Nearly 1 in 3 Transgender People Live in Poverty in U.S. What Can We Do?

The phone interview went well for Michael. The supervisor he spoke with said his experience looked great and that he was excited to meet him.

But the supervisor also assumed that Michael was a woman, as the name on his resume implied. While Michael identified as a male, he hadn’t started changing his paperwork when he applied for the position as a summer camp counselor. As a result, Michael’s resume had his old name on it.

Michael arrived wearing a dress shirt, bow tie and slacks. With a smile and his hand outstretched, he greeted the interviewer. He told him he goes by Michael and that he uses male pronouns. The interviewer ignored his hand.

During the interview, Michael said, the man sat across from him, staring down at his resume and refusing to make eye contact. He leaned away from Michael when he asked him about his experience. He referred to Michael by his old name and used his old pronouns multiple times throughout the interview.

“He couldn’t get far enough away from me,” said Michael, who asked to only be identified by his first name.

The interviewer told Michael he would hear back about the position in the coming days. Michael never got a phone call.

“You can tell when someone doesn’t want to talk to you,” he said. “Not only [did] being misgendered hurt, but knowing that someone was uncomfortable even being in the same room as me was a little bit degrading.”

Here’s What Many Transgender People Face in the Workplace

Today, Michael is employed –– but the company he works for doesn’t know he’s trans.

Michael isn’t alone in his experiences: The National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey of 27,715 transgender people — the largest-ever survey of its kind in the U.S. — found that 53% of respondents who held a job in the previous year hid their gender identity at work to avoid discrimination. The same survey found that 30% of those who had a job in the past year reported being fired, denied a promotion or experiencing other forms of mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity or expression.

A man waves around a transgender flag during a pride parade in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Lucas Wehle participates in the transgender march after doing community outreach during the St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., in June 2017. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

That’s why Lucas Whele, transgender care coordinator at Metro Wellness Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, dreads the question: “I’m not out to my employer — what do you recommend?”

A transgender man himself, he is responsible for helping trans people find resources they need for everything from changing their legal paperwork to obtaining proper health care.

“I have no idea what their employer is like,” Lucas said. “I can recommend things, but at the end of the day, my most secure recommendation is for people to make sure they have their ducks in a row and are prepared for the worst. If you think it’s going to go horribly, it will probably go horribly.”

When President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military on July 26, 2017, an estimated 15,500 active-duty personnel who are suddenly faced the possibility of being out of a job. The military is the single largest employer of trans people in the world, The Washington Post reported.

The Justice Department has since placed the ban on hold, allowing transgender people to enlist in the military, but the Trump administration continues to defend the ban against multiple lawsuits.

Taliyah Cassadine works on creating a mannequin that has her size measurements inside her home in Atlanta, GA.
Taliyah Cassadine works on creating a mannequin that has her size measurements inside her home in Atlanta. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Taliyah Cassadine, a 35-year-old trans woman who served in the Army from 2000 to 2004 while she still identified as a man, disputes the reason Trump gave for the ban — that allowing trans people to serve brings “tremendous medical costs and disruption” — saying that transgender people often physically transition during their leave time.

“So who is to say that a trans woman or a trans man couldn’t serve their time in the military and they get paid every 1st and the 15th, save their money, and pay for it themselves?” Taliyah said. “No one is saying that they ever asked the government to pay for anything, and I think that’s the biggest issue.”

She described the attempted ban as “discrimination at its finest.”

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey estimated the unemployment rate in the transgender community at 15%. At the time of the survey, that was three times higher than the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. High unemployment contributes to the staggering poverty rate of 33% in the trans community, a rate that’s twice that of the general U.S. population.

But the poverty cycle often begins long before a transgender person tries to get a job.

A woman applies makeup to her face in the dressing room of Hamburger Mary's before a drag show performance.
Delores T. Van-Cartier gets ready for a performance at Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater, Fla. Van-Cartier has a full-time job during the week, and she performs on some weeknights and over the weekend. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Delores T. Van-Cartier, a transgender woman and drag performer at LGBTQ-friendly chain Hamburger Mary’s, said many in the trans community turn to sex work as a result. The U.S. Transgender Survey found that 1 in 5 of respondents have participated in the underground economy for income at some point, and 12% have done sex work in exchange for income.

“They are afraid to go out and get a real job because of fear,” Van-Cartier said. “They’re afraid of being found out; they don’t want to be discriminated against, or rejected. So they go out, and they look for work where they won’t have to deal with being called names in their office every day, because that’s rough. You have to have a thick skin in this life.”

What Can We Do About Anti-Trans Discrimination?

While the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey revealed the ongoing discrimination trans people face, it also found growing acceptance.

More than half of respondents reported that their family was supportive of them being trans. More than two-thirds who were out to their co-workers stated that they were supportive. For students, more than half reported that their classmates supported them.

A couple snuggle together on their couch inside their home.
Lucas Wehle spends time with his fiancee, Rachyl Carey, at their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal work to defend the rights of the transgender community both through legislation and by representing those who have faced discrimination.

“We’re fighting discrimination in employment, housing, and public places, including restrooms. We’re working to make sure trans people get the health care they need and we’re challenging obstacles to changing the gender marker on identification documents and obtaining legal name changes,” the ACLU’s website states.

Still, the National Center for Transgender Equality reminds people that “laws on the books don’t always translate into actual fair treatment.”

