop! Check out the sales page here and sign up for the free workshop.
If you have any other questions about starting a dog treat bakery after watching the workshop, just email me and I’d be happy to answer them.
Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery?
The post How I Earned Up to $4,000 Per Month Baking Dog Treats (With Zero Baking Experience!) appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
This is not a great time to be looking for career experience. Industries are suffering, opportunities are scarce and most people are working from home. But if youâre in need of an internship, there are still plenty of options to work virtually – if you know how to sniff them out.
Hereâs what you need to know in order to find a virtual internship: where to look, who to talk to, and how to make sure your application stands out from the competition.
Tips for Getting a Virtual Internship
Before you start applying for internships, you need to have the appropriate documents. Here are the most important.
Draft a Resume
Students who donât already have a resume can find free resume templates through Google Docs and Microsoft Word. These templates have clean designs and are easy to edit.
If you want something more unique, you can buy a template on Etsy. Choose a template that you can easily edit in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. If youâre applying for internships in a creative field like graphic design or advertising, pick a template that has more flair and shows your personality.
When writing your resume, focus on the skills youâve learned and your accomplishments. If you were a waitress at Waffle House (like I was for a summer), mention how it taught you multitasking and organizational skills.
Create a LinkedIn profile and start connecting with people you know. Ask past employers for recommendations and to endorse you for specific skills like Photoshop or Excel.
Work on a Cover Letter
Some internships will require a cover letter. A cover letter should express the value youâll bring to the company, like how your interests and skills fit with the organization and why you would be a good addition.
If youâre submitting a cover letter for an online application, make sure to use any keywords mentioned in the job description. Some companies use software that filters out cover letters missing these keywords.
Have a parent or adult mentor look over both your resume and cover letter. They can offer you advice on how to phrase specific ideas and remind you of jobs, awards, and other accomplishments youâve forgotten about.
Where to Find a Virtual Internship
Once youâve created a resume and basic cover letter, you can start applying. Here are the best places to find a virtual internship.
Talk to Your College
The first place to look is your college career center. Many large companies have direct relationships with universities and accept a certain number of interns from there every year.
Contact the university career center and ask them about internship opportunities. If you already have a declared major, your department may also have its own career counselor who can help. They may have more personal relationships with hiring managers and internship recruiters.
Sometimes colleges have their own internship and job boards, but it still helps to talk to a counselor directly. They may have more resources and can answer your specific questions.
Even though the pandemic has changed how colleges operate, some are still holding virtual career fairs. Youâll likely have to register in advance and choose a specific time slot, so look into these options as soon as possible.
Make sure to follow up regularly if you donât hear back from the career counselor. They may be busy, and your emails can get lost in the shuffle. Donât feel bad about reaching out multiple times- this is part of what you pay for as a student and youâre entitled to their help.
Contact People You Already Know
If youâve had internships before, contact people from those companies and ask if they need help. Itâs much easier to get an internship when you already know the people in charge – especially if you made a good impression during your tenure.
It doesnât matter if the people you worked with have different jobs now. They may still work in a similar industry and need an intern. Make a list of where youâve worked and all the people you remember. If youâre having trouble remembering names, go to the companyâs LinkedIn page to jog your memory and find their contact information.
After youâve contacted them, reach out to any professors you know who still have direct ties to the industry. They can forward your information or send you links to opportunities theyâve seen.
Donât be afraid to contact people at companies where you turned down an internship position. Most people donât take that personally and may still have positive memories of you – plus, getting a previous internship offer from a company indicates that youâre probably a good fit.
If youâre reaching out to professors you havenât talked to in a while, remind them what class of theirs you took and include a copy of your resume. This will make it easier for them to forward the email to any prospects.
Take your time when crafting emails to industry contacts. If you write an email with typos and grammar mistakes, your email may be deleted immediately. This is especially true if youâre contacting someone you donât know. They may receive dozens of emails from students like you and not have time to respond to them all.
Look at Job Sites
If youâve reached out to your networking contacts with no luck, itâs time to look for a virtual internship on a job site. Job sites should be the last place you look for a virtual internship because itâs harder to stand out among a sea of candidates.
