4 Must-Follow Rules For Donating To Charity

Shopping for gifts isn’t the only reason so many of us break out our credit cards and checkbooks in December: According to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report, it’s also the most popular time to make a charitable donation. Why? “People are in a giving mindset at this time of year,” says Jacob Harold, president and CEO of GuideStar, a site that gathers information on nonprofits. “And of course, there’s the tax deduction.”

To qualify for a break from Uncle Sam for your 2016 taxes, you must make donations by December 31. If you haven’t given already, that’s a solid reason to consider being charitable before New Year’s Day rolls around. But the organization you pick and the way you give are just as important as your timing. Here, four ways to help your contribution make the greatest possible impact.

4 Brilliant Ways To Make An Extra $500 A Month

In my 20s, while working a 9-to-5 job, I moonlighted as a babysitter and a freelance writer. The few hundred bucks I brought in each month from changing diapers and staying up till 2 A.M. doing articles helped me crawl out of debt and build a nice savings cushion in just a few years. Today, finding ways to make more is a necessity for many of us: Hourly wages have been at a near standstill since the 1970s, while the cost of key expenses like housing and healthcare has increased dramatically. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to boost your bottom line, with so many websites and apps linking us to paying opportunities. These are just four ways that intrepid earners have found to generate a steady stream of extra cash each month. You might be inspired to do the same.

To save for a place of her own and pay off roughly $38,000 in student loans and credit card debt, Heidi Hall, 29, bought a vacuum. The Bethesda, Maryland, data analyst began cleaning houses earlier this year through TaskRabbit, a virtual marketplace that connects freelancers with locals who need help with tasks like cleaning, moving, and minor repairs. Hall earns an average of $22 per hour on TaskRabbit, netting between $600 and $700 a month, working evenings and some weekends. “I’m a people person, but my day job involves sitting in front of a computer. TaskRabbit hardly seems like work because I get to meet and network with people I normally wouldn’t encounter.”

Side Hustle
More than one-third of the U.S. workforce engaged in contract, supplemental, temporary, or project-based work in 2013.

The Best Money Move At Every Stage Of Your Life

The best way to handle your money? Depends on where you are in your journey through life.


Age may be just a number but as the years go by, our feelings about money—how we earn it, how we spend it, and how we stash it away—tend to change, too. “Our relationship with our finances evolves across our life,” says financial therapist Amanda Clayman. “Depending on which phase we’re in, we may find ourselves more at peace or far from it.” All the more reason to establish a durable financial game plan.

In our 20s, getting by on an entry-level salary can make it tough to set long-term financial goals. Nearly half of female investors ages 25 to 34 agreed with the statement “I am driven more by the present than the future when it comes to financial decisions,” according to a 2014 Ameriprise Financial study.

Many millennial women are delaying marriage, which also brings financial challenges, says Stefanie O’Connell, author of The Broke and Beautiful Life:“They’re contending with the higher cost of living alone and saving up for major milestones on their own.” On top of that, four in ten millennials describe their debt as “overwhelming,” according to a 2014 Wells Fargo study.

Health Insurance Coverage From as Little as $80 a Month Overseas

Health Insurance Coverage From as Little as $80 a Month Overseas

By the staff of International Living

Healthcare costs in the U.S. continue to rise. According to PwC’s Health Research Institute, medical costs look set to grow by 6.5% this year alone. Out-of-pocket medical expenses are one of the main reasons U.S. citizens go into debt, according to the Association of Healthcare Journalists. And with the average health insurance premium for a family topping $18,000 as of last year (up 58% since 2006), it’s small wonder that more than 11% of U.S.adultsare still uninsured.


Fortunately, there are countries overseas where you can find a great retirement lifestyle…and excellent, affordable healthcare when you need it. The five countries below rank among the top retirement destinations in the world. You can more than halve your healthcare costs in all these places—without compromising on quality.

In these countries, you can get yourself fully insured from just $80 a month, see a specialist for as little as $30, and have surgery performed by a well-trained professional for half or less (often much less) of the U.S. price. All of which leaves you with a lot more money to enjoy everything these retirement havens offer.

The Unnecessary Risk Too Many Women Take With Their Money

Are you worried about getting swindled out of your savings or losing everything in a crash? Alice Finn, the author of Smart Women Love Money, explains the simple ways to avoid those catastrophes—and warns us about a threat to our earnings one never seems to consider.

