Mortgage Q&A: âWhat is a streamline refinance?â While qualifying for a mortgage refinance is generally a lot harder than it has been in the past (now that lenders actually care how your home loan performs), there are less cumbersome options available. In fact, many lenders offer âstreamlinedâ alternatives to existing homeowners to lower costs and [&hellip
The post What Is a Streamline Refinance? first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.
Mortgage Q&A: âHow to get a wholesale mortgage rate?â Wholesale mortgage rates tend to be considerably cheaper than their retail counterparts, though it’s never a guarantee with so many lenders out there these days. To get your hands on one, you need to shop for your home loan with a mortgage broker, who has access [&hellip
The post How to Get a Wholesale Mortgage Rate first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.
average of $233,610, and that’s for each child. This figure doesn’t even include the cost of college, which is growing faster than inflation.
CollegeBoard data found that for the 2019-2020 school year, the average in-state, four-year school costs $21,950 per year including tuition, fees, and room and board.
Kids can add meaning to your life, and most parents would say they’re well worth the cost. But having your financial ducks in a row — before having kids — can help you spend more time with your new family instead of worrying about paying the bills.
10 Financial Moves to Make Before Having Kids
If you want to have kids and reach your long-term financial goals, you’ll need to make some strategic moves early on. There are plenty of ways to set yourself up for success, but here are the most important ones.
1. Start Using a Monthly Budget
When you’re young and child-free, it’s easy to spend more than you planned on fun activities and nonessentials. But having kids has a way of ruining your carefree spending habits, and that’s especially true if you’ve spent most of your adult life buying whatever catches your eye.
That’s why it’s smart to start using a monthly budget before having kids. It helps you prioritize each dollar you earn every month so you’re tracking your family’s short- and long-term goals.
You can create a simple budget with a pen and paper. Each month, list your income and recurring monthly expenses in separate columns, and then log your purchases throughout the month. This gives you a high-level perspective about money going in and out of your budget. You can also use a digital budgeting tool, like Mint, Qube Money, or You Need a Budget (YNAB) to get a handle on your finances.
Regardless of which budgeting tool you choose, create categories for savings (e.g. an emergency fund, vacation fund, etc.) and investments. Treat these expense categories just like regular bills as a way to commit to your family’s money goals. Your budget should provide a rough guide that helps you cover household expenses and save for the future while leaving some money for fun.
2. Build an Emergency Fund
Most experts suggest keeping three- to six-months of expenses in an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is even more crucial when you have kids. You never know when you’ll face a broken arm, requiring you to cover your entire health care deductible in one fell swoop.
It’s also possible your child could be born with a critical medical condition that requires you to take time away from work. And don’t forget about the other emergencies you can face, from a roof that needs replacing to a job loss or income reduction.
Your best bet is opening a high-yield savings account and saving up at least three months of expenses before becoming a parent. You’ll never regret having this money set aside, but you’ll easily regret not having savings in an emergency.
3. Boost Your Retirement Savings Percentage
Your retirement might be decades away, but making retirement savings a priority is a lot easier when you don’t have kids. And with the magic of compound interest that lets your money grow exponentially over time, you’ll want to get started ASAP.
By boosting your retirement savings percentage before having kids, you’ll also learn how to live on a lower amount of take-home pay. Try boosting your retirement savings percentage a little each year until you have kids.
Go from 6% to 7%, then from 8% to 9%, for example. Ideally, you’ll get to the point where you’re saving 15% of your income or more before becoming a parent. If you’re already enrolled in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, this change can be done with a simple form. Ask your employer or your HR department for more information.
If you’re self-employed, you can still open a retirement account like a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) and begin saving on your own. You can also consider a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which let you contribute up to $6,000 per year, or $7,000 if you’re ages 50 or older.
4. Start a Parental Leave Fund
Since the U.S. doesn’t mandate paid leave for new parents, check with your employer to find out how much paid time off you might receive. The average amount of paid leave in the U.S. is 4.1 weeks, according to a study by WorldatWork, which means you might face partial pay or no pay for some weeks of your parental leave period. It all depends on your employer’s policy and how flexible it is.
Your best bet is figuring out how much time you can take off with pay, and then creating a plan to save up the income you’ll need to cover the rest of your leave. Let’s say you have four weeks of paid time off, but plan on taking 10 weeks of parental leave, for example. Open a new savings account and save weekly or monthly until you have six weeks of pay saved up.
If you have six months to wait for the baby to arrive and you need $6,000 saved for parental leave, you could strive to set aside $1,000 per month for those ten weeks off. If you’re able to plan earlier, up to 12 months before the baby arrives, then you can cut your monthly savings amount and set aside just $500 per month.
5. Open a Health Savings Account (HSA)
A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged way to save up for health care expenses, including the cost of a hospital stay. This type of account is available to Americans who have a designated high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), meaning a deductible of at least $1,400 for individuals and at least $2,800 for families. HDHPs must also have maximum out-of-pocket limits below $6,900 for individuals and $13,800 for families.
In 2020, individuals can contribute up to $3,550 to an HSA while families can save up to $7,100. This money is tax-advantaged in that it grows tax-free until you’re ready to use it. Moreover, you’ll never pay taxes or a penalty on your HSA funds if you use your distributions for qualified health care expenses. At the age of 65, you can even deduct money from your HSA and use it however you want without a penalty.
6. Start Saving for College
The price of college will only get worse over time. To get a handle on it early and plan for your future child’s college tuition, start saving for their education in a separate account. Once your child is born, you can open a 529 college savings account and list your child as its beneficiary.
Some states offer tax benefits for those who contribute to a 529 account. For example, Indiana offers a 20% tax credit on up to $5,000 in 529 contributions each year, which gets you up to $1,000 back from the state at tax time. Many plans also let you invest in underlying investments to help your money grow faster than a traditional savings account.
7. Pay Off Unsecured Debt
If you have credit card debt, pay it off before having kids. You’re not helping yourself by spending years lugging high-interest debt around. Paying off debt can free-up cash and save you thousands of dollars in interest every year.
If you’re struggling to pay off your unsecured debt, there are several strategies to consider. Here are a few approaches:
This debt repayment approach requires you to make a large payment on your smallest account balance and only the minimum amount that’s due on other debt. As the months tick by, you’ll focus on paying off your smallest debt first, only to “snowball” the payments from fully paid accounts toward the next smallest debt. Eventually, the debt snowball should leave you with only your largest debts, then one debt, and then none.
The debt avalanche is the opposite of the debt snowball, asking you to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum payment on other debt. Once that account is fully paid, you’ll “avalanche” those payments to the next highest-rate debt. Eventually, you’ll only be left with your lowest-interest account until you’ve paid off all of your debt.
Balance Transfer Credit Card
Another popular strategy involves transferring high-interest balances to a balance transfer credit card that offers 0% APR for a limited time. You might have to pay a balance transfer fee (often 3% to 5%), but the interest savings can make this strategy worth it.
If you try this strategy, make sure you have a plan to pay off your debt before your introductory offer ends. If you have 15 months at 0% APR, for example, calculate how much you need to pay each month for 15 months to repay your entire balance during that time. Any debt remaining after your introductory APR period ends will start accruing interest at the regular, variable interest rate.
8. Consider Refinancing Other Debt
Ditching credit card debt is a no-brainer, but debt like student loans or your home mortgage can also weigh on your future family’s budget.
If you have student loan debt, look into refinancing your student loans with a private lender. A student loan refinance can help you lower the interest rate on your loans, find a manageable monthly payment, and simplify your repayment into one loan.
Private student loan rates are often considerably lower than rates you can get with federal loans — sometimes by half. The caveat with refinancing federal loans is that you’ll lose out on government protections, like deferment and forbearance, and loan forgiveness programs. Before refinancing your student loans, make sure you won’t need these benefits in the future.
Also look into the prospect of refinancing your mortgage to secure a shorter repayment timeline, a lower monthly payment, or both. Today’s low interest rates have made mortgage refinancing a good deal for anyone who took out a mortgage several years ago. Compare today’s mortgage refinancing rates to see how much you can save.
9. Buy Life Insurance
You should also buy life insurance before having kids. Don’t worry about picking up an expensive whole life policy. All you need is a term life insurance policy that covers at least 10 years of your salary, and hopefully more.
Term life insurance is extremely affordable and easy to buy. Many providers don’t even require a medical exam if you’re young and healthy.
Once you start comparing life insurance quotes, you’ll be shocked at how affordable term coverage can be. With Bestow, for example, a thirty-year-old woman in good health can buy a 20-year term policy for $500,000 for as little as $20.41 per month.