Here are some of the best sites and apps to use:
Intern from Home
Remember not to discount an internship if thereâs no mention that the job will be remote. Some listings may be outdated and not reflect the current situation.
When you apply, check the companyâs website and LinkedIn profile to see if you have any personal connections. Having someone in common can help get your application into the right hands.
The post How to Get a Virtual Internship appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you get a car loan even if you have a below-average credit score.
Based on our study, OneMain Financial and LightStream are two of the top lenders offering bad credit card loans. This is due to factors including loan options, requirements to qualify, and interest rates offered. Of course, we offer in-depth reviews of all the top lenders who offer bad credit car loans further down in this piece.
Apply now with our top pick: OneMain Financial
In this guide we also help you understand the factors that go into selecting the right auto lender, and how to get the best rate you can.
Most Important Factors for Bad Credit Car Loans
If youâre in the market for a bad credit car loan, there are a plethora of factors to consider and compare. Here are the main loan details we looked at in our study, and the ones you should prioritize as you select the best car loan for your needs.
Check your credit score. And understand what is in your credit report.
FICO scores under 579 is considered ‘poor’. But you may need a bad credit loan with a score as high as 669.
Interest rates and fees matter. These can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month.
Compare loan terms. Consider your repayment timeline and compare lenders with this in mind.
Getting prequalified online can help. Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Watch out for loan restrictions. Some lenders impose restrictions on what car you can purchase. Keep this in mind to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
The Best Bad Credit Car Loans of 2021
The best bad credit car loans make it easy for consumers to qualify for the financing they need. The following lenders made our list due to their superior loan offerings, excellent customer service, and reputation in this industry.
Car Loan Company
Best for Flexibility
Best Personal Loan Option
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
Best Loan Comparison Site
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Best for Fast Funding
Why Some Lenders Didn’t Make the Cut
While the lenders we are profiling are the best of the best, there are plenty of bad credit car loans that didnât quite make the cut. We didnât include any lenders that only offer auto loan refinancing, for example, since we know many people need a car loan in order to purchase a new or used car or truck. We also stayed away from bad credit car loans that charge outrageous fees for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Bad Credit Auto Loan Reviews
We listed the top companies we selected in our study above, but we also aim to provide readers with more insights and details on each. The reviews below highlight the highlights of each lender that made our list, plus our take on who they might be best for.
OneMain Financial: Best for Flexibility
OneMain Financial offers personal loans and auto loans with interest rates that range from 18.00% to 35.99%. You can repay your auto loan in 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, and you can use this lender to borrow up to $20,000 for a new or used car. You can apply for your auto loan online and from the comfort of your own home, and itâs possible to get approved within a matter of minutes.
While OneMain Financial doesnât list a minimum credit score requirement, itâs believed they will approve consumers with scores as low as 600. You should also note that auto loans from OneMain Financial come with an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan amount.
Sign Up With OneMain Financial Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: OneMain Financial offers a lot of flexibility in terms of your loan terms, including the option to repay your auto loan over five years. OneMain Financial also has pretty decent reviews from users for a bad credit lender, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: OneMain Financial charges some pretty high rates for its bad credit loans, and donât forget that you may need to pay an origination fee that is up to 5% of your loan amount. Their loans are also capped at $20,000, which means this lender wonât work for everyone.
Who Itâs Best For: This lender is best for consumers with really poor credit who need auto financing but canât get approved for a better loan.
Upgrade: Best Personal Loan Option
Upgrade is an online lender that offers personal loans with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed repayment timeline. You can borrow up to $50,000 in an unsecured loan, which means you wonât actually use the car you purchase as collateral for the loan.
You can repay the money you borrow over 36 to 60 months, which makes it possible for you to tweak your loan offer to secure a monthly payment you can afford. Upgrade has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 to qualify, although theyâll consider additional factors such as your income and employment history.
Sign Up With Upgrade Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Upgrade lets you âcheck your rateâ online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it easy to shop around and compare this loan offer to others without having to fill out a full loan application. Also note that Upgrade has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Upgrade charges APRs as high as 35.89% for consumers with the worst credit, and an origination fee of up to 6% of your loan amount might also apply.
