Categories
Save Money

This Cell Phone Company Shows Exactly How Much You’ll Save Before You Make the Switch

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Like most of us, you probably get your cell phone service from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint. Those are the big kahunas that dominate the wireless industry — but they also charge the highest prices.

Maybe you’ve thought of switching to a different carrier, but you’re not sure it would be worth it. Exactly how much money would you really save? It’s hard to know for sure, right?

Actually, it’s easier to find out than you might think. The wireless company Pure TalkUSA has a handy digital calculator that’ll tell you exactly how much money you could be saving on your cell phone bill. All you have to do is answer four quick questions.

The average family of four saves about $70 per month by switching, the company reports. That adds up to $840 a year. Think about what you could do with $840.

A More Affordable Version of AT&T Starting at $20/Month

Pure TalkUSA uses AT&T’s wireless network — but doesn’t charge as much. Think of it as a generic-brand version of AT&T. You get roughly the same product for noticeably less money.

Its cell phone plans start at $20 per month and include unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data. If you want unlimited talk, text and data, you can get a plan starting at $55 a month. (How much are you paying for unlimited data now? Exactly.)

Plus, you can get 50% off your first month when you get started here.

Oh, and if you’ve got a family, the more phone lines you have on a single plan, the more of a discount you’ll get. If you add a second line, you get 10% off your total bill. Add a third line and get 15% off. That means if you need a family plan, you can get a really good deal.

Make the Switch and Potentially Save Hundreds This Year

If you want to give Pure TalkUSA a try, you can bring your own phone or buy a phone through its website. Right now, you can snag a $250 discount on any iPhone with select plans.

If you’re not sure how much data you need, check your existing phone plan to see how much you use on average. If for some reason you hit your monthly capacity, no worries. You won’t get charged overage fees. Instead, you can just upgrade your plan for more data anytime.

And if Pure TalkUSA doesn’t turn out to be your cup of tea, don’t worry. Because you’re not tied to a contract, you can cancel your service any time. Heck, if you cancel your service within the first 30 days, you can get a full refund.

So, see for yourself how much you can save. You just might be able to put more than $800 back in your wallet this year.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

Categories
Save Money

This Expert Says People Should Stop Paying Their Credit Cards. Here’s Why

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

What if we could all just stop paying our credit card bills?

This might sound too good to be true.

No more high interest rates. No more late fees. No more anxiety. That’d be nice, right?

Well, this could become a reality, thanks to a website called AmOne.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances. That means no more credit card payments.

Best yet? It takes just two minutes to get started.

How to Never Make Another Credit Card Payment Again

The truth is, credit card debt is one of the most expensive kinds of debt you can have. If you have balances you can’t pay off, those cards are probably bleeding you dry with interest rates north of 20%.

That’s where taking out a low-interest loan to pay off all your balances can help.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster.

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. This is something you can do all online.

And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It won’t hurt your credit score to check.

Before you know it, your credit cards could be totally paid off, and you won’t have to worry about keeping up with those high interest rates.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has psychological scars from credit card debt.

Categories
Save Money

‘One of the Best Decisions as a Parent.’ Why This Single Mom Gave Her Kids Debit Cards

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Four kids is a lot to handle. A full-time job teaching middle school is a lot to handle. Being a single mom is a lot to handle.

Dr. Brandee Ramirez, who lives in Orange County, California, wanted her kids to learn about responsibility. So it made sense for them to do household chores and earn allowances. The only problem was, it was starting to be a hassle to keep track of. Kind of a bear, actually.

“After school, the kids will walk down the hill from our house to a shopping center, and they’ll want to get fries or a smoothie or whatever,” Ramirez says. “They’ll buy things like that with the money they earn from chores. But it was me constantly doling out a buck here, two bucks here.”

“I was like, ‘I need some sort of system.’”

When her oldest, a 14-year-old, asked for a debit card, Ramirez found a solution — the Greenlight card, a debit card for kids that comes with parental controls. It lets parents set spending limits and gives them tools to help their kids learn how to manage their money.

Ramirez got four of them.

‘One of the Best Decisions as a Parent’ 

So, how’s it working out for her? 

“I’m obsessed with it,” she says. “I’ve told so many other parents about it. Greenlight card is one of the best decisions as a parent I’ve made lately. It’s been life-changing with regards to financial literacy for my kids — and me.”

