Nicole Dow - The Penny Hoarder

When my sister got married two-and-a-half years ago, she purchased a bunch of stuff off Etsy -- her veil, her headband, bouquets and boutonnieres, the flower girl basket, the ring bearer pillow, table runners, table numbers, bridesmaid gifts... the list goes on.

She chose the homemade marketplace because she was searching for a unique look and appreciated that things were customized and crafted by individual artists.

I mean, every bride wants to stand out, right?

Well, this week Amazon decided to get in on the handmade wedding crafts business by launching Handmade at Amazon Wedding Shop. It’s an offshoot of the Handmade at Amazon marketplace it rolled out less than two years ago, TechCrunch reported.

Here, couples shopping for their big day can purchase one-of-a-kind items including invitations, jewelry, fashion accessories, cake toppers, artificial flowers, signs, gifts, favors and so much more. Price points range from under $25 to over $200.

“We created the Handmade Wedding Shop with the savvy couple in mind,” Katie Harnetiaux, head of marketing for Handmade at Amazon, said in a press release. “From rustic chic to glitz and glam, the Wedding Shop is a one-stop destination for customers to discover a vast selection of customized products for their big day.”

With the wedding industry raking in big bucks (at least $55 billion in the U.S.), it seems only natural for Amazon to capitalize on the market. TechCrunch notes that because wedding purchases tend to be emotional and not practical, customers are often willing to spend more.

How to Make Money on Amazon’s Wedding Platform

So if you’re a DIY crafter, how can you sell your wedding-themed goods on Amazon’s newest platform?

Well first off, your products need to meet Amazon’s definition of handmade, which means the items need to be made, altered or assembled entirely by hand.

Since only invited artisans are authorized to sell on Amazon’s Handmade Wedding Shop, you’ll have to apply to receive an invitation. From there, you’ll register, create an artisan profile and then list your products to your online store and start selling!

According to Amazon, seller benefits include the potential to have your products seen by the retail giant’s 250 million customer base, and phone and email support.

Amazon takes a 15% or $1 cut (whichever is greater) of sales on its handmade marketplace. Professional sellers also typically pay a $39.99 monthly fee, however, through the end of 2017, Amazon has waived the charge.

Happy selling, and here’s hoping you make a bride’s dream come true.

Disclosure: A toast to savings! Thanks for allowing us to place affiliate links in this post.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She oohs and aahs over personalized wedding decor but has never had a need to purchase any.

If you’re used to bringing spare quarters and your own shopping bags with you on regular grocery shopping trips, then you’re probably already familiar with Aldi.

If not, you may be soon. The German supermarket chain will be ramping up its presence in the U.S. with new stores, bigger stores and more employees.

Aldi CEO Jason Hart said the company plans to spend $1.6 billion to add 400 new stores and to expand and remodel 1,300 others in the U.S. by the end of 2018, Reuters reported.

The chain already has about 1,600 stores nationwide and plans to add the new locations mostly in Florida, Texas and along the East Coast and West Coast.

Coming Soon: Lots of Aldi Jobs

All that expansion obviously means new employees will be needed. By the end of June, Aldi will be holding over 300 hiring events across the country.

The grocery chain plans to fill positions for store associates, shift managers, manager trainees and warehouse associates. Salaries vary with location, but after scouring over a dozen individual listings, the lowest pay rate I found was $11 an hour for a store associate.

All full-time employees are offered health benefits including medical, dental and vision insurance. They can also take advantage of vacation time off, seven paid holidays and a 401(k) plan with employee match.

The majority of the hiring events are for store associates. According to the job description, store associates take on different roles, from cashier to stockperson. They also help management by merchandising product, monitoring inventory and maintaining store upkeep.

These employees must be 18 years old and are required to lift up to 45 pounds, work a flexible schedule and have good customer service and communication skills.

The job description also mentions store associates will receive 75 hours of paid training and mentoring during the first month of employment. The company’s “promote-from-within policy” means store associates have opportunities to advance to shift manager level and beyond.  

If you’re interesting in a job at Aldi, click here to see when the next hiring event nearest you will be held and download an employee application in advance.

To learn more about working for Aldi, check out its career page.

Want to be the first to know about other fun and interesting jobs like these? Like The Penny Hoarder Jobs on Facebook to stay in the loop!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Once upon a time, she went to an Aldi hiring event. These days, she just loves shopping in their stores.

Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.

May 23 is Lucky Penny Day, so pick up all the copper coins you can find, Abe-side up of course!

I know they’re only one cent each, but if you’re thinking saving pennies has little use, you’d be wrong. Yes, it might take what seems like forever to make a difference in a savings account, but I’ve adopted the mindset that every little bit helps.

As Kyle Taylor, The Penny Hoarder’s CEO, says, “Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

But there are tons of uses for a penny beyond letting its tiny power gain strength in your bank account. In honor of this wacky holiday, I’m sharing some alternative uses for our favorite little coin.

