The New York Times Is Looking for the Next Generation of Writers

The old Gray Lady wants to get hip with you crazy kids.

At least, that’s what it sounds like in this New York Times post seeking five college students or recent grads to become correspondents. The company’s only qualifications are that you’re young and a good writer; no other experience is required.  

The Edit, its newsletter for the younger set, will feature one correspondent’s essay each week, covering a topic supposedly of interest to your peers. The paper promises to pay for multiple contributions, although it didn’t say how much.

To apply, send an email with a brief description about yourself, along with 500 words about one of the four topics listed. One of the writing prompts is sharing your pet peeve about the way people write about your generation; I wouldn’t recommend using any Times articles as examples.

Writing not your thing? No worries, check out other gigs on our Facebook Jobs page, where we post new opportunities all the time.

Apply to Be a Correspondent at The New York Times

Responsibilities include:

  • Write about issues of interest to students and people who’ve just started their careers. You’ll be expected to contribute multiple articles throughout the year.

Applicants for this position must have:

  • Strong writing skills, although neither a journalism degree nor media experience is required.
  • Knowledge about what the kids are talking about these days.

Apply here for a correspondent gig at The New York Times.  

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her first paid writing gig was for The New York Times, when as a college student, she was asked to report on television coverage for the 1998 election. She got paid $50. Got a great job opportunity you’d like to share? Email her at tiffanyc@thepennyhoarder.com.

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

Tiffany Haddish’s Mad Grouponing Skills Will Make You Love Her Even More

Tiffany Haddish was one of the breakout actors of 2017 for her role in the comedy “Girls Trip.” Haddish takes that momentum into 2018 with a new role as a spokesperson. But the company she’s representing may surprise you: It’s deals site Groupon.

Haddish is unabashedly frugal, which we learned when she told Jimmy Kimmel she took fellow stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a swamp tour she found using Groupon. But her experience doesn’t stop with one funny gator-seeking trip. Haddish is a Groupon evangelist.

Groupon will introduce Haddish as spokesperson in a commercial during a certain widely viewed football game that airs soon, aka the Super Bowl. But video clips on the company’s website reveal all the things Haddish has saved on with Groupon: manicures, hair styling, accommodations and meals on international trips. She even found her dentist through Groupon.

Want to Shop and Save Like Tiffany Haddish?

Groupon reports that Haddish is in the top 1% of users, so don’t feel guilty if your glamorous life only includes occasional Groupon savings. Here are a few tips to make the most of all the deals you see on Groupon.

Stay on Point

Think about what you’re trying to save on before browsing Groupon’s offers. If you’re trying to save on haircuts, for example, don’t let yourself drift into the section with concert and amusement park deals.

Narrow Your Location

It doesn’t matter how much you’re going to save on a yoga class if you have to travel an hour each way. Consider your transportation method and convenience when you’re hovering over that “buy” button.

Read the Fine Print

Dining and entertainment offers can come with some tricky restrictions. Look for blackout dates, minimum check requirements or other stipulations that may render the deal impractical. Check the merchant’s website to make sure prices align with what you expect to pay — and save — with Groupon.

Check That Expiration Date

And don’t forget to note the expiration date for any deals you plan to purchase. Every Groupon has an expiration date for the specified promotional pricing, but the amount you paid for the voucher stays valid forever.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder who would jump at the chance to go on a vacation with Tiffany Haddish.

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

In-N-Out Burger Will Shower Kids With Free Hot Cocoa Whenever It Rains

In-N-Out Burger, the popular West Coast fast-food chain, just added hot cocoa to its menu — the first new permanent menu item in over a decade. Last time it altered its notoriously simple menu was when it added lemonade back in the early 2000s.

The new beverage is made with cocoa powder from Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. — another California-based company — and costs $1.60 for an 8-ounce cup or $2.65 for a 16-ounce cup, according to a customer service representative. Of course, prices may vary by location.

To make this drink’s release even sweeter, In-N-Out has a special on this tasty treat for the kiddos on rainy days.

When It Rains It Pours… Hot Cocoa

A detail shot of a cup of hot cocoa in an In-N-Out Burger restaurant.

Photo courtesy of In-N-Out Burger

Time to start practicing your best rain dances, kids. Because when it rains, it pours… free hot cocoa at In-N-Out Burger for kids 12 and under. Now those rainy days mean something extra sweet for the kiddos.