Who Itâs Best For: Upgrade is best for consumers with decent credit who need to borrow a larger loan amount. This loan is also best for anyone who wants an auto loan that isnât secured by their vehicle.
AutoCreditExpress.com: Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
AutoCreditExpress.com is an online platform that lets consumers with bad credit and even no credit get the financing they need. Once you fill out some basic loan information, youâll be connected with a lender who can offer you financing as well as a dealership in your area. From there, youâll head to the local dealership and pull the pieces of your auto loan together, including the purchase price of the car you want.
Sign Up With Autocreditexpress.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: AutoCreditExpress.com has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. This platform also makes it possible for consumers with no credit at all to finance a car, which is a welcome relief for people who are building credit for the first time.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: This website is a loan platform but they donât offer loans directly to consumers. This means you wonât have any idea on rates and terms until you fill out an application and get connected with a lender.
Who Itâs Best For: This loan is best for consumers with no credit or minimal credit history who cannot get approved for a loan elsewhere.
MyAutoLoan.com: Best Loan Comparison Site
MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to compare up to four auto loan offers in a matter of minutes. You can use this website to apply for a new auto loan, but you can also utilize it to consider refinancing offers for an auto loan you already have. You can also use funds from this platform to purchase a car from a dealer or from a private seller.
Sign Up With MyAutoLoan.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Comparing auto loans in terms of their terms, rates, and fees is the best way to save money and wind up with the best deal. Since MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site, they make it easy to shop around and compare competing offers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Loan comparison sites connect you with other lenders who have their own loan terms and minimum requirements for approval. Make sure you know and understand all the details of loans youâre considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Who Itâs Best For: MyAutoLoan.com is best for consumers who want to do all their auto loan shopping with a single website.
Capital One: Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Capital One offers online auto loan financing in conjunction with a program called Auto NavigatorÂ®. This program lets you get prequalified for an auto loan online, then work with a participating dealer to coordinate a loan for the car you want. Capital One also lets you search available vehicles at participating dealerships before you apply for financing, making it easy to figure out how much you might need to borrow ahead of time.
Sign Up With Capital One Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Capital One offers the huge benefit of letting you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry to your credit report. Capital One is also a reputable bank with a long history, which should give borrowers some comfort. They have an A+ rating with the BBB and plenty of decent reviews from consumers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: You should be aware that Capital One auto loans only work at participating dealers, so you may be limited in terms of available cars to choose from.
Who Itâs Best For: Capital One auto loans are best for consumers who find a car they want to buy at one of the participating lenders that works with this program.
LightStream: Best for Fast Funding
LightStream offers online loans for a variety of purposes, including auto financing. Their auto loans for consumers with excellent credit start at just 3.99% with autopay, and even their loans for consumers with lower credit scores only run as high as 16.79% with autopay.
You can apply for your LightStream loan online and get approved in a matter of minutes. This lender can also send your funds as soon as the same business day you apply.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required for loan approval, although other factors like your work history and income are considered.
Sign Up With LightStream Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: LightStream offers auto loans with exceptional terms, and thatâs even true for consumers with less than perfect credit. You can also get your loan funded as soon as the same business day you apply, which is crucial if you need auto financing so you can get back on the road.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans wonât work for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Who Itâs Best For: LightStream is best for people with decent credit who need to get auto loan financing as quickly as possible.
What You Need To Know When Applying For A Car Loan With Bad Credit
Interest rates and fees matter.
If you think your interest rate and loan fees wonât make a big difference in your monthly payment, think again. The reality is that rates and fees can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month. Consider this: A $10,000 loan with an APR of 35.89% will require you to pay $361 per month for five years. The same loan amount at 21.99% APR will only set you back $276 per month. At 9.99%, you would pay only $212 per month for five years. The bottom line: Make sure to compare auto loans for bad credit so you wind up with the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
Take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.