7 Penny Crafts You Can Make With Our Favorite Coin

Now, there are a bunch of practical uses for a penny.

It’s never to early to teach your children about money. Teach them to count -- and introduce them to the basics of money -- with pennies.

You could use a penny in place of a slot-head screwdriver or to measure the tread in your car’s tire.

Fun fact: if you line up 16 pennies in a row, you can create a makeshift 12-inch ruler.

You can also glue a coin or two to the bottom of a chair leg to stabilize a wobbly chair.

But those are all slightly boring.

If you really want to jazz things up, consider all the DIY crafts you can make with a penny -- or 13,000. Polish off your pennies and your DIY skills and check out these seven projects.

1. Penny Ring

Let’s start with something simple. Take your favorite lucky penny (maybe one with your birth year or the one you stuck in your shoe on your wedding day) and turn it into a ring.

All you’ll need is super glue, a short piece of rhinestone trim, wire, pliers and something circular to wrap your wire around. For instructions, check out this blog by Trinkets in Bloom.

2. Penny Bracelet

This DIY piece of jewelry involves pressed pennies -- you know, the kind you get as souvenirs from Disney, museums and other tourist-y spots, perhaps even at rest stops during your road trip. Penny Hoarder editor Rain Turner made one and wrote about it for World of Walt several years back.

In addition to several pressed pennies, you’ll need a hammer, a small steel nail, a clamp, a small piece of cloth, beads, chain, beading wire, jump rings, jewelry pliers with round tips and a toggle clasp.

Follow these instructions and you can turn small souvenir trinkets into a memorable piece of jewelry.

3. Coin Barrettes

Make an inexpensive hair clip featuring Abe Lincoln. Select your shiniest pennies to make this hair accessory bling.

You’ll only need about three pennies, a plain barrette clip and super glue or contact cement. See Auntie Anne’s Crafts for details on how to put this together.

4. Penny Coasters

[caption id="attachment_56894" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Pennies are added to the mold while making penny coasters in St. Petersburg. Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Impress guests at your next dinner party with these custom drink coasters. The blog Seriously I’m Thrifty did this with Canadian pennies, but American coins would work just fine.

To make your coaster you’ll need a disposable cup, a disposable spoon, coaster molds, petroleum jelly, resin and a straw or lighter, in addition to a handful or so of pennies. See this for directions to walk you through the process of creating your own.

[caption id="attachment_57235" align="alignnone" width="1200"] A DIY custom made penny coaster that was made out of pennies, resin, coaster molds and Vaseline. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

5. Penny Tiled Mirror

Making a penny-tiled mirror is a unique way to add some character to your home decor. This project will take several dozen pennies. Just how many will depend on how large your mirror is.

The blog Real Happy Space used a small circular mirror, a plywood circle, wood finish and hot glue. You can do something similar but frame out a rectangular mirror, like the one shown on Honey Sweet Home.

6. Penny Table

The Penny Hoarder headquarters is home to a neat penny table designed with Abraham Lincoln’s face.

If you want to try this project yourself, check out Heart Maine Home’s blog post on how to create one. They transformed a side table by adding a trim and some paint, using super glue and Gorilla Glue to affix the pennies and applying an epoxy glaze to smooth out the surface.

You could also try this for a countertop, like at Domestic Imperfection. They did things by trial and error and made a few mistakes you can learn from.

7. Penny Floor

Now if you are really ambitious, you can cover a whole floor in pennies.

USA Love List used over 10,500 pennies -- or a little over $100 in coins -- to cover a 38 square-foot kitchen floor. Their other supplies included a 12” by 12” picture frame, contact paper, glue, epoxy and a heat source like a blowtorch or a blow dryer. Read step by step instructions on the installation here.

If you love the idea but are intimidated by the size of a whole floor, you can try covering the ground of your shower stall instead. The family blogging at A Building We Shall Go did this with about 5,382 pennies, glue, grout and epoxy.

For more awesome craft ideas, plus recipes, career advice, money tips and more, visit The Penny Hoarder’s Pinterest page.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She pinned the penny floor idea to her personal Pinterest page, well before she started working at The Penny Hoarder and wrote this story. She’s saving that DIY project for when she becomes a home owner.

The United States may finally join the ranks of other developed nations around the world that offer paid parental leave.

President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal will include creating and funding a program that will give six weeks of paid time off for mothers and fathers following the birth or adoption of a child, the Washington Post reported.

This expands on the previous paid parental leave proposal that Trump touted during the presidential campaign in that fathers and adoptive parents are also included, not just biological mothers.

Families of all income levels would be included in the current proposed plan, though benefits would be capped for high earners, White House officials told the Washington Post.

The plan would be paid through the country’s unemployment insurance system and managed by individual states. It’s expected to benefit about 1.3 million parents and would cost about $25 billion over 10 years, according to White House officials.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka has advocated for paid parental leave and is expected to be involved in shaping the policy, the Washington Post reported.

