From its year-round sunshine to its annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, there are tons of reasons to love living in Tampa. However, apartments in some neighborhoods don’t come cheap.
Fortunately, you don’t need to live in the Big Guava to enjoy everything it has to offer. There are lots of cities near Tampa that provide easy access to all the region’s amenities and attractions while maintaining a unique charm of their own.
So, before you commit to leasing an apartment in Tampa, you might want to consider these 10 alternative towns instead, all within 50 miles of downtown:
- Temple Terrace
- Palm Harbor
- Plant City
- Tarpon Springs
- Dade City
- Spring Hill
- Distance from downtown Tampa: 9.6 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,075 (down 14.1 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,101 (down 25.6 percent since last year)
For renters who want to enjoy the Tampa lifestyle and save some money in the process, Temple Terrace is the perfect option.
This affordable town is just a hop, skip and a jump from Tampa. In normal traffic, you can get from your front door to the Amalie Arena or the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in around 20 minutes.
Of course, residents don’t have to leave Temple Terrace to find things to do. This Hillsborough County city features tons of amenities, including the Claw (an 18-hole golf course) and Temple Crest Park.
Temple Terrace is also an ideal spot for college students in need of an off-campus apartment. The University of South Florida is just a few minutes away by car, bike or bus.
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Photo source: City of Largo / Facebook
- Distance from downtown Tampa: 22.9 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,222 (up 5.6 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,409 (down 4.6 percent since last year)
Largo is the third-largest city in Pinellas County, which means endless amenities and attractions for the whole family. History buffs will enjoy the Pinellas County Heritage Village, naturists will appreciate John S. Taylor Park and everyone will have fun at the Highland Family Aquatic Center.
If you have kids (or are planning to start a family in the near future), you will also be excited to know that Largo is close to some excellent elementary schools. Curtis Fundamental Elementary School and Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School both receive 10/10 grades from Great Schools.
Should you choose to move to Largo, you will also be just a short drive away from some of the nation’s best beaches including Indian Rocks Beach and Belleair Beach.
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- Distance from downtown Tampa: 23.0 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,295 (up 1.4 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,550 (up 4.9 percent since last year)
No list of cities near Tampa would be complete without mentioning Clearwater.
This coastal burg is one of the best places to live in the Tampa Bay area. Its picturesque beaches and trendy bars offer renters a uniquely fun and relaxed lifestyle.
This Pinellas County city is also an ideal spot for young professionals. Companies like Tech Data, BayCare Health System and the Suncoast Hospice Foundation have sizable footprints in the area and are always searching for new talent.
Clearwater is the most walkable city on this list. So, if you enjoy taking a stroll with your family in the evenings â it may just be the ideal place for you to rent your next apartment.
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- Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.0 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,235 (down 1.2 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,466 (down 2.3 percent since last year)
Renters who want to move to Pinellas County, but would prefer somewhere a little quieter than Clearwater or Largo, are sure to love Palm Harbor. This town is almost entirely residential, save for a few charming golf courses.
The real beauty of this city is its location. A short drive can get you to a wide variety of stunning parks, beaches and recreation areas. And just 30 minutes in the car will get you to Tampa International Airport and Raymond James Stadium.
If you decide to move to this quaint burg, you can’t miss the Taste of Palm Harbor festival in October. This annual event offers you the chance to try a plethora of delicious foods and drinks made by dozens of local eateries.
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Photo source: City of Plant City / Facebook
- Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.6 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $913 (up 6.1 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,160 (up 9.5 percent since last year)
Plant City is just off Interstate 4, which makes it a breeze to get from this small town to the heart of downtown Tampa. For most residents, this drive should take no more than 30 to 40 minutes.
Convenient commuting isn’t the only reason to live in Plant City, though. This historic burg also offers a large number of breweries, bars and restaurants. It is even home to the Keel and Curley Winery.
However, without question, the Florida Strawberry Festival is the main attraction in Plant City. This annual event lasts 11 days and features scores of rides, art exhibits and dining options.
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Photo source: City of Tarpon Springs, FL City Hall / Facebook
- Distance from downtown Tampa: 28.0 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $931 (up 2.6 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,087 (up 3.5 percent since last year)
Tarpon Springs might be home to just 25,577 residents, but it boasts the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the United States. As such, this picturesque town’s culture is quite similar to that of a small village in Greece.