Lambda Legal has an entire page dedicated to employers and how they can make their workplace all-inclusive by taking steps like supporting employees’ rights to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, offering diversity training and contracting with a health insurance provider that covers transition-related expenses.

But unfortunately, for those in the transgender community who deal with discrimination, the best advice Lucas can give them is to present in their assigned gender, at least temporarily.

That allows people to save as much money as possible and start searching for an LGBTQ-friendly workplace.

“It sucks, and I hate to say it, but sometimes that’s all you can do,” he said. “But in order to get to a place where you’ll be comfortable, you might have to do it in order to survive.”

But Lucas adds: “In some places, those just don’t exist.”

Kelly Anne Smith is an email content specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.

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.

Oh Thank Heaven! This 7-Eleven Contest Is Giving Away $190K for a Franchise

You’re at the 7-Eleven every day to get your daily Slurpee fix, so why not own the place?

With 7-Eleven’s W.E. Take the Lead contest, you could be a step closer to your dream. The company will give one female entrepreneur the prize of initial franchise fees up to $190,000.

Win a 7-Eleven franchise and enjoy free Slurpees for life? Sign me up!

But before you start dreaming about living the good life in the snack aisle, check out this article that covers the pros and cons of franchising.

The initial application for the 7-Eleven contest is due by May 7, 2018. It states you must have excellent credit and a passion for day-to-day 7-Eleven operations.

You also need to be at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but you can’t enter if you live in Hawaii or either of the Dakotas.

(So much for my “Deadwood” 7-Eleven idea.)

The contest gets a lot more involved from there.

If your initial entry is selected, you’ll go through four progressively more difficult rounds of judging, which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Submitting a financial history proving your creditworthiness
  • Uploading a two-minute video about why you deserve to win
  • Interviewing with 7-Eleven executives online and in person
  • Traveling to 7-Eleven’s Store Support Center in Irving, Texas, for training

If you win, you’ll get the $190,000 prize toward your initial franchise fee, but you’re responsible for any amount over that.

The company notes that initial franchise fees range from $50,000 to $750,000, depending on location.

Upon winning, you’ll also have to cover the down payment of $29,000 plus the costs of inventory, supplies, licenses and permits. And don’t forget those local, state and federal taxes on your prize.

You’ll also be responsible for all royalties, ongoing franchise fees and operation costs when you open your location.

But you’ll own your own business! And it will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (that’s required in the contract).

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She prefers to enter contests that have snacks as the prizes.

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 Financial Slip-Ups That Can Crush Your Dreams of Retiring Comfortably

Preparing for your retirement may not always feel like the most important thing on your mind. Far from it in fact.  But you probably don’t want to try living on Social Security alone in your golden years either.

You won’t need to if you avoid these seven common mistakes and try out the fixes too.

Mistake No. 1: Only Living in the Now

We are living in the era of mindfulness. Meditation apps, yoga studios and Instagram slogans are always reminding us to be in the here and now, and appreciate the moment.

While loads of research suggests mindfulness is a huge key to happiness, you cannot live entirely in the moment. Planning for the future is important. In retirement, you’ll live entirely off of assets you accumulated in the past, so you need to plan now to live in comfort in the future.

The Fix  

This may sound odd, but studies have found that one of the best ways to plan for your future is to make friends with the future versions of yourself. Visualize who you will be, what you will be doing, and with whom and where you will live, Then, think about how your decisions will affect your present and your imagined future self.

Your present self may prefer to spend all your income this month, but your future self will regret it big time!

Mistake No. 2: Thinking It Is Too Early to Plan for Retirement

There is one right time to plan for retirement. That time is right now!

It doesn’t matter if you are 22, 35 or in your 50s; it’s never too late to plan for retirement — but the earlier, the better.

Think about it; you will probably live in retirement for around 30 years — from around 65 until perhaps 95 and beyond — and most of us only have a little over 40 working years. So, saving enough money — especially when accounting for inflation — is a gargantuan task that’s best to begin when you’re young.

The Fix

Put a detailed retirement plan on paper right now. Include how much you want to spend, when you’ll start Social Security, where you’ll live and more. Carefully analyze how much you need to save. Make sure to update this plan yearly until you are in your 40s, then quarterly thereafter.

Maybe make it easier to remember by doing it when filing your taxes.

The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator makes it easy to start a personalized financial plan. Enter some initial information about your current finances and your goals for the future to see where you stand. From there, you can make changes to see what is possible — every time you update your data, you’ll get detailed feedback about how your finances change.  

This makes it easy to learn through the experience of documenting and manipulating your data. It can even be kind of fun, like a game.

Mistake No. 3: Not Knowing What You Don’t Know About Personal Finance

A recent Fidelity survey found that financial literacy is low across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Researchers asked more than 2,000 people questions in eight retirement categories. On average, people answered a mere 30% of the questions correctly. Absolutely nobody got all the questions correct, and the highest overall grade was 79%. Can you do better than average?

The Fix

Personal finance can be complicated, but it’s not impossible. Perhaps the best way to get your hands around your money is to focus on the personal aspects. Take a very detailed account of your money now and where you want it to be in the future.

You don’t need to read complicated books about municipal bond ladders and commodity futures to achieve a more secure retirement. You just need to understand your own situation.

