9 Tips for Working Two Jobs and Keeping Your Sanity

The number of Americans working two jobs — or more — is higher than it has ever been.

Recent data from the Census Bureau reveals that an estimated 7.8% of U.S. workers work more than one job, up from 6.8% in 1996.

The necessity of holding a full-time job plus one or two part-time jobs has become such a prominent part of our culture and economy, that several candidates in the most recent presidential election included it in their platform.

It continues to be a frequent talking point among economists and activists alike. Politics aside, public opinion and basic math prove that the more jobs you have, the more stress comes into your life. It is important (and very doable!) to practice self care to avoid burnout.

Tales from the Second Job Front

Zach Brandner, a recent college graduate in Washington, D.C., works in guest services at a museum during the day and his second job is as a server at a restaurant in the evenings.

“Of course in a dream world, I would be able to make ends meet with just one job,” he says. “But that’s not the case right now, so I’m just rolling with it.”

Brandner says he’s learned the hard way that juggling two jobs can’t push out self-care.

Statistically, women are more likely than men to work multiple part-time jobs. Summer Tuverson of Santa Monica, California, is in a similar situation as Brandner. She works at a doggie day care center and nannying.

“There are a decent amount of similarities between taking care of dogs and children,” she says.  “Especially the cleaning up poop part.”

9 Tips on Working Multiple Jobs

With the help of Zach, Summer, and some experts, here are nine tips for maintaining self-care while working more than a single job.

1. Make Friends at All Your Jobs

Avoid the temptation to punch in, do your job, punch out and repeat.

Brandner: “I was pretty surprised to learn that there are actually a few hidden perks to having more than one place of work. The major one is having more than one new circle of friends. Obviously you’re not going to be best friends with everyone, but making an effort to develop and maintain friendships is a good idea. If you feel you have a support system, or at least someone you can laugh with, your shifts seem shorter and more enjoyable.”

2. Location is Everything

When you look for a full-time job, one of the first things you keep in mind is proximity to your home. Of course, if you have a work from home job, you are always close to your work space.

Depending on your schedule and if you are working outside the home, your second job should  be physically near your first job. (Two work from home jobs? You’ve got this covered.)

If you bust your gas budget because you’re driving all around town, your second income becomes pointless. If you are in a city where you use public transit, make a point to check if the job you have in mind is on your same bus or train route.

3. Let Your Employers Know About One Another

Brandner: “When I first got my second job I felt awkward telling both my managers that I was also working somewhere else. I felt like they would feel like I wasn’t able to give them both 100%. For a while it almost felt like I was cheating on both of them. When I eventually did let them know, they both actually admired my hustle, and ended up being much more receptive and understanding when I had to make slight schedule changes.”

4. When You’re Sick, Do NOT Power Through It

While this tip applies to people with one job, it is especially important for people who deal with twice the same amount of interaction.

If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it is that we need to stay the hell away from other people when we are sick. In the long run, it will not be worth ignoring your symptoms in exchange for that day’s wages, when you are risking exacerbating your own health as well as others’.

If you are working two jobs, you are putting in twice the amount of energy, which will wear you down even more. Be honest with your employers, and they will probably be grateful. Remember, it is illegal for someone to fire you for calling in sick.

5. Normalize Power Napping

Tuverson: “I copied this from the kids I look after. If they get home from school at 1:15 and we need to leave the house for swim lessons at 2:10, it is crucial that they get some rest or lest they be grumpy and lethargic for their poor teacher.

“Sometimes I have similar amounts of time before I need to get going for my next job. I used to think that this only allowed me to scroll through my phone and watch half of a ‘Law and Order’ episode. When I still couldn’t stop yawning, I Googled some tips and started power napping between shifts. It’s been a game changer.”

Tuverson says the key is napping between 10 and 20 minutes. She swears by a little caffeine before the nap which will kick in after you wake up, providing you stick to the short nap.

6. Plan and Prep Your Meals

If you are in your car several times throughout the day, rushing to make it to your next job and then also rushing to finally get home, there is the inevitable temptation to pull over for fast food.

While this is okay once in a while, the initial comfort and convenience of not having to cook will soon backfire, making you (and your wallet) feel worse. Set aside time to prep and prepare meals (and snacks for those 15 minute breaks!) that are easy, cheap, and delicious.

Planning meals is crucial to staying healthy but this task is easily overlooked when you get busy. Learn how to start a meal plan and stick to it. 

7. Remember the Reason for Working a Second Job

Tuverson: “Even with two jobs, it’s not exactly like I’m living in the lap of luxury. But, I am now able to afford a mini-vacation that I would not have been able to otherwise. When I’m on the bus for the third time that day and I have spit up on my blouse (and I’ve forgotten if it’s from a human or animal), I open my wallet and see some pictures I’ve printed out of things I’ll experience on my trip.”

She says that her coworkers look at photos of apartments, cars, even engagement rings to keep their eyes on the prize. The aspirational photos are a good pick-me-up, she says, that reminds them why they are working a second job.

8. Commit to Something That Brings You Joy

Even when you have one job, it may seem like all you have the energy to do after work is eat and go to sleep. On a good day, you could summon the chutzpah to grab a drink or some dinner, but even this can seem like a stretch sometimes.

Still, it is important to have other consistent things in your schedule besides just working.

For example, you could join a book group dedicated to your favorite genre. Read on your lunch breaks and on your transit commute, then spend an hour a month chatting with new friends about your thoughts.

Not only does this increase your social circle and offer an escape, but it also exercises your brain. The Penny Hoarder actually has our own book club, and you can find dozens of others online or in person through your Meetup.com, Goodreads, or your local independent bookstores and libraries.

9. Don’t Get Discouraged

It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t immediately get in the groove of working two jobs with differing protocols, expectations and managerial styles.

Any half-decent supervisor will cut you some slack when you start. If you find that you are still having trouble adjusting to a new routine after a couple months or so, let Human Resources know and they can give you some more specific tips.

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.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Sell Pokemon Cards: Our Card-Trading Expert Reveals How & Where

The resurgence of Pokemon has young adults rummaging through their closets in hopes of finding their old trading card collection. 

And, if they’re lucky, a rare card that could make them a fortune.

The 1997 Japanese anime-turned-trading-card-game-turned-video-game series holds a special place in the hearts of ‘90s kids, who cherished the furry creatures with elemental powers that could be traded and battled and hoarded for years to come. 

For Scott Pratte, a Pokemon enthusiast and card-trading expert, the hobby never dimmed. Pratte collects and sells some of the most treasured Pokemon cards in the world.

“I’ve done seven-figure deals,” Pratte says. “That’s just one deal, not even my lifetime” earnings.

Due to nondisclosure agreements, he can’t say exactly which cards have made him the most money, but he says that his trophy cards, aka the rarest Pokemon cards on the market, easily rake in upwards of $1 million.