A last will and testament lets you write down what should happen to your major assets upon your death. You can also state personal requests in writing, like whether you want to be kept on life support, and how you want your final arrangements handled.
A will can also formally define who you’d like to take over custody of your kids, if both parents die. If you don’t formally make this decision ahead of time, these deeply personal decisions might be left to the courts.
Fortunately, it’s not overly expensive to create a last will and testament. You can meet with a lawyer who can draw one up, or you can create your own using a platform like LegalZoom.
The Bottom Line
Having kids can be the most rewarding part of your life, but parenthood is far from cheap. You’ll need money for expenses you might’ve never considered before — and the cost of raising a family only goes up over time.
That’s why getting your money straightened out is essential before kids enter the picture. With a financial plan and savings built up, you can experience the joys of parenthood without financial stress.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your job?
For many people, a job is simply a necessity in order to cover the expenses of life, but it’s not enjoyable.
If your job is something that you dread each day, have you ever thought about making a change? There are a lot of fun jobs that pay well, offering a rewarding career rather than something that feels like it’s sucking the life out of you.
While we’re all different and no job will appeal to everyone, there are some good options out there regardless of your own interests and your own personality.
Want the ultimate fun job? Learn how to manage Facebook ads for clients and earn money with a flexible schedule working from home. Bobby Hoyt’s Facebook Side Hustle Course teaches everything you need to know
Average salary of a Video Game Designer: $130,000
If you like video games, what job could be more fun than working as a video game designer? Not only will you be able to work on projects that you enjoy, but you’ll also get the satisfaction of creating games that others love.
Like other design-related jobs, this is a career that allows you to utilize your creativity. If you’re naturally creative, this is the type of job you should have in order to find the most satisfaction in your work.
This is one career where your skills are likely to be more important than your education. Many video game jobs will require a degree of some kind, but it’s possible to start a great career with as little as an associate’s degree.
2. Ethical Hacker
Average salary of an Ethical Hacker: $119,289
An ethical hacker is hired by a company to test the security of a computer system, network, or website. The job involves attempting to hack the system and find weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
While there are certainly some unethical ways to make money as a hacker, this career path offers a lucrative option that will actually help companies instead of hurting them.
Of course, you’ll need plenty of technical knowledge and hacking skills. You may need a degree or certification, although the qualifications will vary depending on the job. You’ll also need to be constantly learning to stay on top of new technology and techniques.
Average salary of a pilot: $108,921
What could be more fun than flying a plane? Working as a pilot is not only enjoyable, but it’s also a very high-paying job.
Instead of sitting in an office, you can spend your working hours 30,000 feet above the ground. Naturally, this job will involve travel, although the specifics will depend on the routes that are assigned to you. Pilots also tend to work non-traditional hours, which may or may not be appealing to you.
The requirements will vary depending on the job. Pilots for major airlines are typically required to have a college degree, as well as extensive training.
4. Wedding Photographer
Average salary of a Wedding Photographer: $104,417
Photography can be a very competitive industry, as it seems like everyone has at least one friend or family member that does photography as a side job. But wedding photography stands out from other types of photography because it’s much more suitable for professionals than hobbyists.
Wedding photographers do face some pressure in their line of work (you only get one chance to capture the moment) but it can be highly rewarding. The cost of a wedding photography package can easily total thousands of dollars.
Not only are wedding photographers paid well, but they also benefit from enjoyable work. You’ll get to use your creative or artistic side, work with a lot of different people, and provide clients with photos that they’ll cherish for years to come.
Most wedding photographers are self-employed (although you could work for someone else as a second shooter) so there are no specific requirements in terms of education. The most important thing is that you’ll need a quality portfolio of photos in order to land clients. You may need to offer your services for very low prices in order to land your first clients and start to building your portfolio.
5. Software Engineer
Average salary of a Software Engineer: $99,729
If you enjoy working on your own and spending a lot of time at a desk, becoming a software engineer could be an excellent career choice.
Whether this job is fun or not will depend on your own personality and your interests, but for the right person, it’s a great job that is very rewarding.
Although you’ll be spending the majority of your time working on your own to code or develop software, you’ll also need to communicate and collaborate with teammates and colleagues.
Most jobs for software engineers or software developers will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or some other related field. Of course, aside from the degree, you’ll also need skills in the particular coding language being used for the software.
Average salary of a Veterinarian: $96,624
If you’re an animal lover, a career as a veterinarian is likely to be both fun and rewarding. You’ll get to spend your time helping animals and pet owners, and you’ll probably work with a wide variety of types of animals.
As you might expect, the requirements to become a veterinarian are pretty significant. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree plus completion of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
If you’re interested in this type of job but you’re not able or willing to invest the time and money into the education, it’s possible that you would work another job in a vet’s office to get many of the same benefits, although you won’t be paid as well.
7. Physical Therapist
Average salary of a Physical Therapist: $89,349
Physical therapists help clients with rehabilitation or treatment of chronic issues. If you love working with people and you don’t want to sit at a desk all day, this could be a great career choice for you.
You’ll need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in order to work as a physical therapist.
8. Air Traffic Controller
Average salary of an Air Traffic Controller: $84,103
Air traffic controllers are responsible for organizing planes that are landing and taking off, in order to keep everyone safe.
Working as an air traffic controller can be an exciting job, but it does come with a lot of responsibility. You’ll need excellent attention to detail as people’s lives will be in your hands every day.
You’ll need formal training in order to work as an air traffic controller, but there are a few different ways that you can get that training. You could get training through the Federal Aviation Administration, or gain experience in the military.
9. Art Director
Average salary of an Art Director: $78,781
If you enjoy using creativity in your work, becoming an art director could be a wise choice of career. Art directors are generally responsible for overseeing things like advertising, publication layout, photography, and more.
It’s similar to a design role, but you’ll be a manager and responsible for overseeing more than doing the actual design work yourself.
Art director jobs are typically senior level and require a combination of a degree and several years of design experience. If you have the relevant experience, this could be a job that you pursue now. If you’re in the early stages of your career, this could be a long-term goal while you build your experience and resume as a designer.
10. Voice Actor
Average salary of a Voice Actor: $76,297
As a voice actor or voiceover artist, you’ll be reading a script and recording audio to be used in a variety of different ways. Your projects could involve things like creating audiobooks, recording sales videos, creating commercials, and much more.
With the amount of audio and video content being produced these days, working as a voice actor is a great job and these skills are in demand.
Many voice actors work as freelancers, so there are no set requirements in terms of education or experience. If you have some skills, you may be able to start landing clients and building your portfolio. The clips in your portfolio will be the most important factor in your ability to land clients and make money as a voice actor.
11. Web Developer
Average salary of a web developer: $75,073
A job as a web developer is fairly similar to the opportunity that we’ve already discussed for software engineers. Instead of software, you’ll be coding websites or web-based apps.
The qualifications will vary depending on the job. Some development positions will require a degree, however, your coding ability will be more important. You may be able to land a quality job even if you don’t have a degree by having a strong portfolio.
Working as a freelance web developer is also an option. You can either focus on growing your own business, or freelance for the purpose of gaining experience and proving your ability in order to help with landing a job.
12. Helicopter Pilot
Average salary of a Commercial Helicopter Pilot: $67,540
Flying an airplane isn’t the only option if you want to work as a pilot. Helicopters can be even more fun to fly than jets, and the income potential is pretty good.
To work as a helicopter pilot, you’ll need training from an FAA-approved flight school, or you could get the necessary training in the military.
13. Virtual Assistant
Average salary of a Virtual Assistant: $67,115
A virtual assistant will perform administrative tasks remotely, from home or wherever you have an internet connection. The specific tasks can vary widely depending on what the client needs.
Most VAs will work for several different clients, so it’s possible to get a lot of variety in your work. One of the factors that makes this job so appealing is the flexibility. Not only can you work from home, but you can also set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. This job is equally well suited for part-time and full-time work.
The best way to make money as a VA is to freelance and find your own clients. There are VA jobs available, but they tend to be lower paying. If you want to earn a better income, you should freelance rather than working as an employee.
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success is a popular course that teaches you everything you need to know in order to start making a great income as a VA.
14. Freelance Writer
Average salary of a Freelance Writer: $63,213
Continuing with another job that can be done from anywhere, working as a freelance writer offers a lot of perks. It’s a flexible job that can be done part-time or full-time, you can use your existing experience or expertise, or choose to focus on topics that interest you.