Keep in mind, though, the kiddos have to be there to claim their freebies. So no leaving the troops at home while mom goes to In-N-Out and fills all the minivan cup holders with that hot, steamy, chocolatey goodness. One good thing, though: There is no expiration date on this deal.  

In-N-Out Burger couldn’t confirm what size the freebie would be, so your mileage may vary from restaurant to restaurant.

We’ll tip our cups to this no-strings-attached freebie and try not to be jealous of the fine folks in California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

So next time it rains, don’t wait for the storm to pass. Put on your rain shoes and run over to a participating In-N-Out Burger near you.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has never been to an In-N-Out because Florida.

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

Cell Service for $20/Month? We Have Some Questions for This Discount Carrier

Like everyone else, I’m attached to my phone.

So you’d think I’d be fairly attached to my provider. You know: the entity that allows me to mindlessly scroll Instagram, listen to true-crime podcasts and annoy my boyfriend via text 24/7.

But I’m not. In fact, I hate it.

Of course I’m going to tell you why…

  1. It’s expensive — well over $200 for three lines. (That includes my mom, my brother and me.)
  1. Negotiating is impossible and the fees are ambiguous.
  1. Each time I leave the brick-and-mortar store, I’m either frustrated out of my mind or near tears. Or both.
  1. Nearly every month, I get one of those “You’ve used all your data! We’ll go ahead and add $15 more” texts. (My mom asked about upping our data plan. Not worth it, a salesperson advised her. Why?!)
  1. I’m currently sitting inside my apartment with two measly service bars. Cool.

And, yeah, I’ve looked into other service providers, but this process has lead to frustrations and and questions. Like: Is this really going to be better and cheaper than what I have going for me now?

Today, I’m going to put my skepticism (and sometimes cynicism) to good use to examine a discount cell phone plan I’ve heard chatter about lately: Pure TalkUSA.

Apparently, plans start at $20 a month, and include unlimited talk and text. And there are zero overage fees. Plus, you can use the code “PENNY” to get 50% off your first month of service.

Too good to be true, I think. So I started asking all the questions to put together a comprehensive Pure TalkUSA review…

1. Service Will Be Shoddy, Right?

Coverage is my first concern.

Remember those AT&T and Verizon commercials with the maps? “See! Everything is red means you’re covered!” they’d say, the map of the U.S. painted red. With smaller discount carriers, I picture a red dot in all major cities. That’s all.

I start poking around to learn about the Pure TalkUSA coverage.

Its site says it operates on the largest 4G LTE GSM network. I Google “GSM,” because what the heck does that mean? It’s a carrier. Apparently Sprint and Verizon operate on the CDMA carrier while AT&T, T-Mobile and most of the rest of the world use GSM.

Pure TalkUSA also provides a map. I’m stoked for the visual. Most of the U.S. is covered in orange, aside from some larger spots out west.

I scroll down to read the “definitions” of the colors. Orange represents “coverage areas that should be sufficient for on-street, in-the-open and some building coverage.” It’s also worth noting the fine print that reads, “The map does not guarantee service availability.”

That makes me slightly wary, but I get it: You’ve got to cover your butt.

I move on and wonder…

2. Will I Be Stuck With One Low-Data Plan Option?

Pure TalkUSA advertises plans starting at $20 a month.

These include unlimited talk and texting. The data is what gets you, though.

That sounds too affordable to be true. How much data am I getting for that? Well, you’ve got options:

  • $20 a month gets you unlimited talk and text plus 500MB of high-speed data. For reference, this equates to 13.5 hours of surfing the internet, 3.5 hours of streaming music or 20 minutes of streaming video.
  • $25 gets you unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of high-speed data. This equates to 27 hours of surfing the internet.
  • $30 gets you unlimited talk and text plus 3GB of high-speed data. This equates to 81 hours of surfing the internet (about .
  • $35 gets you unlimited talk and text plus 5GB of high-speed data. This equates to 135 hours of surfing the internet.
  • $45 gets you unlimited talk and text plus 10GB of high-speed data. This equates to 270 hours of surfing the internet.

I honestly have no concept of how much I use the internet on my phone, so I check in with my current plan. For three lines, we have 20GB of data. Based on that, I assume 10GB would be plenty for me.