Only a select few people hold these trophy cards, usually those who won Pokemon tournaments in the early 2000s and were awarded ultra limited edition cards. But there are a fair amount of more common Pokemon cards that could sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Top Tips in This Article

Scott Pratte, our expert card trader and collector, provided lots of tips to make money selling Pokemon cards. Here is his best advice:

  • First edition or New Edition? All kidding aside, we know that you know New Edition is a boy band from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Still, you need to know what you have in that box of Pokemon cards. In other words, which are the rare cards and which are not. Do you have one of the original holographic cards? Cha-ching.
  • What’s the condition of your cards? If they’ve been under the bed in a box so light didn’t fade them or the dog didn’t get to them, you may be in good shape. Never taken out of the wrapper? More cha-ching. That is what’s called mint. All cards in good condition are likely worth more than what you (or your mom) paid for them.
  • The best place to sell Pokemon cards? It’s eBay all the way. It would be great to sell one card for oodles of money and eBay has facilitated some of that. But if you want a big audience and buyers willing to shell out $30 a pop for your cards, you can rack up sales.
  • Think you’ve got something valuable? Consult the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) and get an estimate. This will put you in a good position to haggle with a buyer, which you should expect to do.

Pokemon Cards Worth Selling

The two biggest value factors to consider if you want to sell Pokemon cards are their rarity and condition.

Rarity: Is Your Collection All That Special?

In terms of rarity, “base-set” cards are where the money is for most collectors, and these cards are the most traded ones in the hobby. Set cards are “any card you can pull from a pack” bought from the store, says Pratte. The base set comprises the original 102 cards printed in 1999 and includes classic Pokemon like Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur.

A complete first-edition base set in mint condition sold for $100,000 in December 2017. If you have a base-set card in your card collection, there are a few visual indicators of its worth.

A graphic compares rare and common Pokemon cards
Illustration by Chris Zuppa and Adam Hardy
  1. Holographic cards: These are the most discernable at first glance. The background of the Pokemon illustration is shiny and reflective — not the whole card, only the picture of the monster. They’re typically referred to as “holo” cards, and only 16 of the original 102 are holo.

  2. First-edition cards: Directly next to the left corner of the illustration appears the “edition 1” logo. These rare cards were bought up shortly after initial release and remain some of the most sought-after and valuable cards.

  3. Shadowless cards: This version is almost identical to the first-edition prints but excludes the first-edition logo. If you don’t have a newer card for comparison, this is particularly hard to notice: the illustration box appears 2D. On newer cards, the picture box has a shadow along the right border to give it a 3D appearance.

  4. Unlimited cards: These cards are still old and rare, but they do not include the first-edition symbol and have an added shadow behind the illustration to give the picture box a 3D effect. To check if your card is part of the base set, look at the bottom right corner of the picture box. If you do not see one of the many later-added set symbols, then you have a base-set, Unlimited card.

Condition: Did You Take Good Care of Your Cards?

The second important factor in a card’s value is the condition. If you do happen to have a first-edition, holographic base-set Charizard, you’re not guaranteed thousands of dollars. The selling price depends on how well the card has been taken care of.

If you have a card that you expect is worth more than $100, Pratte recommends getting it graded by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). 

Despite its name, the PSA grades all kinds of trading cards, including non-sports cards like Pokemon. PSA’s 10-point grading scale is accepted as the industry standard, and the company also publishes price guides to help you determine a card’s worth. 

According to its current valuations, first-edition cards in perfect condition are valued at a minimum of $40. Those aren’t rarer, holographic cards either. A first-edition holo in mint condition can rake in between $1,000 and $24,000.

So why Pratte’s $100 limit? Well, the number isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the card-grading services offered by PSA will cost $20 or more per card, meaning a lower-value card doesn’t always merit the cost to get it authenticated.

“It’s a process,” says PSA spokesperson Terry Melia. “But it’s something that could reap big rewards in the end.”

In addition to grading the condition of the card, PSA ensures the card isn’t a forgery by using high-powered lights and magnifying equipment to check for tampering.

“There are a lot of forgeries and bogus merchandise out there,” says Melia.

Especially so online.

Examples of Valuable Pokemon Cards

The table below includes the values of some of the rarest Pokemon cards in the world, i.e. ones that were acquired as prizes for winning competitions in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. 

These types of cards were never available to the general public, and they make headlines every so often by selling for six figures at auction. (But as Pratte notes, they may sell privately for much higher — and may be subject to NDAs.)The table also includes some cards that were available publicly as part of the original base set prints. According to Pratte, these are the most commonly sold cards among hobbyists. And if you do have a rare card in your collection, it’s likely to be of this type. Note how the condition (on a scale of one to 10) drastically changes the value.

Valuable Pokemon Cards

Pokemon Care Set Condition Card Value
Holo Pikachu (Illustrator) n/a; limited contest release Mint 7 $375,000
Holo Edition 1 Charizard Base set Gem Mint 10 (Perfect) $369,000
Holo Edition 1 Charizard Base set Near-Mint 7 $13,000
Pikachu (Shadowless) Base set Gem Mint 10 (Perfect) $100
Pikachu (Shadowless) Base set Near-Mint 8 $25

After you’ve done some homework — checking the type of card, estimating its value and sending it in for authentication, if needed — you’re finally ready to sell.Where to Sell Pokemon Cards

The Best Place to Sell Your Pokemon Cards Online: eBay

 “The main marketplace is for sure going to be eBay,” Pratte says. “Even if you’re someone who just stumbled upon your childhood collection, it’s really easy to take a couple of pictures [and] make a decent listing.”

Why eBay? It’s home to several high-profile deals, and it also caters to the $20 and $30 transactions. In short, eBay is the perfect meeting ground for nostalgic buyers and sellers and those who’ve been wheeling and dealing Pokemon cards since the ‘90s.

Other Places to Sell Your Pokemon Cards

  • Cardmarket: a German-based online marketplace that caters to trading-card-game hobbyists.
  • Troll and Toad: a hub for all things gaming-related, including video games, table-top games and trading-card games.
  • TCGplayer: an e-commerce marketplace that allows stores and hobbyists alike to buy and sell trading cards.
  • Facebook Marketplace: a free tool connected to your Facebook profile that allows you to buy or sell almost any physical item locally.
  • Local comic book or hobby shops: a great alternative to Facebook Marketplace if you want to buy or sell Pokemon cards without the hassle of shipping.

Selling Pokemon Cards: Expert Tips and Takeaways

  • Look for rarity indicators such as the type of Pokemon, set symbol and shadow box (or lack thereof) and, of course, the holographic reflection.
  • Pratte recommends getting your cards authenticated and graded if you know they’re worth at least $100 each—and especially if you plan to see them. For cards of lesser value, the cost of getting it graded could exceed the potential selling price of the card.
  • Don’t fret if you don’t have ultra-rare cards. Even some of the lesser-known cards in the base set are worth about $20 each as long as they’re in good condition.
  • Be prepared to haggle. Getting them graded can definitely help prove your cards are legitimate, but you’ll still need to back up their worth with quotes from other buyers, PSA’s price guide and other sources when negotiating to get the best deal.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Do Pawn Shops Buy Pokemon Cards?