There is plenty of work available and skilled writers are able to make a great income.
You don’t need any specific education or experience to work as a freelance writer, although writing skills are obviously important. There are entry-level gigs available for those who are just getting started, but you’ll need to build a portfolio and demonstrate your abilities to land the highest-paying jobs.
Check out the course 30 Days Or Less To Freelance Writing Success.
15. Cruise Director
Average salary of a Cruise Director: $63,185
For those who enjoy traveling and entertaining others, working as a cruise director could be a dream job. As a cruise director, you’ll be responsible for the entertainment and activities on a cruise ship.
You’ll manage a staff of workers and organize events to entertain cruise guests. It’s a job that involves a lot of interaction with people, and it can be a lot of fun.
To work as a cruise director, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree as well as experience with event planning. You may be interested in gaining experience with other roles on the ship that would prepare you and help you to establish qualifications to be hired as a cruise director.
16. Web Designer
Average salary of a web designer: $60,202
Earlier, we talked about working as a web developer. While developers are responsible for the coding, web designers focus more on the visual aspects. Some web designers also do HTML and CSS coding, while others strictly work on the visual design.
Many web design jobs are remote, so this is another opportunity that can be done from anywhere, depending on the job.
Some web design jobs may require a degree, but your work experience and design ability will be more important than education to most employers. It’s also possible to freelance or even start your own agency, so you don’t have to wait for someone to give you a job in order to become a web designer.
17. Landscape Architect
Average salary of a Landscape Architect: $59,868
Working as a landscape architect is another creative job. You’ll be designing outdoor spaces that people use and love, so it can be a very fun and rewarding job.
You could be designing for residential clients, outdoor spaces for businesses, parks, or other outdoor spaces.
Typically, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in order to qualify for a job. Obviously, your experience and portfolio will also play an important role in landing this type of job.
Average salary of a DJ: $58,267
As a disc jockey or DJ, you’ll get to work at fun events and provide entertainment to people. If you love music and being at weddings, parties, and other events, this could be the perfect job for you.
There are no official requirements to become a DJ and since many DJs are self-employed, anyone can start a business and go into this line of work.
Average salary of a Sommelier: $56,061
If you love wine, what job could be better than working as a sommelier? As the wine expert, your responsibilities may include things like creating a wine list for a restaurant or making wine recommendations to customers.
There are some organizations that offer certification as a sommelier, although certification is not absolutely essential in order to work in this type of job. You’ll need extensive knowledge of wine and ideally some experience in the industry, which might involve working under another sommelier to gain that experience.
Average salary of a Librarian: $55,395
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider fun jobs, working as a librarian can be a great choice for the right person.
If you love books and enjoy working in a quiet environment, this could be the job for you.
Most head librarian jobs will require a bachelor’s degree and possibly even a master’s degree. However, if you don’t already have the required education, there are other jobs at a library that don’t require a degree.
Average salary of a Magician: $54,071
If you love entertaining and delighting others, why not work as a magician? Performing magic or illusions can be a lot of fun while allowing you to use your skills.
There are no formal requirements to become a magician and no education is needed. Instead, you’ll need the ability to perform tricks and to entertain.
Many magicians are self-employed, but you might be able to gain valuable experience by working as an assistant for another magician.
22. Social Media Manager
Average salary of a Social Media Manager: $50,088
If you already spend hours a day on social media, you should consider working as a social media manager. You would be responsible for managing the social presence of your employer or clients on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networks.
A growing number of businesses rely on advertising on social networks like Facebook. You can get paid to set up and manage ads for clients, and this work can be quite lucrative if you’re good at getting results for your clients.
Bobby Hoyt’s Facebook Side Hustle Course will teach you everything you need to know to start your own business managing Facebook ads for clients in your local area.
If you’re looking for employment as a social media manager, you may need a degree. However, you could work as a freelancer or start your own agency regardless of your education. Ultimately, your ability to produce results is much more important (and valuable) than a degree.
23. Restaurant Critic
Average salary of a Restaurant Critic: $50,004
What could be better than getting paid to eat good food? You would be visiting different restaurants on a constant basis, trying the food, and writing your review.
Most food critic jobs will require a degree in journalism or a similar field. However, if you have the desire to become a food critic but you don’t have the education, you could start your own food blog and work on building up your audience. You may get to the point of being able to do it full-time, or the blog may provide you with qualifications that help you to land a job.
24. Event Planner
Average salary of an Event Planner: $49,992
As an event planner, you would get to work with other people planning events like weddings, conferences, parties, and other types of events.
If you enjoy planning and being around people, this could be a great career choice for you.
A bachelor’s degree in hospitality can help, but is not necessarily required. You could find employment as an event planner or start your own business.
25. Makeup Artist
Average salary of a Freelance Makeup Artist: $49,330
As a makeup artist, you may work at weddings or other events, with models, for theater and film products, etc. You could work as an employee or start your own business as a freelancer.
While there aren’t formal requirements to become a makeup artist, licensing or certification can help. Becoming a licensed cosmetologist will help to demonstrate your expertise.
26. Personal Trainer
Average salary of a Personal Trainer: $48,853
If you’re into fitness and you love working with people, especially one-on-one, working as a personal trainer could be a great job for you. You’ll be responsible for developing a training program to meet the needs of the client, as well as providing instruction, encouragement, and motivation.
You’ll need a high school degree and certification by an accredited program. You may be able to find a job as a personal trainer through a local gym, or you could start your own business and find clients on your own.
27. Graphic Designer
Average salary of a Graphic Design $48,283
If you’re artistic and you have some design skills, working as a graphic designer would be a natural choice. Graphic designers can work on a wide variety of projects like logo design, brochure design, advertising design, packaging design, and more.
While your portfolio will be the most important factor in landing work, many graphic design jobs will also require a relevant degree. If you don’t have a degree and you want to start using your abilities right away, you could work as a freelance graphic designer.
There Are Plenty Of Fun Jobs That Pay Well
As you can see, there are plenty of jobs that provide excellent income potential while also allowing you to enjoy your work.
It really comes down to your own interests and skills, so find a job that would be a good option for you and take action. With these fun jobs that pay well being listed, you should have at least a few options to consider.
Love the idea of working with animals, but don’t have the resources or desire to go through vet school? You can still put your love of pets or wildlife to work in your career. Here are twelve jobs working with animals that can pay the bills for any animal lover.
Groomers help pets look their best by cleaning them, trimming fur and providing other services. Pay depends on skills, certifications, experience and which state you work in. The highest pay in each region typically going to specialists who provide boutique grooming services.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $34,702
Salary Range: $22,666 to $51,323
Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent
How to Become One: Typically, animal caretakers must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most training takes place on the job, but some choose to study at a grooming school. Employers generally prefer candidates to have some experience working with animals.
2. Pet Sitter and Dog Walker
Pet sitters and dog walkers care for pets while owners are traveling or unavailable. You might choose to work through a service that pays you as an employee or hire your own services out as a freelance dog walker or pet sitter. In the latter case, you may make more money per job but will also have to handle your own marketing and business administration expenses.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $31,095
Salary Range: $20,211 to $45,826
Minimum Qualifications: varies
How to Become One: Employers may require a high school diploma or GED and some training or certification. However, if you want to freelance as a dog walker, you may just need experience and references, so concerned pet owners can learn more about you.
3. Veterinary Assistant
Veterinary assistants work in a vet office, clinic or animal hospital helping veterinarians with animal care. They are responsible for assisting with routine tasks, which might include checking in patients or helping as the vet provides services.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $30,898
Salary Range: $19,431 to $43,072
Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent
How to Become One: If you want to become a veterinary assistant, you should at least have a high school diploma. Most veterinary assistants learn their trade on the job. Certification isn’t always required, but it could help you get promoted or obtain an advanced position.
4. Research Animal Caretaker
Laboratory animal caretakers work in labs with animal scientists, biologists or veterinarians. They feed, care for and monitor the well-being of lab animals.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $37,890
Salary Range: $35,215 to $46,105
Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent
How to Become One: Laboratory animal caretakers are required to at least have a high school diploma. Most laboratory animal caretakers learn their trade through on-the-job training. Certification isn’t required to become a laboratory animal caretaker, but some employers prefer it. Having a certification could also help you get promoted.
