7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Woman with a basket of groceries giving thumbs down
Photo by Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Clipping coupons is synonymous with saving money. Just mentioning frugal living brings to mind long hours hunched over the dining room table shredding the Sunday newspaper into a mound of money-saving coupons.

But why? What’s so great about coupons?

It may sound blasphemous to some budgeters, but I gave up coupons years ago. Spoiler alert: I still save a respectable amount on groceries, I’m eating healthier, and shopping is a breeze.

Here are the reasons why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

1. The cost/reward ratio is low

In exchange for the modest savings it offers, traditional coupon clipping is a demanding taskmaster.

By the time I buy a newspaper, clip the coupons I want, organize them, monitor the expiration dates and find stores that allow coupon stacking, it seems like I should just get the item for free.

2. Coupons are manipulative

It’s no secret manufacturers and retailers want us to use coupons for one reason only: to expose us to products we wouldn’t normally buy, encouraging habitual purchases. Once the savings go away, they expect that demand will stay and the price can gradually increase.

For me, staying on budget means minimizing my wants and needs and shopping with greater intention. Most coupons are distractions that wrap new wants in a package of “savings.”

If I really want to check out coupon options, your time might be better spent accessing manufacturer coupons online.

3. Coupons distract us from better deals

Saving money shouldn’t be an obstacle course. It’s easier and more rewarding to simply stick to store brands, learn which generic products to buy or wait for in-store sales.

Store brands often offer better deals than coupons — without the hassle. Without the overhead of sexy ad campaigns, package designers and product innovators, generics are typically a much better value.

Compare unit prices, instead. You just might never clip another coupon again.

4. Coupons push pre-packaged and processed food

When it comes to groceries, coupons often market convenience foods that are more expensive and less healthy.

Seriously, though, where are the coupons for fresh foods like broccoli or apples? If they exist, they are as rare as a coupon with no expiration date.

5. Coupons encourage over-buying

To take advantage of the savings, coupons often require the purchase of more than one item — “$1 off any three,” for instance. This may be fine for products you know and love, but it’s risky otherwise.

What if you don’t like the taste of the coffee, the flavor of the chips or the scent of the moisturizer? Instead of being out the cost of a single item, you’re out in multiples. Am I really saving if I have to buy more than I need, want or will use?

6. Coupons build brand loyalty

Part of the purpose of coupons is to establish a pattern of buying behavior and build brand loyalty. In matters of love, loyalty is a virtue. But when it comes to shopping, a little cheating can be a very good thing.

Blindly sticking to one brand of yogurt, pasta sauce or toothpaste means you’re likely missing out on better deals or products you’ll like more.

Brand loyalty may make shopping faster, but the benefits end there.

7. Coupons aren’t free

Don’t think those “free” coupons you get with your grocery receipt come without a cost.

Most are generated as part of elaborate loyalty programs that track dozens of data points like what time of day you shop, how much you spend on average, which in-store services you use and whether you have kids.

In addition to using it themselves, stores may sell your information. In exchange for those discounts, you could be handing over a big slice of your privacy.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

9 Simple Ways To Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?

Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.

So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.

Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.

Table of Contents

Target-Baby-Registry

Target-Baby-Registry

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.

Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.

You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.

Here’s just some of what you get:

  • Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
  • Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
  • MAM newborn pacifier
  • Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
  • A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
  • Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
  • Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
  • Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
  • Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
  • Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
  • Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
  • 10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.

Two:  Sign Up for Amazon Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member.  Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions.   You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.

Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.

Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.

Three:  Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers

Swagbucks

Swagbucks

Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?

Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity.  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games.  Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.

Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.

TIP:  Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go.  You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.

InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.

Four:  Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies

Huggies Rewards Program

Huggies Rewards Program

Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.

Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors.  So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.

Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points.  You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.

When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.

Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.

In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:

Pampers

Luvs

GoodNights

More Free Samples

Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.

Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.

Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.

Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.

Five:  Smart Couponing for Free Diapers

Clipping Coupons

Clipping Coupons

Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores.  By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.

Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.

Huggies coupons

Luvs coupons

Pampers coupons

Six:  Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money

baby diapers

baby diapers

A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes.

Diapers.com gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site.  Sign up for their referral program here.

If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program.  Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.

Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.

Seven:  Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.

Free baby diapers

Free baby diapers

The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers.  The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.

This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers.

