These Are the Best Cheap Moisturizers to Relieve Your Dry Skin

If you’re like us, you have a drawer filled with lotions and creams that are doing nothing for your dry hands and feet. It’s one of life’s mysteries.

But as much as we want some relief, we’re not interested in spending a ton on products that may or may not be worth the money.

We spoke to dermatologists to better understand what heals dry, cracked skin and identify the best cheap moisturizers. (Spoiler: You can find many of them in drugstores.)

Moisturizer, Lotion, Cream: Know the Difference

These actually aren’t interchangeable terms, regardless of how people use them. A moisturizer is a mixture of water and oil-soluble components that tackle the outermost layer of your skin. Typically, petroleum jelly, mineral oil and waxes are used in moisturizers. Lotions are more watery and have many ingredients. The higher the water content, the easier it is for bacteria to get in, thus the greater the need for preservatives such as parabens, salicylic acid and benzyl alcohol. For that reason, lotion should be used on parts of the body that aren’t very sensitive. (Never use it on your face.) Cream is simply a thick moisturizer designed for very flaky areas, such as elbows and heels.

Tips and Habits to Live By

Follow these good practices for keeping your skin moisturized.

Apply at the Correct Time

The lotion, cream or moisturizer you choose isn’t going to do any good if it’s applied onto dry feet, says James Beckman, a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Therapon Skin Health. Beckman suggests applying after showering but before drying to allow an even spread while your skin is still damp.

Also make sure to apply moisturizer at least 20 minutes before going outside to allow maximum penetration, he says.

Avoid Vegetable Oils

Steer clear of moisturizers that contain mineral or vegetable oils, Beckman says.

“These only coat the skin surface, and easily disappear as soon as the skin is washed,” he says.

Expensive Doesn’t Mean Better

“I always say to my patients that the difference between an inexpensive and expensive moisturizer/ lotion/cream is not necessarily the ingredients included, but the branding and the marketing behind the product,” says Vikram Rajkomar, a dermatologist with Pall Mall Medical.

The key is to buy a formulation which agrees with your skin, as everyone reacts differently to each cream.

Look for These Ingredients

Susan Bard, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, suggests looking for humectant-based moisturizers containing ingredients that pull water into the skin, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin, without leaving behind a greasy residue.

“Thick, emollient moisturizers tend to contain occlusive ingredients such as dimethicone, beeswax, lanolin, ect. That helps prevent moisture loss from the skin,” Bard says. “They can feel sticky and also clog pores leading to folliculitis and miliaria on certain parts of the body.”

But humectants aren’t all you need, says Fayne Frey, a dermatologist and founder of FryFace. Moisturizers that are formulated with humectants and occlusives are preferable, Frey says. Effective occlusives include petrolatum, mineral oil and silicone-based derivatives like simethicone. Effective humectants include glycerin, hyaluronic acid and propylene glycol, she says.

 O’Keeffe’s Working Hands is photographed in a studio against a pink background.
Susan Bard’s must-have moisturizers for dry hands include O’Keeffe’s Working Hands, which is $6.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Best Cheap Moisturizers: Our Experts’ Favorites

You can find many of these at drugstores.

Beckman’s must-have moisturizers for winter use are Theraderm Extreme Dry Skin Therapy ($16.95 at Theraderm.net) and Theraderm Body Restoration Creme ($16.95 at Theraderm.net). “They’re designed to restore function as well as feel, replenishing deficient skin oils with natural lanolin, a true skin oil, from Sheep’s wool,” Beckman says.

Bard has similar favorites. For dry hands, she likes Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream ($3.99 at Target), O’Keeffe’s Working Hands ($6.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond) and Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm ($16.56 at VitaCost). 

Petroleum jelly — aka Vaseline — is the gold standard occlusive, preventing 98 percent of water loss from the skin into the environment, Frey says. Many users find it to be too greasy. “But it works,” she says.

Relieve Dry Skin with These Habits

According to a report from Harvard Medical School that was updated in 2019, there are some free ways to deal with dry, winter skin. First, turn down your thermostat, as hot air tends to be drier than cool. Then, pop on your humidifier.

And while you may think that you’re helping your skin by taking the hottest shower possible, you should actually be taking a warm shower. Hot water removes the fatty substances in your skin that retain water. When you’re in the shower or bath, close the door, as this will get the humidity factor really going, but limit the time in the shower to 5 or 10 minutes. Blot your skin with a towel instead of rubbing it dry, and apply moisturizer immediately following the shower.