Pawn shops do buy Pokemon cards in some cases, but we don’t recommend selling them there. Unless the pawn shop is known to specialize in trading card games, chances are high the clerk won’t know the ins and outs of Pokemon card trading. So you can expect a lowball offer.

If you want to sell them locally and in-person, try comic book shops or hobby shops instead.

What’s the Most Valuable Pokemon Card?

The “Pikachu Illustrator” cards have sold for the highest amount, publicly at least. These cards were awarded to winners of a Pokemon contest held in Japan circa 1998. Less than 40 of these cards are known to exist. In recent years, a few have sold for between $100,000 and $375,000.

Gem mint 10 (aka perfect condition) first edition holographic Charizards from the 1999 base set are nearly as valuable. They have sold for as much as $369,000 at auction.

Should I Sell My Old Pokemon Card Collection?

You should sell your Pokemon card collection only if you are prepared to part with it and you know its true worth. In true Marie Kondo fashion: if owning the cards brings you joy, then keep them. If selling them would bring you more joy, do that instead.

Should I Get My Pokemon Cards Graded?

Getting your Pokemon cards graded can take a while, and it can cost you about $20 per card. With that in mind, you should consider getting your card graded so long as its value exceeds about $20. 

Some exceptions apply. For example, if you own an entire base set that you’re looking to sell (or display), getting each card graded may be worth it — even if an individual card is worth less than $20 — as having the entire set graded would enhance its overall value.

Take the Time to Study Their Worth

As Pokemon re-enters mainstream culture with the release of new video games and movies, expect to see an uptick in buying and selling activity of old cards. But interest doesn’t pick up overnight.

“It’s not binary in that sense,” Pratte says.

Instead, it’s a more gradual process where each new Pokemon-related release reminds twenty- and thirty-somethings of their childhood: the crinkling sound of ripping open a new pack of cards followed by a strong whiff of ink as they shuffle through the set, hoping to find something rare.

But as you rummage through your collection, remember that there’s no rush to purge now. Spend some time with your cards. See if they’re valuable. Consider getting them authenticated. Then decide if they’re worth selling. 

After two decades, Pokemon — and its card-collecting hobbyists — aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer for The Penny Hoarder and specializes in stories on the gig economy. He’s a University of South Florida graduate, who studied magazine journalism and sociology. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Find Remote Jobs at These 32 Work-From-Home Companies

Since March 2020, more and more Americans have been working from home thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, with vaccinations available for those who want one, many workplaces are asking their employees to return to the office.

If the thought of giving up your WFH life fills you with dread, it’s time to look for a new job that allows you to work remotely 100% of the time.

To help your search, we have put together this list of companies that regularly offer WFH positions. This list is not exhaustive; a lot of companies who previously only had in-office positions are moving toward more WFH jobs in order to attract qualified candidates and to save money on office rentals.

32 Companies With Work-From-Home Jobs

We do our homework on companies before sharing them with our readers by vetting them. Here’s a list of work-from-home companies with regular job opportunities.

Adobe

Adobe is known for several products, including Acrobat, Photoshop and Illustrator. The company, which employs more than 21,000 people, has offices in cities around the world but also offers numerous work-from-home opportunities.

Benefits: Adobe has a substantial benefits package that includes medical insurance, 401(k), dependent care FSA, unlimited PTO and tuition reimbursement. The company also offers employee resource groups to help workers from similar backgrounds connect.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Go to the Adobe careers page and type “Remote” in the search bar to see all current remote positions.

Alorica

Alorica provides customer service and customer relationship management across a variety of industries, including healthcare and retail. The company employs more than 100,000 people and hires WFH customer service positions. There are a variety of shifts available, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a flexible schedule.

Benefits: Alorica’s employee benefits include health insurance, tuition reimbursement, bonus potential, paid vacation and retirement planning.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: On the Alorica jobs page, select “Work at Home Agents” in the “Job Category” drop-down menu, then choose your current location to see what opportunities are available in your area.

Amazon

A person carries Amazon boxes to deliver
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

There’s no need to explain what Amazon does; it’s one of the best-known companies in the world. Amazon employs more than 1 million people, according to an October 2020 article in the Washington Post. Want to be one of those people? Amazon has an entire page that lists work-from-home jobs in several areas, including HR, software development and sales.

Benefits: Amazon’s benefits package for employees includes health coverage, 401(k), paid parental leave, adoption assistance and employee discounts.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: See a list of open WFH positions here.

Anthem

Anthem is a health insurance company that offers various part-time and full-time positions in a remote capacity. WFH jobs at Anthem include nurse reviewer, behavioral health consultant and provider network manager.

Benefits: Benefits at Anthem include 100% paid preventative health care, six weeks of parental leave at 100% of pay, adoption and surrogacy assistance, paid time off and back-to-school assistance.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Search for remote jobs here and narrow your search down by career area to see what options are available to you.

Appen

Appen is a software company that counts training data and data collection among its solutions. The company serves numerous industries, including technology, automotive, government and healthcare. It has various remote job roles that include part-time to longer-term projects as well as full-time corporate positions in management, engineering and more. Appen was named the most remote-friendly company in the U.S. by FlexJobs.

Benefits: Full-time employees enjoy a variety of benefits, such as health insurance, 401(k), parental leave, tuition assistance and volunteer time off. Part-time or contract associates are not offered any benefits.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Go to the Appen job portal to see current WFH opportunities.

Cigna

Nurse tending patient in intensive care
Getty Images

Cigna is a medical insurance company that employs more than 73,000 people. The company is headquartered in Connecticut but offers various positions in a remote capacity, including sales administration, financial analyst, business analyst, claims professional and engineer.

Cigna also focuses on recruiting veterans and runs a Veterans Enterprise Resource Group called Salute.

Benefits: Cigna’s main benefits fall into one of four categories: Personal health, family health, community health and financial health. That includes medical insurance, 401(k), paid time off and tuition reimbursement.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: See a list of remote positions by typing “Remote” into the search bar on the Cigna careers page.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the country. The company’s headquarters are in Providence, Rhode Island, but it hires remote associates for positions like mortgage underwriter, software engineer and account executive.

Benefits: Citizens Bank offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, 401(k) with company match, educational assistance and discounts on financial products like mortgages and savings accounts.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Browse remote jobs at Citizens Bank by typing “Remote” into the search bar.

Concentrix

Concentrix is a customer experience outsourcing company that employs people in more than 40 countries, many of whom work from home full time. Most available positions are in customer service.

Benefits: Benefits at Concentrix include health insurance, individual and team rewards and performance-based pay.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: See what WFH jobs are available here and apply through the Concentrix website.

CVS Health

CVS Health is known for its pharmacies in states across the country, but it also offers a lot of WFH positions. Remote roles at CVS include social worker, pharmacy technician, customer service representative and outreach coordinator. Some positions require you to be located within certain states, but others can be done from anywhere in the U.S.