The U.S. Lags When It Comes to Paid Parental Leave

Currently, the U.S. has no paid parental leave program nationwide. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey have individual plans in place, and New York and Washington D.C. have approved programs that will be put in place next year.

According to the Washington Post, 58% of American companies do offer some form of paid maternity leave and 12% offer some paid paternity leave.

New parents can take advantage of 12 weeks of unpaid time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act, as long as they have worked at their company for at least 12 months and their company includes 50 or more employees. Their jobs will be held for them, but parents who take this leave will not be able to collect any of their salary while they’re gone.

Money reports the U.S. is the only developed nation not to have paid parental leave, and the amount of paid time Trump is proposing pales in comparison to others. Amongst 40 other countries, the least amount of paid time given is two months, while some countries, including Japan, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Norway, offer over a year.

The White House will present the budget proposal to Congress Tuesday. The Washington Post reports the parental leave program may receive pushback from Democrats who desire a more generous plan and Republicans standing in opposition to paid leave programs. However, it’s possible both parties will unite on this topic.

“It’s a major step forward, and it’s better than zero, which is what parents are guaranteed now,” Jeffrey Hayes, program director of job quality and income security at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told the Washington Post. “Trump is the first Republican in the White House to talk about this, so he could get some bipartisan support.”

Now if your expected child is not working on Congress’ timeline and you’re not employed by a company like Netflix, Etsy, Amex or Ikea, check out these 12 tips to survive parental leave without going broke.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She took advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act when she had her daughter but is fortunate she now works for a company that offers eight weeks of paid parental leave.

Editor's Note: This job is no longer available.

Do you have excellent customer service skills, the ability to troubleshoot problems and a desire to work from home?

Hilton may just have the perfect job for you.

The global hotel chain is looking to hire full-time remote reservation sales associates.

As a reservation sales associate, you’ll answer customer calls in a friendly manner and respond to inquiries regarding availability, accommodations, sales promotions, transportation to and from properties and more.

Pay starts at $9 an hour, with performance-based incentives, according to Hilton’s job preview for this position. Incentives could bump pay up to $14 an hour.

Jobs benefits include discounted rates at Hilton properties for employees, plus their family and friends.

Schedules are flexible, but this position is for a 40-hour work week. You may also be required to work weekends and holidays.

While this is a work-from-home position, the company needs these employees to live in the following 29 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

How to Land This Work-From-Home Job with Hilton

For this gig, Hilton is looking for someone with at least one year of experience in a customer-oriented or sales role.

You should also have at least six months experience in a sales-oriented, performance-driven role where you’ve had to successfully meet metrics or goals, upsell or cross-sell, overcome objections and use negotiating skills.

A college degree is not required.

Job candidates also should:

  • Have a positive attitude with high energy
  • Have strong communication and active listening skills
  • Possess excellent customer service skills
  • Be computer literate
  • Be able to provide a quiet work environment, free from noise and distractions

Bonus points if you have a hospitality industry background, experience with virtual training or previously held a work-from-home job.

Job interviews and training will be done virtually.

Once you’re hired, the company will provide you with specific hardware to get the job done. However, you’ll need to already have:

  • A monitor
  • Landline phone with dial pad and a dedicated number (no cell phones)
  • Headset compatible with phone
  • Speakers
  • Webcam
  • Surge protector
  • High-speed wired internet connection (wireless is not permitted)

Watch this video to learn more about the reservation sales role. If this sounds like the right opportunity for you, apply here.

If you’re interested in other work-from-home jobs — or jobs in general — then make sure to like The Penny Hoarder Jobs on Facebook.

Your Turn: Will you apply for this work-from-home job with Hilton?

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

I love free food. It makes me excited, probably more than it should.

So the concept of gardening seems fabulous to me.

I say “concept,” because I realize actual gardening includes exposure to bugs, which kinda-sorta freaks me out. But being able to just go to my backyard and pick out fruit for a snack or veggies for lunch -- without swiping my debit card -- would be awesome.

I’m all for fresh food, reducing my carbon footprint and getting fresh air and exercise, not to mention having loads of extra produce to help lower my grocery bill.

The thing is... most gardens still require a monetary investment: for tools, supplies, seeds and related expenses. There goes the concept of “free” food.

Fleet Farming, a nonprofit initiative that started in Orlando in 2014, turns neighbors’ lawns into gardens, but it comes with a price: the group asks for a $500 donation to cover the costs of installing and maintaining the plot for a minimum of two years.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden from Scratch

Despite having to fork over some money, the benefits of growing your own garden are still pretty great.

There are lots of creative ways to cut down the costs of growing your own food. Fleet Farming Program Manager Caroline Chomanics offers the following five tips on to help you start a garden on a small budget.

1. Pick Up Leaves

Ever notice your neighbors raking their leaves into big piles and leaving them at the edge of their front lawns to be thrown away? Ask them if you can take those leaves off their hands!

