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7 Destinations with Strong Exchange Rates for US Travelers - YouTube

If you want to have the next trip of a lifetime you will want to stretch your budget as far as it can go and really make every dollar work for you. If you choose a destination where the US currency is strong you can save big bucks on everything without really trying.

This is especially true when booking travel to typical expensive destinations, like Japan or Norway. Watching the foreign exchange rate, and traveling when it’s favorable for the US is a great way to plan an expensive trip and still save some money.

Here are the top countries that are projected to have a favorable US exchange rate through 2018. Put these on the top of your bucket list.

Colombia

$1 five years ago = 1800 Colombian Pesos

$1 today = 2739 Colombian Pesos

You’re probably seeing Colombia on tons of must travel lists, including Travel and Leisure Best 2018 Destinations. A huge reason is Colombia’s a rare case where a country has gotten safer and more attractive to visit while also getting drastically cheaper for Americans. You’ll also find that flights to Colombia are cheaper than ever. You’ll frequently find deals for under $400 round-trip from the east coast!

If you go… the big cities of Bogota and Medellin are fascinating but the real gem is Cartagena on the coast. Nearby Cartagena, you can finally visit some of the more remote and most gorgeous areas, like Minca. These jungles are seeing tourists again for the first time in 30 years.

South Africa

$1 five years ago = 9 South African Rand

$1 today = 12 South African Rand

A dream destination for animal and nature lovers, South Africa is truly special. The excellent exchange rate makes it a great time to visit as well.

If you go… spend your time split between Cape Town and Kruger National Park. Cape Town has cliff sides that turn into what some call the most beautiful beaches in the world. While the safaris in Kruger National Park (and the adjacent Sabi Sands) can’t be beat. You’ll easily see the big five along with so many other animals.

Argentina

$1 five years ago = 5 Argentine pesos

$1 today = 20 Argentine pesos

Not only is the currency exchange rate a big plus for Americans, but the hefty $160 entry fee for Americans was finally eliminated in 2016. The government also announced that foreigners are eligible to receive a refund on the 21 percent value-added tax on hotel stays.

If you go… head to the capital, Buenos Aires, for a double punch combo of classic South American flair with a distinctly European charm.

Japan

$1 five years ago = 93 Japanese Yen

$1 today = 107 Japanese Yen

I touched on this in the beginning, but using the exchange rate to your advantage is most advantageous for ‘expensive’ countries. Japan falls into that list, but now through the end of 2018 will be the best rates we will see for the next couple of years. Starting in 2019, exchange rates will begin to rise in anticipation for the 2020 Olympics being hosted in Tokyo.

If you do go… you can see Tokyo and Kyoto in about a weeks time. The huge bustling city of Tokyo is a nice contrast to the quiet temples of Kyoto. Either way, don’t miss taking in the views of Mt. Fuji… it’s a surprisingly easy day trip from Tokyo.

India

$1 five years ago = 54 Indian Rupee

$1 today = 65 Indian Rupee

India is already an inexpensive country, the great exchange rate just makes it that much better. You’ll be overwhelmed in the best possible way with sights, smells, and sounds.

If you go… start with the Golden Triangle. This will include the big city of Delhi, the beautiful pink city of Jaipur, and Agra – home to the Taj Mahal.

Morocco

$1 five years ago = 8 Moroccan Dirham

$1 today = 9 Moroccan Dirham

Although it hasn’t had the most drastic of changes, Morocco’s exchange rate today is better than 5 years ago. It’s on the top of many lists. In fact, you probably don’t have to scroll far on Instagram to see another friend or celebrity walking through a souk. This is because the country is absolutely stunning and especially lovely for home goods shoppers. I wanted to bring back every single rug and lantern – seriously, it was a problem.

If you go… Marrakesh is the biggest tourist destination. It’s also a great starting point. Don’t miss out on a tour to the Sahara, including a night in the desert. Book it once you arrive for the best savings.

Indonesia

$1 five years ago = 9700 Indonesian Rupiahs

$1 today = 14,000 Indonesian Rupiahs

Indonesia, like much of South East Asia, is a great bet for Americans. The country itself already is a dream for budget travelers with hotels and food costs being extremely low. Add in a great exchange rate and you have a true trip of a lifetime. Indonesia is also a great place to consider if you want to indulge in a luxury vacation without breaking the bank.

If you go… think about visiting the lesser traveled spots like Lombok. Yes, Bali is absolutely beautiful but over the past couple of years it has become congested with tourists.

Coming up

In my next article, I’ll go over the confusing world of tipping while abroad.

Be sure to follow on Mint and follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss an article.

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Healthy And Affordable Ways to Brown Bag Your Lunch - YouTube

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody!  I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.  

Logistically lunch is the most difficult meal of the day. You’re eating it at work and packing it the night before or in the morning. It’s cold or microwaved. Nothing tastes fresh. Sauces drip into your bag. It takes planning. You end up giving up and buying lunch out just eating snacks from the vending machine. It’s exhausting.  

Plus, those vending machine snacks and extra meals out add up financially. They’re not only less healthy than a meal from home, but they can really dent your monthly budget. So how does one create affordable, delicious meals for work? 