NeedHelpPayingBills.com aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs.   Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.

Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers

Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.

They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.

Nine:  Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat.  Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.

Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples.  They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.

Like It?  Share It!

If this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it too.  Thanks!

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Source: incomist.com

5 Pretty Easy Ways to Save Money on a Vacation

Do you have high hopes that there will be traveling your family’s future, but not quite sure how you can afford it?

You’re not alone. While Americans will spend an average of 10% of their household income on vacationing this year, a full 74% take on debt for their trips. Each of these tips offers you both an easy and effective way to save a substantial amount of money off your next vacation trip. Use them wisely, and you might even be able to squeeze in some extra travel this year.

1. Make use of grocery store prepared food sections

Some people think it’s crazy to not eat at restaurants for all of your vacation meals. Mostly, they want the entire week off from cooking any food.

I don’t blame them (or you) for thinking this. So, what if I told you that you can still avoid cooking all week, and not actually eat out for every single meal?

While vacationing, find your local grocery store with a prepared food section. You can find hot meals for your family – complete with salads and desserts – for much less than what it would cost to eat out. Plus, there’s’ no need to pay a tip.

2. Plan activities around discount times and coupons

You can easily save a bundle on your vacation expenses by planning your activities around available discounts. This doesn’t have to be as limiting as it sounds, it just means you have to be smart about it. For example, you could:

  • Buy a local Entertainment book and use the tourist coupons that come with it.
  • Purchase discounted tickets to local attractions and activities on group buying sites (such as Groupon.com, and LivingSocial.com) by entering the zip code of where you’ll be traveling to.
  • Plan your trip dates around free museum days (I did this on a trip to France, and got in to see the Louvre on its free Sunday of the month).

3. Change the season you travel in

One of the easiest ways you can save on almost all the costs of your next vacation is by simply changing the season that you take it. The time of year you choose makes a huge difference in how much you’ll pay – it’s a simple illustration of supply and demand.

During summertime when kids are out of school and families want to get their vacations in, you’ll pay more. But if you decide to leave for a trip to Disney World one week before schools traditionally let out? Then you’ll not only save yourself tons of waiting time in lines but a lot of money.

In fact, that’s what personally happened to me over five years ago when my husband and I decided last minute to drive to Disney World. It was May, and there were virtually no people around. No lines, no waiting, and hardly a kid in sight.

We asked anyone we could find what was going on, and they said that it would be all-out pandemonium just one week later when their peak season begins (when the majority of kids are out of school). We had unknowingly hit the jackpot, and our cheap hotel bill reinforced that!

Get creative by using winter breaks, trips during the school year, and long weekends in the off-season to save a bundle without even trying.

4. Rethink traditional hotel stays 

Next to transportation costs to get to your destination, hotel costs will make the second biggest dent in your budget. With an average cost of $133.34/night to stay in a hotel, you can see how a 5-night ($666.70) or a 7-night vacation ($933.38) can really add up.

One of the easiest ways to save on vacations is by rethinking traditional hotel stays.

Consider options like these, all of which I’ve done myself:

  • Staying with family or friends
  • Share a hotel room with family or friends
  • Book a rental with local homeowners instead of with hotels (using sites like AirBnB or Vrbo)
  • Use hotel deal sites to snatch up unfilled rooms (such as  Secretflying.com, and TheFlightDeal.com)

5.  Consider group travel

Traveling in groups allows you to pool your money for better rates. My husband’s family, for example, likes to go all-in on a beach house for a long weekend in Galveston. We generally get a 5 to 6-bedroom rental right on the beach, and the cost is just $200-$300 per family for 3-4 nights. If we were to travel on our own, we would never be able to afford such a nice place.

Not only that, but if your group travel entails a road trip, you may be able to carpool with someone to save on gas costs. And if you split up meal prep duties between families like we do? You not only have to cook only once or twice per stay, but you don’t have to eat out in restaurants the whole time.

Another way to secure travel savings in groups is by going after group discounts. Whether booking excursions, airfare, or anything else with a travel agent or by yourself, be sure to ask about possible group discounts.

Don’t forget to shop around

Pricing for hotels, airfare, and things to do can vary greatly. Don’t just visit a company’s website and assume that’s the best price. Check a number of sites — including discounters like Priceline — and look for package deals. You should also consider looking for less-traditional sources for booking trip. Warehouse clubs Costco and Sam’s Club, for example, offer deals on travel (sometimes very good ones).

