How to Write Great Happy Holiday Emails

How to Host Awesome Holiday Office Parties

Top Side Hustles

$200 to $1,000 a week. Pretty easy and cool, right?

Rent an Extra Room Through Airbnb

While this might require some prep like buying extra towels and toiletries, as well as communicating with customers, you can make a lot in the long run. It might take a couple of months to get up and running, but you can bring in around 7 percent to 12 percent of your property value per year.

Help with Finances

If you have a background in accounting or finances, you might start up a business doing someone’s books, taxes or other services that have to do with money and/or budgeting. You can make from $20 to $100 an hour. Be sure to check with your city and state to find out what licenses and certifications you need.

Walk Dogs

Yes, dog walking can bring in more than you think. And you’ve probably seen these hearty souls on the sidewalks, sometimes with more than one furry friend in tow. If you live in a big city, there’s ample opportunity to make this work: you can make between $10 and $100 per day. And this is just a ballpark estimate. Plus, you’ll get your steps in. It’s healthy both fiscally and physically.

Write Resumes and Cover Letters

With all the job seekers out there, you could make a good chunk of change doing this. And you don’t necessarily need to be a writer. If you have a background in HR, recruitment or you’ve worked as a hiring manager, you’ll be ready to go. Hesitant about all that punctuation? One word: grammarly.com. This app will help you navigate all those writing questions you might have that inevitably come up when you’re composing. The average you might earn is somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or more.

One Thing to Note

If you make more than $600, you must report it to the IRS. If you see that your side hustle is booming, if you start making thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year, you might want to start a business. You could enjoy additional tax write-off opportunities so you can keep more of what you earn.

So start exploring, hang those shingles and watch the extra dough come rolling in.

Sources

https://careersidekick.com/side-hustle-ideas/

https://time.com/nextadvisor/financial-independence/best-side-hustles/

How Much Can You Make A Week With Instacart In 2022?

8 Ways to Save on School Supplies

state sales tax holiday list for you.

Follow Popular Stores on Social Media

Many companies send their followers coupon links and advance notice about juicy sales. Several to watch on Facebook and Twitter are Staples, Office Depot, Target, Best Buy, as well as Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.

Make One Trek Solo

While taking the kiddos along can be fun and a great bonding experience, chances are they’ll plop things in your cart you might not want – and run up the bill. By yourself, you can get in and out quickly and control the cost.

Going back to school can be a challenging transition, both for kids and parents. However, if you plan ahead and stay on track, you can give yourself an A+ for all you’ve accomplished.

Sources

16 Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies & Shopping List

How to Drive and Get the Best Fuel Efficiency

few more. Another smart way to save is to get an app like GasBuddy that shows you the cheapest gas near you.

No one knows when gas prices will go down. In the meantime, the only thing you can do is try to work around the situation as best you can. The good news is that nothing lasts forever.

Sources

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/transportation-alternative-fuels/personal-vehicles/fuel-efficient-driving-techniques/21038

https://money.com/people-combatting-high-gas-prices/

Tips to Save on A/C This Summer

You love summer, don’t you? School’s out and BBQs are on. But what you probably don’t love are those higher air conditioning bills. Here are some tried-and-true ways to help lower the cost of keeping cool.

Change Air Filters

Make sure you switch out your filters before those sizzling summer temps arrive, then once a month after that. When filters are dirty, they block the airflow, which causes your air conditioner to work harder when cooling your home. You’ll not only lower your bills by five to 15 percent, but you will also extend the life of your entire A/C system. If you don’t change those clogged filters, it could create a malfunction and you’ll have to get your unit repaired.

Turn Up Your Thermostat

Set it to 78 degrees and shed a few layers. Yes, this might not be preferable to your icy 72 degrees, but you know what will feel good? Seeing your electricity bill go down 18 percent.

Run the Ceiling Fan

This works in tandem with turning your thermostat to 78 degrees. If you’ve been running your fan clockwise during the previous months, be sure to change the direction so the air moves down into the room.

Invest In a Smart Thermostat

With these babies, you can regulate the temps when you’re not home from an app on your phone or via voice commands. For instance, you can set the A/C to a toasty 80 degrees when you’re not home to save money. Two good brands to check into are Nest and Ecobee, but here’s a list of others. They’re well worth the cost.

Close Your Curtains and Blinds

When the sun’s rays enter your home, they not only heat up the room, but also your thermostat. The best time to shut your curtains and blinds is during the warmest part of the day, between (roughly) 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This will help insulate your windows and stop the cool air from escaping.

Consider the Placement of Your Thermostat

Where do you have this? If it’s next to a hot window, your poor A/C will work harder than it needs to because it will think the room’s hotter than it is. Other places not to put it are near doors that could let in drafts. Or by bathrooms that are usually warm and steamy. In fact, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy advises to avoid placing thermostats near lamps or TVs. Why? They release heat that could confuse the sensors of your poor, struggling device.

