Junior Writer

For a while now, our (soon to be) Robot Overlords have been making us nervous.

Every day, articles pop up warning us that eventually all of our jobs will be done by a robot army as we stand by helplessly, watching our mechanized comrades perform surgeries and build houses and drive around without our help.

And so we panic -- because if a wavering confidence in job security due to competition with other intelligent humans wasn’t enough, we now have to fight off these droids that grow smarter and more powerful with every interaction.

I mean, it’s enough to make you seriously consider homesteading a cave in a remote unreachable-by-robots jungle somewhere, right? (No? Just me?)

But don’t call that realtor who specializes in cave dwellings just yet (especially if your realtor is a robot), because we’ve finally heard some good news.

Apparently, 85% of the jobs humans will be doing in the year 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

Plus, they’ll be pretty robot-proof.

The Future of Jobs

That’s right. According to a new report from Dell and the Institute for the Future (IFTF), quickly emerging technologies will create an almost entirely new job market over the next 13 years or so.

Because of this, the study says, the nature of work will change entirely. People will be learning in the moment and will have to train and retrain constantly as new industries are created and “new skills will be required to survive.” (Survive?! I thought these robots were going to be friendly?)

In fact, the ability to gain new knowledge will soon be more valuable than knowledge itself.

The jobs humans will be doing will look different as well. According to the report, work will no longer be a “place” or a set schedule.

Instead, work will be a series of tasks which will come to you -- companies will be able to search a global database of skills and competencies and then send individual tasks to the most qualified worker. (It almost sounds like an inflation of the current gig economy, right?)

The jobs that are created will evolve out of human-machine partnerships and will feature humans as “digital conductors,” while robots will act as extensions of people. Technology will simply help “to better direct and manage daily activities.”

The ideal situation, as the report outlines, would be for machines to provide “speed, automation and efficiencies” so that humans can focus on the things that humans are good at (or at least better than robots are at for now), like creativity, passion and entrepreneurial skills.

Rather than taking over and “stealing” our jobs -- as the majority of the anxiety-inducing robot rhetoric suggests these days -- robots will take our boring jobs, allowing people more time to focus on the things that make us truly human, like art and emotion (and naming paint colors -- robots really suck at naming paint colors).

Shhh, Just Let it Happen

But while this whole robot-driven future may still sound a little terrifying, the report stresses it shouldn’t.

Rachel Maguire, research director at IFTF, emphasizes the need to "focus on what the new relationship between technology and people could look like and how we can prepare accordingly. If we engage in the hard work of empowering human-machine partnerships to succeed, their impact on society will enrich us all."

So while this report sort of reads like a PR spin written up by the robots themselves, it also seems like a future full of robots is imminent -- and it might be wise for humans to lean into it.

And let’s be real: in 20 years, you’ll step out of your self-driving car after a fulfilling day expressing your humanity via very human means, use your eyeballs to gain entry to your smart home, hand your bag off to your robot butler, and settle in for a delicious dinner made by your personal robot chef while your robot cat cleans its own litter box -- and this panic will all be forgotten.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. The robots are here. Send help to-- BLEEP BLEEP BLOOP, nothing to see here...

 

Budgets can be difficult to stick to, especially when it comes to grocery shopping.

Sure, there are tons of ways to save on groceries, including mastering coupons, taking advantage of rebate apps or planning your meals in advance. But if you have a specialized diet or are just looking for healthier food options, you can count on your grocery bill being higher than average — even if you’re using money-saving strategies.

If you’re on a high-protein diet — for a lot of people, this means meat, meat and more meat — you could end up paying significantly more each month for your groceries because a meat-heavy diet can get expensive, real quick.

And if you stick to a vegan or vegetarian diet (or you simply just want to eat less meat), you may be turning to prepackaged protein bars and shake mixes to make up for the lack of animal-based proteins. But those products are often even more expensive.

So what’s a protein-loving Penny Hoarder to do when faced with the choice of picking up some groceries or, ya know, buying the gas to get to the grocery store?

Look for alternative protein-rich food options, that’s what! And by alternative, I mean less expensive.

Plant-Based Sources of Cheap Protein

While there are some inexpensive animal-based proteins out there (we’ll get to those), these plant-based proteins are great for anyone who follows a diet free of all animal products.

Beans and Peas

Beans are the most commonly talked about protein-rich plant-based alternative. At about 39 grams of protein per cup, black beans are one of the most protein-dense foods you can eat that is free of animal products. For comparison’s sake, a cup of chopped or diced chicken breast has 43 grams of protein.

What’s more, boneless chicken breast clocks in at an average of $3.28 per pound, which makes it significantly more expensive than the 16-ounce can of black beans I saw for 72 cents.

But it’s not just black beans! Kidney beans, green beans, green peas, soybeans, chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas — the list goes on and on, and they’re all rich in protein and incredibly low in cost.

