How to Survive the Rent When Your Roommate Moves Out

You don’t have to be married to face some of the drama that comes with a messy divorce. Whether you have a roommate who’s been casually dropping hints that you should be looking for a new roommate or they’re downright spelling it out, the prospect of that person leaving can feel like you’re about to lose everything the two of you worked so hard to maintain.

Even if you intend to stay, your landlord could annul the lease entirely if your roommate decides to unceremoniously break the lease. However, a good landlord will likely let you attempt to survive paying the lease on your own or give you time to secure rental assistance.

Ready to get to work?

Check out these tips for giving yourself a fighting chance of surviving a lease when a roommate gets cold feet and abandons the lease.

1. Find Someone New

Like dating, finding someone new can do wonders for getting you back on your feet after a roommate breaks the lease. You’d probably still have a bit of a rough patch during the transition, but looking for a roommate to sublet the apartment from your previous roommate can completely resolve the problem.

Remember: Sharing a space with a roommate isn’t about being best friends, though it’s nice when your best friend happens to be a great person to split living costs with. It’s more important to live with someone you can coexist with and rely on. If you’ve just learned this the hard way, we apologize for any salt that accidentally dusted that wound.

Be sure to ask some critical questions. Can they reliably pay the rent? Do they smoke or drink? How do they feel about guests? Make sure you’ll be compatible as roommates.

2. Get a Side Hustle Earning up to $69/Hour

It’s that feeling of not knowing where the other half of your rent will come from that makes it unnerving just to hear your roommate hint at leaving early. It’s a puzzle you’ll have to solve quickly to avoid giving your landlord a good reason to evict you and still charge you the balance of your remaining rent.

Along with looking for a roommate, make things easier on yourself by searching for a side hustle before your roommate makes their departure official. Even if you manage to convince them to stay, whatever factors urging them to bail in the first place could suddenly re-emerge — embarrassment could inspire them to slip away without warning.

If you’re looking for a flexible side hustle that could turn into your primary source of income, look into bookkeeping. It’s the No. 1 most profitable business, according to an article in Inc. And you can earn up to $69 an hour, reports Intuit, the creator of QuickBooks.

You don’t have to be an accountant or good at calculus to start your own bookkeeping business, either. As long as you’re motivated, a company called will teach you everything you need to know. It’s one of the leading training courses in the field, and it’ll even give you the first three classes for free.

3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

Without a roommate and the rent savings that person provided, you might lose interest in paying anything more than the monthly minimum on your credit cards. But if those credit cards bear gaudy interest rates, you might not be making the best use of your dollars.

A free website called AmOne wants to help. AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online.

4. Have a Safety Net

While consolidating your debt can help free up room in your budget, you may not want to cut up your cards afterward — especially if your emergency savings are in critical condition. That credit line could protect you from those first few late fees, which could cascade into a stream of other fees and penalties if they hit you at the wrong time.

Even if your credit score needs work first, there’s no better time than the present to start improving your score. And you’ll find that the measures you take to improve your credit are good for your finances in general.

Your credit score is like your financial fingerprint. Everyone’s is different — and for different reasons. That means everyone’s strategy to improve their credit score will look different… but how in the world are you supposed to know where to start?

Thankfully, a free website called Credit Sesame will take a look at your credit report and let you know exactly what you need to do to improve your score.




McCormick’s Director of Taco Relations is a Dream Job for Taco Lovers

There’s a new job out there paying $100,000 to taste tacos, research tacos, film tacos, celebrate tacos, Tweet tacos and talk tacos. And not just on Taco Tuesday. Every day for four months.

Yeah, this sounds like a classic Homer Simpson dream bubble, but it’s actually legit. McCormick, the spice company, is hiring its first Director of Taco Relations. The gig pays $25,000 a month for up to 20 hours of work a week during September, October, November and December. That figures out to $312.50 an hour. (Picture the dollar signs in Homer’s glazed eyes.)

No previous taco experience required, but you must be passionate about that fabulous folded food group. Expertise in producing social media content is also a plus. You must apply by 11:59 p.m. July 20 and submit a video no more than two minutes long.

McCormick suggests including some of the following info in your video:

  • Your go-to and out-of-the-box taco recipes, taco tips and tricks, and insights gleaned as a taco connoisseur
  • Your favorite taco-themed trivia and fun facts
  • Are you team hard shell or team soft shell and why?
  • Your applicable taco experiences, qualifications and skill sets
  • Your feelings on the perfect taco toppings
  • Most importantly, you should be able to answer the question: Why is being McCormick’s Director of Taco Relations your dream gig?

The Tasks of Director of Taco Relations

If your typical day includes eating a taco with one hand while trolling TikTok with the other, then you’ve already been training for this dream job. Spotting taco trends and posting content other taco devotees will appreciate are key tasks. Other duties include:

  • Working with the McCormick kitchens team to develop innovative taco recipes
  • Sharing easy taco recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Helping taco fans and followers execute these recipes at home
  • Collaborating with McCormick’s creative and social teams for celebrating National Taco Day, National Margarita Day and Taco Tuesday
  • Making taco lovers aware of ways to use McCormick’s taco seasoning beyond the traditional taco
  • Minimal travel to McCormick’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md., and other taco travel required

Click here for more specifics on the job and video format.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. 




Catering Side Gigs May Be the Best Hustle of 2021

The 2021 wedding season is projected to be among the busiest in a decade with an estimated 2.77 million weddings, which is over half a million more than usual.

This is great news for catering companies, whose income evaporated during 2020, and it can be great news for your wallet if you explore this lucrative yet under-appreciated side hustle.

I first discovered catering in graduate school, when a friend who worked for a catering staffing company offered me a job. I had an hour-long training from the staffing company. On my first shift, a wedding at a historic estate with ocean views, I dropped a tray of champagne flutes.