Avoid Activities that Heat Up the House

Try to refrain from using the oven, dishwasher or dryer during the middle of the day. This heats up the house. Instead, use the microwave, grill outside or – if you can stand it – wash your dishes by hand. If you need to dry clothes, wait until after sundown.

Check Your Air-Conditioner

If you had some issues with it last summer, get someone (a professional) to take a look at it before the high temps descend upon you. If you make a few small repairs, you’ll save mightily in the long run.

If you implement one or all of these tips, you’ll be in a much better, cooler place come full-on summer, the time of year when you most want to chill.

Sources

8 Best Practices For Saving Money On Air Conditioning This Summer

https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/lower-your-electric-bill-this-summer-with-these-air-conditioni

How to Save When You’re Broke

zero-sum budget. This method gives every dollar a job and keeps money from slipping through the cracks. Yes, this is pretty micro – but it works.

Grow your income. This might sound like a beat-down since you’re already burning the midnight oil, but remember that this is temporary and a means to an end. If you have an extra room, you might think of renting it out for a few months. If this is outside your comfort zone, find a side hustle that’s fun like dog walking or pet sitting. Or think about jobs you can do on your computer like answering paid surveys. Part-time weekend jobs also are an option. Greeters at Costco make around $24 an hour!

Automate your savings. Again, you’ve heard this, but taking this money off the top before you even see it is key. You never see the money so you don’t ever miss it. And any amount saved can add up over time. Even $5 a paycheck can make a difference.

Have no-spend days. Of course, you have necessary expenses like food and shelter. But what about those days when you don’t want to cook and grab some drive-through grub? Or you see a Starbucks, your car turns around and suddenly, you’re there ordering a Double Mocha Frappuccino? Certainly, we all want – and need – treats every now and then. But be judicious about them because if you’re already broke, these spontaneous splurges can derail your savings dreams.

Sell things you no longer need. Start by cleaning out your closets and your garage. You’ll most likely find things you no longer have any use for, or want. Host a yard sale. Or even better, snap pics of your items and put them up on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist or Nextdoor. For more pricey things like clothes or jewelry, try Thred Up or Poshmark. You’ll be surprised how quickly this all adds up. Then put this money toward your savings or your debt. Slow and steady always wins the race.

Write down your 10-year lookahead. How do you want to be living a decade from now? On the beach? In a townhouse in a European city? Completely out of debt? All of your dreams, no matter how crazy, can absolutely be achieved. All you have to do is take the long view. Have tunnel vision about your destiny. What this all comes down to is daily financial decisions.

So now that you have a few ways to get ahead, it all comes down to you. Take a deep breath and be intentional – embrace this new way of living. When you see yourself making new choices and realizing what you can achieve by tweaking how you spend, there’s no stopping you.

Sources

How To Save Money When You’re Broke: 15 Smart Strategies

The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule Explained

free worksheet. If you’re spending more than 50 percent on your needs, then look for areas to cut expenses or downsize your lifestyle. For instance, you could eat in (and make delicious coffee at home), maybe take public transportation to work or even choose a smaller home or more modest car. While these compromises might not be very fun, they’re necessary to make you fiscally healthier. Plus, they’ll pay off in the long run, which will feel really good.

Allocate 30 percent for wants. The best way to look at this category is to think of everything that is optional. It includes obvious choices like going to your favorite restaurant, joining a gym, buying that new techie gadget or a gorgeous new purse. Another way to frame wants are, for instance, choosing a more expensive entrée like lobster instead of a pasta dish, or buying a Mercedes instead of a no-nonsense Honda. That said, living a spartan life with no feel-good experiences isn’t realistic. We all have desires. But if you find you’re spending more than 30 percent on these things, a way to cut back is to plan ahead on splurging and do it less often. This way, treating yourself might feel better than it normally would.

Sock 20 percent away on savings. This category, of course, includes your savings account, as well as investment accounts like IRAs, mutual funds and stocks, which may or may not be part of your retirement. Besides saving money to pay for future bills, it’s also recommended to put away at least three months of expenses in an emergency fund, should you lose your job or have unexpected events occur. If you spend this allotment, start replenishing it as soon as you can. Other things that fall into savings are paying more on your debt instead of minimum payments because you’ll be reducing the principal and future interest you’ll owe; so in effect, you’re saving. While tucking funds away might seem impossible, once you get in the habit of it, you won’t miss it. And a few months down the road, when you take a look at the sum you’ve accumulated, you’ll most likely be super happy.

Admittedly, saving money and managing it is a challenge – you’re not alone. As of January 2022, the personal saving rate was 6.4%, down from 8.2% in December 2021. So take heart. If you’re saving anything at all, you should count that as a victory. You’ll be way ahead of the crowd. In the end, seeking a financial equilibrium and erring on the side of saving will contribute to a more abundant life in the long run.

Sources

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/022916/what-502030-budget-rule.asp

How to Manage Your Aging Parents’ Finances

The National Institute on Aging recommends that parents give advance written consent to designated family members so they can discuss personal matters with doctors, financial representatives and Medicare officials. If you don’t have this, you’ll be faced with some road blocks. If you open the dialogue now, you’ll circumvent obstacles, as well as get a better feel for what their future needs might be.