The Greenlight card is an efficient way to make sure your kids will have the money they need when they need it — without the danger of them draining your bank account. And the bigger picture is, it’s a smart and strategic tool for raising financially savvy kids.

Like Ramirez, you can set up Greenlight to automatically pay your kid’s allowance. Additionally, you can set up chores in the app and tie those chores to the allowance.

You can put money into two different categories on the debit card. One is a “Spend Anywhere” bucket that allows your child to use the money anywhere that takes Mastercard. The other category lets you dedicate a set amount of money that can only be spent at certain places, like gas stations or restaurants.

You can also encourage your children to save by paying them interest on the card’s balance.

As a parent, you can have Greenlight’s app send you real-time alerts telling you where your kid is spending money. Ramirez likes that she gets these alerts even when her kids are staying with their dad.

You start out with a one-month free trial, then it’s $4.99 a month — though it’s a flat fee that covers up to five children in your family. So Ramirez, with her four kids, doesn’t have to pay extra.

Saving Up for Clothes, Computers, Lacrosse Sticks — and Harry Styles 

Four children hold hands as they smile for the camera against a background of trees.
The Ramirez children have all embraced the Greenlight card. The children buy various things with their card such as clothes, computer parts, Harry Styles posters, tchotchkes and a lacrosse stick. Photo courtesy of Jessica Bodas Photography

Ramirez has a 14-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son and 11-year-old twins — a boy and a girl.

They sweep and mop and vacuum. They do the dishes and take out the trash. They feed and walk the dog. They make school lunches. They’re learning they have to earn their money.

Naturally, they all use their Greenlight cards in dramatically different ways.

The 14-year-old daughter buys clothes. The 12-year-old son is building his own computer. The 11-year-old daughter saves up for Harry Styles posters and tchotchkes. The 11-year-old son is saving up for a nice lacrosse stick. 

They keep close track of their money — a laser-like focus, really. They’ve totally embraced their Greenlight cards. 

“They got a bunch of cash from family members for graduation,” Ramirez says. “Immediately, they handed it over to me, and they’re like, ‘Can you put it on my Greenlight?’ It’s weird because when I was a kid, I loved to see the cash. They’re just so digital, so they like to see it on their screen.”

Ramirez keeps recommending the Greenlight card to friends of hers, and they keep signing up. “I’ve heard nothing but good things,” she says.

It takes just minutes to open an account, and your kid will be learning how to responsibly spend money before you know it!.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Categories
Save Money

How to Decide How Much Life Insurance You Need — Plus Get a Policy in 5 Minutes or Less

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

So you’re thinking about getting some life insurance to take care of your family in case something happens to you. Hey, this is a good idea! Give yourself a hand for doing some responsible adulting here.

Sure, it’s no fun to think about dying, but that’s kind of the whole point of life insurance in the first place. Ultimately, it’s about protecting the people you love.

What now, though? How much life insurance should you buy? And how can you make sure to get a good deal?

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.

How to Get Cheap Term Life Insurance 

If you’re like most people, you probably want what’s called “term life insurance.” (There are other kinds of life insurance, but they can get really, really expensive.)

Simply put, term life insurance pays a lump sum benefit to your loved ones if you die during a specified “term.” When you buy the policy, you choose the term — usually five, 10, 20 or 30 years. 

The younger you are, the cheaper a life insurance policy is. Once you purchase a policy, the premiums will stay exactly the same throughout the term of that policy.

In other words: You’ll never get a better deal on life insurance than you will right now, while you still have your health. By getting in early, you’ll be protecting your loved ones at the best price possible.

Also, keep in mind that term life insurance is probably cheaper than you might think. For example, rates start at just $8 a month at an online insurance company called Bestow.

We like Bestow because it’s fast and easy and affordable, and the whole thing is done entirely online. If you’re under the age of 54, you can get a free quote without a medical exam — or even getting up from your couch!

With Bestow, you can get coverage that would pay your loved ones anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million if you died.

Now, a million-dollar policy sounds nice, but that can get costly too. The question is, how much insurance do you really need?

How to Decide How Much Life Insurance You Need

At first blush, that question might seem complicated and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.

For starters, let’s think about what life insurance is for. The cash benefit that comes from a life insurance policy is intended to help replace your income or satisfy your debts if you die.

“It can replace the income you would have earned if you had lived,” said Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist of the Insurance Information Institute. “I think it’s grossly neglectful if you don’t think about what [your survivors’] financial situation is going to be if you happen to die. Why would you subject people you care about to that hardship if it is easily fixable?”

Debts factor into it, too. For example, if you and your spouse own a house and have a mortgage based on two incomes, the loss of one income due to death would cause a major financial hardship. So your life insurance policy payout could pay for the mortgage. The payout could also pay for funeral expenses, credit card debt, child care and other expenses. 

In summary, here are the three biggest factors to keep in mind: 

1. Your Income

Look at what you make annually and how long you plan to continue working. If you make $50,000 a year and plan to work for 10 years, that’s $500,000. 

2. Your Children 

Consider the ages of your children. If they’ll be on their own soon, they’ll no longer need financial support from you.

Think about college tuition for older children, and the cost of child care for young children.

3. Your Mortgage 

Figure out the terms of your mortgage. If your home will be paid off in a few years, you might not need as much life insurance coverage. If you have 20 years left on your mortgage, you’ll need more coverage.

Think Big Picture 

Wiesbart says most people don’t buy enough life insurance, often because they think $100,000 sounds like a lot of money, even though it may only replace a year or two of income. 

“What you really want to do is think of how long you’ll be earning income,” Weisbart said. “What will you lose if you die today? And that should be the amount of insurance you buy. It wouldn’t be surprising if someone even a modest income would buy a policy for half a million dollars, because that’s just 10 years of $50,000 a year.”

And don’t be scared away by the idea of a half-million-dollar policy. People tend to overestimate the cost of life insurance. For instance, nearly half of millennials think life insurance costs about five times what it actually does, according to a 2018 study by the life insurance industry group LIMRA.

That’s another reason why it’s worth checking out your life insurance options with an online company like Bestow.

The bottom line is, life insurance is meant to keep your family from worrying about money during a difficult time, and that’s what you’re doing this for. You’re doing it for them.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Categories
Save Money

Here’s Why This Single Mom Gave Her 11-Year-Old Daughter a Debit Card

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Only 11 years old, Chy’lunn Sullivan is already an entrepreneur.

She has her own business, Chy’s Cookie Corner, where she makes cookies from scratch. She’s got a website, and she’s got five flavors — chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, red velvet and snickerdoodle.

Her mom, Cierra Sullivan, is raising Chy on her own. She was looking for a way to teach Chy how to manage her money — how to budget, save and tithe.

Then Cierra heard about the Greenlight card, a debit card for kids that comes with parental controls. It lets parents set spending limits and gives them tools to help their kids manage money responsibly. To Cierra, it sounded like a game-changer.

“It’s been working,” says Cierra Sullivan, a dialysis nurse in Greenville, South Carolina. “I felt like the Greenlight card would introduce her to financial management — her being accountable for her money, because that was something I lacked when I was growing up.”

A Way to Teach Your Kids About Money

In the short term, the Greenlight card is an easy way to make sure your kids will have the money they need when they need it — without the danger of them draining your bank account.

The bigger picture is, it’s a smart and strategic tool for raising financially savvy kids.

You can put money into two different categories on the debit card. One is a “Spend Anywhere” category that allows your child to use the money anywhere that takes Mastercard. The other category lets you dedicate a set amount of money that can only be spent at certain places, like gas stations or restaurants.

As a parent, you can have Greenlight’s app send you real-time alerts telling you where your kid is spending money. You can also encourage your child to save by paying them interest on the card’s balance.

And here’s another handy tool for parents: You can set up Greenlight to automatically pay your kid’s allowance. Additionally, you can set up chores in the app and tie those chores to the allowance.

How This 11-Year-Old Saved up For a KitchenAid Mixer

A girl stands against a counter with her cookie making stuff in the background.
Chy’lunn used the Greenlight card to save up and purchase a KitchenAid stand mixer for her cookie business, Chy’s Cookie Corner. Photo courtesy of Stacey Gardin

As a single mother, Cierra Sullivan has found Greenlight’s chores-and-allowance set-up to be especially useful, because she and her daughter share the household chores.

“It’s an easier way for her to have the incentives for completing the responsibilities that she has within our home,” Ciera says. “It’s just the two of us, so she cleans her room, washes the dishes, washes and dries the towels and takes the trash cans to the street on Wednesdays.”

As for the cookie business, Chy keeps expanding, and now she has a website and an Instagram account where people can email her orders.

Her earnings go into a separate account. Because she’s been learning about saving through the Greenlight card, she’s learned to save up for major purchases, like a KitchenAid stand mixer. These mixers typically retail for $200 to $300, so it was a major investment for an 11-year-old to make.

“Seeing my mom budget and save for our family, Greenlight helps me to be able to participate in our budget ‘meetings,’ as Mom calls them,” Chy’lunn says. “I have to think about my spending and more ways to save my money.

Teaching Your Kid to Be Smart With Money

When Chy got her Greenlight card, she was excited.

“It had her whole complete name on it,” Cierra says. “She set her own PIN number. She felt like she had a say in how she spends her money.”

With the Greenlight card, you start out with a one-month free trial, then it’s $4.99 a month, though it’s a flat fee that covers up to five children in your family. 

Like any major card, Greenlight uses bank-level encryption to protect your and your child’s information.

It takes just minutes to open an account, and your kid will start learning about money before you know it!

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Categories
Save Money

Parents: Use This Foolproof Strategy to Keep Your Kids Away From Bad Spending

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Parents, can you imagine giving your kid their own debit card?

Yeah, me neither. Between the impulsive spending, the endless temptations of iTunes games and the inevitable overdraft fees, my 10-year-old twins would plummet me into debt in no time.

But what if it’s a debit card that you can control?

The Greenlight card is a kids’ debit card with parental controls. It lets you set spending limits and choose exactly where your kid can spend money. That way they can learn how to spend responsibly — without sending you into a lifetime of debt.

A Real Strategy to Keep Your Kids Away From Bad Spending

In the short term, the Greenlight card is an easy and reliable way to make sure your kids will have the money they need when they need it — without the danger of letting them go hog wild and accidentally draining your bank account.

But the bigger picture is, it’s a smart and strategic tool for raising financially savvy kids.

Let’s face it: You don’t want your kids to make all the same money mistakes you did when you were young. It’s a fact that financial literacy is super-low these days. And, speaking as a parent, I know parents need all the help they can get, am I right?

Let Your Kids Learn Smart Spending — You’re in Control 

The Greenlight card offers two categories to deposit money into: Spend Anywhere, which allows your kid to spend anywhere that takes Mastercard, and the parental control category. Here, you can dedicate a set amount of money that can only be spent in certain kinds of businesses — gas stations, restaurants, etc. You can also allow your kid to withdraw cash from ATMs, up to a set amount. 

Although the Greenlight card is in your kid’s hands, you’re still officially the primary cardholder. You can get real-time alerts about where your kid is spending or when the balance gets low. 

You start out with a one-month free trial, then it’s $4.99 a month, though it’s a flat fee that covers up to five children in your family. 

More than Just a Debit Card

We get it; the last thing you want is another bill to pay. But Greenlight has features that take it beyond being just a debit card — it’s a strategy that can teach your kids to learn about money and stay away from bad spending.

You can set up Greenlight to automatically pay your kid’s allowance, either weekly or monthly. You can also set up one-time or recurring chores in the app that you can monitor and tie to the allowance. 

If your kid needs money on the go, they can also send you a quick request, and you can put more money on the card instantly, if you want. (Greenlight won’t charge you extra fees for this.)

If your kid has a job, it’s easy to have their paychecks direct-deposited onto their card.

Greenlight also helps you encourage your child to save some of their allowance or income by letting you pay them interest on the card’s balance, at whatever rate you choose.

To get started, you and your child will download the Greenlight app, but you’ll each see different views of it. Your kid can use the app to check their card’s balance and set goals. Basically, they’re learning in real time how to manage money. As for you, the parent’s view of the app lets you set controls, get real-time alerts and view your child’s spending history.

Like any major credit card, Greenlight uses bank-level encryption to protect you and your child’s information.

This is a great way to teach your kids about money and keep them away from bad spending — it takes just minutes to sign up

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. His two adorable children would spend every last penny in his bank account on iPad games if they could, but they can’t.