Benefits: CVS Health offers a wide range of benefits, including medical insurance, a stock purchase plan, tuition reimbursement and an employee discount at CVS stores.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Apply for remote positions via the CVS jobs website.

Dell

Dell is best known for its range of personal computers. Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, Dell employs more than 165,000 people worldwide, including many remote employees. As of July 2021, Dell listed more than 2,000 open WFH positions on its job website.

Benefits: Dell’s benefits package includes health coverage, employee pricing on Dell products, employee referral bonuses and professional counseling.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Browse WFH jobs by using the keyword “Remote” in the search bar on Dell’s job portal.

HCA

HCA Healthcare is made up of 185 hospitals and over 2,000 sites of care in 20 U.S. states and the U.K. Sites of care include freestanding ERs, surgery centers, urgent care centers and physician’s offices. The company employs more than 275,000 people in total, both within its facilities and in a remote capacity.

Remote opportunities at HCA include project manager, administrator and assistant.

Benefits: Benefits at HCA include tuition reimbursement, health benefits, time away from work policies, adoption reimbursement and 401(k).

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Search for work-from-home jobs by typing “Remote” into the search bar on the HCA careers site.

Hilton Hotels and Resorts

A lounge in a Hilton Hotel in London
Courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts

If you haven’t heard of Hilton Hotels, chances are you live under a rock. Hilton owns hotels and resorts around the world and employs more than 360,000 people globally, including many in remote customer experience positions.

Hilton provides some equipment to its WFH customer experience employees, but you must have a wired connection (wireless not permitted), monitor and dedicated work space of your own in order to do the job.

Benefits: Hilton offers several benefits for its WFH employees, including health insurance, 401(k), paid time off and discounts on travel.

Pay: The base pay for a customer experience position is $11 per hour, and there are monthly incentive programs that give you more opportunities to earn.

How to Apply: Search for available WFH jobs at the Hilton jobs website.

Hopper

Hopper is a website and app that helps you find good deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. While Hopper isn’t as large a company as many on this list, it offers a lot of opportunities for those who want to work from home, specifically in customer service.

Benefits: Benefits at Hopper are typical and include health coverage, paid time off, 401(k) and company stock options.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Browse Hopper’s customer service jobs to see what’s available in your field.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff is a fully remote company that offers monitoring services, such as time-tracking software, to other companies with remote workforces. Hubstaff lists customers such as Groupon and Instacart on its website.

Remote opportunities at Hubstaff are vast and include customer service, digital advertising, engineering and more.

Benefits: Benefits at Hubstaff include annual retreats (virtual in 2020), generous PTO and paid parental leave. However, health insurance isn’t listed as an offered benefit, possibly because Hubstaff hires on a contract basis.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: See a current list of remote job openings here.

Humana

Humana is a health insurance company offering medical, dental and vision coverage. The company has long believed in the power of a remote workforce — Humana reports that 47% of its workforce is remote during “normal” times, though this has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available remote job roles include medical director, case manager and sales support.

Benefits: Benefits at Humana include medical insurance, 401(k) with 125% company match up to 6%, paid volunteer time and life insurance.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Check the box that says “Work at Home” under “Work Style” in the Humana job listings site to see what’s available in your field.

Intuit

You might not have heard of Intuit directly, but you’ve certainly heard of its products, which include TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint. Intuit hires remotely for positions such as talent acquisition, service and support and loan servicing.

Benefits: Full-time employees at Intuit enjoy benefits like healthcare, professional counseling, fertility benefits and dependent care FSA.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: WFH jobs are denoted with a green circle on the Intuit careers website.

Kaplan

A teacher and students using computers and a touchscreen tablet
Courtesy of K12

Kaplan provides learning resources such as test prep, career advancement and foreign language instruction for students of all ages. Kaplan has a global presence but is headquartered in the U.S. and has many remote job openings. Positions are available in multiple areas such as marketing, accounting, recruiting and IT.

Benefits: Kaplan offers the usual benefits — health, 401(k), etc. — in addition to its Gift of Knowledge Program, which offers free or discounted courses to employees and their immediate family through the Kaplan platform.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Browse Kaplan’s remote job listings by selecting “Remote/Nationwide, USA” under “Locations.”

Kelly Services

Kelly Services is a staffing agency that hires internally as well as for its business partners. Kelly’s specialty areas include education, technology, engineering, science and government.

Benefits: Benefits vary based on the position.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Click to see available WFH job listings through Kelly Services.

Lionbridge

Lionbridge provides content, testing and translation services to multiple industries, including life sciences, automotive, gaming, banking and travel. The company operates in 28 countries and employs thousands of people worldwide.

Lionbridge has plenty of remote job openings in positions like content editor, customer success manager, program manager and HR generalist.

Benefits: In addition to typical benefits like health insurance and 401(k), Lionbridge lets employees take their birthday off and encourages employees to volunteer by offering paid time off for this purpose.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Click here to see a list of current remote positions at Lionbridge.

Liveops

Liveops offers virtual call center services to companies in multiple industries, including  healthcare, retail, insurance, energy and travel.

While corporate jobs at Liveops are based at the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, the company hires work-from-home agents on a contractor basis. This allows you to work as much or as little as you want, and whenever you want.

Be prepared for some upfront costs, including providing your own equipment and paying for your own background check.

Benefits: Because Liveops agents are independent contractors and not employees, no benefits are offered.

Pay: Earnings are dependent on call volume, incentives, utilization and how many hours you can commit, but most agents earn between $12 and $17 per hour.

How to Apply: Click here to see current openings for Liveops agent positions.

Nielsen

A wall of tv screens
Getty Images

Nielsen is known for its TV ratings, but the company offers so much more. Its suite of solutions includes audience measurement, audience outcomes and Gracenote content services.

Nielsen’s remote positions include product manager, software engineer, call center, account manager and analyst.

Benefits: Benefits at Nielsen for full-time associates include health coverage, 401(k), unlimited vacation time and paid parental leave.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: You can view a list of current remote opportunities at Nielsen by clicking here.

Qurate Retail Group

Although you might not recognize the name, Qurate owns home shopping network titans HSN and QVC. The company employs remote associates mostly in customer service positions. Though remote, these employees must be located in certain cities with local phone numbers, and they must supply their own equipment (like computer, headset and phone).

Benefits: Qurate focuses its benefits on its employees’ physical health, financial health and work-life balance.

Pay: Customer service positions at HSN start at $13.25/hour with increases every 3 months for the first year, and every 6 months after that.

How to Apply: Check out opportunities in your area at the Qurate website.

Salesforce

Salesforce is a customer relationship management company that serves a huge variety of industries. It’s one of the best-known CRM providers out there right now, and the company is always hiring for new positions, many of which are remote.

Benefits: Benefits at Salesforce include medical coverage, flexible spending accounts, 401(k), employee stock purchase plan, educational reimbursement and paid parental leave.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: To see current remote job listings at Salesforce, click here, then select United States of America and your state followed by “Remote” in the left sidebar.