This leads to my next, perhaps most pressing question…

3. What If I Use All My Data?

This is perhaps the most important question of them all. I don’t want to be charged $15 each time I go over my data allowance. That already happens. And I hate it.

So we’ve established Pure TalkUSA plans come with unlimited talk and text (including picture texts). But what about the data?

The carrier assures users it won’t simply turn off your data when you max out. Or even charge you overage fees. Instead, once you hit capacity in a month’s time, you’ll be throttled to 128 kbps (which is a kilobit per second).

I looked this one up. Apparently, 128 kbps isn’t the worst. You can watch this guy use his phone on 128 kbps for some context. (Spoiler: YouTube isn’t really functional at this rate.)

Once your month resets, you’ll get all your data again!

4. Can I Keep Fam in My Plan?

This is a big yes! Actually, the more family you add to your plan, the bigger discount you can snag.

For example, when you add a second line, you’ll get 10% off your total bill. Add a third line and get 15% off. Add a fourth line — or more — and you’ll see 20% shaved off your bill.

For example, if three of you have the $30 plan, that would be about $90 a month. But you’ll get 15% off now, which leaves you paying $25.50 per line.

Hey, any little bit helps.

5. Will I Need to Buy a New Phone and Get a New Number?

Nope! This is a BYOP plan. (Bring Your Own Phone… I just made that up.) This means you can keep your existing phone number, too.

Of course, you can shop phones through Pure TalkUSA. But if you have a perfectly good iPhone or Android, check to see if it’s compatible (or unlocked).

Do note, you cannot switch from these carriers if your phone is locked to the network:

  • Verizon/Alltel
  • Boost
  • Sprint/Nextel
  • MetroPCS
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Page Plus

This, I realize, will weed a lot of folks out. You can, however, transfer to Pure TalkUSA from plans with these carriers:

  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Cingular
  • TracFone
  • Net10
  • Any other GSM providers

With all networks, you’ll have to make sure your phone is unlocked. (Here’s a guide to unlocking your phone courtesy of Digital Trends.)

6. How Do I Make the Switch?

Perhaps the most beautiful part of Pure TalkUSA is you don’t even have to go to a store to switch; it all happens online.

Pure TalkUSA talks you through the sign-up process:

  1. Pick your plan. (Take a look at all the ones I mentioned above.)
  1. Choose a phone — or bring your own as long as it’s compatible and unlocked. If you opt for this, your SIM card will cost $3. This is a one-time fee.
  1. Choose to add another line. Or not. Then pay.
  1. Pure TalkUSA sends you a SIM card (and phone, if ordered). Orders placed before 10 a.m. EST will be shipped out that same day. Standard, free shipping ranges from four to six business days.
  1. Once you get your new SIM card, insert it into your phone, and activate your phone online (or call customer service).

Now, you’re all signed up!

7. But What if I Hate Pure TalkUSA?

Don’t panic. Because you’re not tied to a contract, you can cancel your service any time.The company has a 14-day device return policy. Note the device restocking fees, though.

If you’re still impressed with this discount cell phone plan after my interrogation (I kind of am), you can read up on it a little more and sign up online.

And hey, don’t forget to enter “PENNY” for that special 50% off offer!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This is the closest she’s been to jumping her carrier’s ship… She just might take the plunge.

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

We’ll Tell You if This $29 Bed Bath & Beyond Membership Is Really Worth It

They’ve finally done it. They’re going to get me for good.

I’m not talking about the IRS. I’m talking about Bed Bath & Beyond.

Goodbye, single coupon. Hello, annual membership!

That’s right, membership.

The nationwide retailer and hawker of all-the-household-things-I-want-but-don’t-know-why (or how to use) just unveiled its new Beyond+ Beta membership program.

What You Can Get With Beyond+ Beta

For $29 a year plus applicable taxes, members will receive 20% off every purchase they make at Bed Bath & Beyond stores and online.

Members also get free standard shipping on every online order. Now that’s music to my ears. My inner Abbi Jacobson is doing back flips. You “Broad City” fans feel me.

What You Can’t Get With Bed Bath & Beyond Membership

Not so sneaky. Thinking of combining that 20% off one item coupon with the 20% off your entire purchase deal? Sadly, you can’t.

The membership discount cannot be combined with any other coupon, special offer, price match or discount. Bummer.