Mistake No. 4: Not Saving and Not Knowing How Much You Need to Save

The vast majority — about two-thirds — of American workers don’t know how much they should be saving for retirement, according to research by TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies. And 42% of American workers don’t have a retirement strategy, let alone an estimate of how much they will need.

The Fix

How much you need to save is dependent on many factors: how old you are now, when you hope to stop working, how long you will live, how much you want to be able to spend in retirement and more.

A good retirement calculator can help you get a personalized estimate. More generally, financial advisors usually recommend that you save 10-15% of your income, starting in your 20s and be sure it is invested effectively. You need to save more if you are older.

Mistake No. 5: Not Increasing Savings Rate Each Year

OK, let’s assume you’re saving for retirement already. If you are not, then you’ve got to get going! Simply not saving did not even make this list because, well, it should be obvious: You should be saving for retirement!

Less obvious than saving each month is the fact that you must remember to increase your savings rate at least every year — especially when you get a raise.

The Fix

When you get a raise, tax return or other money, be sure to thoughtfully consider how much of this new money can go into savings.

Fist bump if you can save all of any raise and just maintain your existing quality of life.

Mistake No. 6: Not Having an Emergency Fund

A couple years ago, The Atlantic published a surprising analysis from the Federal Reserve Board stating that nearly half of all Americans — including the middle class — would have trouble coming up with just $400 to pay for an emergency.

And not having emergency cash on hand can turn a relatively minor financial need into a long-term debt or, in some more extreme cases, bankruptcy.  

The Fix:

The ideal emergency fund is equivalent to three to six months of your income. However, having anything set aside for emergencies is better than nothing, and you can accumulate your funds over time. Open an account and start squirreling away funds.

Mistake No. 7: Not Having a Plan for Your Future Now

Only 30% of Americans have long-term financial plans that include savings and investment goals.

Furthermore, Americans tend to spend more time on research about vacations than they do on retirement planning, even though retirement planning needs to be an ongoing activity.

When you retire, you are no longer living month to month or year to year. When you stop working, you are dealing with a finite set of financial resources that you need to budget to last the rest of your life. You really do need a plan.

The Fix

Assess what you have and what you need for retirement and in ways to improve your situation. Do it right now.  

The NewRetirement calculator is a detailed and reliable system. This tool will save your information so it is easy to make updates and improvements.

Kathleen Coxwell is a reformed personal finance deadbeat. After recovering from a student loan disaster, she used her know how to help her parents and in-laws plan for retirement. And seeing a big need for unbiased financial advice and tools, she co-founded NewRetirement, a company dedicated to helping people imagine and plan for a secure financial future.  

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.

Why Financial Independence is Within Your Grasp — Even in Your 30s

Do you get totally irritated and depressed when you see articles about people who retired in their 30s?

Can’t seem to scroll past them fast enough?

After all, your 30th birthday might be nothing more than a faint memory and the idea of retiring anytime soon is, well, a joke. If this sounds like you, stop beating yourself up. You are far from being alone in the financial abyss.

But why should you take my word for it? I’m glad you asked — I’m speaking from experience here, and I felt the exact same way just a few short years ago.

My husband and I are no strangers to financial missteps. We also didn’t start pursuing financial independence until we were well into our 30s, which makes me someone who knows what I’m talking about.

In fact, we didn’t even know there was such a movement until we stumbled upon one of those crazy FIRE/FIOR (Financial Independence Retire Early/Financial Independence Optional Retirement) articles.

Before finding our way to this offbeat, online community, my husband and I were pretty normal, meaning we were in debt and weren’t making our finances a priority because, you know, financial independence and early retirement is not reality.

Our reality was enjoying our relative youth while continuing to chase a bigger house, better cars and elaborate vacations. And that’s exactly what we were doing.

The last straw came when we nearly purchased a large home we couldn’t comfortably afford. We’d signed on the dotted line and were under contract. And then, the panic attacks started. My husband and I were waking up in the middle of the night worrying about taking on such a huge debt.

I mean, my salary was steady and predictable, but my husband’s was not. We were approved based on our income history, but what would happen if his work unexpectedly tailed off? Our income would do the same but the bills would remain sky high.

To say we were stressed about this is an understatement.

Our lucky day came when the home inspector came back with a shockingly bad report. There was mold — and lots of it. We took that golden opportunity to cancel our contract and commit to start making smart financial decisions.

We committed to stop being normal.

On that very day, I began frantically searching the internet for tips on how to take control of our money and build wealth. With a few clicks of the mouse, I found myself immersed in the concept of financial independence and early retirement.

With our new found knowledge and excitement, we embraced a frugal lifestyle, stayed in our small home, and maxed out our retirement accounts. And yes, we even cut the cable cord. Gasp!

Not surprisingly, the concept of FIRE/FIOR being attainable for normal people with normal salaries was completely fascinating. Almost immediately, we were hooked — and you can be too.

Let’s do this!

How to Become Financially Independent After 30

If you’re sitting there reading this with a retirement account that is pretty much non-existent, don’t be alarmed when I say you can still retire decades ahead of schedule by pursuing financial independence.

By making smarter financial decisions and tweaking just a few areas of your life, you can put yourself on the path to financial independence, quite literally, overnight.

By taking your money seriously, making a plan and sticking to it, you’ll start to build wealth on auto-pilot.