5. Animal Trainer
Animal trainers are responsible for training animals for tasks such as riding, performance, obedience or assisting the disabled. They can also help animals become more comfortable with human interaction.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $30,430
Salary Range: $20,810 to $59,110
Minimum Qualifications: no formal education requirements
How to Become One: There are no formal education requirements to become an animal trainer. Those who train animals usually receive on-the-job training. In addition, animal trainers can receive education through organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and earn certificates or other credentials to help them move up in their careers.
6. Veterinary Technician
Veterinary technicians perform medical testing with the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They help diagnose an animal’s injury or illness and may also perform some routine procedures, such as ultrasounds, catheterization or EKGs, and administer anesthesia.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $35,308
Salary Range: $24,619 to $48,002
Minimum Qualifications: an associate degree
How to Become One: Typically, you must complete at least an associate degree or get a certification from an accredited program. Depending on the state, you may need to pass an exam and become registered, licensed or certified. Many employers look for techs with at least some experience in the field, which means many vet techs start in an assistant position.
7. Animal Control Worker
Animal control workers help ensure the proper treatment of animals, investigate cases of mistreatment, may help locate abandoned animals and may be called on to deal with nuisance animals of certain types.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $38,490
Salary Range: $23,160 to $58,220
Minimum Qualifications: varies by location
How to Become One: Animal control workers are required to have a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent. Additional training usually takes place on the job. The National Animal Care & Control Association offers training programs. In addition, some states require certification in animal control.
8. Conservation & Forest Technician
Conservation and forest workers help keep track of wildlife, gather data, suppress forest fires and work to improve the health of forests. They may lead guided tours or help train others in managing natural habitats.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $39,180
Salary Range: $26,160 to $56,410
Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent
How to Become One: In many cases, all you need is a high school diploma. You receive on-the-job training, but you can potentially advance your career with certifications or degrees in various sciences.
Breeders select and breed animals according to characteristics and genealogy. They may use artificial insemination equipment and need to keep meticulous records on animal health, genetics, dates of birth and family history.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $46,420
Salary Range: $26,030 to $69,550
Minimum Qualifications: high school diploma or equivalent
How to Become One: Animal breeders are required to have a minimum of a high school education. In addition, breeders learn their skill through short-term on-the-job training. Those who want to breed zoo animals are required to have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science and, depending on career goals, may also want to pursue postgraduate study in zoology.
10. Biological Technician
Biological technicians help medical scientists in the laboratory. They are responsible for the setup, operation and maintenance of laboratory equipment. They also monitor experiments.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $49,110
Salary Range: $29,540 to $73,350
Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree
How to Become One: Biological technicians generally need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field. Technicians must also acquire laboratory experience and a working knowledge of computers and lab equipment.
11. Zoologist & Wildlife Biologist
Zoologists and wildlife biologists study how animals and wildlife interact with their environment. They may also help care for animals in captivity.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $67,200
Salary Range: $38,880 to $101,780
Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree
How to Become One: A bachelor’s degree is necessary for those seeking entry-level positions. A master’s degree is usually required for advanced or scientific positions. Those who want to lead independent research or work at a university might want to consider a doctoral degree.
12. Conservation Scientist
Conservation land managers work with conservation groups, landowners or other entities to protect specific wildlife and land. Often, they do so because the area is a habitat for certain animals, particularly endangered animals.
Here are the job details:
Median Salary: $67,040
Salary Range: $39,270 to $98,060
Minimum Qualifications: bachelor’s degree
How to Become One: Conservation scientists usually need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, preferably in natural resource management, agriculture or another related field. Experience can be gained through internships and volunteer work. Some states require those desiring to become foresters to obtain a license.
Start Working Now to Land a Job Working with Animals
First, check out Monster.com‘s resume services and bring out the most relevant facts in your work history. Get tips and help polishing your resume so it shines when it hits employee inboxes or application systems. Then, upload your resume to ZipRecruiter and start connecting immediately with employers who are looking for people with a passion for jobs working with animals.
It is important to have a thorough understanding of Medicare when heading into retirement. Medicare is not an income producing piece of your retirement plan so unfortunately it gets overlooked by financial advisors. We believe at J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management that understanding our expenses is a vital step in retirement planning. Since healthcare is a substantial piece of our expenses in retirement, it is important to do your due diligence on this subject.
Medicare is a federal insurance program for the elderly. All our adult working lives we have been paying into the Medicare system via the FICA tax. The FICA tax is broken into two parts. The first part is known as OASDI (Old age survivor, disability, and insurance). OASDI is often referred to as social security. This portion of the FICA tax represents about 80% of the total FICA tax. The Hospital insurance (HI) makes up the remaining 20%. The HI portion is also referred to as Medicare part A.
There are four parts of Medicare everyone needs to be knowledgeable about. Parts A, B, C, and D. Each part is vitally important and needs to be included in your health insurance strategy.
PART A: Also known as Hospital Insurance or HI. This part simply gets you in the building and in a bed. This does not pay for the physician treating you. This part of Medicare is paid for via the FICA tax. Generally, everyone qualifies for Medicare at age 65 and above. At the very least you must sign up for this portion of Medicare. People have been paying into this their entire adult lives and its time to reap some benefit.
PART B: This part pays for the physician service. Things like blood tests, equipment costs, home health care, and outpatient care are just some of the services Part B covers. The proper way to look at it is Part A gets you in the door and Part B pays for the services inside the building. Part B is not paid for by FICA. This on average costs $135 per month. If adjusted income is higher than $170,000 year when married Part B becomes more expensive. In my opinion part B is just as vital as part A.
Medicare parts A&B, also known as original Medicare, consist of 80% of Medicare. Part C and D make up the other 20%.
PART C: Also known as Medicare supplement. This part allows you to see doctors/specialists for non-emergencies. There are two options for this part Medigap and Medicare advantage.
MEDIGAP: Medigap is between $100-200 per month. Any doctor that accepts part A/B also accepts Medigap. It is very important to know that you are always within issue for Medigap when signing up parts A and B. In layman’s terms, everyone qualifies for Medigap if they sign up when enrolling in parts A and B. However, if you decline Medigap and elect for Medicare Advantage, we’ll talk about that in a moment, than you have to be underwritten down the road. Please know that Medigap will be sold through insurance companies. The plans are listed as such: Plan N, Plan F, etc. No matter the insurance company, each “plan N” will be identical in coverage to another insurance companies “Plan N”. Therefor if one insurance company is charging more for their “Plan N” then always choose the least expensive option. They are identical Medigap plans.
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: Medicare advantage is also operated by insurance companies. However, it is operated like what we are used to in private health care system. Medicare Advantage is operated on a network base. If the network is strong in your geographical area, this is a potentially good option because Medicare advantage is typically less expensive then Medigap. This becomes important especially in the case of travelling throughout the US. For instance, there is no Medicare Advantage network available in Alaska, therefor Medicare advantage patients cannot use their Medicare Advantage coverage there. Because Medicare Advantage is similar to health insurance before turning 65- there are a lot of changes year to year. These can be difficult to keep up with-especially in retirement as we age. Medigap is a much more stable network with less changes than Medicare Advantage.
PART D: This part covers prescription drugs. Some Medicare advantage policies will include part D. Medigap does not have part D. Part D on average can cost $35/month. If you are going the Medicare advantage route you need to go through a broker and not a captive agent. There is just a lot to it and its constantly changing. Do not do it on your own. Just like home/auto insurance brokers, these health brokers will shop for you through various companies and sell you the optimum policy. Captive agents can only sell you the company they work for. Obviously, you want to be sold the policy that benefits you the most and not just the insurance company.
Do yourself a favor and understand the true cost in regard to Medicare. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to John Lawrence with J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management.
Millions of Americans are job hunting during their 50s, 60s and beyond. Some of these seniors are looking for a job because they love to work. Others are sending out resumes for reasons ranging from pink slips to financial need.
Seniors can be attractive job candidates. Many potential employers value older workers for their experience and work ethic, and for the stability they bring to the workplace. But if you hope to land a job after 50, you must avoid some key mistakes.
Here are some crucial errors that can derail the job search of anyone who has passed the half-century mark.
1. Forgetting to edit your resume
Today’s businesses get an avalanche of resumes every time they post a job opening. Computer programs may first scan these and weed out the ones deemed lost causes. The survivors then go to a hiring manager, who may give them only a cursory glance before deciding who moves on to the interview phase.
Age discrimination against older workers is illegal. But let’s face it, bias exists. Employers weeding through hundreds of resumes may find it easy to cull the stack by dropping those from people they deem too old.
Don’t let your resume be a giveaway to your age. Eliminate the dates on your education and limit your work history to no more than the last 15 years. Both changes can help you avoid standing out as the elder job candidate.