Also, free shipping doesn’t cover surcharges or overweight items.

Unfortunately, other pesky exclusions apply. You can’t use the 20% off on certain brands or products including A Pea in the Pod, Kate Spade, Under Armour, Vitamix, diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, portrait studio service and more. See all the exclusions under “Offer Exclusions” on the terms and conditions page.

Other Fine Print to Consider

There’s no turning back once you commit. The membership is nonrefundable and will automatically renew if you don’t cancel before the one-year term is up. Also, canceling could become a bit of a hassle because you cannot do it online — you have to call customer service.

Currently, the beta membership is valid in the U.S. only.

How It Can Save You Money and a Hassle

Have no fine-print fear? This is a great deal, especially if you’re like me and submit an order only to realize you forgot an item that you then have to pay extra shipping for.

Or instead of hoarding mashed-up coupons in your wallet and holding up the checkout line as you try to find them, you can save every single time without the hassle.

Also keep in mind that the membership program is in its infancy — hence the word “beta” — so Bed, Bath & Beyond could add or remove benefits as it shapes the program.

Not ready to commit? That’s OK. We’ve got you covered with other ways to save at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She can finally get rid of all those expired Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.

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

7 Morbid Money Questions to Ask Yourself (Even if You Plan to Live Forever)

Money is one of those topics we’re not encouraged to discuss openly. Death? That’s high up on the list, too.

But the inevitable is truly inevitable. And whether your departure is unexpected or comes at the end of a long illness, it can leave behind a considerable financial burden.

If you’ve cared for an aging parent or someone with a long-term illness, you know the kinds of expenses that accumulate. But if you’re young or in good health, you may not have thought about your own mortality. And if you die unexpectedly, someone will have to put together the puzzle you leave behind.

This to-do list is brief and doesn’t take into consideration each person’s individual circumstances, but if you haven’t done any end-of-life planning, it’s a good place to start. Not only will it help sort out the money stuff, but it’ll give you some peace of mind, too.

1. Do I Need a Will?

A will isn’t just a thing that people with money or assets make. Do you have a car? A job with a 401(k)? A dog? Then you probably need a will.

“Everyone needs a living will,” said Amy Pickard, whose firm, Good to Go, seeks to remove the stigma from end-of-life planning. “If you’re 18 and live away from home, you need the paperwork. It’s just leaving behind instructions.”

She works with clients and even hosts death-planning parties to get people thinking about their final wishes. Having a will drawn up can cost as little as $5 — yes, it’s really valid in many states — to about $2,500. Read our full guide on wills and estate planning to help reduce the stress of planning for the inevitable.

2. What Will Happen to My Bank Accounts?

If bills will still need to be paid in your absence, consider designating making a bank account payable on death to a beneficiary.

Pickard said it takes five minutes to go into your bank and ask to have someone added to your account as the payable on death beneficiary. You need to give their name and Social Security number. “It’s one thing that will take a lot of work and stress out of the death duties,” Pickard said.

Having a joint account with your spouse isn’t an easier solution, she warned. If you both die in an accident, a third party will still need to be able to access your accounts.

Gale Allison, an estate lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, doesn’t advise people to designate a payable on death for their bank accounts unless they are sure they can keep up with the responsibility to keep that designation up to to date. Relationships may change over time, and when those changes settle, the paperwork needs to match the new reality.

3. Should I Have Life Insurance?

Grandparents and grandchildren play while resting on the living room couch

Geber86/Getty Images

You might see infomercials for life insurance when you’re home sick and catching up on “The Price Is Right.” But while the people in the ads may look, erm… elderly, life insurance isn’t just for seniors.

Even if you’re a young, healthy person with no dependents, life insurance can help keep your next of kin afloat while they settle your accounts.

Jesse Rozmarynowski, a licensed life and health insurance agent with Advantage Group in Madison, Wisconsin, offers some simple math to determine how much coverage you might want.

First, think about what it would cost to have the type of funeral you’d prefer. Then, consider your outstanding debts, from mortgages and car loans to private student loans and credit card debt. On top of that, add in your living expenses for a year — or longer, if you’d be leaving a spouse or child without your income. Add it all up, and you’ll have a good idea of how much coverage you’ll want.