It’s also important to use any discounts you have coming your way. Are you in AAA? Does someone in the family have a trade association membership that offers special deals? Check and you might unlock a special deal. Use these “work smarter, not harder” strategies when it comes to saving money on your next vacation, and you won’t have vacation debt lingering for months after your return.

–By Amanda Grossman

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Donating Plasma For Money: Best Places To Donate Plasma To Make $300-400 A Month

If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, and help others while you’re at it, you may want to consider donating plasma.

Thousands of Americans across the country are lining up to earn a little extra cash through blood plasma donation. The plasma donation process is similar to giving blood but does take a little longer. Thankfully you can be compensated for your time.

Donating plasma offers the potential to earn $300 to $400 a month. Before you get started, however, you need to be aware of what’s involved to help you make an informed decision. 

Donating Plasma For Money

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ABC News that 94% of paid plasma that was used to create medicines around the world, was donated by American donors. 

Blood plasma is the part of the blood that’s actually a clear liquid. It consists of water, enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. Plasma donation is different from giving blood at the Red Cross, however. 

To obtain the clear plasma, your blood is drawn, then the plasma is separated. The blood is then returned to your body. 

There are hundreds of donation centers around the country. However, to donate, you must typically meet some basic requirements. 

  • You must be aged 18 to 69
  • You must weigh over 110 pounds
  • You must have proper levels of iron, hemoglobin, and blood
  • You need to pass a basic physical and be free of infectious diseases
  • You must have a legal Social Security Card or government ID to prove that you’re a citizen. 

The rules can vary according to your home state. Local laws may even override the requirements of the plasma donation center. For example, some states have a higher age requirement than the typical center age of 18.

Some states also have rules prohibiting people with piercings or tattoos from donating. There may also be a minimum number of donations permitted within a specified timeframe. 

If you don’t qualify as a plasma donor, you may be given a temporary or permanent deferral. Temporary deferrals occur if you’re sick, your blood, iron or hemoglobin levels are too low, or you’re recovering from a procedure. You’ll be advised on what to do and when you can return to donate plasma for money. 

Permanent deferrals typically result from your age, weight, or if you have a medical condition that could negatively affect you or the recipient of your blood plasma. However, if you believe the permanent deferral was given in error, you can obtain a second medical opinion to try to overturn the decision. 

How To Prepare To Donate Plasma

In order to donate plasma, you will need to hydrate, avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, eat healthily, and prepare the necessary paperwork. 

Before you visit a plasma donation center, you will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat heart-healthy meals such as vegetables, fruits, and fish. You should also try to avoid high cholesterol, fatty foods. 

Being properly hydrated is crucial, so you should drink plenty of water the day before and the day of donation. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are diuretics, so it is best to avoid them, as they can dehydrate you. 

When you arrive at the center, you will need to present your Social Security card, a photo ID and proof of address. Your name and address should match on all of your documentation. 

What’s Involved In Donating Plasma?

If you’re a first time donor, you should plan for your visit to the center to take up to two hours. When you arrive at the center, you’ll be asked to complete a health history and go through a basic physical. This can include a heart check, urine test, and reflex test. They will also prick your finger to test your iron, blood, and hemoglobin levels. 

Once they are ready for you to begin donating, you’ll be sat in a semi-reclining chair. The actual process looks similar to standard blood donation. However, as the process is more involved compared to donating blood, the actual donation part takes up to an hour. 

When your blood is drawn, the center team separates the plasma using a plasmapheresis machine, and the blood will be returned to your body. 

If you choose to donate again, the process will be quicker. Future donations typically take an hour, since you only need to confirm nothing has changed about your medical situation. 

If you plan on donating plasma regularly, bear in mind that there are limits. Generally, you can donate no more than twice a week, but you need to leave 24 to 48 hours between donations. This allows your body enough time to replace the lost plasma. However, drinking plenty of water can assist in this process. 

One common concern is if it will hurt to donate plasma. However, the discomfort involved is similar to donating blood. 

In addition to the finger prick, the technician will use an IV and needle to draw your blood and return the plasma free blood to your body. When the blood is returned, it is mixed with saline. This can make it cold, which can cause a little discomfort. So, it is a good idea to bring a jacket or blanket. 