Despite my non-illustrious start, I stuck with catering. The money is consistent and the perks, if you work for the right caterer, add up. As I write this, I’ve been eating catering leftovers all week.

Find out how to get started in catering, how much money you can make catering, plus what skills caterers need right now.

How to Find Local Catering Jobs

Event caterers are everywhere: big cities, college towns, and rural areas cashing in on the rustic wedding trend. Wherever you go, you’ll find a local catering company. If you find yourself in between jobs, catering income can give you a buffer until you land something else.

Plus, the jobs are often on Friday nights or weekends anytime, a bonus for a Monday-through-Friday worker looking to bring in more money.

Given the part-time, seasonal nature of the industry, workers tend to come and go. As a result, catering companies are often hiring. Many caterers love working with college students who are home for the summer or teachers looking for extra money on their summers off.

During the wedding season, the best catering companies will have two to three weddings on the same day and you’ll be able to work every weekend if you want. 

In many markets, the catering season extends beyond summer weddings. University towns have receptions, graduations, and college reunions. Individuals have private parties for milestone events.

Companies host holiday parties, summer picnics, and other employee engagement events, although Jackie Spigener, who owns Silver Sycamore Events Resort, a wedding and event venue in Pasadena, Texas, says corporate events haven’t yet returned fully.

There will always be more opportunities if you live in a bigger city, simply because catering will serve multiple markets, but even in my part of upstate New York, I could get a shift every single weekend from May to October if I wanted.

server holding champagne glasses at outdoor wedding
Getty Images

Jobs in Catering

Catering jobs include bartender, server, and cook. Bartender and cook jobs tend to go to people with previous experience in that role.

A typical catering shift lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 hours and you may need to travel to the location (I’ve gone as far as two hours, but been paid for travel time). The work is physical, the hours are long, and you’ll be on your feet the entire time.

There are perks. You’ll be a fly on the wall at events held in beautiful locations. If you’re the sort who gets bored easily, you’ll appreciate having different work environments, since  many caterers travel to several event venues in the region.

“Catering is an extremely fun job as every event is different, and you can see a lot of really cool venues and be a part of some amazing events,” says Daniel Wolfe, owner of Wolfe and Wine Catering in Houston.

Eating on the Job

You’ll be fed on your shift; this might be the same food guests are eating or a separate, simple meal. Food that was not served to the guests and would otherwise be wasted is typically up for grabs at the end of the night. I’ve also taken home wedding decor, bouquets, and opened bottles of wine.

While it helps if you have previous experience, this is absolutely not necessary.

“All of the catering/food serving skills can be trained if the work ethic and personality for customer/guest service is there,” says Spigener.

Catering Side Gig Jobs

Depending on how big the event is, the caterer could need dozens of people. Some will need high-level culinary skills but that’s not what you will probably be doing. Think of your as the muscle and if you’re dealing with guests, a server with a good attitude.

There are positions for people of all skill levels. For example:

Jobs for New Hires

  • Refill water glasses
  • Clean up during cocktail hour
  • Clean up after event

Jobs for Experienced Workers

  • Pass appetizers
  • Tend the bar
  • Serve people sitting at head table

While I started with a catering staffing company, I wouldn’t recommend doing this. I was basically a temp sent to bolster catering agency staff, who earned more than I did.

The agency agreement prohibited temps from being hired on by any caterer we’d temped for, which kept us corralled in lower-wage, disposable work.

Approaching companies directly is the better option. While catering companies are typically looking to hire in spring, this year’s labor shortage means that many are understaffed. You can find local caterers who are looking to hire on Craigslist or by searching for event venues and catering companies in your market and reaching out directly.

If you know someone who works for a restaurant or hotel that has a banquet facility, they may be able to refer you.

server setting the table at formal event
Getty Images

How Much Money Can You Make Catering?

Restaurant workers in most American markets receive a well-below-minimum-wage shift payment and make most of their money in tips. Catering workers tend to be paid competitive hourly wages, plus tips.

Thanks to the hospitality industry labor shortage, it’s a worker’s market. Employers all need to staff up at the same time, so companies have to compete on wages. Reach out to several companies at the same time, then take your pick of one or more that pay the most.

The Hourly Wage

Wolfe currently pays $12-$15 per hour for servers and $15 per hour for cooks. Bartenders earn $10 per hour with a tip jar visible or $25 per hour with no tip jar. Wolfe says he pays based on the cost of living and would probably pay 20 to 30 percent more if he were located in a market like California or New York.

Private party shifts tend to be shorter — a skeleton crew will be working in (or outside) someone’s home for a dinner service or cocktail party — but the odds of a direct cash tip at the end of the night increase significantly.

Spigener says she currently starts catering staff at $10 per hour.

LaSonya Holmes-Boulware, who owns My Girls Catering and Food Truck in Greensboro, North Carolina, starts catering servers at $10 per hour and cooks at $15 per hour. Experienced workers can be paid more for working elite events.

What the Bosses are looking For

When hiring, Spigener looks for personality (“courteous and mannered well”) and a willingness to pitch in. Wolfe values punctuality (because “an upset client is a lost client”) and flexibility, since it’s difficult to predict when shifts will end.

Attention to detail, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude are his top desired skills. Holmes-Boulware seeks out people who are willing to work flexible schedules, like Wolfe, and prefers those who have prior experience with events.

I’ve worked in restaurants and for caterers. Catering has always paid me more per hour, in every market I’ve worked. The seasonal nature of the job makes it an ideal side gig. If you can get in with a top-notch caterer now, when the need is high, you can secure a lucrative side hustle for as long as you need or want one.

The Penny Hoarder contributor Lindsey Danis is a Hudson Valley-based writer who specializes in food, freelancing advice, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, NextAdvisor, Greatist, and more. 