Stride K12

Stride K12 is an education company that offers online, in-person or hybrid learning. The company caters to homeschooled kids, military families and those looking for learning opportunities beyond their local public K-12 schools.

Stride K12 has virtual jobs in several areas, including teaching, HR and marketing.

Benefits: Benefits include health coverage, parental leave, flexible spending accounts, paid time off and 401(k).

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: See a list of virtual jobs in corporate and teaching by selecting “Virtual” under “Company Location.”

Sutherland Global Services

Sutherland Global Services is a process transformation company that specializes in helping its customers bring their processes into the digital age. The company serves clients in more than 140 countries and in over 40 languages. Sutherland hires remotely for numerous roles, including customer service, software development, sales and IT.

Benefits: Sutherland’s benefits package includes paid time off, paid training, medical benefits, flexible scheduling, performance incentives and career advancement opportunities.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Search for remote roles at Sutherland by clicking here.

Trusted Health

Trusted Health matches travel nurses with jobs that fit their requirements, preferences and location. When you sign up for an account with Trusted Health, you’ll see personalized job matches based on your license type and clinical specialties. When you get a match, you will see information about the facility, the pay and the assignment (length, shift, etc) so you can determine whether it’s a good fit.

Benefits: Benefits depend on the assignment you are contracted for.

Pay: Varies based on assignment.

How to Apply: Sign up for Trusted Health by clicking here.

TTEC

TTEC is a customer experience software as a service company whose employees help solve problems and provide support for their customers’ customers. TTEC hires remotely for positions such as customer service, IT, consulting, marketing and sales.

Benefits: Benefits at TTEC include medical, dental and vision coverage; 401(k); pet insurance; paid leave; and tuition reimbursement.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Search for available WFH jobs on the TTEC careers portal.

Tutor.com

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Tutor.com is a service of the Princeton Review that offers personalized tutoring services for students in all stages of their education. Tutor.com offers work-from-anywhere opportunities for tutors who want flexibility and regular payments with no invoices required.

Benefits: No benefits are offered to tutors, as they are considered independent contractors rather than employees.

Pay: Tutor.com does not list its hourly rate, but tutors report an average of $12-$13 per hour on Glassdoor.

How to Apply: Click here to apply to be a tutor.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group primarily provides medical insurance policies through United Healthcare. It is also the parent company of Optum, which is a health information and technology firm. UnitedHealth Group hires in many areas, including clinical, consulting, corporate, healthcare, project management and technology. Many of these jobs are remote.

Benefits: Benefits include medical plans, savings and retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance and paid time off. UnitedHealth Group offers medical and wellness benefits to full-time employees, as well as part-time employees who work 20 hours or more per week.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: To see a complete list of remote job openings at UnitedHealth Group, click here.

Working Solutions

Working Solutions provides customer service through its virtual contact center network. Companies that use Working Solutions include Shell, Intuit, Pfizer, Sprint, Peloton, Zillow and Expedia.

Agents at Working Solutions are all WFH and can work when and where they want. Because of that, agents are considered independent contractors instead of employees.

Benefits: Because agents are not employees of Working Solutions, there are no benefits offered.

Pay: Working Solutions reports that its average hourly pay for agents is $15.

How to Apply: Search for available jobs here, and click the button to apply.

Xerox

Xerox has been around since the early 1900s and offers printers and supplies, 3D printing and various business solutions. The company is headquartered in Rochester, New York, but employs over 8,000 remote associates through its Virtual Office Program. This program employs associates in customer care, tech support, quality control, systems development and more.

Benefits: Benefits at Xerox include paid holidays, healthcare, life insurance, retirement savings plans, employee assistance programs and resources for childcare and eldercare.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: Click here to search for open jobs at Xerox.

Zoom

Zoom has been providing cloud video conferencing since its initial release in 2012, but thanks to the pandemic pushing all meetings to virtual, it became the fifth-most-downloaded app worldwide in 2020. Zoom is hiring for many positions, including some that are fully remote (and, presumably, meet with their teams via Zoom).

Remote positions at Zoom include enterprise sales associate, data scientist, software engineer and visual/web designer.

Benefits: Zoom offers benefits like health insurance, 16 weeks paid parental leave, generous PTO, personal finance coaching and book reimbursement.

Pay: Varies by position.

How to Apply: View remote job listings at Zoom here.

Danielle Braff is a freelancer in Chicago. Former staff writers Kaitlyn Blount and Matt Reinstetle contributed to this post.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Dear Penny: Can We Retire in 6 Months With $190K of Student Loans?

Dear Penny,

I am in big trouble. My husband and I have a combined student loan debt of $190,000 and we were planning to retire in six months. 

My husband wants to sell our home and pay off the debt. If we do that, we won’t have much for a down payment for another house, so we won’t have a low mortgage payment. If we don’t sell, we can afford the student loan payments. But we will be very limited with no extra money left to save for emergencies. 

Help. I have many sleepless nights trying to find the best solution to this.

-H.

Dear H.,

If you could make a serious dent in your balance by working another year or two, that’s something to seriously consider. But the reality is that $190,000 is a lot of money. Delaying retirement by a couple years may not be enough to make significant headway.

About 20% of federal student loan debt is held by people 50 and older. Telling millions of people like you and your husband that they have to work forever simply isn’t a viable solution.

I reached out to Betsy Mayotte, president and founder of the nonprofit The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, to discuss strategies for people approaching retirement with serious student loan balances. She’s advised thousands of student loan borrowers about the best way to deal with their debt. She emphasized just how common your dilemma is.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that student loan debt is not just a young person’s issue anymore,” Mayotte said. “I get questions similar to this one all the time.”

The options you have available depend on a couple of factors. First of all, are these federal loans, private loans or a combination of the two? Second, if you have federal loans, is the debt from your own education, or did you take out Parent PLUS loans for your kids? While a lot of Baby Boomers are in debt because they paid for their children’s education, many have loans because they went back to school during the Great Recession, according to Mayotte.


Only in rare occasions are student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. You probably wouldn’t be a good bankruptcy candidate since it sounds like you have decent home equity.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any great relief options if you have private loans. Selling your home and downsizing so that you can pay off your balance, or at least a large chunk of it to make your payments more affordable, may be your best option.

But if you have federal loans, you have several options. Instead of paying off your loans, a better alternative may be to get your monthly payment as low as possible, even if that means you’ll never be completely out of debt.

If you have federal loans, including Parent PLUS loans, Mayotte suggests looking into a program called income-contingent repayment. You’ll need to consolidate your loans to enroll. The advantage is that your payment will be 20% of your disposable income, which will presumably be lower once you retire.

“They reapply every year and if their income goes down, the payment goes down,” Mayotte said. “If their income goes up, the payment goes up. If they still have a balance at the end of 25 years, the balance is forgiven.”

