The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express Review

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a popular small business credit card with a fairly standard rewards program and no annual fee. Like many other Amex business credit cards, the rewards program is based on Membership Rewards, a proprietary portal that allows you to redeem for a wide range of merchandise and cash equivalents.

Blue Business Plus is meant for business owners with good to excellent credit. It competes with a number of other popular small business credit cards, including  Capital One Spark Miles for Business. Blue Business Plus also competes with American Express’s color-coded business card family, which includes the Plum Card, Business Green Rewards, Business Gold Rewards, and the Business Platinum Card.

Key Features

These are the most important features of the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express.

Welcome Offer

Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of card membership.

Membership Rewards and Redemption

Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. The 2X rate applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, and 1 point per dollar thereafter.

You can redeem accumulated Membership Rewards points for general merchandise, travel, transportation (including Uber rides), gift cards, statement credits, and other items at Amex’s Membership Rewards portal. Point values vary by redemption method, with merchandise generally worth $0.01 per point and statement credits worth $0.006 per point.

Introductory APR

There is a 0% introductory APR for 12 months from account opening date on purchases. For rates and fees of the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

Regular APR

Following the end of the introductory period, variable regular APR applies. It’s currently 13.24% to 19.24% variable, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.

Important Fees

Blue Business Plus has no annual fee or fees for additional employee cards. Foreign transactions cost 2.7%. Late and returned payments cost up to $39 each. See rates and fees.

Spend Above Your Credit Limit

Blue Business Plus comes with a spending limit. However, cardholders can spend above their credit limits without first applying for a higher limit, provided they pay off the amount spent above the limit in full by their statement due date. Above-limit spending is not unlimited – according to American Express, it “adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to American Express, and other factors.”

Additional Business Benefits

Blue Business Plus comes with a nice lineup of business-friendly benefits, including digital receipt storage, expense tagging and tracking, and the ability to designate an employee as your account manager and dispute resolution point person.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Blue Business Plus doesn’t have an annual fee. That’s a nice contrast to other popular small business cards.
  2. Long Introductory APR Period. Blue Business Plus’s 0% APR introductory period lasts for 12 months from account opening. That’s much more generous than many fellow competing business cards, and in line with top low APR consumer credit cards. Once the introductory APR period ends, variable regular APR applies.
  3. Good for Business Owners Without Stellar Credit. Although Blue Business Plus requires good to excellent credit, it’s not the most exclusive card out there. If you don’t have major blemishes on your credit record, there’s a good chance you’re going to be approved for this card. That’s certainly not the case for more exclusive American Express business products, such as Business Gold Rewards and Business Platinum.

Disadvantages

  1. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. Blue Business Plus comes with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not ideal for business owners who frequently travel abroad. If you’re looking for a piece of plastic that doesn’t penalize you for setting foot in other countries, try one of the Capital One Spark cards.
  2. Points Accumulate Slowly. Blue Business Plus earns just 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent after the first $50,000 in purchases each year. That’s a slower rate of accumulation than some direct competitors, including Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card.
  3. Point Values Can Be Low. Come redemption time, Membership Rewards points’ values vary based on what they’re being redeemed for. Merchandise redemptions are usually worth $0.01 per point, but cash equivalents can be worth much less – $0.005 or $0.006, in some cases. By contrast, the Capital One Spark family’s miles or cash back points are always worth $0.01 apiece, while Chase Ink Business Preferred‘s points can be worth as much as $0.0125 at redemption or even more when points are transferred to travel partners. If you’re looking for a generous business loyalty program, look to that card.

Final Word

American Express has a somewhat deserved reputation as an issuer of gold-plated and platinum-plated cards with luxurious fringe benefits, impeccable service, and generous loyalty features. Many of the company’s high-end cards live up to this image – but not all of them.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a middle-of-the-road rewards card that doesn’t require massive revenues or an off-the-charts credit score – a true business credit card for the rest of us. Blue Business Plus’ broad appeal does come with some drawbacks, including a so-so rewards system, but there are worse cards out there. If you don’t qualify for a more generous American Express card at the moment, it’s not a bad place to start.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

Source: moneycrashers.com

People Say to Give Up These 4 Things and Retire Early — They’re Wrong

If you’re not already rich, the race to early retirement can feel like it’s marred by sacrifice. Give up this, give up that — like the only way to retire before 65 is if you suffer now.

Sure, you want to be able to enjoy early retirement, and that means having enough money saved to do so. But you also want to live your life now in a way that brings you joy.

A study from annuity.com found that people would be willing to sacrifice several of life’s greatest conveniences to be able to achieve FIRE (financial independence, retire early):

The study shows that 20% of people would forgo having children, 27% would live without a pet and 28% would give up dining out just to have their retirement party a decade or two earlier. Some people would even move into a tiny home or sell their car!

But we know there are better ways. You don’t have to give up the things you love just to retire when you’d like to. Here are a few things people suggest giving up to accelerate their retirement timeline — and why we think you shouldn’t.

1. What They Say: ‘Give Up Your Vehicle’

Between car payments, insurance and repairs, having a car can be a big expense. And people eyeing early retirement do tend toward a minimalist lifestyle, so getting rid of your vehicle can be a tempting expense to cut.

But unless you live in a city that’s bikeable or has great public transportation, you’re going to need your own way to get from point A to point B. So instead of selling or letting your lease run out, here are a few tips to cut your car expenses down:

  • Buy a used car. Even though the average interest rate to finance a used car is higher than a new car or leasing one, financially you can save thousands of dollars over the course of a few years.
  • Cut your car insurance costs. By checking quotes every six months, you can save an average of $489 a year on your insurance payments. A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

2. What They Say: ‘Give Up Online Shopping’

Online shopping can be an account drainer — it’s so easy to put things into your cart, click a few buttons and wait for your package to arrive a few days later. And if your aim is to save a lot of money over the next decade or two, online shopping can be a major roadblock.

But here’s the thing — you can still shop online. You just need to be smart about it: Never overpay, and get cash rewards.

That’s exactly what this free service does for you.

Just add it to your browser for free*, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop-up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

3. What They Say: ‘Give Up Dining Out’

While the world was in quarantine, we learned to be more self-reliant in the kitchen, and many of us saw a significant drop in our dining-out expenditures (take-out, maybe not so much). So it’s understandable that 28% of people say they’d give it up entirely to reach their early retirement goals.

But for the other 72% who love going to restaurants and ordering delivery, financial independence isn’t off the table. There are just some strategic moves to make so you can keep supporting your favorite local spots and give your family a break from all the dishes.

First, look for discounts: You can find them on Groupon or with a AAA discount. You can even buy discounted gift cards on websites like Restaurant.com. If you have kids, check out restaurants that let them eat free on certain days of the week.

Next, make sure you’re getting cash back every time you go out to eat (or swipe your debit card in general).

If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash right now?

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 5% back every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?

Enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

4. What They Say: ‘Give Up More Living Space’

The tiny home — or small space — lifestyle has become increasingly popular among the retire-early crowd. It’s cheaper to own, likely includes no mortgage and is less expensive to upkeep, as well.

In fact, 17% of people surveyed said they would live in a space smaller than 700 square feet, if it meant they could retire early. For a single person that may be fine, but for couples or families — it might just not be enough.

Instead, you could keep the space you love and find ways to save money and make money with it:

Stop overpaying $690 on homeowners insurance

Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying. It finds you cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes.

In fact, it saves users an average of $690 a year — or $57.50 a month. It’ll even help you break up with your old insurance company. (You’re allowed to cancel your policy at any time, and your company should issue you a refund.)

And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.

Just answer a few questions about your home to see how much money you’re wasting.

Make up to $300 a month from your empty garage

Extra rooms in your house don’t need to be left empty. You can rent out unused storage space — your shed, or your garage — to your neighbors who need it. A website and app called Neighbor can help you earn up to $300 a month, on your terms. Use this calculator to see how much your available storage space is worth.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

*Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

17 Biggest Home Buying Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer looking for a starter home or a seasoned homeowner ready to upgrade or downsize your property, the buying process is similar. From searching for the perfect place to call home to putting in an initial offer, it’s an exhilarating and life-changing adventure for new and experienced buyers alike.

And with such a major decision on the line, it’s important to make sure you don’t come to regret your decision in the future or miss out on your dream home by making a common — but avoidable — mistake.

17 Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Simple missteps like overestimating your DIY skills or making a lowball offer can put a damper on the excitement you feel during or following the home buying process. And they can cost you money, stress you out, and give you buyer’s remorse.

But, if you know what the most common mistakes are and you prepare in advance, you can bypass them — and the negative side effects they come with.

These are the most common home buying mistakes you should seek to avoid.

1. Not Reviewing Your Budget

Before you buy a home, you need to know what you can afford. This means taking a deep dive into your budget and reviewing your current costs and expenses, as well as estimating any new costs and expenses you’ll take on from owning a home.

For example, additional or increased costs may include:

  • Your monthly payment for rent or a mortgage
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) or condo fees
  • Furniture
  • Utilities

You should also budget for a home emergency fund to cover potential problems like broken appliances or unexpected repair and maintenance costs.

If the estimated costs are too high, it might mean you have to rethink your budget by lowering your price range or reducing your homeowner expenses.

Knowing what you can afford beforehand ensures that you only look at houses within your budget and aren’t tempted to overspend.

2. Overlooking the Community

A house is one thing, but the community it’s in is another. Many homebuyers become excited about a particular property and fail to pay attention to the neighborhood or area it’s in. However, where a home is located can have a significant impact on your quality of life and overall happiness.

For example, pay attention to location-based factors such as:

  • The property’s proximity to an airport, dump, or train tracks
  • Whether it’s a family-oriented neighborhood
  • How close it is to amenities like public transportation, schools, and parks
  • How far it is from your place of work
  • Where necessities like grocery stores and gas stations are located

It’s also useful to look into future developments in the area, like commercial buildings, apartment complexes, and public spaces. If you’d prefer to live away from busy public areas, purchasing a property close to a future strip mall might not be a great option for you.

Or, if you want to be part of an up-and-coming area, planned developments give you a clear idea of what to expect in your neighborhood in the next few years, like new restaurants or off-leash dog parks.

Take some time to think about what you want to be close to or far from before you start your home search. Consider your interests and lifestyle to determine where your ideal property would be located, then use the information to ensure you wind up in a community that you feel good about.

3. Forgetting About Maintenance Costs

The great part about renting is that you don’t have to worry about the costs of homeownership like appliance repairs, building upkeep, or landscaping. But you do have to cover these expenses when you buy a new home.

As with forgetting to make a budget, forgetting to consider ongoing maintenance costs has the potential to wreak havoc on your finances. And avoiding maintenance and upkeep will only end up costing you more money in the long run because it will lead to larger repairs and more serious problems.

Homeowner maintenance includes a variety of recurring tasks, such as:

  • Mowing, trimming, and weeding
  • Snow removal
  • Applying paint and stain
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Pressure washing decks, patios, and siding
  • Chimney cleaning
  • Exterior window washing
  • Servicing your heating and cooling system

Depending on the home, it may also include tasks like replacing shingles, treating hardwood floors, or hiring an arborist to prune your trees.

When it comes to getting these jobs done, you can either take them on yourself or hire a professional to do them for you. However, both will cost you some combination of time and money.