For more, check out:
2. Being too proud to volunteer while you look
If your job search isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like, make good use of your downtime. Volunteering can be an excellent way to get out of the house and make connections that could potentially lead to paid work.
You could volunteer for an organization you already know or head to VolunteerMatch to find new opportunities. Don’t overlook volunteering for your local Chamber of Commerce or professional organizations in your field of interest.
3. Failing to update tech skills
If there’s one thing that can separate older workers from the younger competition, it’s tech skills — or lack thereof.
While a hiring manager may automatically assume 20-something job candidates know their way around a computer and the internet, they may assume the opposite of an older applicant. Prove them wrong by getting some tech training before beginning your job search so you can confidently say you’re able to use whatever programs and applications the position requires.
4. Not having a presence online
While you’re updating your tech skills, take some time to create an online presence. Today’s HR departments may be more likely to plug your name into a search engine than to make a phone call to your references.
And what will they find when they do that? Crickets? Or worse, that angry letter to you sent to the newspaper and nothing else?
You need to take charge of your online presence by, at the very least, creating a LinkedIn profile. This will serve as your online resume, and you’ll want to fill it with a professional photo and details about your work experience.
5. Ignoring your networks
You’ve been around the block a couple of times, right? Well then, put all those connections you’ve made to good use.
Pick up the phone, shoot an email or send a text. Be direct and to the point. Tell people in your professional network that you’re looking for a new position and ask if they know of any opportunities.
For more, check out “9 Simple Tips for Successful and Painless Networking.”
6. Being shy about emphasizing your experience
A deep network isn’t the only thing you’ve probably accumulated over the years. You probably have a boatload of experience, too. Put that to your advantage.
In fact, once you get to the interview stage, don’t skirt the issue. The interviewer may already be thinking, “Wow, this guy is old!” So, go ahead and acknowledge it.
Explain that while you may not be the youngest job candidate to walk through the door, your oodles of experience will be a benefit to the company. Specifically, stress that you’ll need little to no training to hit the ground running, and how that fact can save the business both time and money.
7. Acting like you know it all
Emphasizing experience is good — to a point. You don’t want to make your track record look intimidating to those younger than you. A 30-something boss may be worried a 60-year-old job candidate is going to want to run the show. The last thing young whipper-snappers want is a mom or dad peering over their shoulders and critiquing their every move.
Sure, you know you’re not going to act that way, but you’ve got to convince the interviewer of that as well. Be enthusiastic about the current business leadership and have a couple of stories to share that highlight your work as part of team.
8. Looking at employers who don’t value older workers
Rather than trying to convince a youth-centric company that you’re right for the job, it may be saner to focus your efforts on employers who value older workers.
You may be able to find these employers through these resources:
9. Being unwilling to bend on income
While your experience can be an asset, an employer might see dollar signs when they weigh it. Companies sometimes prefer to hire a younger worker who will be content with lower wages.
Of course, you deserve to be well-compensated for your experience. However, some income is better than no income, and if you want to get back into the workforce quickly, your best bet is to be flexible with your income requirements.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.
It’s that time again, where I take a look at a pair of popular mortgage programs to determine which may better suit certain situations.
Today’s match-up: “15-year fixed mortgage vs. 30-year fixed mortgage.”
As always, there is no one-size-fits-all solution because everyone is different and may have varying real estate and financial goals.
For example, it depends if we’re talking about a home purchase or a mortgage refinance.
Or if you’re a first-time home buyer with nothing in your bank account or a seasoned homeowner close to retirement.
Ultimately, for home buyers who can only muster a low down payment, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely be the only option from an affordability and qualifying standpoint.
So for some, the argument isn’t even an argument, it’s over before it starts.
But let’s explore the key differences between these loan programs so you know what you’re getting into.
What’s Better: A 30-Year Fixed or 15-Year Fixed?
Two of the most commonly utilized home loan products available to homeowners today are the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and the 30-year fixed mortgage.
They are very similar to one another in the way they function (both offer fixed rates for the entire loan term), but one is paid off in half the amount of time.
That can amount to some serious cost differences and financial outcomes.
While it’s impossible to universally choose one over the other, we can certainly highlight some of the benefits and drawbacks of each.
As seen in the chart above, the 30-year fixed is cheaper on a monthly basis, but more expensive long-term because of the greater interest expense.
The 30-year mortgage rate will also be higher relative to the 15-year fixed to pay for the convenience of an additional 15 years of fixed rate goodness.
Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed will cost a lot more each month, but save you quite a bit over the shorter loan term thanks in part to the lower interest rate offered.
15-Year Fixed Mortgages Aren’t Nearly as Popular
The 15-year fixed is the second most popular home loan program available
But only accounts for something like 15% of all mortgages
Mainly because they aren’t very affordable to most people
With monthly payments around 1.5X the 30-year fixed
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is easily the most popular loan program available today.
Around 70% of all mortgages are 30-year fixed products, whereas the percentage of mortgages that are 15-year fixed loans is roughly 15%.
While this number can certainly fluctuate over time, it should give you a good idea of how many borrowers go with a 30-year mortgage vs. 15-year mortgage.
If we drill down even further, about 90% of purchase mortgages are 30-year fixed loans, and just about six percent are 15-year fixed loans. But why?
Well, the simplest answer is that the 30-year mortgage is cheaper, much cheaper than the 15-year, because you get twice as long to pay it off.
Most mortgages are based on a 30-year amortization, whether they are fixed or not (even ARMs), meaning they take 30 full years to pay off.
The 30-year fixed is the most straightforward home loan program out there because it never adjusts during this industry standard 30-year term.
The lengthy mortgage term allows home buyers to purchase relatively expensive real estate without breaking the bank, even if they come in with a low down payment.
It also means paying off your mortgage will take a long, long time…
In short, it’s safe and easy to wrap one’s head around, not to mention affordable due to that long loan term, and as such very popular.
This is why it’s heavily advertised and touted by most housing counselors and mortgage lenders alike.
With the 30-year, you can afford more house, which explains that 90% market share when it’s a home purchase.
Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed-rate market share is significantly higher on refinance mortgages because borrowers don’t want to restart the clock once they’ve already paid down their loan for a number of years.
Well, at least if you’re intent on paying off your mortgage at some point in this lifetime.
Despite the overwhelming popularity, there must be some drawbacks to the 30-year mortgage, right? Of course there are…
15-Year Mortgage Rates Are Lower
15-year mortgage rates are always lower than 30-year rates
How much lower will depend on the spread
It fluctuates based on the economy and investor demand
May find that rates are 0.50% – 0.75% cheaper at any given time
First and foremost, you pay a premium for a 30-year mortgage vs. a 15-year mortgage in the form of a higher interest rate, even though both offer fixed rates.
Simply put, because you get more time to pay off the mortgage, there is a cost associated.
After all, mortgage lenders are agreeing to give you a fixed interest rate for double the amount of time, which is certainly a risk for them, especially if interest rates rise significantly during that period.
For that reason, you’ll find that 15-year mortgage rates cost quite a bit less than those on a 30-year loan product.
In fact, at the time this was written, mortgage rates on the 30-year fixed averaged 3.75% according to Freddie Mac, while the 15-year fixed stood at 3.22%.
That’s a difference of 0.53%, which is certainly very significant and should not be overlooked.
In general, you may find that 15-year mortgage rates are about 0.50% – 0.75% lower than 30-year fixed mortgage rates. But this spread can and will vary over time.
I charted 15-year fixed mortgage rates since 2000 using Freddie Mac’s June average, as seen above.
Since that time, the lowest spread compared to the 30-year was 0.31% in 2007, and the highest spread was 0.88% in 2014.
In June of the year 2000, the 15-year mortgage rate averaged 7.99%, while the 30-year was a slightly higher 8.29%.
So the 15-year has been enjoying a wider spread lately, though that could narrow over time.
Monthly Payments Are Higher on 15-Year Mortgages
Expect a mortgage payment that is 1.5X a comparable 30-year fixed
Not a bad deal considering loan is paid off in half the time
Just make sure you can afford it
Since there won’t be an option to make smaller payments
While the lower interest rate is certainly appealing, know that the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage comes with a higher monthly mortgage payment because you have 15 fewer years to pay it off.
If we consider a $200,000 loan amount, which isn’t necessarily that large, the monthly mortgage payment would be $476.19 higher on the 15-year mortgage because it’s paid off in half the amount of time.
So despite the lower interest rate on the 15-year fixed, the monthly payment is still significantly higher.