You have even more options if you have federal loans that you took out for yourselves, including income-based repayment, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). These programs make your loan payments as low as 10% to 15% of your discretionary income, and they also offer forgiveness at the end of the repayment period, which is between 20 and 25 years.

Traditionally, the balance forgiven on all the federal student loan programs I mentioned has been treated as taxable income for the year the debt is forgiven. But thanks to COVID-19 relief measures, any balance that’s forgiven between now and 2025 isn’t treated as taxable income. Moyette wouldn’t be surprised if Congress eventually extends that tax break. But if you choose to enroll in a program that offers forgiveness, she suggests preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, since 20 to 25 years is a long way off.

If you incurred any of this debt for your children, it may also be time to look beyond relief programs and ask your kids if they can help you with the payments. “That’s a difficult conversation but sometimes that’s a conversation that needs to be had,” Moyette said.

Assuming you have options to lower your monthly payments, it’s really about your personal preference. If you think you’d sleep better knowing that you don’t have this balance hanging over you, it may be better to downsize and pay it off, even if that means having a mortgage payment.

But there’s nothing wrong with treating this debt like a chronic condition that has no cure, yet can still be managed. If you can make peace with carrying this debt and you’re able to limit the damage to your monthly retirement budget, that may be your best option.

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

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

5 Self-Employment Retirement Plans for 2021

You are making a living, and perhaps enjoying financial success like never before.

But you are doing so as the owner of a small business with one employee (you!) or as a freelancer or contractor. Maybe you have two lucrative part-time jobs as part of the robust gig economy. The money is coming in, but you are living without the benefit of benefits.

You are on your own in preparing for retirement. You are in a position to put money away for that eventuality, but you don’t know the best options. Perhaps you don’t know any of your options.

The federal government wants citizens to save for retirement. There are frequent attempts to induce retirement savings for employees working for private firms, and the retirement programs for those working for federal or state organizations are plentiful and well-run.

There has not been a push to assist self-employed citizens. The motivation to set aside funds for retirement for self-employed people must come from workers themselves.

Two Kinds of Retirement Accounts

There are effectively two kinds of retirement accounts:

  1. A defined benefit plan which promises a specified monthly benefit upon retirement. The pre-determined amount is set by the number of years of contribution and the salary of the employee. Pension plans, which are not available to self-employed people and are becoming more scarce especially in private industry, are an example of a defined benefit plan. This is effectively a savings plan.
  2. A defined contribution plan receives contributions for the employee and perhaps the employer, at a set percent of earnings. These funds are then invested in the employee’s name and the account balance can fluctuate based on the value of the investments. A 401(k) is an example of a defined contribution plan. It is actively related to the stock market or mutual fund investments. These plans can be started by self-employed workers who can contribute to them regularly.

The retirement accounts differ in terms of how much an account holder can contribute to the account over a period of time, how much can be withdrawn over a period of time, and the age of the person withdrawing from the account.

Many retirement accounts penalize the account holder for withdrawing the funds early, usually before 59½.

5 Retirement Savings Plans for Self-Employed Workers

The most workable retirement plans for the self-employed are the Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), the Roth IRA, the Solo 401(k), the SEP-IRA and the Simple IRA.

They differ in how much you can invest annually, the rules for eventually taking that money out, whether you actually work alone or with others, and whether you own your own business. There are qualification rules and age requirements and the next few paragraphs will explain all of that (or tell you where the details can be found).

1. Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)

As the name suggests, this type of retirement account is for individuals only. Contributions to an IRA are subtracted from your annual income, thus avoiding the annual income tax. Contributions are usually made regularly by automatic withdrawal set up by you.

Any money you make from investments made through that IRA are also untaxed until the money is withdrawn.

This is an advantage of investing in a brokerage account, in which income is taxed annually.

Traditional IRAS are available to anyone under the age of 70½ with earned income. However, if a person contributes to a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b), their IRA contributions may not be tax deductible.

But this is a look at the opportunities for people who are self-employed, so that situation may not come up.

Two other details of the traditional IRA are:

  •  It often comes with lower annual contribution limits (It would be nice to be self-employed and be in a situation where you want to contribute more to your retirement fund than you are allowed to.)
  • At the age of 70½, you must begin to take distributions from the account. Those distributions are then taxed (but at a rate lower than if they had been taxed as income).

2. Roth IRA

The way to look at Roth IRAs is to consider how they differ from traditional IRAs.

  • You can make contributions at any age.
  • The funds you contribute are part of your taxable income, but your withdrawals during retirement are tax free, including any earnings from your retirement account investment, assuming you withdraw the funds after you turn 59½.
  • You can make contributions to a retirement plan from work and still get the full tax benefit of traditional IRA contributions.

The negative aspect of the Roth IRA is that you cannot contribute to that kind of account if you make too much money. There is a formula involving your modified adjusted gross income and your tax filing status, but the more you make, the less likely you are to qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA.

3. Solo (one participant) 401(k)

Sounds sad, doesn’t it? But it’s not, really.

A solo 401(k) allows a person to serve as both an employer and an employee, making contributions to the 401(k) account in both capacities, and allows the account holder to contribute up to $26,000 in elective deferrals annually. This is true, however, only for those age 50 and older.

The employer contributions can occur if the self-employed individual has created an S corporation or similar business arrangement. The business can then contribute up to 25 percent of the employee compensation to the 401(k) as long as the total contributions to the account do not exceed $58,000.

The only negative aspect to this type of retirement account is that it serves only one person. If you plan to expand your company to include additional employees, you will need a different type of retirement account.

4. SEP-IRA

For those self-employed people who have their own business, whether it be as sole proprietor, partnership or corporation, the SEP-IRA (Simplified Employee Pension) was designed to take into account the fluctuation of business performance.

A SEP-IRA can only receive contributions from the employer; the employee cannot contribute their own funds. The benefit of a SEP-IRA is that the employer can choose to contribute to the account in years when the business is operating in the green and choose not to contribute when cash flow is low.

Employees are vested in a SEP-IRA, and can take their funds with them if they leave the company.

If there is a downside to the SEP-IRA, it is that when the employer contributes to the account, contributions must be equal to all employees. Also, employers can only contribute up to $58,000 or 25 percent of the employee’s compensation annually, whichever is the lesser amount.

Again, such limits are a nice thing to be in a position to complain about.

5. SIMPLE IRA

SIMPLE stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees, and it really is simple. Employers can establish such a plan simply by filling out one federal form, and the IRA is set to go.

The SIMPLE IRA forces employers to contribute to it annually, either up to 3 percent of employee annual compensation or a 2% nonelective contribution. Employees are allowed to contribute as well, and they are fully vested in the SIMPLE IRA, meaning they can take those funds with them if they leave the company.

SIMPLE IRAs are often chosen by small business owners because they are easy to administer. Some employees choose not to open a SIMPLE IRA because of its required annual contribution to accounts.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

8-Point Home Inspection Checklist for Buyers

After lots of hours looking for the right number of bedrooms, a great kitchen, and enough square footage on the perfect lot, you finally found your family’s dream house. Those things are crossed off your checklist.