Watch for the signs. If you don’t see your parents often, and even if you do, the signs of when you need to step in might be a bit hard to detect. That said, there are some things to look for that will indicate that their needs are changing.

  • Unusual purchases. If you find out that your folks are buying things that don’t match their lifestyle, or entering lots of contests and sweepstakes, then it’s time to speak up. Behavior like this might get out of hand – or worse, they might be getting scammed. Older people are most vulnerable to the vultures out there. 
  • Stacks of unopened mail. Watch for this, as the letters might be unpaid bills and/or solicitations for sweepstakes. Both are problematic.
  • Complaining about money. If your folks seem to be always low on cash, or say “no” to activities that they usually enjoy, talk to them. They might need your help for a number of reasons, whether it’s reconciling accounts or remembering how to pay bills, or if they even paid them.
  • Physical setbacks. Fading vision can impede driving to the bank and arthritis can be painful while writing checks or typing on the keyboard. Whatever ailment your parents might suffer from, this could be a cue that they need your assistance.
  • Memory problems. This is somewhat self-explanatory, but specific things to look for are not knowing what day or year it is, or just forgetting things that your parents once always remembered.

Start slowly. Instead of charging in and announcing that you’re taking control, take baby steps. Maybe offer to write checks for them. Or offer to pay a bill or two. Gradual, gentle steps make them feel more at ease and comfortable with the new way of doing things.

Gather important documents. Things to collect are account numbers, credit card info, birth certificates, insurance policies, deeds and wills. Make sure they’re all current and up-to-date. Put them in a secure location so you’ll have easy access when you need them.

Consider power of attorney. This is key. Even if your parents don’t need your help at the moment, there will come a time when they will. There are several types of POA to consider: financial, medical or general decisions. Unlike written consent, this gives you legal authority to act on their behalf when they’re unable to.

Communicate what’s going on. Once you’ve started to manage your parents’ finances, keep your siblings, as well as theirs, in the loop. This way, if you’re unable to handle something, you can ask for backup support.

Keep your finances separate. It might be the easiest thing to do – mix your parents’ finances with yours – but in the long run, it’s not such a good idea. It can become a slippery slope. Granted, there may be times when your parents need a loan, but for the sake of clarity and personal record-keeping, it’s best not to jeopardize your own retirement and savings goals.

If you need more help, reach out to the National Alliance for Caregiving. As we all know, the circle of life is inevitable. But caring for your parents might be one of the most important things you’ll ever do – and chances are, you’ll want to get it right.

 

Sources

https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/saving-budgeting/aging-parents-finances

8 Ways to Negotiate Medical Bills

medical debt consolidation.

Shop Around for Less Expensive Providers

Insurance companies usually offer cost estimates for treatments. Some companies like UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield even have cost comparison tools. If your insurance provider doesn’t offer this, try third-party sites like Healthcare Bluebook and GoodRx to shop and compare. Remember that though important, cost should never be the top consideration when deciding on a facility for your healthcare.

Understand What Your Insurance Covers

And what it doesn’t. Ask for a Summary of Benefits and Coverage from your provider to find out exactly what’s what when it comes to coinsurance, deductibles and more. Being prepared is always a good idea.

Ask for an Itemized Bill

After your treatment, you’ll receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company. This isn’t a bill and might be updated while your claim is being processed. But the first thing to do when you receive these are to check them for errors – humans make them!

Make Sure Services are In-Network

Before your procedure, check to see that all your labs, anesthesiologists and other services are in-network. Some states prohibit out-of-network providers from charging out-of-network prices when performing care at an in-network setting. Learn about your state’s level of protection at The Commonwealth Fund.

Seek Assistance Programs

Ask your healthcare provider – the hospital or lab’s billing department – about financial assistance and/or charity programs. Thankfully, hospitals have a standard procedure for helping those who are unable to pay their bills. Some hospitals even have discounts for people who don’t have access to medical insurance. You might also ask your provider about medical debt forgiveness. If this is an option, you’ll be asked to share tax returns and other relevant documents. Other resources to help you navigate your healthcare expenses are the Patient Advocate Foundation or the PAN Foundation.

Get on a Payment Plan

Generally, healthcare providers offer no-interest payments and are available to anyone who needs it. Better still, you won’t have to meet eligibility requirements like you would with payment assistance programs. But when setting something like this up, make sure you agree to a plan that you can stick with. Otherwise, your bill might be turned over to a collection agency.

As you know, your health is your most precious asset. Make sure you’re fiscally prepared to care for it.

Sources

https://www.lendingtree.com/personal/how-to-negotiate-medical-bills/

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/health-plan-cost-increases-return-to-pre-pandemic-levels.aspx#:~:text=Budgeted%20health%20care%20costs%20increased,of%205.2%20percent%20from%202020.

Medical Debt Consolidation: Using a Loan to Pay Medical Bills (lendingtree.com)

State Balance-Billing Protections | Commonwealth Fund