5 Being a ‘Failure’ Could Push You Toward Your Full Potential

About 43% of newlyweds added a virtual option to their wedding last year, according to the 2021 WeddingWire Newlywed Report.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

‘Failure’ No. 1: Not Having a Picture-Perfect Wedding

When you invest your first , you’ll get another bonus to invest.* Now, you’ll have access to all of Stash’s tools, including its real estate investments. The app costs a month.
Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. It’ll even help you dispute them.
Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than million.
Imagine waking up with no credit card debt. Whether you’re stressed about being in debt forever or you’re just sick of the extra monthly bill, this would be a huge relief.
Buying a “like new” instead of “brand new” can help keep your budget intact and goals in sight. And you could spend even less on your new car by reviewing your credit scores before you buy.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit .00 into your Invest account.
It’s possible to earn up to 5 a month without having to get another job.
A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that just about any event can be conducted completely online. Adding a virtual component to your wedding festivities could help you afford to include everyone on your guest list, if you just don’t have the budget for a blockbuster wedding.

‘Failure’ No. 2: Not Buying a Brand New Car

Is it ever worth it to be “house poor” — that is, you dump so much money into your house (downpayment, mortgage, closing costs, moving expenses) that you have little to no cash on hand?
Debt isn’t always a bad thing, especially when there’s not a lot of interest attached to it and it gives you the flexibility to address other financial issues. Yet, you might feel like you’re failing if you can’t seem to make any meaningful dents in your debt.
Quinten Plummer is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
You might feel like you’re failing or falling short of your full potential if you just can’t ever get a hold of that promotion your job has been dangling on a stick in front of you.
Trust us — you’re not a failure if you lack the resources to pour into pulling off a picture-perfect wedding.
While you might not ever get that particular title you’ve been grooming yourself to earn, you can give yourself a promotion and even get a new title: bookkeeper.
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Along with scaling back the ceremony and accommodating virtual guests, you could also earn a little extra cash on the side to help offset costs. If you don’t have the time or energy for another job, we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash.

‘Failure’ No. 3. Not Buying a House Before a Certain Age 

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 
It will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.49% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. That could save you thousands in the long run.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
If you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), you could end up paying more for a car than you should.
If you don’t already use Stash, sign up here.
Wringing ringless fingers? Expecting to be expectant? Working hard to finally work for yourself?

‘Failure’ No. 4: Not  Being Out of Debt Yet 

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If you want to feel like you’re on top of the world, finance as nice of a car as you can afford. And if you want to feel the weight of the world, watch how fast it depreciates.
Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.
There are several ways you can invest in REITs, but perhaps the easiest is through an app called Stash. You might have heard of it. It helps folks invest and save small amounts of change. It also helps us invest small amounts into real estate.
Your failure to reach some of life’s most heralded milestones, or even basic self-sufficiency, may leave you feeling as if you just can’t keep pace with the pack. Chin up — you’re probably doing better than you think. Find out if any of these seven “failures” could actually put you on the inside track to getting ahead in life and reaching your full potential.

It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
You don’t have to be an accountant or good at math to start your own bookkeeping business. As long as you’re motivated, a company called will teach you everything you need to know. It’s one of the leading training courses in the field, and it’ll even give you the first three classes for free.

‘Failure’ No. 5: Not Getting That Big Promotion 

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a bonus to get you started.
If you don’t have the time or money to buy a house yet, you may want to look into real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are funds pooled together from thousands of investors to invest in one property, like a mutual fund.
It’s inevitable. Everyone fails at something. But thankfully, most of those failures won’t show up on your permanent record. We fail at things so often and so grandly that many of us routinely label big-picture victories as losses, by mistake.
The most important thing is that you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life with. You can make up for a lack of funds with a little creativity and technology.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000 online.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
It might be a safer, less stressful venture to get more aggressive in saving to bolster your retirement accounts to their full potential. But if you’re hellbent on investing in real estate, there are more attainable avenues you can venture down.
Yes, driving a brand new car is one of those conventional signs of success, but the average person can’t tell the difference between model years, if the cars are part of the same generation. The average car generation contains about five to seven model years.
Impossible, right? But with help from a free website called AmOne, you could wipe out all of your credit card debt by the end of the week.
Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster. <!–


It’s helped thousands of people launch their own businesses, including Daniel Honan, a military veteran in his 30s. He never considered starting his own company, but he signed up for, and now he’s making around ,000 a year keeping track of business expenses for his 10 clients.

7 Tips for Buying and Selling Used Furniture

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Berube agrees that staging is incredibly important. She likes to put versatile pieces — like an oversized dresser — in an innovative spot, perhaps as an entry piece or as a buffet.
She focuses on particular styles that she knows are en vogue and will sell. Think rattan or something boho.

7 Tips for Reselling Furniture

The hardest color for her to sell right now is green — something she says is odd, because it’s a trendy color at the moment. Maybe it’s the shade of green that matters most, more moss than Kermit.
But Berube also says that it’s okay to experiment. In fact, she’s been rewarded for that before. She once painted a dresser orange and sold it within 30 minutes. She’s also painted pieces white and seen them sit for a few weeks.
“The biggest moneymaker is how you style and take a good picture,” Jarrett says. She’s not alone in thinking that  — we’ve previously rounded up the best tips from online resellers in photo taking.

1. Find Treasures Online

If you’ve found a piece online that has potential but needs some work, Jarrett and Berube suggest first starting small.
Nightstands are a “hot commodity,” according to Berube. She knows that if she finds a matching pair of nightstands in good condition, it’s a no-brainer. They’ll sell.
Dressers are also incredibly in demand in the world of secondhand furniture. Knowing what people tend to buy and use gets a reseller one step closer to success.
For many local furniture resellers and refurbishers, the market has never been better.
When it comes time to paint the furniture, both Jarrett and Berube know what easily sells — neutrals, particularly white, warm gray, navy and black.
All good, but someone has to sell it to them. Why not you?