Wear loose clothing — binding clothing may rub and dry out your skin — and bundle up to protect from the cold, windy air outside. While we hate this advice, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, you really should stay away from the fireplace, as this can dry your skin.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

This is the Best App to Play Solitaire for Real Money

Chances are, you’ve played your fair share of Solitaire. And why wouldn’t you? It’s a great time-killer, it’s fun and it’s a nice little mental challenge. The only thing that could make it better? Winning money for it.

The Solitaire Cube app lets you do just that. This free app lets you play the classic card game you already know and love, plus it matches you with players in your skill level, so you can go head-to-head in tournaments where you can win real money. Plus, the games are quick — just two to five minutes each, and you can play them anywhere.

How to Win Real Money Just for Playing Solitaire on Your Phone

You might be thinking this sounds too good to be true. But here’s the thing: It’s really not. One Solitaire Cube player, Amanda, even won about $6,000 and was able to use her winnings to recarpet her house.

“When I actually started winning money and earning prizes, I was blown away,” she says.

Interested? Here’s how it works: Download the free Solitaire Cube app and create an account. Then you can play some free practice matches to get the hang of things. If you don’t already know how to play, it’s easy to learn. Then, when you’re ready, Solitaire Cube will match you with players at your same skill level. Beginners play beginners; experts play other experts. Yep, you won’t get outplayed by some Solitaire grandmaster — you’ll both have the same deck, so winning is all about skill.

The app itself is free to download, but if you want to play for money, you’ll need to deposit some money first. You can deposit as little as $2 to start, using PayPal, credit card or Apple Pay. It’s super easy. Then you can play head-to-head, in large pools and live tournaments — some of these tournaments have paid out prizes as big as $350,000. When it’s time to cash out, there’s no waiting period, like with some other apps. You can get your money almost instantly.

Solitaire Cube has an App Store rating of 4.6 out of 5 from more than 70,000 users’ rankings.

As for Skillz, the platform that hosts the game, it operates hundreds of games and has paid out more than $2 billion in prizes so far. The company has invested years into its player-matching technology, ensuring you only compete with players of the same skill level.

Win or lose, you always receive “ticketz” that you can redeem in Skillz’ Ticketz store for cash or prizes, like Amazon gift cards, a 65-inch TV — even a BMW or a Porsche. The higher stakes you play for, the more ticketz you receive.

For Solitaire players, here’s the most important part: The game is well designed, a classic Solitaire experience. To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He loves him some Solitaire.

Unfortunately, you can’t play for money in the following states: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota or Tennessee. However, in those states, you can still play for fun with the game’s virtual currency.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Mvelopes Review: Digitize the Cash Envelope Method With This App

The cash envelope budgeting method can be a very effective way to control your spending.

The premise is simple. You come up with spending limits for your variable expenses, like groceries, eating out or entertainment. Next, you fill up envelopes with cash to match what you’ve budgeted for each category.

As you shop throughout the month, you can only spend the amount of money in your envelopes. Once you’ve run out of cash, you’ve got to freeze spending until it’s time to fill the envelopes again.

There’s one significant flaw in this budgeting method though: What if you don’t shop with cash? Many people opt for online shopping or use a debit or credit card rather than dollars and coins.

Fortunately, there are ways to adapt the cash envelope budget for cashless shoppers. One of the solutions is to use a budgeting app, like Mvelopes.

In this Mvelopes review, we’ll explain how this app works to help you keep your spending in check.

What Is Mvelopes?

Mvelopes is a budgeting app from Finicity, a fintech company owned by Mastercard. It’s based on the cash envelope system, so all of the categories you set up in your budget are essentially your digital envelopes.

Mvelopes syncs to your financial accounts, so whenever you pay a bill, shop online or swipe your debit card, that transaction shows up in the app. The app uses bank-level encryption to keep your information safe.

Once you assign the transaction to its appropriate envelope, you’ll automatically see how much money you have left to spend in that category. And if you do happen to use cash for something, you can manually enter that info in the app.

How to Get Started with Mvelopes

You can download the Mvelopes app for your Apple or Android mobile device — or you can create an account and manage your money straight from your computer.

Mvelopes offers three tiers of service. Mvelopes Basic costs $5.97 per month or $69 per year and lets you set up your budget by syncing to all your financial accounts. The next step up is Mvelopes Premier, which costs $9.97 per month or $99 per year and includes access to the Mvelopes Learning Center and Debt Reduction Center.