“People throw away leaves on the side of the road all of the time that can be used as a great mulch,” Chomanics said.

Mulch acts as a barrier to block sunlight from the ground’s surface, keeping soil cooler so plants’ roots won’t overheat, according to Better Homes and Gardens.

2. Go Dumpster Diving

Raised garden beds offer a prime environment for a new garden.

They provide good drainage and also help prevent soil compaction, invasion from pathway weeds and pests such as slugs and snails, according to Eartheasy.

But purchasing wood to build one or buying one already built could be costly.

Chomanics recommends upcycling trash to be used for raised beds. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

“Old wood, cement blocks, bookcases and other discarded items can make great structures for raised bed gardening,” she said.

3. Compost at Home

The soil in your backyard may not always be the rich, earthy stuff that’s prime for growing.

Here in Florida, what makes up the ground is mostly dusty sand -- but that doesn’t stop the Fleet Farming group in Orlando.

Fleet Farming Director Lee Perry said they use compose from a nearby mushroom farm to help convert sandy dirt to dark, lush, nutrient-rich soil.

“You can compost at home by storing food scraps in a container in the freezer,” Chomanics said. “Then, when it is full, turn it in a pile in your yard.”.

“Leaves and grass clippings [as long as it’s unfertilized grass] are great additions,” she said.

Chomanics also advised contacting your local compost provider to find affordable compost. Some cities offer free compost pick-up, she said.

4. Save Seeds

While you might need to buy seeds at your local garden nursery or home improvement store to start out, save money on future planting seasons by holding onto the seeds from the plants you grow.

“Have an endless supply of seeds by harvesting seeds from your harvest,” Chomanics said. “Plants like dill, sunflower and basil offer tons of seeds that you can use every year.”

5. Use Drip Irrigation

Plants are pretty simple. They only need a few things to grow, like sunlight, soil and water. And unless your home is right on a river or creek, that water is not going to come free.

Using a sprinkler to water your garden could have you ending up with a hefty water bill if you don’t do things right.

A drip irrigation system makes sure water is not wasted by targeting exactly where the plants need it.

“Every day, water will drip to the plants,” Chomanics said. “That saves you time watering and is water friendly.”

She recommends installing a water timer hooked up to a hose with a sprinkler. Timers control how much and when your garden is watered.  

A simple garden hose timer costs about $25 through Amazon.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves the idea of having a garden, except for dealing with bugs.

Teacher Appreciation Week may have passed, but it’s hard not to have a ton of 24/7/365 respect and love for all the teachers out there molding the minds of the next generation.

Sadly, though, teacher paychecks don’t always reflect this. The national average starting salary of a teacher is about $30,377, according to the National Education Association.

By comparison, the NEA reports computer programmers start off making $43,635, entry-level public accounting professionals make $44,668 and new registered nurses make $45,570.

The average teacher’s salary also doesn’t reflect all the unpaid overtime one might put in grading papers or coming up with lesson plans. Nor does it take into account how much teachers pay out of pocket to buy school supplies or treats for their students. An article by Money last year said most teachers spend more than $500 per year on supplies using their own money.

With Rent Jungle reporting the average rent for an apartment in San Francisco to be about $3,703, some teachers in that city are struggling to afford the basic necessity of providing a roof over their own heads.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently profiled one such teacher, Etoria Cheeks, who was homeless despite having a master’s degree and a salary of about $65,000.

“I am disturbed as anyone to have a teacher who’s homeless,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said. “We have an immediate problem right now.”

The idea of creating affordable teacher housing has been bouncing around the city for nearly 20 years, but last week Lee brought the concept one step closer to actualization by earmarking $44 million and selecting a site to construct 130 to 150 rental units for teachers, the Chronicle reported.

Though the plan still has to be approved by the city school board, the complex could be ready by 2022. Details have yet to be worked out regarding which teachers would be able to qualify for the rentals, and rental rates were not mentioned.

Though San Francisco’s plan is making the news right now, it isn’t the first city to have this idea.

Similar Efforts Across the Country

Yahoo News reports other cities have created housing for teachers -- including Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; Asheville, North Carolina and Los Angeles, California.

In 2014, city officials in Milwaukee approved a plan for a 75-unit housing complex for teachers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

In the beginning of this year, over half the 204 units at a new mixed-used development called Teachers Village in Newark, New Jersey, were completed and occupied by 70% teachers and educators, reported.

In Asheville, North Carolina, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools partnered up with the county and others to develop a 24-unit affordable housing complex for teachers that was set to be completed this month, the Citizen-Times reported.

The Los Angeles Times reported two of the three affordable housing projects the Los Angeles Unified School District developed in hopes of reducing teachers turnover were fully occupied last October, but no teachers resided there.