This photo shows two pieces of furniture (a side table and dresser) that has been restored.
Leslie Jarrett recommends finding furniture that needs minimal work done to it. She’s also discovered certain pieces of furniture, such as dressers, sell quickly. Photo courtesy of Leslie Jarrett

2. Keep Used Furniture Rehab to a Minimum

There are easy and quick ways to make a piece pop without expending a lot of energy and spending a lot of money. Jarrett is a fan of peel-and-stick wallpaper strips, which can line the drawers of a nightstand or dresser and add a fun touch.
Jarrett also finds that certain kinds of furniture — like dressers — sell easily. Know what your market is looking for and you can turn a profit simply with that expertise.
“Sometimes, you’ll get a piece and you’ll know exactly what it should be,” she said. “Sometimes you’ll get a piece and you’ll have to think about it for a while.”

3. Make Little Changes

“My followers don’t jump on it,” she says. “Whenever I paint a piece green, it will sit for a little bit, but it’s probably one of my favorite colors to paint.”
If the item has interesting antique hardware, Berube tries not to change it. But, as she says, “hardware makes or breaks the piece.” So sometimes, it has to go.
But you have to know where to start gathering your inventory.
Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.

4. Don’t Force a Style

Still, her audience doesn’t bite.
Both Jarrett and Berube succeed because they know their audience.
And when Jarrett is looking at furniture online, she has a target price range in mind — -60 for most pieces, although she won’t go higher than for small side tables. When you know the maximum an item will sell for, it’s easier to know how much money to spend.
Leslie Jarrett is a Denver, Colorado furniture painter and reseller. She started painting furniture as a hobby in college. Her mother found a discarded dresser by the dumpster and Jarrett knew she could update it with a little work.

5. Paint Furniture in Neutral Colors

When Jarrett is searching, she always looks for used furniture that doesn’t need to be fixed up too much. Your time is valuable and the more you put into a project, the more you will want to charge. It’s unlikely your handiwork will be valued by people looking for a bargain.
“I can totally appreciate a modern piece on somebody else’s feed,” she says. “I love it, because they would just do it way better than I would.”
Summer Berube runs whimsical Pinewood Charm from her Hampstead, New Hampshire, home. When she browses items to buy, she focuses on pieces that are simple and have a little bit of detail, “not over the top.”
Now, Jarrett is an expert in the art of finding one person’s trash and turning it into treasure. She spends her days scanning Facebook Marketplace for secondhand furniture. She finds the selection is far broader than a thrift store. But she doesn’t recommend searching for specific items — that will affect the ads Facebook serves you and limits you from seeing the full scope of items available.

6. Be Smart and You’ll Trade Used Furniture for Cash

Berube is a strong believer in honoring the piece in front of her and letting it speak to her.
“You want to make people think outside of the box,” she said. “You want them to think, ‘I could put this in my living room. It doesn’t have to be in my bedroom.’”
It’s not hard to begin selling furniture online and you’ll find buyers on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and even Instagram.

This photo is a side by side photo of a furniture flipper and a dresser she flipped.
Summer Berube believes staging is important when photographing pieces to sell. Photos courtesy of Summer Berube

7. Take a Photo for Success

Jarrett has a few basic tips: use natural lighting, sit on the floor to take the picture and keep the staging simple. For example, don’t leave your McDonald’s cup in the frame.
Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. By the time you’re through, you’ll probably be ready to take a paintbrush and some new hardware to your old dresser and frumpy nightstands.
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The nature of an Instagram feed, if that’s where you are selling or promoting, is that it shows all of your pieces at once, not just your most recent piece. You want your furniture to fit into a particular aesthetic. Berube appreciates modern furniture, but it’s not her passion.
As COVID-19 causes manufacturing and shipping delays for big box stores, customers have turned to an innovative and unique solution — buying refurbished, refreshed and often painted secondhand furniture. <!–


“I always recommend just the scroll,” Jarrett says.

Pet Transporter Side Gig Can Pay Good Money

Can you really make $10,000 a month driving animals from here to there?

The answer is yes if you’ve got the time, the dependable wheels and a good marketing plan, which may be nothing more than an online profile on a site that matches drivers with jobs. Experience helps, too.

Independent pet transporting is a growing side gig as people buy pets, mostly dogs, in other cities and need them brought to their fur-ever home. Some pet transporters are hired to deliver pets to owners who have moved because air travel won’t work.

Pet transporters are needed to transport animals from shelters, stores or breeders to foster homes, too. They are especially needed when an animal is coming from a kill-shelter, because it is a race against a clock to have the animal re-homed before the time comes to put them down.

Pet transporting is different from working at a kennel or daycare, because your only co-workers are your four-legged passenger.

The Money You’ll Make

The income you can make from pet transporting depends on a few things. Because independent transporters set their own hours, obviously you will earn more if you are constantly offering your services to clients to build your experience, and are willing to travel farther.

Those with a more relaxed approach earn more modestly. Other factors include the animal breed, any special needs, and your level of experience and number of positive reviews.

An average active independent pet transporter who completes 15 to 20 jobs per month, can make somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 a month. If they can keep that pace throughout the year, then they could earn above $100,000. The higher rates tend to come from metro areas in California and the Northeast.

Though an independent pet transporter can call their own shots on what jobs to take and when, it’s important to remember that the upkeep on the car, gas, pens or carriers to hold the animals and other expenses might be all up to you.

Pro Tip

Set aside money from transporting gigs in a separate account to pay for expenses. 

The rates are quite a bit more for an independent transporter than for a driver who works for a shelter, groomer or vet clinic. Pay for those gigs is between $12 and $20 an hour and you will likely still have to use your own car but you might be reimbursed for gas and other expenses.

How to get Started

1. Set Up Your Online Profile

There are websites that cater to people needing their pet delivered.