The Mvelopes Learning Center has online video lessons on topics like mastering your spending, creating an emergency fund, insuring your future, home buying and how to have stress-free holidays. With the Debt Reduction Center, you get support to create a tailor-made debt payoff plan.

The app’s top tier of service is Mvelopes Plus. This plan connects you with a real-live personal finance trainer for one-on-one virtual sessions four times a year. You’ll also get higher priority customer service support. Mvelopes Plus costs $19.97 a month or $199 a year.

Although there is no free version of Mvelopes, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Mvelopes Premier — the app’s most popular option — to test out the service with no financial commitment.

The Pros and Cons of Mvelopes

Mvelopes can sync with over 16,000 financial institutions, so most users can track their spending with minimal effort. Keeping your spending in check means you can free up more money to go toward saving or debt.

According to the company, Mvelopes has helped users save an average of $6,175 and pay off an average of $17,425 of debt.

One disadvantage of this app, however, is that it’s not free, like the budgeting apps Mint or Clarity Money. Also, if you’re looking for a tool that tracks more aspects of your financial life, such as your net worth and where you stand with your investments, you might want to consider an app like Personal Capital.

Who Is Mvelopes For?

The Mvelopes app is a great option for fans of the cash envelope method who are looking to digitize their money management.

It is also a good choice for people looking to nix overspending, because the app keeps you up-to-date with how much funds you have left to spend in each budget category.

Additionally, Mvelopes can help you boost your personal finance knowledge via online courses or pay down debt with a tailored payoff plan.

By signing up for the free 30-day trial, you’ll have a month to decide whether Mvelopes is the right choice for you.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

8 Free Sleep Apps for a Blissful Night’s Rest

Whether it’s fear of getting sick, worry for a loved one’s health, job anxiety, the stress of juggling parenting and career in a pandemic, or all of the above, sky-high stress seems to be the new normal.

While free sleep apps won’t solve your big-picture problems, they could help you fall asleep faster, so you can tackle life’s stressors feeling refreshed. Here are the best ones we’ve found.

1. White Noise

White noise free sleep apps are must-haves for travel, when you need a consistent noise to block out the sounds of other hotel guests, city noises, etc. The ‘lite’ version does the trick with free sleep sounds and nature sounds. For $4.99, you get 50 sounds plus the ability to create your own track that includes binaural beats, aka different frequencies that cue your brain to relax.

Find White Noise in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon.

2. Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis

Hypnosis usually costs several hundred dollars, but you’ll pay $0 for this hypnotherapy sleep app with four recordings of meditation and hypnosis. Additional hypnosis tracks are available as app purchases for $2.99 apiece. This one made Healthline’s 2019 list of the best sleep apps, so if you’re skeptical of hypnosis, their stamp of approval may persuade you to download hypnotherapy sleep apps.

Find Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

3. Headspace

Headspace’s guided meditation app is the perfect way to wind down for bed: Andy’s soothing British accent will lull you into a state of total relaxation where it seems like nothing could ever go wrong. While it’s $60 a year, Headspace often makes the best sleep apps lists. Students can pay $9.99 for annual access, and Netflix subscribers can watch the Headspace series for no extra cost. Each episode focuses on one style of meditation, so by the time you finish the season you’ll have a whole arsenal of relaxation techniques to try before bed.

Sign up for a free trial of Headspace or watch on Netflix.

4. Deep Sleep With AJ

Deep Sleep With AJ is a cheaper alternative to Headspace, with a one-time cost of $2.99 and similarly dreamy Scottish accent. Developed by a mindfulness expert and therapist, the sleep app includes mindfulness and inspirational talks, bedtime relaxation techniques to help you wake up feeling refreshed, meditations for anxiety and panic attacks and more. You can cue up meditations to repeat a set number of times, so it ideally plays through until you’ve caught those Zs.

Find Deep Sleep With AJ on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

5. Relax Melodies

Combining relaxing sounds, free sleep stories and guided meditation for sleep, lucid dreaming, or relief from medical conditions like tinnitus (ringing in the ears that often gets worse before bed), free sleep app Relax Melodies has thousands of fans. It comes with 52 sounds including white noise, nature sounds, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response, or that warm tingle associated with sounds like whispers) and binaural beats. Premium sounds are available as app purchases for $4.99.