Here are a few actionable tips:

  • Start a budget. You need to know how much you’re making and spending.
  • Cut the fat. Stop paying for stuff you don’t use or value. Can you cut the gym, cable, or make your own lunches for work?
  • Consider adjusting home, health and car insurances for better rates.
  • Build at least a small emergency fund of $1,000 – $2,000 before diving into debt repayment.
  • Make paying off debt (all debt) a priority. You’ll never build wealth if you’re paying significant interest on debt.
  • Track your net worth. This is quite possibly the single biggest motivator for building wealth. Whether you’re paying down debt or investing, your net worth is going to go up. And when you see that, you’ll be more likely to stick to your financial plan!
  • If your employer offers a matching contribution to a retirement account, max it out. This is free money. Don’t leave it on the table. Increase retirement contributions each year when you get a raise until you’re completely maxed out. The current maximum allowable contribution for 401(k) accounts is $18,500. This goes up every few years so make sure you adjust accordingly.
  • After you’re at least getting the full employer match for your retirement account, consider contributing to an IRA or Roth IRA.
  • If you’ve taken care of all of the above, consider diversifying your investments into non-retirement accounts. This could mean purchasing stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.

Once you reach the end of this list, you’ll be joining the exclusive ranks of the FIRE/FIOR community in no time.

So instead of crying over all of those pumpkin-spiced lattes and spring breaks in Miami, pull yourself together and act like the responsible 30-something (or 40-something) you are, and resolve to take control of your financial future today.

And with that, let’s stand tall and consider a few of the benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30.

You Messed Up — So What

 Ice cream on the ground.
Sayan_Moongklang/Getty Images

Now that you’ve lived a little, experienced some good times (and bad times, too), and can clearly envision what you want from your life, you have a much better understanding of what you need to do (and not do) to build wealth.

Having a few years on the books means you likely experienced some combination of poor money decisions relating to credit card debt, student loans, and car payments. And that’s okay.

Fortunately, the best part about messing up is that experience is a great teacher.

I made almost every poor financial decision you can make. I took out unnecessary student loans and had a sports car and super expensive payment to go along with it.

I charged dinners out with the girls and new clothes to high-interest credit cards, and even borrowed money from my 401(k).

Yep, I’m pretty much a pro when it comes to doing everything wrong with money.

But you know what, I’m okay with all of it. Without my experiences, I wouldn’t realize what it takes to do the right thing with money.

I found out pretty quickly that doing the right thing with money is way more rewarding. So if you’re sitting there with a few poor decisions under your belt, don’t worry, you can turn it around starting today.

The old adage of hindsight being 20/20 still holds true. Sure, having a degree from an expensive school is nice, but you now realize you might’ve landed in the same spot had you opted for the less expensive state school.

And of course you loved buying new clothes and taking fancy vacations years ago, but now you look at your retirement savings and understand the term, “missed opportunity.”

Yeah, you messed up. So what? Recognize your past but don’t dwell on it.

Messing up in your 20s means you’re less likely to mess up now. And that’s a good thing, because now is when you’re choosing to make your finances a priority.

The Big Picture

Now that you’re a full-fledged adult, it’s a great time to assess your current life situation, past choices, and your hopes and dreams for the future. No judgment, please.  

You see, the best thing about being a bit older is you might actually know what you want out of life.

I know I sure didn’t know what I wanted when I was a bright-eyed college grad in my 20s. But as time passed and I experienced more, both personally and professionally, the big picture became crystal clear.

For instance, if you prefer to work as a freelancer and live in an RV or van, you’re not going to need to save as much money to reach financial independence as someone who wants to have four children and travel to Europe every summer.

So I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you also have a bit more clarity at this point in your life, too. Let’s use that clarity to answer some key questions about your big picture.

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Which career is more appealing? A stable job or freelancing?
  • Do you prefer being in a relationship or remaining single?
  • Are children a possibility? If so, do you want to stay at home to raise them?
  • Is extensive travel a priority, or do you like staying in one spot?
  • Are you interested in retiring as soon as you save enough money to meet the 4% rule, or do you want to build legacy wealth for future generations?

If you can answer at least some of these key questions with confidence, you’ll be in a much better position to plan for your financial future and actually reach your goals.

Naturally, our lives are fluid and we all reserve the right to change our minds, but these questions present a good starting point.

The Incredible Benefits Of Pursuing FI After 30

Traveler woman legs walking carrying a suitcase in an airport
AntonioGuillem/Getty Images

So with your answers in hand, let’s check out the incredible benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30.

  • You know what you want from your life — and how much money you need to achieve it
  • You have a better idea of whether you’re pursuing FI with one income or two
  • Past mistakes have made you a better decision-maker
  • You have experienced debt and will do anything to avoid it
  • You want options because you know how it feels to not have them
  • Staying on-task is much easier with clear life goals

Obviously, there are plenty of other benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30, but these sum up the major ones.

Our personal lives are just that, and our finances are complementary. Pretending one is independent from the other is just silly.

Contrary to popular belief, money is not the root of all evil — it is the root of all opportunity.

To name a few…

  • The opportunity to work or not work
  • The opportunity to move wherever you want to live
  • The opportunity to start a business

Whatever your dreams, money will provide you with the opportunity of pursuit.

Now that you understand the benefits of pursuing financial independence after age 30, don’t be afraid to embrace your mistakes and chase the dream.

Oh, by the way, hoarding this incredibly powerful knowledge is just plain wrong. Pass it on!

Lisa is the founder and resident blogger at Mad Money Monster, a personal finance and lifestyle blog chronicling her family’s journey from doing money all wrong to doing it all right. If you want to follow along, sign up here.

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.

$6,000 Doomsday Costco Meal Kit Helps You Survive an Apocalypse on a Budget

The world is scary.

Not only do I have to worry about spiders, clowns, sharks and hurricanes, but threats of global warming, nuclear warfare and artificial intelligence infiltrate headlines periodically and scare the bejeezus out of me.

Preparing for an emergency seems to be an American pastime, if not a rite of passage. There’s even a TV show where people prepare for a range of potential threats like wildfires and doomsday.

The prepper craze has created an entire market for survival gear. Big-name retailers offer everything from one-person survival kits to a year’s supply of food delivered directly to your door.

Recent tensions with North Korea skyrocketed sales of such survivalist supplies, according to Time Money.

But the question remains: Is investing in one of these kits really worth it, or are folks just buying into hype?

The Wide World of Doomsday Prep Kits

A Google search for survival kits turns up tons of options.

Do I need tactical assault wipes? What about a survival capsule? Maybe I’ll get a survival kit for my cat — just in case.

There are plenty of options, but they ain’t cheap.

A year’s supply of food starts around $749.95 for a single person and can climb up to $36,999 for a 20-person supply. Run and tell that to the commune!

Bulk retailers aren’t new to the game, either. In fact, this is their specialty.

Costco offers by-the-pallet food kits. Options range from $999 to $5,999 for a year’s supply, assuming a 1,300- to 2,000-calorie diet.

One of them feeds a family of four for an entire year. It boasts 36,000 servings of food, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, for $6,000. That comes out to 16.7 cents a serving. Just keep in mind, coffee is sold separately.

The specs say this supply will last you 1,460 days, or four years if you eat 2,000 calories a day. So that means you can run from zombies and still get all the nutrients you need with plenty to spare.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But I’m gluten-free.” Don’t worry, we got you fam. Oh, you’re vegan? Got you, too.

In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive.”

How Much Food Do You Really Need to Survive?

Most of us learned about basic survival in school. You won’t live long without food and water.

You can last maybe a week without water, and you might make it several weeks to over a month — in rare cases — without food.

Sedentary men over age 18 need more than 2,000 calories per day to survive, according to the the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sedentary women ages 18 to 50 need at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. Anything below those numbers will result in weight loss.

The caloric needs of boys and girls under 18 start at 1,000 for toddlers and rise to 2,400 calories a day for teenage boys if they’re sedentary.

Most of the survival kits we’ve seen don’t include water, so whatever you do, don’t forget the water or else it’ll all be for naught.

How Much Does It Cost to Eat for a Year?

I pride myself on being pretty frugal with food costs.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a woman my age can survive off $1,965.60 a year, or $37.80 a week on a thrifty plan. Gulp. Guess I’m not as cheap as I thought!

The same plan estimates that a family of four — two adults 19 to 50 years old and two children between ages 2 and 5 — spends $128.90 a week or $6,702.80 a year on food.

So the premium Costco kit with its plethora of servings would be cheaper than living off a bargain-basement budget for a whole year by American standards.  

Items in the emergency kits generally keep from 10 to 25 years, so if you have a broke year, I’d say just dig in, because are you really ever going to ever eat it? You could always write it into  your will to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

I wonder how my fiance would feel if we just start eating MREs and put all the extra savings into our retirement accounts.

Can You Compile Your Survival Kit?

This is America! You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you don’t break any laws.

And we’ve definitely thought about this before because we’re Penny Hoarders, after all.

Having some sort of plan or emergency kit in place when a disaster strikes is smart. Snowstorms and hurricanes can knock out power grids for days. Tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires can destroy your home in a matter of seconds.

You can assemble your own emergency kit for much less than a store-bought one.

But when it comes to a nuclear attack or doomsday-type event, you might need a little more than the basics. We compiled a handy guide to help you wade through the options and stay ready.

Is it survival of the fittest or survival of the most prepared?

Do You Need Survival Gear?

This is entirely a personal decision.

I like to keep a spare tire, car jack and raincoat in my trunk for emergencies. A survival kit is just a more extreme version of that.

Everyone should have some version of a disaster kit because Mother Nature is one fierce woman, and you’ll never know when she’ll strike.

Although investing in a year’s supply of food is in a whole other ballpark. If you have enough money and it is important to you, there are affordable options that cost less than feeding your family for an entire year when the aliens or robots take over.

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Seriously, we got through Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar. There are other productive ways to prepare, such as learning Morse code, gardening, or skipping the hubbub and investing in a retirement account.

Even Shakespeare warned of a doomsday over four centuries ago. He didn’t seem too worried about it then. Why should you be now?

“Come, let us take a muster speedily. Doomsday is near. Die all, die merrily.”

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She takes the REM approach to doomsday: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

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.

Clean up on Discounted Baby Supplies and Half-Price Diapers This Week

In my experience trying to frugally survive my first few years of parenthood, I’ve come to realize that many baby products marketed to parents are not really necessary.

Diapers, however, are a definite need.

Unless you have hand-me-down cloth diapers or your baby is a potty-training savant, the best way to save money covering your baby’s bottom is to take advantage of all the deals you can find.

The grocery chain Lidl is offering a weeklong sales promotion for 50% off its store-brand diapers. The sale starts Thursday, March 15, and lasts through the following Wednesday, March 21.

This deal is valid for size 2 packs of diapers, (which fit infants weighing 12 to 18 pounds), up to size 6 packs, (which fit toddlers 35 pounds and up). The discounted prices bring costs as low as $2.04 for a 44-pack of size 2 diapers — less than 5 cents per diaper!

The highest price during the sale is $3.18 for a 44-pack of size 5 diapers.

Lidl’s store-brand diapers already tend to cost less than popular brands like Huggies and Luvs. Parents who stock up on Lidl diapers during the promotion will get two packs for what they’d normally spend on one.

Shoppers can also take advantage of other related sales from March 15 to 21. An assortment of Lidl baby food, baby snacks, wipes and formula will be 30% off. Lidl’s “surprises section,” which changes weekly with rotating merchandise offered while supplies last, will feature Lupilu baby clothes and Nuby baby accessories starting at just under $2.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She will rejoice when she never has to buy diapers again.

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.

You’re Not a Fake: Don’t Let Imposter Syndrome Hold You Back at Work

One of my earliest memories of “failure” dates back to when I was in fourth grade. We had received our midterm progress reports and I had a B in my reading and language arts class.

I walked up to my teacher’s desk, feeling mostly full of shame –– and partly like I was going to vomit.

“Ms. Vinson,” I stuttered, “is there anything I can do to improve here? I’m struggling.” I circled the 80-something percent with my pencil and waited for her answer.

Ms. Vinson looked straight at me and said, “You are far from struggling. You have a mid-level B. You’re doing great!”

I thought to myself, Mid-level B? Great?

Imposter Syndrome: It Isn’t Just You

To this day, I often feel like I’m struggling –– even when in reality, I’m not.

While I’m writing, I’ll sometimes think to myself, Wow, this is garbage! How do I even have a job as a writer? Am I REALLY a writer or just someone who pretends?  I’ll think these things even when I’m writing something my editors think is fabulous.  

These are textbook thoughts that reflect imposter syndrome. And I’m not the only person on earth who has experienced it.

Summed up, imposter syndrome is when you doubt you’re “good enough” to complete tasks and responsibilities. You worry that people will find out that you have no idea what you’re doing –– even though you clearly do, considering you have a job in the first place.

The phenomenon is characterized by feelings of incompetence, inadequacy or perceived fraudulence, according to Dr. Audrey Ervin, a psychology faculty member at Delaware Valley University. It was first described in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., and Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D.

The feelings of imposter syndrome are usually experienced by high-achieving individuals, Dr. Ervin says in an email. Citing research, Dr. Ervin explains that individuals who experience feeling like a fraud are commonly associated with anxiety, depressive symptoms, lack of self-confidence, worry, introversion and more.

How Feeling Like a Fraud Can Hold You Back At Work –– and in Your Personal Life

The worst part about feeling like a nobody at work? It can hinder your performance –– and that almost always seeps into your personal life.

By feeling unworthy, you can miss out on promotions and pay raises. That little voice in your head will tell you that you aren’t qualified for either of them so you don’t even think about setting them as your goals.

You become your own worst enemy.

Dr. Ervin also writes that people might start to overproduce to prove they are capable;, eventually, that can lead to burnout and counterproductivity.

Feeling like a fraud can even push you to become overly involved in your professional development. Dr. Ervin writes that people who prioritize their career success over time with those closest to them can negatively impact their relationships, leaving partners and family members to suffer.  

Versions of Imposter Syndrome

The feeling of being a fake comes in many different ways. In a Fast Company article, Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, categorizes imposter syndrome into four major subgroups:  

  1. The Perfectionist This title pretty much speaks for itself, but it boils down to this: Perfectionists set super high goals for themselves, and when they fail to reach them, they start to experience self-doubt.
  2. The Superwoman/man This version of imposter syndrome is characterized by folks who are workaholics. These people work harder to measure up to their colleagues, mainly because they’re convinced they’re frauds. It’s hard for these people to enjoy time away from work.
  3. The Natural Genius Those who were the “smart ones” growing up can fall into this category. When they don’t get something right on the first try, they negatively judge themselves. Their standards are almost impossibly high –– and they feel uncomfortable or lack confidence when they don’t meet them.
  4. The Rugged Individualist People who see asking for help as a sign of weakness tend to fall into this category. These individuals think that asking for help shows that they’re a fake –– they 100% believe that they should accomplish everything on their own or else they are a failure.
  5. The Expert Someone who falls into this type of imposter syndrome thinks they “tricked” their employer into hiring them. They fear of being dubbed “inexperienced” or “unknowledgeable.”

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

It’s scary to think you can be the biggest obstacle in the way of your own success. It’s easy to overlook that you’re even doing it.

Thankfully, there are professionals out there who can help you identify false feelings of fraud –– and help you overcome them.

Raghav Parkash is a peak performance coach. For the past five years, he has been helping people reach their potential in the workplace and in life.  

Parkash reveals that he sees his clients regularly struggling with being victims of imposter syndrome. And, he says, it’s hard for most people to identify it.

“Denial is one way looking at it,” Parkash says in an email. “But I believe it is fundamentally down to a lack of self-awareness. They are unaware of what their habits or thought patterns are. Once people become aware of their behaviors, they can then start to take action on them such as speaking to a friend, manager, colleague or even hiring a coach.”

Parkash has key steps to overcoming these feelings that will help you become the very best you can be in the workplace.

Here are a few of them:

Recognize and acknowledge your feelings. Self-awareness is the first step toward a breakthrough. Take time to reflect on your thoughts and why you’re thinking them –– and take some time to ponder if they’re true or not.

Challenge the beliefs and thoughts that show up. Parkash asks his clients what advice they would give to a friend who was having similar thoughts –– oftentimes, they answer in a more positive manner than the way they would address it with themselves. This helps them recognize the inherent negativity they have toward themselves.

Focus on how and why you got the job. It isn’t an accident that you are where you are now.  You have the skill set, qualities and caliber to achieve what you have so far –– keep that in mind when you tell yourself you don’t!

Create possibility questions and new beliefs. Asking questions like “Who do I need to become to succeed?” and “What do I need to believe to succeed?” can help you focus on the bigger picture, rather than the false notions you have of yourself. Once you answer them, these will be your new beliefs that’ll keep you on track to success.

Condition the new beliefs. Once you create beliefs that are inspiring, say them to yourself every day for 30 days. Parkash says the repetition is a means to “integrate and rewire them into our thinking.”

Celebrate every movement in the right direction. Most importantly, remember to celebrate your successes! Not every day will be perfect –– and you may still have lingering thoughts of doubt –– but every opportunity you take to actively work through it is a win.

No one deserves to feel like a failure –– especially when it’s self-inflicted sabotage. Keep in mind, you’re always smarter, better and stronger than you may think. 🙂

Kelly Anne Smith is an email content specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.

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.

8 Easy Ways to Curb Your Drunken Spending Habit (Sober You Will Thank You!)

We have a tendency to make bad decisions while drinking. Whether you call it human nature or liquid courage, our drunk selves know no bounds when it comes to the test of intoxication.

Here’s a little test. Which have I done while drinking?

  1. Texted an ex
  2. Cartwheels in the street
  3. Made an impulse purchase
  4. All of the above

The answer is likely “d.” All of the above.

Aside from a bruised knee or ego, recovering from a drunken impulse purchase — or five — takes the longest. A late-night affair with Amazon has compounding repercussions, from overextended budgets and overdrawn accounts to long-term interest on credit cards.

Looks like I’m not the only one shopping under the influence.

Americans Spend Excessively While Drunk

Of Americans who drink regularly, 46% admit to spending while sipping, according to a survey of 2,000 American adults by shopping comparison website

“Who me?”

Yeah, you!

In 2016, the average drunken shopper spent $206, but 2017 said, “Hold my beer” and more than doubled that number to $447.57. That’s a jaw-dropping total of $30.43 billion in spontaneous spending while on the sauce.

Sober brains and depleted bank accounts across America collectively cry out, “Somebody help us.”

Truth is, only you can help yourself.

How to Curb Drunken Spending

Putting a few safeguards in place will keep your accounts in the black when you black out. Let’s be honest, you should probably do a couple of these just for safety’s sake.

1. Remove Any Saved Credit Card Information

Strip away convenience, and delete any saved card numbers from your mobile device and internet browsers.

Sure, it’s annoying to enter it when you’re not drinking, but remember, you’re doing this for your own good. Who knows, it might even make you reconsider your sober spending. Just keep them saved on Uber or Lyft.

2. Delete Store Apps From Your Phone

It seems like an annoying hassle to do, but if that app is a pipeline to your purchasing, delete it. Now! There’s a good chance you won’t remember your login information, or be able to add your credit card or complete a purchase while you’re tipsy. Screenshot any must-haves and reconsider them the next day.

3. Disable One-Click Shopping

This feature makes impulse shopping way too easy. Cut it out on all shopping sites on your mobile devices and computers. It’s a sneaky trick that gets you to spend, even when you’re clear-headed. This is especially important if you cannot or do not remove your saved credit and debit cards.

4. Hide Your Cards

Stash your cards somewhere you can’t access them once you start drinking. It could be in a roommate or parent’s room, or locked in a drawer at work before you hop off to happy hour.

If you’ve also removed them from your browsers and apps, there’s no chance you’re going to order that Loch Ness monster soup ladle at 2 a.m.

5. Plan Ahead and Bring Cash

You can prevent impulse spending if you hide your cards and withdraw only the cash you plan to spend for the evening. Once it runs out, you’re done. No rounds on you for the gang; no access to an ATM. Tomorrow you will appreciate it.

6. Change Your Passwords

If it’s going to be a real rager, safeguard yourself in advance by changing your login information. Write it down, hide it or store it somewhere you can’t access when you start feeling like a baller.

If you still somehow magically end up on a shopping website or app, you will not be able access your account, earn points or complete a purchase if other measures are in place. Just save it to the cart or a wishlist for you to laugh at tomorrow. Better there than on your doorstep.

7. Block Yourself

The Chrome extension StayFocused allows you to limit the amount of time you spend on distracting websites, shopping sites included. You can set a timer for a particular website, and the extension will block you from accessing the site once time is up. Granted, you could just switch browsers, but I doubt your drunk brain will be that dedicated to a Snorlax pillow.

If it is, consider setting up Cold Turkey, which basically blocks the whole internet until the timer is up. You should be in bed anyway.

8. Skip the Sauce

It’s a Captain Obvious suggestion, but if you’re going to great lengths to stop yourself from draining your accounts and buying Lucky Charms in bulk, maybe sit this round out. Not drinking will definitely save you money and stop you from spending it.

Don’t Let Buyer’s Remorse Get You

I have a friend who doesn’t get hangovers — she’s a medical anomaly. But you know what she does get? Buyer’s remorse. No one is immune to that. If you’re normal like me — in terms of getting post-drinking hangovers, that is — waking up with a throbbing head, dry mouth and a depleted bank account is one of the most regrettable feelings.

See if sober you can put drunk you to the test. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to wait until tomorrow.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She recently bought five wedding dresses online after drinking. It said “free returns.”

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.

Amazon Extends $5.99 Prime to Medicaid Recipients. Here’s How to Qualify

Amazon has always given students a sweet deal on Prime. Last year, Amazon went a step further and knocked its Prime subscription price down to $5.99 per month for anyone with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.

This week, Amazon announced it will extend its $5.99-per-month Amazon Prime service to Medicaid recipients.

Amazon Prime benefits include movie, TV show and music streaming; free two-day shipping; and access to a variety of newspapers and books.

“We hope to make Prime even more accessible. The combination of shipping, shopping and entertainment provide a tremendous amount of value to members,” said Cem Sibay, vice president of Amazon Prime, in a news release.

It’s a pretty sweet deal, as long as you can avoid the notorious temptation of online impulse shopping.

Sign Up for the Amazon Prime Discount With Your Medicaid Card

Head to the website and click “Medicaid.” Amazon will send a code to your email or cell phone — your choice — in a couple of minutes. Enter the six-digit code into the box, and select continue.

You’ll need to upload an image of your Medicaid card, select the issuing state, then check the box to confirm that your Medicaid card is valid. Once your card is confirmed, you can sign up for Prime as usual.

You’ll need to requalify every 12 months, and subscribers can enjoy this discounted rate for a total of 48 months.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives tips on saving money and paying off debt on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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 Deal Saves You 35 Cents Per Gallon on Gas, Comes With a Free Headache

The Shell Fuel Rewards program could save you money at the pump… if you can figure it out.

I looked into it last year and my eyes glazed over, so I quickly went back to browsing my Facebook feed.

But now, Fuel Rewards is offering 35 cents off per gallon after your first fill-up of at least 5 gallons when you pay with Chase Pay.

The deal is only available to people who’ve never used Chase Pay to pay for gas at a Shell station. Since I’m a Chase cardholder and have never used Chase Pay or Fuel Rewards, I decided to give in to the marketing ploy and take another look.

If you have a Chase credit, debit or Liquid card, here’s how to get this deal without pulling your hair out. Because I’ve done that enough for both of us.

1. Register for the Fuel Rewards Program

Head over to the Fuel Rewards website and register for an account. It’s free and doesn’t require a credit or debit card to open. You’ll automatically qualify for Gold Status, which gets you 5 cents off per gallon for up to 20 gallons every day.

When you sign up, you’ll receive a card in the mail in seven to 10 days, but your Alt ID — the number you can use in lieu of your card — will be activated immediately. Your Alt ID is usually just your phone number.

2. Download the Chase Pay App

The Chase Pay app is different from Chase QuickPay and the Chase Mobile app, so you’ll probably have to download it. They do use the same login, though.

3. Add Fuel Rewards to Your Chase Pay Account

When you log in to your Chase account through Chase Pay, your eligible Chase cards will automatically be ready for use.

Within the app, tap the “Wallet” icon and then the “Loyalty Cards” tab. Tap the “+” icon, and then select “Shell” from the merchant list. Spoiler alert: It’s the only option right now. Enter your Fuel Rewards card number or Alt ID, then tap the “Add Card” button.

4. Head to the Nearest Shell Gas Station

As soon as you find your tank empty, locate the nearest participating Shell station. You can find them by tapping the wallet tab, tapping “Shell,” then tapping the “Find nearby locations” link. The nearest participating stations will pop up. Tap the one nearest you, then tap “Get directions” to open your navigation app.

If paying at the pump is an option, open the app, tap “Pay,” then tap “At the pump.” The Chase Pay app will locate you, then you can enter the pump number and approve the transaction. A code will appear on your screen — enter the code at the pump, and fill ‘er up.

5. Repeat Step 4

You’ll notice after your first fill-up that you only got 5 cents off per gallon. You’ll be ticked because you neglected to understand that you only get the 35-cent savings after your first fill-up.

So, you have to drive around until your tank is on “E” again, then repeat step four. There’s no minimum on this fill-up, but you only get to use it once, so choose wisely. The upside is that you can combine it with other rewards, including the standard 5 cents off you get as a Gold member.

This 35-cent reward expires on the last day of the month after you earn it, so this is a good one to try near the beginning of the month.

You can qualify for other rewards by linking a credit or debit card to your Fuel Rewards account and paying with that card at participating retailers and restaurants. Other rewards you can stack on the 35 cents off include:

  • 10 cents off for every $50 you spend at participating restaurants
  • 5 cents off for booking through Priceline
  • Up to 40 cents off for shopping at select retailers

All in all, it’s a lot of work to save less than $10, but if you’re a Shell fan or frequent shopper at one of its retail partners, it might be worth the work.

No need to rush. This deal runs until Dec. 31.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives tips on saving money and paying off debt on Instagram at @savingwithspunk. Chase Pay couldn’t find her location when she tried to pay with it at the pump.

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.