Similar to a dating website, clients will look through the profiles and based on the information you put (price, location, experience, etc.), they will then contact you about the details. Make sure everything is professional, with no typos and include good pictures — bonus points if there are animals in them.

Websites to get started include:

2. Get Certified

Consider making your profile more appealing by getting some certifications. This is not required, but makes you stand out from other beginners. The American Red Cross offers a certification course in pet first aid for $25 which only takes 35 minutes. Another highly desirable certification is the Animal Care License from the USDA.

3. Be Patient but Stick With It

Don’t be discouraged if you are not getting that many bookings immediately. The quality that dog owners and breeders most commonly look for in a driver is experience.

But according to CitizenShipper, after just a few successful jobs and five-star reviews, things tend to pick up quickly. Within a couple of months, formerly struggling drivers find the clients much more receptive.

In the meantime, charge slightly lower than you will in the future to make up for lack of experience.

Qualities of a Pet Transporter

Although pet transporting does not require a particular degree or fancy equipment beyond a car, there is a little more to it than just being an Uber for animals.

For anyone looking to get into the pet transportation business, CitizenShipper — the online marketplace which connects customers to couriers and transport providers — recommends these three qualities:

Good People Skills

This one may come as a shock, since the job title alone implies you will be working mostly with animals. While that is true, the situation is similar to my teacher friends saying that the easiest part of the job is the kids — the parents are who more often bring stress.

If you have a pet yourself, then you can relate to someone being particular about who will be alone with them. In order to book jobs, you will need to be extremely amiable, forthright and confident. Having the credentials to back your confidence up is important too. (See No. 2 above)

Ability to Organize and Plan in Advance

One of the perks of the job is that you don’t need to go at it alone. If you’re closer to a Type Z Personality than an A, team up with a friend who writes lists for fun and is always 15 minutes early. You can join forces on the business.

Come up with a cute name: The Furmobile or maybe Dr. Dolittle Animal Mover. Allied Pet Lines? You get the idea.

Pet transporting requires meticulous scheduling and direction following. We all know how frustrating it is when our food delivery is late or dropped off at the wrong place. Now imagine if that was your furry best friend! Planning is also important when choosing routes to minimize fuel expenditures and increase net gain.

Unconditional Love for Animals

If you’ve gotten this far, you most likely already have this. Just keep in mind, though, that this job involves more than just cuddling at pit stops and taking Brutus on walks.

If an animal has never been in a car, or has and hated it, they may throw up or get nervous diarrhea. They may even take out their fear on you and get snappy, especially if you don’t have a pet of your own and aren’t used to these kinds of things, things could get messy.

Still, the possibility of $10,000 a month could make a little mess worth it.

Olivia Smith is a writer based in Washington, D.C., who has experience in public and political advocacy work. She is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.


Make Money on Instagram with These 7 Tips

You’ve likely heard it before, but branding and follower count do matter on Instagram. While you can’t build a personal brand or a business profile overnight, you can use your aesthetic and the topics you typically post about to boost the products you’re trying to sell.
There’s nothing on Instagram that absolutely won’t sell, but there are categories of items that tend to do better than others. Objects in the fashion and beauty realm — think slightly used clothes and jewelry — tend to do better than used home tools or appliances, which might fare better on more practical sites like Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor.
Once you’ve taken your audience through the entire affair, you can save the story as a highlight on your Instagram page for future viewers to refer to in perpetuity.

7 Ways to Become an Instagram Entrepreneur

People want to buy items from someone they consider an expert. Build up a following based on that persona first and then sell your items accordingly. In essence, you want to become an expert in Instagram marketing.
And if you want to hit your target audience, there are ways to do that, like through an appeal or a promo code. Offering promo codes through your posts encourages Instagram users and your followers to buy your products. A promo code — which prompts users to input a certain word at online checkout and receive a discount — can encourage on-the-fence users to become a customer.
If you already have a business account, you may be eligible for accessing Instagram Shopping, an e-commerce option through the social media platform that makes it easy to advertise and sell merchandise through your Instagram account. 

1.   Build Your Brand

Find your niche. Do you find yourself often posting about your outfits or your home décor? Consider selling items that coincide with those interests. Are you outdoorsy and always posting shots from your latest hiking trail or kayaking trip? Try selling your old outdoor equipment on Instagram.
On social media, visuals are more important than any words you could write. If you’re trying to sell items that need a little work, take well-lit and well-staged photos. And take these tips from two experts. If you’re selling an article of clothing, don’t crowd the photo with other accessories or objects. Ideally, put yourself or the article of clothing against a plain white or colorful background.
Maybe they knit in their spare time, so they’ve turned to the platform as a way to share and market their work. Or maybe you know an influencer whose day job is using their 10,000 followers to make money on Instagram.

2.   Know Your Audience

Instagram Shopping accounts can set up a curated shop that allows users to browse and buy items directly through the app’s checkout feature rather than directing users offline to a separate website.
You might incentivize people by asking them to follow your Instagram account or like your Instagram posts for a promo code. They might even think you’re a social media expert.
Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.

3.   Take Good Photos

Once you have the shopping side set up, you can tag individual products within your posts and easily direct people to buy the item. Instagram allows vendors to tag up to five objects in one post and up to 20 products in a multi-image post.
If you’re selling items to customers all over the country or a heavier piece where shipping can add up, be honest with buyers. Shipping entities like the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx all have shipping calculators on their sites. Some sellers put shipping immediately in the post.

 4.   Explain Your Process

And remember — when it comes to social media, don’t be afraid to give the product some personality.
Knowing how to market your products on Instagram comes from understanding your audience. If you tend to interact on Instagram in a highly personal voice, then sell your items that way. Try sharing plenty of photos of you in stories using the item that you are now trying to sell. Talk realistically and passionately about the product. Did your daughter love her prom dress and now you want it to have a second home? Sharing that story and harnessing those relationships might make someone more willing to make the dress their own.