If I stopped a random woman on the street and asked her what she thought the biggest controllable risk to her long-term portfolio potential was, I can almost guarantee she wouldn’t guess the right answer. She might say it was the risk of being invested during a big market downturn, like the bursting of the dot-com bubble or the great recession of 2008. She might mention the possibility of being taken for a ride by a Ponzi schemer like Bernie Madoff, or investing in a fraudulent company or one that goes bankrupt. Perhaps she’d mention the risk of not investing at all—sitting on the sidelines and watching as the market goes up without her taking advantage and growing her assets.

Yes, market declines come and go, but if you remain invested in a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds and regularly rebalance, you ensure you’ll always be in a position to profit from the upturns when they come. If you’re sticking to index funds, there is no risk you’ll end up in the clutches of a Bernie Madoff and his “proprietary” (in this case, downright illegal) investment strategies and products, because you’ll be buying plain vanilla funds that trade in the public markets. And of course, you’ll be staying invested at all times, because that’s the key to making money at all. As long as you invest, and stay invested, your returns keep compounding. The more time you have, the more you can reinvest those earnings and leverage the potential of your original assets.

But there is another risk, and it’s one that almost no one ever seems to consider. The one most of us forget about until it’s too late. It doesn’t grab headlines in the same way a market crash or a renegade money manager might. But it can wreak havoc on how much money you end up with when you have to look at how your nest egg will provide for you and your family.

Ask Brianna: How Can I Tackle My Finances?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

This week’s question:

“I feel overwhelmed by my student loan and credit card debt, and I have nothing saved. I don’t want to even look at my accounts. How can I get past my fear and tackle my finances?”

Repeat after me: It’s not too late.

You are not a bad person. You don’t have to fix everything at once. Asking this question means you’ve already taken a huge step. Plus, nearly everyone has felt anxious about money — they probably just didn’t tell you.

“It’s something that everyone has to deal with, but nobody really talks about,” says Kristy Archuleta, a program director and associate professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State University.

Money is so tied to emotion that Archuleta, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is part of a movement to develop the new field of financial therapy. She says financial therapists “help people think, feel and behave differently with money as a way to improve overall well-being.”

If you’re totally overwhelmed by your financial situation, taking the first step to look at your finances can be the hardest part. Start small and ask for help. When you set goals and use them to guide you, you’ll start a positive cycle of progress.

Picture financial freedom

To start, focus on what you want your life to look like, Archuleta says — the big, nebulous, existential stuff, not what’s possible with the money you have in the bank right now. How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning? What activities and interests do you want to pursue? What kind of environment do you want to live in?
You may find it hard to imagine yourself sitting on the porch of your dream house in the country without the credit card debt that’s keeping you up at night now. But let the future motivate you to address your money concerns, instead of focusing on mistakes you made in the past.

India’s Botched War On Cash

India is in the throes of an unprecedented social experiment in enforced digital disruption, and the world has much to learn from it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a surprise in early November, demonetizing 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes. Modi’s war on cash is not without international precedent: Singapore, for example, withdrew its largest currency recently; the European Central Bank eliminated the 500-euro bank note; AND South Korea plans to eliminate at least all coins by 2020.

And yet India’s initiative had the potential for chaos. Here’s why: the government effectively took 86 percent of cash out of circulation in an economy that is close to 90 percent cash-reliant.

One of Modi’s strongest motivations for this action was corruption — to expose undeclared “black” money, i.e. income illegally obtained or not declared for tax purposes. But the government may have failed in meeting this objective. As of Dec. 3, about 82 percent of the demonetized bills, amounting to about $185 billion, had been deposited in bank accounts and validated (or legitimized after any additional taxes owed are accounted for), according to a Bloomberg report. In other words, very little of the estimated $2 trillion black money estimated to be stashed overseas has been captured.

In the meantime, retail and wholesale markets have stalled around the country. Supply chain transactions, real estate deals and even weddings and funerals have been frozen. Consumers are coping with lines that are frustrating even for Indians used to standing in lines or waiting for basic services. People up and down the income spectrum are dealing with changing cash withdrawal policies and empty ATMs. The nation’s status as the world’s fastest-growing big economy has been severely imperiled, and its currency is at risk of being further devalued. The situation is made worse by prospects of a strengthening dollar after the U.S. election.

Sounds bad, right? But there is a question that hasn’t been asked: Is there a digital upside to this crisis?

A digital idealist might argue that the demonetization move is a welcome shock necessary to get a cash-intensive society weaned off its addiction and onto modern systems of digital payments. Indeed, since the chaos erupted, the prime minister has tweeted: “Time has come for everyone, particularly my young friends, to embrace e-banking, mobile banking & more such technology.” He has urged the other side of the market to digitize as well: “I want to tell my small merchant brothers and sisters — this is the chance for you to enter the digital world,” he said in Hindi on television, encouraging mobile banking applications and credit card swipe machines.