Ironically, the salary levels for teachers were deemed too high, but other lower-income school district employees, such as cafeteria workers, bus drivers and special education assistants, were able to rent the majority of the 156 units. The third housing project was still under construction.

A Trending Topic

Apparently, the issue of affordable housing for teachers is pretty widespread.

In March, the News-Press reported school district members in Lee County, Florida, were discussing a future development of one-, two- and three-bedroom units to be rented to teachers at 15 to 20% below market rate.

“This isn’t instead of increasing wages,” Angela Pruitt, the school district’s chief human resources officer, said. “It is something we are looking at doing in addition, to help keep teachers here.”

An article published in January by The Atlantic reported that Denver Public Schools officials were also exploring the idea of affordable teacher housing in Colorado’s capital city.

Perhaps affordable housing for teachers will be a trend to be implemented in other locales soon. Or maybe school districts will get on board with paying teachers salaries that will allow them to live in the cities they teach -- without necessarily having to seek out subsidized housing or to supplement their wages with a side gig.

After all, these professionals are building up our future leaders and workforce. Our appreciation of their roles should reflect that.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

If you hope to land a seasonal job this summer, you better be putting in your applications now.

CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,500 employers across the country, and about a third (34%) say they’ll complete their hiring for summer jobs this month.

Nearly as many have already finished hiring for the season, but 20% plan to complete their summer hiring in June. So if you’re late to the game, it’s time to dust off your resume ASAP.

Hiring for Summer Jobs is on the Rise

CareerBuilder’s survey says 41% of employers plan to fill seasonal roles this summer compared to 29% last year.

These jobs include your typical summer positions. Nearly half of employers in the hospitality industry and about a third of retail employers said they’d be hiring seasonal workers.

An increase in summer tourism may be why a significant chunk of employers in these cities reported they’d be filling seasonal roles: Miami (66%), New York (58%), Washington D.C. (46%) and Los Angeles (45%).

But other industries are hiring seasonal workers too. Twenty-seven percent of employers plan to fill engineering positions this summer and the same amount say they’ll be hiring IT professionals. And 11% plan to hire new employees in the banking industry.

About four out of five employers will be paying their summer employees at least $10 an hour, and 19% say they’ll pay $20 an hour or more.

More Than Just a Temporary Role

Summer jobs are great for students or members of the gig economy, but they can also be used as a stepping stone for new grads or someone changing careers to gain experience and get their foot in the door at a coveted company where they hope to work on a more permanent basis.

According to CareerBuilder’s survey, 79% of employers hiring this summer say they will consider seasonal workers for permanent positions -- up from 76% last year. So use your time at these seasonal jobs to make it count.

Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s chief human resources officer, recommends that summer hires don’t treat their position as if it’s just a temporary gig.

“You should view it as an extended job interview,” she said. “This is an opportunity for the company to get to know you, to show them what you bring to their organization and to show how you can become a valuable asset.”

Where to Find These Jobs

You all know the saying: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Don’t be shy about tapping into your network to land your summer gig. According to CareerBuilder’s survey, 34% of employers plan to hire a friend, 30% will hire a family member and 19% will employ their child.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we’re constantly looking for great job opportunities to share with you -- seasonal or not. Like The Penny Hoarder Jobs on Facebook to stay in the loop!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She once snagged a recurring summer job due to a family connection. She also had a summer internship that turned into a great freelance gig years later.

With the school year quickly coming to an end, what are you going to do with the kids?

How will you prevent summer learning loss? And how are you going to do it without spending a fortune?

A recent headline from Scary Mommy stopped me in my tracks. “Thinking Of Sending Your Kids To An Academic Summer Camp? Buy A Lottery Ticket First,” it read.

Now, as much as the kids would probably love to spend the next two-and-a-half months lounging around in their PJs, eating junk food and letting their brains turn to mush, luckily there are great, affordable options out there to keep them entertained while being educated. Parenting win.

For the Little Ones

Remember “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”? That show ran on PBS for decades and taught preschoolers how to interact with their neighbors, respect others’ differences, share their feelings in a healthy way and embrace make-believe.

Though new episodes stopped airing in 2001 and title character Fred Rogers died in 2003, video streaming site Twitch will be streaming all 886 episodes of the show for free through June 3.

According to Twitch, “many episodes... have only aired once or are unavailable elsewhere online.”

So if you’re getting sick of SpongeBob, Peppa Pig or Caillou, direct your preschooler here -- and hopefully they’ll pick up something educational along the way.

STEM for the Win

For all podcast-loving parents, now you can share your addiction with your offspring. NPR has launched its first kid-centric podcast series.

Called “Wow in the World,” the podcast uses a dose of comedy to get children ages 5 to 12 excited about science, technology, discovery and inventions, NPR reports.

The series will explore the topics of space, dinosaurs, animals, technology and human origins. The first 24-minute episode titled “The Search for Planet 9 and Our Sushi-Powered Brains” debuted May 15.

