Dana Sitar - The Penny Hoarder

In the 21st century, we like things small.

Our headphones, computers and dogs are all shrinking. Teacup pigs are surging in popularity (at least in meme form). File compression is such a well-known part of everyday life that an entire sitcom is based on the concept.

It’s no surprise we like our investments small, too.

Why Millennials Love Micro-Investing

Investment, as a term, seems way too big for most of us. It’s too much to learn, too much responsibility, too much risk — just too much.

Micro-investing, on the other hand, is just plain adorable. Snappable, ‘grammable adorableness.

Like a pig small enough to fit inside a teacup, micro-investing is about investments small enough to fit anyone’s budget.

Yes, even yours.

Even better, this strategy typically comes through an app.

Most importantly, you don’t really have to know anything about the stock market to make this kind of investment.

Micro-investing apps let you automatically invest small amounts of money into a portfolio they craft for you. You set up a profile that lets the app know the best kinds of things to invest your money in.

Here are Some of Our Favorite Micro-Investing Apps

Through Stash, you choose portfolios based on the types of companies you want your money to support. Choose the “Clean & Green” fund to invest in green energy companies, for example, or the “American Innovators” fund to invest in tech companies.

Acorns makes it easy to invest without missing the money you set aside. It rounds up debit- or credit-card purchases to the nearest dollar and invests your digital change.

Clink lets you invest a set amount per day, week or month — a minimum of $1 a day — automatically drawn from your bank account.

Where Your Micro-Money Goes

When you invest through a micro-investing app, your money is typically going into exchange traded funds, or ETFs.

ETFs are treated like other funds in the stock market, but they include investments in several companies.

And they let investors like you own portions of shares in stocks, instead of full shares — which you might not otherwise be able to afford.

Is Micro-Investing Worth It?

If you’re even a little math-minded, you might have realized: If you invest a small amount, you can only expect a small return, right?

You probably won’t become a millionaire or retire early from investing your spare change.

Realistically, these apps could help you set aside a few hundred dollars a year. It’s nothing to write Warren Buffett about — but it’s no small feat if you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, wondering how you can get ahead.

You could have $500 in your emergency fund by the end of the year — before the next thing on your car breaks.

Or you can use micro-investing as a first step into bigger investments.

Take the money you save without thinking about it this year, and open a larger investment account. You only need $100 to open an account with Aspiration’s Redwood Fund, which invests your money in sustainable businesses.

Or just save for one more year, and you can get yourself a teacup pig!

Whichever you choose, life is about to get a lot more Insta-worthy.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

I didn’t realize this until I moved out of my home state of Wisconsin -- but alcohol is expensive.

Unless you’re a pro at finding nightly specials, know a lot of bartenders, or are willing to choke down well cocktails all night, an evening out is going to be hard on your wallet.

Until now… We’ve found a way to actually save money on drinks at bars, restaurants, grocery stores and liquor stores.

Ibotta is a fun rebate app that lets you get cash back on drink deals. And it’s available all over the country.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the app and start a free account to browse drink deals in your area.
  1. Choose the deals you want, and buy the items.
  1. Click “Redeem” on the offer in the app, and take a picture of your itemized receipt.
  1. Cash will be deposited into your PayPal account within 48 hours. You can also redeem for gift cards.

What Kinds of Deals Will You Find?

Ibotta is always updating with new deals, so check back before you go out.

For example when I checked, some of the latest liquor store deals included:

  • New Belgium Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale: $2 back on 12-pack bottles
  • Shiner Bock beer: $5 back on 12-pack bottles
  • Absolut vodka: $5 back on 750-milliliter or 1-liter bottles
  • 1800 tequila: $3 back on 750-milliliter bottles or larger
  • Sutter Home: $1 back on 750-milliliter or 1-liter bottles
  • Eppa SupraFruta sangria: $1.50 back on 750-milliliter

Ibotta also features deals for any restaurant or bar. Check out some of the latest deals:

  • 1800 tequila: $3 back on any mixed drink or cocktail
  • Budweiser or Bud Light: $3 back on any pitcher or bucket
  • New Belgium beer: $1 back on any bottle or draft

There's even a deal for $2 back on the purchase of a Budweiser beer and any sandwich.

Redeem these anywhere -- you’re not restricted to specific locations. However, you do have to be 21 or older to take advantage of these deals!

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

Q: What’s more American than a hot dog?

A: 72 hot dogs.

That’s how many full franks reigning champ Joey Chestnut downed in 10 minutes to win yesterday’s Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This construction manager turned pro eater holds 40 records in everything from apple pie to burritos, according to Nathan’s hall of fame. (And yes, we’ve got “how to become a pro eater” on our to-do list now, so stay tuned.)

Cost of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs

Chestnut got this gargantuan Fourth of July lunch for free, of course. Unless you count the opportunity cost of never enjoying a hot dog ever again.

Or the physical price his body is probably paying today.

If he’d ordered the fare at host Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Stand in Coney Island, New York, he’d have paid $2.49 each, or $179.28. Add sales tax of 8.9% for a total of $195.24.

That’s an expensive meal. Hope he relished it. (And you thought the dad jokes would end with the fireworks.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Dana, let’s be reasonable. If I wanted to eat 72 hot dogs, I wouldn’t waste money ordering them at a restaurant. I’d make them myself.

Smart move.

So, a five-pack of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs is $4.98 at Walmart. For 72, you’ll need 15 packages, so you’ll fork over $74.70.

And don’t forget, Chestnut downed 72 buns, too. He soaked them in water to make them easier to eat. Clever trick, if also the grossest thing ever.

An eight-pack of buns at Walmart will run you just 84 cents, so you’ll spend $7.56 there.

That’s a grand total of $82.26 to ketchup with the champ.

But we know you can do it cheaper.

How to Save Money on Hot Dogs

If you want to shop — and eat — like a Penny Hoarder, you’ll want to download a rebate app to save money.

Our favorite is Ibotta, which gives you cash back on your hot dogs and buns — and even healthy staples like milk and bananas.

But who ever heard of a banana-eating contest? (Add “cream pie” to that equation, though? Now we’ve got a competition.)

To save on your hot dogs all summer — and all your groceries — here’s how to get started with Ibotta:

  1. Sign up with Ibotta here, using your name and email address.
  1. Browse the cash-back offers in your area, and note them next time you go shopping. For example, today there’s a deal for 75 cents cash back on McCormick beef franks and 50 cents cash back on a few kinds of mustard. If you’re a ketchup person (we won’t tell), you can get 50 cents back on a bottle of Sir Kensington’s.
  1. Snap a picture of your receipt with the app when you get home, and your cash-back reward will be added to your account within 48 hours.