Find Relax Melodies on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

6. Nothing Much Happens

Think of free podcast Nothing Much Happens as adult sleep stories designed to help you relax into a peaceful slumber. As the title suggests, the stories are fairly low-stakes. Podcast host Kathryn is a meditation and yoga teacher, so think of this as an extended savasana where it’s actually awesome if you end up snoring after five minutes.

Find Nothing Much Happens on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

7. Endel

Perfect for the multitasker, Endel offers “personalized soundscapes” for relaxation, better sleep and better focus. The app pulls data from your environment (like weather, location or time of day), then moderates sounds to match your mood: focus music for daytime work and chill sounds to help you sleep. The app comes with a 7-day free trial, after which point you’ll need to buy a subscription ($5.99 per month or $49.99 per year, at present) or use the free, browser-based version.

Find Endel in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or on Twitch.

8. Rise: Sleep & Energy Tracker

For those wanting a scientific approach to a good night’s sleep, the Rise sleep tracker app is worth checking out. It’s free to download with membership upgrades as app purchases beginning at $6.99 per month. Unlike sleep-tracking apps which just gauge your sleep cycle, Rise looks at “sleep debt”– aka how much sleep you should get but don’t. The sleep app works backward from your sleep debt numbers, drawing from sleep data and health information to help you improve sleep quality and quantity. Rise fans include pro sports teams and Fortune 500 leaders who find the price worth it to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed.

Find Rise in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Most people experience sleep problems for a range of underlying causes, thus it can be helpful to have multiple free sleep apps on your phone. Armed with nature sounds, bedtime stories, guided meditation, science-backed sleep habits and hypnosis for life’s most pressing worries, you can stop counting sheep and cue up what’s mostly likely to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Lindsey Danis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Your Car Insurance Company is Probably Planning to Rip You Off — Unless You Do This

Watch out for your wallet! Do you live in one of the five U.S. states where car insurance rates are going up this year?

According to industry reports, rates are going up this year in Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. For example, New York rates are expected to rise by 1.2%, and Indiana’s by 1.1%. Annoying, isn’t it? Here you are, probably driving less than ever, and they want to raise your car insurance premiums.

They’re ripping you off. The good news? There’s something you can easily do about it.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices and make sure you’re not getting ripped off. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Are you driving less than 50 miles a day? Do you have zero DUIs on your record? You could qualify for discounts.

Using Insure.com, people save an average of $540 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He lives in one of these five states, and he’s mad about this.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Expert Homebuying Tips for Buying in a Seller’s Market

Buying a house is a big decision, but it can feel especially overwhelming to place an offer on a home less than 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. Plus you’re under pressure to outbid several other buyers — or risk losing the house.

While these circumstances might sound extraordinary, they’re not. With housing inventory nationwide at an all time-low — down 22% from last year according to the National Association of Realtors — it’s no wonder buyers are competing for the same few houses.

I was in this exact position last fall. Here are seven key takeaways from my experience buying in a seller’s market.

Get a Pre-Approval Letter

In order to be competitive in a hot seller’s market, you will need to line up your financing in advance.

Besides all the usual suspects, like saving up for a down payment and improving your credit score, you’ll also want to get a pre-approval letter from your bank. It states that a bank would approve you for a mortgage of a certain amount, and acts as a guarantee to the seller that you can actually afford to buy their house.

This is where it helps to know your budget up front.

“It’s important to understand that the strength of financing is a key consideration a seller takes into account when selecting an offer,” said real estate developer Bill Samuel.

No seller wants to risk accepting an offer that might fall through. Aand since pre-approval letters can take some time to get, have one ready before you find your dream house.

Be Friendly With Neighbors

This might sound crazy, but making a good impression on your new neighbors can actually make a difference when it comes time for a seller to review offers.

Since you’ll likely be visiting the home at least once before making an offer, be prepared to talk to any neighbors you might run into. In close-knit neighborhoods, or ones where people share resources (like an HOA), sellers might care a bit more about the type of person they sell the house to.

If you happen to meet a neighbor when visiting the home, introduce yourself and make a good impression. You never know how much their opinion of you might factor into any final decisions.

Submit an Offer Quickly

After you’ve seen a house, and decided you love it, be prepared to submit an offer quickly— as in, ASAP.

Work with your real estate agent to determine how many other offers the seller already has (or expects to get) and then be prepared to draft something up that day. In our case, we toured our home for the very first time at 11 a.m. on a Monday — it came on the market the evening before — and made an offer by 4 p.m. that same day.

If that sounds fast, it is. But by the time we submitted our offer, the seller already had three others. This is where it helps to have a great real estate agent on your side.

“Having a realtor who can get your offer submitted quickly is crucial,” said Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers. “You want to get your offer in front of the seller first, and make it strong. Purchase price is the obvious factor and in a competitive market, houses often go for over asking price. However, a strong offer has several factors and it depends on what’s most important to the seller.”

Work with your real estate agent to find out what matters most to the seller — is it money, closing quickly, something else entirely? Then make sure your offer addresses their needs.

Minimize Your Contingencies (Within Reason)

Another way to win over your seller (and prevail in any bidding wars) is by keeping your contingencies to a minimum.

Contingencies are the contractual stipulations buyers and sellers must meet before the deal can close. Unsurprisingly, sellers don’t like to have too many of them to deal with. Contingencies can include such things as requesting a seller to make certain repairs, getting a home inspection, or even the fact that you’ll need to sell your old house before being able to buy the new one.

“In a really aggressive seller’s market, a home buyer who has to sell a current property should do so before placing an offer on another home,” said Jason Gelios of Community Choice Realty. “Don’t always assume that the seller will take the highest price. Other conveniences can play a factor in gaining the seller’s attention, especially things like faster closing times and less restrictions.”

While my partner and I didn’t make the highest offer on our house, we did have the fewest contingencies — mainly, we didn’t ask too much of our seller in the way of repairs, or have another house to sell in order to afford the new one.

All that said, there are certain contingencies you should never forgo, and a home inspection is one of them. Getting your home inspected is hugely important, since inspectors will often find things even the sellers weren’t aware of. No matter how much you love a house, don’t be afraid of exercising your right to an inspection.

According to buyer protection laws in most states, sellers are required to report any findings in home inspections to subsequent buyers. In other words, if an inspector finds something wrong with the house, the seller will have to deal with it one way or another— either with you, or the next buyer should you choose to drop out of the deal.

Make a Generous Earnest Money Deposit

When trying to woo your seller in a competitive market, it helps to make a generous earnest money deposit. An earnest money deposit is a good-faith deposit requested by the seller when you enter into a contract to buy the house and typically run anywhere from 1% to 3% of the sale price of the home.

When deciding how much of an earnest money deposit to include in your offer, keep in mind that whatever amount you give comes off the price of the home (and is returned to you if the deal falls through). In other words, there’s no reason to be cheap. If you can, go slightly above the seller’s requested deposit amount. Even if it’s just a little more than what they’re asking, that gesture of good faith might just be what gets you the house.

A row of houses on a cul de sac in a suburban neighborhood.
Getty Images

Offer Above Asking Price

Wait. Why would anyone make an offer that’s above asking price? Because the competition did it first, and in a hot seller’s market, offering above asking price is often what it takes to even be considered.

Upping your offer may not break the bank as much as you’re fearing. “With interest rates so low these days, offering more than what the seller is asking may not make a drastic difference in your overall monthly payments,” real estate agent Pavel Khaykin of Pavel Buys Houses said.

Let’s say the listing price on your dream home is $320,000 and you’re able to put down a 6% down payment. That leaves you with a mortgage of roughly $301,000. For a 30-year fixed mortgage at an interest rate of 3%, that translates into $1,269 monthly payments. Now let’s say you decide to bid a little higher on the home and offer $10,000 over asking price. This would only bump up your monthly payment (assuming you qualify for that low interest rate) by $42.

Lace Up Your Running Shoes

In a hot seller’s market, you’ve got to be ready to move fast. Often this is more of a change in mindset than anything else. When my partner and I first started looking at homes, we considered ourselves casual buyers — that is, until our dream home came on the market late one Sunday night. From there, things moved quickly. We saw the home, made an offer, were under contract by morning, and spent the next month and a half going through the process of closing on the house.

If you’re serious about finding your dream home in the next few months, the best thing you can do is know what you want from the outset, and get your ducks in a row to make a compelling offer when you find it. Maybe this means making a list of your must-haves in a house, and working to improve your credit score. It might also mean reaching out to a real estate agent before you need one, and getting that pre-approval letter in place.

Although inventory is low, new houses come on the market all the time.

Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Dear Penny: My Rich Boyfriend Worries I’ll Burden Him if We Marry

Dear Penny,

I’m a 35-year-old female who’s divorced, and my boyfriend is 38 and never married. We’ve been dating for two years, and it’s been wonderful. Recently, we’ve been having talks about our future, but money is a bit of a hang-up for him. 

He makes significantly more than I do (between four to five times as much), and he worries that my low income means I’ll be a burden on him when we get older if we decide to marry. The way I see it, I am very responsible with the money I do make. I don’t have any debt, and I pay all my own bills. 

I’m not asking him for anything, although I do understand that at this rate my retirement savings will be meager while his will be substantial. That could lead to problems if he wants to travel and not feel bitter about having to pay for me for everything later on. 

Do you have any advice for us? This is one neither of us knows how to navigate.

-R

Dear R.,

It’s been a wonderful two years. You’re talking about growing old together. Then the conversation turns to how little money you make and how you might be a burden to your boyfriend later on.

That doesn’t sound wonderful to me. That sounds cruel.

Discussing how you’ll split the bills is a vital conversation if you’re merging lives. Some couples choose to keep their finances completely separate, and that’s OK.

But you’re not ready to have that conversation yet. That’s because of a problem that, at least as you’ve described to me, exists entirely in your boyfriend’s head. It doesn’t sound like there’s a concern about whether you can afford a life together. He has no reason to worry that you’ll run up debt or drain his bank account. Is he seriously worried that the bitterness he’d feel over money would overshadow his happiness should he build a life with you? You really need to establish that now so that you can move on if the answer is yes.

Most couples encounter this situation to at least a degree. Few people will marry someone whose salary is identical to theirs for their entire careers. You’re marrying a person, not a paycheck.

Paychecks change. There’s no guarantee your boyfriend will always be a high earner. And just because you have a low income at 35 in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t mean you’ll always have a low income. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with not having a high salary. But I don’t want you defining your potential by what you earn right now.

Life can also change. What if the two of you married and he got sick, so you had to become his caregiver? Would you think of him as a burden then?

Ultimately, this is your boyfriend’s hang-up. You’re living within your means. There’s nothing wrong with you just because you can’t afford to live within his means.

Is he willing to shoulder a greater share of the bills for the privilege of building a life with you? Or is he willing to adapt to your more frugal lifestyle so he can have the peace of mind of knowing he never contributed an extra cent? His call.

But the control factor also worries me here. If you got married and he paid most of the bills, could he still approach this as a true partnership of equals? Or would he make you feel like a child asking a parent for allowance money?

One thing I have to wonder about based on what you told me is whether this is about money at all. Imagine your salary were to quadruple tomorrow. Do you think your boyfriend would be enthusiastic about your future together? Or do you think he’d find another hang-up?

For some people, money is very much a dealbreaker. But other people get really antsy when they start talking about the future. So they look for a dealbreaker — any dealbreaker — to make you think that you’re the one with the problem, not them. I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case here, but it’s fodder for you to consider. You need to know if you’re dealing with a cheapskate or a commitment-phobe dressed in a cheapskate’s clothes.

It sounds like this is a topic the two of you have been dancing around for some time. This is going to require a brutally honest conversation. Your boyfriend needs to decide whether he  can treat someone who makes way less than he does as an equal partner and back it up with action. Until then, any discussions about how to handle finances are premature.

This may be a painful discussion. You may not like the answer you hear. But I suspect a likelier outcome is no answer at all — just a bunch of hemming and hawing. If that’s what you get, then you have your answer.

Your value goes way beyond your salary. Please don’t waste your time trying to build a future with anyone who doesn’t recognize that.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

Related Posts

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Work from Home While Schooling Your Kids

Parents all over the United States have had to make lofty and quick adjustments due to the pandemic erupting the daily routines many of us haven’t had to change in quite a while. Feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and sheer confusion have consumed many; leaving the evergreen thoughts about how to best accommodate our children while simultaneously completing remote work effectively. If you have been struggling with finding a balance or could use some extra pointers to smooth out this process; see the tips below and breathe a little easier knowing there’s additional help available. 

Wake up at least an hour earlier 

I know, this is probably the last thing you wanted to hear fresh out of the gate. However, take this into consideration – you can use this uninterrupted time to knock out some tasks, enjoy your cup of coffee or breakfast before the day truly begins. Rushing (especially in the mornings) tends to set a precedence for the day, causing your mind and body to believe that a pace of hurriedness is expected; generating feelings of burnout very easily. Crankiness, low engagement, and minimal productivity doesn’t serve you, your work, or your children well. Use this solo time to still your thoughts so you are able to be fully present for all things the day holds. While this may take some time to get used to initially, you’ll thank yourself when you have the energy to handle any and everything! 

Set and abide by a clear routine 

Comparing your child’s school schedule in conjunction with your personal work obligations very clearly can showcase what needs to get done and when. Reviewing this every evening beforehand or once a week with your children creates new, positive habits that become easier to follow over time. Not only does this mimic physical in-school setting, but it also generates responsibility and a sense of accomplishment for your little ones. If necessary, communicate with your manager if there are time periods you need to be more present to assist your children with any assignments. 

Designate ‘do not disturb’ time periods 

Depending on your work demands, there are conference calls and online meetings that may have to happen while the kids are completing their individual assignments or classroom time. To make sure everyone fulfills their tasks with minimal interruptions, create time periods that are dedicated to completing the more complex tasks that require a more intense level of focus. To avoid any hiccups, give some leeway before the blocked time to address any questions or concerns. While this doesn’t guarantee that nothing else arises, it establishes peace of mind so that your thoughts can be directed to the tasks that lie ahead.    

Plan out all meals for the week

If meal prepping wasn’t your thing before, it definitely should be now. Having lunch and/or dinner already prepared not only saves you time (which is a necessity) but also helps to normalize the growing grocery bill that seems never-ending. Planning not only avoids confusion and lengthy food conversations, but it also sets a routine the entire family can abide by. Easy food items such as tacos, burrito bowls, sandwiches, and an assortment of fruit provide a healthy balance – while avoiding ordering fast food or takeout multiple times a week.  

Establish a ‘lessons learned’ list 

Similar to an end of year job evaluation, you and your family can take a personal inventory of the things that have worked effectively – while taking note of the things that didn’t. At the end of every week have a very candid conversation with your children. Ask them what worked for their schooling and also self-assess the positives during your remote work. Remember to keep an open mind! Instead of automatically responding with frustration, consider how much of an adjustment this is for kids. They’re accustomed to a multitude of settings and environments, which develops their reasoning and comprehension skills. If they identify something was less than satisfactory, ask what can be done (within reason) to improve their new learning environment. These notes can take place on sticky notes, a large whiteboard, or a simple notepad. This doesn’t have to be a serious sit-down conversation; it can almost be presented as a game. Keeping track of these items will help you all make tweaks as necessary while finding a solid sweet spot.  

Give yourself (and your children) grace 

Life as we knew it switched in the blink of an eye. The busyness of going into the office, dropping the kids off at school, and shuffling them to extracurricular activities stopped more abruptly than any of us could have imagined. As we all know but don’t like to admit, every day isn’t a good day. There are many nuances that happen throughout the course of time that can derail our plans, leaving us to feel defeated. But before going off to the deep end, remember this – every day serves as a chance to start over. If the food wasn’t prepared ahead of time it’s okay. If the workday didn’t go as smoothly as expected, it’s quite alright. Take a deep breath and remember we are all doing the best we can with what we currently have. Learning to navigate new waters such as this is only achieved through trial and error.   

Celebrate the small wins 

Let’s face it – this is new for all of us! While online learning and remote work have been in place for more than a few months, we have to grant ourselves grace. So, if you haven’t already – give yourself and your children a pat on the back! Plan safe outings you and your family can enjoy such as picnics, movie nights, or any outdoor activities. Getting some fresh air for at least 30 minutes during the day can help boost productivity and the moods of you and your children! Each week may not be easy, but it is rewarding to know that the effort you’ve put forth as a parent is a positive contribution to your family.   

One question that we all need to ask ourselves is-will we ever gain this amount of time with our families again? Let’s embrace this moment with learning and lasting memories.  

The post How to Work from Home While Schooling Your Kids appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Store Brand vs. Name Brand: How to Save Money on Everyday Stuff

Editor’s note:  This post was originally published in February 2020.

What’s in a name? A lot actually.

We often default to certain brands when shopping simply because of the name on the package — and the reputation that comes along with it, thanks to clever advertising.

We buy Bounty paper towels because they’re the “quicker picker-upper” and Frosted Flakes because “they’re gr-r-reat.”

But on the shelves next to those items you can often find a comparable store-brand version that costs less — sometimes significantly less. We often refer to these as generic products. Sometimes these rival versions are even made in the same manufacturing facilities and have little to no noticeable differences.

Ultimately, the decision to buy a store-brand product or your favorite name brand is a subjective one. There’s trial and error involved, and in some cases you might land right back on the premium paper towels because you find that they really do pick more up, and quicker.

