ScoreCard Research Susan Shain

Looking for full-time work?

That you can do remotely?

With a well-known, reputable company?

Check, check and check: American Express is hiring full-time Virtual Platinum Customer Care Professionals.

Here’s how to apply.

(And if you’re looking for a work-from-home job but this one’s not quite right for you, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook -- we post awesome work-from-home opportunities there all the time!)

Get a Work-From-Home Job With American Express

In this position, you’ll work from home on a “flexible, nontraditional schedule” and “deliver extraordinary care by promptly and accurately responding to customer inquiries.”

Your duties will include evaluating account information and offering tailored solutions to customers.

To be eligible, you must live in any state except Alaska, California or Hawaii, and have a distraction-free home office and experience “successfully interacting with customers.”

If you live within 35 miles of one of its centers (Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; or Sunrise, Florida) then you’ll want to review its on-site positions.

You’ll start out earning “competitive” pay, with the opportunity to earn “monthly performance-based incentives.”

Not only is training paid (and from home), the company will also cover the connection cost of up to $100 for “dedicated telephone and Internet service from an American Express approved provider in your area.”

Woohoo!

Plus, you’ll be eligible for benefits like health insurance, retirement plans and tuition assistance from day one!

Sounds like a pretty good gig, right? Click here to learn more and apply.

Susan Shain, freelance writer, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

As of just a few years ago, you would’ve had to dig through historical archives to discover who your ancestors were.

Today? All you have to do is spit in a test tube.

So it’s understandable that more and more people are seeking their ethnic roots with the help of DNA tests like AncestryDNA and 23andMe.

But, with all the different options out there, how do you know which one will give you the information you want? Which one is easiest to use? And fastest?

To help you figure it out, I shared my saliva with three different companies. Keep reading to learn which DNA test is best for your money.

[caption id="attachment_71896" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Photo courtesy Susan Shain[/caption]

Which DNA Test Is Best for Your Money?

I took three DNA tests: Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA and 23andMe.

The process for each was the same: I made my purchase online, received a kit in the mail and then returned it in pre-paid packaging. The rest of the communication -- that my kit had arrived, that my results were ready -- came via email.

As far as the physical tests went, AncestryDNA and 23andMe were pretty similar; they came in sleek packaging and required spitting into a test tube. Family Tree DNA’s test was noticeably more low-tech; it required a mouth swab, and its tubes were difficult to close.  

Here’s a detailed review of each DNA test.

1. Family Tree DNA

Cost: $89 (although often on sale for $69)

Includes: Ethnic percentages, ancient ancestry, family matching

Processing time: Five weeks

Before I even logged on to see my Family Tree DNA results, a woman named Linda emailed me asking if we were related. That was slightly off-putting, and to be honest, the experience with this company was my least favorite.

If you’re really into your family history, it might work for you, but the platform returned 7,000 potential family matches. And, since it didn’t have a great way of filtering them, it quickly became overwhelming.

The ethnic origins map was similar to the other two tests, but slightly less detailed. Seeing as that’s what I most wanted to learn about, I was a bit disappointed.

One unique feature of Family Tree DNA’s test is it includes your “ancient origins.” It was kind of interesting but not enough to bring it on par with the other tests; I don’t know how much I care that I’m 33% farmer and 10% metal-age invader.

Like the other platforms, it also told me the most common surnames that shared DNA with me: Cohen, Miller and Friedman. In case I had any doubt I was Jewish, I don’t anymore…

2. AncestryDNA

Cost: $99 (although often on sale for $79)

Includes: Ethnic percentages and family matching

Processing time: Six weeks

Overall, I found AncestryDNA’s platform and site the most straightforward and easy to use.

I liked that instead of just saying “European Jewish,” it gave me a history about the region and people. It also revealed a “genetic community” where my family had probably lived for the past few hundred years.

Its family matching feature was much more manageable than Family Tree DNA. Instead of thousands of matches, it gave me 478 potential cousins. And of those, it offered just three third cousins that were “extremely high” confidence. I could handle that!

In general, it did a much better job of explaining what I was looking at -- why this person could potentially be my cousin, and how much confidence it had in its prediction.

Because, after all, no normal humans know what a centimorgan is.

3. 23andMe

Cost: $99 for ancestry / $199 for ancestry and health (although sometimes on sale for $20 less)

Includes: Ethnic percentages, family matching, health information

Processing time: Seven weeks

As far as genealogy results go, 23andMe was pretty similar to AncestryDNA. Its family tree information and organization was better than Family Tree DNA, but not quite as good as AncestryDNA.