Obviously, if you start to feel very uncomfortable during donation, tell the technician immediately. 

How Much Can You Earn Via Your Plasma Donations?

If you choose to donate twice a week, there is the potential to make up to $400 a month or up to $50 per donation. That’s not too shabby, given that it will typically take 60 to 90 minutes per visit. 

There are factors that will determine your earning potential for plasma donation, however. In addition to how often you donate, your weight, the quantity of plasma you donate, and which donation center you use will influence your earnings. 

Typically, if it is your first time donating plasma, you’ll make more. Many centers have incentives for new donors, and since the process takes longer, you’re compensated accordingly. 

Additionally, the FDA requires that plasma donations correspond with body weight. So you’ll get paid more if your body weight is more, since you can donate more plasma. Generally, the weight ranges are split up in ranges similar to this:

  • 110 to 149 pounds
  • 150 to 174 pounds
  • 175 to 400 pounds

Also, you may have a certain type of protein that’s in high demand. If you carry this type of protein in your plasma, the center may offer you more money. 

Some centers also offer “frequent flyer” incentives. So, you’ll receive more per donation if you regularly visit the same centers. 

Where Can I Donate Plasma?

A great place to start when looking for the highest paying plasma donation center near you is to check out the website DonatingPlasma.org. It has an easy to use search tool where you can plug in your city/zip and it will show you centers near you.

Although the FDA inspects donation centers to ensure compliance with the laws, it does not own or manage them. These centers are operated by third-party for-profit companies, and there is no central organization that receives plasma. You’ll need to either use a site like DonatingPlasma.org or search Google for “plasma donation near me” and ensure you choose an FDA compliant location. 

Highest-Paying Plasma Donation Centers

Plasma donation is a competitive business. It is worth comparing the earning potential if you have multiple centers in your local area. You may even find you can obtain higher than typical payouts. 

A good starting point is to look for first-time plasma donor bonuses. Many centers promote bonuses on their websites (many of which you’ll find below). This could allow you to earn $500 in your first month rather than $300. Donation centers also run promotions where you can earn more if you return to donate again. Although it can feel strange to see promotions and coupons on a donation site, this is how the industry works, so be sure to take advantage of the best deal. 

Here are some of the trusted donation centers in different states and what you can expect to be paid.

best places to donate plasma for money

B Positive Plasma

B Positive Plasma is one of the highest paying plasma donation centers out there, but they currently only have locations in MD and NJ.

You can earn up to $500 a month, and they sometimes have promos for first-time donors where you can get $50 per donation for your first five donations.

You’ll get paid fast via a Visa Debit card and you can earn even more by referring a friend!

Biolife

Biolife operates in 28 states in the USA, including AZ, AR, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY. 

New donors at certain centers can earn bonuses, which offers the potential to earn up to $600 in your first month. Centers also run local promotions. The typical rate is up to $50 per donation. Payments are made with a Biolife prepaid debit card. 

Biotest Plasma Center

Biotest Plasma Center has locations in AR, FL, GA, IA, NC, NE, NM, OH, PA, SC, SD, TX. You can earn up to $50 for the first five donations, and subsequent donations will earn you $35 to $45. There are also sweepstakes and bonuses when you refer a friend, which can boost your earnings. Payment is made via a Mastercard prepaid debit card. 

BPL Plasma

BPL Plasma has centers in AR, AZ, CO, FL, IL, KY, ME, MN, MO, NC, NM, OH, OK, TX. They offer up to $50 for your first five donations, but there are seasonal promotions to boost your earnings. 

However, BPL Plasma requires donors to be 18 to 65, rather than 69 and not to have had any tattoos or piercings in the last 12 months. 

CSL Plasma

CSL Plasma has locations in AL, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, WA, WV, WI. There are also multiple locations within the same state. For example, in Alabama, there are Birmingham, Auburn, and two Montgomery centers. 

You can earn up to $50 per donation, with a potential for up to $400 a month. There are also monthly promotions. You’ll receive points that you can redeem for prepaid debit cards or merchandise. 

GCAM Plasma

GCAM Plasma has locations in CA, ID, IN, TX, WA, and you can earn up to $25-$40 for each donation. Payment methods vary, so you would need to contact your local center. 