Most home maintenance tasks require equipment. So if you plan to tackle them yourself, expect to cover the costs of equipment, like buying a lawnmower or a ladder or renting a pressure washer. And, if you hire a contractor to do your home maintenance for you, you’ll of course need to pay them.

Maintenance costs aren’t included in your mortgage loan, so you need to be able to cover them out of pocket. When reviewing properties, consider what kind of maintenance the property will need and whether you can afford it. Not only does it cost money, but it also takes a lot of time.

If a high-maintenance property isn’t a fit for your lifestyle or budget, look for something that requires less work, such as a newer home or lower-maintenance property like a condo.

4. Not Getting a Preapproval

One of the first steps you should take on your journey to homeownership is to get a mortgage preapproval. A preapproval is the amount a bank agrees to lend you based on factors like your savings, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio.

Having a preapproval tells you exactly how much a bank will allow you to borrow, giving you a maximum purchase price for your home.

Without being preapproved, you have no idea how much a mortgage lender is willing to give you or what your interest rate will be. This means you’ll be house shopping with no real budget in mind. You won’t even know if a bank will approve you at all, meaning you could be wasting your time even looking for a home in the first place.

Before you think about booking a showing or talking to a realtor, book an appointment with your bank or a mortgage broker. Find out exactly how much you have to work with so you can view homes within your price range and budget.

5. Only Looking at a Few Properties

Buying a home is a major undertaking, not just financially, but emotionally as well. Only looking at a handful of houses won’t give you a realistic picture of what’s on the market, what home prices are like, or whether something better is out there.

Book multiple showings to get a feel for your options. Even if you think you’ve found your dream home early on, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it. Keep your options open and check out a wide variety of properties to give yourself some perspective.

Who knows, you might find a hidden gem or dodge a bullet simply by taking your time and not limiting your options to a handful of properties.

6. Not Having a Real Estate Agent

When embarking on a home buying journey, you may be tempted to save yourself some money by opting to go without a buyer’s agent. But for most people, that’s a mistake. Unless you’re well-versed in real estate law and property negotiations, you should have a good real estate agent.

After all, their fees are typically covered in your mortgage as part of the closing costs of the home, meaning you don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.

But that’s not the only reason you should have a realtor when buying a property. A buyer’s agent provides many benefits, such as:

  • Networking with other realtors and property owners to find new and upcoming listings
  • Having access to property listing tools such as the MLS
  • Negotiating offers and conditions
  • Helping you to find a broker, lawyer, or other professional you may need
  • Handling important paperwork
  • Ensuring you’re aware of any important disclosures

An experienced buyer’s agent will work for you, helping you to find the perfect property not only for your lifestyle and budget but based on what’s available. They’ll take on the heavy lifting when it comes to paperwork, showings, and communicating with sellers and their agents, giving you a chance to focus on more important things.

7. Not Making a Wants vs. Needs List

Some people jump straight into viewing properties without evaluating their needs versus their wants. But it’s a common mistake that complicates the home buying process and causes decision paralysis. When buying a home, it’s essential to know what you need in your new home compared to what you would like it to have.

For example, if you have a dog, a yard could go on your needs list, while something like a pool or walk-in closet might go on your list of wants. If a lack of closet space would be a deal breaker for you, you might list the walk-in closet as a need for you instead.

You can give this list to your realtor, which will help them to filter through potential properties to show you. This saves both of you from wasting time viewing homes that won’t work for you.

And, it encourages you to get your priorities straight by forcing you to think about what you really need to be happy and fulfilled in your new home. Plus, knowing what you want gives you a better idea of your budget and which bonus features or upgrades you can afford.

If you don’t make a list, you could end up buying a property that isn’t a great match for your lifestyle.

8. Taking on Too Much Work

Fixer-uppers tend to be romanticized in reality TV shows about house flipping and interior design, but they’re a lot of work. Overestimating your DIY skills and taking on a house that’s going to require a significant amount of time and money to renovate or repair can quickly turn your motivation into buyer’s remorse.

On top of a mortgage payment, you’ll have to cover the costs of materials and labor for any upgrades or renovations that need to be done. If you’re handy, you can save money on labor, but you’ll still need tools, supplies, and a serious time commitment.

If you have to hire professional contractors to complete the work for you, expect costs to be relatively high depending on what you need done. If a home project goes over budget — which happens often — you don’t want to be left in a bad financial situation and an unfinished home.

Before moving ahead with a home purchase, consider how much work you’re willing to take on and how much of a renovation budget you can afford.

9. Buying in the Wrong Market

In real estate, there are two basic types of extreme markets: a buyer’s market and a seller’s market. In a buyer’s market, there are a variety of homes available for you to view and consider, meaning sellers are more likely to try to entice you with competitive prices and other incentives.

In a seller’s market, there aren’t many homes up for sale, so buyers have to compete against one another to win bidding wars. This often results in paying over the asking price, which increases monthly mortgage payments and possibly even your down payment.

The best time to buy a home is in a buyer’s market. Sometimes, waiting for a season or two to buy will save you a significant amount of money and keep you from the stress and uncertainty of buying in a seller’s market.

If you’re able to, buy when the market is in your favor and not working against you.

10. Feeling Uncertain

If you feel uncertain about a home, an offer, your real estate agent, or your financial situation, it’s not the right time for you to buy. Purchasing a house is one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll ever make, so you need to feel confident that you’re making the right choice for you, your budget, and your family.

If something feels off, carve out time to figure out what’s causing your uncertainty. It’s normal to feel nervous about taking on a home loan, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer, but watch out for feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, or even dread.

Your home buying experience should be positive, so if your gut is telling you to reconsider, it might be best to take a step back and reevaluate.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy a home at all. It just means you need to change something about your situation, such as getting a new real estate agent, looking at more properties, or lowering your budget. Consider what will make you feel confident about buying a home and don’t move forward until you feel comfortable, positive, and satisfied.

11. Making a Lowball Offer

Making a lowball offer on a property is a rookie mistake that many seasoned and first-time homebuyers make. It offends home sellers, starting negotiations off on the wrong foot and sometimes even ending them altogether.

Sellers often spend a lot of time working with their real estate agents to price their homes based on the market, comparable homes in the neighborhood, and the state of the property. Just like you need to work within a budget for your home purchase, they need to make a certain amount of money from their home sale.

Lowball offers are rarely accepted and don’t provide much benefit to either party.

When making an offer on a home, listen to your real estate agent and offer a fair price. Being respectful and considering the true value of a home in your offers makes them more likely to be accepted.

12. Not Talking to a Broker

While a bank is often the first place you go to find out how much you can get approved for, they’re not your only option. A mortgage broker can provide you with a variety of different mortgage rates and terms from different lenders, allowing you to choose the best offer.

As with your bank, you’ll need to provide financial information like pay stubs, your credit score, and details about your assets and debts. The broker will use this information to shop around and find you the best interest rate and mortgage terms based on your financial situation.

Often, they can find you a better deal than what your bank is offering. However, make sure your broker has your best interests in mind. Don’t take out a mortgage with a disreputable or unestablished lender just to save some money.

A good broker can save you a lot in interest, so they’re worth talking to regardless of whether you choose to go with one of their offers.

13. Having a Small or Nonexistent Down Payment

There are a variety of different loans when it comes to buying a home, each with different down payment requirements:

  • VA home loans, which are for veterans and require as little as 0% down
  • Conventional loans, which are the most common for those with strong credit and no military service
  • FHA loans for borrowers with poor credit and low down payments

If you’re opting for a conventional loan, you’ll likely need to have a hefty down payment, especially if you want to avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). Typically, you have to pay for PMI if you don’t have the minimum down payment required by a lender, and it’ll cost you anywhere from $50 to $200 per month.

Most lenders prefer to have at least 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. So, if you were buying a home for $350,000, you’d need to have $70,000 cash to put toward your mortgage.

Not planning for a sufficient down payment can put a huge damper on your home buying experience. It affects how much a lender will give you, your interest rate, and whether you have to pay PMI. Plus, it impacts your cash flow and the funds you have to put toward closing costs, renovations, and repairs.

Make sure you know how much you need in advance and plan ahead to avoid a disappointing and disheartening experience.

14. Going Without a Home Inspection

When you make an offer on a house, you have the option to make it dependent on a home inspection. Some lenders even make it a requirement of your mortgage terms. But if they don’t, or if you’re buying your property without a loan, you may choose to go without a home inspection.

But skipping a home inspection can cost you a lot of money and stress down the road.

Home inspectors are certified professionals who inspect a property’s condition. They review the structure, plumbing, electrical, exterior, and interior elements of the home and provide you with a report detailing any issues they find. For example, a home inspector would catch wiring that is not up to code or water damage in the basement.

These reports help you to avoid major repairs and give you an overview of the property’s condition. This can save you from buying a home that needs a new roof or that has a mold problem. Seeing as home inspections typically cost between $300 and $500, they’re often worth it.

Even if you choose to move ahead with a home purchase after you receive your inspection report, you can use it to renegotiate your offer based on any repairs that need to be made.

For example, if the report noted that the railing on the deck needs to be replaced, you could either request that the seller have it fixed or reduce your offer by how much it would cost a contractor to do.

15. Not Including the Right Conditions in an Offer

Your real estate agent will help you to figure out which conditions to put in your offer, but the most common include:

  • Home inspection
  • Financing
  • The sale of your current home
  • Closing date
  • Fixtures and appliances
  • Who pays which closing costs

You can also request an appraisal or survey, repairs, or specific cleaning tasks.

Conditions protect you so that you don’t commit to purchasing a house before you know you have financing and a home inspection in place. And they keep you from walking in on moving day only to find out the appliances weren’t included in your purchase price.

Base your conditions on the property you’re interested in and make sure they’re fair and within reason. Add too many unreasonable conditions to an offer and you risk getting rejected by a seller.

16. Not Seeing a House Yourself

Although video tours are OK, they don’t give you the full sensory experience of a home. You don’t pick up on any strange smells or noises, and you don’t truly get a feeling for the size or condition of the space or the neighborhood it’s in.

Even having a friend or family member view a home in your stead is a better option than going with video alone — especially if you won’t be able to visit yourself before you make an offer.

Ideally, though, you should visit and view a home yourself before you commit to buying it. If you happen to be buying a home in another state or country, try to plan a trip beforehand to look at houses. If you can’t do that, consider finding temporary housing to stay in after you arrive so you can search for a home in person.

If you don’t, you could end up buying a property you aren’t completely happy with or one that has unexpected issues.

17. Not Checking Your Credit Rating

Buying a house means having a solid grasp of your personal financial situation, including your credit score. Knowing your credit score keeps you from encountering any disappointing surprises when you talk to a bank or broker about getting preapproved for a mortgage.

Monitoring your credit score gives you a chance to improve it before you apply for a mortgage, increasing your chances of being approved and getting offered more competitive rates.

Check your credit score before you get too far into the home buying process to see what your rating is and whether you have any recent dings like late payments that may affect your interest rate or mortgage terms.


Final Word

Buying a house is meant to be an exciting and enjoyable experience. With such a major personal and financial commitment on the horizon, you want to do everything you can to avoid buyer’s remorse after you sign the dotted line.

Prepare yourself by getting your finances in order, having a clear idea of the kind of place you want to call home, and understanding the current market to have a happier, more successful home buying experience.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Cost of Living in Thailand – How Much for Rent, Food & Entertainment

How would you like to live in a tropical paradise where a restaurant meal costs $2, a taxi ride costs $3, and a furnished apartment rents for as little as $200 per month?