Take a look at the numbers below, using those Freddie Mac average mortgage rates:
30-year fixed payment: $926.23 (interest rate of 3.75%) 15-year fixed payment: $1,402.42 (interest rate of 3.22%)
Total Interest Paid
This means loan amounts might be limited for those who opt for the shorter term.
Okay, so we know the monthly payment is a lot higher, but wait, and this is the biggie; you would pay $133,442.80 in interest on the 30-year mortgage over the full term, versus just $52,435.60 in interest on the 15-year mortgage!
That’s more than $80,000 in interest saved over the duration of the loan if you went with the 15-year fixed as opposed to the 30-year mortgage. Pretty substantial, eh.
You’d also build home equity a lot faster, as each monthly payment would allocate much more money to the principal loan balance as opposed to interest.
But there’s another snag with the 15-year fixed option. It’s harder to qualify for because you’ll be required to make a much larger payment each month, meaning your DTI ratio might be too high as a result.
So for a lot of borrowers stretching to get into a home, the 15-year mortgage won’t even be an option.
Most Homeowners Hold Their Mortgage for Just 5-10 Years
Consider the fact that most homeowners only keep their mortgages for 5-10 years
So the projected savings of a 15-year fixed mortgage
May not actually be fully realized over the shorter term
But these borrowers will still whittle down their loan balance a lot faster in the meantime
Now obviously nobody wants to pay an additional $80,000 in interest, but who says you will?
Most homeowners don’t see their mortgages out to term, either because they refinance, prepay, or simply sell their property and move. So who knows if you’ll actually benefit long-term?
You may have a well-thought-out plan that falls to pieces in 2-3 years, and those larger monthly mortgage payments could come back to bite you if you don’t have adequate savings.
What if you need to move and your home has depreciated in value? Or what if you take a pay cut or lose your job?
Those larger mortgage payments will be more difficult, if not impossible, to manage each month.
And perhaps your money is better served elsewhere, such as in the stock market or tied up in another investment, one that’s more liquid, which earns a better return.
Make 15-Year Fixed Sized Payments on a 30-Year Mortgage
If you can’t afford the payments on a 15-year fixed home loan
Or simply don’t want to be locked into a shorter-term mortgage
You can make larger monthly payments voluntarily
That pay off your loan in half the time or close to it
Even if you’re determined to pay off your mortgage, you could go with a 30-year fixed and make larger payments each month, with the excess going toward the principal balance.
This flexibility would protect you in periods where money was tight, and still knock several years off your mortgage, assuming larger payments were made fairly regularly.
And there are always biweekly mortgage payments as well, which you may not even notice leaving your bank account.
It’s also possible to utilize both loan programs at different times in your life.
For example, you may start your mortgage journey with a 30-year loan, and later refinance your mortgage to a 15-year term to stay on track if your goal is to own your home free and clear.
In summary, mortgages are, ahem, a big deal, so make sure you compare plenty of scenarios and do lots of research (and math) before making a decision.
Most consumers don’t bother putting in much time for these mortgage basics, but planning now could mean far less headache and a lot more money in your bank account later.
Pros of 30-Year Fixed Mortgages
Lower monthly payment (more affordable)
Easier to qualify at a higher purchase price
Ability to buy “more house” with smaller payment
Can always make prepayments if wanted
Good for those looking to invest money elsewhere
Cons of 30-Year Fixed Mortgages
Higher interest rate
You pay a lot more interest
You build equity very slowly
If prices go down you could fall into an underwater quite easily
Harder to refinance with little equity
You won’t own your home outright for 30 years!
Pros of 15-Year Fixed Mortgages
Lower interest rate
Much less interest paid during loan term
Build home equity faster
Own your home free and clear in half the time
Good for those who are close to retirement and/or conservative investors
Cons of 15-Year Fixed Mortgages
Higher payment makes it harder to qualify
You may not be able to buy as much house
You may become house poor (all your money locked up in the house)
Could get a better return for your money elsewhere
Four years ago my wife and I were almost broke. It was our first year of marriage and I had been out of a job for almost five months.
I wasn’t making money and I was about to start going to grad school. It’s hard to pay for grad school when you’re broke so I was applying for scholarships.
One of the scholarships required you to input a monthly budget of how much you were spending. Makes sense — they want to make sure you’re being a good steward of your resources and that you actually need the financial help.
The problem was I had no idea what we were actually spending. We were just kinda going by feel and trying to be frugal. We created an account with Mint and synced all of our accounts.
I still remember when my wife and I were sitting there watching the screen–waiting for all of the data to get sorted out to see the breakdown of our monthly spending.
It all looked normal at first. Our rent was $725. Car insurance was $200. Wifi was $30. Phone bill was around $100. Gym $40. Everything was checking out except one category.
Food / Restaurants: $825
Neither of us believed it, but it was our anniversary month so we chalked it up to the fancy dinner we went to. Surely, that’s what it was… We went back another month and saw $760. Then $730. Then back to $800.
The realization hit us hard.
For the last six months while I was unemployed and we were struggling to make ends meet — watching our bank accounts start to dip — we were spending more on food than rent for just our little family of two.
Like most people, we ate out too often for fun and for convenience.
Like most people, we were throwing away too much food that never got cooked.
Our food bill was out of control. We knew we had to find a way to save money on food, but we didn’t know how. We already felt like we were frugal when it came to food and we didn’t want to go back to the college diet of ramen and the chicken that’s marked down because it’s about to expire.
We wanted to eat real food that was good for us and good for our wallet.
We made a few major changes:
We completely stopped eating out for about two months.
We planned out our meals and didn’t let anything go to waste.
That worked for a while! We were eating all of our meals at home and our food spending dropped from $750+ to around $350.
It was exhausting though. We were cooking and cleaning multiple meals a day. It felt like we lived in the kitchen.
Then we started meal prepping.
We’d wake up early on Sundays to pick a few recipes and map out what we were going to eat that week. After church, we’d head straight to the grocery store and spent our afternoons making a week’s worth of food.
It took some time to get the hang of it, but meal prepping was a total game-changer for us. We started saving money and we weren’t spending 15 hours a week in the kitchen.
Here I am three years later and I now run a blog called MealPrepify where I help people learn how to meal prep and find great recipes so they can save time, money, and eat healthy doing it.
Today I want to give you my best tips and tricks to help you start saving money by meal prepping! I’ve also shared our favorite meal plan that we’ve used almost every single month to save money on food.
Meal Prep 101: 9 Tips to Start Meal Prepping
When I first started meal prepping, I was totally overwhelmed.
How do I pick recipes?
How much should I make?
How long will the food last?
Do I need to meal plan or just cook stuff and hope it goes together?
When I started looking for resources on meal prepping, most of it wasn’t helpful. The recipes they recommended were elaborate or unhealthy. The meal plans didn’t fit what I liked, and I usually ended up spending more time and money than I was saving.
Here are some helpful meal prep tips to get you started the right way:
1. Restaurant spending freeze
If you want to start meal prepping, the first thing you’ve got to do is stop eating out. If you’re anything like me, this is the hardest part. My wife and I are foodies and we love to try new places all over Houston, especially BBQ.
But there’s no way around it. If you want to save money on food and make meal prepping a habit, you have to force yourself to do it.
Your restaurant spending freeze doesn’t have to be forever, but commit for one month and see what happens. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save when you stop eating out.
2. Start small
The biggest mistake people make is trying to meal prep too much the first time. Start small. Pick 1-2 recipes you know you love and double the ingredients. The last thing you want to do is make a bunch of food that’ll go to waste.
3. Look in the freezer and pantry
The best place to start meal prepping is with stuff you’ve already got. Go make a list of all the meat you’ve got sitting in your freezer and find a way to meal prep with it. You’ll save money, reduce waste, and clear out space.
4. Create a list of super cheap meals
The key to saving money with meal prepping is to find cheap meals that you can make over and over again. My wife and I have a rotation of 7-10 meals that we absolutely love. They also keep our grocery budget in line and allow us to splurge in other places.
5. Find ingredient overlaps
The best meal prep hack is finding ingredients that work for multiple recipes. The fewer ingredients I have to buy at the grocery store, prep, chop, and cook, the better!
Grilled chicken is one of these for me. I’ll eat grilled chicken with a side of roasted vegetables, on a salad, or in a sweet potato. When I’m in a big hurry, I’ll grab a baggie of grilled chicken for a high-protein snack.
Bell peppers are another one. You can use bell peppers for fajitas, asian stir fries, or by themselves as a healthy snack.