Each year, Tarpon Springs hosts an Epiphany celebration in which kids go diving for a cross, and the local priest blesses the waters and the boats. The event attracts visitors from throughout the United States and abroad.
Of course, you don’t have to enjoy Greek culture to love living in Tarpon Springs. The city also features lots of parks, bars and recreation areas.
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- Distance from downtown Tampa: 35.5 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,138 (up 10.1 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,328 (up 1.9 percent since last year)
Lakeland is the largest city in Polk County. It is best known for its abundance of quaint antique shops and early 20th-century architecture. These features give it a look and feel that is unlike that of any other city in Florida.
This unique locale is perfect for families. It offers tons of recreation areas as well as some of the best schools in the area. Lincoln Avenue Academy is particularly popular with local parents.
Because it is on Interstate 4, Lakeland residents also enjoy easy commuting in and out of Tampa. In normal traffic, the journey takes around 45 minutes.
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Photo source: City of Dade City, FL / Facebook
- Distance from downtown Tampa: 38.4 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,147 (up 6.0 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,308 (up 3.7 percent since last year)
Dade City is the county seat of Pasco County. By population, it is the smallest town on this list. As a result, it is also one of the quietest and most family-friendly.
Though Florida is generally quite flat, Dade City features a collection of rolling hills that offer residents some stunning views from their apartment balconies.
Like most cities near Tampa, Dade City offers an abundance of green space for renters to enjoy. Dade City Dog Park is especially popular with people who want to help their canine companions make new friends.
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- Distance from downtown Tampa: 45.6 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,331 (up 8.7 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,573 (up 10.5 percent since last year)
At just 14.18 square miles, Bradenton is the smallest city on this list. However, it packs a lot of amenities into its limited space. This Manatee County town offers residents a baseball stadium, a science and nature museum and a performing arts center.
There are lots of job opportunities in Bradenton, especially in the healthcare sector. Companies like HCA Healthcare, HealthMarkets and Universal Health Services have offices in the region and regularly hire new employees.
Should you decide to rent an apartment in Bradenton, you will also have beaches like Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island just a stone’s throw from your front door.
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- Distance from downtown Tampa: 47 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $904 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,359 (up 45.0 percent since last year)
Spring Hill is undoubtedly one of the most affordable cities near Tampa. With one-bedroom units averaging $904 per month in this Hernando County town, you’ll have a tough time finding better value for money anywhere in Central Florida.
Its low cost of living isn’t the only thing that brings renters to Spring Hill, though. This charming city features a wildlife sanctuary, an adventure park and a country club. It is also just a short drive to the world-renowned Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
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Make one of these cities near Tampa your next home
Don’t delay. Find your home in one of these cities near Tampa with Apartment Guide today.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
The post 10 Cities Near Tampa To Live in 2021 appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Getting your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life will make a big difference in how you use the space and how much time you spend in it. Here’s how to organize your kitchen cabinets so you’ll love being in the kitchen!
1. Remove everything from your kitchen cabinets
To organize your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to start by taking everything out of the drawers and cupboards â absolutely everything must come out.
You want to start with empty, clean places for everything. Don’t try to shuffle things around between them â this usually results in a bigger mess than when you started.
2. Clean the drawers and surfaces
Wipe down and disinfect all of the drawers, cabinets and shelves in your kitchen. Even a few crumbs in the bottom of a drawer can make it look gross and unorganized, so get everything looking as clean as possible.
3. Take inventory of everything you have
Get a good idea of what you have. Sort items into categories, such as:
- Pots and pans
- Food storage containers
- Bowls and plates
- Eating utensils
- Cooking utensils
- Baking tools
- Small appliances (electric mixer, waffle maker, toaster, etc.)
- Dry foods (cereal, pasta, oatmeal, etc.)
- Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.)
Everything sorted? Now, you can see what all you have and how much of each item you’ll need to store.
4. Get rid of the items you don’t need
More isn’t always better, especially when you’re working with a finite amount of kitchen storage space. With everything sorted and you know exactly how much of everything you’ve got, decide what you need and what you don’t need.