Peanut Butter

[caption id="attachment_61325" align="alignnone" width="1200"]A jar of peanut butter is a cheap protein. Peanut butter is inexpensive and packed with protein. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Two tablespoons of peanut butter — the recommended serving size — contains nearly 8 grams of protein. And if you consume peanut butter the way I consume peanut butter, you should have no problem meeting your recommended daily protein allowance. (Just kidding, that sounds mildly unhealthy.)

Green Veggies

[caption id="attachment_61329" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Brussel sprouts are a good source of protein that's both cheap and plant-based. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 8 grams of protein. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

A lot of green veggies are surprisingly high in protein, along with so many important vitamins and minerals. Foods like spinach, broccoli (and broccoli’s cousin, broccoli rabe), Brussels sprouts and even asparagus are all high in protein for their calorie count.

Tempeh and Tofu

[caption id="attachment_61327" align="alignnone" width="1200"]A dinner dish comprised of tofu and tempeh, Tofu and tempeh is packed with protein and its cheap. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Given soybeans’ high level of protein — we’re talking 66 grams of protein in one cup of roasted soybeans — it’s no wonder soy-based products like tofu and tempeh are dense in protein. Due to the unique processes that go into producing each, their protein density differs: Tempeh has 33 grams per cup while tofu has 20 grams per cup.

Grains and Pseudograins

[caption id="attachment_61328" align="alignnone" width="1200"]A cup full of raw farro before it's cooked. One cup of farro contains 23 grams of protein. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

When I said grains, what was the first thing that popped into your brain? Was it your trusty quinoa? Or maybe those finicky (but so worth the hour you spent hovering over the stove while they cooked) lentils? Well, then your brain would be wrong — but only mildly wrong. Allow me to explain.

There are grains, and then there are pseudograins. Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to grains, you can use them interchangeably. The difference is that pseudograins are technically seeds, but we eat them like grains.

Actual grains that are high in protein include barley and farro, at about 23 and 24 grams of protein per cup, respectively, along with sorghum, kamut and rye.

Protein-dense pseudograins include buckwheat at 22 grams of protein per cup and lentils at 18 grams per cup, followed by amaranth, quinoa and teff.

Seeds and Nuts

Other seeds — the seeds that we sprinkle in smoothies and use for a extra little crunch on salads — are also high in protein. However, we usually eat these types of seeds sparingly because they’re relatively high in calories. Pumpkin and squash seeds are excellent sources of protein at almost 10 grams of protein per quarter cup, but chia seeds and flax seeds are also great high-protein additions to your snacks and meals.

After peanuts, the nuts that are highest in protein include almonds, cashews and pistachios — which provide about 12 grams of protein per half cup.

Animal Protein

If you do eat animal-based products, there are some cheaper options to help you save in the checkout lane.

Eggs

[caption id="attachment_61349" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Eggs are pictured in a carton. Eggs are an inexpensive and healthy source of protein. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

For a while, eggs got a bad rap for being high in cholesterol. Recently, though, that reputation has changed, and new research suggests it’s OK to consume eggs as a healthy source of protein, vitamins, minerals and good fats.

Here’s a thorough breakdown of what to look for in eggs, but it all comes down to is this: Eggs are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein.

Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

[caption id="attachment_61354" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Greek yogurt in a glass bowl. Plain Greek yogurt has less sugar and more protein than typical yogurt. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

In one cup of plain greek yogurt, there are about 29 grams of protein. Cottage cheese clocks in at just under 28 grams of protein for roughly the same amount.

Canned Tuna

[caption id="attachment_61352" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Tuna salad on a plate There are about 30 grams of protein in one cup of canned tuna. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Fish is another great source of protein, but even here in Florida, where we’re surrounded by water on three sides, fresh seafood can be pricy. The workaround? Canned tuna, which is cheaper to transport and store, is an inexpensive protein source you can find anywhere. There are about 30 grams of protein in one cup of canned tuna.

‘Inconvenient’ Chicken and Beef

If you still prefer meat as your primary source of protein or just want to have it once in awhile, there are some ways to save at the grocery store. Deboned, skin-off chicken breasts and 90% lean beef are expensive, but that’s just the cost of convenience. If you’re willing to do a little extra work, you can save money on meat by cleaning and deboning it yourself.

Grocery stores sell whole chickens and bone-in, skin-on pieces at significantly lower prices per pound. If you commit to spending an extra few minutes prepping the meat, you’ll see some pretty big savings.

As for ground beef, there’s often a difference of a few dollars per pound between 90% lean and something closer to 70% lean. To save money every time you shop, you can purchase the cheaper, fattier beef and rinse it yourself to make it more like the pricier lean ground beef. If you’re shaking your head at me right now because that sounds like too much effort, it’s not that complicated, I promise. Here’s a helpful explainer of how (and why) the process of rinsing beef works.

There are plenty of inexpensive ways to meet your recommended daily protein intake, so you’re not stuck paying for expensive powders, bars and meats every time you go grocery shopping.

Either way, and whatever your dietary restrictions, we can all agree that a low grocery bill is the best grocery bill.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Sometimes, keeping up with all of the complex decisions being made in this country feels like an insurmountable task.

And it might be -- I mean, no matter your political leanings, the sheer volume of issues up for debate means that staying up to date will leave you dizzy, at best.

The truth is, there’s a lot on the line for people from all walks of life as we navigate a confusing landscape of upheaval and realignment. The decisions being made affect all of us in one way or another.

We have to pay attention sometimes -- and this is one of those times.

So let’s talk about a federal spending bill that was up for consideration last week, because it has the potential to affect you or someone close to you (like your teenager who’s gearing up for college).

Wait, What Exactly Are We Talking About?

The fiscal year 2018 House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee with a vote of 31-21 on Thursday.

It still needs to pass through the House and the Senate before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature, but the subcommittee approval is the first step in the process of instating the new budget.

This bill (which is different than the budget Trump proposed in May) affects the Federal Pell Grant Program, among many, many other things.

And the Pell Grant Program? Well, that affects how much federal financial aid low-income college students are given each year.

A Pell Grant is a need-based subsidy provided by the federal government that helps low-income students pay for college. A Pell Grant is awarded based on a number of factors, including income and whether the student is enrolled full time or part time, and is the foundation on which the rest of the student’s financial aid is structured.

What Does This Spending Bill Propose?

The bill will cut about $2.4 billion from the Education Department’s budget, and will rescind another $3.3 billion out of the Pell surplus. (Here’s a brief overview of the Pell surplus, along with a bit of its history.)

The bill will also freeze the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,920 per year, meaning that over the next several years, the money awarded will have less purchasing power behind it as inflation and the cost of college continue to rise.

“The current maximum Pell Grant covers the lowest share of college costs in over 40 years,” according to Jessica Thompson, policy and research director for the Institute for College Access & Success.

Freezing it at this amount is a move that Thompson calls an “assault on equitable access to higher education,” as students will have to start borrowing more than their higher-income peers in order to achieve the same level of education.

This will only serve to perpetuate the vicious cycle that many low-income families are trapped in -- a sickening merry-go-round of too-little aid, too many loans, too-high interest rates, and, in many cases, the need to drop out of college indefinitely (thus leading to lower-paying jobs and, subsequently, a cross-generational lack of access to higher education.)

Trump must sign the bill by Oct.1, which is the start of the 2018 fiscal year. That’s when we’ll find out what the future of the Pell Grant Program will be -- and what that means for students who depend on that financial aid.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

The “pink tax” — the taxation of necessary hygiene products like pads and tampons — has long been a hotly contested issue.

Over the last few years, there has been plenty of campaigning from the people who are directly affected by it. In the U.S., 14 states and Washington D.C. have eliminated it completely -- and that’s a great start.

But imagine a society in which the products that help determine a person’s quality of life weren’t just slightly less expensive -- imagine if they were completely free.

Free Feminine Hygiene Products

Scotland imagined it and then took the phrase “dream it, believe it, achieve it” literally. In a move that seems to be the first of it’s kind (organized at the government level), Scotland will be giving out free sanitary products to low-income women through a test program that will hopefully become a regular thing.

The pilot program, which will be rolled out in Aberdeen (Scotland’s third most populated city), is anticipated to benefit more than 1,000 women and girls over a six-month period (pun only slightly intended).

The program is being orchestrated by Community Food Initiatives North East (or CFINE), a Scottish social enterprise and charity. The free products will be distributed through women’s health and housing charities and in four different schools.

The initiative, which is backed by £42,500 (about $54,764) in government funding, will be used as a study of sorts to determine if providing citizens with free sanitary products could be a long-term endeavor.

Monica Lennon, Scotland’s Labor MSP who has long campaigned for the end of “period poverty,” said that while this program will be a great start, she will soon be launching “a consultation on a member's bill proposal which will give all women in Scotland the right to access these products for free, regardless of their income.”

The Deeper Issue

The chief executive of CFINE, Dave Simmers, notes that the often unmanageable cost of feminine hygiene products is a contributing factor to women being unable to get out of poverty.

"Over a woman's lifetime,” Simmers said, “sanitary products cost on average more than £5,000 ($8,300), a significant sum for those on low-income. Many cannot afford them and may use inappropriate methods or miss school."

And that’s a problem that women and girls around the world face every day -- and not just in developing countries. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s just another layer to the wage inequality and price discrimination that leave women struggling to climb the ladder that many men easily scale.  

So here’s hoping that Scotland sees good results -- and that other countries follow suit.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

When it comes to sick days for workers, employers in the U.S. are divided.

And I don’t mean divided in that cute little “cross your arms and lean back-to-back with a cheesy look of exasperation as you pose on the cover of a bad ‘90s tween movie” type of way.

No, this divide is deep and wide. While the issue has come up over and over in the media recently, the polarizing attitudes have never been more apparent than they were this past week when two separate stories landed on our radar. They showed just how drastically different the viewpoints seem to be.

The Jimmy John’s Lawsuit

First, we stumbled across a story from ATTN: about six Jimmy John’s employees in the Twin Cities area who were fired for creating a meme that called out the franchise owner for not offering paid sick days.

But it wasn’t just an issue of not having paid sick days. According to the meme, employees at this particular Jimmy John’s franchise location were not even allowed to call out of work when sick. (The implication was that employees would be fired if they did so.)

After the incident, the employees took the case to court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled last week that the franchise owner was within his rights and that the six workers were “so disloyal” to the company that they would be forced to forfeit their legal protections.

This was a reversal of a ruling made by the same court in 2016 that said the six workers should be rehired and given back pay.

Well, after we passed that article around the office to a chorus of “Ick” and “Seriously?!” and “Boy, we are so glad we work for a company that has a flexible sick leave policy,” we came across another story from ATTN: -- and it garnered an office-wide slow-clap (a figurative one, but still).

Taking a Mental Health Day

In this story, Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark who suffers from anxiety and depression, emailed her team to let them know she would be taking two days off to focus on her mental health. She said that she hoped to return the next week “refreshed and back to 100%.”

The next day, she received a response from the company’s CEO, Ben Congleton, thanking her for bringing attention to the practice of using sick days for mental health.

In his reply, Congleton said that emails like the one Parker wrote “help cut through the stigma.” He also expressed his disbelief that using sick days for mental health wasn’t a standard practice in the workplace.

Parker tweeted a screenshot of the email exchange, and it has since received more than 40,000 likes and nearly 14,000 retweets.

Congleton was shocked at the attention that the tweet received, and wrote an article explaining why recognizing mental health in the workplace is so important.

The Problem We Need to Address

While these two stories illustrate opposite ends of the spectrum, they help shine a spotlight on the way we as a society treat mental health in the workplace.

The Jimmy John’s situation is obviously maddening -- I mean, who wants a sneezy sandwich artist slapping infected cheese onto viral ham before serving it to you with a side of kettle-cooked germs? Yeah, Imma take a hard pass on that one.

But what if Parker had been fired instead of supported by her boss? Would people have been angry about it? Would an uproar the size of the Jimmy John’s response have ensued? Or would it have been talked about in a way that only served to further stigmatize mental health issues?

It’s time for us to start viewing mental health in the workplace the same way we view physical health. I don’t mean the Jimmy John’s way, of course -- I mean in a way that reduces the stigma and gives people the freedom to both talk about and care for their own mental health in the way they see fit.

In the U.S., about one in five adults suffers from some form of mental illness. Yep. Look around your office -- can you spot five of your friends? Chances are, one of them had a bad day yesterday, or last week, or last month.

Or maybe it’s you, and you’re struggling through another day because you feel like you have to hide the status of your health from your coworkers and your boss. Would you do that if you had the flu?

In the article Congleton wrote following the popularity of Parker’s tweet, he makes an important point: “It’s 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let's get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”

We, as a society, need to start treating mental health as carefully as we treat physical health -- if any part of your body (brain included) is not functioning at 100%, you won’t be able to devote 100% of your efforts to your work.

What You Can Do

So what can you do if your mental health is impeding your ability to do your job as well as you know you can?

Recognize when you may need to take a mental health break. Are you disengaged? Not getting enough sleep? Are you struggling to put your best work into a project because you’re just not all there? There are no definitive, one-size-fits-all criteria here -- so don’t let anyone but you determine when you’re in need of a break.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss about the state of your mental health. If you’re unsure of how to talk about it, here are some tips that can help you prepare for the conversation.

Take care of yourself. I know, this one is easier said than done. But when you take that mental health day, be sure to take care of your body, brain and well-being. Do things you love: spend an hour outside, listen to music, learn a new skill, eat your favorite foods, read a book, vacuum your rugs, play with your dog, re-balance your budget, catch up with friends -- whatever it is that makes you feel good. There’s no right way to spend your mental health day, but make sure that you’re taking an active approach -- not a passive one. Identify your needs and then fulfill them.

Destigmatize mental issues by talking openly about mental health. This one falls on both employers and employees -- all of us, really. We should be striving to create a culture of acceptance and normalization by talking as openly about mental health as we do about physical health.

Unfortunately, though, too many people are left without the option of taking a sick day of any sort. As we continue working toward a place of understanding and acceptance when it comes to health and the workplace, we will hopefully see changes in the way we as a society treat sick time and our health in general.

Currently, businesses in seven states and Washington D.C. are legally required to offer employees paid sick leave. Hopefully, this type of legislature will continue to be instated until everybody has the ability to take the time to care for themselves without fearing the consequences.  

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

The Game of Thrones season 7 premiere… is coming.

(OK, I promise, that’s the only time I’ll use that line.)

And because we’ve been forced to wait three months too long for this season, the anticipation is as palpable as, well, the tension between Jaime and Brienne.

As excitement over the show’s imminent return spreads as fast as wildfire through The Great Sept of Baelor, it’s time to start thinking about hosting your own premiere party.

Wait, “party?” I guess the correct term would be more like “feast,” because let’s be real: in Game of Thrones-land, you don’t throw parties, you host banquets and feasts and spectacles.

So it’s time to start planning the greatest premiere feast the Seven Kingdoms have ever seen. (And that’s saying something, given the caliber of celebrations that take place throughout the realm.)

But because we’re not all ballin’ on a Lannister budget, and because it’s easier to not have any debt at all than to wear yourself out repeating that line about “always paying” those debts, this feast is going to have to be slightly more cost-effective than the usual King’s Landing affair.

But you’re a Copper Hoarder -- as we’re called in Westeros -- so you know you can throw a rager of a banquet on a Flea Bottom budget. If you need a jumping off point (too soon, Tommen?) we’ve got some tips to get you started.

The Ambience

To ensure your guests really believe they’ve stepped into an era where the average life expectancy hovers somewhere around 43, you’ll need some convincing decorations to transform your (albeit dated, but certainly not ancient) apartment into a banquet hall fit for a slew of lords and ladies.

 

Mood Lighting

First things first: dim the lights and place as many candles as you can get your hands on around the room. You can get a bag of tea lights for just a few bucks at your local dollar or crafting store.

This will give you all the medieval ambience you could ever need and have you well on your way to convincing your acquaintances they’re standing in The House of Black and White.

Just please, please be a smart adult about the whole “room full of candles” thing -- no matter how many people show up in Daenerys costumes, not a one of them will actually walk out of the flames untouched.

 

Music

You can find the soundtracks to the first several seasons of the show on various platforms, including YouTube, Amazon’s Prime Music and Spotify.

Cancel the DJ, press play and boom -- it’s almost as good as hiring a real live minstrel to play for your guests.

 

Sigil Banners

Show your allegiance to your noble house of choice by DIYing sigils to hang around the room. If you’re feeling pretty crafty, you could knock out this project from Hola Sara in an afternoon while you brush up on past seasons.

If you need something slightly less involved, here’s an awesome, free printable download that features nine of the most recognizable houses in all of the Seven Kingdoms. Simply print the page, cut out each banner and hang them all along a length of string.

 

The Iron Throne

Because what in the seven hells would a Game of Thrones premiere feast be without an Iron Throne for your guests to fight over?!

Listen, while you could go all out and build a fancy throne fit for whoever it is you’re rooting for to win the titular game, you could also take the easy way out (a la Jaime pushing a secret-wielding Bran out the tower window) and do something like this.

While there are no instructions attached to this version, it looks like a piece of cardboard, a can of spray paint, duct tape and a kitchen chair would just about do it.

 

The Drinks

“Everything’s better with some wine in the belly.” - Tyrion Lannister

 

Wine

Well, obviously. But if you want to bring some authenticity to your premiere feast, print these free labels from HalloweenCostumes.com and attach them to the bottles of Two Buck Chuck you picked up from Trader Joe’s.

(FYI, the Arbor is an island on the Southwestern tip of Westeros that is famous for both its red and white wines. It’s ruled by House Redwyne, a name that really sort of speaks to me.)

 

Wildfire Jello Shots

If your guests are looking to get  ~wild~ on feast night, try making wildfire Jello shots. The trick here is to just make regular ol’ inexpensive (cheap vodka ftw) Jello shots but with lime-flavored gelatin. They come out a glowing green color and, while they’re not flaming, somebody will certainly be lit by the end of the night.

Milk of the Poppy Cocktail

For a more refined time, cocktails may be the way to go. Try making this milk of the poppy cocktail from Tattooed Martha (actual poppy optional) to quiet the pain of all of your favorite characters dying.

 

The Feast

Obviously the most important element of your premiere feast will be the food itself. I mean, it doesn’t have to be anything as elaborate as pigeons baked in a pie, but having a spread fit for at least a squire seems appropriate.

Luckily, you can easily do a Game of Thrones-style feast on a budget -- it’s mostly just meat and cheese and bread.

 

The Main Dish

Are you ready for these very complicated instructions? I mean, this is almost as complicated as the whole Faceless Men storyline, so get ready.

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken (or two) from your local grocery store.
  2. Remove chickens from packaging.
  3. Place chickens on platter.
  4. That’s it.

All right, so that wasn’t all that complicated. But in a world where we have the modern convenience of things like cars and grocery stores, why spend 12 hours rotating a spit over an open fire?

If you want to jazz the platter up a little, place some roasted vegetables around the chickens for a more festive look.

Cheese and Fruit Plate

Seriously, with dishes like these, this might be the simplest (OK, but maybe also the only) banquet you ever host.

To add a little fancy to your table, create a cheese and fruit platter with some cheap cheeses from Trader Joe’s, a couple pears and a few bunches of grapes.

There you have it: A decadent-looking cheese plate worth Jaime’s hand’s weight in gold.

The Guest Right

One of the most sacred traditions in Westeros (and really, most ancient cultures) is Guest Right. The idea is that once you’ve welcomed someone into your home with bread and salt, and you’ve both partaken, you cannot harm your guest and your guest cannot harm you for the duration of the visit.

This is an important ritual, particularly if word of your feast got out and that one guy you really can’t stand invited himself along.

Protect yourself (and your feast) by offering him some bread and salt -- we wouldn’t want another Red Wedding on our hands.

 

If you’ve misplaced your great-grandma’s famous Guests Right recipe, don’t worry: Here’s a simple one from The Inn at the Crossroads (a site chock-full of Game of Thrones-inspired recipes in case you want to make your menu more elaborate).

Dessert

No feast is complete without a delicious dessert, but you have a couple of options here. You could either go the classy route and serve Sansa’s favorite lemon cakes (again, recipe from The Inn at the Crossroads), or the, uh, other route, and serve Ned-pops (recipe from Popsugar).

 

...in delicious cake form.

The Fun

When you play the games at this party feast, you win or you die. And I mean, while the episode itself is more than enough entertainment for one evening, a little game never hurt anyone. (Unless it’s the Game of Thrones -- then it hurt everyone you ever loved.)

Game of (Musical) Thrones

You play this one just like musical chairs, but the winner is given the honor of sitting on the Iron Throne all night long.

 

A Refresher Course

If you’re a Game of Thrones trivia wiz, create a quiz that tests your guests’ knowledge of the show’s first six seasons.

If that sounds like too much work, just use this one from Vulture, which will test your knowledge of every butt ever given screen time (and there are a lot).

 

Use Your Westerosi Names

If you really want to transport your guests, create a naming station right when your guests walk in the door.

Set up a laptop with a browser window open to a Westerosi name generator and have guests choose a name and write it on a name tag. For the rest of the night, guests can only refer to each other by their Westerosi names. If anybody slips up, they get their tongue cut out and aren’t allowed to speak for the remainder of the feast

 

Feast On!

Now that your premiere feast is ready, all you have to worry about is sending out the invitation ravens, kicking up your heels and relaxing as your friends travel over treacherous terrain and through enemy territory to reach your humble castle.

 

Odds are, two-thirds of them will arrive without incident and your banquet can carry on as planned.

Just, ya’ know, make sure you’re emotionally prepared as well.
 

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s trying to fit six seasons’ worth of a rewatch into the next week of evenings.

On the hunt for a good work-from-home job?

Then you’re going to want to check out this opportunity from U-Haul!

The moving and storage company is looking to hire part-time work-from-home agents to provide inbound phone support via U-Haul’s customer Contact Center.

These positions are technically categorized as “moonlighter jobs,” meaning the flexible schedules U-Haul offers are a good fit for anyone who needs a supplemental income.

The company also notes these opportunities are perfect for students and teachers who are looking for temporary summer employment.

Snag One of These Work-From-Home Jobs With U-Haul

U-Haul needs people to fill three types of work-from-home roles: customer service, sales and roadside assistance.

As a part of the Contact Center team, you’ll answer incoming customer calls and provide general assistance throughout the entirety of the rental process.

You should be dependable, have a positive attitude and possess great customer service skills. You should also be a clear communicator, have excellent computer skills and have a basic knowledge of geography.

Requirements

You should be at least 16 years old and either be currently in school or have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Mechanical knowledge and call center or customer service experience are helpful but not required.

You’ll need a quiet space to work and should have a secure, wired internet connection. There are a few other technical requirements you’ll need to meet, but you can learn more about those here.

After an initial training period -- which is remote and paid -- you should be available to work at least 25 hours per week. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll work the full 25 hours every week, as hours vary greatly depending on whether it’s a slow or busy season.

Benefits and Pay

Part-time employees at U-Haul enjoy a nice selection of benefits such as a dental plan and 401(k) savings plan.

In the past, the company has offered $10 per hour for similar roles. We’ve reached out to U-Haul to ask about current pay, and we’ll update this post when we learn more.

To apply for this job, visit the original job listing here.

If you want to be the first to know about other awesome work-from-home opportunities, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

When you were a kid, what did you dream of becoming when you grew up?

Maybe you thought you’d be a doctor, so that you could help people when they were sick. Or maybe you dreamed of being a firefighter, saving lives and rescuing scared kittens from trees.

Or maybe, just maybe, you knew all along that you wanted to be a Hotdogger.

What’s a Hotdogger, you ask?

Why, a Hotdogger is a person who drives the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, of course!

Yep, that’s a real thing.

Oscar Mayer is currently looking for people to drive its famed Wienermobiles around the country, bringing wiener-shaped happiness to people across the U.S.

But What Does a Wienermobile Pilot Do?

As an Oscar Mayer Hotdogger, you’d spend one year driving around the country, making radio and television appearances, doing newspaper interviews and attending grocery store, military and charity events. You’d be “your own traveling public relations firm” and would be in charge of pitching TV, radio and print media, and organizing promotions.

Because this job isn’t just about driving a giant wiener around, candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in something like public relations, journalism, communications, advertising or marketing — though that’s not a hard and fast list.

You should, however, be creative and friendly and have a big appetite for adventure.

Become an Oscar Mayer Hotdogger

Apparently, everybody wants to be a Hotdogger. The application process is said to be pretty competitive, with as many as 1,200 people applying for just 12 spots.

But don’t let that deter your dreams! If you have “a love of people, a winning smile, driving skill and a desire to crisscross the country,” you’re already a pretty solid candidate.

And as if the honor of telling people you spend your days piloting a hot dog isn’t awesome enough in itself, there are some additional perks that might make your mouth water: You’ll receive a competitive salary plus expenses, benefits and meat-themed (I’m guessing) clothing.

You’ll also receive a company car (well, duh) — but it’s definitely shaped like a giant wiener.

We’ve reached out to the company to learn more specifics about pay and benefits, and we’ll update this post when we find out more information.

If, after reading this, you relish the idea of driving the Wienermobile, then you must(ard) apply to become a Hotdogger.

Oscar Mayer is accepting applications until Jan. 31, 2018, so if you still haven’t started working on your resume, you have plenty of time to ketch-up.

To find out more about what it’s like to be a full-time Hotdogger and to download an application, visit the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile website here.

I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to see you out there living your giant-hot-dog dreams next year.

Wienerspeed, my good friend.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s all out of hot dog buns puns.

Editor's Note: The first job listing on this post is no longer available.

Another day, another opportunity to leave your office job and take advantage of the flexibility and freedom that comes with having a work-from-home job. (That’s how the saying goes, right?)

To help you start your job hunt, we found three companies that are looking to hire customer service representatives to work from home.

Apply for One of These Work-From-Home Jobs Now

Check out these three work-from-home opportunities -- one of them might be just right for you!

1. Customer Support Representative at TINT

TINT is a platform that helps businesses identify and utilize user-generated content marketing across all channels.

As a Customer Success Representative, you’ll support customers with basic product education and account management via live chat, phone, email and social media. You’ll also troubleshoot and resolve customer issues ranging from password resets to product issues.

You should be available to work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST with occasional evenings and weekends as business demands.

You should have at least one year of customer service experience, along with experience working with a support ticket system. Experience with CRM, Zendesk and Salesforce is helpful, too.

You should be detailed and responsive and have excellent communication skills. Bonus points if you have an interest in social media and marketing, have a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS and experience supporting remote teams.

This position is full-time, and you’ll receive a salary between $42,000 - $62,000. You’ll also receive a personal development stipend, health, dental and vision insurance, a 401(k) plan, flexible vacation days and team bonuses, along with a few other pretty awesome perks.

Click here to apply for this job.

2. Customer Service Agent at Ecolab

Ecolab is “the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services.”

As a Customer Service Agent, you’ll field customer queries and direct them to the proper service specialists, respond to inbound calls and handle product orders and credit inquiries.

You should have a high school diploma or GED equivalent and upwards of one year of experience in a customer service role, although a bachelor’s degree, either completed or in process, is preferred.

You should live within a “reasonable distance” of Ecolab’s facility in Naperville, Illinois, as you will be required to attend an in-person interview and training session.

While Ecolab is looking for both full-time and part-time agents, be aware that you may be asked to work up to 40 hours per week. The position pays $14 per hour. You’ll also receive medical and dental benefits.

Click here to apply for this job.

3. Finance Customer and Employee Support Representative at Remote Year

Remote Year sends freelancers, entrepreneurs and professionals on year-long work-travel experiences through 12 cities around the world.

As a full-time Employee Support Representative, you’ll manage the customer support email account, generate and follow up with monthly invoices and support employees through the financial onboarding and expense reporting processes.

You should have a bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent, relevant experience. You should be proficient in Microsoft Excel and have experience with FreshDesk or another similar support ticketing system.

We’ve reached out to the company to inquire about benefits and pay, and we’ll update this post when we hear back.

Click here to apply for this job.

If you’re interested in hearing about even more work-from-home jobs, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook. We post new jobs there all the time.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

As Amazon continues to take over the world grow, it’s also continued growing its workforce.

And right now, the company is hiring an army of seasonal, full-time, work-from-home Customer Service Associates to help with the onslaught of holiday shopping that will ramp up in the coming months. (I know, it’s way too early to be thinking about holiday shopping. But it’s never a bad time to be thinking about nabbing a work-from-home job, so just lean into it.)

First things first, though -- you’ll need to be located in one of the following 35 states to be considered for the position: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Wyoming.

(If you’re confused about why your state isn’t on the list, here’s an explainer on why some jobs aren’t available in some states.)

Seasonal Customer Service Associates earn $10 per hour. Training is paid (you can read more about the hiring and training process here), and you’ll also have opportunities for bonuses.

What This Amazon Work-From-Home Job Requires

As a Customer Service Associate at Amazon, you’ll be in charge of resolving concerns and answering questions raised by customers over the phone and via chat. You should be “internet savvy” and should be able to use a range of online tools as you research solutions to any problems brought to your attention.

These are hourly, full-time positions, so you may work up to -- but no more than -- 60 hours per week during peak season (November through January).

Available shifts will include days, afternoons, evenings and weekends, and you should be able to work any assigned shift that falls within Amazon’s Virtual Contact Center’s operating hours -- which are 24/7. Your schedule may change throughout the season, and you may be required to work overtime or on a major holiday.

If you’re a student, Amazon will do its best to work with your class schedule.

Seasonal employees can remain with Amazon for up to six months, depending on business needs. After that, there may be opportunities for long-term employment.

Requirements for This Work-From-Home Job

You should have a high school diploma or equivalent, at least one year of relevant experience and a fluent proficiency in the English language.

You should also have a firm grasp on basic computer skills, including instant messaging and general internet navigation, and should be comfortable talking on the phone.

You should also be empathetic, patient and able to determine customers’ needs and resolve conflicts in a professional manner.

There are a few technical requirements, but Amazon will ship you a headset to get started with.

To apply for this job, check out the original listing.

And if you’re looking for more awesome job opportunities like this one, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which is a more general term for a decline in mental capacity severe enough to to interfere with a person’s everyday life. It’s a progressive disease that gradually worsens over several years, and while there are treatments available to delay and lessen symptoms for a time, there is currently no cure.

The emotional, physical and mental effects of Alzheimer’s, along with other diseases that affect memory and brain function, are difficult for everyone involved. Add in the financial implications of long-term care, medication, therapies and appointments, and the financial strain can make an already overwhelming diagnosis that much more devastating.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Thankfully, several organizations offer free and low-cost resources to people affected by Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

We’ve compiled some resources that will help you find free and low-cost resources for both patients and caregivers.

Free Screenings

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides free, confidential memory screenings administered by qualified professionals across the U.S. You can find a testing site near you  that offers free memory screenings.

If you’re not sure if you should be screened, these questions may help you decide. You can also download and take this free Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE), but you should take your completed form to a qualified healthcare professional for a follow-up.

Resources for Individuals Who Have Been Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association’s website is a good place to go for initial resources. There, you’ll find links to a lot of helpful articles and videos, including everything from a “What to Expect” section to a free “Taking Action” workbook.

Here, you’ll find resources including a free telephone helpline, links to local and online support groups and free online education courses.

You can also search for free and low-cost services in your community.

Resources for Caregivers

Here you’ll find information and free, online educational materials to help you better understand your role as a caregiver. You can also search for local and online support groups and message boards so you can connect with people who have faced with similar circumstances.

You’ll also find resources that explain different care options, and can connect you to them, because no one person should have to face the entirety of the caregiving experience alone. There’s also an eldercare locator that can help you find programs in your area.

At the National Institute on Aging, you’ll find resources for relieving stress and anxiety, as well as information on coping with the emotional changes and the modified grieving processes that go along with a dementia diagnosis.

Financial Help

If you’re in need of financial help to allay some of the mounting costs of long-term care, Paying for Senior Care has resources for understanding, planning for and lowering long-term care costs. The site covers everything from home modifications to veterans’ benefits.

The Caregiver Center breaks down several financial aid options available to you, including government assistance programs and retirement benefits. This website offers information on Medicare and Medicaid, along with info on the limitations and benefits of different types of insurance and health care coverage.

This free, downloadable educational program provides information on legal and financial planning for those who are in the early stages of the disease.

Finally, this website will help you find your local Area Agency on Aging. AAAs receive federal funding under the Older American Act with supplementation through state and local revenues. Each AAA provides a collection of services including insurance counseling, transportation assistance, caregiver support and information and referrals.

The Alzheimer’s Association is working to inspire action in an effort to find a cure -- but for those already affected by this disease in any way, now is the time to seek out emotional, mental, physical and financial support.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Airport parking is notoriously pricy.

And that rental car you pick up once you reach your destination? Well, that’s no small expense either.

But frequent (and infrequent) flyers, rejoice: A company called TravelCar wants to add a bit of money back into your vacation budget by eliminating those expensive parking fees and putting your car to work for you.

How to Make Your Car Earn Its Keep

The idea behind this innovative peer-to-peer car-sharing service is threefold:

If you agree to let your car be rented out to other travelers while you’re on vacation, you’ll not only score free airport parking for the entirety of your trip, but you could also earn a profit by the time you return.

If you’d prefer not to have another vacationer rent your car, you can park in the TravelCar lot and pay a fee that’s significantly lower than most traditional airport parking services.

And travelers who want to rent a car through TravelCar can book a rental for up to 70% less than the fees conventional rental car companies charge.

How the Car-Sharing Platform Works

To be rented out to other travelers while you’re away on your own vacation, your car will have to meet a few requirements: It must be less than 10 years old, have less than 100,000 miles on the odometer and be registered in the U.S.

You’ll earn money for every mile your car is driven while you’re away and will be reimbursed after pickup at the end of your trip. If for some reason your car is not rented out during your trip, you still take advantage of TravelCar’s free parking program.

If you’re nervous about letting someone drive your baby car while you’re not around, don’t be: Your car is safeguarded from theft and physical damage by $1 million in liability insurance.

Luxury vehicles — in this case, anything valued over $40,000 — are not eligible to be rented out through TravelCar’s rental program, but you could still nab some pretty cheap airport parking.

Coming Soon To An Airport Near You

The Paris-based company, which already operates in 400 locations in 25 countries, launched its first U.S. offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City earlier this year. The company has plans for a rapid expansion throughout the U.S., and has already opened additional branches in several cities across the country, including Chicago and Orlando, Florida.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.