Itâs not always possible to wait to apply for a car loan, but you may be able to secure a lower interest rate and better loan terms if you can improve your credit score before you borrow money. The most important steps you can take to improve your score include paying all your bills early or on time, as well as paying down debt in order to decrease your credit utilization. You should also refrain from opening or closing too many credit card accounts in order to avoid new inquiries on your credit report and maintain the longest average length of your credit history possible.
Compare loan terms.
Some lenders let you borrow money for up to 84 months, while others let you repay your loan over 36 or 60 months at most. If you need to repay your loan over a longer timeline in order to secure an affordable monthly payment, make sure to compare lenders based on this factor. If youâre having trouble figuring out how much can you can afford, gauging affordability based on the monthly payments you can handle can also help in that effort.
Getting prequalified online can help.
Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it considerably easier to compare rates and shop around without formally applying for an auto loan. Getting prequalified with more than one lender can also help you determine which one might offer the lowest rate without having to fill out a full loan application.
Watch out for loan restrictions.
As you compare the lenders on this list, keep in mind that not all lenders extend loans for any car you want. Some only let you finance cars with participating lenders in their network, which can drastically limit your options and make it impossible to purchase a car from a private seller. If you hope to purchase a car from someone you know or a website like craigslist.org, you may want to consider reaching out to your personal bank or a credit union you have a relationship with.
Bad credit car loans donât have to be forever.
Finally, you should know that a car loan for bad credit doesnât have to last forever. You may need to borrow money for a car right now regardless of the interest rate and terms you can qualify for, but it may be possible to refinance your loan into a better loan product later on. This is especially true if you focus on improving your credit score right away, and if you use your auto loan as an opportunity to prove your creditworthiness.
How to Get the Best Rate
1. Check your credit score.
Your credit score is one of the most important defining factors that dictate loan costs. Before you apply for an auto loan, it can help you check your credit score to see where you stand. Your score may not be as bad as you realize, but it could also be worse than you ever imagined. Either way, it helps to know this important information before you start shopping for an auto loan.
2. Improve your credit over time.
If your credit score needs work, youâll want to take steps to start improving it right away. The most important steps you can take to boost your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization. Also, make sure youâre not opening or closing too many credit accounts within a short amount of time.
3. Check your credit reports.
Use the website AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Once you have this information, check over your credit reports for errors. If you find false information that might be hurting your score, take the steps to have the incorrect information removed.
4. Compare loan offers from at least three lenders.
A crucial step to get the best rate involves shopping around and comparing loan offers from at least three different lenders. This is important since lenders with different criteria might offer a lower APR or better terms than others.
5. Be flexible with repayment terms.
Also consider a few different loan terms provided you can afford the monthly payment with each. Some auto lenders offer better rates for shorter terms, which can help you save money if you can afford to repay your loan over 24 or 36 months instead of 60+.
How We Chose the Best Auto Loans
The lenders on our list werenât plucked out of thin air. In fact, the team behind this guide spent hours comparing auto lenders based on a wide range of criteria. Hereâs everything we considered when comparing the best bad credit car loans of 2021:
Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Our team looked for loans that offer reasonable rates and terms for consumers with poor credit. While higher APRs are typically charged to consumers with a low credit score, we only considered lenders that offer sensible rates that donât seem out of line for the auto loan market.
Ratings and Reviews: We gave preference to lenders who have decent reviews online, either through Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, or another third party website. We also gave higher marks to lenders who have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Online Availability: Lenders who offer full loan details online were definitely given top priority in our ranking, and lenders who let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report were given the most points in this category. But since not everyone wants to apply for a loan online, we also included some lenders that let you apply over the phone.
Approval Requirements: Finally, we looked for lenders that extend credit to consumers with low credit scores in the first place. Not all lenders offer specific information on approval requirements, but we did our best to sort out lenders that only accept borrowers with good or excellent credit.
Summary: Best Bad Credit Card Loans of 2021
Best for Flexibility: OneMain Financial
Best Personal Loan Option: Upgrade
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No credit: AutoCreditExpress.com
Best Loan Comparison Site: MyAutoLoan.com
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit: CapitalOne
Best for Fast Funding: LightStream
The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
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Chances are, youâve played your fair share of Solitaire. And why wouldnât you? Itâs a great time-killer, itâs fun and itâs a nice little mental challenge. The only thing that could make it better? Winning money for it.
The Solitaire Cube app lets you do just that. This free app lets you play the classic card game you already know and love, plus it matches you with players in your skill level, so you can go head-to-head in tournaments where you can win real money. Plus, the games are quick â just two to five minutes each, and you can play them anywhere.
How to Win Real Money Just for Playing Solitaire on Your Phone
You might be thinking this sounds too good to be true. But hereâs the thing: Itâs really not. One Solitaire Cube player, Amanda, even won about $6,000 and was able to use her winnings to recarpet her house.
âWhen I actually started winning money and earning prizes, I was blown away,â she says.
Interested? Hereâs how it works: Download the free Solitaire Cube app and create an account. Then you can play some free practice matches to get the hang of things. If you donât already know how to play, itâs easy to learn. Then, when youâre ready, Solitaire Cube will match you with players at your same skill level. Beginners play beginners; experts play other experts. Yep, you wonât get outplayed by some Solitaire grandmaster â youâll both have the same deck, so winning is all about skill.
The app itself is free to download, but if you want to play for money, youâll need to deposit some money first. You can deposit as little as $2 to start, using PayPal, credit card or Apple Pay. Itâs super easy. Then you can play head-to-head, in large pools and live tournaments â some of these tournaments have paid out prizes as big as $350,000. When itâs time to cash out, thereâs no waiting period, like with some other apps. You can get your money almost instantly.
Solitaire Cube has an App Store rating of 4.6 out of 5 from more than 70,000 usersâ rankings.
As for Skillz, the platform that hosts the game, it operates hundreds of games and has paid out more than $2 billion in prizes so far. The company has invested years into its player-matching technology, ensuring you only compete with players of the same skill level.
Win or lose, you always receive âticketzâ that you can redeem in Skillzâ Ticketz store for cash or prizes, like Amazon gift cards, a 65-inch TV â even a BMW or a Porsche. The higher stakes you play for, the more ticketz you receive.
For Solitaire players, hereâs the most important part: The game is well designed, a classic Solitaire experience. To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.
Mike Brassfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He loves him some Solitaire.
Unfortunately, you canât play for money in the following states: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota or Tennessee. However, in those states, you can still play for fun with the gameâs virtual currency.
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.
In the age of paperless transactions, identify theft is something that virtually all of us are susceptible to. If your identity is stolen, the consequences can be severe, and in some cases, can take years to recover from. One way to be proactive against fraud and defend yourself from identity theft, is to freeze your credit report with each of the three major credit bureausâExperian, TransUnion, and Equifax.Â
Placing a credit freeze on your credit report will stop identity thieves from being able to open new accounts, lines of credit, or make any large purchases in your name, regardless of whether or not they have your Social Security number or any other sensitive information.Â
What a credit freeze means
A credit freeze is a process that shuts off access to your credit reports at your request. Without your verified consent, your delicate information cannot be acquired. This means that if someone were to attempt to apply for credit in your name, your report would come up as âfrozen,â and therefore the creditor would not be able to see the information needed for the application to be approved.
You can unfreeze your credit at any time by using a PIN or a password.Â
Reasons to freeze your credit
It might be a good idea to freeze your credit if youâre experiencing any of the following situations:
Your data has been compromised in a data breach: It happens. If youâve been a victim of a data breach and personal information related to your identity has been leaked or made vulnerable to cyber criminals, a credit freeze can offer you some extra protection.Â
You have reason to think youâve been a victim of identity theft: Perhaps youâve checked your credit recently and noticed open accounts that you donât recognize. Maybe youâve been getting phone calls from collections agencies requesting payments from accounts you know you didnât open. While a credit freeze wonât be able to stop them from using accounts a thief has already opened, it can stop them from opening any more.Â
You want to protect your child from identity theft: According to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, parents and legally guardians of children 16 years old and younger have the right to open a credit account for their child with the sole purpose of putting a freeze on it to protect them from identity theft.Â
How to freeze your creditÂ
The process of freezing your credit is simple but does require a few steps. You will need to get in touch with each of the three major credit bureaus one by one and request a credit freeze:
Experian: Contact by phone at 800-349-9960 or go to their website.