If you’re on the younger side, Rozmarynowski recommends term life insurance because it can be considerably cheaper than whole life insurance, and it offers comparable coverage. With term life insurance, you pay a premium for a certain number of years, and you are covered in the event of your death within that term. Once it expires, you need to buy a new policy. Take out whole life insurance, and you’ll pay a premium each month for the rest of your life — the only expiration date to worry about is your own.

That’s just a basic rundown of life insurance options. We have more information about the different types of life insurance available.

Don’t write off employer-offered life insurance just because you don’t have kids or a spouse at home, Rozmarynowski said. “Those plans can be less expensive because they’re arranged for a group, and you may be able to skip any medical questions or health exams to be eligible for coverage.” Find out if your employer-offered coverage is portable, which means you can take that coverage with you if you change jobs.

At the very least, make sure there’s money set aside for immediate costs your loved ones will have to handle.

“Even if it’s $3,000, that should pretty much cover cremation and a burial,” Pickard said.

4. Does Someone Know Where My Important Documents Are Stored?

Whether it’s a three-ring binder on your bookshelf, a manila envelope on the top shelf of your closet, or what personal finance idol Dave Ramsey calls a Legacy Drawer, you need to set aside a place for your important documents and instructions.

Your funeral instructions, tax returns, your will and the dog’s vet records all need to be easy to find when you’re not there to show someone where your important documents are tucked away.

“It is imperative your next of kin know where you’ve chosen to store these important papers,” said Elizabeth Fournier of Cornerstone Funeral Services. “A safe deposit box is not a good place. These documents need to be accessed sooner than a trip to the bank.”

You can also leave instructions telling where to find these documents with a legal or financial professional you trust. The key is to tell at least two people you trust so they know where to go to find out what you want done and what will need to be taken care of, Rozmarynowski said. This helps ensure at least one of those people is available to help if the need arises.

5. Who Has Access to My Passwords?

A person searches for passwords on a laptop.

pattonmania/Getty Images

What about your digital life? There are online billing portals and account histories, sure. But what about your Facebook account or your cloud file storage?

“I don’t think we’re thinking about digital assets yet,” said Kevin Ruth, head of wealth planning and personal trust at Fidelity Investments. It’s not just a new area for estate planners to tackle — it’s new for lawmakers, too.

Ruth recommends keeping a hard copy list of your accounts and passwords, and keeping that list somewhere secure with your other emergency files. Then, if you have considerable digital assets, like music files, photos or ebooks that you’d like to pass on to someone, make sure you list that person in your legal documents.

6. Who Are My Beneficiaries?

Ruth recommends checking annually your beneficiary designations, those who get the funds from your accounts should you die.

“For younger people, company life insurance may be the biggest asset they may have, and their estate can be controlled by that beneficiary,” Ruth explained. “So make sure it’s going to the right people.”

7. Am I Ready to Talk About This (Out Loud)?!?!?!?

It’s really hard to talk about death, especially when it seems far off and hypothetical. But frank conversations now can make life easier later for the loved ones you leave behind.

Fournier urges people to think about their final wishes, even if they are healthy. And if you want a grand exit, you may want to do additional financial planning. With more than 25 years in the funeral industry, Fournier has learned that final wishes aren’t always reasonable.

“People say they want their ashes scattered off some volcano in Hawaii and they make their wishes known, but the family feels massive amounts of grief because they can’t afford to satisfy those wishes,” she said.

Talking about those wishes, no matter how awkward it feels now, can help you be realistic about what’s going to happen later. “It helps to give your family an out,” Fournier said.

Don’t expect to have a quick 20-minute chat with your sibling or cousin over Sunday dinner, but do expect this preparation process to take time and thought. By putting the financial pieces of the puzzle in place now, you’ll offer a clearer picture to those left behind if you depart unexpectedly.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

Here’s Why You May Want a Will… Even if You’re Young and Ridiculously Broke

It’s the question we usually ask our parents late one night while sitting around the kitchen table. Or we ask our siblings when they become parents for the first time.

“Do you have a will?”

Of course, if you’re facing an illness, coming up on retirement age, or have a partner or children, you should have a will.

But even if you’re young and feel invincible, you should also probably have a will. Life can come at you fast. So can death.

Before you go online and print a will from the same website where you got ordained to preside over weddings, check out this primer of all the estate planning-type documents you might want — and their true costs.

What Is a Will, Anyway?