For decades, the low cost of living in Thailand has made it one of the most popular destinations for anyone looking to live in a tropical climate on a budget. And while prices in this sunny “Land of Smiles” have inched up over the years, you can still live on a fraction of what you’d spend for a similar lifestyle in your home country.

But just how cheap is Thailand in 2021?

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Thailand?

Each of Thailand’s regions offers something unique to travelers and expats. From beach towns to bustling cities and cultural centers to sleepy hideaways, Thailand accommodates every lifestyle — at least as long as you like sunshine.

The overall cost of living in Thailand varies by region. But some expenses, such as cellphone bills, taxes, and visa fees, remain constant, no matter where you choose to live.

Your standard of living has the most significant impact on your cost to live in Thailand. You can choose a life of luxury for a sliver of what it costs in the United States or Europe. But if you’re willing to live like a local with a simple lifestyle, you can stretch money even further.

When comparing prices in a foreign currency, your purchasing power fluctuates with the exchange rate. Since 2018, the exchange rate has held steady in Thailand, ranging from 30 to 33 Thai baht (THB) per $1 U.S.

With the exchange rate in mind, you can compare the cost of living between your current location and Thailand. To make the comparison easier, the prices herein are converted to U.S. dollars.

Average cost-of-living figures come from Numbeo, a crowd-sourced cost-of-living database. After living in Thailand for five months, I found these averages are a good starting point, but they don’t always accurately depict how affordable each destination can be.

Since the crowd-sourced data comes primarily from expats, costs are higher than what you’d spend living like a local.

In addition to Numbeo averages, all other pricing data comes from real properties for rent on Facebook Marketplace and Airbnb.

Rent

Your expenses partially depend on how you find your rental. While accommodation-hunting on Airbnb and other booking websites is convenient, that convenience comes at a price. To find the cheapest rates, search on Facebook Marketplace or (better yet) on the ground — but don’t expect everyone to speak English.

The cost of rent in Thailand also varies dramatically from city to city — even neighborhood to neighborhood.

Bangkok and the Suburbs

As the capital and center of economic activity, Bangkok is naturally the most expensive part of the country.

Luxury apartments on Airbnb can cost more than $3,500 per month in the most desirable parts of Phrom Phong, Silom, Lumpini, and Sukhumvit, all of which make up Thailand’s financial and retail center. Penthouse apartments complete with housekeeping, a private swimming pool, and panoramic views of the big city can run $6,000 per month or more.

But there are plenty of more affordable options.

Tourists and backpackers generally rent rooms on Khaosan Road, where a decent hotel room costs $10 to $25 per night. If you’re on a shoestring budget, shared dormitories in hostels go for as little as $2 per night. Discounts for monthly rentals are also available.

In Bangkok, the average one-bedroom apartment in the city center goes for $580 per month but only costs $290 outside the city center.

One factor that influences price is the proximity to the nearest subway station. The closer it is to the subway (MRT) or Skytrain (BTS), the higher the price.

Public transport is now starting to expand into the suburbs, which can offer the best of both worlds: low rental prices with easy access to the city.

For example, the furnished studio we rented in a luxurious condominium right next to a BTS station in the suburbs costs $460 per month on Airbnb. We could have negotiated an even lower price by paying an owner directly, taking an unfurnished unit, or signing a longer contract.

It had everything we needed built into the complex, including a restaurant, mini-store, gym, infinity pool, and workspace. Since we had everything on-site, we rarely had to leave, which saved us transportation costs.

If you prefer to rent a house, you have to venture outside the city center. Neighboring Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan are technically independent cities but are really more like exurbs of Bangkok. Detached single-family houses in these regions cost as little as $200 per month.

Beach Towns Near Bangkok (Pattaya and Rayong)

A couple of hours southeast of Bangkok, the beach towns of Pattaya and Jomtien have seen aggressive growth in recent years as real estate investors continue to build high-rise condominiums in these once-sleepy fishing towns.

In fact, the 2019 Global Destination Cities Index ranked Pattaya the 15th most overnight tourist-visited city in the world. Many of those tourists have fallen in love with the sunny, relaxed lifestyle and now call Pattaya home.

Despite their popularity, the cost of living in these regions remains surprisingly low.

Pattaya is the most expensive. Its nightlife is a big draw for expats. But even there, you can find one-bedroom apartments just off the beach for less than $500 per month. And the farther you go inland, the lower the prices get.

Rayong is even cheaper, with plenty of furnished studios going for less than $200.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai is a small town in Northern Thailand near the border of Burma and Laos. Considered by many to be the “digital nomad capital of the world,” Chiang Mai is a hotspot for young backpackers with a thriving expat community. Its popularity is primarily due to a low cost of living, beautiful temples, and foreigner-friendly cafes, nightclubs, and hangouts.

The average rent in Chiang Mai is $430 inside the city center and $300 outside the center. That said, when I went apartment-hunting in Chiang Mai, I found prices to be even cheaper.

In the Nimmanhemin (or “Nimman”) neighborhood, prices have exploded over the past decade due to the influx of digital nomads. We walked around door-to-door asking for rates and couldn’t find any decent studio apartments under $400. But outside touristy areas, it’s not unheard of to score a furnished studio for under $125.

A less popular option is the neighboring town of Chiang Rai, home to three of the most awe-inspiring temples in Thailand. Since it’s a bit more under the radar, it can be even cheaper than Chiang Mai.

The average rent for a midrange one-bedroom apartment in the Chiang Rai city center is $240, with comparable apartments outside the city going for half that. Northeast Chiang Rai is also close to the Burmese border, which is convenient for border runs when you have to renew your visa.

In Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or any other touristy town in Northern Thailand, prices fluctuate with the season. During “burning season” — when farmers burn their crops and pollution levels rise — rental costs plummet as foreigners flee in search of cleaner air.

Southern Beaches and Islands (Phuket, Krabi, Songkhla)

The stunning beaches surrounding Phuket and Krabi have surged in cost over the past 20 years as luxurious resorts slowly replace cheap backpacker bungalows.

The average one-bedroom apartment goes for $470 in Krabi, with similar prices in Phuket. There are also still deals on popular islands like Koh Lanta, where you can find simple one-bedroom Airbnbs for as little as $230.

That said, rents vary radically depending on the unit’s proximity to the beach, with luxurious beachfront villas fetching upward of $2,000 per month.

In Songkhla, a less popular resort town near the southern Malaysian border, you can still find bare-bones apartments on Facebook Marketplace for as little as $100 per month. You won’t be living in luxury, but you can’t go wrong for $100, especially if you spend all your time at the beach anyway.

Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao)

The Gulf of Thailand is home to three of the country’s most popular islands — Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao. Each island has a unique vibe. And while prices have risen over the past decade, you can still find some steals.

Koh Samui is the largest and most developed of the three islands, with the average one-bedroom apartment rent ranging from $270 to $390 per month. It’s full of resorts and known as a family vacation destination, but plenty of expats also call the island home.

Koh Pha Ngan is home to the infamous Full Moon Party, an enormous beach festival held on the southwest corner of the island every month. But Koh Pha Ngan is more than just parties.

The island’s west side offers laid-back beach towns with expat communities dedicated to yoga, mindfulness, and spirituality.

It’s hard to find anything under $200 per month in Koh Pha Ngan, which would get you a rustic bungalow. For a modern furnished apartment with air conditioning and a beach view, expect to pay upward of $1,000 monthly.

Koh Tao is the smallest and least developed of the three islands, a favorite for backpackers wanting to scuba dive on a budget. Since it’s so small, most rental prices you find online are expensive Airbnbs. If you search on the ground and negotiate directly with locals, you can find rustic bungalows for under $150 per month.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Generally, the further you go from tourist destinations, the cheaper your cost of living. Rent for a basic one-bedroom place in a rural Thailand region like Isan can be as little as $50 per month.

Remember, the 2021 daily minimum wage in Thailand ranges from $10.03 to $10.77. You won’t get a Western standard of living on less than $11 per day, but if you learn to live like a local, you’d be shocked at how far your money stretches.

Utilities

When renting an unfurnished apartment on a long-term contract, you’re usually responsible for paying your own utility bills.

But even many furnished accommodations exclude electricity in the price. That’s because electricity is expensive compared to rental costs, especially if you’re blasting the air conditioning all day. Some rentals even include electricity for everything except air conditioning, which they meter separately.

To make matters more complex, when property owners charge for electricity in furnished apartments, they set their own rates per kilowatt-hour. The official power tariff in 2021 is $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, but depending on how much the property owner wants to profit, you could pay anywhere from $0.12 to $0.25 per kilowatt-hour.

When comparing rental options, factor in:

  • Whether they include electricity
  • How much they charge for it
  • How much you plan to use

It can get confusing, and we ended up creating a full-blown spreadsheet to keep everything straight. Just know that if you pay the property owner for electricity (versus paying the electric company directly), the monthly cost of your electricity bill could double depending on the rate they set.

Numbeo reports that the average utility bill (electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage) in Thailand is $68.

And choosing a cooler climate doesn’t necessarily lead to a lower air-conditioning bill. You also have to factor in pollution. Bangkok is known for its pollution, and on bad days, you won’t want dirty air circulating through your house. That means keeping the windows closed and the air on and investing in an air purifier for your home.

Similarly, during the burning season in Chiang Mai and the northern regions, the air quality reaches harmful levels, and you should keep the windows closed.

Food

Thai food is delicious and cheap. Eating out is so affordable that most Thais build their houses without a full kitchen. That means, unless you pay for a property built specifically for Westerners or tourists, you won’t cook many meals at home.

Food costs vary by location. Touristy areas like the islands and expat hangouts generally have the highest prices. But no matter where you go, there’s usually always a food cart or small family restaurant serving tasty rice and noodle dishes for $2 or less.

Rural areas can cost much less. I once visited an orphanage on the outskirts of the small town of Chiang Rai. The founder invited us to a delicious feast at a local restaurant, and our bill came out to a shocking $0.80 per person, including drinks.

When hunting for the cheapest restaurants in town, look out for general cleanliness to avoid getting sick. If it’s packed with locals, that’s a good sign the food is safe.

Thailand is also full of vendors selling fresh fruit and fruit shakes on the streets. While in Bangkok, we bought $1 coconut shakes and a bag of $0.50 mangoes every day.

Coffee lovers in Bangkok spend an average of $2.20 per cappuccino. The average chicken breast runs $1.10 per pound if you want to cook yourself. But with such cheap and delicious restaurants, it’s often hard to justify the time spent cooking.

That said, not all food in Thailand is cheap. After living in Thailand for a while, many expats start to miss Western food. And Western food in Thailand is pricey — and underwhelming.

Many Western ingredients, like cheese, are hard to come by in Thailand. That means foods like burritos, hamburgers, and pizza are both expensive and taste funny with substituted ingredients.

Transportation

Public transportation in Thailand is so cheap and convenient that owning a car is rarely necessary. Instead, most expats use motorbikes or public transit.

The average cost of a basic scooter rental varies by region, but you can usually pick one up for as little as $60 per month. You can also rent bigger motorcycles, but they cost two to five times as much, depending on the model you choose. In addition to rental fees, you have to factor in gas costs, which average $3.36 per gallon in Thailand.