Now onto the home inspection checklist to make sure the dream house doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

With a robust seller’s market showing no signs of slowing, buyers may be tempted to move quickly and forego some of the standard safeguards — like the home inspection. In some cases, the seller might ask for that. Red flag.

“I’d been watching the market a little bit and kind of seeing how fast things were going and just decided to jump in, knowing that it could be a challenge. I did not think it would be quite as challenging as it was,” said Jennifer Meadows of Richmond, Virginia. “In seven weeks, we looked at a total of 37 houses and it was bid No. 5 that finally got us a house.”

8-Point Home Inspection Checklist

Home inspectors can have more than 1,000 items to check throughout the house. They’re looking for any signs of damage and to make sure everything is in working order.

While you don’t necessarily need to know everything the inspector is looking for, having a home inspection checklist can help you better understand what is going on.

These are the eight areas the home inspector will concentrate on:

Inspection is Part of Home Buying Process

The Meadows family of Virginia had to offer well above list price for their house, but they were not willing to waive the inspection to make their offer more attractive to sellers, even though the seller asked them to.

Meadows knew a home inspection was the last chance to find any potential problems with a house before the sale was final and was well worth the cost.

“Was this the absolute house of my dreams? Not quite. But the houses that we lost out on, I wasn’t willing to take that risk (of waiving inspection.) I just wasn’t willing to do it because although they were great houses, I knew something else would come along,” Meadows said.

Having a home inspection checklist can help you know what to expect during the inspection and can even help you save money.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a way for both the buyer and seller to learn about any potential health or safety hazards that may be in the home.

Typically the buyer pays for the inspection which is about $350 for an average size house, less for a small home and more for a larger one. The cost varies by state and city. Sometimes buyers and sellers split the cost but that’s not likely in a hot sellers market.

Many buyers are focused on what the home looks like and not necessarily the state of the different features that make it a solid buy. Like the roof and the electrical systems.

“They don’t pay attention to what is really important in the home,” said home inspector John Wanninger.

He has done more than 12,000 inspections and other members of his INSPECTIX team in Nebraska have inspected more than 30,000 homes.

Beware of Forgoing the Inspection

If a buyer chooses to forgo an inspection and a problem appears after the sale, the buyer usually has little or no recourse.

“I wonder about what’s going to come in a couple years after this market for all those buyers that chose not to do a home inspection but maybe relied on what their agent saw during their walkthrough or the seller’s disclosure which is not supposed to be a warranty of any kind,” said Nicole Deprez, a residential real estate agent with NP Dodge in Omaha, Nebraska.

The home inspection and report can also be a guide for what repairs or improvements a buyer might need to budget for after the purchase, like a new roof or HVAC.

The article 17 Checkups to Give Your House Now to Avoid a Shocking Repair Bill Later can also help you figure out how much money to set aside for periodic maintenance and repairs.

A house floats to the sky while attached to balloons.
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What Happens During the Home Inspection?

Usually, the person buying the house is present for the home inspection and can ask questions during the walk-through, but the seller isn’t normally present. The inspector will turn on the oven, run water, open and close windows, go into the attic, crawl under the house, and more.

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection takes about two to four hours and older homes may take longer.

Inspections are important for all kinds of residential and commercial real estate purchases, not just free-standing single-family homes.

The following are the eight areas that inspectors focus on:

1. Structural Components

One of the most expensive things to fix in a house is the foundation. Problems with it can lead to all sorts of other issues.

Sometimes, this will involve the inspector going into the crawl space under the house if there is one.

Wanninger said home inspectors mainly look for evidence of movement and not just minor hairline cracks or settling, water penetration, bowing in the walls, signs a footing has failed, things like that.

The inspector will also look at all walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors.

All windows and doors need to open and close properly with no gaps or sagging around them. There needs to be proper egress from bedrooms.

On the walls, ceilings and floors, home inspectors will look for:

  • Discoloration from mold or water damage.
  • Sagging, bulging, or cracks.
  • Uneven baseboards and bouncy or uneven floors.
  • Gaps between the walls and floors.
  • Popping nails.
  • Leaning or uneven stairs.

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2. Roof

Not all inspectors will go on to the roof and they certainly won’t do it if it is rainy, snowy or excessively windy.

They’re looking for:

  • Overall roof condition.
  • Missing or warped shingles.
  • Issues with the gutters or flashing.
  • Soft spots or algae growth.
  • A leaning, damaged or repaired chimney.
  • Clear vents.
  • Evidence of patches or repairs.
  • Evidence of hail damage.

“Any waviness on the roof is an indication that the sheeting might be compromised. You might have poor ventilation in the attic and it’s causing the sheeting to deteriorate,” Wanninger said. “I can tell by how the sheeting responds underneath my feet. I know what’s going on and I can tell you the thickness of the sheeting by walking on the roof because of my experience.”

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3. Attic and Insulation

The place some people use as extra storage can tell a lot about the house.

In the attic, home inspectors look for:

  • The condition and amount of insulation.
  • The ventilation condition since poor ventilation can lead to moisture which can lead to mold growth.
  • Signs of water like wet or damaged insulation or other signs of leaks.
  • Rust around the furnace if the furnace or HVAC is in the attic.
  • Signs of fire damage like scorched wood or soot.

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4. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems

HVAC systems keep our houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Even with regular maintenance they can still have problems.

Home inspectors check for:

  • Proper installation and function.
  • Signs of gas or carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Proper lighting of the furnace.

To avoid damage to the equipment, inspectors will sometimes only check the system that is in use during the current season, but that depends on the location and inspector.

If the house has a fireplace, home inspectors will check the exhaust flue, dampers, and any gas lines.

“We don’t light them, but we inspect them for operation and the condition of the visible sections,” Wanninger says.

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5. Plumbing and Water

We need water to live, but water is the enemy to most homes. Good ‘ole H2O is the cause of most homeowners insurance claims and once the home you’re looking at is yours, can still cause problems, so a bit of planning from Ignoring These Eight Home Repairs Could End Up Costing You a Lot More could help save you some money and aggravation.

It’s important for home inspectors to pay a lot of attention to anything involving plumbing and water.

Inspectors will:

  • Check all toilets, bathtubs, showers, sinks, waterlines, hoses, washer connections and anything else that has water going to it.
  • Test toilet mechanisms to make sure they flush properly.
  • Fill all bathtubs, sinks, and showers to make sure they drain properly.
  • Check hydrants and pipes outside for any leaks.
  • Test the water pressure.
  • Look at the type of pipes in the home. Some have been recalled and others have a limited lifespan.
  • Inspect the water heater and check the temperature, the pipes and the pressure relief valves.

In the basement, inspectors will look for any signs of water damage, which could be a musty odor, mold, mildew, uneven flooring, or damaged walls.

Outside, inspectors will check if the gutters and downspouts are directing water away from the house.

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6. Electrical and Wiring

The electrical and wiring systems are other things that can be problematic and hazardous.