 5.   Tag Products on Instagram Shopping

 If you’re selling a hand-crafted product on Instagram, this is your chance to shine! People love personality and they want to understand the creative process that went into the item they’re considering buying. Instagram even suggests using your stories to document each step — from concept to creation.
In fact, every scroll generally yields at least one friend or neighbor who has started using their followers to sell something. Maybe it’s time for a little spring cleaning, so they’ve decided to sell their old sweaters and boots through their Instagram stories.
The same concept goes for objects. If you’re trying to sell your old chest or a cat tree, photograph the object from multiple angles against a plain background. Be honest about any flaws, but no need to draw extra attention to them.

6.  Know the Shipping Cost

Post regularly and engage with people that you follow. Leaving it up to chance will leave you and what you’re trying to sell in the dust. It’s a bit of a game and you have to play it.
With the amount of time we spend scrolling through social media platforms, we might as well make money on Instagram, right?

 7.   Some Things Sell Better Than Others

In general, if your item has a good aesthetic and a good story, you might as well give Instagram a try.
And if you’re adding any cost to the shipping, let buyers know why. Perhaps you are charging for the time to package and ship the product? Or perhaps you have other business expenses? People are more willing to shell out for shipping when they understand why. 
Ready to sell and start another revenue stream? Read on for how.
It doesn’t take being an avid crafter or Instagram marketer to make money on Instagram. The key is having a good engagement rate, understanding your audience, writing multiple posts and knowing what works and what doesn’t.

6 Mileage Tracker Apps That Will Track Your Mileage and Expenses

If you’re a Lyft or Uber driver, you already know how important it is to track your work-related mileage and expenses.

You need that information to appease the IRS gods come tax return time and to make sure you’re squeezing out every last penny in deductions.

But rideshare drivers aren’t the only people eligible for mileage tax deductions. If you drive your personal vehicle for other kinds of paid work or use it for charitable, moving or medical purposes, you may also qualify for a standard mileage rate deduction.

6 Free Mileage Tracker Apps We Love

Back in the old days, tracking mileage meant pulling a crumpled notebook out of the glove box and hoping your pen wasn’t out of ink.

But now there’s an app for everything — including ones that automatically track mileage for you.

Here are our favorites.

1. Everlance

This versatile app not only tracks your mileage but also helps you keep track of all your other business expenses.

Everlance starts and stops automatically. It detects when your car starts moving and records the miles you drive. With a quick swipe of your finger, you can categorize each trip as work-related or personal. You can also set your work hours, automatically classifying drives during those hours as business trips.

There are three pricing tiers:

  • Basic: Pay nothing to track 30 automatic trips a month. You’ll also get unlimited receipt uploads and IRS-compliant reports.
  • Premium: For $5 a month billed annually or $8 a month billed monthly, you’ll get unlimited automatic trips a month. You’ll also be able to sync your credit and debit cards, receive PDF and Excel reports and get a deduction finder, among other features.
  • Premium+: For $10 a month billed annually or $12 a month billed monthly, you’ll get all the features of the Premium level, plus individual training with an account manager and customer support.

2. Stride

Stride is a free app that runs in the background, quietly logging every mile you drive and then generates an IRS-ready report that you can use to do your taxes.

Stride is available at iTunes and Google Play.

3. TripLog

TripLog has eight different options for tracking miles. There are three pricing options, all of which come with a 30-day free trial:

  • Lite: This free, manual option is for a single user and tracks up to 40 trips a month, as well as tolls and parking. It is only available as an app, not on the web.
  • Premium: This option is for up to 10 users and costs $4.99 per user per month or $59.99 if billed annually. It is available both as an app and on the web and automatically tracks trips. You can also add expenses like fuel and meal costs.
  • Premium + Time: This option is for up to 10 users and costs $6.67 per user month or $79.99 billed annually. In addition to the features of the Premium plan, it includes time tracking, a clock-in/clock-out timesheet and and more.

TripLog is available at iTunes and Google Play.

4. Hurdlr

Hurdlr tracks mileage, expenses, income and tax deductions. The three pricing options are:

  • Free: This version includes unlimited mileage tracking, as well as the ability to add income and expenses. It also provides a tax calculations summary and a feature to export or email reports.
  • Premium: For $5 a month billed annually or $8 a month billed monthly, you’ll get unlimited mileage tracking, as well as expense tracking and income tracking. You’ll also get calculations for state and self-employment taxes.
  • Pro: This option costs $10 per month billed annually. On top of the Premium features, you’ll get annual tax filing, as well invoicing, accounting, advanced accounting and more.

Hurdlr connects to thousands of financial institutions, allowing users to link their Hurdlr account to their bank or credit union. Every time you get paid, Hurdlr sends you a real-time notification.It also integrates with Uber, Square, Freshbooks, Stripe and Paypal to automatically import expenses and income.

Hurdlr is available on iTunes and Google Play.

5. MileIQ

MileIQ includes a free version that tracks 40 trips per month. You can also choose one of two unlimited options: The first, which costs $5.99 per month and includes unlimited mileage tracking, is said to be best for occasional driving. The second costs $4.99 per month or $59.99 billed annually, and includes automatic mileage logging for those who drive more often.

Like other mileage tracking apps, MileIQ automatically captures your drives and delivers a comprehensive mileage log whenever you need it. You can classify your drives into categories like business, personal or charity and then simply swipe with your thumb to assign them to the correct list — or let MileIQ do it automatically.

MileIQ is available on iTunes and Google Play.

6. Mileage Expense Log

Mileage Expense Log is a free app. It stands out for its included rate book that allows users to quickly check mileage rates. As long as you keep your phone’s GPS turned on, Mileage Expense Log automatically tracks and logs all your drives.