This short list will orient you with some of the terms you’ll see bandied about by estate lawyers, websites, and likely your family and friends, too.

Will

This document designates one or more executors who will settle your affairs after your death. It also lists your wishes for your assets and property, and names guardians for your children.

Probate

Probate court validates and approves wills so the executor of a will can move forward with managing the estate of the deceased person.

Living Will

Also known as an advance directive, it lists your preferences for health care if you’re unable to convey those wishes.

Trust

A trust is an arrangement that gives a third party — your beneficiary — the right to manage your assets.

Revocable Trust

A revocable trust, or living trust, lets you retain control of your assets listed in your trust and make changes to the trust during your lifetime. When you die, the assets are passed on outside of probate court. An irrevocable trust can’t be changed once it’s finalized.

Power of Attorney

This document allows a designated person to make financial or health decisions for you if you’re unable to do so. Power of attorney expires when you die.  

Estate Plan

An estate plan can include any number of the documents above, based on your needs.

Should You Have a Will or a Trust?

Dollar bills hang from a clothes line outside in the sunshine.

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

You might want to consider getting a will and a trust.

Kevin Ruth, head of wealth planning and personal trust at Fidelity Investments, said that your need for a trust depends on the state you live in and how difficult probate is.

When you die, the executor of your will must go to circuit court and file your will, making it a public document.

“Almost all states require you [to] include a listing of assets with your will, laying on the table all your assets and letting everyone know who gets what,” he said. “The benefit of a trust instead of just having a will is privacy.”

If you want that information to be private to your beneficiaries, set up a trust. Then, when the will is filed in court, it will simply say it covers everything listed in the private trust.

“You should always have a will,” Ruth said. “But if you have a trust, all the will says is that everything goes into the trust. This is typically called a pour-over will.”

Without a trust, probate is unavoidable. “It can take a regular person a year to get through probate,” estate attorney Gale Allison said. And time, as we all know, is money.

“People think you have to have a lot of dough to get a revocable trust,” Allison said. “People think they’re not worth enough.” But the costs of setting up a trust now (more on that later) may be worth it to prevent expenses for your loved ones when they settle your estate later.

Why You Also Need Power of Attorney

An estate plan isn’t just about having a trust or will to guide what happens when you die. It often also contains power of attorney for health and finance.

“It [power of attorney] controls everything the trust doesn’t,” Allison said. And if it’s durable — as all powers of attorney should be — she advised, “it’s still effective when you are no longer in your right mind.”

Naming someone to take control of your accounts if you become incompetent may feel scary, but Allison says the reality is that few of us will die suddenly. For more of us, there’s a long illness or an accident with a period of uncertainty that follows.

“Two-thirds of us will have a long slide into the abyss,” Allison said. “If you confront that and you don’t have the proper things in place, there are problems. It’s hard to make money last. It’s hard to have a family not fall into complete dysfunction.”

Generally, regular power of attorney expires if you become incapacitated, so that the person you’ve entrusted to manage your bank accounts or other assets can’t make decisions willy-nilly without your approval. But durable power of attorney remains valid even if you get hurt or sick and can’t make decisions for yourself.

“Your next of kin takes over your finances unless you have a power of attorney,” Elizabeth Fournier of Cornerstone Funeral Services said. “But I tell people to go one step further and make sure they fill out a durable power of attorney form.” You may also see it listed as an enduring power of attorney.

So, What Does a Will Really Cost?

Coins are set on fire in a beer mug.

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

People often make a big mistake when they try to set up a will, according to Allison. They call offices up and ask, “How much for a will?”

“That’s like calling a car dealership and asking how much for a car,” Allison said. “The answer is nobody will know until you sit down and tell them what you want.”

An estate plan, which might include a will and trust, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and health care directive, can cost “anywhere from the high hundreds into the thousands,” Ruth said, with his best estimate being about $2,500. “If you just went in and got a will, that would cost a couple hundred,” he said.

Digital services like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom have simplified the process online, and can offer wills and other estate-planning documents that match your state regulations in packages for under $500. A la carte documents, like a simple will or power of attorney, can cost between $25 and $50 online.

“If you don’t have children or a lot of assets, you can use those services to get very simple wills done with a few questions and have a legal document,” Ruth said. If you have more complex situations in your life, like children, a second marriage or other situations, Ruth said to work with a pro.