When renting a motorbike, choose a model with parts made in Thailand. That way, if you crash or scratch the bike, you won’t have to pay outrageous fees to import parts from a different country. Also, record a video showing the condition of the motorbike before you rent it. Otherwise, the rental agency may try to charge you for damages you weren’t responsible for. I learned that the hard way.

You technically need an international driver’s license to ride a scooter or motorbike in Thailand. If you plan to live in the country long-term, it’s worth getting. If you’re just visiting, many tourists rent scooters without it. If the police pull you over, they give you a ticket or try to extort a bribe from you. So sticking to public transit may be best.

If scooters aren’t your forte, there are plenty of other affordable transportation options available. For example, there’s the metro system in Bangkok, moto taxis, and the famous shared red truck taxis (called “songthaews”) in other regions like Chiang Mai.

For example, when we lived in Chiang Mai, a songthaew within the city limits of Chiang Mai cost us roughly $1 per person.

Fares for Bangkok’s BTS and MRT depend on the distance you travel, ranging from $0.50 to $1.70.

If you live in a walkable neighborhood or beach town and take subways or songthaews once per day, you’re looking at $2 per day round trip, or $60 per month in transportation expenses.

On the other extreme, if you live in Bangkok and constantly take taxis across the city — which cost an average of $0.66 per mile, according to Numbeo — your transportation bill could shoot up to a couple hundred dollars.

Entertainment

There’s more to life than food, rent, and transportation. Thailand is famous for its nightlife, and that’s where a lot of people run into trouble.

Based on our experience, beers in most bars and nightclubs only cost $2 to $4. That said, expats and vacationers can quickly find themselves partying a bit too hard and spending even more than they do back home.

Some nightclubs have free entry, but we’ve paid up to a $15 cover. If you’re going out multiple nights per week — which can be tempting in a city that never sleeps — your monthly budget can quickly go off the rails.

If you prefer to entertain yourself with travel and exploration, you’re in luck. Thailand has 1,430 stunning islands, many of which you can access fairly cheaply.

For example, an 11-hour bus ride from Bangkok to Krabi costs less than $20. And if you buy in advance, direct local flights can be just as cheap.

Phone and Internet

In the past, one trade-off of living in Thailand was slow and unreliable Internet speeds. That’s no longer the case. In fact, fast Wi-Fi is one of the reasons expats and digital nomads choose to live in Thailand over other similarly affordable countries.

In Thailand, the average price for a 60-megabits-per-second or faster Internet plan is less than $20 per month.

Prices for cellphone plans vary based on:

  • Provider
  • Length of contract
  • Amount of data
  • Data speeds

Prices also depend on whether you need a data-only plan, a calling plan, or a combination of the two.

For example, with TrueMove H, you can get an unlimited data plan with a couple hundred calling minutes for less than $20 per month.

Note that many “unlimited” data plans only include a certain amount of data at maximum speed. After that, it’s throttled.

Gyms, Spas, and Self-Care

Gyms in Thailand can be surprisingly expensive.

The gym we joined in Chiang Mai cost $30 per month, three times as expensive as Planet Fitness in the U.S. Of course, our gym catered to expats, with air conditioning and well-maintained equipment. You can also find more rustic gyms for as little as $5 per month.

That said, many condos have free gyms on-site. So if it’s important to you, finding one could save you money even if it’s more expensive than another rental.

Thailand’s massage culture is world-renowned and a big part of many expats’ lives. Steeped in Buddhist traditions, Thai massage techniques have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries.

You can find massage parlors on almost every corner. While living and traveling around Thailand, most parlors we saw cost between $5 and $15 for an hour-long massage.

Cost of Health Care in Thailand

Health care in Thailand is incredibly cheap, especially coming from countries with outrageous health care costs like the U.S.

I once needed a procedure that would have cost over $25,000 in America. In Bangkok, I had it done for $1,500, including a one-night stay in a surprisingly luxurious private hospital room.

You can find hospitals with English-speaking staff in all the main tourist hubs. But if you have a complicated situation, Bangkok is the place to go.

Also, just because a hospital is more expensive or internationally recognized doesn’t necessarily mean it has the best doctor for your condition. To find a specialist, I searched for the top surgeons in Bangkok for that discipline. It turns out the best specialist in all of Asia worked out of a small private hospital — a hospital nowhere to be found on the online lists of best Bangkok hospitals for expats.

Many expats living in Thailand on a tourist visa rely on travel insurance or international health insurance for their coverage. These plans range from basic $40-per-month SafetyWing travel insurance to more comprehensive plans that cost hundreds of dollars per month. Whichever plan you choose, your premiums depend on factors like your age, the coverage you need, the country you’re from, and the insurance company you choose.

Expats with a resident visa can also buy local private insurance like Luma Health for coverage in Thailand. These plans are comparable in price to international health insurance plans, and most hospitals can bill them directly. It’s more convenient than a travel insurance policy that requires you to pay out of pocket and submit claims for reimbursement.

Lastly, if you work legally in Thailand and pay Social Security taxes, you receive free government medical insurance. If you’re used to Western standards, set your expectations appropriately. Odds are you won’t be impressed with the treatment you receive under free government insurance in a developing nation.

Thailand Visa Expenses

American tourists on short-term vacations don’t need an entry visa.

But if you plan to stay in Thailand full-time as a retiree, recurring tourist, Thai spouse, student, or business owner, you need a visa.

To keep these visas current, you must pay to renew them regularly.

For example, a single-entry education (ED) visa — which you could use to take Thai language lessons — costs $80, and you must renew it every 90 days.

The fee for a five-year retirement visa is $400. It also requires proof of an income source greater than 65,000 baht (roughly US$2,000) per month. Immigration waves the monthly income requirement if you maintain a balance of at least 800,000 baht (US$24,585) in a Thai bank account.

That said, many countries have introduced digital nomad and remote work visas in the wake of the pandemic. Thailand is in the process of creating its own remote work visa, which would eliminate much of the hassle and expense remote-working expats face.

Income Tax in Thailand

Just because you live abroad doesn’t make you exempt from income taxes. If you live in Thailand for more than 180 days (roughly six months) per year, you’re considered a resident. Residents in Thailand must pay taxes on income earned worldwide. If you are not considered a resident, you must still pay taxes on income earned in Thailand.

Thailand has progressive income tax brackets similar to those in the U.S., ranging from 0% to 35%.

Americans must also file taxes in the U.S., but you can avoid double taxation thanks to the U.S.- Thailand tax treaty, foreign earned income exclusion, and foreign tax credit.


Final Word

In addition to everyday living expenses, you also have to factor in the cost of an intercontinental move and building a healthy emergency fund.

Not only do you have to buy a plane ticket across the globe, but unless you stick to renting expensive furnished spaces, you also need to buy a bed, fridge, furniture, cookware, and decorations.

That said, even though Thailand isn’t quite as cheap as it once was, it’s still one of the best places you can live on $2,000 per month or less.

Source: moneycrashers.com

17 Ideas to Save Money When Planning Your Honeymoon on a Budget

My wife and I did as much as we could to save money on our wedding. But we did have one considerable wedding-related expense I hadn’t accounted for: the honeymoon.

It’s true some newlyweds shy away from the traditional honeymoon. Many are too busy or cash-strapped to make it work. But most take some sort of trip after tying the knot. You probably will too, whether it’s the day after your reception or six months later when you really need a break again.

So it’s best to begin thinking about saving money on your honeymoon as soon as you can. These strategies can help, especially when incorporated into the early stages of honeymoon planning.

How to Make Your Honeymoon More Affordable (and Awesome)

Even if you’re not traveling to one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations, your post-wedding trip will still likely set you back.

According to CostHelper, the typical week-long destination honeymoon costs $3,400 to $5,100, depending on the factors including the location, accommodations, and activities.

All-inclusive stays at expensive, destination wedding-friendly resorts cost more, as do weeklong (or longer) all-inclusive cruises. No-frills camping trips or local excursions cost less.

After spending thousands on your wedding, the thought of spending thousands more on a romantic getaway probably doesn’t sound appealing, even when you put it off for a few months.

So try these strategies to reduce the cost of your honeymoon and ease its financial impact without sacrificing romance or relaxation.

1. Develop Your Honeymoon Budget

It’s easy to save money on a tight budget. And while setting a honeymoon budget can’t directly lower the cost of your adventure, it can help prevent overspending. If you develop it early enough, it can reduce the financial impact of your efforts to scrimp and save for the journey.

Budgeting for a major vacation, even a honeymoon, isn’t as tough as it sounds. The secret is starting early enough to maximize your chances of achieving your goals.

Break up the honeymoon budgeting process into three distinct steps:

The Big Picture

What do you want to get out of your honeymoon?

Do you want to visit an unforgettable destination halfway around the world, a pretty wilderness area, a big city near your home, or somewhere in between?

Do you want to pamper yourself at an all-inclusive resort or Caribbean cruise, splurge on experiences like spa treatments and sunset cruises, or eat at five-star restaurants?

Or are you looking for a lower-key experience, such as a quiet getaway to a charming bed-and-breakfast?

A truly no-frills adventure, like a road trip to the nearest national park?

In any case, how long are you planning to stay?

Reality Check

Is the big picture realistic? Time for a reality check.

Once you’ve settled your destination, length of stay, required experiences (spa treatments, anyone?), and level of luxury, make a complete list of every planned honeymoon expense. Include airfare, lodging, resort fees, local transportation, food, special experiences, incidentals, and anything else you can put a dollar value on.

Thoroughly research each item’s cost. Establish a price range for your trip assuming you get everything you want. Then, take a hard look at your financial picture: your income, cash flow, and personal savings.

Determine whether it’s financially prudent to spend even at the lower end of the range. If not, perhaps it’s time to rethink the big picture.

The Nitty Gritty

Map out your entire itinerary: where you’re staying, how you’re getting there, and what you’re doing each day. Determine how much you’d spend for each big-ticket item (airfare, hotel, excursions) if you booked today.

Add in costs for smaller essentials, such as individual meals. If possible, pick out a few local restaurants and look at menus online to determine how much food will cost each day.

Now look for opportunities to save wherever possible, such as cheaper rooms, package deals, or discounts for extended stays. Include a fudge factor (say, 20%) for last-minute price fluctuations and itinerary changes. Combine all this information to produce your honeymoon’s total expected cost.

2. Start a Honeymoon Savings Fund

Now comes the fun part: saving up for the big getaway.

Start as early as you can. You’ll have enough to worry about before the wedding. Socking away $200 per month over two years is a lot easier than scrambling to save $800 per month half a year before you book your trip.

Open a new Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured savings with GO2Bank and earmark it exclusively for your honeymoon. Make this a joint account, even if you’re not planning to merge your finances as a married couple.

Contribute a fixed, manageable monthly amount to your honeymoon savings fund. Set up a recurring transfer to ensure your plan doesn’t fall by the wayside during the hectic pre-wedding period.

Supplement this effort with an automated savings app like Acorns, which analyzes your cash flow and automatically sets aside a few dollars a few times per month. It’s probably not enough to single-handedly fund your honeymoon, but it can definitely help.

3. Start Using a Travel Rewards Credit Card and Cash in Your Miles or Points

You don’t need to do any honeymoon planning or even decide for sure you’re going to take a honeymoon to jump-start your less-expensive honeymoon plans.