Books on Books on Books

For some real back-to-the-basics summer edutainment, there are books. Now don’t give me that look -- books can be fun. Especially when there’s a challenge tied along to it.

And don’t forget, parents, books are oh-so-affordable. Just check out your local library -- which actually has more cool things than you’d think.

The following programs will encourage your kid to keep reading through the summer with some neat freebies.

1. Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

This bookstore chain invites kids from first through sixth grade to read any eight books over the summer and write journal entries about their favorite part of each story.

Participants must bring their completed journals (you can print out the journal your kid will need to fill out here) into any Barnes and Noble store until Sept. 5 to receive a free book from a selected list.

2. Books-A-Million Summer Reading Challenge

This bookstore chain has curated a special selection of books for kids and teens for its summer reading program.

Kids who read four books from the list and fill out Book-A-Million’s reading challenge journal can bring their completed journal into stores to receive a free Maze Runner water bottle.

3. Half Price Books Summer Reading Program

This bookstore chain challenges kids 14 and under to log in 300 minutes or more of reading during the months of June and July.

Parents have to sign off on this reading log, which kids can bring to any Half Price Books store before Aug. 31 to redeem “Bookworm Bucks,” or free $5 gift cards, The Balance explains.

4. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Scholastic wants children of all ages to read this summer. Through Sept. 8, children can log the minutes they read online and access various virtual prizes.

The publishing company also has recommended reading lists for all ages, plus you can enter a summer reading challenge sweepstakes to win prizes from Klutz.

5. Sync Summer Reading Program

Sync is an audiobook program that will give teens two free audiobooks a week this summer.

Teens can save their eye-strain on video games and still meet reading requirements for the summer by simply listening. Titles vary each week based on a theme. The program will continue through Aug. 16.

For other affordable ways to keep your child busy this summer, check out $1 movies at Regal Theaters or these outdoor options.

And while you’re planning out your summer weeks, bookmark this handy list of 100 free summer fun ideas for the entire family.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. As a child, she loved trips to the library during the summer. She’d check out a dozen books each time.

Editor's Note: The job listed at #7 is no longer available.

Freedom to set your own day -- that’s part of the stuff dream jobs are made of.

If you’re looking for work that’s big on autonomy and flexibility and doesn’t require a boss staring over your shoulder, a work-from-home position may be just the thing for you.

9 Work-From-Home Jobs You Can Apply for Now

We’ve come across nine remote positions, ranging from customer service jobs to a gaming consultant gig to an online clothing stylist role.

These jobs won’t be around forever, so if one seems like the perfect fit for you, apply today.

1. Online Support Specialist with Frosch

Travel management company Frosch is looking for an online support specialist to assist customers with online travel booking. You’ll help with online booking tools and demos and work to resolve any technical issues that might occur.

Travel agent experience is required, as is working knowledge of programs and systems like Concur, Deem, Sabre and Apollo.

This job listing did not mention the starting salary, but it comes with medical, dental and vision insurance, plus other benefits like gym reimbursement and an employee recognition program. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Central Standard Time.

Click here to apply.

2. Remote Sales Associate with Nonprofit Megaphone

Nonprofit Megaphone is looking for a remote sales associate to connect with nonprofit organizations to get them to sign up for marketing services.

Previous sales experience is desired for this position, and a bachelor’s degree is required.

This is a commission-based job, and pay starts at $10 an hour. According to the job listing, it’s likely to start off as part-time opportunity that can grow into a full-time one.

To apply, see here.

3. Gaming Consultant with Sutherland Global Services

Sutherland Global Services has an opening for a part-time gaming consultant to provide customer support for a gaming platform.

The company is looking for an experienced gamer or someone with a background in gaming technical support who also can deliver great customer service. You’ll need a computer monitor, headset and internet access for this remote position, but Sutherland will provide you with a computer with phone technology.

The pay for this position isn’t listed in the job announcement, but you can be eligible to receive a performance-based incentive bonus after training and one month on the job. This is a part-time opportunity that’ll require between 20 and 29 hours a week.

Learn more about this job and apply here.

4. Customer Service Representative with Infinity Contact

Infinity Contact is looking for a customer service representative who can work remotely, engaging with 60 to 100 customers daily over the phone or via the internet.

You’ll need at least one year of customer service or technical support experience and be proficient in using call center software.

The job listing on Indeed notes that the salary range for this position is $20,800 to $40,000. Work shifts will be scheduled between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.

You can apply here or via Indeed here.

5. Customer Service Representative with Slingshot

Pest control startup Slingshot is looking to hire a customer service representative to help customers schedule appointments and connect with pest specialists.

Though this is a work-from-home job, the company will require this employee to live within 1.5 hours from its base in Orem, Utah. The customer service representative can choose to work from the office if desired.

The pay starts at $10, plus you can earn commission. Benefits include healthcare insurance, paid time off and a 401(k) match. This is a full-time gig, with at least 35 hours a week, including some weekends and holidays.

Check here to apply for this job.

6. Call Center Representative with Rev-Ignition Corp.

Rev-Ignition Corporation is hiring a remote patient account call center representative.

You’ll answer calls, schedule appointments, respond to patient questions, check insurance eligibility, collect patient payments and document health records electronically.

The company is looking for someone with medical billing experience who has worked in a high-volume environment. Being a bilingual English-Spanish speaker is a plus.

The pay for this position is not listed but medical, dental and vision benefits are included. This job may include some evening and weekend hours.

Click here to apply.

7. Customer Champion with Inventory Lab

Inventory Lab, which provides innovative solutions for online sellers, is hiring a remote “customer champion” to respond virtually to custome concerns regarding its app.

This customer service position requires responding to over 40 emails or live chats a day. The company is looking for a candidate who has excellent customer service and computer skills, is flexible and enjoys shopping on Amazon.

The pay range for this job is $33,000 to $35,000 a year plus health, vision and dental insurance and a 401(k) match. Other perks include fitness reimbursement and a home office allowance.

Though this job is remote, the company does require hirees to travel for a four-day in-person training.

This is a full-time role working Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

To apply, click here.  

8. IT Helpdesk Technician with The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit technology trade association, is looking for a full-time IT helpdesk technician to support its staff. Candidates can be based anywhere within the U.S., United Kingdom or Canada.

For this position, you’ll need an associate’s degree or higher in computer science or a related field and experience with management of and best practices for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows desktop.

The pay is not listed in the job description but benefits include health insurance, unlimited paid time off and a 401(k) match.

Click here to apply.

9. Men’s Online Stylist with Bombfell

Bombfell, a men’s personal stylist clothing subscription company, is looking for a part-time men’s online stylist to analyze clients’ wardrobe needs and send them a personalized wardrobe selection every month via the company’s online styling platform.

The company is looking for candidates with a four-year degree and one to two years of fashion experience.

While this is a remote position, this job requires two days of training in New York City and mandatory meetings twice a month on location.

The job listing for this position does not include salary information, but the benefits include a 30% employee discount. You’ll work at least 20 hours a week and can set you own hours each week, but you will need to work for at least one hour Monday through Friday.

To apply, click here.

Want to be the first to know about other fun and interesting jobs like this? Like The Penny Hoarder Jobs on Facebook to stay in the loop!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Some people dream of becoming parents -- having a sweet little newborn who’s hopefully the perfect mix of mom and dad in the house.

Others dream of becoming grandparents -- forging that awesome bond with a little one who loves you immensely, but being able to give the kid back to their parents when everything becomes too overwhelming.

Yet grandparents are increasingly taking on major caregiver roles in their grandchildren’s lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10% of grandchildren lived with a grandparent in 2012 -- up from 7% in 1992. In 2012, 2.7 million Americans were raising their grandkids.

With day care being such a significant cost that many parents aren’t prepared for, some turn to grandparents for a more affordable (or even free!) child care option.

Though grandparents can be wonderful caregivers, recent research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests some may use outdated child-rearing practices, CNN reported.

The study surveyed 636 grandparents about their child care practices and found:

  • Nearly a quarter didn’t know they should put babies to sleep on their backs.
  • 44% thought ice baths were a good method to bring down a high fever. (Warning: It could cause hypothermia!)
  • 68% did not know wounds should be covered.

Andrew Adesman, one of lead researchers, said, “We shouldn't assume that just because they've raised a child before, they're experts.”

Grandparents did not use old wives’ tales in all cases. Most surveyed knew that putting butter on minor burns is not the way to go, CNN reported.

Though there is a generation gap, it should be noted that grandparents are not the only ones to flub when it comes to recommended child care practices. Raising a child can have a major learning curve for new parents or parents whose children’s births are separated by a significant number of years, even a decade or two.

However, if you’re relying on grandparents to provide child care, even on an occasional or part-time basis, it’s important to make sure they are up to date on modern child-rearing practices.

Start with a simple conversation. If necessary, you could bring them along to a pediatrician appointment or point them to resources like the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children site.

Remember, many grandparents raised their children in a different day and age, so it’s valid to bring your concerns to them. It’s also good to be on the same page on other topics like discipline, diet and screen time. Communication is key.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is lucky to have a strong support system for raising her daughter -- including her mom, who watches her daughter while she works.

Completing college is no walk in the park.

Some students make juggling classes, clubs, a social life and the occasional part-time job look easy, but the endeavor of preparing for one’s future career is no small task.

So for those who decide to take on an extra academic load by selecting two majors instead of one, it seems only fitting there would be a significant return on the investment.

But that’s not always so.

A recent study published in the Journal of Benefits-Cost Analysis suggests double majoring does not have a big impact on salary and career, even though about one in five students choose to do so.

“We found some evidence that certain combinations of double majors confer advantages over a single major, but they weren’t overwhelming,” Joni Hersch, the paper’s co-author, told the The Wall Street Journal.

“For example, there is some support to the notion that being able to look at problems from different perspectives enhances creativity, as advocates of liberal arts suggest,” she said. “But students who combine liberal arts with a business or STEM [science, technology, engineering or math] major don’t earn more money than if they majored in business or STEM alone.”

Hersch also said double majoring did not affect job satisfaction and had a neutral-to-negative impact on job match -- the extent to which graduates used their education on the job.

So why do students choose to double major? We asked three professionals what they got out of double majoring in college.

A GPA Boost

[caption id="attachment_56035" align="alignnone" width="1200"] College students receive their bachelor's degree during the University of Tampa commencement ceremony at Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, May 6, 2017. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

PJ Panganiban, a 27-year-old web developer for REI in Kent, Washington, majored in mathematics and religion at Rutgers University. He intended to minor in religion, but when he chose courses for junior year, he realized he only needed a few classes to upgrade his minor to a major.

Panganiban said choosing two majors did not tack on additional costs to his college investment, as he was still able to graduate in four years.

“I did not have to take any extra classes nor summer classes,” he said.

Having the additional major in religion helped boost his GPA, which was beneficial when dealing with challenging math courses.

“The upper-level math classes were the hardest classes I ever took, and I had barely passed some of them,” Panganiban said. “It was my religion classes that kept my grades up and allowed me to keep the required GPA for financial aid and to graduate.”

He said the experience double majoring was a positive one, even though he did not end up with a career in either field.

“I seriously considered continuing that path into teaching... but the thought of taking more classes [to get accredited] just after graduating was very unappealing,” Panganiban said. “It was when I explored new opportunities and got an internship that I decided to pursue a career in IT.

I think my math major helped me get some interviews, however, I think not having a computer science degree also made me a riskier hire. As a result, I had to take an unpaid internship for a few months to get some experience, and later, I think I took a lower salary compared to my colleagues.”

The Ability to Connect to Others

[caption id="attachment_56036" align="alignnone" width="1200"] A college student waves to friends and family during the University of Tampa commencement ceremony at Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, May 6, 2017. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Rachel Bennett, a 28-year-old high school Spanish teacher in northern Texas, majored in Spanish and communication sciences and disorders at the University of Central Florida. A study-abroad trip to Spain the summer after her junior year -- and realizing she only had to take five additional courses to complete a Spanish major -- made her pursue the two majors instead of one.

Bennett said having two credentials not only benefited her career, but it also allowed her to make friends she wouldn’t have been able to communicate with had she not become fluent in Spanish.

“My personal life has been enriched by being able to advocate for Spanish speakers and their children,” she said. “I am able to forge bonds that would be impossible without being bilingual.”

Her communication sciences and disorders degree helps her further connect with students.

“I am... more empathetic with my students, as I am aware which factors contribute to normal language and speech development, and I can distinguish between disorders of language and speech,” she said.

Bennett said taking on two majors did not set her back financially. She did take four-and-a-half years to graduate but still stayed within the time constraints of her scholarship. Some semesters were jam-packed with 18 credits and sometimes stressful, but Bennett said she wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Having majored in Spanish means I will never have to worry about employment,” she said. “The possibilities are endless -- teacher, tutor, entrepreneur, bilingual executive, translator, interpreter, or bilingual customer service representative.

“Sometimes being bilingual is the deciding factor in the hiring process, and the ball is in my court, so to speak. If I decided to get my bilingual teaching certificate in Texas, the stipend offered to teachers is approximately $3,000 more than a typical salary.”

Bennett said had she earned a graduate degree to become a bilingual speech-language pathologist -- rather than following her passion and becoming a teacher -- she would have more likely received multiple job offers paying higher salaries than she has now.

That said, she loves teaching and has no plans to switch careers.

Similar Fields of Study

[caption id="attachment_56029" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Sara Jones is a lawyer who graduated with dual majors in sociology and criminology from Florida State University. Courtesy of Sara Jones[/caption]

Sara Jones, a 28-year-old lawyer from Lake Wales, Florida, graduated with dual majors in sociology and criminology from Florida State University. She chose to study sociology in her second year of college.

Just before her fourth year, she decided she wanted to go to law school and went for the criminology degree.

“I really enjoyed pursuing my dual major,” Jones said. “Because my majors were so similar, many of the classes overlapped.

She graduated in five years rather than four. Since the last year wasn’t covered by her scholarship, she took out loans (totaling less than $5,000) to supplement federal grant money.

Still, Jones said her experience double majoring was positive overall.

“I can't say for sure that pursuing a double major alone directly resulted in my success, but it was definitely a part of a series of good career decisions that I made,” she said. “The education I received under both majors informs my work every day, and it has helped me to secure numerous internships and job opportunities.”

Your Turn: Did you double major in college?

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She only had one major in college -- print journalism -- but minored in economics.