Allison advises working with an attorney on an estate plan. “The stuff you own and put into your estate plan should be reviewed and titled or executed with the help of a knowledgeable estate attorney to keep you from painting just one picture of your possible demise,” she said. “You might as well not make any effort as to plan only addressing that one scenario.”

How to Write a Will if You’re Low on Cash

Local nonprofits and libraries often host no-obligation seminars where you can learn about estate-planning options. Your state or local bar association may offer free short consultations with member attorneys or seminars to answer common questions about wills and trusts.

If you’re looking for a basic option with a little guidance, Amy Pickard of Good to Go!, an advance planning service, recommends the Five Wishes living will from Aging with Dignity. It’s a legally binding document in 42 states and Washington, D.C., and costs just $5 to purchase, fill out online and print. Some states also offer free power of attorney documents.

“Most states let you do your own will,” Allison said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, but it’s better than nothing.”

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

40% of Student Loans Could Be in Default by 2023, and Here’s Who’s to Blame

There’s big trouble brewing in the world of student loans, and many people don’t even realize it.

Sure, there’s the $1.4 trillion in outstanding college debt that is sure to scare your cap and gown off. But a new report by the Brookings Institution highlights a looming default crisis that could shake the U.S. economy.

Using new data on student borrowers who entered college for the first time in 2003-04, Brookings senior fellow Judith Scott-Clayton concluded that by 2023, the cumulative student loan default rate for that group will top 40%. Yep, the report says nearly half of that faction will have stopped paying back their student loans for at least nine months.

Right now, the student loan default rate for that group is around 25%. The most recent U.S. Department of Education data shows the default rate for those who took out loans in 2014 has ticked up to 11.5%.

Comparing the numbers, you can see we’re in for a major increase in defaults. But why?

For-Profit Colleges Drive the Student Loan Default Rate

Drill into the numbers further, and you’ll see that nearly 70% students who took out loans in 2004 to attend for-profit universities will likely default by 2023.

These types of institutions include the controversial — and now shuttered — ITT Technical Institute, Corinthian College and DeVry University.

Public university student borrowers who started college in 2003-04 are projected to have a 26% default rate in the next five years.

The projected gulf in default rates comes as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos freezes Obama-era regulations on for-profit colleges, such as rules erasing student loan debt of borrowers who were defrauded by such schools.

In the conclusion of the study, Scott-Clayton recommends ramping up regulations on for-profit schools, although she doesn’t discuss specifics.

Default Rate Is at ‘Crisis Levels’ for Black Students

The gap in default rates between students at public and for-profit schools is dramatic, but the difference in default rates among races is even more stark.

“Debt and default among black college students is at crisis levels, and even a bachelor’s degree is no guarantee of security,” Scott-Clayton wrote in the study. “Black (bachelor’s degree) graduates default at five times the rate of white (bachelor’s degree) graduates… and are more likely to default than white dropouts.”

By 2023, the default rate for black borrowers who started college in 2003-04 is projected to hit 73.3%. It’s largely due to labor market that’s less favorable for these graduates, according to a previous Brookings study.

In the previous study, Scott-Clayton recommended a pay-as-you-earn model of student loan debt repayment, in which debt service would be based on your income.

But what should you do if you’re among the millions of students we’ve discussed so far?

What Can I Do if I’m Heading Toward Student Loan Default?

First, if you’re struggling to pay back your student debt, you’re not alone. And you could be on the way to breaking free from that debt, like this guy, with a few simple tips.

Try refinancing with a site like Credible. Jammie Proctor, an engineering graduate, saved more than $6,500 on his student loans using that route.

Then, to save some extra cash, try savings apps or start a side hustle.

You may also consider moving back home if that’s an option, like Kelly Russell.

If you’ve already defaulted on your student loan, make sure you get yourself on an income-driven repayment plan. And head to the Federal Student Aid website for other tips on dealing with default.

But until there are some major regulatory changes to the country’s university system, it’s likely the need for such services will continue to grow.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

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

Walmart Is Rolling Out a Minimum Wage Increase and a Boost to Benefits

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced it’s raising entry-level pay to $11 an hour for all of its U.S. employees. It will also be giving out bonuses up to $1,000.

For a company that prides itself on rollbacks, this pay raise is anything but.