An electrical systems check includes:

  • Looking at the electrical panel and the wires entering it:  The connections need to be with circuit breakers and not fuses. The main breaker needs to have enough amps. There should be no rust in the panel.
  • Check the reverse polarity.
  • Wiring: Wires need to be covered with proper insulating materials and not have any metal showing. This is sometimes not the case in older homes. No wires should be loose and they should be copper instead of aluminum and not knob and tube, also found in older homes.
  • Switches and outlets: All lights, switches, and outlets should work and contain grounded (three pronged) outlets. All Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and ground fault interrupters (GFI) near water sources need to function and reset properly.

“If you’ve ever heard of little kid getting shocked when a blow dryer fell into the bathtub,  It’s because that blow dryer is plugged into an outlet was not GFCI protected which will kick the power out immediately in the event of a currency fluctuation,” Wanninger said.

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7. Outside the House

Paint doesn’t just make a house look pretty. It provides protection from the elements and can hide a lot of problems.

On the exterior, inspectors are on the lookout for:

  • The condition of the paint and siding: Any rot or decay can signal water or other problems.
  • Cracking or flaking masonry.
  • The condition of outdoor lights and electrical outlets.
  • Water: Any puddles or pooling or water can signal problems with bad grading or drainage.
  • Any trees or bushes that may be interfering with the wiring or other systems of the house.
  • The condition of steps, railings, retaining walls, and driveways.

Home inspectors are also looking for proper drainage away from the house.

“Moisture setting along the foundation is what’s going to allow the soil around the foundation to soften and give the foundation that chance to settle,” Wanninger said. “We look for gutters that are clean and draining away from the foundation, and that the dirt along the foundation is built up and the water straying away from the foundation.”

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8. Appliances and Other Things

In the kitchen, inspectors are looking for many things including:

  • The integrity of the cabinets.
  • The condition of any appliances that stay with the home and are part of the sale. For example, stove burners and ovens will be turned on.
  • The counters.
  • Whether the range hood vents to the outside.
  • Faucets and pipes in and under the sink.

Wanninger warned that sometimes things work during inspection but fail after due to lack of use once sellers move out, especially dishwashers where seals and other components go dry.

Inspectors will also check whether the garage door opens properly and that the safety mechanisms work.

That is one of the things that the Meadows’ inspector found in their new house, which could have posed a threat to the family dogs.

“The sensors on the garage door were not working so nothing was going to stop the door if something was in the way. It was going to keep going,” Meadows said.

Even though home inspectors look at thousands of items, there are some things they don’t do. Environmental issues like mold or radon, or pest issues like termites or carpenter ants inside the walls aren’t necessarily things a home inspector will find unless there are obvious signs of activity.

The same goes for sewer lines, septic systems, and swimming pools. Wanninger recommended hiring a specialist to look at those things, especially if the sewer lines are cast iron because they deteriorate over time.

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What to Do After the Home Inspection

After the home inspection, the buyer will receive a detailed report with everything the inspector found.

“I typically recommend that they take some time to read through the report so they can sort of digest information,” Deprez recommended. “Then if we have the ability through the contract, we can ask the seller for repairs or replacement.”

She had a warning about relying on the seller to do the fixes.

“A buyer can ask the seller to make repairs, but then that repair or replacement is sort of out of the hands of the buyer, so they don’t necessarily get to pick the person that does the repair or the materials,” she said, adding first time homebuyers traditionally want the seller to make the repairs so as a new buyer, they don’t have more to do when they move in.

If the home inspector finds major issues, buyers need to make a decision about whether or not to move forward with the closing.

In that case, it might be a good idea to get additional inspections with a specialist to find out the extent of the problem and what it would cost to fix it.

If you and the seller agree the seller will address the issues, it is important to make sure the repairs are completed and done to your satisfaction.

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

10 Uses of Oats That Don’t Involve Breakfast

Oats are a cheap pantry staple often associated with warm cereal, cookies with raisins and crunchy granola.

But oats are more versatile than you think. This grain is great beyond breakfast and baked goods.

10 Creative Uses of Oats

Did you know you could use oats as a Play-Doh substitute, to remove odors or to soothe irritated skin? Here are 10 not-so-typical uses for oats.

1. Soothe Itchy Skin

An oatmeal bath is great when you’re dealing with itchiness. Oats have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe skin irritation. They can also help keep your skin moisturized. Wrap a bunch of oats in cheesecloth or some old pantyhose so they won’t go down your drain and allow them to soak in the water while you bathe. You can even rub the bundle of oats on the itchy areas of your skin.

2. Soothe a Sunburn

The anti-inflammatory properties of oats are also known to help ease the pain of sunburn. Grind up oats and mix with some milk to form a paste. Apply the paste to your skin for about 15 minutes before gently wiping off. Alternatively, you could soak in an oatmeal bath for a little relief.

3. Make Your Own Dry Shampoo

When you need to freshen up your hair between washes, a little DIY dry shampoo can do the trick. Mix equal parts ground oats and baking soda, work the mixture into your tresses and then brush out. The oats, along with the baking soda, will help absorb the oil in your hair.

4. Get Rid of Smelly Odors

If your fridge is smelling a little funky, you can use oats to help neutralize the unpleasant odor. Just leave an open container or bowl filled with oats in your fridge, and it’ll help to banish the bad smells.

5. Make Your Own Modeling Clay

Instead of going out to the store to buy Play-Doh or modeling clay for the kiddos, mix equal parts oats and flour and add a little water until it forms a clay-like consistency. To make colored clay, just add a few drops of food coloring.

6. Make Oat Milk

You might have purchased oat milk from the grocery store, but you can make it fairly easily at home. Blend a cup of oats with three to four cups of water for about 30 seconds and then strain the mixture into a pitcher. For some flavor, you might want to add a little vanilla extract, maple syrup and a dash of salt before blending. Store covered in the refrigerator.

7. Use As a Binder for Ground Beef

If you’re making meatballs or meatloaf and you find you’re out of breadcrumbs, simply swap oats in their place. Oats serve as a great binder in these meat dishes. You can also use oats to stretch the amount of ground beef you have when making burgers.

8. Use As a Thickener in Recipes

Thicken your soups and stews to the perfect consistency using oats. You’ll want to grind your oats first and add about one-fourth or one-half cup to your simmering pot. Oat flour is also a nice way to thicken sauces or gravies. If you’re looking for a way to add some heartiness to a fruit smoothie, you can add oats there as well.

9. Make a Facial Mask

Give yourself a DIY spa treatment with a mask made from ingredients you have at home. Mix ground oats and water to form a paste. If preferred, add mix-ins such as smashed avocado, mashed banana or plain yogurt. Apply the mixture to your face and leave on for about 15 minutes before wiping clean.

10. Make a Moisturizing Foot Soak

Treat your aching feet to a nice oatmeal soak at the end of a long day. Add ground oats to a tub of warm water and allow your feet to soak for about 20 minutes. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to enhance the spa treatment.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com