In fact, if you have good credit or better, you should sign up for a travel rewards credit card that earns points or miles for every dollar you spend as soon as you can. The earlier you start spending with your new card, the longer you have to passively amass rewards points you can cash in for the big vacation.

It could be your best opportunity to reduce the raw dollar cost of your honeymoon without making any sacrifices.

If you’re looking to splurge but don’t want to pay for the finer things out of pocket, cashing in your miles or points can help you upgrade your trip’s luxury without leaving your wallet any worse for wear.

But for this tip to make a substantial difference, you need a nice pile of frequent flyer miles, hotel points, or credit card loyalty currency saved up.

Frequent travelers can make the most of accumulated miles or points and ensure they continue to earn them at a solid clip by joining as many hotel and airline loyalty clubs as possible.

They’re free to join and don’t charge membership fees. Just remember to enter your member number every time you book a flight or room, even on third-party booking websites. Watch your point balances carefully and contact the company promptly about missing points.

In terms of travel rewards cards, there are many to choose from, including.

4. Ask Your Friends and Loved Ones for Cash

Is it tacky to ask your wedding guests for money you can spend on a fancy honeymoon? Perhaps. Many couples aren’t comfortable with flat-out telling their guests, “We’d really like you to write us a check.”

But they’ll understand. In fact, they’ll probably sympathize.

If you’re not comfortable with a direct ask, nudge your guests. Keep your wedding registry sparse and populate it primarily with low-cost, practical essentials like everyday glassware, kitchenware, bedclothes, and bathroom accessories. On your wedding website, go into detail about your honeymoon plans, and mention that you’re saving for a unique trip.

Or you can just ask directly. You’ll get cash from plenty of guests without asking, and you’ll pick up a few more contributions by making it official.

If you’re not comfortable with a blanket request on your wedding website, single out married guests to ask privately. They’ve been there before, so they’re likely to oblige. Or just make it official and set up a honeymoon registry.

A honeymoon registry is just what it sounds like: an itemized, semipublic, fully fundable wish list for your honeymoon dreams. You can stock it with anything you’d do or need on your honeymoon, including:

  • Activities like guided tours or couples massages
  • Splurge-level experiences, such as a private dinner for two or a chartered deep-water fishing excursion
  • Travel expenses, such as rental cars or hotel rooms
  • Incidentals like toiletries and paperback books

To make things manageable for budget-conscious friends and loved ones, split each expense into affordable portions.

Most honeymoon registries give you wide latitude to divide your expenses as needed, preventing any one benefactor from footing a disproportionate amount of the total bill unless they’re feeling especially generous.

Look for free or low-cost honeymoon registries that offer complimentary plans to registrants and avoid punitive benefactor charges (fees tacked on to contributions).

Traveler’s Joy is a popular, reputable option that only takes a cut when benefactors use credit cards to send money through the system. Cash and check gifts are always free. Honeyfund is a great alternative.

5. Travel in the Offseason

There are plenty of tricks to save money on vacation. One of the best is to travel during the offseason when tourism-dependent businesses are relatively stagnant. You can get better deals on hotels, lower airfare (and cheaper upgrades to first class), generous package deals, more affordable excursions, and fewer crowds.

The offseason isn’t monolithic. In temperate coastal areas, summer is the high season and the rest of the year is the low season. In mountainous regions with skiable terrain, the offseason is spring and fall. In tropical locales, it coincides with the rainy season, which happens at different times of year in different places.

Once you choose your destination, identify its offseason and plan accordingly, even if it means delaying your honeymoon by a few months. Alternatively, pin down your travel dates and avoid destinations that promise to be busy.

6. Consider a Honeymoon Package, Cautiously

Are you looking at all-inclusive resorts? Ask about honeymoon packages.

The typical honeymoon package includes a room upgrade, Champagne and snacks at welcome (and possibly every evening), credit at resort restaurants or bars, and romantic experiences like private dinners and couples massages. Bigger resorts offer packages at several price points.

Honeymoon packages almost always cost more than off-the-shelf stays in basic rooms. That’s the point. If cost-cutting is paramount, avoid the temptation. But if the package features extras you’d likely want anyway, do some back-of-the-envelope math. Ensure the package’s total cost is lower than the sum of its parts, and pull the trigger.

Honeymoon packages aren’t exclusive to all-inclusive resorts. My wife and I stayed at a nice non-all-inclusive resort in New England and sprang for the honeymoon package. The highlight: an amazing room upgrade. The downside: by our calculations, we just broke even. Again, do the math before you book.

7. Make It a Mini-Moon

A long weekend can be just as romantic as a 14-day odyssey, and it’s obviously cheaper. You can do it without depleting your vacation time and paid time off.

Since you’re spending fewer nights away, you have leeway to raise your per-night costs, whether that means upgrading from a 3- to 5-star property or splurging on a memorable experience you’d otherwise lack the budget for. And you can always sock away your savings for a second honeymoon.

8. Stay Close By

Why journey thousands of miles when you can get the royal treatment an hour or two from home without renewing your passport?

The closer to home you stay, the less you have to spend on airfare and incidental travel costs. Stay close enough, and you don’t have to fly at all. Driving takes longer, but it’s usually cheaper for short trips.

You can even go with a staycation and make it memorable.

9. Try a Midweek Getaway

If you’re already planning to keep your honeymoon short and close to home, travel midweek: Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. In smaller towns and wilderness areas, where most tourist traffic comes on the weekends, accommodations are affordable and plentiful during the workweek.

Expect to spend 10% to 20% less on your room. Look for midweek deals on equipment rentals, dining, and drinks too. Happy hours are invariably more generous during the week.

10. Bed Down Under the Stars

If you could care less about infinity pools, 600-thread-count sheets, turn-downs, hot tubs, and spa treatments, spend some quality alone time under the stars instead.

Camping out in an outdoor adventure destination can reduce the cost of your honeymoon without sacrificing romance. Indeed, if your idea of romance is simply getting away from other people, it’s a no-brainer.

For maximum seclusion, look for hike-in backcountry sites. If you’re feeling ambitious, plan a multiday long-distance hike that strings together several isolated campgrounds.

11. Get Cozy at a Hostel

Your idea of a romantic honeymoon getaway probably doesn’t involve a cut-rate hostel crowded with young, rowdy backpackers. No one’s asking you and your new spouse to bunk up in a barracks-like environment with a dozen strangers — unless you want to.

But hostels aren’t all alike.

Most hostels offer private or semiprivate rooms. More upscale hostels can be quite generous on the private room front. You wouldn’t know you weren’t in a name-brand hotel. You have to pay a premium for privacy, but only to a degree.

On a cursory search of central Rome hostels on midweek dates during midsummer, there are several private room options for less than $80 per night compared with $150 or more for basic hotel rooms.

One important downside: Many hostels have shared bathroom facilities. You’ll have to decide how important that form of privacy is to you and your partner.

12. Take a Road Trip

If you don’t want to jet off to a distant shore but have more than a long weekend to get away, take a multi-stop road trip. It helps you avoid expensive airfare and other incidental costs associated with international travel.

A road trip is an economical way to hit cities, towns, and points of interest you might otherwise never visit, including places well off the beaten path. It’s easy to find affordable accommodations in less popular destinations, and you’ll be doing your part to support local businesses.

Or rent an inexpensive recreational vehicle and wind your way through the country staying at free campgrounds.

A road trip is also ideal for couples with divergent interests. If you’re gung-ho about a rustic camping trip and your partner is dreaming of an all-inclusive beach getaway, plan a road trip that incorporates both. With less time allotted to the resort, you’ll still come out ahead financially.

13. Avoid Fancy Dining

Does your ideal honeymoon involve a romantic candlelit dinner for two? Maybe this tip isn’t for you. But if you’re not much of a foodie or your desire to cut costs outweighs your love of fine dining, look for ways to trim your dining budget on your honeymoon.

If you’re leaning toward a destination resort, consider properties that can exclude dining from your per-night costs. Full-service restaurants charge hefty premiums for their creations, so you can likely save a boatload by walking into town and eating at less pretentious local restaurants.

Larger resorts have more variety on-site. If you’re judicious, you can probably fill up on appetizers and snacks at lower-key establishments.

No matter where you stay, ensure your room has a basic kitchen or cold storage for prepared foods. When you arrive, head to the local grocery store and stock up on supplies. It’s more work, but an evening spent cooking can be surprisingly romantic.

14. Blind-Book Your Hotels

If you know where you want to take your honeymoon but aren’t attached to a particular hotel or resort, why commit? Use blind-booking tools to find super-cheap deals on anonymous accommodations.

Blind-booking sites allow you to choose from within a narrow quality range (for example, 3-star hotels) and manageable geographical areas (city center, beachfront, park side). And they present you with a final price, usually including taxes, upfront. But you don’t know the place’s identity until you book and pay.

You can also blind-book other travel expenses, like rental cars. Some of the best deals I’ve ever gotten on travel have come via blind booking, such as rental cars for $15 per day and 3-star city-center hotels for $70 per night.

But I’ve heard plenty of complaints from other travelers, so use caution. And don’t expect to find the fanciest resorts and hotels on blind-booking sites. You’re better off booking those directly or through a reputable travel agent.

15. Book Off-Hours Flights

Are you overwhelmed by flight options? Use this simple trick to narrow your choices and cut your airfare spending dramatically.

Airlines are smarter about pricing these days, but they can’t rewrite the laws of supply and demand altogether. Because most people don’t like to begin journeys early in the morning or late at night, flights tend to be cheaper at those times. I’ve personally saved 50% on comparable flights — same destination, same class, same seat — simply by flying out at 6am rather than 1pm.

When you search for bookings, set your departure time range to encompass the wee hours — say, 9pm to 7am — and choose the cheapest option from the results.

This strategy is especially effective for nonstop and one-stop journeys within North America.

On longer international routes, you may have less control over flight timing (and thus cost) due to capacity, time changes, and scheduling imperatives. For instance, most flights from the eastern United States to continental Europe leave in the late afternoon U.S. time and arrive in the morning European time.

16. Book Nonrefundable Flights With Travel Insurance

If your travel dates are set in stone, you can save 30% to 50% or more on airfare simply by booking nonrefundable flights.

That does limit your options in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency or weather event that forces you to cancel or change your plans. With most airlines, you must pay a change fee (typically $100 to $200 per flight) plus the fare difference (if any) between your canceled and rescheduled flight.

You can reduce rebooking expenses by purchasing comprehensive travel insurance when you book. Travel insurance policy premiums usually amount to 5% to 10% of the total trip cost, which is $250 to $500 on a $5,000 trip. That’s well worth it in the event of a substantial disruption that forces you to cut short or cancel your trip altogether.

17. Weigh Refundable vs. Nonrefundable Lodging Options

The refundable versus nonrefundable question isn’t as clear-cut on the lodging front. Some hotels and discount hotel booking sites, such as Hotwire and Hotels.com, offer deep discounts for nonrefundable bookings.

On the other hand, if you’re planning a road trip or island-hop for your honeymoon, refundable bookings let you truncate and extend your stays as you see fit.

For instance, if you fall in love with the first of three hotels you’ve lined up for your honeymoon, you can extend your stay there and cancel the corresponding nights at the second place without penalty.

Likewise, if you need to cut your trip short for any reason, refundable bookings let you do so without additional cost and may eliminate the need for travel insurance.


Final Word

Each of these tips can reduce the final cost of your honeymoon without compromising the experience. But they’re not the only items to add to your to-do list ahead of the big trip.

Some honeymoon planning to-dos aren’t guaranteed to reduce your net costs, at least not directly. They could make your trip safer, more comfortable, or more pleasant, though.

For example, though unlikely, a serious accident or illness could befall you or your new spouse on your honeymoon. Should you or your partner land in the hospital, ensure you have proof of health insurance on hand.

Likewise, ensure you’ve left nothing to chance at home. That might mean investing in a home security system, arranging pet care, and powering down appliances and electronics that waste electricity or raise fire risk.

You’ve waited for your honeymoon for a long time, maybe years. You deserve to enjoy it — without worrying about things back home or breaking the bank.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Take These 4 Steps to Lower Your Cost of Living — Without Moving

In the last year, this has saved people 0 million.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 9 a year.
You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all.  Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.

1. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
Just answer a few questions about your home to see how much money you’re wasting.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
So whether you live in Huntsville or The Hamptons, you can cut your cost of living anyway. Take these steps to slash your bills and give your budget a Mississippi makeover.

2. See if You’re Wasting $690/Year on Homeowners Insurance

If you’re determined to have the lowest cost of living among every other human being in the United States, move to Mississippi.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has only lived in the most expensive states the last 10 years and has definitely paid for it.
In fact, it saves users an average of 0 a year — or .50 a month. It’ll even help you break up with your old insurance company. (You’re allowed to cancel your policy at any time, and your company should issue you a refund.)
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily

3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying. It finds you cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes.
This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
That’s exactly what this free service does. And if you want to have a lower cost of living, you should be taking advantage of the lowest prices available on the internet.
Dollar for dollar, your cash will probably go further in the Magnolia State than if you were to live in a major urban cluster like New York, California or Florida. And you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck than if you lived in Hawaii — the state with the highest cost of living.

4. Find Out If You’re Overpaying

But packing up everything you own and moving somewhere just because it’s cheaper doesn’t actually make sense for most people. Jobs, family, friends and just plain old loving where you live means buying a piece of property outside Jackson isn’t always a viable option.
And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.
Privacy Policy
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? Unless you live in Ohio, North Carolina or New Hampshire — the cheapest states to get car insurance in 2021 — you’re probably paying too much. And that can make a big dent in your lower cost of living.
You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy. But if you’re living in a place where housing is more expensive, this is the one cost you can actually control.
Seriously — it has the lowest cost of living overall, taking into account grocery, housing and transportation expenses.
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help. <!–

–>


Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?

11 Furniture Donation Pickup Methods

Furniture donations are a large source of income for many nonprofit organizations. With this in mind, donating furniture is a great way to get rid of clutter while giving back to the community.

Are you downsizing, moving or doing a major decor change in your home but don’t know what to do with your old furniture? Well, you’re in luck because many local nonprofit organizations make moving easy by offering free furniture donation pick up.

Donating furniture to your favorite charities is a chance to get rid of extra furniture and household items for free while giving back to your community. Here is how to get started in the process.

Where to donate furniture

When looking for furniture donation pickup, there can be so many options it’s hard to know where to start. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with our detailed list summarizing nonprofit organizations, who your donation will help, items they accept and how to schedule your pickup.

The best part is that every organization in our guide is completely free of charge for their furniture removal services and your donations go to a great cause.

Steps for furniture donation pick up

1. Salvation Army

When people start thinking about donating furniture, The Salvation Army is usually one of the first places to come to mind. The Salvation Army is an international organization that operates in over 7,000 U.S. towns and cities and assists 23 million Americans annually.

Their services help provide disaster aid, support the LGBTQ+ community, fight food insecurity, combat addiction, assist those living in poverty and more. With the number of people Salvation Army helps each year, you can feel confident that you are doing good by donating to this organization.

  • Who your donation helps: Your items are either brought directly to those in need or sold at one of their Salvation Army stores. The proceeds from their stores are used to fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers that provide housing, food, counseling, community and employment for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol dependency.
  • Items they accept: The Salvation Army will accept furniture, vehicles, clothing, household items, electronics, mattresses, books, exercise equipment and more.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: You can schedule an appointment for furniture pickup at The Salvation Army website or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK. Salvation Army pick-up hours can vary depending on your location, but they are typically 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They make the transition even easier by allowing you to leave items outside your home for them to pick up without you even needing to be home.

2. Goodwill

Goodwill is an organization that supports communities through job training and employment services. They also provide support services, language training, education assistance, access to transportation and child care to help people in their communities achieve success.

In 2020, Goodwill served nearly 22 million individuals worldwide and provided career support to 126,000 people. Items brought to one of Goodwill’s stores are sold at a discounted price and the money raised goes to their various programs and initiatives.

  • Who your donation helps: Donation funds go to their job training or community-based programs. Some of their community-based programs include classes for people with disabilities, senior resources and helping convicts reclaim their lives after prison.
  • Items they accept: Goodwill accepts furniture, toys, electronics, clothing, media items, electronics, vehicles, exercise equipment, dishware and tools. Something to note is that Goodwill will accept boats, cars, campers and RVs even if they aren’t in working condition.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: Goodwill stores provide a donation center to give easy drop-off access for donations you’re able to bring in yourself. Most stores also offer a free pick-up service for larger furniture items, making it perfect for those who are downsizing. You can schedule your free Goodwill pickup online on their website locator, but keep in mind that store hours will vary based on their location.

3. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit that provides safe and affordable housing to families in need. Their initiative also assists older adults to improve their homes, puts efforts towards neighborhood revitalization projects, provides shelter during natural disasters and teaches classes focused on financial education. This organization has been in operation since 1976 and works in all 50 U.S. states as well as 70 countries.

  • Who your donation helps: Habitat for Humanity sells donated furniture, building supplies and appliances at their resale store called ReStores. Proceeds from sales go to home restoring and building projects for families in need of affordable housing.
  • Items they accept: Habitat for Humanity will accept furniture, building materials, appliances, vehicles and farm equipment.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: To schedule a free furniture donation pick up with Habitat for Humanity, visit their website and enter your ZIP code to see which stores are near you. Next, you can contact your closest store directly to schedule your appointment.

Moving boxes in a new apartment

4. Green Drop

GreenDrop is a program on the East Coast that raises funds for popular charities by picking up used furniture, clothes and appliances to sell at thrift stores. Their proceeds go back to charities that help those in need. Some of the charities they support include the American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart and the National Federation of the Blind.

  • Who your donation helps: In 2018, GreenDrop raised $3.1 million for the charitable organizations listed above.
  • Items they accept: GreenDrop accepts various items, including furniture under 50 pounds, clothing, household items, electronics, tools and toys.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: Start by packing up all of your belongings in plastic boxes or bins. Next, decide if you want to make an in-person donation or if you can schedule a furniture pick-up online. After they receive a donation, they’ll provide you with a tax receipt.

5. The Arc

The Arc is the largest organization devoted to helping individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It provides a wide variety of services, supports and advocacy for people with disabilities and their families. The organization has over 700 chapters and one of their key sources of fundraising comes from their thrift stores, which they stock with donated goods.

  • Who your donation helps: Their services vary based on each chapter and the unique needs of their community. Once your donation sells, it goes towards public policy advocacy, vocational programs, residential assistance, education services, financial planning and recreational activities for people with disabilities.
  • Items they accept: The Arc accepts furniture, clothing, electronics, toys, vehicles, books, decorations, kitchen items and more, depending on the chapter.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: You can also schedule via phone by calling The Arc at 1-800-283-2721. Another option is to head to their website to find your local chapter and schedule your pick-up.

Happy couple moving a couch into a new apartment after a furniture donation pick up

6. AMVETS

AMVETS is an organization that represents the interests of 20 million veterans across the United States. This group helps veterans obtain their entitled benefits. They also work to improve the quality of life for veterans, their families and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy and services.

  • Who your donation helps: AMVETS supports U.S. veterans, those who have been honorably discharged and active duty servicemen and women. They will sell your furniture in one of their thrift stores to raise money for their cause.
  • Items they accept: AMVETS accepts small furniture, clothing, toys, bedding, games, bikes, electronics, lamps, curtains, exercise equipment and kitchenware. AMVET requires donations to be 5-years old or less but is also open to accepting other items that are not on their list.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: Send an email through the AMVET site or call to schedule a furniture donation pick-up between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. It’s important to check with this organization ahead of time to see if their services are available near you. AMVETS has branches across the United States, but only has free furniture pick up available in certain states.

7. Donation Town

This site is perfect for anyone feeling overwhelmed trying to find charities that provide furniture pickup in their community. Donation Town works with local charities all over the country to help put individuals in touch with nonprofits that will provide this service for free. Simply enter your ZIP code and they’ll give you a list of charities to choose from.

  • Who your donation helps: Your donation will help the charity of your choice. They currently have over 400 charities of all sizes in their directory and are adding more all the time.
  • Items they accept: Items they accept depend on each charity’s guidelines.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: Visit Donation Town’s website to plan your pick-up with your selected charity.

8. Furniture Banks

If you donate your items to Furniture Banks, then you’ll be playing an important part in helping vulnerable families get back on their feet. The furniture donation pick up organization encourages people to donate gently used furniture and transfer the items to those struggling financially to furnish their own homes. Furniture Banks operates in 36 states, so check their website to see if they are in your area.

  • Who your donation helps: The families served by this organization include the previously homeless, unemployed, victims of crime, battered women and children in retreat, immigrants, individuals with disabilities and victims of natural disasters.
  • Items they accept: Furniture Banks accepts good condition furniture of all sizes. They also provide a towing service to pick up cars and recreational vehicles.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: To schedule a pick-up with this organization simply schedule an appointment on the Furniture Banks website.

Two moving men bringing boxes to a moving truck for a furniture donation pick up

9. Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

The Vietnam Veterans of America are working to change negative beliefs towards Vietnam veterans and provides individual assistance in a variety of ways. This includes creating outreach programs for veterans experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration and more. The VVA furniture removal program operates through a program called Pickup Please.

  • Who your donation helps: The Vietnam Veterans of America promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans and work to change public perception of Vietnam veterans.
  • Items they accept: The Pickup Please program accepts small furniture items, sports equipment, toys, kitchenware, electronics and lightly used household goods. Pick Up Please says that they will pick up “almost anything” in good condition, but the piece of furniture must be light enough for one person to carry.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: VVA operates in most states and they make it super easy to schedule a donation pickup online. You can also get to VVA by way of their Pick Up Please site.

10. Out of the Closet thrift stores

The Out of the Closet thrift stores chain is owned and operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). This organization provides medical, preventive and educational resources for patients. AHF is the nation’s largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. The proceeds from Out of the Closet thrift stores directly benefit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

  • Who your donation helps: Donations and financial contributions to this organization fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs, free HIV testing and housing programs.
  • Items they accept: Out of the Closet Thrift Stores accept furniture, kitchenware, electronics, musical instruments, tools, books, vehicles, artwork and home decor.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: You can schedule your pickup by filling out your address and items in a form on their website. Something to note is that you must have at least two furniture items for them to complete a free pick-up. You can also deliver any pieces of furniture to their local stores.

11. PickUpMyDonation.com

PickUpMyDonation.com is an organization that works with independent non-profit thrift stores in their communities. They’re focused on making large item donations simple by getting your furniture request to a local charity in minutes. Although they are not a charity themselves, they put you in touch with smaller charitable chapters that support the area you live in.

  • Who your donation helps: Your donation will support the charitable cause of the thrift store you are put in contact with.
  • Items they accept: PickUpMyDonation.com accepts large furniture, large appliances, vehicles, tools, recyclable materials, outdoor recreation items and artwork.
  • How to schedule a pick-up: To schedule a pick-up, visit pickupmydonation.com to make a furniture removal request and fill out a form describing the items you want to donate. Next, they’ll put you in contact with the closest thrift store, and if they’re interested in your furniture, they will schedule a furniture removal pickup.

moving boxes in empty room

Tips for furniture donation pick up

Donating your furniture is a great way to get rid of furniture you don’t use anymore while also helping your community. Follow these tips for a seamless furniture pickup experience.

  • Schedule your donation pick-up in advance: Many charities’ free donation pickup spots fill up quickly, so it’s important not to wait until the last minute to make an appointment. Schedule as far in advance as possible to ensure you get the date and time that works for you.
  • Research different organizations: Instead of just picking the first charity on the list, make sure to do some research to make sure their values and methods align with your own. All of the charities listed do great things for their communities, but each has its own way of making an impact.
  • Prepare your furniture: Each charity will have individual guidelines for how they want your furniture packaged and prepared for pickup. Leave furniture uncovered to be inspected but make sure it is cleaned and houseware is boxed correctly.
  • Write off your furniture donation: Did you know you can write off your furniture donation on your taxes? Simply ask the charity picking up your furniture for a tax receipt or paperwork to file and you’ll be saving money this upcoming tax season.
  • Coordinate with neighbors: While many nonprofits allow you to simply leave furniture outside your home for them to retrieve, others might require you to be there. If this is the case, then it’s best to coordinate with a neighbor or friend to stop by when they’re scheduled to arrive.

If you follow these tips, you should have an easy transition and donation pickup day. Also, make sure to always check to see if the organization of your choice has any additional requirements.

Declutter with furniture donation pick up services

Finding a new apartment has never been easier with Rent.com’s finder tool. Start your move off on the right foot by using a free furniture removal service to declutter your place and take care of any worries prior to moving into your new home.

Source: rent.com

8 Best Credit Cards for Groceries – Rewards & Offers

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Grocery shopping is a great equalizer. Rich and poor, adventurous cooks and microwave-only eaters — pretty much everyone knows what it’s like to browse supermarket shelves. By now, most know how to play the grocery delivery game too.

It’s no surprise, then, that supermarket credit card offers are so popular up and down the income scale.

From entry-level spending aids like the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express to prime products like the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, there’s almost certainly a rewards-bearing card tailored to your grocery shopping habits and credit score.


Best Credit Cards for Groceries

These are among the best grocery credit cards to use for grocery store and supermarket purchases.

Unless otherwise noted, grocery purchases made at superstores like Walmart, Target, and Meijer and warehouse clubs (wholesale clubs) like Sam’s Club and Costco don’t qualify as supermarket purchases.


1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express

6% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets; Up to $6,000 in Annual Category Spending

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

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The Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express rewards grocery store purchases better than any major credit card on the market: 6% cash back on the first $6,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets. Cash back accrues as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

That’s $360 in grocery store cash back, or $265 after accounting for the $95 annual fee (after the first year, when the annual fee is $0; see rates and fees page.). It’s a solid haul by any stretch — one most multiperson households can easily achieve.

Key features of this cash-back card include:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on your card in the first six months of account opening, up to a maximum of $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first six months.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn a 6% cash-back rate on purchases at U.S. supermarkets, up to the first $6,000 in eligible purchases per calendar year. Earn 6% cash back on digital media and streaming services, including Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO, Audible, and Apple Music. Earn 3% cash back on two other bonus categories: U.S. gas station and local transportation and transit purchases, including parking, tolls, and ridesharing fares. Earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including grocery store purchases above the annual spending cap. Cash back accrues as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for statement credits starting at $25 in reward dollars. Alternatively, redeem for alternate rewards, such as gift cards and merchandise, through Amex’s rewards portal.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months your Blue Cash Preferred Card account is open. After that, regular variable APR applies (currently 13.99% to 23.99%). See rates and fees page.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95 each year thereafter. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.

See our Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express review for more information. Learn more and find out how to apply for this American Express card here.

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2. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

3% Cash Back on Supermarket Purchases

Capital One Savorone Card Art 5 18 21

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The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards credit card earns unlimited 3% cash back on supermarket purchases.

It’s by no means the best overall value compared with the best cash-back credit cards on the market. But with no annual fee and a solid rate of return on dining and entertainment purchases, it’s a worthy contender for folks who like to eat — whether in the comfort of their own kitchens or out on the town.

  • Early Spend Bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash when you spend $500 on purchases within three months of your account opening date.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn unlimited 3% cash back on qualifying grocery store purchases (except purchases at superstores like Walmart and Target) and purchases of dining, entertainment, and eligible streaming services. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for statement credits or bank account deposits in any amount.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months from your account opening date. After that, variable regular APR applies.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy money-saving perks such as 24/7 travel assistance services, potential savings on prior purchases through Capital One Shopping and Paribus, extended warranties on select purchased items. SavorOne comes in Visa and Mastercard varieties, and feature availability may vary by product.

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

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3. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

5% Cash Back on Grocery Purchases at Whole Foods and Amazon’s Website

Amazon Prime Rewards Credit Card

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The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is the obvious choice for Amazon Prime members who do most or all their grocery shopping through Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime Pantry, or Whole Foods Market. All Amazon-ecosystem purchases, including both perishable and nonperishable groceries, earn 5% cash back.

It’s easy to redeem your Amazon cash-back rewards in any amount for purchase credits at checkout, making this a truly seamless grocery rewards credit card for Amazon fans.

Key features of the card include:

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Get a $100 Amazon gift card immediately upon approval. Exclusions apply; see terms for details.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn unlimited 5% cash back on eligible purchases at Whole Foods Market locations and amazon.com, including Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime Pantry. Earn unlimited 2% cash back on purchases made at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem accumulated cash back in any amount for statement credits, deposits to linked bank accounts, or credits against Amazon purchases at checkout.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee for the card itself, but cardholders must be Amazon Prime members in good standing to earn 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases. Prime membership costs $119 per year, subject to change. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy a host of travel insurance perks, including lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance. Other perks include extended warranties on select items with existing manufacturers’ warranties and complimentary car rental insurance when you pay for the rental in full with your card.

See our Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card review for more information. Learn more and find out how to apply for this card here.

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4. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

5% Cash Back on Eligible Grocery Store Purchases (Up to $12,000 Spent) in the First Year

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

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Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have a permanent special grocery rewards tier for supermarket purchases.

However, the second part of its very generous sign-up bonus promises 5% cash back on up to $12,000 in eligible grocery spending during the first year, excluding grocery purchases at Target and Walmart. That’s up to $600 in bonus cash back on eligible grocery purchases.

The rest of Freedom Unlimited’s rewards program is nothing to sneeze at either, thanks to bonus earnings on eligible Chase Travel purchases, qualifying Lyft purchases (limited time only), restaurant purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery), and drugstore purchases, plus unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

You can redeem your accumulated rewards for virtually anything, in any amount, at the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. Point transfers to more generous Chase cards or partner travel programs, or simply straight cash back, are the best ways to go.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash when you spend at least $500 on eligible purchases during the first three months your account is open. Also, earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, excluding grocery purchases at Target or Walmart.
  • Earning Rewards: Chase Travel purchases earn 5% cash back, drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery) earn 3% cash back, and Lyft purchases earn 5% cash back through March 2022. All other eligible purchases earn 1.5% cash back.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for statement credits, bank account deposits, gift cards, purchases with third-party retailers like Amazon, and purchases made through the Chase Travel portal.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% introductory purchase APR for 15 months after account opening. After that, variable regular APR applies.
  • Regular APR: Once the introductory promotion ends, variable regular APR applies, currently 14.99% to 23.74% APR.
  • Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy a free DoorDash DashPass subscription for three months from account opening (then 50% off for the next nine months). Activation is required to earn the DoorDash benefit.

See our Chase Freedom Unlimited Card review for more information. Find out how to apply for this card here.

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5. Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card

5% Cash Back on Eligible Grocery Store Purchases (Up to $12,000 Spent) in the First Year

Chase Freedom Flex Card Art 1 28 21

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Chase Freedom Flex has the same great first-year grocery store benefit as Chase Freedom Unlimited: 5% cash back on the first $12,000 in eligible purchases, excluding purchases made at Target and Walmart.

Otherwise, its rewards program is similar, with two big exceptions: quarterly rotating bonus cash back categories that offer 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined category purchases, and a cash back baseline of 1% instead of 1.5%.

Like Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Flex allows redemptions for statement credits, gift cards, direct purchases with partner retailers, and more. Bear in mind that you have to manually activate your 5% rotating categories by the middle of the last month of each quarter to earn retroactive cash back for the period.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: When you make $500 in qualifying purchases within three months of opening your account, you get $200. Plus, earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. This benefit does not include grocery purchases at Target or Walmart.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories, up to $1,500 combined spending across all categories. Earn unlimited 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft purchases through March 2022 and 5% cash back on Chase Travel purchases indefinitely. Drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and delivery) earn 3% cash back. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on quarterly category purchases above the $1,500 limit and on all other purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for statement credits, bank account deposits, gift cards, travel, general merchandise, and other purchases at the Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for 15 months. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies.
  • Regular APR: Once the introductory promotion ends, variable regular APR applies, currently 14.99% to 23.74% APR.
  • Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is a flat 3%.
  • Other Perks: Enjoy a complimentary subscription to DoorDash’s DashPass service for three months from account opening, then 50% off for the next nine months. Activation is required to earn this benefit.

See our Chase Freedom Flex Card review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

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6. American Express® Gold Card

4x Points at U.S. Supermarkets; Up to $25,000 in Annual Category Purchases

Amex Gold Card Art 2 4 21

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The American Express® Gold card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on the first $25,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases each year. That’s up to 100,000 bonus points, worth up to $0.01 per point at redemption — a 4% return on spending.

Above the annual spending cap, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on U.S. supermarket purchases. Most frugal families don’t need to worry about running over.

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your card within the first six months of card membership.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 4 points per $1 spent on restaurant purchases (including takeout and delivery) and 4 points per $1 spent on U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $25,000 in annual supermarket spending. Earn 4 points per $1 spent on Uber Eats purchases as well. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly with the airline and at amextravel.com and 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: There are multiple redemption options for this grocery rewards card, including travel bookings, gift cards, Uber rides, general merchandise, and statement credits at the American Express membership rewards portal. Redemption minimums begin at 1,000 points. Most value points between $0.005 and $0.01 apiece.
  • Introductory APR: None. For specific rates and fees of the American Express® Gold card, see its rates and fees page.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee is $250. There is no foreign transaction fee.
  • Other Perks: Other perks include $10 in dining credits per month (up to $120 per year) with select participating chains and apps, including Seamless, and up to $10 in Uber Cash per month (up to $120 per year) when you add your Gold Card as a payment method in the app. Enrollment is required to enjoy these benefits.

See our American Express® Gold card review for more information. Learn more and find out how to apply for this card here.

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7. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

3% Cash Back on Supermarket Purchases; Up to $6,000 in Annual Category Purchases

american express blue cash card

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The no-annual-fee alternative to the Blue Cash Everyday® card is nearly as generous as its fee-bearing parent.

Get 3% cash back on the first $6,000 in purchases made at U.S. supermarkets each year and 1% cash back on supermarket purchases thereafter. That’s $180 in bonus cash back in addition to baseline cash. Cash back accrues as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Key features of this card include:

  • Welcome Offer: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on your card in the first 6 months after opening your account, with a maximum of $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend at least $2,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of opening your account.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on eligible U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $6,000 in total supermarket spending per year. Earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including supermarket purchases above the annual spending cap. Cash back accrues as Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem accumulated cash back for statement credits on your Blue Cash Everyday account.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from your account opening date, then regular variable APR applies (currently 13.99% to 23.99%). See rates and fees page.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers cost $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

See our Blue Cash Everyday® card from American Express review for more information. Learn more and find out how to apply for this card here.

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8. Citi Double Cash® Card

2% Cash Back on All Eligible Purchases, Including Supermarket Purchases

Citi Double Cash Card Art 12 4 19

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The Citi Double Cash® card earns 2% cash back on all eligible purchases, including purchases at the supermarket. If you’re not interested in carrying a separate card solely for supermarket transactions, this is as good a choice as any.

Just be sure to pay your entire balance in full each month, as you only earn the full 2% cash-back allowance when you zero out your statement.

  • Sign-Up Bonus: There is currently no sign-up bonus. Check with Citi for the latest offer details.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all eligible purchases at the point of sale and another unlimited 1% cash back when you pay down your balances (provided you make the minimum payment). Eligible purchases include grocery store purchases.
  • Redeeming Rewards: Redeem for statement credits and other forms of cash back, subject to redemption minimums.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months from your account opening date. After that, regular variable APR applies.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%.

See our Citi Double Cash® Card review for more information. Learn more and find out how to apply for this card here.

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Final Word

Each of these supermarket credit cards rewards grocery store purchases consistently — month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year. And that consistency is vital to their value.

It’s worth calling out the sometime-supermarket credit cards that didn’t make this list. It’s not that they’re never worth using at the grocery store. Rather, they only perform from time to time.

Take the Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card, for instance. Freedom reliably earns 5% cash back on grocery store purchases for one quarter per year, up to $1,500 in quarterly category spending. The catch: Grocery store earnings drop to just 1% the other nine months of the year, supplanted by another favored category.

Cards like Chase Freedom Flex are fine for cardholders who can adjust their spending as the opportunity arises. Those who sideline their primary grocery card during Chase Freedom’s bonanza quarter can earn impressive average rates of return on grocery store spending throughout the year. But not everyone wants (or has the means) to juggle two supermarket credit cards.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please visit this rates and fees page.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Claiming the Child Tax Credit – Everything You Need to Know in 2021

Raising a child isn’t cheap. According to a 2019 analysis by EverQuote, it costs about $2,319,162 to raise a family in the United States, including providing common family expenses like housing, food, transportation, insurance, child care, and vacations. For parents, tax season is a chance to recoup some of those costs.

There are several parental tax deductions and credits available to eligible families. Some are only available to parents who pay day care costs or higher education expenses. But the child tax credit doesn’t require parents to cover any particular costs.

Given the 2021 tax code changes, it’s time to look into how to claim this valuable federal income tax credit and how much it’s worth.

Who Can Claim the Child Tax Credit?

For the 2021 tax year, the American Rescue Plan Act temporarily increased the child tax credit (CTC), making it worth up to $3,000 per child (or $3,600 per child under age 6). That’s an increase over the previous maximum of $2,000 per child for the 2020 tax year.

To qualify, the child must meet the following requirements:

  • Is a son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child, eligible foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of these — for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew
  • Is under the age of 18 at the end of the tax year
  • Is a U.S. citizen with a Social Security number (SSN)
  • Did not provide more than half their own support during the tax year
  • Lived with you for more than half the year
  • Is claimed as a dependent on your federal tax return
  • Does not file a joint return with a spouse or files it only to request a refund of withheld taxes

The CTC can only be claimed once per child per year. For example, in the case of divorced parents who both qualify to claim one child as a dependent, only one can claim the child and take advantage of the CTC. If both parents try to claim the child, the IRS will apply tiebreaker rules to determine who gets to claim the dependent. The IRS explains those tiebreaker rules in detail in Publication 501.

Limitations on the Child Tax Credit

The purpose of the CTC is to help parents who need it, so the credit phases out for taxpayers with higher incomes.

If you’re a single taxpayer with an adjusted gross income (AGI) over $200,000 or a married-filing-jointly taxpayer with an AGI over $400,000, the IRS reduces your credit by 5% of your AGI. There’s no credit if your AGI is over $240,000 for single filers or $440,000 for married couples.

Refundable Portion of the Child Tax Credit

As the name suggests, the CTC is a tax credit, meaning it is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe. If your available child tax credit exceeds your taxes owed, you can receive the remaining credit amount back as a tax refund. This refundable portion is also known as the additional child tax credit (ACTC).

In prior years, only $1,400 of the CTC was refundable.

If you believe you qualified for the CTC or the ACTC in a previous tax year and forgot to claim it, you can amend your original tax return for up to three years from the date you filed the return and get a refund of the tax you overpaid.

Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

Another change for 2021 is that the IRS will distribute half the credit in advance of the 2022 filing season (when taxpayers file their 2021 tax returns).

For children 5 and younger, eligible families can receive up to $300 monthly in advance. For children ages 6 to 17, families can receive up to $250 monthly in advance.

That amount could change based on your income. Families are eligible for the total amount if their modified AGI is under:

  • $150,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $112,500 for head of household
  • $75,000 for single filers and married couples who file taxes separately

If your income exceeds those limits, the IRS will reduce your advance payments by $50 for every $1,000 over the listed limits.

To qualify for the advance child tax credit payments, you (and your spouse if you file a joint tax return) must have:

  • Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the CTC on your return, or
  • Provided your information to receive economic impact payments (aka stimulus checks) using the non-filers payment info tool (which is now closed)

The IRS announced it would start issuing payments on July 15, 2021, and payments will continue monthly on the 15th of each month. The IRS will direct-deposit monthly payments into the bank account where you received your 2020 or 2019 tax refund or mail it to the address on your tax return if the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information.

You can claim the other half of the credit on your 2021 income tax return.

You can check to see whether you’re eligible for advanced payments using the IRS’s Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant. You also have the option of unenrolling from advanced payments. That can be a suitable option if you expect to owe tax or won’t be claiming a dependent child on your 2021 tax return. To opt out, use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal at IRS.gov.

Credit for Other Dependents

If you have a dependent who doesn’t meet the requirements to claim the CTC, you may still be able to claim the credit for other dependents. For instance, you can claim this credit for:

  • A child who does not have an SSN but does have a Taxpayer Identification Number
  • A child who is age 18 or age 19 to 24 and in school
  • Other older dependents, such as an elderly parent

The maximum credit for other dependents is $500, and it has the same phase-out threshold as the CTC.

You cannot claim both the child tax credit and the credit for other dependents for the same dependent. But you can claim the child and dependent care credit in addition to the CTC or the credit for other dependents if you paid eligible day care expenses for your dependent. You can also claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) if you qualify.

Claiming the Child Tax Credit on Your Tax Return

You claim the CTC or the credit for other dependents on Line 19 of your 2021 Form 1040. You can calculate your allowable credit using the worksheet included in IRS Publication 972. If you are eligible to claim the refundable additional child tax credit, you must also complete Schedule 8812 and attach it to your Form 1040.

But if you use tax-preparation software from someone like TurboTax, the software calculates the credit and attaches the necessary forms for you.

Some states also offer a complimentary child tax credit that can reduce your state income tax. The credit is refundable in some states and nonrefundable in others. To learn more about the available credit in your state, check out the state-by-state guide maintained by the nonprofit organization Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families.

Future of the Child Tax Credit

The American Rescue Plan Act’s changes to the CTC only apply to the 2021 tax year. Unless Congress extends these changes, the higher credit amount and advanced payments will disappear after this year.

Additionally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017’s changes to the CTC expire after 2025 unless Congress extends them or makes them permanent. After that, the CTC reverts to its previous form:

  • The credit will start to phase out once your AGI exceeds $75,000 for single filers or $110,000 for married couples
  • The maximum credit will be $1,000
  • The credit for other dependents will disappear
  • You will need to have at least $3,000 of earned income to qualify for the credit

You can read more about the child tax credit and the credit for other dependents as well as calculate your available credit in IRS Publication 972.

Final Word

Raising kids is a pricey endeavor, so pay close attention to any tax benefits that can help you offset those costs by reducing your tax liability.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates the child tax credit delivers about $130 billion in benefits to families with children. So familiarize yourself with the rules for claiming the credit and take advantage if you’re able.

And don’t forget that if you have questions about claiming this tax credit on your tax return, you can use a tax preparation company like TurboTax. They have live CPAs available to answer your questions.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Bike to Work from your Apartment: Is it for You?

Tired of sitting in traffic day after day, or having to adhere to unreliable public transportation schedules? If you’ve ever envied those cyclists whizzing by your car, you might want to look into the option of riding your bike to work. Not only will your commute be more pleasant, but it’s a great way to stay in shape. However, being in the right location is key, as well as a few other factors. Here’s some things to consider in your quest to bike to work.

Location, Location, Location

You may want to grab your cycling gear and start peddling away, but ensuring your apartment is in a good location for making the ride is hugely important. How many miles are you willing to ride? If you live in the suburbs, you may have to bike to public transportation to make some of your journey: does your transport system allow bikes? Take a look at apartments near where you work and see if they might fit your taste and budget.

Is Your City Cycle-Friendly?

Many US cities are taking steps to ensure their city is perfect for those who want to ride their bike to work. For example, Chicago offers cycle paths and bike lanes in many of its communities, as does New York City and Boston. Cycling commuters in Atlanta not only have bike lanes, but they also have the added bonus of busses with bike racks on the front and spaces to put their bikes on public transportation service, MARTA. Bike-friendly Greenville, SC, a smaller city which encourages active living, continues to expand its massive Swamp Rabbit Trail, and bike repair stations have popped up all over the city.

Want to know if your city is bike friendly? Check out Thrillist’s compilation of the top cycling friendly cities in America for more details.

The Sweat Solution

One of the facts of cycling to work is that it’s possible to work up a sweat, particularly during the warm summer season. Check with your office to see if there’s a gym on the premises with a shower you can use. Additionally, if you’re looking to get fit, there might be a nearby gym that you can join and use its facilities. No showers? No problem. A pack of baby wipes, some deodorant and dry shampoo spray can work wonders in a pinch.

Hot Tip:  Some offices have a ‘bike to work day.’ If yours does, ride to work on this day to check out the lifestyle.

Storing Your Ride

All the bike paths in the world won’t matter if there isn’t a place to park and secure your bike when you get home. Check with your apartment community to see if they offer bike storage, or other secure locations to park your bike. Or ask if you can install wall hooks to simply hang your bicycle on the wall when you get home — hey, instant art! It’s also important to check with your work to see what storage options they offer, and how secure they are.

Are you ready to make the switch to biking to work? Maybe you already do and have some pointers? Get social with us and tell uswaht you’ve learned!

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