The change comes on the same day that Walmart announced it is closing 63 Sam’s Club stores across the country.

The retail giant is crediting the pay raise to the recent tax overhaul, which cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. While the company expects to add $300 million in annual expenses thanks to the pay raise, it looks to save billions thanks to the new bill.

Walmart isn’t the first to announce a pay raise for its employees following the tax cut. Wells Fargo is raising minimum wage to $15 an hour, and AT&T Inc. will be giving out bonuses to most of its U.S. employees.

Who Will See These Changes?

So who exactly gets to reap these benefits?

All full- and part-time hourly employees in the U.S. are eligible for the one time bonus, maxing out at $1,000. The amount received is based on how long the employee has been with the company. Those who have been there for at least 20 years will get the full $1,000.

With over 1.5 million employees in the U.S., Walmart expects to spend upwards of $400 million on bonuses this year.

The raise in minimum wage, up from $10 an hour, will begin in February 2018 and applies to all hourly employees. While current full-time Walmart employees make an average of $13.85 an hour, this pay raise will bring it up to $14.50.

Thanks to competition in the workforce, this is the third time in two years that Walmart has raised minimum wage. Cities and states across the country have raised hourly pay over the last few years, and 2018 doesn’t look like it’s going to be much different.

Beefing Up Benefits

Along with the raise of hourly pay and distribution of bonuses, Walmart is moving to boost some of its benefits, including its parental leave policy.

Full-time hourly employees can now get 10 weeks of full-pay maternity leave, up from eight weeks. Additionally, paid parental leave has been boosted to six weeks.

The company is also offering financial assistance for those looking to adopt. Full-time hourly and salaried employees can get up to $5,000 per child, which can be spent on expenses that come along with adoption, such as adoption and court fees.

Kaitlyn Blount is a junior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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

This Is How Scammers Are Using Our Atrocious Spelling Skills Against Us

Fingers are stupid. Let’s just admit that right now.

We’ve all done it — jumped online and started typing in our web browsers, only to flub the spelling of the website we want. Instead of Netflix.com we got Neltfix.com. We meant to type Walmart.com but ended up with Walmrat.com.

It’s easy to do.

Most of the time, you’ll end up at an error page or maybe even get rerouted to the correct page. But NBC Nightly News is now reporting that you may end up getting scammed.

Typosquatting Is a Thing, and It Could Rip You Off

Typosquatting — sometimes known as URL hijacking — is when a person creates a website using a URL that is very similar to a known, copyrighted brand name. The scammer uses a common typo, such as Costoco.com instead of Costco.com, to lure consumers to a fake website.

We’ve told you in the past about domain squatting, but it’s not quite the same. Domain squatting is when someone creates a website using a common typo in the URL, and they use that domain to get pay-per-view or pay-per-click advertising. It’s not exactly cool, but it’s not illegal, either.

Typosquatters take it a step further. They will set up their webpage to look just like the website you thought you typed in. On NBC Nightly News, one consumer told his tale of getting to the fake Costco site and thinking he was on the correct site. Then, a pop-up told him he could get a product for free if he just paid for shipping and handling. It seemed like a great deal, right?

Nope. Pretty soon, he saw bogus charges of $98 coming out of his bank account over and over.

Typosquatters set up their fake sites just to rip you off or infect your computer with malware. Not cool.

Many companies will spend the money to buy up all the various ways to spell — or misspell —  their website domains to avoid such confusion. Sometimes, though, the bad guys beat them to the punch.

One new study found that 80% of one-letter variants for Google, Facebook and Apple are active typosquatting sites. The more lucrative the website, the more likely it is that typosquatters are out there trying to take advantage of your clumsy fingers.

How to Protect Yourself From Your Own Bad Spelling

The first thing to know is that the little padlock symbol on your URL bar is easily faked, so it’s no guarantee.

So how do you avoid getting scammed? Simply check and double-check your spelling before you put in your credit card or Social Security numbers, or other personal information. Be extra suspicious of any pop-up offers you’re not specifically looking for, especially if they seem too good to be true.

Even those ads at the top of your web search can be fakes to lure you to a scam site. There is some real effort here on the part of scammers. Just be careful before you click, and protect your computer with appropriate virus protection software and firewalls.

Can you imagine if these people used their brainpower for good? Imagine the possibilities…

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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