But before your next shopping trip, it’s worth considering how much money you could save if you take a few name brand items off your list.

Comparing the Cost of Store Brand Vs. Name Brand

I visited two stores — Publix (a southeastern grocery store chain) and Walmart — to do a little price comparison.

(Note: Prices were sourced on Feb. 19, 2020 at stores located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sales tax was not factored into this example.)

Product Store Brand at Publix Name Brand at Publix Store Brand at Walmart Name Brand at Walmart
Oreos $2.59 $3.89 $1.63 $2.72
Jif peanut butter $2.39 $2.72 $1.58 $2.22
Cheerios $1.93 $4.19 $1.23 $2.82
Kraft cheddar cheese $3.85 $4.19 $2.08 $2.38
Diet Coke, 2-liter $0.75 $2.19 $0.68 $1.74
Dove body wash $3.99 $6.81 $3.47 $5.58
Adult extra-strength Tylenol $6.99 $10.29 $1.98 $9.47
Children’s Motrin $4.99 $7.49 $3.94 $5.97
Total $27.48 $41.77 $16.59 $32.90

A shopper at Publix would save $12.72 or about 35% by buying the store-brand version of these eight items over their name-brand alternatives. A shopper at Walmart would save $13.10 or nearly 45%.

Consider that I only used eight items in this example. When’s the last time you went to the grocery store and walked away with just eight things?

The greater the grocery haul, the greater the savings by choosing the cheaper alternative. And since you likely go shopping more than once a month, you could see a significant difference in your monthly budget by swapping out name-brand items.

Store Brand Vs. Name Brand: How to Decide

Since store-brand merchandise costs less money than name-brand counterparts, a common perception is that they’re of lesser quality.

But that’s not always true.

One reason name-brand items are more expensive is because it costs money to market those products to the public. Consumers pay the price for those commercial jingles that stick in their heads.

Most store-brand products are made to closely compare to their name-brand products. If you check the ingredients, sometimes you’ll find they’re made of the exact same stuff — though the recipes may differ slightly. What the decision really comes down to is preference.

We asked The Penny Hoarder community members about buying store-brand items over name brand. Respondents said they often choose store-brand products to save money but still have name-brand preferences when it comes to certain items, despite any cost savings.

“I will use generic for anything but my hair products,” said community member KellyFromKeene.”Otherwise, [with] food, clothes [and] household supplies, I will get the generic if the ingredients are the same.”

Community member Jobelle Collie said she’s partial to Dove bar soap, Olay moisturizer and Palmolive green dishwashing liquid but buys generic trash bags, office supplies and kitchen staples like salt, pepper and sugar.

Sometimes going with the store brand is a matter of trial and error.

“I definitely try to choose store brand, at least initially. Sometimes, I can tell the difference,” said community member Sthom. “For example, I tried my store’s brand of filters for my Brita: I could tell the difference immediately, so I switched back. That happens sometimes.

“Recently, I tried my store’s brand of peanut butter,” Sthom continued. “I’m partial to smooth [Jif] but the store’s organic smooth brand was less than $2.00 — around $1.18, unbelievably — and was just as good if not better.”

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM
No spend challenge
12/14/20 @ 2:48 PM
Debi Hoyt
Looking for a Financial Accountability Partner
1/15/21 @ 4:16 PM
K
Saving money
12/7/20 @ 1:17 AM
r
Credit Karma Savings Account
10/15/20 @ 12:02 PM
Leslie Kay
See more in Save Money or ask a money question

Tips for Weighing Store Brand vs. Name Brand Products

When deciding between store brand and name brand, keep these things in mind:

  1. Try swapping out the name-brand version of single-ingredient items — like flour, rice, milk and eggs — for the store-brand version. You may find there’s less variation in taste or quality than multi-ingredient items like cookies or soup.
  2. Use spices or other ingredients you have at home to dress up a store-brand product — for example, adding basil and garlic to a jar of pasta sauce.
  3. All store brands aren’t created equal. You may dislike the taste of store-brand cereal or the quality of store-brand toilet paper at one grocer, but another store’s products could be more on par with the name brands.
  4. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires generic medications (over-the-counter and prescription) to have the same active ingredient, strength and dosage form as the name-brand equivalent. Both products should be medically equal.
  5. Store sales and coupons can cause name-brand products to cost less than the store version. Store brands aren’t always the cheapest option. This is a great time to indulge in your preferred brand and save money.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com