Equifax: Contact by phone at 888-397-3742 or go to their website.
TransUnion: Contact by phone at 888-909-8872 or go to their website.Â Â
The credit bureaus will ask you for your Social Security number, your date of birth and other information to verify your identity.
Once you freeze your credit, your file will be unattainable even if a thief has sensitive information such as your social security number or date of birth. If you need to use your credit file, you can unfreeze your credit report at any time.Â
How to unfreeze your credit
Once youâve frozen your credit file, it will be remain blocked until you decide that you would like to unfreeze it. You will need to unfreeze your credit report in order to open a new line of credit or make a major purchase.Â
Unfreezing your credit file is simple. All you will need to do is go online to each credit bureau website and use the personal identification number (PIN) that you used to place the freeze on the account. If you donât want to complete this task online, you can also unfreeze your credit file over the phone or through postal mail.Â
When the unfreezing process is done online or by phone, it is completed within minutes of submitting the request. However, if you send your request via mail, it will take much longer.Â
Keep in mind that you donât necessarily need to unfreeze your credit through all three of the major credit bureaus if you donât want to. For instance, letâs say you plan to apply for credit somewhere. You can ask the creditor which credit bureau it will go through to pull up your report, and only unfreeze that one credit bureau.Â
You may also have the option to unfreeze for a specific amount of time. Once the time is up, your credit file will automatically freeze again.Â
Credit freeze pros and cons
There are a few reasons why you might want to freeze your credit in this day and age, but just like with anything else, there are pros and cons to credit freezing. Here is a general breakdown of the benefits and downfalls of putting a freeze on your credit report:
It prevents thieves from opening new lines of credit: With a credit freeze placed on your account, no one will be able to open a new line of credit or any other type of account requiring a credit check using your personal data. Anyone trying to commit fraud will be stopped in their tracks as soon as lenders notice that the report is frozen.Â
It wonât affect your credit score: Freezing your credit report will not damage your credit score. Additionally, if youâve been a victim of identity theft, freezing your credit report could actually protect your credit score from being damaged due to fraud.Â
Itâs free: It used to be the case that some credit freezes would cost a fee, but that is no longer the way it works.Â
It requires some effort: Putting a credit freeze on your credit report takes some effort. You will need to get in touch with all three credit bureaus.Â
You will need to remember your PINs: A PIN is required to lift or freeze your credit report. If you lose it, you will need to jump through extra hoops to create a new one.
It canât stop thieves from accessing your existing accounts: Credit freezes can only stopfraudstersfrom opening new accounts using your information.If youâve already been a victim of identity theft, a credit freeze canât block thieves from committing fraud with your current accounts. This means that thieves can still make a purchase using a credit card they stole from you.
Freezing Your Credit is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Not everyoneâs career path is a 40+ year marathon working full time until you can finally come up for air in your golden years.
Sometimes you need a little break along the way.
Taking time away from the workforce â whether itâs to travel, take care of loved ones, learn a new skill or whatever â can be a beneficial thing. But money â or the lack thereof â is what stops many people from even considering it.
With some significant planning and budgeting, however, itâs possible to make your career break dreams a reality. Here are five steps you should take when budgeting for a career break.
5 Steps for Career Break Budgeting
1. Think About What Your Career Break Will Look Like
People take career breaks for a number of reasons. Take some time to reflect on why you are planning time away from the workforce and what you intend to do.
When thinking about what your new day-to-day will look like, try to get as detailed as possible. Hone in on aspects that will affect you financially.
How long will your break last? When would you like it to start? Will you be staying at home or traveling the world? What adventures would you like to experience?
While itâs nice to dream about your best life ever, youâve got to be practical too. Ranking what you want to do with your newfound free time will be helpful if you have to cut your list down to fit what you can afford.