What made 23andMe unique, of course, were its health reports. Here are the four reports you’ll receive:

  • Carrier status: If you’re a carrier for hereditary diseases like Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia
  • Genetic health risk: If you’re at risk for developing diseases like Parkinson’s or late-onset Alzheimer’s
  • Traits: Whether you’re likely to prefer sweet or salty foods, or have a widow’s peak
  • Wellness: Whether you’re likely to be lactose intolerant or a deep sleeper

Luckily, I didn’t receive any negative health information, so it’s difficult for me to say whether the health test was worth it. It certainly wasn’t news to me that I move a lot in my sleep and have detached earlobes.

And, even if I had learned I was at risk for something, I don’t know what I would’ve done with the information. It might’ve caused unneeded stress and worry to learn about an issue I couldn’t necessarily fix.  

So I recommend thinking carefully before dropping nearly $200 on the health test -- do you want to learn this info? How would it help you?

OK, Just Tell Me Which One to Get

Fine, fine! Like I said above, all the tests have pros and cons.

If you don’t want to make the decision yourself, here’s what I would tell a friend:

  • If you have money to spend and want to find out if you’re a carrier or at-risk for certain diseases: 23andMe
  • If you’re on a budget, or just want to discover your ethnic background and potential relatives: AncestryDNA

How to Save Money on Any DNA Kit

Ready to get started? Well, don’t leave yet.

Here’s how to save money -- no matter which kit you choose.

  • Wait until an upcoming holiday: These sites seem to love any excuse to put their kits on sale, so don’t buy one at full price. If it’s not on sale right now, sign up for the site’s email newsletter to be alerted when it is.
  • Buy it as a gift: Can’t fathom spending the money on a DNA kit yourself? By purchasing it as a gift for a sibling, you’ll kill two birds with one stone. (Hat tip to my bf for this hack.)
  • Search for coupon codes: Just by doing a quick Google search, I found a coupon code that got me free shipping on my Ancestry DNA order.
  • Check Groupon: I bought my Family Tree DNA test on Groupon, which saved me 30%.
  • Shop through a cash-back site: Using Ebates, I earned 7% cash back on Ancestry.

Alright, now that my work here is done, you can find me deep in a rabbit hole… stalking all my new potential second-third-fourth cousins.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll be next!

Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She covers travel, food and personal finance (basically, how to save money so you can travel more and eat more). Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

It’s the beginning of another school year.

If you’re like many seniors entering their last year of high school, you have no idea what to major in when you get to college.

Or, you have an idea, but it’s based on something you saw in a movie, or what your brother’s friend majored in -- rather than what’s going to get you a well-paying job.

Although the end of college undoubtedly seems like a long time away -- with lots of red solo cups and football games in between -- you should start thinking about it now.

If you’re going to graduate with $30,000 in student loans, it’s also smart to graduate with a job that allows you to pay them off.

Based on data from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi), here are 12 majors to help you do just that.

The 12 Best College Majors (If You Want a Job)

In certain industries, colleges “aren’t producing enough graduates to keep pace with labor market demand,” the study says.

The featured programs/majors are “undersupplying candidates for occupations that already see big gaps between the number of jobs posted and the number of hires companies make each month.”

Translation? If you graduate with one of these weird college majors, employers will probably fight over you.

Here’s information about each of the programs, as well as the typical career and pay associated with them.

To give you an idea how well many of these careers pay, the median annual wage in the U.S. was $35,540 as of December 2015.

1. Computer and Information Sciences

This probably comes as no surprise, but computer jobs are going to keep increasing. At least, until the people in them develop robots that take over the world.

In the meantime, if you enjoy working independently and solving complex problems, this is arguably the best industry to get into now.

Many jobs can be done remotely, which means you can live and work wherever you like.

  • Gap between postings and hires (how many jobs go unfilled in an average month) in 2016: 480,650
  • Projected job growth (2015-2020): 8.6%
  • Sample job titles: computer programmer, computer support specialist, database administrator, information security analyst and software developer

2. Nursing and Nursing Administration

Have a nurturing personality? Want to truly make a difference?

Nursing might be right up your alley.  

Also worth noting: Many nurses work three 12-hour shifts. Yes, that means four days off each week!

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 242,884
  • Projected job growth (2015-2020): 9%
  • Sample job titles: registered nurse (RN)

3. Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration

Put simply: Pharmacists ball out.

They don’t have the crazy hours or high-pressure situations of doctors, but they still earn a ridiculous income.

Note you need four years of graduate education to pursue this career, though many programs allow you to complete your senior year of undergraduate and first year of graduate school at the same time.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 37,652
  • Projected job growth (2015-2020): 7.2%
  • Sample job titles: pharmacist

4. Human Resources Management and Services

The cool thing about human resources (HR) is you can work in pretty much any industry.