Grifols

Grifols has more than a hundred locations across the U.S including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI. This company owns a variety of centers, including Biomat USA, Talecris, Plasma Biological Resources, and Interstate Blood Bank. 

You can expect to receive up to $25 per donation via a prepaid debit card. However, Grifols also operates a refer a friend program for additional bonuses. 

Immunotek

Immunotek has locations in 8 states including AL, FL, MS, NC, PA, SC, TN, TX.

The amount you can earn isn’t listed on their website, and pay rates for donations vary from location to location.

They do offer a $20 referral bonus when you refer a a friend who donates.

Interstate Companies

The Interstate Companies has locations in 14 states including FL, IL, IN, KY, MD, MO, MI, MS, NC, OH, PA, TN, TX, WI.

While they don’t list how much you can earn on their website, users online have stated they pay $50 each for the first 5 donations, and anywhere from $25-35 per donation after that.

KEDPlasma

KEDPlasma has centers in 11 states, including AL, FL, GA, LA, NC, NY, SC. 

You can earn up to $50 for your first five donations. However, returning donors may qualify for a $20 lapse bonus coupon”. You would need to leave at least 14 days between donations.

This company also operates Kedrewards, a loyalty rewards program, which creates an opportunity to earn additional bonuses. The payment methods can vary according to location, but typically you’ll be offered a prepaid debit card. 

Octapharma Plasma

Octapharma has more than 100 locations across the USA including AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NV, OH, OK, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI. 

You can earn up to $50 each for your first five donations. There are also frequency bonuses and a New Donor bonus. For example, you may earn extra if you donate more frequently in certain months. This is usually when there is a high demand for plasma but few donors. 

You’ll be paid via prepaid debit card, but you can also accumulate reward points that can offer sweepstake entries and other discounts. 

The Tax Implications Of Donating Plasma For Money

Most plasma donation centers will load your payment onto a prepaid debit card. You’re unlikely to be provided a tax form that reports your taxable income as you would with a day job.

However, not getting a 1099-MISC IRS form will not let you off the hook. You’re required by the IRS to file a return if you make more than $400 from “gig work”. Donating plasma does count as gig work, so keep a track of your earnings.

You will be responsible for reporting the income made from donating plasma when you file your taxes. So, it is a good idea to set aside a few dollars of each payment to avoid a nasty tax surprise. 

The Side Effects And Potential Risks Of Plasma Donation

Of course, you should not try anything without being aware of the possible side effects and potential risks. Fortunately, plasma donations are considered relatively safe. It is a well-understood process, but there is a possibility of side effects. 

Many of the possible side effects are similar to donating blood. Since needles are involved in the process, you may experience tenderness or bruising around the injection site. There could be discoloration, pain, or swelling, but these should subside relatively quickly. You may also have a reaction to the disinfectant used. This is often iodine, so if you know you have an iodine sensitivity, mention it to the center. 

Some donors can also feel faint or experience dizziness. This is due to fluid being removed from the body, which causes a reaction to this stress. You can minimize your risk of this by drinking plenty of fluids the day before and the day of donation.  

In less common cases, you may experience a citrate reaction. This is an anticoagulant that they use, so the blood doesn’t clot during collection. You may experience a reaction to the citrate, which often presents as a tingling in the fingers or around the mouth and nose. In severe cases, it can cause shortness of breath, shivering, twitching, or a rapid or slowing pulse. 

If you experience any symptoms during the donation process, it is important to let the center staff know. You should also follow instructions following the donation. For example, you may be told to remain seated and have a drink after donation. This will help your body to recover from the stress of donation. 

Donating Plasma After COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the economy and it may be the reason why you’re considering donating plasma to make extra money. Fortunately, it is possible to donate plasma even if you’re recovering from COVID-19. 

In fact, the FDA is encouraging people to begin donating after a negative COVID test and “complete resolution of symptoms”.

President Trump came out with statements this week encouraging people to donate plasma after having COVID-19 so that the medical community can get plasma with the antibodies to help patients who are still struggling with the disease. You will need to wait at least 14 days after your symptoms are resolved before you can make a donation, but giving your plasma with antibodies can be very helpful, and life-saving, for those in need. 

Donating Plasma Is A Legit Way To Earn Some Extra Cash

Donating plasma is a legit way to earn some extra cash while helping others with life-saving plasma.

You only need two or three hours a week to donate plasma and you could make $300 to $400 a month. Anyone can do it as long as they meet the guidelines, and as long as they have no qualms with being stuck with a needle and sitting in a chair for a few hours a month. If that sounds like you this could be an easy way to earn some extra income. 

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of donating plasma for money, you can still donate for free. You can visit your local Red Cross Center to donate blood plasma. The Red Cross allows donations every 28 days, so you can still help people and potentially save lives.

Have you gone through the process to donate plasma for money? Tell us how it went!

plasma donation for money

Donating Plasma For Money: Best Places To Donate Plasma To Make $300-400 A Month

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

What You Need to Know About Budgeting for Maternity Leave

Follow these four steps to financially prepare for your maternity leave.

Prepping for a new baby’s arrival might kick your nesting instinct into high gear, as you make sure everything is just right before the big day. One thing to add to your new-baby to-do list is figuring out how to financially prepare for maternity leave if you’ll be taking time away from work.

Lauren Mochizuki, a nurse and budgeting expert at personal finance blog Casa Mochi, took time off from work for the births of both her children. Because she had only partial paid leave each time, she says a budget was critical in making sure money wasn’t a source of stress.

“The purpose of budgeting for maternity leave is to have enough money saved to replace your income for your desired leave time,” Mochizuki says.

But the question “How do I budget for maternity leave?” is a big one. One thing’s for sure—the answer will be different for everyone, since not everyone’s leave or financial situation is the same. What matters most is taking action early to get a grip on your finances while there’s still time to plan.

Before you get caught up in the new-baby glow, here’s what you need to do to financially prepare for maternity leave:

1. Estimate how long you’ll need your maternity budget to last

To financially prepare for maternity leave, you need to know how long you plan to be away from work without pay.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave from work per year for certain family and medical reasons, including for the birth of a child. Some employers may also offer a period of paid leave for new parents.

The amount of unpaid maternity leave you take will determine the budget you’ll need while you’re away.

When estimating how long you’ll need your maternity budget to last, Mochizuki says to consider how much unpaid leave you plan to take based on your personal needs and budget. For example, you could find you’re not able to take the full period offered by FMLA after reviewing your expenses (more on that below) and how much you have in savings.

Even if your employer does offer paid maternity leave, you may decide to extend your time at home by supplementing your paid leave with unpaid time off, Mochizuki says.

Keep in mind that despite all of your budgeting for maternity leave, your health and the health of your baby may also influence how much unpaid time off you take and how long your maternity leave budget needs to stretch.

As you’re financially preparing for maternity leave, make sure your spouse or partner is also considering what benefits may be available to them through their employer. Together you should know what benefits are available for maternity or paternity leave, either paid or unpaid, and how to apply for them as you jointly navigate the budgeting for maternity leave process. You can then decide how to coordinate the amount of time each of you should take and when that leave should begin.

Contact your HR department to learn about your company’s maternity leave policy, how to apply for leave and whether there are any conditions you need to meet to qualify for leave. Ask if you’re able to leverage sick days, vacation days or short-term disability for paid maternity leave.

2. Babyproof your budget

When budgeting for maternity leave, make sure you review your current monthly budget to assess how budgeting for a new baby fits in.

In Mochizuki’s case, she and her husband added a category to save for maternity leave within their existing budget for household expenses (e.g., mortgage, utilities, groceries).

“We treated it as another emergency fund, meaning we had a goal of how much we wanted to save and we kept working and saving until we reached that goal,” Mochizuki says.

Figure out what new expenses might be added to your budget and which existing ones might reduce to financially prepare for maternity leave.

As you financially prepare for maternity leave, consider the following questions:

  • What new expenses need to be added to your budget? Diapers, for instance, can cost a family around $900 per year, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. You may also be spending money on formula, bottles, wipes, clothes and toys for your new one, all of which can increase your monthly budget. And don’t forget the cost of any new products or items that mom will need along the way. Running the numbers with a first-year baby costs calculator can help you accurately estimate your new expenses and help with financial planning for new parents.
  • Will any of your current spending be reduced while you’re on leave? As you think about the new expenses you’ll need to add when budgeting for maternity leave, don’t forget the ones you may be able to nix. For example, your budget may dip when it comes to commuting costs if you’re not driving or using public transit to get to work every day. If you have room in your budget for meals out or entertainment expenses, those may naturally be cut if you’re eating at home more often and taking it easy with the little one.

3. Tighten up the budget—then tighten some more

Once you’ve evaluated your budget, consider whether you can streamline it further as you financially prepare for maternity leave. This can help ease any loss of income associated with taking time off or counter the new expenses you’ve added to your maternity leave budget.

Becky Beach, founder of Mom Beach, a personal finance blog for moms, says that to make her maternity leave budget work—which included three months of unpaid leave—she and her husband got serious about reducing unnecessary expenses.

Find ways to reduce costs on bills like insurance and groceries to help save for maternity leave.

Cut existing costs

As you budget for maternity leave, go through your existing budget by each spending category.

“The best tip is to cut costs on things you don’t need, like subscriptions, movie streaming services, new clothes, eating out, date nights, etc.,” Beach says. “That money should be earmarked for your new baby’s food, clothes and diapers.”

Cutting out those discretionary “wants” is an obvious choice, but look more closely at other ways you could save. For example, could you negotiate a better deal on your car insurance or homeowner’s insurance? Can you better plan and prep for meals to save money on food costs? How about reducing your internet service package or refinancing your debt?

Find ways to earn

Something else to consider as you budget for maternity leave is how you could add income back into your budget if all or part of your leave is unpaid and you want to try and close some of the income gap. For example, before your maternity leave starts, you could turn selling unwanted household items into a side hustle you can do while working full time to bring in some extra cash and declutter before baby arrives.

Reduce new costs

As you save for maternity leave, also think about how you could reduce expenses associated with welcoming a new baby. Rather than buying brand-new furniture or clothing, for example, you could buy those things gently used from consignment shops, friends or relatives and online marketplaces. If someone is planning to throw a baby shower on your behalf, you could create a specific wish list of items you’d prefer to receive as gifts in order to offset costs.

4. Set a savings goal and give every dollar a purpose

When Beach and her husband saved for maternity leave, they set out to save $20,000 prior to their baby’s birth. They cut their spending, used coupons and lived frugally to make it happen.

In Beach’s case, they chose $20,000 since that’s what she would have earned over her three-month maternity leave, had she been working. You might use a similar guideline to choose a savings goal. If you’re receiving paid leave, you may strive to save enough to cover your new expenses.

Setting a savings goal and tracking expenses before the new baby arrives is an easy way to save for maternity leave.

As you make your plan to save for maternity leave, make sure to account for your loss of income and the new expenses in your maternity leave budget. Don’t forget to factor in any savings you already have set aside and plan to use to help you financially prepare for maternity leave.

Once you’ve come up with your savings target, consider dividing your maternity savings into different buckets, or categories, to help ensure the funds last as long as you need them to. This could also make it harder to overspend in any one category.

For instance, when saving for maternity leave, you may leverage buckets like:

  • Planned baby expenses
  • Unexpected baby costs or emergencies
  • Mother and baby healthcare

“The purpose of budgeting for maternity leave is to have enough money saved to replace your income for your desired leave time.”

– Lauren Mochizuki, budgeting expert at Casa Mochi

Budgeting for maternity leave—and beyond

Once maternity leave ends, your budget will evolve again as your income changes and new baby-related expenses are introduced. As you prepare to go back to work, review your budget again and factor in any new costs. For example, in-home childcare or daycare may be something you have to account for, along with ongoing healthcare costs for new-baby checkups.

Then, schedule a regular date going forward to review your budget and expenses as your baby grows. You can do this once at the beginning or end of the month or every payday. Take a look at your income and expenses to see what has increased or decreased and what adjustments, if any, you need to make to keep your budget running smoothly.

Budgeting for maternity leave takes a little time and planning, but it’s well worth the effort. Knowing that your finances are in order lets you relax and enjoy making memories—instead of stressing over money.

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Mint Money Audit: Making the Most of a Side Hustle

This week’s Mint audit introduces us to Selena, 48, a mom of two living in San Antonio, Texas. She is a community college director and her husband, 51, is a full-time graphic designer who also manages a booming side hustle in the same industry.

Selena and her husband have already achieved some impressive financial accomplishments, thanks to tracking their finances on Mint, leveraging coupons and shopping at thrift stores. They’ve paid off $52,000 in student loans and invested in a piece of land next door for $26,000, which they believe has appreciated by nearly 40% since purchasing it a few years ago.

But with retirement looming and two children (currently ages 9 and 12) to possibly put through college, Selena wants to learn about additional money moves that could better prepare them for future expenses. She would also love to pay off the family’s 30-year mortgage before she retires in the next 10 to 12 years. Currently they’re on track to pay it down by 2030.

First, a breakdown of their finances:

NET INCOME

  • Hers: $56,000
  • His: $40,000 plus an additional $40,000 in freelance work
  • Total: $136,000 per year

DEBT

  • Just paid off student loans and a property loan (for the lot next door)
  • Credit Card Debt: $0
  • Mortgage: $163,000 (Monthly payment, including real estate tax, is $1,985)
  • Car note: $5,300 (should be paid off within the year)

RETIREMENT SAVINGS

  • Selena’s teacher pension: Roughly $5,000 per month at retirement if she retires in 12 years ($3,800 if she retires in 6 years).
  • Various IRAs between the two of them: $65,000
  • Estimated social security payments: $2,500 to $3,000 (combined)
  • Husband does not have a 401(k)

RAINY DAY SAVINGS

In an emergency, the family has at least six months of expenses saved up or roughly $35,000.

COLLEGE SAVINGS

Selena and her husband haven’t specifically saved for their children’s college education. They’re concerned that a 529-college savings plan might limit their children’s options, if they didn’t choose to attend a traditional college program.

Recommendations

Leverage the Side Hustle

All in all, I think the family’s finances are in solid shape. But if they’re interested in further securing their future, I would suggest investing the annual side hustle income (which currently sits in a bank account earning no interest) to advance retirement savings and carve out an account for their two children.

Starting that side hustle was a very smart money move because it effectively boosted the family’s net income by 40%. And according to Selena, the business, which they operate out of their living room, is only growing, with profits expected to grow another 30% in the future.

Income from side hustles is how I managed to pay off debt in my 20’s and boost savings. Today, it’s more prevalent among working Americans. More than 44 million Americans have a side revenue stream, according to a recent survey by Bankrate. “Having a side hustle is fiscally responsible,” says Susie Moore, founder of the program Side Hustle Made Simple and the new book, “What If It Does Work Out: How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life.” “It’s an economic hedge that mitigates disruption to wealth building and future planning. There is no such thing as a fixed income,” she says.

So, let’s do some math and see how far this $40,000 per year side revenue stream can go using a compound interest calculator.

Retirement

The couple’s retirement nest egg is not too shabby. Not including their existing IRAs, the couple has about $8,000 a month coming to them in retirement between social security and Selena’s pension. That amount, alone, basically replaces their current full-time income. (And I do recommend Selena wait 12 years before retiring so that she can take advantage of the maximum pension payment.)

But with all the uncertainty around social security and future health care costs, it can’t hurt to save a little more, right? By placing $6,500 in a Roth IRA each year for the next, say, 15 years (Selena’s husband can qualify for the catch-up contribution since he is 5- years old), they’ll have an additional $142,000 for retirement that won’t be subject to taxes. This assumes an average annual return of 4%. They can open a Roth IRA at any bank.

Future Savings for Children

While a 529 plan may not be the best fit for this family, Selena still would like to carve out savings for her kids’ future endeavors, be it to start a business or attend an alternative school. For this, I’d recommend opening a 5-year certificate of deposit or CD and placing $25,000 in it this year. The going yield right now for a 5-year CD at that deposit level is averaging a little more than 2%.

Then, every year, as income rolls in from the side hustle, create a new 5-year CD and deposit $25,000 in it. Do this for the next four or five years. All CDs will have matured by the time her youngest is starting college (or pursuing something else). And they’ll have at least $100,000 plus interest reserved for their kids. If they do choose to go to college, the family’s prepared to help pay for in-state tuition at one of the fine Texas universities.

Mortgage Payoff

After funding the Roth IRA each year ($6,500) and the annual CD contribution ($25,000), the family’s left with $8,500. They could choose to put this toward the mortgage principal to knock a few years off their payoff schedule. Or, they may want to just hold onto it for that annual family vacation. And if I’m being honest, I’d say, go for the vacation! They deserve it!

The post Mint Money Audit: Making the Most of a Side Hustle appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com