Over time, you may have collected various kitchen items and you may not realize just how much you actually have. While it’s nice to have lots of pots and pans for cooking dinner for a group, you may find that you have three pots all the same size when, realistically, you only need one. The same thing goes for everything else â you may have accumulated 12 wooden spoons and you only need to have two. And that turkey baster collection? One will do â you get rid of the other two.
Get rid of things you haven’t used or have too many of â so fitting everything in your kitchen cabinets won’t give a game of Tetris a run for its money.
5. Group similar items together
Now that you’ve gotten rid of the extra stuff, you’ve got less stuff to fit into your kitchen. Woohoo!
Start by keeping similar items together and match them up with cabinets and drawers relative to their size and quantity. Pots and pans are bulky, so they’ll probably need a bigger cabinet. Spice jars are small, so they can go in a smaller cabinet.
Keep similar items together in the same place so they’re easy to find and you won’t end up opening every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen each time you need something.
6. Put open items in bins and containers
When you’re limited on drawer space, using bins to store things can make it much easier to find what you need and keep things from falling out of cabinets when you open them.
Clear bins are best since you can see exactly what’s inside of them. You can store all of your baking ingredients in them â creating one for your sugars (regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.) and one for chocolate chips (semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc.).
Don’t forget to dedicate a bin or two for your snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.). Make bins for any items that make sense to keep together.
You can also store dry food items in clear, airtight containers. This allows you to see how much of everything you have, plus containers are stackable, resealable and won’t get smashed or lost easily in your pantry. Even Marie Kondo supports putting food into matching containers for organization!
7. Use drawer organizers for utensils
Putting dividers and organizers in drawers will help keep things sorted out and easy to find. Rather than a jumbled mess where it takes forever to dig up what you need, sort your regular utensils â forks, knives and spoons, as well as bigger cooking utensils like ladles, cooking spoons and spatulas.
8. Match up your food storage containers
It’s easy to throw all of the food storage containers and lids into a cabinet once they’re clean, but tale as old as time â when you need it, you end up having to dig through everything just to find a matching lid.
Put the lids on your food storage containers before putting them in the cabinet so you’re guaranteed to find a container and a matching lid each time you need it. You can nest them to save cabinet space while still keeping matches together.
No more digging through and trying to fit 12 lids on the same container before you find a match!
9. Keep frequently used items within easy reach
Put all of the items you use frequently in the easiest to reach and access places and keep the seldom-used items in harder-to-access places.
It doesn’t make sense to keep the drinking glasses you use every day on a high shelf that’s difficult to reach, nor it makes zero sense to store the electric mixer you use once a month in an eye-level cabinet right by the sink.
Your kitchen’s organization should make sense for your life and what you use often.
10. Store items in places that make sense
Store things in the most practical of places! Keep your cooking oil and spices near the stovetop, since that’s where you will use them the most. Put your eating utensils near the plates and bowls since they go together like peas in a pod. Put pots and pans near the stove because they’re always used on it.
11. Eliminate a junk drawer
Many people have a drawer for the miscellaneous items in their kitchen, often dubbed the “random” or “junk” drawer. It turns into a black hole where you end up placing small items you’re too lazy to find the correct spot for and once you need that item, you can’t remember where you put it.
This drawer defeats the purpose of organizing your kitchenâ you should find everything quickly and easily without having to dig through a bunch of random stuff in a drawer. Don’t leave room for a junk drawer in your kitchen at all!
Other kitchen cabinet organization tips
Here are a few additional tips and ideas for organizing your kitchen cabinets.
- Use hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to hang things like scrub brushes, pot lids and large spoons
- Use shelf risers to give yourself extra stacking space in cabinets
- Most cabinets have movable shelves, change the shelf placement to accommodate the items you’re putting into each cabinet
- Add a magnetic knife strip to the wall above where you normally chop fruits and vegetables so you can keep your favorite knives at the ready without taking up drawer space
- Store your cutting boards and baking sheets vertically instead of horizontally âthat way, you can simply slide which sheet you want out on its side
- Label containers and bins, especially if they’re opaque and not clear so that you know what’s stored inside of them without having to check
- Add a lazy Susan to awkward corner cabinets with a small opening, so you can store things like spices and oils without needing to reach far into the cabinet and you can see everything easily
- Limit your kitchen gadgets â yes, the banana slicer looks cool and helps you cut a banana in five seconds rather than 30, but do you really need it? Sparingly purchase gadgets to prevent clutter.
These aren’t necessary for keeping your kitchen cabinets organized, but they can certainly help make your kitchen all the more functional.
Staying organized requires discipline
Once you figure out how to organize your kitchen cabinets, your work isn’t completely done â you need to make sure they STAY organized. That means putting everything back into its proper place whenever you’re through using it. It’s easy to slip out of that habit, but once you do, your kitchen cabinets and drawers may end up a mess again.
Put forth a special effort to keep things where they belong!
The post How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in 11 Easy Steps appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
The gig economy has led to an explosion of entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses. In fact, QuickBooks’ 2020 State of the Self-Employed report found 28.4% of U.S. adults identified as self-employed at one point or another during 2019.
One incredibly important aspect of running your own business is security and fraud prevention. Yet, unfortunately, many small business owners underestimate the risk of bad actors and thieves targeting their establishments – whether it be cyberattacks (43% of all data breaches include small businesses, according to a recent Verizon study), cash theft, shoplifting or credit card fraud (an estimated 27% of online sales with merchants were found to be fraudulent transactions in a 2019 American Express survey).
While large businesses typically have hefty budgets to spend on fraud prevention, as a self-employed person or the owner of a small mom-and-pop shop, you may not have a lot of resources at your disposal – especially at the tail end of a global pandemic. However, there are some steps you can take to protect your business from credit card fraud no matter its size and lower the risk of fraud overall.
Protect your point-of-sale (POS) system
“When it comes to point-of-sale fraud, what businesses are most likely to run across is card skimming,” said Jason Glassberg, cybersecurity expert and co-founder of Redmond, Washington-based Casaba Security, in a previous interview.
This could be physical, such as when a chip is inserted into the POS device by a local criminal, or it could be digital, where the POS system is infected with card number-stealing malware. There is also the ever-present threat of card skimmers and shimmers, which are devices that can capture card data from EMV chip cards.
To combat this threat, provide as much physical security to your POS system as possible, Glassberg said.
“That means locking up POS devices during closed hours so they can’t be accessed by anyone except a manager,” he said.
Also, inspect POS devices at least a couple of times a week, “looking for anything out of the ordinary such as loose housing, exposed wire, bulky fitting or anything that seems out of place on the device,” Glassberg noted.
Finally, stay up to date on any software updates to your POS system.
See related: How small businesses can safely store card details
Card-not-present (CNP) fraud occurs when someone fraudulently uses a credit card number online, over the phone or in another manner where they don’t have to show you the physical card. In fact, a study out of Javelin Strategy found that CNP fraud is 81% more likely to occur compared to POS fraud. Further, retailers could lose as much as $130 billion from CNP fraud by 2023.
One of the best things you can do as a business owner to prevent CNP fraud is to require the consumer to have the card verification value (CVV) number for their card, whether the order is placed over the phone or online, said Glassberg. This three or four-digit number can typically be found on the back of the card.
“You can also ask for the ZIP code associated with the card to weed out many of these fraudulent attempts,” Glassberg said.
Also, be on the lookout for potential “friendly fraud,” or credit card chargebacks initiated by customers looking to reverse a charge on their account for fraudulent purposes, in turn hurting the business they purchased from. In genuine circumstances, a customer can dispute a purchase if their bill was incorrect, the item is damaged, etc. For more information on what to do in these situations, consider reading the following expert business credit column on false disputes.
See related: Can a collector target my business bank account over personal credit card debt?
Get third-party help
According to Keeper Security’s 2019 SMB Cyberthreat Study, 60% of small business owners said they “do not have a cyberattack prevention plan” and 25% “don’t even know where to start with cybersecurity.”
Even if you don’t have money to hire a cybersecurity staff, you don’t have to shoulder all the risk alone. There are companies, such as NoFraud and Signifyd, that specialize in fraud detection to help online merchants identify a possible risk before the sale goes through.
Dave Hermansen, CEO of e-commerce training company Store Coach, depends on such services to give incoming orders a “pass” or “fail” grade based on advanced algorithms, order histories tied to email addresses and other fraud detection methods.
“If an order gets a ‘pass,’ any loss you incur due to fraud is covered by [the fraud detection service],” said Hermansen in a previous interview. “If it is labeled, ‘fail,’ it’s up to you whether or not you want to ship the order – you will not be covered for fraud on those orders.”
Hermansen said his firm immediately cancels and refunds any orders that are marked “fail.”
See related: Retailers will lose billions to online fraud by 2023: Could a new Amex tool help?
Prevent fraud through training
If you have employees, their habits can put your business at risk (especially as many employees have transitioned to a work-from-home environment sans an in-office security team, guaranteed VPN or in-person “phishing 101” lectures). Make sure employees are aware of threats and train them on what to do and what not to do, said Yair Levy, professor of information systems and cybersecurity at Nova Southeastern University, in a previous interview.
How to dispute fraudulent charges on a corporate credit card
Make the move to mobile
As consumers increasingly use their smartphones to shop, there’s a security benefit to small business owners choosing to upgrade their equipment to accept mobile payments.
If you can accept payments from mobile wallets like Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay, there is no credit card to be inserted into the payment terminal, which can cut down your risk of fraud, Glassberg said.
Consider cyber insurance – and a vulnerability test
As fraudsters and scammers are constantly changing their tactics and evolving, no business is 100% safe. A cyber insurance policy could save your small business from potential bankruptcy, considering it would pay for legal fees, customer notifications and other costs incurred if you do experience a data breach.
“As an added measure, if you have the means to do so, I would also highly recommend hiring a cybersecurity firm to carry out a ‘penetration test’ of your business network and POS system to see how vulnerable you really are to an attack,” Glassberg said.
An ounce of prevention could not only protect your customers, but it could save your business as well.
See related: Is your small business protected by cyber insurance? It should be
The bottom line
With the tips provided above, you can take the steps to protect your small business from fraud of all kinds, including credit card fraud, and ensure your information (and that of your patrons) is protected.
Should you ever experience other security threats related to your business (think: if your business credit card is stolen) be sure to contact your credit card issuer immediately, place a hold on the card and file a dispute if necessary; you should be able to easily contact your issuer using the number of the back of the physical credit card.
You’ve been running a credit card balance for a few months, but finally, you have enough cash on hand to zero out the statement balance.
With great relief – and not a little pride – you pay it off. Thank goodness you’re done with that debt.
But wait: did you also pay the residual interest?
What is residual interest?
Residual interest is the interest that’s accrued on the unpaid credit card balance all this time that you’ve not been paying it. It’s also called trailing interest – because it trails into the next month.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigated residual interest charges on credit cards in 2015 as part of its biennial credit card report to Congress.
“We recognized, based on our research, that there is some confusion about this so-called ‘ghost charge,’ said Wei Zhang, the bureau’s credit card program manager. “People wanted to know, ‘What is this? Why is it happening?’”
The bureau did not find issuers doing anything illegal; however, they did discover that many details were buried in the fine print of credit card agreements. Card owners often were unaware of or did not fully understand what happened if they failed to pay their bill in full or how interest on the balance was calculated.
Before we get into those details any further, though, let’s start by explaining some terms:
- Billing cycle – That’s the time between two bills. Many billing cycles are about a month long.
- Closing date – That’s the date on which the billing cycle ends. When the closing date occurs, the card will post a statement balance. That’s the amount of purchases you charged during this billing cycle.
- Grace period – This is the period of time between when the billing cycle closes and your payment is due. This can be a few weeks, or even up to a month.
- Due date – This is the last possible day to make your payment without penalty. After this day, interest will start to accrue on the balance.
That interest that accrues? That’s residual interest.
See related: How to lower your credit card interest rate
How does residual interest work?
Here’s an example of how residual interest comes into play:
- You have a credit card with a billing cycle that closes on the 15th of every month. On March 15, your statement balance is $1,200.
- Your due date on the bill is April 14th. But when the date arrives, you can only afford to pay $900 – meaning you leave a balance of $300 on the credit card.
- That $300 starts accruing interest the very next day. How much interest? Depends on your particular credit card. Let’s say, for this example, your card charges an APR of 22%.
- To figure out how much that will be, divide the APR by the number of days in the year. So 22 divided by 365 – 0.0602%.
- Multiply this by your current $300 balance, and you get 18.06 cents. That’s the amount of residual interest you will get charged on the balance each day.
- By the time the next month’s due date rolls around, 30 days later, you will owe $5.41 in residual interest.
This is where things get tricky. Maybe you decided to clean up your financial act. You’ve only charged $200 this month, and now you can afford to pay off both the new balance and the $300 from last month. Everything’s squared away, right? Nope, not so fast. You still owe that $5.41. And if you don’t notice it and neglect to pay it, it will continue to accrue interest.
Or, you do pay the entire bill by sending a check in the mail. Interest may continue to accrue on the balance between the time you mail the check and the time the bank receives it and cashes it. Remember, once you enter the land of accruing interest, there is no more grace period.
“Because it accrues after the billing period closes, [residual interest] won’t appear on your current statement – meaning that this could be a surprise amount you discover in your next statement,” said Megumi Smisson, who discusses personal finance on her podcast Ms. Money Moves and her website, Money With Megumi. “Or, worst case, you think you’ve paid off your card, don’t check your next statement to make a payment, and incur a late fee and potentially damage your credit.”
See related: What happens when you miss a credit card payment?
Do all cards charge residual interest?
Residual interest is a common credit card feature. Supposedly, there are banks that don’t charge it, though those are increasingly hard to find.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible, but … [scoring a credit card that doesn’t charge residual interest] is kind of like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a unicorn standing next to it,” said Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Washington, D.C.
There are many credit cards that offer 0% APR on new and transferred balances for a number of months. To find out how your card deals with leftover balances, look at the back of the statement. It probably won’t say “residual interest” in those words.
Scan instead for writing like “finance charges may be assessed even if we receive payment in full in the current billing cycle.” Other ways to get this information, and discover what the APR is for your card, are to look at your card’s terms and conditions, go to the card issuer’s website or call the issuer.
How to avoid residual interest
There’s no reason you should have to pay months’ worth of residual interest on your credit card for a balance that’s quickly resolved. Here’s how to make sure this isn’t a problem for you.
- Pay your card in full each month. “The No. 1 rule, the best advice for avoiding residual interest altogether, is to pay off your purchases immediately,” McClary said.
- First timer? See if you can get a break. There’s no harm in calling your credit card issuer and asking if you can get an extension on your payment deadline, so you can avoid late fees, finance charges and any residual interest on this one cycle. “You never know what you’ll get until you ask,” McClary said.
- If that’s not possible, check your balance and pay it online. The credit card issuer should post real-time information about your leftover balance and any accruing interest.
- Get confirmation from the card issuer. This is particularly important if you are paying your balance by mail, either from a paper statement or from what you see online. Interest on the balance continues to accrue until the moment the bank cashes your check. If the check is insufficient because it doesn’t include those extra few days of interest, interest will accrue on the unpaid balance. Instead, before you write the check, pick up the phone and ask the credit card issuer for the payoff balance. “That is the best, the most foolproof way to accurately know the balance that would pay off the account,” McClary said. He advises overestimating the day the payment will arrive by a day or two; the company will repay you any overpayment but will charge more interest if you fall short again.
See related: Should I pay off my credit card all at once?
Remember, if you’ve let a balance carry from one statement to the next, you don’t just have to pay off the balance on your statement. You may also owe residual interest that is not included in your current statement. Check your total online. Call the card issuer to double-check. You can also check your credit card agreement to find out about residual interest or minimum finance charges.
And after you’ve paid what you believe you owe, check again, to be sure.
“Don’t just anticipate ‘I’m off the hook’ next month,” Zhang said. “In many cases, you are probably not off the hook. Make sure there are not any residual balances next month.”
Stress is something we all deal with in varying forms. The past 12 months have tested everyoneâs ability to cope with unprecedented stressors, and well, itâs tiring having to adapt to a constantly changing landscape. Meditation is scientifically proven to lower stress levels and help soothe the hamster wheel of thoughts racing through our minds.
Best of all, thanks to modern technology, meditation has never been so accessible. You need no equipment, and there are hundreds of free meditation apps and mindfulness apps to assist you in finding your zen.
1. MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness
Selected as the Apple App Storeâs âApp of the Dayâ in 2020, MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness is a free meditation app that is personalized to how you feel and only asks for a few minutes of your day.
According to the app, users were 82% more likely to be less anxious with consistent use of MyLife Meditation: Mindfulness. Sign us up! This free meditation app also offers breathing exercises to catalyze calm and groundedness, tracking mental health with a daily feelings log, and guided meditations recommended just for you.
For those who are ready to kick things up a notch, the meditation app has a premium membership for $9.99/month or $58.99/year that unlocks 400+ activities, guided journaling prompts, yoga and soundscapes.
2. Simple Habit Sleep, Meditation
With 71,000 ratings totalling 4.8/5 stars on the Apple App Store, Simple Habit Sleep, Meditation is one of the top free mindfulness apps available today.
Simple Habitâs goal is in its name â make daily meditation a simple, easy habit. This free app offers five-minute meditations, progress trackers and downloadable meditations for situations like air travel or remote adventures.
It has programs guided by top mindfulness experts from Google, former monks and leading mental health experts. Whether you need a quick decompression before heading into work or a longer, pre-sleep session, Simple Habit makes meditation easy.
To access even more mindfulness content, Simple Habit has a premium subscription for $11.99/month.
3. Ten Percent Happier
The Ten Percent Happier app was Appleâs best of 2018 award winner and was the top app in the Wirecutterâs list of âBest Meditation Appsâ .
This easy-to-use app is led by Emmy-award winning journalist Dan Harris, who works with some of the best meditation teachers in the world to bring you sessions focused on meditation practices like self-compassion, emotional balance and navigating crises.
Ten Percent Happier opens by asking users a series of questions about their life and lifestyle, then curating a plan specific to each person. You can select goals such as fostering daily calm, lowering anxiety levels and more. You are also invited to choose the way you learn best, whether thatâs through audio, reading, videos or hands-on experiences.
Hereâs the catch: the Ten Percent Happier program isnât free , though you can start with a 14-day free trial before paying $99.99 for a one-year subscription.
Headspace is one of the best-known mental health apps. Its nearly five-star rating and 65 million downloadsshow Headspace is on it for meditation practice.
One of Headspaceâs more unique offerings is its Weathering the Storm collection, a series of guided meditations, prompts, body scans and stories geared toward helping folks navigate the challenges presented by the past year.
Headspace is changing the meditation app space by offering mindful workouts, too. Led by Olympians Kim Glass and Leon Taylor, Headspace workouts combine mental grounding with body-pumping training sessions to promote holistic wellness.
This affordable (but not free) meditation app has a free 14-day trial before charging $12.99/month or $69.99/year (which brings the monthly total down to $5.99/month).
5. Insight Timer
Another heavy hitter in the free meditation app space is Insight Timer, which was named App of the Year by TIME Magazine and Womenâs Health.
Insight Timer is a must-have for those who want a wide variety of meditation practices, as the app offers thousands of guided meditations and is constantly adding more. It also has no-cost music and ambient soundtracks to promote better sleep and focus.
This free meditation app promotes community by offering numerous discussion groups and ways to connect with other Insight Timer users.
Whether youâre looking to sleep better, move through an addiction, improve leadership at work, or work on your meditation practice, Insight Timer has a guided meditation for you.
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Calm is one of the original mindfulness programs for smart devices. It boasts 40 million downloads worldwide and 1.1 million reviews on the Apple App Store.
With its free version, users get access to loads of guided meditations, sleep stories, ambient sounds and breath timers that all seek to promote a more tranquil, fulfilling life.
Calm offers a wide variety of meditations, from flight anxiety to SOS panic sessions designed to ground users in the present. Some of its meditations and bedtime stories are led by famous voices like Bindi Irwin, Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry, to name a few.
This app lets you track the number of days youâve meditated, helping to make using Calm a rewarding habit.
If the free version of Calm isnât enough, users can upgrade to a premium subscription for $69.99/year and get access to even more mindful content.
7. Breethe: Meditation & Sleep
With more than 10 million downloads, Breethe: Meditation & Sleep is one of the best meditation apps in the mindfulness market.
Breethe has over 1,000 tracks of nature sounds, guided meditations, bedtime stories, five-minute and three-minute meditations and more.
Wellness experts like mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg walk you through practices to help you achieve a smiling mind and a calm body. Breethe seeks to help all users find peace with their emotions, physical sensations and current events through deliberate mental health practices.
The app is free to download. But to access its features, you can join the Breethe membership community for $12.99/month or $89.99/year.
Kristin Jenny is a contributor to 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.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a convenient way to store funds specifically for medical expenses. If you qualify for an HSA, you will get to enjoy a few tax advantages as well. While this might sound like an ideal setup, not everyone is eligible for a health savings account. To qualify for a health savings account, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). The details of these plans are revised every year by the Internal Service Revenue (IRS), which sets the bar for:
- The minimum deductible a plan must have to be considered a HDHP.
- The maximum amount that a customer who purchases a plan is able to spend out-of-pocket.
The benefits of a health savings account
Here are some of the key advantages of having a health savings account:
- It covers a large variety of medical expenses: There are many different kinds of medical expenses that are eligible, such as medical, dental and mental health services.
- Pretty much anyone can make contributions: Contributions to your health savings account donât have to be made by you or your spouse. Employers, relatives, friends or anyone who would like to contribute to your account can do so. There are limits, however. For example, in 2019, the limit for individuals was $3,500 and $7,000 for families.
- Pre-tax contributions: Since contributions are generally made at your employer pre-taxes, they are not considered to be part of your gross income and are not federally taxed. This is usually the same case when it comes to state level taxes as well.
- After-tax contributions are tax-deductible: Any contributions made after taxes are deductible from your gross income on your tax return. Doing so minimizes the amount you would owe on taxes for that year.
- Tax-free withdrawals: You can withdrawal money from your account for approved health care costs without having to worry about federal taxes. Most states do not tax, either.
- Annual rollover: Any unused HSA funds that are left over by the end of the year get rolled over to the following year.
- Portability: Even if you change health insurance plans, employers, or retire, the money in your health savings account will continue to be available for qualifying health care expenses.
- Having a health savings account is convenient: Most of the time, you will receive a debit card that is connected to your health savings account. This way, you can use your debit card to start paying for eligible expenses and prescription drugs on the spot.
The drawbacks to having a health savings account
While there are many advantages to having a health savings account, there are a few things to consider. For one, in order to qualify for an HSA, you must hold a high-deductible health insurance plan. The tax benefits might entice you to purposely sign up for insurance coverage under one of these health plans but think before doing this. Here are some of the disadvantages to having a health savings account:
- The High-Deductible Health Plan: These types of health plans can end up being a lot more expensive in the long run, even with an HSA. If you have other options for health insurance that offer lower deductible, definitely consider those and donât only choose a High-Deductible plan so that you can open an HSA.
- You need to stay on top of your spending: If you have an HSA, you need to be willing to hold yourself responsible for recordkeeping. Keep track of all of your receipts so that you can prove you spent your HSA funds on eligible expenses.
- Taxes and penalties: Using money from your HSA on other expenses that do not qualify as eligible health care expenses could result in you owing taxes. If you do this before the age of 65, you will have to pay taxes with a 20% penalty tacked on. If you are 65 or older, you will be responsible for paying taxes, but the penalty gets waived.
- Fees: Sometimes, health savings accounts will charge additional fees, either per month or per transaction. Check with your HSA institution for more information on extra fees.
How an HSA works
In many cases, if your employer offers high-deductible health plans, they probably offer health savings accounts as well. Talk to your employer to find out what they offer. If your employer doesnât offer HSAs, then you can sign up for a separate one through a different institution.
You get to decide how much you would like to contribute to your HSA annually, but keep in mind that you cannot exceed the HSA contribution limit. Once you are set up with an account, you will either receive a debit card or a series of checks that are linked to your HSA. Right away, you will be able to use the funds in your account for:
- Other eligible health care expenses that your insurance does not cover.
Generally, you cannot use HSA funds to pay your insurance premiums.Â HSAs are not the same as flexible spending accounts, because HSAs rollover. Once you turn 65, you are no longer eligible to make contributions to your account, but you can still use the available funds for eligible out-of-pocket expenses. If you use the funds for non-eligible expenses, you will owe taxes on these amounts.
Another benefit of HSA that you may or may not have heard of is that you can invest the money in mutual funds and stocks. If this is something that you are interested in, seek advice from a financial advisor for more information.
What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.