If you’re a number cruncher, you’ll enjoy sorting data by date, purpose or even vehicle. Or you can export your entire database as HTML or CSV.

Mileage Expense Log is only available for iOS on iTunes and includes support for Apple Watch.

Lisa McGreevy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 


How to Become a Lifeguard and Make $10 to $30 an Hour

Grab your shades, sunscreen and whistle. A nationwide shortage of lifeguards has water parks, camps and municipalities scrambling to hire thousands to staff swimming pools, lakes and beaches. Some are offering free training, which takes 25 to 40 hours. Other employers are raising hourly pay to $10 to $30.

“We have raised wages at all our parks… Both lifeguard training and licence are free to each new and returning team member,” said Nick Paradise, director of corporate communications for Palace Entertainment, which owns 10 water parks across the country. Hourly wages vary by location but are $15 at Sandcastle Water Park near Pittsburgh and $18 an hour at Splish Splash in Long Island, N.Y.

The shortage is largely because lifeguards have to renew their lifeguard certification every two years and thousands haven’t been able to do so.

“In many parts of the country, there were long periods when people could not train, and staff and potential staff did not feel safe to train due to physical distancing guidance,” said Lindsay Mondick who oversees aquatics and other initiatives for the YMCA of the U.S.A. “Now that the vaccine is more readily available to potential lifeguarding candidates, we may see a slow return.”

It takes more than superior swimming skills to get a job as a lifeguard, however. Here are the requirements to become a lifeguard, the courses you’ll need and what the current job market looks like.

Here’s What Some Lifeguard Jobs Are Paying

Lifeguarding 2021 is no longer a minimum wage job in most cities and towns.

Job postings show employers are willing to pay more than previous summers. Check out these wages: in San Francisco: $22 to $30 and hour

The city of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: $18.93 to $29.33 an hour for waterfront lifeguards

Hyannis Harbor Hotel in Hyannis, Mass.: $25 an hour

The city of Durham, N.C.: $18 an hour

Sandcastle Water Park near Pittsburgh: $15 an hour

The city of St. Petersburg, Fla.: $13.25 to $21

Hiring Incentives for Lifeguards

Just as restaurant chains are offering cash for interviews and referrals, so are employers looking for lifeguards.

“Some of our parks are offering referral bonuses,” Paradise said. “One incentive we have offered at nearly all our parks is to provide four complimentary Basic Season Passes for the team member and immediate family if they applied and completed the hiring process by a certain date.”

Orange City, Iowa is paying a $20 referral bonus for a lifeguard who gets a friend to join the team at public pools. And the Parks and Recreation Department in Mesquite, Texas will pay $50 for one referral, $75 for two and $100 for three.

Mondick at the YMCA stressed that lifeguarding builds skills such as confidence, leadership and teamwork, which transfer well to any career and look great on a resume. Along with touting the crucial role lifeguards play, YMCAs across the country are trying various incentives such as referral and sign-on bonuses.

“Many YMCAs are also focused on non-traditional lifeguards, and engaging those who have retired, or those who formerly served their country in the military to now serve their community through lifeguarding positions,” she added.

Here are the Basics on How To Become A Lifeguard

It takes around 25 hours of training to be certified in all lifeguard requirements. Some organizations are teaching a combination of in-person and online classes and some are all in-person courses in swimming pools.

Private training schools, non-profit groups such as the American Red Cross and the YMCA, and employers themselves offer lifeguard training classes throughout the summer.

A lifeguard stands watch over an indoor pool.
Photo courtesy of YMCA

The American Red Cross is offering a 2-day or 4-day lifeguard training course around the country immediately. Here are some of the lifeguarding course requirements.

  • Minimum age: 15 years
  • Swim 300 yards continuously
  • Tread water for 2 minutes using only your legs
  • Complete a timed mock “rescue” within 1 minute and 40 seconds by starting in the water, swimming 20 yards, making a surface dive to a depth of 7 to 10 feet, retrieving a 10-pound object, returning to the surface and swimming 20 yards on your back to return to the starting point, then exit the water without using steps or a ladder.
  • Applicants must also show they can do CPR on a swimmer, administer first aid and use an automated external defibrillator, also known as CPR AED.

How to Become a Waterfront Lifeguard

Waterfront lifeguarding requires additional safety training, skills and abilities. It varies by employers, but most require you to:

  • Swim 500 meters or 550 yards in 10 minutes or less in open waters.
  • Run a mile in 8 minutes and 30 seconds or less.
  • Master certain swimmer surveillance techniques
  • Use equipment such as all terrain vehicles, rescue boards, buoys, kayaks, paddleboards, masks, fins and snorkels
  • Know water conditions such as rip tides and how to recognize dangerous wildlife

The Cost of Lifeguard Certification

Right now if you want to learn how to be a lifeguard, there’s a good chance it might cost you nothing. For example, the Sandcastle Water Park near Pittsburgh website opens with a page touting it’s raised its wages to $15 an hour and is offering free lifeguard certification. Many other employers including some YMCAs are doing the same.

If you are paying the cost varies greatly, but is well worth it. For example the city of Marion, Ohio, charges $25 for lifeguard certification courses. The American Red Cross courses range in price from $100 to $300 depending on the location.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.




Learn Reupholstery and Tap into Huge Demand for This Well-Paying Craft

There’s a steady demand for upholstery work and not enough upholsterers trained to do it. Two semesters in an upholstery course at a local community college could help you land a job that can start at $20 an hour and eventually pay up to $70 an hour.

“I get a call from a company at least every other week saying they are looking for someone to hire,” said Katherine Smith, coordinator of special projects at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. “And they are calling from around the U.S., not just Texas.”

She hears from a variety of employers, well beyond the traditional furniture upholstery shops. Medical supply companies call needing someone to upholster examining tables. Auto body shops call looking for people to repair seats.