Luckily, you have your resident food budget expert on the case! I’ve put together my best list of healthy ideas for you. Consider this the ultimate guide to avoiding a sad desk lunch.  

What do I pack for lunch?  Salads or Bowls. 

Start with a green or a grain, pile on seasonal produce and herbs, and top it with a protein.  It can be very simple, and you can usually make the ingredients last you a few days!  

Salad ideas: Chinese Chicken Kale Salad + Fattoush Salad + Vegetarian Blueberry Cobb Salad + Avocado Toast Salad +Chickpea Corn Fiesta Salad 

Bowl ideas: Grilled Summer Buddha Bowl + Meatless Teriyaki Chicken Bowl + Crispy Tofu and Squash Autumn Bowl + Spicy Curried Cauliflower and Millet Bowl 

Sandwiches or Wraps.

I find wraps and sandwiches to be the most portable of all the lunch food options. Plus you can stuff almost anything inside of carbs – greens, produce, beans, protein, etc.  

Sandwich and Wrap ideas: Smoky Cauliflower & Black Bean Hummus Burritos + 5 Minute Chickpea Salad Wraps + Sweet Thai Chili Lettuce Wraps + Easy Green Goddess Chicken Wraps 

Soup, Stew or Curry.

I love these two options because they can easily be reheated without losing texture or flavor. They make great leftovers, and are usually very filling!  

Soup, stew and curry ideas: Mild Chickpea Coconut Curry + Lentil and Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili + Carrot Noodle Vegetarian Ramen + Salmon and Potato Curry + Creamy Cashew Cardamom Butternut Squash Soup + Super Greens Soup with Fennel 

How do I make sure it’s easy and delicious? 
  • Add an easy protein option. Topping your meal with a protein that takes no time will allow you to feel full for much longer. My favorite options are rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs, and nuts. These take the least amount of prep-work, and pair nicely with most meals.  
  • Always have a sauce. Having a sauce to go along with your meal is an important way to make sure your lunch has flavor. It can also help make sure the meal doesn’t dry out. I like to make my sauces at home and keep them in the fridge to use for a few weeks. This way I know they’re healthy and delicious! 

Sauce ideas: Never-Fail Salad Dressing + Healthy Honey Mustard + Sweet Onion Dressing + Cilantro Lime Jalapeno Hemp Dressing + Easy and Healthy Teriyaki Sauce + Creamy “Peanut” Sauce 

What about snacks? 
  • Marinate raw veggies. Toss carrots, jicima, broccoli, radishes, or any crunchy vegetable of your choice with lime juice and sprinkle chili powder, paprika, and sea salt on top. It makes a delicious, healthy treat in no time!  
  • Make some trail mix. Customize on your own, by buying ingredients from bulk bins. Or buy a pre-mixed trail mix. I like this option, because you’ll get a good amount of protein, it’s very portable, and keeps you away from the vending machine when hunger strikes.  
  • Eat fruit. Fruit salad, dried fruit, an apple with peanut butter – the options are endless! Fruit can curb that sweet craving when you’re tired and hungry and just want to leave the office. I suggest always having some around.

It is possible to pack a budget-friendly lunch that leaves you feeling satisfied. Hopefully this little guide helps to banish the sad desk lunch forever. Long live the happy and healthy work lunch!  

Follow along! 

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!  

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Spring is a common time when people start buying new homes, or simply moving to new apartments across town. Moving by itself is an incredibly stressful time, and no one needs to add additional financial stress into the mix. Moving tends to be expensive, transporting things across town (or further) and getting everything settled can put a major dent in an established monthly budget. Once you get to your new place, it’s likely that the layout of the furniture won’t be the same, and you’ll need to figure out how to best fit everything in while very likely buying some new furniture to make everything work.

When you’re starting the moving process and getting settled into your new place, don’t let the expenses get out of control. Here are some tips to help prevent the new nest instinct from taking over and ruining your savings and budgeting progress.

1. Walk The New Space To See How Things Will Fit

Take some time to walk through your new home, make and record some measurements and roughly plan where things will go. Doing so will allow you to declutter the things that you either don’t need or simply won’t fit in the new space. There’s no sense moving something that you’ll just end up getting rid of shortly after. This preparation will allow you to save money by potentially renting a smaller, less expensive moving truck.

2. Wait To Buy New Things Until You’ve Lived There For A While

While it’s tempting to go to your favorite furniture store and buy everything you think you’ll need in your new home, I’d highly suggest waiting until you’ve lived there for a few weeks. Unless something is absolutely essential, you will benefit from waiting and seeing what things you actually need. This gives you the opportunity to find the small quirks and needs of that specific home and you won’t waste money buying things before you know you need them.

3. Take Your Time And Acquire Unique or Interesting Pieces

Just like number two, if you’re willing to wait a little bit and acquire things more slowly, you’re more able to find interesting and unique pieces of furniture to bring into your space. These pieces will add more character to your home, and really bring it to life. If you’re the DIY type, you can make some custom solutions that will perfectly fit the space you have. Even if it’s repurposing and upcycling an antique piece by painting or refinishing it, it’s guaranteed to be cheaper and likely more durable than something from a local superstore.

4. Remember That White Space Is Perfectly Fine

Especially if the space you’re moving into is bigger than your previous home, remember that you don’t need to fill up every corner of every room. It’s okay to leave big open spaces in your new living quarters, for a clean, uncluttered look. If you don’t feel the need to fill in all the space, you’ll save a ton of money on potential furniture and decorative purchases along the way. Focus on fewer, more meaningful purchases and you’re good to go.

5. Don’t Buy Everything Right Away

When visiting the homes of parents and other folks that have lived in their homes for a long time, it’s easy to feel like that level of furnishing is expected. Don’t go into debt immediately buying furniture for your new place! The reality is that most people have had years (sometimes decades) to furnish their home and have done it over a very long period of time. Relieve yourself of the pressure to have a perfectly decked out home and feel free to leave some rooms open, undecorated, or even unused if you want. It’s your space, and you get to choose exactly how you use it.

If you follow these tips, you’ll significantly cut the cost of moving into a new home whether it’s an apartment, a house, or anything in between. While you might feel pressure to get everything set up right away, take your time and make everything work to your advantage.

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Self-driving vehicles are coming much sooner than expected — and the general consensus is that car ownership will bid us farewell. After all, with a dominant ride-sharing model in place, upfront purchase prices and ongoing maintenance costs seem less appealing. On top of that is the surging trend around “access vs. ownership,” where the car-owning value proposition is taking some real hits.

In the future, getting around will be much easier and cheaper, and the hassle of owning a vehicle may quickly outweigh the benefits. What’s more, as driverless taxies become ubiquitous and accrue revenue 24/7, their prices will only drop.

A report published last year by RethinkX, an independent think tank based in San Francisco, estimates fully autonomous vehicles will make up 95 percent of passenger miles in the U.S. within a decade of the anticipated 2020 rollout. The study says that cars will be owned by companies like Lyft and Uber rather than individuals. This firm estimates the windfall of savings to be around $1 trillion for Americans each year. That’s about $5,600 per household, “generating the largest infusion of consumer spending in history.” What’s more, that figure only accounts for improvements in general overhead costs and doesn’t factor productivity increases and reduction losses due to traffic accidents. Talk about a bang for your buck.å

Researchers at consulting firm KPMG similarly predict that by 2030, households will no longer need sedans — only keeping larger vehicle models for road trips — and that fully autonomous vehicles will be used as ride-hailing services from the outset. Anticipating the upended car market, Waymo and General Motors’ already have pilot ride-hailing programs in the works, set to launch in select urban and suburban areas. Likewise, Ford bought out their ridesharing company, Chariot, as part of their self-driving vehicle initiative. Further, public officials in Helsinki are pushing to make car ownership obsolete by 2025.

Don’t believe how big a business this is? Just look at the rift between Google and Uber — and the nose-bleeding $245 million settlement over alleged “trade secrets” in 2016. Autonomous cars are big business…and all the tech firms want in.

But while logically sound, these forecasts focus heavily on the economic disruption caused by full automation, not so much the cultural implications. For instance, few consumer goods have profoundly molded our cultural ethos as much as the automobile, and the majority of Americans are still wary of self-driving cars — not to mention a slew of other important factors.

How Is Safe Safe Enough?

Critical to the success of automation is proving that it’s safe. Although researchers say it’ll reduce auto accidents by a whopping 90 percent, “better than human” might be a weak benchmark when you consider that people have a greater tolerance for deaths caused by humans than robots. For this reason, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua proposed a formula to ensure self-driving vehicles are virtually infallible — in effect, laying the groundwork for how policymakers and manufacturers can manage the deployment of wholesale driverless cars without constricting innovation.

The Home Away From Home

Considering many of us like to keep personal belongings in our car, the allure of the private car could hold sway for a lot of people — especially commuters who can get a jump-start on work without having to watch the road. It’s not so implausible that consumers are willing to pay extra for the flexibility of being able to travel when, where and with whom they want — without compromise. An article published by Yale points out that while ride-sharing has soared in popularity, it hasn’t directly dissuaded people from buying cars for this very reason.

The “shared autonomous” firms of the future would do well to ensure that they can “user integrate” consumer preferences whenever they pick up a new rider. Making the autonomous vehicle feel “owned” is a great way to bridge this gap, and it can be as simple as a Bluetooth integration and content sync.

What If You’re Too Far Away?

Waymo and General Motors are set to test their pilot programs in select urban and suburban areas. After all, 81 percent of America’s population lives in areas that are dubbed “urban or suburban.” But what about rural settings, or even remote suburbs? A driverless cab might arrive in just minutes in a densely populated area, but it might not be as readily accessible for those living in areas where houses can be miles apart. The automobile has made it easier for people to live on the outskirts, enabling folks to leave at the drop of a hat. Those living in rural outposts may not be keen on relinquishing that level of control, even when driverless cabs are ubiquitous in cities.

Suburban Sprawl and Environmental Strain

On the other hand, more people might be apt to live in remote locales if a robot can schlep them to work every day. That could mean more emigration to rural areas and thus higher demand for driverless cars. But a policy brief from UC Davis warns that without proper oversite, self-driving technology could increase suburban sprawl, which was already spurred by the invention of the automobile.

This is especially true in places like California, where sprawl is a huge point of contention among developers and public officials. The policy brief reasons that if passengers can work or rest more during their commute, then they’ll likely be willing to travel further. As a result, affordable housing developments will be on the rise. That’s a win for housing, but a loss for a decreased eco-footprint.

Drivers Licenses on the Decline

In fairness, there’s another cultural phenomenon that ought to be called out: Since 1983, fewer and fewer people have been getting their drivers licenses. To understand why this is happening, the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan conducted a survey of 618 respondents, ages 18 to 39. They found the three main reasons people forewent getting their driver’s licenses were busy schedules, the cost of owning and maintaining a car, and the ability to get rides easily from others.

Looking to the Future

It’s important to note that predictions, however researched, shouldn’t be confused with conclusions. The one thing we can say for sure, however, is that the culture of tomorrow’s automobile won’t be a carbon copy of what it is today.

Haden Kirkpatrick is the head of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance, where he is responsible for all initiatives related to product and service innovation. Haden is an innovator writes about how smart technology—from IoT to machine learning to self-driving cars — will impact the insurance industry. To view Esurance’s car insurance options, click here.

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How to Find the Best Travel Deals - YouTube

It turns out, if you know where to look, you can travel the world pretty cheaply. But although the internet has made it extremely easy to research, find, and plan a trip of a lifetime it also has created a problem. Information overload. There are just too many sites and they all claim to have the best price.

If you want to cut through the noise, here are the best resources – like websites and app – I use to find crazy travel deals. I’ve also written extensive articles with tips on how to find cheap flights and finding the best hotel rates and finding the best hotel rates, both which will help save money on travel.

My Biggest Tip

The very best way to save money on a trip is by finding an ultra cheap flight. Even though these deals may be months into the future, the best deals don’t last that long – literally less than an hour, so you have to be willing to act quickly. If I see a good deal, I book it – often times without much thought. I can do this because of the 24-hour rule.

So what is this magical 24-hour rule? Well, It’s actually a law.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all airlines must provide a full refund within 24 hours of booking. This gives you ample time to book the flight and then triple check those dates work in regards to finances, work, family, etc. To take advantage of the DOT policy you must:

  • Book your flight at least 7 days prior to departure
  • Book directly with the airline (can’t book with Expedia, Orbitz, etc)
  • Apply for a refund within 24 hours of booking your ticket

Basically, I lock in the cheap price and then figure out if I can make the trip work. Doing this has saved me literally thousands of dollars in flights. In 2017, I went to South Africa for only $240 roundtrip because I bought the fare within 5 minutes of it going live. 15 minutes later, that fare was gone and that same ticket was $1200 roundtrip.

Best Flight Deals

If you don’t mind tons of emails in your inbox,l I suggest subscribing to newsletters. Sites like Airfare Watchdog, Secret Flying, and The Flight Deal are constantly searching and sending out emails for great fare prices. If you only want to subscribe to one, then it has to be Scotts Cheap Flights. In my opinion, his newsletters are by far the best. I have yet to find another newsletter that even comes close to the deals he sends out.

Best Hotel Deals

Unfortunately, hotels deals don’t happen very often. Instead of a go-to website, I use a trick – or hack if you don’t mind that word – to make sure I get the best rate.

It goes like this: Once I know where I’m going, I use Kayak to set hotel price alerts for entire cities. You can customize your preferences to how often you want to receive emails about price changes. I do daily – this way you can really notice prices changing. Once I feel like I’m getting the best rate, I book it.

Best Show, Tour, and Activity Deals

When it comes to planning the details, I’m a huge procrastinator. Because of this, I basically exclusively use the app Travel Zoo to book last minute tours, shows, and even car rentals. This app lets you search by city for any deals and often they have last-minute flash sales (which works perfectly for my bad procrastination habit).

Best Group Tour Deals

If you’re more into having your trip completely planned out for you and just booking and going then make sure you subscribe to Intrepid Travel (great for small group tours) and Busabout (Hop on, hop off bus trips and sailing adventures in Europe). They will occasionally send out deals and flash-sales to popular trips that are easily booked.

Best Cruise Deals

The only site worth mentioning is Cruise Sheet. Their interface is so easy to use (with minimal ads and popups) and they always have the best deals.

Coming up

In my next article, I’m going to discuss exchange rates and help you choose the best travel destinations in 2018 for US currency.

Be sure to follow on Mint and follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss an article.

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As a college graduate, your move into adulthood is off to a great start. But now you’re likely on your own (or will be soon) and managing your finances is more important now than it ever has been. We’re here to offer a few money tips so adulting seems less daunting.

Create a Budget 1. Track your income and spending

Using a tool like Microsoft Excel is a great way to track your income and debt, but a pencil and paper does the job as well. The first step is to add up your monthly bills.

Common monthly expenses for college graduates include:

  • Rent
  • Car payment
  • Student loans
  • Phone bill
  • Insurance (health/auto)

The second step is to divide this monthly expense total by your gross monthly income (your income before taxes). This number is your Debt-to-Income Ratio.

2. Manage your debt-to-income ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio is an important number to lenders. This number shows lenders your financial strength and if you can afford to take on more debt. This number is important if you want to apply for a credit card, for example, or buy a house. The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the stronger your financial health.

  • With a ratio of 35% or less, your debt is at a manageable level and lenders will find you an attractive applicant.
  • With a ratio of 36-49%, your debt is being managed adequately but you have room for improvement. Lenders may require more information to determine if they approve your application.
  • With a ratio of 50% or more, you need to take action. This number indicates that you do not have much leftover money after paying your monthly bills and lenders won’t be willing to approve you to take on any more debt.

If you need to lower your monthly expenses, one thing you can do immediately is review your memberships and subscriptions and determine if you can cancel any.

3. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and memberships

Hulu, Netflix, HBONow, Showtime, Starz, Sling, Amazon Prime, FuboTV, PlayStation VUE, YouTube TV—these are just a handful of the online streaming video services available for cord-cutters. However, with these subscriptions ranging from $6-45 per month, subscribing to multiple services can easily make a dent in your budget.

Take a moment to review your bank account monthly statements and take note of all the different monthly subscriptions and memberships you pay for. Don’t forget about music streaming services, gym memberships, and meal prep delivery services. Do you use all of them? I’m sure there is at least one you can cancel.

When you were little, your parents probably taught you that sharing is caring. Jumping onto your parents’ Netflix account is a great way to practice this expression! If there are any services that both you and your parents subscribe to separately, ask if you can share. Maybe you pay for Hulu and your parents pay for Netflix.

Finance experts recommend that you aim to live on 70% of your income (saving and investing the remaining 30 percent.) Creating and maintaining a budget is essential in working on this goal.

Establish Your Own Finance Accounts 1. Get your own bank account

For college graduates, it’s not uncommon to still be tied to your parents’ bank accounts and credit cards. But being an adult definitely means having your own bank account.Look for bank accounts with minimal fees. An online bank might be your best bet. Because they don’t have expenses that your typical brick-and-mortar banks have, they can afford to offer better interest rates and minimal fees.

2. Begin to build your credit

Establishing credit early in your adult life can help increase your purchasing power later in life. I am 30 years old and many of my friends are struggling to get approved for a mortgage because they have little to no credit history.

If you have little to no credit, here are a few tips to help you establish your credit:

1. Become an authorized user. Being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card means that the cardholder’s payment history appears on your credit record. Be sure this cardholder is financially responsible and trustworthy.

2. Get a secured credit card. If you have no credit, you can start building it with a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires a cash collateral deposit that becomes the credit line for that account. This deposit is kept in a savings account and if you default on a payment, the money in the savings account can be used to cover the balance.

3. Buy something small. If you just opened your first credit card, don’t use it to buy a brand new couch. Start by buying something small, like groceries, and pay off the balance right away. It takes a while to build a credit score, but to ensure you don’t get in over your head, only charge items that you can afford to pay off right away.

Get a Job A.S.A.P.

If you just graduated, you likely cannot afford to wait for the perfect job. For example, if you graduated with a degree in journalism, don’t pull a Rory Gilmore and idolize Christine Amanpour to such a degree that you refuse “regular” jobs because your only goal is to travel the world and report about it.

Apply for a job, get experience, and make connections. Your student loans likely have a grace period, but after that you need to start paying them. You can’t start to get rid of your debt if you don’t have an income.

Make a Student Loan Repayment Plan 1. Know your grace period

The most common type of student loan is a Stafford Loan. These loans have a grace period of six months. Once your grace period is over, interest begins to accumulate and you need to start paying off the loans.

However, there are many different kinds of student loans and it’s important to know the terms of yours. There are also different types of repayment plans such as Standard and income-based plans such as Income Contingent. Debt.org has a great article explaining the different types of student loans.

Essentially, with all the payment plans, the longer you have to pay back the loan, the more you’ll end up paying in interest. Reach out to your student loan servicer if you need assistance with understanding your repayment options.

2. Life insurance can help you plan ahead

All student loans can be divided between federal and private student loans. If you have private student loans, there is an additional factor you need to consider. Who becomes responsible for my student loan debt if I happen to die prematurely? Morbid subject, I know. You just graduated college. Your whole life is in front of you. Unfortunately, no one is immortal.

Federally backed student loans, such as Stafford loans, are typically forgiven if you pass away. However, private loans often require a cosigner and this cosigner becomes responsible for the loan if you can no longer pay it—even if this is because you’re dead.

In addition, if you acquired student loan debt while married, upon your death your spouse may be responsible to pay your student loans in full if you live in a community property state.

Depending on your circumstances, it may be a good idea to look into a small term life insurance policy to financially protect your loved ones. Term life insurance can be customized to cover the amount owed and can last up to 30 years depending on the term length you choose. College graduates of a four-year degree are typically about 22 years of age. The average cost of a 20-year $100,000 term life insurance policy for a healthy 22-year-old is less than $10 per month.

The post-college life can be a scary place, but it’s finally your time to shine and make a name for yourself. These tips can help you start off on the right foot. Good luck, graduate!

Natasha Cornelius is the content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has worked in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. A long-time Mint user, Natasha loves making frugal fun by creating new DIY projects. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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New Graduates: Kitchen Gadgets Worth the Splurge - YouTube

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

It’s graduation season! You’re turning the tassel, throwing your hat, and venturing into a new phase of life. This phase often comes with new jobs, locations, and living situations. Often this is the first “real” adult home (or apartment) you will have. So it’s time to trade in that hot plate and get some real kitchen equipment.

As a food blogger, I’ve worked with tons of kitchen equipment and I’ve come to discover which are the most useful and which aren’t worth your money. This is my definitive list of the most important kitchen equipment to invest in when creating your first adult kitchen. It’s not a complete list of everything you’ll need in your kitchen, but rather a guidebook for what items you shouldn’t skimp on. Everything else you can inherit from a family member, friend or just buy at a discount store, because the quality matters less.

When it comes to investment pieces, I’m a big believer that while the quality is extremely important, it is equally important to properly care for and maintain your equipment. It’s not worth buying a $100 knife if you improperly care for it and render it useless in a year. Therefore I am going to talk both about what products I recommend as well as how to properly care for them. Make your investments last!

Kitchen Gadgets Worth the Splurge 1. Chef’s Knife

You don’t need a full set of knives to start off with. You just need one nice knife to make your life so much easier. A nice knife will make recipes faster and easier to make, they save you time, and make your life in the kitchen more fun.

Recommended knives: I have this knife, but you don’t have to spend that much to get a good one. I’ve heard great things about this knife as well!

Proper care:

  • Wash and dry your knife shortly after each use.
  • Don’t let it sit with food on it.
  • Don’t let it soak for days.
  • Don’t leave it wet.
  • Don’t store it in a drawer.
  • DO get it sharpened professionally at least once a year.
2. 10-12 inch Non Stick Skillet

Having (at least) one nice skillet in your kitchen is an absolute must. I recommend getting a larger size, like 12”, so that it can accommodate your morning eggs as well as a stir-fry for dinner. Investing in quality non-stick cookware is important, but more importantly is maintenance. You determine how long the skillet will last, by how well you take care of it.

Recommended skillets: I have this pan from American Kitchen Cookware, but I have also heard great things about this All-Clad pan. If you want something more mid-range, check out this other pan by All-Clad or this one by Zwilling (Bon Appetite called this one their favorite). If you aren’t ready to invest that much, this skillet by T-Fal has tons of positive reviews!

Proper Care:

  • DON’T soak for hours.
  • DON’T put in the dishwasher (even if it says it’s dishwasher safe.)
  • DON’T use metal utensils.
  • DO gently wash and dry it soon after use.
  • DO lightly coat it with oil after cleaning. (Treat it similar to a cast iron skillet.)
3. 3 or 4 Quart Sauce Pan or Pot

Having one quality large pot in your kitchen will come in handy again and again. Use it to make sauce, soup, cook grains, etc. I recommend this size, because it’s large enough to make a big batch of soup or grains so that you can meal prep if that’s your thing.

Recommended Sauce Pans & Pots: I have this Staub Cocotte, because I can use it on the stove or in the oven, but if that’s too fancy for you I recommend this 3-quart All-Clad sauce pan. If you aren’t ready to invest quite that much, I’ve heard great things about GreenPan as well as this Calphalon.

Proper Care:

  • Don’t use metal utensils.
  • Don’t put in the dishwasher.
  • Do wash thoroughly with a gentle sponge.
  • Do lightly coat it with oil after cleaning. (Treat it similar to a cast iron skillet.)
4. High Speed Blender

I don’t recommend a high-speed blender for everyone. If you are new to the kitchen or don’t cook that often a regular blender or an immersion blender will do just fine. But if you like to cook and make things from scratch, I cannot recommend a high-speed blender enough. I use it in place of a food processor, juicer, and regular blender.

Recommended High Speed Blender: I have this Blendtec and LOVE IT, but have also worked with this Vitamix before and highly recommend.

Proper Care:

  • Easily clean your blender by adding soap and hot water to the jar, and blending on high for 30 seconds.
5. Parchment Paper

This probably seems like a silly thing to have on the list, but I find that it’s crucial to have in your kitchen if you want to preserve the life of your baking sheets and pans. By lining all of your cookware before you bake or roast, you’ll preserve the surface and you wont have to scrub baked-on food off of it.

6. Coffee Grinder & French Press

If you’re a coffee lover like me, having a good cup of coffee in the morning is important. I’ve found that having a coffee grinder and French press or Chemex in the morning keeps me from buying a latte. The equipment might feel like an investment, but it will save you money in the long run.

Recommended Coffee Grinder: If you’re a true coffee snob, try this Breville grinder. If you don’t care that much, try this much cheaper version. And if you really don’t care get this one (it’s under $20.)

Proper Care:

  • NEVER use metal utensils to stir or clean your French press or Chemex. This chips the glass and can cause it to shatter.
  • Do hand wash and dry.

Obviously this isn’t everything you’ll need in your kitchen, but these are the things worth splurging on. Go find everything else at Ikea, TJ Maxx, Target or Amazon. Just remember to take good care of your investments, so you know they will last you a long time!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Buying a car is expensive. Really expensive. In fact, your car payment is most likely only exceeded by your rent or mortgage payment. And that’s not to mention the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance and all of the other things that go hand-in-hand with automobile ownership.

But with new technologies and car sharing options available, there are now new, inventive ways you could save some dollars (or even make money) to help ease your monthly burden.

Save on Repair Costs

To better understand the inner workings of your car, the latest apps (like OBD Auto Doctor, Dash, or Automatic) analyze driving performance and provide statistics and insights. By syncing up with your vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) System, these apps can help discover problems with your ride — like when the ominous “check engine” light pops on — and deliver real-time data.

If something goes awry, rather than showing up at a repair shop uninformed, you can share your exact data with a technician. This might save them time diagnosing an issue while giving you confidence that you’re not being swindled for “other” repairs. Knowledge is power.

For vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, setup is pretty seamless, but older vehicles may require installation of a small, low-cost adapter. This adapter plugs into the port of just about any vehicle to release your car’s data.

Save on Gas Money

On average, Americans drop between $1,000 and $3,000 on gas each year. Finding the lowest price in your neighborhood used to feel like winning the lottery. But now, there are several apps that will scan your surroundings and locate the cheapest fuel in real time.

This technology is driven by users who update the app’s database as prices fall. Users are located across the U.S. and Canada, so it’s ideal for both local travel and road trips. Make your gas money go further with Fuelcaster® from Esurance, which tells you if gas prices in your neighborhood are expected to rise or fall tomorrow.

Carsharing

Owning a car used to be a symbol of freedom. But as more and more young people migrate to bigger cities with less parking, more traffic and better public transportation, car ownership is starting to seem less appealing. For city dwellers with wheels to spare, a new model of ownership has evolved — peer-to-peer carsharing.

Carsharing allows owners to lend out their cars for a short period of time, usually by the hour or day. So how does it work? Borrowers simply use the app to find the nearest vehicle (or perhaps a specific type of car, like a little red convertible). Scan your membership card over the windshield. The keys will already be inside and boom — you’re ready for takeoff. According to data from the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, around 900,000 Americans are already using these kinds of carsharing services.

Sharing your wheels can be an effective way to earn some extra dough when your vehicle’s not in use. Rates are determined by minutes, hours, days and/or miles. However, you run the risk of letting a stranger cruise around in your ride as they put miles on it. Do your research and decide for yourself if carsharing sounds like a viable option. Check out popular apps like Getaround or Turo.

Ridesharing

As technology and driving continue to evolve, the way people get from point A to point B has dramatically changed. Before smartphones, having a complete stranger pick you up and drive you around in their vehicle seemed insane. But with the explosion in popularity of ridesharing apps, this has become an everyday occurrence (perhaps even more common than hailing a taxi). In fact, consulting firm McKinsey predicts that by 2030, approximately 10 percent of vehicles sold will be shared vehicles.

This relatively fresh concept is popular for many reasons, but the biggest? Flexibility. Ridesharing gives car owners control — with the ability to drive when they want and make trips in their neighborhood or wherever they’d like. If you love driving and want to make some extra cash, check out ridesharing as an option for boosting your monthly budget.

Taking advantage of the latest smartphone technology can help you save big on your car expenses. And if you’re open to carsharing, you could potentially earn some extra cash. One thing is certain – as technology and sharing continues to evolve, so will the new, innovative ways you can help lower your car payment.

Haden Kirkpatrick is the director of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance, where he is responsible for all initiatives related to product and service innovation. He is constantly thinking about how emerging technology will impact the insurance industry. In his spare time, Hayden is an aspiring yogi and mixed martial artist.

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Over the past five months, I’ve had the unexpected pleasure of traveling the country with Mint to talk in 11 different cities about money in celebration of the book my company recently released, The Financial Diet. My partner Lauren and I, along with our spouses or other members of the TFD team, joined Mint up and down both coasts and in the middle of the country to speak honestly with our audience about what money means to them, and the unique challenges that their city brings, financially. (Oh, and we also drank awesome wine and had tons of great finger food — but that joy was somehow secondary to the genuine love we felt being with the community we have grown over the past few years.)

And talking about money, for us, isn’t just a hashtag, or a way to promote our book. It is the very reason we have done what we do these past few years, the thing that motivates us when we get up each day for work. Because if I hadn’t been lightly pushed by my exasperated then-boyfriend to download Mint four years ago, and forced myself into a conversation about my finances that has grown past anything I could have ever conceived, I would still almost certainly be in a position where money alternately terrified and bored me. I was terrible with money because I refused to talk or even think about it, and everything from ruining my credit score to going into credit card debt felt completely irreversible because of that fundamental fear. But I know now that in talking about money, in confronting it head-on and making it a value-neutral, ongoing conversation in your life, you can overcome any obstacle or fix any mistake, financially. Life is long, and today is always the best day to get started living it well.

#TalkAboutMoney

It was interesting, though, seeing that even amongst the groups of women who came to our events, who came from incredibly diverse backgrounds and approached their individual finances in entirely different ways, that there were themes which kept reappearing over and over. Yes, there were unique challenges to each city (Austin is growing much too quickly for its residents to keep up, Atlanta is in desperate need of improved public transportation), but there were also common threads that we heard almost without exception at each stop. Here, the four things we heard most frequently while talking about money on the road.

“My partner and I don’t agree about how to deal with money. How do we overcome that?”

One of the biggest recurring themes at our tour events was the idea that couples fundamentally disagreed on how to handle, or even talk about, money. And that’s not surprising — everyone comes to a relationship with money baggage, whether it comes from being raised with a lot of it, very little of it, or something in-between. Some people were raised to avoid the topic entirely, others were taught to micromanage every detail. And as our money and relationships expert Olivia Mellan explains in our book, the most common dynamic in relationships is a spender who is married to a saver, in whatever form they may take. One person simply plays closer and more conservatively with money than the other, and from that fundamental disagreement can stem near-endless problems.

But two fundamental components of any healthy, long-term relationship from a financial view are 1) speaking openly and frequently about money, so that secrets cannot accrue or small cracks cannot expand, and 2) having a separate, independent bank account for each member of the couple which is totally their own. Even if it’s just a very small amount, a tiny discretionary fund, it is so important for each person to feel empowered and fulfilled by what they want to spend (or save) on without having to ask the other person for permission.

In your “fun fund,” you might want to devote half to saving for a girl’s trip and half to spending on skincare products. Or you might want to use it to take yourself to movies and dinner sometimes, or just save for something big you can’t even imagine yet. But having money that is entirely individual provides a release valve for all of the other compromises that will be made on the money you share.

Two people never have to fully agree on money, but they do have to learn to live with one another’s money baggage and differing approaches. Having the topic be an open, value-neutral one, and having that separate money for individual spending, allow that to happen.

“What do you do when you earn much more than your friends, or much less?”

One story I found myself telling over and over on the tour was the experience I had through high school and college, when I was a decidedly middle-class person in an undeniably rich-kid town. I socialized with many, many people whose parents earned (literally) ten times what mine did, and whose lives and access looked wildly different as a result. And aside from profoundly skewing my idea of what “normal” was — I didn’t know then that it wasn’t normal to have many friends who went to a $30,000-per-year high school — it also led me to spend money I didn’t have in an effort to keep up appearances.

I went into credit card debt, tanked my credit score, and drained eight years’ worth of summer job savings all in the span of about a year, wasting that money on a lifestyle that never belonged to me. And from that experience, I learned that the most important thing anyone can do for their mental health when it comes to the finances of your social life is to make sure that you have at least some friends who are close to your level, financially, because being the only one on one side or another of the spectrum will only lead to a distortion of perspective and deep self-consciousness.

The Financial Diet book tour in Chicago

Beyond that, it is up to the person who is more comfortable financially to lead the conversation, offer options, be candid with costs, and not expect the other person to follow suit. Having more money in a friendship is a great place of privilege, and one that requires both sensitivity and understanding that the conversation might not come easily to the person with less. But above all, no matter how much you earn, the phrase “it’s not in my budget” needs to be in everyone’s vocabulary. There is nothing chic about going into credit card debt to pay for someone else’s idea of a social life.

“Do I really have to have a retirement account?”

At the risk of sounding like your parents, yes. Absolutely yes.

And although the women at our events were almost universally savvy, motivated women, this question came up again and again. Having a retirement account can feel like that sort of vague, important-in-theory thing you can easily put off, but every day you are not putting that pre-tax money away (and particularly if you are missing out on an employer match) is a day you will be kicking yourself for later.

Although it may not feel that way, we will all want to retire one day, and not having the option to leave our jobs is something that no one should have to face. The younger you start saving, the more time you have to let that money grow and work for you, and although it may not be as immediately-satisfying as spending that money on something you want in the short term, once you start your retirement saving, there is a profound comfort to be found in watching it grow over time and knowing that that money is the nest you are building for yourself, because you care about yourself enough to take care of Future You.

“How do I balance paying off my loans with living life?”

Ultimately, the biggest question that most people face when it comes down to the day-to-day of personal finance is how to live the life you want while doing what is right for you. And for many people, that means balancing their loan payments (which for many people can feel overwhelming) with the other things you’d frankly much rather be doing with your money. But something we have learned over the years at TFD is that, first of all, you probably need much less than you imagine you do to be happy.

The Financial Diet Dream Team: Annie Atherton, Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage

When we were first starting the company and could not take a salary for over a year, Lauren and I suddenly saw our household incomes drop by nearly half, and had to severely reduce our lifestyles as a result. And though it was self-imposed in starting a business, it taught us that so much of what we were spending on, so much of what we felt was necessary to our happiness or fulfillment, was really just mindless buying.

Lauren as an example lived at home until she was 25 in order to help pay down her loans, and though she certainly longed to live on her own earlier, she was able to find a readjusted idea of happiness while living with her parents. When I went to community college instead of the four-year schools I dreamed of to save money, I wished I could sign on the dotted line to go to those dream schools, but I learned to be happy in the life I was living.

The greater the gap you can create between “what you could technically afford to spend” and “what you need to spend in order to live well,” the wealthier you will feel, regardless of what you earn. And if repaying loans is part of your day-to-day money life, you must learn to treat that money as never yours in the first place — you can’t count what your life would be like with that loan money and then watch it go out the door, or you will be full of resentment and envy each month.

You have what you have, you owe what you owe, you are who you are.

Now with all that information, take stock of your life. Go through every purchase last month and highlight every one you don’t remember making. Realize how much of your spending is done without even thinking, and how many purchases really don’t bring you much happiness in the long run. And if you can start thinking about your money like that — reduced down to the essence of what matters, and what has real value — suddenly the balancing act won’t seem nearly as hard as you thought.

Chelsea is the co-founder of The Financial Diet, a media company for women who want to talk about money. She tweets.

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