Plus, you’ll get a $10 cash-back bonus when you redeem your first receipt! That’s no weenie of an offer.

Save Money on Groceries, No Matter What You Buy

I know you’re wondering why we’re talking about a hot dog contest. Frankly, we mustard lost our minds, right?

Nope. We’re dead serious. We’ll take any chance we can to remind you of all the ways you can save money. Like this: Here’s how to save on groceries every time you shop.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

Etiquette is the most fun, isn’t it?

Figuring out which fork to use for your salad, on which side of the plate to place your wine glass, and when you are or are not supposed to wear a hat…

People take classes to learn this stuff.


Maybe my millennial self is just too focused on bigotry in our lawmakers and unfair pay practices in the workplace to be concerned with the niceties of fork choice.

Or maybe I’m just irreverent.

Either way, when it comes to the question of whether it’s polite to talk about money, I err on the side of I need to protect my freakin’ wallet, so YEAH, I’m gonna bring it up.

Never is this issue more awkward than when you join friends for dinner.

Did the organizer imply they’d foot the bill? Can you afford anything at the restaurant someone else chose? Will you split it evenly… even if you don’t get an appetizer and two glasses of wine like Sheila?

(Seriously, Sheila, it’s noon on a Wednesday.)

To, ostensibly, make the situation less uncomfortable — and help you save money — “Food & Wine” magazine recently shared some advice for telling your friends you only want to pay for what you order.

I think the tips are just awful.

What Not to Say to Get Out of Splitting Checks at Restaurants

National etiquette expert Diane Gottsman suggests to “Food & Wine” readers, "Say, I'd love to join you, but I'm not the wine lover you are so I'm going to order separately.”

I don’t know, sounds a little judgey to me…

Another expert, Annette Harris makes a seemingly-reasonable suggestion: Let your friends know you’re on a tight budget before you order. But she follows up with the less reasonable assertion that you shouldn't do this if you're with your co-workers.

Because when it’s a work dinner, your bank account magically expands, right?

Certainly the worst piece of advice comes from Gottsman.

"If you want to be discreet, call the restaurant in advance and ask the hostess if she could ask your server to split the check with your co-diner or diners," she suggests.

Oh my goodness.

That sound you just heard is the collective gasp — followed by fits of laughter — from every restaurant host and server ever.

(Followed by the tsks of those of us who can’t help but notice the gendered language… there’s my millennial showing.)

“Lastly, of course,” the magazine adds, “you have an option to be a straight-shooter.”

Lastly? Let’s kick that one up to the top of the list.

What You Should Say to Get Out of Splitting the Check

A quick Penny Hoarder counter to this advice: You’re responsible for what’s in your wallet. If you’re on a tight budget, spending time with friends, family or co-workers shouldn’t break you.

But I’ve been in your shoes.

Someone says, “We should get together!” You’re like, “Absolutely!” And they’re like, “How about that Italian place on 4th?”

And you’re like… *scrolls through Yelp and sees four dollar signs*. Gulp. “Um, sure?” Then you convince yourself the $8.95 side salad will be plenty of food.

Don’t settle for a side salad.

Here are a few tips to keep you from blowing your budget on a check split you never saw coming.

1. Pick the Restaurant Yourself

Take control of the situation up front, and suggest a restaurant you can afford. This will keep you from stressing about the check altogether and let you enjoy your meal — and your friends.

If you’re low on discretionary income for the month, suggest coffee or even a free activity like taking a walk instead.

2. Get Cash Back for Your Meal

If you’re determined to avoid a money conversation, try these tricks for getting money back after you pay.

  • Download Ibotta, an app that gives you rebates for shopping in tons of categories, including restaurants and bars. Just choose your rebates in advance, and snap a picture of your receipt when you get home.
  • Pay through the Subtotal app (for iOS or Android) to earn up to 10% cash back at more than 70 restaurants.

3. Actually Be a Straight Shooter

Seriously, though, be honest with your friends, family or coworkers.

Everyone deals with money. While your situation might feel unique, they probably understand what it’s like to work within a budget.

Don’t insult their wine habit. Don’t pretend you can afford something you can’t. And, for the love of everything holy, do not ask the restaurant to accommodate your insecurities.

Simply inform your co-diners you want separate checks. Use the old standby: “Let’s go Dutch.”

You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your financial situation. If they ask, just tell them you took etiquette lessons from The Penny Hoarder.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which The Penny Hoarder receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

What’s your Chipotle order?

You know, the one you crave while you’re eating a cold turkey sandwich at your desk on your lunch hour… and when the 3 p.m. crash hits and you can hardly wait for dinner…

You start to build it in your mind as you stare blankly at a computer screen.

Dish? Burrito.

Meat? Sofritas.

Rice? White.

Beans? Pinto. Pause your health kick; this traditional flavor will change your life.

Salsa? Fresh and hot, please. I like options.

Sour cream, guac or cheese? Oh yeah

Chips and salsa? Top me off.

And an ice cold bottle of Izze to wash it all down. Ahhh.

I can tell from the way you’re drooling that you don’t need to be convinced to swing by your nearest Chipotle on the way home from work today. (I’ll see you there…)

So I’ll just say this to make your day better: You can get paid to do it.

How to Earn Money for Your Love of Chipotle

You may already know that Swagbucks can help you earn SBs (digital dollars) by taking surveys or watching videos online that you can redeem for gift cards.

Well, now you can earn more SBs by purchasing gift cards through the site.

You see where we’re going with this? Let’s break it down:

  1. Buy a Chipotle gift card from MyGiftCardsPlus through Swagbucks.
  1. You’ll earn SBs on the purchase you can cash in for future gift cards. Right now a $25 Chipotle gift card will score you 25 SBs. A $50 gift card nets you 50 SBs, and so on.
  1. Do this a few times (and complete some other tasks on Swagbucks) and you can cash your SBs in for another Chipotle card, and enjoy your next burrito. Or pick up a card for a major retailer like Amazon — with its vast selection, that’s almost as good as cash (but not as good as sofritas, tbh).

Plus, if you sign up now, you can get a $5 bonus when you make your first purchase. That’s more than half of your meal paid for!

Stack it with the frequent Chipotle coupons for free chips and guac, and you’ve almost got yourself a free lunch.

To make the most of the deal, try these six tricks to get a bigger burrito for the same price.

Enjoy — ¡salud!

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

What do you have in common with Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Kevin Hart?

Besides your captivating stage presence — of course — you were all born between June 21 and July 22 — under the sign of The Crab.

As a Cancer, you’ve got some serious Penny Hoarder potential.

Cancers are tenacious and nurturing, emotionally honest, and best of all, innately thrifty, according to Astrology.com.

However, you also have a few Cancer traits that challenge your financial savviness.

But that’s OK — we’ve got tips to help you embrace all the qualities of your sign, while keeping your money under control.

1. Nurturing: You Have Maternal Instincts

The Crab in you loves to nurture others. You’re probably great in jobs where you get to care for children, animals, the elderly or people with disabilities.

The world is happy to have people like you!

If you don’t have a caretaking job, or you want to earn extra money on the side, try taking care of people right in your home. Earn money as an Airbnb host.

If you live in a desirable location, you could bank hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a month renting a spare room with Airbnb.

Your natural nurturing spirit will ensure you create a welcoming, comfortable space to help guests enjoy their stay in your city.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
  • Make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. Help travelers get the most out of your city by being a helpful and friendly host.

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city, so make sure you understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing. How much you actually make may vary with your pricing, type, and location of your listing, season, demand, and other factors.)

2. Serene: You Value a Harmonious Home

You’re happiest when you can find tranquility at home.

Ensure a calm, serene space by preventing clutter. Take a day or two this month to clear your head by clearing out the unnecessary junk you’ve got lying around your house.

Oh, and make money while you’re at it!

The Decluttr app buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus tech hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods.

Just download the app and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s free to use, there are no listing or seller fees, payment comes in a couple of days and even shipping is free.

Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!

For just about everything else, use Letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and list your item for sale in less than 30 seconds. Plus, it’s free to use.

Download Letgo — and get rid of your clutter —  right here.

3. Friendly: You Love Communal Activities

Your penchant for family and community means you love working alongside other people. That can make building a flexible career tough — unless you know where to look.

When you’re feeling chummy, avoid solitary work like freelancing. Instead, venture into the world by driving with Uber or Lyft.

These ride-hailing services let you make your own schedule and work for yourself, while meeting new and interesting people. Paul Pruce, a Lyft driver in Philadelphia, said the unexpected stories are one of his favorite parts of the job.

As an Uber contractor, your earnings will be calculated by adding a base fare, plus time and distance traveled after your pickup, minus a service fee (20% to 35%, depending on your city).

To drive with Uber, you must be at least 21 years old, have three years’ driving experience, an in-state driver’s license, a clean driving record and be able to pass a criminal background check.

Your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers, be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.

If you don’t have a car that meets the requirements, Uber’s Vehicle Solutions can connect you to options to help you find one to rent or buy at a discount.

Here’s a link to apply with Uber.

Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many drivers also sign up to drive with Lyft at the same time.

The company recently announced it’s expanding into 100 new cities this year. If it’s not available in your city, keep an eye out! It’s expanding in the Southwest, the Southeast, the Carolinas, the Rockies, the Midwest, New England and Central California.

To drive with Lyft, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

Here’s a link to apply with Lyft.

4. Emotional: You Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

We’re not sure where the term “crabby” came from, but it sure fits The Crab.

You wear your heart on your sleeve, so no one has to wonder when you’re happy, sad or upset. Some people in your life probably appreciate the honesty — and some would rather just give you space.

If you like to scour stores for the best deals, we bet you’re quick to let a customer service rep know when something doesn’t add up. Complaints seem to be a great way to get a discount, after all.

You can avoid ruining someone’s day and get your discount by using Paribus, instead.

This online tool searches your email for receipts, then watches for price changes after you’ve shopped. Then it negotiates cash back on your behalf.

No more stressful calls with customer service.

5. Moody: You Can Retreat into Your Shell

The flip side to your love of community is the tendency to retreat away from everyone when you’re feeling blue.

Like the real crab, you hide in the comfort of your shell when your mood makes human interaction unpalatable. On those days, be prepared to make money through work that lets you avoid talking to other people.

Here are a few resources for work-from-home jobs to suit your mood:

  • Learn to be a bookkeeper, and earn up to $60 an hour helping entrepreneurs run their businesses. Bookkeeper Business Launch is a 10-week course to teach you how to start a bookkeeping business.
  • Become a proofreader, and help authors, journalists and academics perfect their copy. Proofread Anywhere teaches you the proofreading and business skills you need to get started.
  • NexRep is a customer service liaison that connects job seekers with companies like Priceline, Drybar and Grubhub who need customer service reps. Sign up with NexRep to be notified of job openings that fit your needs.

6. Thrifty: You’re Good With Money

Kudos for good money habits! We love a Penny Hoarder 🤗

You’re probably the kind of person with a huge change jar somewhere in your house, diligently clearing your purse or pockets of loose change every time you come through the door.

We found an app that lets you apply this frugal habit to your digital purchases, too.

Acorns connects to a debit or credit card, rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and funnels your digital change into an investment account.

You’ll create a financial profile in the app to let Acorns know how you want to invest. It will set up a portfolio based on your needs, so you don’t have to actively manage your investment.

It’s also an actually affordable way to invest.

For a balance below $5,000, you’ll pay a monthly fee of $1 plus 0.5%. There’s no minimum investment required — just let the app round up your digital change, and grow your money without thinking about it.

You can download Acorns here.

7. Languid: You Thrive With External Motivation

Your love for community means you’ll enjoy team sports… but staying active on your own is a different story.

If you want to get in shape and lose weight, we found the perfect way to stay motivated.

Picture this: You step on the scale and finally see your goal weight.

Congratulations! But it gets even better.

You’re about to receive a big check you can spend to celebrate or wisely stick into savings — all just for losing weight!

It’s not a fantasy. If you wager on your weight-loss commitment with HealthyWage, this could happen for you… as long as you stick to your guns and hit your goals.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for HealthyWage.
  1. Define a goal weight and a timeframe to achieve it. Place a monetary bet on yourself, between $20 to $500 a month.
  1. HealthyWage’s calculator will consider how much weight you have to lose, how much time you give yourself and how much money you wager to determine your reward. You could win up to $10,000.
  1. Meet your goal, and you’ll get your reward. Fail to lose the weight on time, and you forfeit the money you bet.

8. Tenacious: You Like to Get Your Way

Here’s a fun way to make money using a Cancer’s innate strong will: Join a mock jury.

Serve as an in-person or online mock juror to help lawyers prepare for real cases. You can earn $10 to $60 for about an hour of your time.

In person, you’ll probably sit through a mini version of a court case, listening to opening and closing arguments from each side. Online, you’ll simply review evidence from one side, including documents, videos and photos.

Like a real juror, once you’ve heard the case, you get to weigh in. In person, you’ll even deliberate with other jurors — putting your natural tenacity to good use!

Cancer in Love and Life

Harnessing your Cancer traits to earn money is a sweet bonus. But we know deep down you’re most interested in being surrounded by people you love.

To help build a financial, professional and family life that satisfies The Crab, read these inspiring stories from four supermoms who work from home while raising kids.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

Can you spot work-from-home scams? You might be surprised how tough it is to tell them apart from real money-makers.

We hate to see all the Scammy McScammertons out there trying to take advantage of people like you, who just want to stick a little extra money in the bank.

We see new work-from-home opportunities everyday, and we’ve gotten pretty good at telling the good from the bad.

Here are some common ways you’ll find to make money online — and how to tell whether they’re the real deal.

1. Paid Online Surveys

These are simple: A company will pay you to spend just a few minutes taking online surveys.

You’ll sign up and answer a few questions about yourself. Then you’ll receive invitations to take surveys when you fit the qualifications, and you’ll get paid for each survey you take.

This is for real — but you have to know what to look for.

Before signing up for a survey site, look for these red flags:

  • It asks for money.
  • It advertises on Craigslist.
  • It sounds too good to be true (almost always is!).
  • The “pre-qualification” portion goes on forever — like, you just took a whole survey for free.
  • It requires an unattainable amount of earnings before it’ll cut a check.
  • It doesn’t have a privacy policy.

You won’t get rich taking surveys, but you can earn a few bucks a day with the right companies.

Vip Voice and Ipsos Panel are both legitimate paid survey companies. You might even recognize the name Ipsos, because it conducts a lot of presidential polling you hear about in the news.

Each of these has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau -- a great place to vet companies if you’re unsure about an opportunity.

2. Posting Ads Online

These companies promise you’ll earn up to $100 a day working for less than an hour.

What a deal!

The job is to post pre-written ads to the free resources the company provides — usually to Facebook pages and groups.

This is a scam.

Here’s the kicker: To sign up, you’ll pay a one-time “membership fee” — a major red flag. Also, do you want to contribute to social media spam?!

If you want to earn money for almost no work, here’s a legitimate way. Use one of these apps to get paid for your internet browsing:

  • MobileXpression for Android — After you’ve kept this app installed for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize (everyone wins something). Prizes include things like Amazon gift cards, iPads and televisions.

These apps collect data anonymously and help companies better understand web and mobile usage — such as what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and what types of sites and apps are popular (or not).

3. Reselling Discount Products

A company will get in touch over the phone to help you sign up for a work-from-home business opportunity.

Here’s how it works: They’ll sell you brand-name products at below retail value. Just order your products, and they’ll be delivered to your door. You’ll pay cash on delivery, so no credit card required. Then you resell the products for a profit.

This is a scam.

Typically, you’ll open the box to find unusable junk, and you’ll never get a refund.

And always be wary of a company cold-calling you with a business opportunity! The COD requirement is also a problem, because you have to pay before inspecting the products.

If you want to earn money reselling brand-name products, try selling your own stuff.

Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus tech hardware like cell phones, tablets and game consoles.

Just download the app and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use, there are no listing or seller fees, payment is super fast and Decluttr even pays for shipping.

You can also sell virtually anything on letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s also free to use.

For old textbooks, try Bookscouter. Just type your book’s ISBN into the search bar, and the site will help you find the best-paying and most reputable buyback companies online.

4. In-Home Product Assembly

Know how to sew? These companies hire you to assemble aprons and other clothing at home. You purchase the materials, the company mails them to your door, you assemble and mail them back.

The only problem? It’s a scam.

Your items have to pass inspection before you’re paid. And guess what? They usually don’t. That upfront payment for materials is also a red flag.

Compare that with this legit work-from-home opportunity with R. Riveter. The company is transparent and doesn’t charge you to start working.

5. Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping is a fun and simple way to make extra money — but you have to vet the opportunities.

Don’t ever pay a fee to sign up, and don’t wire money as part of an audit. Either of those should tip you off it’s a scam.

For legitimate opportunities, check out our list of the best mystery shopping companies.

6. Pyramid Schemes or Multi-Level Marketing

Want to work for yourself and set your own schedule? This company will pay you a 20% to 50% commission to sell health and beauty products.

You’ll pay $25 for a starter kit, including your training materials. After that, you can promote as you see fit -- door to door, online, to friends and family or others.

In addition to sales commissions, you’ll have the opportunity to build and lead a sales team and earn even more.

This is legitimate!

These are the details of selling with Avon, a legitimate direct sales opportunity.

Skepticism isn’t unwarranted, though. Many companies have turned the multi-level marketing structure into pyramid schemes -- which are scams.

The key difference is the product: Are you selling something? Or are you mainly (or only)  getting paid to recruit other sales reps? The latter is a scam.

If someone is trying to recruit you for a direct sales company, ask these questions to vet the quality of the opportunity:

  • How much money did you make last year (income minus expenses)?
  • What percentage came from recruiting other distributors?
  • How many people have you recruited?
  • What are your annual sales of the product?
  • How much time did you spend last year on the business?
  • How long have you been in the business?

7. Get Paid to Go Shopping

Through this company, you’ll get paid to do your regular shopping

Just sign up and connect your store loyalty card. Anytime you shop and scan your loyalty card at the register, you’ll automatically earn cash back.

Verdict? This is actually real!

Sign up for Ibotta here, and connect to your favorite story loyalty programs with your card number or phone number. (You'll get a free $10 welcome bonus!)

Before you shop, you’ll use the Ibotta app to unlock rebates for the items on your list. You usually have to complete a simple task, like watching a 15-second ad about the product or answering a question.

Then, scan your loyalty card at the store or take a picture of your receipt when you get home, and the rebates will be added to your account.

8. Get Paid to Lose Weight

This company lets you bet on your own weight loss. Set a goal weight, a timeline to achieve it and an amount of money you’re willing to bet on it.

You’ll choose an amount to bet each month until your deadline, between six and 18 months. Hit your weight-loss goal by then, and you’ll win your money back -- plus a bonus.

Do you believe it? This is legit.

HealthyWage will actually pay you to lose weight.

You might be skeptical of an opportunity requiring you to pay in before you can cash out -- and that’s smart!

But we’ve vetted this company and talked with tons of folks who’ve lost weight and earned big money.

Are You a Nos-tra-scam-us?

How’d you do? It’s not always easy to tell the difference, but we hope these tips help you parse the good from the bad in your future money-making quests.

Want to really test your detective skills? Now that you’ve done your homework, take this quiz to see if you can spot the scams.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

Are you worried your house hasn’t gotten a deep clean in a few months… or years? Like, maybe you’re afraid to look behind the couch?

We feel you.

But we can’t just let you procrastinate like that.

We also don’t want you wasting money on pricy cleaning products, so we found some smart — if surprising — alternatives.

Here are some clever DIY housekeeping tricks that will actually save you money — and impress your friends while you’re at it!

1. Clean With the Magic of Vinegar

Have you heard about this? You can use vinegar to disinfect your microwave, scrub filthy pots and pans, shine dusty surfaces and de-scum your shower head.

White vinegar costs a fraction of the price of Lysol, Windex or Clorox cleaners that do the same thing. You just have to be OK with the scent of vinegar for a while. Or…

2. Try These All-Natural Cleaning Science Experiments

Take your DIY cleaning to the next level (and avoid the vinegar smell) by filling your caddy with homemade cleaning products.

Our writer Lisa Rowan experimented in her own home with all-purpose cleaner, dish soap, bathroom scrub, reusable wet floor wipes and air freshener, and she came clean with her results.

Do these recipes sound intimidating? I thought so, too. Then Lisa demonstrated how to make them on TV, and now I see how easy they are.

3. Raid Nana’s Medicine Cabinet

Bypass her prescriptions, and find the Efferdent — even if you don’t have dentures. Trust me. I cleaned my whole house with denture cleanser, even one horrific bathtub.

You can clean and disinfect your toilet, bathtub, sink, coffee mugs and other ceramic vessels with a tablet or two! Plus, instead of the stinging aroma of bleach, you’re left with a minty-fresh scent.

4. Say No to Antifreeze

You may be melting in the summer sun now, but winter always comes back. Prep for the inevitable freeze with alcohol. No, not booze. (Well, maybe also booze.)

Rubbing alcohol mixed with water can defrost your windshield.

Save money on antifreeze wiper fluid, and avoid waiting for your defroster to do its thing. (We know: Everyone’s looking for a way to get to work faster on Monday morning!)

5. Believe in the Magic of Rubber Bands

Here’s creative frugality at its finest: rubber bands for everything.

You probably have a few of these cheap, colorful, versatile gems wallowing in the corner of your junk drawer. You can use them around the house in place of expensive tools and accessories you’re bound to lose, anyway.

Here are just a few pricy things you can replace with rubber bands:

  • Non-slip hangers
  • Jar openers
  • Professional French tip manicures
  • GPS mount in your car
  • Selfie stick
  • Maternity pants

6. Stop Swiffering and Start Saving

We all know that magic duster and its endless refills are hard on the wallet. But you buy them anyway, because they make cleaning so easy.

Stop. You don’t need them. You can get the job done with dryer sheets.

Run a sheet along your baseboards or bookshelves to remove dirt and dust. Plus, your living room will smell like fresh, clean laundry! Mmmm.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

Whole Foods gives you the option to feed your family healthy food produced in a way you can feel good about.

And Amazon’s recent buyout announcement makes us think that food could come a whole lot cheaper someday soon.

But in the meantime… the chain’s prices still make you want to walk down the street to the discount chain and forget all about the contents of your food.

How has anyone been able to afford groceries at Whole Foods all along?

Well, they know the secrets.

How to Save Money at Whole Foods

There are tons of little ways to save money at Whole Foods — without Amazon’s price magic. You just have to know how to take advantage of them.

We’ve pulled together the best tips from Whole Foods insiders and our personal experience to help you save money on the healthy food you really want.

1. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

To cut your costs every time you shop, buy Whole Foods gift cards online.

You can get them for less than face value through gift card exchange sites like Raise.

Buy a gift card before your weekly shopping trip, and you could save around 2% on all your groceries!

2. Use a Cash-Back App

While coupons often help you save money on carbo-loaded brands and packaged foods, rebate apps can help you save on your staples.

Every time you shop, take a picture of your receipt with a free cash-back app like Ibotta to find deals on non-name-brand items like bread, fruit or milk.

If you can, check the app before you shop, and plan your purchases around available Whole Foods deals.

When you get home, submit your receipt and look for the money to appear in your Ibotta account within 48 hours. You can cash out for gift cards or a PayPal payment you can transfer to your bank account.

Sign up through this link and you’ll score a free $10.

3. Download the Whole Foods App

Download the Whole Foods app for iOS or Android to get free coupons and recipes.

You can also keep your shopping list in the app and even order groceries for delivery by Instacart.

Be sure to scan your app’s barcode at the register to automatically add any applicable coupons.

4. Subscribe to the Newsletter

Tons of stores offer deals and freebies when you share your email address.

Enter your email and location to receive weekly Whole Foods coupons, recipes and tips in your inbox.

5. Find Manufacturer Coupons

In addition to the store coupons, look for manufacturer coupons for items on your list.

These are awesome -- and you can usually stack them with in-store sales and Whole Foods coupons.

Here are 100 places to find free coupons for everything on your list. If you’re shopping online to pick up in-store (see #21), here’s where to find coupon codes online.

Looking for savings on healthier choices? Try these secret places to find coupons for fresh fruits and veggies.

6. Follow Your Local Store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Businesses share some of their best deals on social media before anyone else hears about them.

Stay up to date with Whole Foods deals by following your local store.

Choose your store here to find links to its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

7. Check out the Whole Foods Sales Days

Saving money at Whole Foods might simply be a matter of knowing when to shop.

New weekly sales start on Wednesdays, so you’re bound to find the most available deals then.

Whole Foods also runs weekly Friday One-Day Sales on select items. These are usually advertised a few weeks in advance, and you can call your local store to find out what’s coming up.

Keep an eye out for sales, and plan your shopping list accordingly!

8. Bring Your Own Bags

Like many grocery stores, Whole Foods offers a discount when you use your own bag and save the plastic or paper.

Bring lots of them! Depending on your store, you’ll receive a 5- to 10-cent discount per bag, so come prepared.

9. Bring Your Own Containers

When you buy in bulk, you’ll pay for the weight of the plastic container that holds your goods.

It’s intentionally pretty light, but you could always shave off just a little more.

Bring your own jar or plastic container, have it weighed before you fill it, and you’ll only pay for the weight of the contents.

10. Compare Prices

Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand is intended to be the chain’s affordable option.

Keep an eye out for it, but compare it with other brands to make sure you get the best deal.

11. Look for Unadvertised Sales

Not every sale item is mentioned in the flyer, so keep your eyes peeled for other ways to save money at Whole Foods!

Scan the shelves for yellow and red tags, which indicate a Whole Foods clearance item. You can save a lot on staples by stocking up when you find a good sale.

12. Try Before You Buy

The chain actually has a generous sample policy, a former Whole Foods employee says.

To cut down on waste, you can “try before you buy” to keep from buying something you won’t like.

Don’t be shy about asking to sample items like cheese, meat or chocolate. Employees can open the package for you and share the rest as samples with other customers.

13. Get a Whole Foods Punch Card

The Whole Foods punch card offers vary by store, so ask around at your location.

Some stores have punch cards for sandwiches, burritos, salads, sushi and coffee.

You may also find a punch card for $10 off after you spend $100 on 365 supplements.

Also keep an eye out for the Whole Foods Market Rewards program in your area. The pilot program is currently available only in some stores in the Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth areas.

14. Buy in Bulk

Did you know you can buy most packaged items at Whole Foods by the case for 10% off?

The same goes for wine: Get a six-pack to save 10 to 20%.

Some locations also offer discounts on bulk meat purchases when you buy more than three pounds. Stock up, and freeze it!

If you’re looking for particular spices for a single recipe, buy what you need from the bulk section instead of buying a whole jar and storing it.

15. Buy Produce at the Salad Bar

If you’re buying small amounts of produce, check the salad bar before the produce section.

You might be able to find what you need cheaper there, and you won’t have to worry about buying more than you’ll use.

16. Choose Your Own Cheese

You don’t have to settle for the pre-weighed and wrapped cheeses in the case.

For cheeses wrapped and labeled by Whole Foods, ask an employee to split and rewrap the wedge -- you’ll save money and only take home what you need.

17. Buy Frozen Meats and Fish

Unless you live near a body of water, the fish at any local grocery store has almost certainly been frozen in transit.

Even when it’s thawed and sold in-store as “fresh,” you’re still buying frozen fish -- and paying more for it. Plan ahead, and buy your meat and fish frozen to save money.

18. Return Glass Milk Containers

Do you cringe when you see the price of organic, non-homogenized, grass-fed or whatever kinds of milk come in the glass jug?

You might be missing out on huge savings if you’re just recycling the jug. The price has a built-in deposit for the jug -- as much as $3.

Keep your jugs, and return them on your next trip to the store for a deposit refund. Consider it $3 off your next jug of milk.

19. Take Advantage of Whole Foods Kids’ Club

It seems to be a well-kept secret that many grocery stores offer a free treat for kids.

When you shop with the kiddos at Whole Foods, stop by customer service for a Kids’ Club Coupon for a complimentary organic apple, fruit leather or package of natural animal crackers.

20. Shop Whole Foods Online

Even when you’re buying groceries, we recommend shopping online, because it allows you to use a cash-back site and earn rewards for your purchase.

Use Cashbackholic to determine which cash-back site’s offering the best deal. Then shop Whole Foods online through the portal, and pick up your order in the store for free shipping.

21. Find Whole Foods Coupons Online

Before you head to your local store, check the website for Whole Foods coupons. They’re easy to find!

Just go to WholeFoods.com/coupons, and select your location to find current sales and printable coupons.

22. Grab the Store Flyer

On your way into the store, pick up a copy of The Whole Deal, the store’s weekly sales flyer. It’s full of advertised deals and coupons from manufacturers and Whole Foods’ own 365 brand.

You can also print the flyer yourself each week -- download it here.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

When temperatures rise around the U.S. this summer, you might be wishing you’d sprung for that apartment with central air conditioning -- or at least one of those rattling, dusty air conditioners you could stick in the window.

If you’re stuck somewhere that isn’t used to the heat, here’s how to stay cool without AC using a few unusual tricks:

1. Take an Icy Foot Bath

[caption id="attachment_33386" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Eriyalim / Getty Images[/caption]

The quickest way to cool down is to dip your toes in freezing cold water. Cooling the many “pulse points” on your feet can bring down the temperature throughout your body.

Fill a bowl or shallow bucket with cold water, and take your feet for a dive. Cue a cartoonish sizzle…

Be cautious, warns Maryalene LaPonsie of Money Talks News. Start with cool tap water, and add some ice if you need the boost. Going too cold too fast could be painful, even if it sounds refreshing.

While you’re hitting pulse points, try running cold water or holding a cold, wet towel over your wrists, the back of your neck or forehead.

2. Wear a Cooling Vest

[caption id="attachment_33390" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Alex Potemkin / Getty Images[/caption]

This is actually a thing, LaPonsie explains, and it’s much cheaper than an air conditioning unit!

Pick up any variety of cooling sport vest for between $25-$50. They’re either equipped with gel or meant to be soaked with water before you wear them. LaPonsie adds, “There are (also) cooling caps, cooling sleeves and cooling bandannas,” if a vest isn’t your style.

Either way, you can wear the vest under your shirt for a sweaty morning commute or just put it on in the house on those especially hot days!

3. Freeze Your Sheets

[caption id="attachment_33391" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Ollo / Getty Images[/caption]

Hot nights are particularly tough sans air conditioning. To stay comfortable and get a good night’s rest, cool your sheets before crawling under them.

“This old trick won't relieve the heat all through the night, but it may help you fall asleep faster,” says Lifehacker.

Stick your sheets in a plastic bag and let them sit in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple of hours before bed. You’ll get into a refreshingly chilled bed and avoid cranking the air or listening to a noisy fan all night.

4. Make a DIY Ice Pack

[caption id="attachment_33399" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Scott Hortop / Getty Images[/caption]

To cool your pulse points on the go, freeze some water in a not-quite-full water bottle to create a makeshift ice pack. You can do the same by filling a sock or small, hand-sewn pouch or pillowcase with rice and freezing for a couple of hours.

When you need relief, place the ice pack on your wrists, back of your neck, forehead or toes!

Bonus tip from this Wisconsinite: I know you don’t even want to think about it, but you can use the same tools to warm up in the winter. Fill your water bottle with boiled water, or stick your rice-pillow in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

5. Cool Down Like an Egyptian

[caption id="attachment_33393" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning F Major / Getty Images[/caption]

We’re unsure where the name comes from, but the “Egyptian Method” is a simple way to stay cool on a hot day or night.

Before bed, wet your top sheet or a large towel with cool water, and wring it until it’s not dripping wet. Use that as your blanket to stay cool while you sleep. To keep from soaking your bed, you can place a dry towel between you and the mattress.

During the day, I’ve seen friends use this trick with wet T-shirts. It’s not an out-in-public kind of style, but the damp shirt will keep you cool at home in front of the fan!

6. Make Your Own Air Conditioner for Free

[caption id="attachment_33394" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Baloncici / Getty Images[/caption]

When you only need air conditioning a few days out of the year, you may be able save money on the real thing by using these DIY units:

  • Fill a roasting pan or shallow bowl with ice, and place it in front of a fan.
  • Hang a wet sheet in front of an open window.
  • Roll up a damp towel and affix it to the front of a box fan.

In any case, the breeze will pick up cool water, creating a refreshing mist in your sweltering room.

7. Unplug

[caption id="attachment_33395" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Artisteer / Getty Images[/caption]

Your lightbulbs and appliances radiate heat when they’re turned on or plugged in, even the most energy efficient ones.

Unplugging and keeping the lights off can avoid adding that unnecessary heat into a room. On top of avoiding air conditioning, this will also help you save money by cutting your electricity consumption!

Unplug and flip the lights off to take advantage of long, sunlit days in the summer, save energy and reduce the overall heat in your house or cozy apartment.

8. Eat Spicy Food

[caption id="attachment_33405" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning Tom Merton/Getty Images[/caption]

Ever wonder why the spiciest foods come from the hottest places on Earth?

Spicy food like curries and chillies can stimulate heat receptors in your mouth, raise your internal temperature, improve circulation and cause you to start sweating, which will cool you down!

So keep the hot sauce handy wherever you go this summer.

9. Drink Chrysanthemum Tea

[caption id="attachment_33396" align="aligncenter" width="640"]How to stay cool without air conditioning People Images / Getty Images[/caption]

Practitioners say chrysanthemum is a natural coolant that clears the head.

Brew a batch of chrysanthemum iced tea instead of black tea or lemonade, which contain dehydrating elements like caffeine and sugar.

Drink it to cool down on a hot summer afternoon, or have a soothing cup of the herbal tea to calm your head and cool your body before bed.

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

When I was at my brokest and plagued with student loan debt I couldn’t possibly repay, my first instinct was to ignore it.

Not my Penny Hoarder-est moment, I admit.

But what can you do when you’re choosing between groceries and the electricity bill, and the federal government asks for $300? I laughed and swept it under the rug… and racked up 10s of thousands in interest and fees over the years

I wish I’d known there were better options. If I’d have tried these tricks right after leaving college, I might not be sitting on $58,000 in debt right now.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes — and the troves of financial wisdom I’ve gained since joining The Penny Hoarder.

When it comes to paying off student loans, here are some smart ways pay them down faster — before they balloon to an unmanageable amount.

1. Figure Out What You Owe

The first step to paying off student loans is knowing what you owe.

Considering you often sign off on student loans as a teenager without a clear understanding of what they even are, we understand if you’re not 100% sure where to begin.

Credit Sesame will let you see how much money you owe and to whom (even if you’ve defaulted on loans). It’ll show your balance on both private and federal loans and offer tips to help reduce your debt and raise your credit score.

2. Lower Your Interest Rate

For some, this could be one of the best ways to pay off student loans.

Try getting a lower interest rate on your federal and private loans by refinancing with a company like Credible. Other companies offer similar services, but we like that the average Credible user saves about two interest points on their current federal loans

Refinancing will generally mean replacing your laundry list of loans with one (or a few) loans that bring all of your student debt under one umbrella.

This could simplify your life with one monthly payment, instead of several. It may also lower your monthly payment, improve your interest rate and/or give you more time to pay.

It might seem like a small difference, but a lower interest rate can mean a lot of savings over time. It’s helping grad Ashley Williams save more than $18,000 in interest over the life of her loan!

Enter your info at Credible to find out what your new interest rate could be.

3. Consolidate Federal Loans

While you can refinance your federal loans with a company like Credible, you should first apply for a direct consolidation loan through the Department of Education.

If you qualify, this will combine all your eligible federal loans under one umbrella — one monthly payment, one lender and one interest rate.

Your interest rate will be the weighted average of rates on your existing loans, so you can do the math to determine whether private refinancing might be a better deal.

The benefit of a federal direct consolidation loan is you can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan. These plans limit your monthly payment to a percentage of your discretionary income and give you more time — sometimes twice as long — to pay back your loan.

Pro? This option could make your monthly payments easier to swing. Con? With a longer repayment period, you might pay more in the long run because of interest.

4. Chip Away at Your Debt With More Small Payments

You know how much you owe, but you obviously want to owe less, right?

An app called Qoins can help you get debt-free without really thinking about it.

After connecting your accounts and choosing the loans you want to pay off, you’ll just go about spending money (smartly) as you always do.

Qoins uses a round-up feature, so for each purchase you make, it rounds up to the nearest dollar. That spare change automatically goes toward making extra payments on your debt each month.

Users report saving an average $50 per month to put toward their debts

Even better: If you download the app now, you’ll bank an extra $3. Every little bit counts, right?

5. Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Even if you don’t consolidate your loans, you could benefit from an income-driven repayment plan. These plans could help you avoid default or deferment, so you can continue to make steady progress on repayment.

These loans come in four different (but similar) varieties:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE Plan)
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE Plan)

Learn more about the details of each here.

6. Cut Your Expenses

Maybe you’re struggling to make your student loan payments simply because you’re spending too much money somewhere else.

No judgement here — everyone’s financial situation is unique. But if you’re falling behind on bills, it’s worth taking a look at your budget.

New to managing a household budget? This spreadsheet can help.

And try these tips to save money on your everyday expenses:

If you need help setting aside the money you’ll save, let these apps do it for you.

7. Start a Side Hustle

When you can’t cut spending anymore, it’s time to bring in more money.

If you’re strapped for time, start small. These 12 apps will help you earn extra money for doing almost nothing. Or try something a little more lucrative, like cashing in your aluminum cans for $150 a month.

When you have time to take it a step further, try launching a flexible side hustle, like reselling clothes and other thrift store items, or driving with Uber and Lyft.

Or, have a spare room? Might as well list it on Airbnb to make some money off it.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds -- even thousands -- of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

These gigs let you earn more money when you’ve got the time and energy to hustle — and take a break when you’re worn down by a day job, family responsibilities or school.

You could bank an extra $50 or $100 a month without a ton of effort, and that money can make a huge dent in your student loans.

Need more inspiration? Here are 32 ways to make extra money this month.

8. Declare Bankruptcy (If You Have No Other Option)

If all else fails, you can discharge your student loans in bankruptcy — in limited cases.

It’s hard to do, and not very common, but if you’re in dire straits, it’s worth looking into. For your student debt to be considered “undue hardship,” you have to meet the following criteria:

  • You’re unable to maintain a minimum standard of living.
  • Your situation is not likely to change.
  • You’ve made a good-faith effort to repay loans to this point.

A lot depends on your personal circumstances, so always consult an attorney if you’re considering filing bankruptcy.

Paying Off Student Loans

Student loan debt is a ball and chain weighing a lot of us down.

But you don’t have to be chained to it forever. Options like these can make a big difference on your financial situation and help you get rid of that debt once and for all.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

I don’t know about yours, but it’s pretty tough to shop for my dad.

He does one thing in life: He works. He works in home construction, and he’s been wearing the same Levi’s and work boots seven days a week as long as I can remember. There isn’t a lot of room for surprises in gifts.

He drinks Miller Lite (because we’re from Wisconsin, and wouldn’t deign to touch Budweiser).

He probably owns a tie?

He doesn’t really like his smartphone.

If I read one more list of “perfect” Father’s Day gifts that recommends a fine Scotch, a manly iPhone case or expensive golf shoes, I’ll scream.

Because that’s how Daddy taught me to express my feelings. (Kidding. Again, we’re from Wisconsin. That’s what the Miller Lite is for.)

If yours is a real dads’ dad like mine, he doesn’t want his daughter to spend a paycheck on a pricy gift he can flaunt — or one she has to teach him to use.

He probably just wants to spend the day with you — and here are a few inexpensive Father’s Day gifts you can throw in to show him you’ve been paying attention over the years.

1. Shaving Supplies

[caption id="attachment_58887" align="aligncenter" width="940"]father's day gifts Dollar Shave Club/Facebook[/caption]

I remember the morning in 1990-something when my dad emerged from the bathroom, his signature mustache vanished. My sister and I were still young enough to be surprised the stache wasn’t just part of his face.

He’s been smooth-shaven ever since.

So I know he could use a subscription to Dollar Shave Club (like daughter like father).

Sign your dad up for this monthly subscription of fresh razor blades and shaving supplies.

Get your first month free (just pay $1 shipping). After that, it’s around $3 to $9 a month. Cover the cost as long as you want, and he can take over the payments without feeling like you’ve left him with a huge burden.

For a heftier gift, DSC also offers gift bundles that include a subscription, a travel case, shaving cream and butter for $55 (or more, depending on the length of the subscription).

2. Handkerchiefs

[caption id="attachment_58886" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]father's day gifts fermate/Getty Images[/caption]

Not sure where you live, but in my hometown, a hankie isn’t there just to add a spot of color to a smart suit. Men tuck them in their shirt pockets, and — get this — use them to blow their noses and wipe their brows.

(Not the women, though. I think we count on a nearby gentleman to offer his when we need to dab our tears or whatever.)

Sure, it grosses my mom out to see them in the laundry, but handkerchiefs are convenient and good for the environment.

They’re also way cheaper over time than disposable tissues.

Pick up this 13-pack of cotton handkerchiefs for just $14.99.

3. Work Boots

[caption id="attachment_58888" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]father's day gifts RussDuparcq[/caption]

These are a great gift for a dad who works like mine, because he constantly needs them, and they don’t usually come cheap.

This year, I found this pair of Dexter men’s steel-toe work boots on sale on Amazon for $25!

They’re normally $50. I don’t know how long the price will last, so if your dad is in need of new footwear, snag them now.

4. John Wayne Movies

[caption id="attachment_58896" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]father's day gifts Nathan Hughes Hamilton under Creative Commons[/caption]

Listen. This sounds like the biggest stereotype around, but I’m not making it up.

My stepdad would drool over this collection of 25 classic John Wayne films. And I’m drooling over the price — only $19.94

Be thankful for those not-so-trendy loves in your dad’s life. They keep gift-giving affordable.

5. Dinner on You

[caption id="attachment_58897" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]father's day gifts Applebees/Facebook[/caption]

Remember those precious moments when you were a kid, and it was just the two of you?

My little sister came along and stole the show just 13 months behind me, so these were few and far between in my childhood. A daddy-daughter date would mean a lot this Father’s Day.

To keep it affordable, pick up a discounted gift card from a gift card exchange site like Raise.

For example, you can save 12% on an Applebee’s gift card worth $25. Hit the restaurant’s “2 for $20” menu to get dinner for $20 — and you can still squeeze a Miller Lite into your budget!

6. Swag With Your Face on It

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He may not say it often (or maybe your dad does; congratulations…), but your dad doesn’t love much in this world more than your precious face.

Give him all the cuteness he can handle with affordable photo prints from Amazon.  

Prints are as little as 9 cents apiece. Make it a canvas print for the wall starting at $6.49 or a coffee mug from $9.99.

If you want to make his mornings really exciting, put your photo on a magic photo mug from Printerpix — only $5 with this Groupon deal.

Share photos of you and your siblings, or the family you’re building as an adult. Or get creative, pull a #tbt and dig up photos of you as a kid to really tug at his heartstrings.

Shipping is free on orders over $15 or all orders for Prime members.

P.S. Father’s Day is coming up fast — June 18 — so sign up for Amazon Prime to get free two-day shipping on anything you order.

7. His Very Own Beer Glass

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Is your dad a man-cave kinda guy? Perk up his home bar with a set of personalized beer glasses.

They’re perfect for — you guessed it — sipping Miller Lite while watching the Packers game.

Get just one with his name on it, so no one ever nabs his beer again. Or get a set stamped with a fun name for his makeshift watering hole.

With this deal from Groupon, you can get personalized beer glasses from Fabness for up to 71% off.

8. This Personalized Cutting Board

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Forget the card this year, and tell Dad how much you love him in a message that will stand the test of time.

Customize this bamboo cutting board from Fabness to let him know you care — only $14.99 with a Groupon!

A quick “we love you” will really brighten his day next time he’s stuck chopping vegetables to host you and your family for Sunday dinner.

The Best Father’s Day Gift

I could poke around online all day and come up with lots of fun things for Dad to open on Father’s Day. But it’s making me a little teary.

I’m going to go now, and, ‘hem, give him a call… you know, see how the weather is in Wisconsin.

If you get some free time today, maybe you should do the same.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. Miller Lite did NOT pay to be mentioned in this post; it’s just a damn good beer that doesn’t get enough credit.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves her dad, and she’s publishing that on the internet because she doesn’t say it out loud often enough.