6. Create a set time for meal prepping
If you want to meal prep consistently, then pick a set time to meal prep every week. My wife and I cook a week’s worth of lunches every Saturday afternoon and then we’ll double the amount for whatever we cook for dinner on Monday.
7. Get good storage containers
After you’ve finished all your meal prepping, you need to a way to store and save it all. We used to use regular plastic tupperware containers, but after a while we decided to upgrade to these glassware containers, which are better for heating, storing in the freezer, and cleaning in the dishwasher.
8. Map out your week
Meal prepping takes meal planning. Every Saturday morning, my wife and I wake up and we map out our entire week of meals.
We actually put our meal plan into a google spreadsheet so we can see exactly what we’ll be eating. Then we put together a grocery list of everything we need to buy that week. We usually try to stock up on some healthy snacks as well.
The best part about keeping track of your meal plans is that you have your own bank of meal plans to pull from. Whenever we’re in a hurry we just pick a meal plan we’ve done before and head to the store!
9. Use the crockpot
There’s no question that using a crock pot is the easiest way to meal prep. All you have to do is dump in your ingredients, press a button, and wait 6-8 hours.
Turn it on before you go to bed and wake up with lunch and dinner already prepared. Here are some of our favorite cheap crockpot meals you can make for less than $3 a serving!
Sample Meal Plan: How we made 20 meals for $25 in one hour
People make meal planning way more complicated than it needs to be. I always pick three recipes that I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ideally they are cheap, healthy, and have some overlap in ingredients.
This is one of my go-to meal plans. It takes me about an hour of work to make 20 meals for $25.
Breakfast: Overnight oats
Meal prepping for breakfast is tough. Leftover eggs are rubbery and gross.
About a year ago I started making overnight oats and it was a game changer. Easy to make and incredibly cheap.
Overnight oats don’t require any cooking. Put them in a mason jar the night before with milk or water and they’re ready to go in the morning. The ratio is typically two parts liquid to one part oats. I typically do 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup water, and 1 cup milk.
You can add anything you want to the oats to fix them up! My favorites are strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.
The oats need at least four hours to soak, but will last for 3-4 days. I usually add liquid to half my jars and then on Wednesday I’ll add milk and water to the second batch.
Every morning, grab a mason jar from the fridge and you’re ready to eat. Overnight oats are good cold or warmed up.
Est. price: $0.50/ serving
Lunch: Sheet pan chicken fajitas
My wife and I love using sheet pan recipes because they save time on clean-up and we can meal prep a week’s worth of lunch in one batch.
You can make these chicken fajitas in a few easy steps.
Put 2lbs of chicken breast/thighs into a ziploc bag or bowl and cover it with your marinade of choice. I use a store bought marinade to save time and make it as easy as possible. Marinade for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Slice 1 green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion.
Cover the sheet pan with foil and dump the bell peppers & chicken on it.
Cook for 20 minutes at 350 or so and check to make sure it’s done.
Once the fajitas are made, you can eat them however you want! Stuff some tortillas or eat them with rice and beans. Eat the fajitas with some mixed greens and avocado for a healthy salad.
Est. price: $1.50/serving
Dinner: Quick coconut chicken curry
This coconut chicken curry recipe is one of our weeknight go-to meals! It’s cheap, healthy, and here’s how you make it:
Put 2lbs chicken breast or thighs into a ziploc or bowl. Rub 4 tbsp curry paste all over them.
Add 2 tbsp oil to a cooking pan and get hot. Add red onion and saute with 2 more tbsp curry paste. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add chicken to the pan and sear both sides (2 minutes a side).
Add coconut milk and put in oven for 12 minutes @ 400 degrees.
When it’s done, you can eat the chicken curry with pita bread, rice, or by itself!
Est. price: $2.50/serving
If you want to give this meal plan a try, here’s a grocery list you can print off and take with you to the store.
Optional oatmeal toppings you want: fruit, berries, nuts
2lbs Chicken breast
2 green bell peppers
1 can black beans
1 cup rice
2lbs chicken thighs
1.5 cup coconut milk
4-6 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 cup diced red onion
Take Your Next Step in Meal Prepping
I don’t know where you’re at in life, but I truly believe that meal prepping can help everyone.
It can help the entrepreneur eat healthy and save money to reinvest in their business. It can help the young professional save money to put towards retirement. Meal prepping can save the stay at home parent hours of time every week in planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning.
Take your first step today!
Good Financial Cents, and author of the personal finance book Soldier of Finance. Jeff is an Iraqi combat veteran and served 9 years in the Army National Guard. His work is regularly featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc.com and Entrepreneur.
You Might Also Enjoy
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW
Each week, we’ll send you money tips to guide you on the path to financial freedom.
If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, and help others while you’re at it, you may want to consider donating plasma.
Thousands of Americans across the country are lining up to earn a little extra cash through blood plasma donation. The plasma donation process is similar to giving blood but does take a little longer. Thankfully you can be compensated for your time.
Donating plasma offers the potential to earn $300 to $400 a month. Before you get started, however, you need to be aware of what’s involved to help you make an informed decision.
ABC News that 94% of paid plasma that was used to create medicines around the world, was donated by American donors.
Blood plasma is the part of the blood that’s actually a clear liquid. It consists of water, enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. Plasma donation is different from giving blood at the Red Cross, however.
To obtain the clear plasma, your blood is drawn, then the plasma is separated. The blood is then returned to your body.
There are hundreds of donation centers around the country. However, to donate, you must typically meet some basic requirements.
You must be aged 18 to 69
You must weigh over 110 pounds
You must have proper levels of iron, hemoglobin, and blood
You need to pass a basic physical and be free of infectious diseases
You must have a legal Social Security Card or government ID to prove that you’re a citizen.
The rules can vary according to your home state. Local laws may even override the requirements of the plasma donation center. For example, some states have a higher age requirement than the typical center age of 18.
Some states also have rules prohibiting people with piercings or tattoos from donating. There may also be a minimum number of donations permitted within a specified timeframe.
If you don’t qualify as a plasma donor, you may be given a temporary or permanent deferral. Temporary deferrals occur if you’re sick, your blood, iron or hemoglobin levels are too low, or you’re recovering from a procedure. You’ll be advised on what to do and when you can return to donate plasma for money.
Permanent deferrals typically result from your age, weight, or if you have a medical condition that could negatively affect you or the recipient of your blood plasma. However, if you believe the permanent deferral was given in error, you can obtain a second medical opinion to try to overturn the decision.
How To Prepare To Donate Plasma
In order to donate plasma, you will need to hydrate, avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, eat healthily, and prepare the necessary paperwork.
Before you visit a plasma donation center, you will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat heart-healthy meals such as vegetables, fruits, and fish. You should also try to avoid high cholesterol, fatty foods.
Being properly hydrated is crucial, so you should drink plenty of water the day before and the day of donation. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are diuretics, so it is best to avoid them, as they can dehydrate you.
When you arrive at the center, you will need to present your Social Security card, a photo ID and proof of address. Your name and address should match on all of your documentation.
What’s Involved In Donating Plasma?
If you’re a first time donor, you should plan for your visit to the center to take up to two hours. When you arrive at the center, you’ll be asked to complete a health history and go through a basic physical. This can include a heart check, urine test, and reflex test. They will also prick your finger to test your iron, blood, and hemoglobin levels.
Once they are ready for you to begin donating, you’ll be sat in a semi-reclining chair. The actual process looks similar to standard blood donation. However, as the process is more involved compared to donating blood, the actual donation part takes up to an hour.
When your blood is drawn, the center team separates the plasma using a plasmapheresis machine, and the blood will be returned to your body.
If you choose to donate again, the process will be quicker. Future donations typically take an hour, since you only need to confirm nothing has changed about your medical situation.
If you plan on donating plasma regularly, bear in mind that there are limits. Generally, you can donate no more than twice a week, but you need to leave 24 to 48 hours between donations. This allows your body enough time to replace the lost plasma. However, drinking plenty of water can assist in this process.
One common concern is if it will hurt to donate plasma. However, the discomfort involved is similar to donating blood.
In addition to the finger prick, the technician will use an IV and needle to draw your blood and return the plasma free blood to your body. When the blood is returned, it is mixed with saline. This can make it cold, which can cause a little discomfort. So, it is a good idea to bring a jacket or blanket.
Obviously, if you start to feel very uncomfortable during donation, tell the technician immediately.
How Much Can You Earn Via Your Plasma Donations?