Owners of furniture upholstery businesses around the country say they have clients waiting months, even years to get work done because they don’t have enough well-trained upholsterers in the profession.

We spoke to business people in the field. Here’s their advice on how to learn upholstery and fill a lucrative, unmet demand.

“I’m doing a couch starting next week and the owners have been waiting two years,” said John

Levey, who owns Zim’s of Catalina upholstery business on Catalina Island, Calif. He’s ready to hire a qualified employee on the spot for $30 an hour.

“I have so much work I don’t know what to do with it,” said Chris Scirica, who co-owns Caribe Interiors Upholstery & Furniture Refinishing in St. Petersburg, Fla. “The reason the demand is extremely high is there are so few people doing this well. I can’t even find anyone to teach.”

How to Learn Reupholstery

There are several resources — both virtual and in-person — for people who want to pursue upholstery as a career or side gig.

Take Courses at a Technical School or Community College

This grid of images shows an Upholstery sign, a woman cutting into a vintage chair, a woman working on a vintage chair and a set of used rulers.
Top left, An upholstery sign hangs at the Tomlinson Adult Learning Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. Top right, Jarczynski works on a chair. She sells some of her finished products on Facebook Marketplace. Bottom left, Mary Fletcher has been taking the ongoing upholstery class at the learning center on-and-off for 20 years. Bottom right, Rulers hang in the upholstery classroom.

Schools around the country teach students how to reupholster at various levels. Some are more for the “weekend warrior” who wants to recover the dining room chairs they found at a garage sale or even take a stab at a skirted sofa. Others offer certificates of continuing education and teach skills that can be put to use in an existing upholstery business or start one of their own.

When students finish a year at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, for example, they are ready for the upholstering profession, Smith said.

Here’s how that program works:

The first semester at Tarrant covers the fundamentals of upholstery while the second semester covers intermediate upholstery. Each requires 96 hours of instruction. A summer course teaches auto and boat upholstery in 108 hours. Classes meet twice a week from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The courses cost $300 a semester and many students are eligible for financial aid. Upon completion, students earn a certificate that shows they are qualified to work in the reupholsetry profession.

Check with your local technical school or community college to see what types of courses are available.

The National Upholstery Association also has a directory of classes taught by master upholsterers and other professionals.

Take Online Upholstery Classes

Kim Chagnon took upholstery classes twice a week for a year in 1996. She started upholstering for friends and family as a side gig and then made it her full-time job. After building a thriving business in Greenfield, Mass., in 2010 she started posting YouTube tutorials to share her knowledge for viewers who wanted to pursue upholstery. Since then, she and her husband Bill have made more than 200 posts and have 75,000 subscribers and more than 8 million views.

Their business, Kim’s Upholstery, now offers classes through their website with more in-depth training. For $25 a month or $240 a year, students have unlimited access to training videos available around the clock. Subscribers talk regularly to offer each other help and Chagnon is also very accessible.

Subscribers can learn reupholstery for all types of furniture including a chaise lounge, channel back chair, skirted sofa, any kind of cushion, tufted ottoman, Queen Anne Chair and curved headboard just to name a few. Chagnon also teaches slip covers for a rolled arm loveseat, replacing a zigzag sinuous spring, matching patterned fabric and measuring fabric for yardage.

Kim’s Upholstery also offers  in-person, three-day workshops for people who want to learn upholstery in one project for $600. There are two coming up in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Pursue Upholstery Apprenticeships

Many upholsterers learned their skills working in a family business.

With the need for trained employees so high, Smith said she’s talked with employers who would take someone on as an apprentice and pay them as they improve their skills.

“If they can get someone that at least halfway knows what they are doing and they can use a commercial, industrial sewing machine, they are interested,” she said.

“I was taught every aspect of what it takes to do a job completely,” said Scirica of Caribe Interiors. His father, a master craftsman from Sicily, Italy, passed his vast knowledge on to Scirica and his brother. Scirica believes many local community college courses are more for do-it-yourselfers who don’t need to learn about intricate upholstery skills.

“They don’t teach how to do diamond tufting or stuff with horse hair,” he said. “The best way  to get into a business like this is to find somebody and apprentice.”

A woman reupholsters an antique chair.
Merita Whitfield of Bradenton, Fla., reupholsters a French Provincial chair at the learning center. Many who take the upholstery class do it to save money on reupholstering their furniture, but some have moved on to start successful businesses. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

How to Start an Upholstery Business

No matter how you learn your upholstery skills, if you want to start your own business you need to invest around $1,500 to $2,000 in equipment.

A good industrial sewing machine costs an average of $1,500, according to Smith. A box of essential upholstery tools is another $500.

Chagnon gave strong reviews to the LS-1 Basic Walking Foot Sewing Machine, which sells for $795. It comes with a 3-hour video to teach users everything they need to know about the machine.

Once you have proven yourself with friends and family, start networking. Contact antique dealers, vintage shop owners and estate sale managers who can hand out your card when they sell a piece of furniture that needs work. Realtors also get to know a lot of people who want to spruce up their homes and reupholster furniture. Reach out to interior designers, too, of course.

Profitability varies. While there is steady demand for upholstery work, Scirica says his business is far from a cash cow.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. For example, an upholsterer might spend 10 hours working on a high-back wing chair and charge the client $700. The $70 an hour earned on that chair also has to help cover expenses like power, insurance and rent for the workspace.

Setting up a business in your own home definitely allows more room for profit, Smith said.

Myles Denny, owner of Diversified Upholstery Service in Knoxville, Tenn., has a lucrative business doing repairs and upholstery for warranty companies that cover furniture. He’s a one-man shop, and travels to clients’ homes to fix their furniture.

“I charge $90 for a service call and after that it’s $70 an hour,” Denny said, explaining the warranty companies pay him, not the furniture owner. “I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands. I make a very good living at this.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder.