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Starbucks to Help with Childcare + 7 Inexpensive Childcare Alternatives

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Many people who are parents who also have to make ends meet have a difficult time finding childcare. In face when they do find childcare, it can be very expensive resulting in many having to decide whether they work or stay home. Starbucks has now come to the rescue and will begin to offer subsidized backup child care for all of its U.S. employees, including part-time workers. The program will give Starbucks workers ten days of backup care. Just 4% of employers offer similar programs. The move comes as the labor market in the U.S. grows increasingly competitive, with employers boosting their benefits to attract and retain workers.

This is a major concern nationwide but what if you don’t work for Starbucks? According to PopSugar.com sister site Circle of Moms, there are affordable childcare alternatives —especially for part-time daycare or occasional babysitting. Here are their favorites:

1. Babysitting Cooperatives

Babysitting cooperatives can be very affordable compared to private daycare centers, as a mother of two Andrea C. confirmed: “My youngest goes to a co-op nursery school…The cost is one-quarter of the cost at the local daycare.” Can’t find a babysitting co-op in your neighborhood? Network with local moms (tip: try filtering by “Local Groups” on Circle of MomsCommunities page) and organize your own.

2. Babysitting Exchange

Whether you want to run errands solo, power through work at home uninterrupted, or enjoy a rare date night, swapping babysitting hours with a local parent can be an affordable solution for occasional babysitting needs. Sherry S. in San Francisco shares: “I trade babysitting hours with another mom. We even exchange overnights sometimes.

3. Shared Babysitting (“Sharecare”)

Consider sharing a babysitter,” suggests Rachael M., a mother of one. Coordinating babysitting hours with another mom can help you both save on occasional childcare. The rate for sharecare is higher than for the care of a single child, but with two families splitting the cost, it’s less expensive than two separate babysitters.

4. In-Home Daycare

In-home daycare can be an affordable alternative to traditional daycare child centers, as Lauren M. confirms: “The price is wonderful. I pay about half of what I would pay to send two kids to a regular daycare.” In addition to the affordability, in-home care can offer a more relaxed environment, more one-on-one care, and fewer germs. Yet as Toronto mother Sylvia H. noted, cons include having to find backup care at short notice: “If the provider gets sick one day, or her kids do, you’re on your own.” It’s also important to ask in-home daycare providers if they are licensed and if they’ve been cited for any violations of your state’s codes. As Ontario mom Nicole K. cautions, “not all home childcares are licensed,” so standards can vary widely between providers.

5. Non-Profit Centers

Drop-in programs offered through churches and YMCAs are also affordable childcare alternatives. Michelle E., a mother of a school-aged child, finds the YMCA is perfect for backup daycare when schools are closed: “Our cost is $20/day for residents…They have tons of activities for the kids to participate in.”

6. School-Sponsored Childcare

As a mother of four Hilje J. explains, you may be eligible for discounted daycare if you currently attend school. “Some community colleges have on-site childcare with drop in-programs if you are registered in a class.” If you’re heading back to school yourself, you may want to look for a program that provides this benefit to students who are parents.

7. Close Friends and Relatives

Go ahead and ask family and friends to babysit occasionally—you’d do the same for them, right? Depending on your personal situation, family members may or may not wish to receive payment. Many Circle of Moms members recommend at least offering to pay relatives for regular help.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

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Levi Strauss & Co Is Planning to Go Public + How to Keep Your Public Information Private

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Are those Levi Jeans you’re wearing? Or a better question is “Are those Levi stocks you’re trading! Levi Strauss & Co is planning an initial public offering valued upwards of $5 billion, reports CNBC. The 145-year old San Francisco-based clothing company has tapped Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan to manage the deal, planned for the first quarter of 2019. Levi’s entered the public market in 1971 and was taken private in 1984 by Strauss’s descendants, who currently control the company. The iconic brand has recently seen its revenue climb and has cut its debt load. While going public for Levi is a great thing and can potentially take the company to the next level, going public can be a detriment. Especially since we live on our mobile devices, so every and anything is on there.

While mobile devices are convenient, this convenience can cost you a pretty penny if you don’t play it safe. According to the White House, cybersecurity is one of the most important challenges we face as a Nation. With many unscrupulous people out there, some apps may pose a big threat to your personal information and well being. Although app makers promise to protect your privacy, many data breaches have occurred, and while the Federal Trade Commission is doing its best to enforce privacy promises, you must be diligent in protecting yourself. Being diligent will make you a savvy mobile app user.

The following are four security tips that all savvy mobile app users can use to protect themselves.

1. Protect your device.

In the wrong hands, sensitive information, including personal financial information and personal contacts, stored on your mobile device can cause a lot of damage. Keeping your phone or tablet in a safe and secure place will help to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. Lock your device with a password that is easy enough for you to remember, but complicated enough that it can’t be guessed easily. Try using a password that consists of a combination of numbers, and letters (both upper case and lower case), and special characters.

2. ONLY download apps from trusted sources.

The easiest way to compromise your personal information is to give it away. Download apps only from trusted sources to ensure that you are not aiding and abetting the theft of information. Read the app’s privacy policy to see what information the app will store and how it will be used.

3. Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® when not in use.

While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® are convenient ways to connect your device, thieves can use your connection to access your files. Turning off your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® connection when you are not using it, will help to keep your information safe from hackers. Avoid open or public Wi-Fi connections. When you connect to an unsecured network, you invite others to view your private information.

4. Do not store usernames and passwords.

Sometimes easy isn’t safe. While granting permission for a website that you frequently visit to remember your username and password allows for faster and easier access, it is also very dangerous to your personal information. This is especially true of financial apps or websites that contain your personal information. If you use your mobile device to bank or shop, completely log out when you are finished. Avoid banking or shopping on your mobile device while on public Wi-Fi.

Proactively protecting your personal information can help you prevent identity theft and officially makes you a savvy mobile app user. Mobile devices were created for convenience, but don’t let convenience put you at risk.

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GE to Sell off Shares to Raise Cash + How to Raise Cash Personally to Increase Your Bottom-Line

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General Electric plans to offload up to 20% of its majority share in oil-services company Baker Hughes as it seeks to raise cash. The move comes amid investor concern over the conglomerate’s “high debt load.” The sale will generate roughly $4 billion for GE, which must maintain a majority stake in the unit until July 2019 as part of the original deal to buy it. While General Electric can sell assets to raise a lot of cash, what would you do if you need extra money? You may not have a $4 billion asset lying around, but I’m sure there are ways to increase your cash flow. The following are ten ways you can make some extra cash:

1. Sell Free Stuff from Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to exchange goods and services and, for the most part, it is usually done for money. However, a little-known fact is that craigslist is also a great place to get freebies. Whether someone is getting rid of something because they no longer have room for it or they have to abruptly leave their home, city, or state; there are some rare gems that you can resell for a decent return. The key is to look for free stuff on Craigslist that is currently selling on Craigslist or elsewhere. Some items will be in great shape but if not, spruce it up and resell either on Craigslist, a flea market, or a garage sale.

2. Rent out Your Room

If you have a spare room in your living space and want to generate some side income, consider renting it out. Use Airbnb to put your home to work for you, whether you wish to rent out your entire home or a single room. Think about this…If you are traveling a lot this year, rent out your home to make some money while you’re away that can help pay for all of those adventures. That sounds like a great way to make some extra cash and travel for nearly free if you ask me. And don’t worry, there are security protections in place that help make this option less terrifying than most would think.

3. Teach Classes Online

Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional, there is something that you are good at! I am stating this as fact because even if it’s something you have never gotten credit for, chances are you have a skill that others may find valuable. Using this skill to make some extra income is possible thanks to platforms like SkillShare, Udemy, and Teachable.com. Many top experts use this as a lucrative way to earn passive income, but you don’t have to be a top expert to take advantage of this option.

4. Sell Your Photos

Do you have a keen eye? Are your photos museum-worthy? Well, if you answered yes or no to any of those questions, then you can sell your photos to stock photo agencies like Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe, and other similar companies. It really doesn’t matter if you are a professional or novice; you still have the opportunity to make some money. Most work on a per download basis where you get paid a percentage every time someone downloads your picture.

5. Sell Your Skills

Do you have a voice that Simon Cowell would pay a compliment to? Are you a talented graphic designer that can take any concept and bring it to life? Are you an artist who can give Michelangelo a run for his money? If so, sites like Task Rabbit and Thumbtack are great platforms to sell your skills. These aren’t only limited to those with creative skills; you can sell editing services, research services, typesetting, and the list goes on.

6. Offer to Babysit for Busy Professionals

Babysitting may seem like an obvious place to start when wanting to make some extra money and you may be thinking that you are not cut out to babysit, but here’s the twist. Look for moms and dads who are busy professionals who have small children under five. They will most likely tell you that they don’t remember the last time they were able to enjoy a quiet night out. Offering your services to this niche population will not only be a lucrative undertaking, but an easy job to do as well because chances are you will be simply house-sitting as the children sleep. If you have extensive experience in child care, consider signing up for sites like Care.com where you can set your schedule of availability.

7. Give Your Opinion

When you were a child, you might remember your parents telling you to “mind your own business,” but as an adult taking heed to this advice can cost you. This is because you can get paid to mind other people’s business. There are companies that will pay you to participate in focus groups, phone surveys, online surveys, and even product trials.

8. Drive People Around

You can really make a decent living becoming a driver for either Lyft or Uber. If a living isn’t what you are after, driving people around can still give you that needed boost in your finances by only working part-time.

9. Deliver Meals

Join apps like Ubereats, GrubHub or Postmates and deliver to-go food on your free nights or weekends. You also have the opportunity to get tips and the freedom to make your own schedule.

10. Clean out Your Closet

We’ve all stepped up to the consignment store counter to find out that the sweater from J Crew we never had the chance to wear is only worth $3. Womp. By selling your excess or used clothing on apps like Poshmark, you have the freedom to set your price and wait. Poshmark even provides the shipping label for you. If it doesn’t work out, you can always head back to your local consignment store or put the items on Craigslist.

 

 

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California Still Battling the Most Destructive Fire in Its Modern History + How to Minimize Financial Losses Due to Natural Disasters

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Getty Images

Our prayers go out to those in California, family, and friends who are dealing with this natural disaster that is wreaking havoc on the state. The most destructive fire in California’s modern history is still raging in the northern part of the state. At least 29 people have died, and about 6,700 buildings have been destroyed north of Sacramento, where more than 2,000 firefighters are battling the 105,000-acre Camp Fire. A further two people have died in two other large, uncontrolled fires burning in the Malibu and Thousand Oaks communities of Southern California. Overall, 250,000 Californians have been forced from their homes. The reality is that a natural disaster can be a devastating blow to your finances. Thanks to SmartAboutMoney.org, you can use the following checklists to help minimize any additional financial losses:

Protect Your Property

If you are being asked to evacuate the area and authorities allow you to enter your home, be sure to:

Collect your important financial documents along with your valuables. You will need them to file insurance claims, pay bills and take care of family members. Important documents include:

  • Legal certificates
  • Wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Insurance policies
  • Social Security cards
  • Your checkbook
  • Bank account information

Get a visual. Take pictures and/or video of your damaged property.

Call your insurance agent as soon as possible to find out exactly what to do and what information is required to make a claim. Leave a contact phone number if your home is uninhabitable and you are staying elsewhere.

Separate damaged and undamaged items until a claims adjuster inspects them. Protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs (such as putting a tarp over a damaged roof).

Save receipts for repairs and temporary lodging to submit to your insurance company. If you are not fully reimbursed for these expenses, they may be tax-deductible.

Keep copies of all correspondence with the insurance company and provide them with a detailed list of damaged property. The claims process will be much easier if you take the time before a natural disaster occurs, to photograph or videotape the contents of your home and list the brands and serial numbers of appliances and electronics equipment.

Look to relief organizations. Contact the American Red Cross. The Red Cross can provide emergency shelter, meals, clothing, medical assistance and referrals to government and nonprofit organizations for additional services.

Work With Your Employer

Disability benefits. If you or a family member is injured, you need to begin the process of applying for any available employee-sponsored disability benefits.

Family Medical Leave Act. You may be able to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act if you are unable to return to work in the near future because you are caring for an injured family member. This law applies to companies with more than 50 employees.

Contact Creditors

As always, paying your bills on time protects your credit rating. But, considering the circumstance, your creditors might be willing to work with you on a delayed payment schedule if necessary.

Prioritize your bills. Keep in mind that insurance policies and mortgage or rent payments are the top priority.

Consider stopping some bills immediately. For example, you can contact your utility, telephone and cable providers to halt services on the property you have vacated. Before cancelling the service though, make sure you ask about termination and reconnection charges.

Seek Available Tax Relief

For victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, there are federal income tax deductions that may be able to offset some of the financial loss.

Casualty losses are deducted on  Schedule A as an itemized deduction. After the first $100 of loss, which is nondeductible, the remainder of a loss that is not reimbursed by insurance is allowed to the extent that it exceeds 10 percent of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI).

If the president declares an area affected by a natural disaster a Federal Disaster Area, there are automatic extensions of the time for filing tax returns and paying taxes, waived penalties for late filing and payment of taxes, and special mailing addresses for faster processing of tax returns from disaster victims.

Under normal circumstances, a casualty loss is deducted on your tax return for the year in which the event occurred. However, in areas which the president has declared to be a Federal Disaster Area, victims have the option of taking their entire loss on their prior year’s tax return. If they have already filed a prior year return, they can file an amended tax return on Form 1040X to get a refund to help pay for disaster-related expenses. The IRS recommends writing “Disaster, (name of city or county and state)” in red ink at the top of the 1040X form. For additional information, consult IRS Publication 584.

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