If you choose to donate twice a week, there is the potential to make up to $400 a month or up to $50 per donation. That’s not too shabby, given that it will typically take 60 to 90 minutes per visit.
There are factors that will determine your earning potential for plasma donation, however. In addition to how often you donate, your weight, the quantity of plasma you donate, and which donation center you use will influence your earnings.
Typically, if it is your first time donating plasma, you’ll make more. Many centers have incentives for new donors, and since the process takes longer, you’re compensated accordingly.
Additionally, the FDA requires that plasma donations correspond with body weight. So you’ll get paid more if your body weight is more, since you can donate more plasma. Generally, the weight ranges are split up in ranges similar to this:
110 to 149 pounds
150 to 174 pounds
175 to 400 pounds
Also, you may have a certain type of protein that’s in high demand. If you carry this type of protein in your plasma, the center may offer you more money.
Some centers also offer “frequent flyer” incentives. So, you’ll receive more per donation if you regularly visit the same centers.
Where Can I Donate Plasma?
A great place to start when looking for the highest paying plasma donation center near you is to check out the website DonatingPlasma.org. It has an easy to use search tool where you can plug in your city/zip and it will show you centers near you.
Although the FDA inspects donation centers to ensure compliance with the laws, it does not own or manage them. These centers are operated by third-party for-profit companies, and there is no central organization that receives plasma. You’ll need to either use a site like DonatingPlasma.org or search Google for “plasma donation near me” and ensure you choose an FDA compliant location.
Highest-Paying Plasma Donation Centers
Plasma donation is a competitive business. It is worth comparing the earning potential if you have multiple centers in your local area. You may even find you can obtain higher than typical payouts.
A good starting point is to look for first-time plasma donor bonuses. Many centers promote bonuses on their websites (many of which you’ll find below). This could allow you to earn $500 in your first month rather than $300. Donation centers also run promotions where you can earn more if you return to donate again. Although it can feel strange to see promotions and coupons on a donation site, this is how the industry works, so be sure to take advantage of the best deal.
Here are some of the trusted donation centers in different states and what you can expect to be paid.
B Positive Plasma
B Positive Plasma is one of the highest paying plasma donation centers out there, but they currently only have locations in MD and NJ.
You can earn up to $500 a month, and they sometimes have promos for first-time donors where you can get $50 per donation for your first five donations.
You’ll get paid fast via a Visa Debit card and you can earn even more by referring a friend!
Biolife operates in 28 states in the USA, including AZ, AR, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY.
New donors at certain centers can earn bonuses, which offers the potential to earn up to $600 in your first month. Centers also run local promotions. The typical rate is up to $50 per donation. Payments are made with a Biolife prepaid debit card.
Biotest Plasma Center
Biotest Plasma Center has locations in AR, FL, GA, IA, NC, NE, NM, OH, PA, SC, SD, TX. You can earn up to $50 for the first five donations, and subsequent donations will earn you $35 to $45. There are also sweepstakes and bonuses when you refer a friend, which can boost your earnings. Payment is made via a Mastercard prepaid debit card.
BPL Plasma has centers in AR, AZ, CO, FL, IL, KY, ME, MN, MO, NC, NM, OH, OK, TX. They offer up to $50 for your first five donations, but there are seasonal promotions to boost your earnings.
However, BPL Plasma requires donors to be 18 to 65, rather than 69 and not to have had any tattoos or piercings in the last 12 months.
CSL Plasma has locations in AL, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, WA, WV, WI. There are also multiple locations within the same state. For example, in Alabama, there are Birmingham, Auburn, and two Montgomery centers.
You can earn up to $50 per donation, with a potential for up to $400 a month. There are also monthly promotions. You’ll receive points that you can redeem for prepaid debit cards or merchandise.
GCAM Plasma has locations in CA, ID, IN, TX, WA, and you can earn up to $25-$40 for each donation. Payment methods vary, so you would need to contact your local center.
Grifols has more than a hundred locations across the U.S including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI. This company owns a variety of centers, including Biomat USA, Talecris, Plasma Biological Resources, and Interstate Blood Bank.
You can expect to receive up to $25 per donation via a prepaid debit card. However, Grifols also operates a refer a friend program for additional bonuses.
Immunotek has locations in 8 states including AL, FL, MS, NC, PA, SC, TN, TX.
The amount you can earn isn’t listed on their website, and pay rates for donations vary from location to location.
They do offer a $20 referral bonus when you refer a a friend who donates.
The Interstate Companies has locations in 14 states including FL, IL, IN, KY, MD, MO, MI, MS, NC, OH, PA, TN, TX, WI.
While they don’t list how much you can earn on their website, users online have stated they pay $50 each for the first 5 donations, and anywhere from $25-35 per donation after that.
KEDPlasma has centers in 11 states, including AL, FL, GA, LA, NC, NY, SC.
You can earn up to $50 for your first five donations. However, returning donors may qualify for a $20 lapse bonus coupon”. You would need to leave at least 14 days between donations.
This company also operates Kedrewards, a loyalty rewards program, which creates an opportunity to earn additional bonuses. The payment methods can vary according to location, but typically you’ll be offered a prepaid debit card.
Octapharma has more than 100 locations across the USA including AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NV, OH, OK, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI.
You can earn up to $50 each for your first five donations. There are also frequency bonuses and a New Donor bonus. For example, you may earn extra if you donate more frequently in certain months. This is usually when there is a high demand for plasma but few donors.
You’ll be paid via prepaid debit card, but you can also accumulate reward points that can offer sweepstake entries and other discounts.
The Tax Implications Of Donating Plasma For Money
Most plasma donation centers will load your payment onto a prepaid debit card. You’re unlikely to be provided a tax form that reports your taxable income as you would with a day job.
However, not getting a 1099-MISC IRS form will not let you off the hook. You’re required by the IRS to file a return if you make more than $400 from “gig work”. Donating plasma does count as gig work, so keep a track of your earnings.
You will be responsible for reporting the income made from donating plasma when you file your taxes. So, it is a good idea to set aside a few dollars of each payment to avoid a nasty tax surprise.
The Side Effects And Potential Risks Of Plasma Donation
Of course, you should not try anything without being aware of the possible side effects and potential risks. Fortunately, plasma donations are considered relatively safe. It is a well-understood process, but there is a possibility of side effects.
Many of the possible side effects are similar to donating blood. Since needles are involved in the process, you may experience tenderness or bruising around the injection site. There could be discoloration, pain, or swelling, but these should subside relatively quickly. You may also have a reaction to the disinfectant used. This is often iodine, so if you know you have an iodine sensitivity, mention it to the center.
Some donors can also feel faint or experience dizziness. This is due to fluid being removed from the body, which causes a reaction to this stress. You can minimize your risk of this by drinking plenty of fluids the day before and the day of donation.
In less common cases, you may experience a citrate reaction. This is an anticoagulant that they use, so the blood doesn’t clot during collection. You may experience a reaction to the citrate, which often presents as a tingling in the fingers or around the mouth and nose. In severe cases, it can cause shortness of breath, shivering, twitching, or a rapid or slowing pulse.
If you experience any symptoms during the donation process, it is important to let the center staff know. You should also follow instructions following the donation. For example, you may be told to remain seated and have a drink after donation. This will help your body to recover from the stress of donation.
Donating Plasma After COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the economy and it may be the reason why you’re considering donating plasma to make extra money. Fortunately, it is possible to donate plasma even if you’re recovering from COVID-19.
In fact, the FDA is encouraging people to begin donating after a negative COVID test and “complete resolution of symptoms”.
President Trump came out with statements this week encouraging people to donate plasma after having COVID-19 so that the medical community can get plasma with the antibodies to help patients who are still struggling with the disease. You will need to wait at least 14 days after your symptoms are resolved before you can make a donation, but giving your plasma with antibodies can be very helpful, and life-saving, for those in need.
Donating Plasma Is A Legit Way To Earn Some Extra Cash
Donating plasma is a legit way to earn some extra cash while helping others with life-saving plasma.
You only need two or three hours a week to donate plasma and you could make $300 to $400 a month. Anyone can do it as long as they meet the guidelines, and as long as they have no qualms with being stuck with a needle and sitting in a chair for a few hours a month. If that sounds like you this could be an easy way to earn some extra income.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of donating plasma for money, you can still donate for free. You can visit your local Red Cross Center to donate blood plasma. The Red Cross allows donations every 28 days, so you can still help people and potentially save lives.
Have you gone through the process to donate plasma for money? Tell us how it went!