2. Explore What Your Costs Will Be During Your Break
After youâve fantasized what your work break will look like, itâs time to focus on the numbers. Youâve got to know what your expenses will be in order to determine whether your plans are realistic.
If you donât already budget your income and track your expenses, nowâs the time to start. Your budget will give you a good idea of how much you spend on essentials and where you can cut costs as you save up for leave.
Research all the additional costs you expect to incur during your break. If youâre taking extended parental leave after the birth of a child, youâll be dealing with a ton of new baby-related expenses. If youâre taking time off to travel, youâve got to pay for transportation and lodging.
The length of your break will also be a big factor here. Obviously, the longer youâre away from the workforce, the more money youâll need saved up.
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3. Set Up a Sinking Fund to Cover Expenses on Your Break
If you havenât heard the term âsinking fund,â thatâs just personal-finance speak for a stash of savings that you regularly contribute to over time to break up a big expense.
Once youâve estimated the overall expenses for your leave, divide that by how many months you have left to come up with your target monthly savings goal.
Switch to a bare-bones budget or try these other ways to save money fast so you can free up cash to add to your sinking fund.
If you already have existing savings you want to use to fund your career break, that will cut down on how much youâll need to put aside each month â just make sure you donât touch your emergency fund!
Your emergency savings should only be used on an actual emergency â like if you get into a car accident or Fido needs to be rushed to the pet hospital. Being away from work wonât make you immune to emergencies, so do not plan to use your emergency fund to tide you through your break.
In fact, before you focus on building up your sinking fund, you ought to have adequate savings in an emergency fund first.
4. Explore Opportunities to Make Money On Your Break
If youâre able to make money while youâre away from work, youâll be less financially burdened. You wonât have to save up as much or worry about burning through your entire savings.
The first income stream you should explore is your current job. Taking a career break doesnât necessarily mean calling it quits where you work now.
Depending on what type of leave youâre taking, your job may be protected and you might be able to continue collecting your salary â or a percentage of your current pay.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child, to deal with a serious health condition or to care for an ill or injured family member. While this type of leave is unpaid, youâll continue to be covered under their workplace health insurance plan and there may be the possibility of coupling this leave with short-term disability pay.
President Joe Bidenâs proposed coronavirus stimulus package includes extending the expired paid time off policies for sick workers and those needing to care for family members due to COVID-19.
Find out if your employer offers any other paid leave programs â whether thatâs parental leave, unlimited PTO or sabbaticals. According to the Society for Human Resource Managementâs 2019 Employee Benefits Survey, 27% of employers offered paid parental leave, 6% offered unlimited paid leave and 5% offered a paid sabbatical program.
Another 11% of employers surveyed offered an unpaid sabbatical program. While unpaid leave isnât as ideal as paid leave, it gives you peace of mind that youâll have a job to come back to after your break.
Other options to make money during your leave include picking up a side gig, bringing in passive income, renting out rooms (or your entire place) on Airbnb or selling your belongings.
If you need to pick up a little work while youâre on a career break, just make sure it doesnât conflict with the reason you needed to take leave in the first place.
5. Develop a Re-Entry Plan
You need to plan for all aspects of your career break â including your transition back to the workforce.
Your budget needs to not only cover your expenses while youâre backpacking through Europe or nursing your elderly mother back to health. Youâve got to add a cushion for that period at the end where youâre actively seeking your next gig.
While data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average length of unemployment is about 23 weeks, how long itâll take you to find new work will vary depending on your industry and the position youâre seeking.
Plan to keep up with contacts in your field and engage in relevant volunteer work or continued education while youâre away to improve your chances of quickly finding a new job.
If your savings run low toward the end of your leave, donât brush off finding a bridge job â a temporary role to help you pay the bills while you search for better opportunities.
A resume gap isnât the kiss of death it used to be. You can even craft a way to include side gigs on your resume.
A career break should provide you with freedom to pursue something outside of your typical work life. You donât want that freedom to drag you deeper into debt or put you in a worse financial position if you can avoid it.
Do your best to budget for more time than youâll need so you can enjoy your career break stress free.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer 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.