No matter your passion -- be it sports or fashion -- you can probably find an HR position at a relevant organization.  

That’s because all manners of workplaces need someone to handle the finding, hiring and training of their employees.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 21,736
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 5%
  • Sample job titles: human resources manager, human resources specialist, training and development manager and compensation and benefits manager

5. Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Did you take apart motors or other electronics as a kid?

Well, electrical and electronics engineers get paid big bucks to do exactly that: design, manufacture and test electrical equipment.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 18,959
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 0% (little or no change)
  • Sample job titles: electrical and electronics engineer

6. Mechanical Engineering

Not sure what type of engineering you’d like to work in, but enjoy tinkering around and fixing things?

Mechanical engineering, is “one of the broadest engineering disciplines,” according to the BLS.

Your work could involve designing, developing, building and testing “mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.”

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 16,213
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 5%
  • Sample job titles: mechanical engineer

7. Biology

This is one of the only majors on the list that doesn’t lead into a specific career.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t have a job; you’ll be able to pick from a variety of positions with this versatile degree.

And, if you decide to continue your schooling, a biology background is helpful for jobs in the medical field.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 13,980
  • Projected job growth (2015-2020): 6.8%
  • Median annual wage: $42,520 (biological technician) to $208,000 (physician)
  • Sample job titles: biological technician, food scientist, microbiologist, physician, teacher, wildlife biologist or veterinarian

8. Health Information or Medical Records Technology

Our nation’s elderly population is quickly increasing, and along with it, our nation’s medical needs.

If you’re like me -- and don’t like blood or touching strangers -- look into healthcare information and administration.

Careers in this field involve managing the incredible amount of information and people associated with healthcare.

For the technician positions, you only need a certificate -- sometimes an associate’s degree.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 13,904
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 17%
  • Sample job titles: medical records and health information technician or medical and health services manager

9. Paralegal Studies

Great news! You don’t need a four-year degree to become a paralegal. Many law firms only require an associate’s degree.

Or, you could get a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in paralegal studies, which might offer more flexibility if you decide to switch careers.

As a paralegal, you’ll support lawyers by doing research, organizing files and drafting documents.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 10,952
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 8%
  • Sample job titles: paralegal or legal assistant

10. Economics

For the numbers-minded, economics is a solid choice.

You can enter a wide variety of fields -- many of which pay extremely well.

And, if you choose to pursue advanced degrees or certifications, you’ll expand your opportunities (and paycheck) even further.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 10,583
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 12%
  • Median annual wage: $81,760 (financial analyst)
  • Sample job titles: budget analyst, economist, financial analyst or teacher

11. Civil Engineering

Want to build stuff the public uses every single day?

Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of infrastructure like bridges, roads and buildings.

A great perk of this type of engineering is you’ll spend a lot of time outside on job sites -- a perfect fit for people who don’t want to be chained to a desk all day.

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 3,057
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 8%
  • Sample job titles: civil engineer

12. Graphic Design

An art career that pays well and is in demand?

It may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not.

As a graphic designer, you can create everything from advertisements to wedding invitations, both by hand and on the computer.

Because some graphic designers eventually start their own freelance businesses, the sky’s the limit!

  • Gap between postings and hires in 2016: 2,350
  • Projected job growth (2014-2024): 1%
  • Sample job titles: graphic designer

Why You Shouldn’t Major in What You Love

Now that you’ve read about all these majors, here’s one thing to note: I was a political science major.

Eight years after graduating, I work full-time as a writer -- kind of a far leap.

My point?

Don’t look at your major as a lifelong commitment; look at it as a springboard for your future.

Study something useful, and if you switch gears later on, awesome. At least you’ll always have a solid foundation to fall back upon.

You don’t need me to tell you college is really expensive.

So you’re taking a huge gamble if you only pursue your passions and don’t think about your eventual return on investment.

You could end up like the broke, disgruntled former Yelp employee who majored in English literature and ended up unable to pay her bills.

But, you say, “I love English literature!”

Beautiful.

The thing is: You can learn about English literature for the rest of your life, because college is far from your last opportunity to educate yourself.

You can read books, take free online courses and pursue your interests even once you’re legally old enough to drink.

Not to mention, if you get a well-paying job, you can afford to travel to Hemingway’s house and buy tickets to Macbeth and order all the Penguin Classics you like.

I’m not saying you should go to college. Far from that.

College isn’t for everyone, and too many people get expensive degrees they don’t end up using.

If you’re unsure about college, check out these high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree. Or get an apprenticeship.

If you want to become a voice actor, start your own business or work a seasonal job, do that instead. College -- and its associated costs -- will always be there if you change your mind.

What I am saying?

If you do go, make sure your investment is worth it.

Don’t go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt for a degree that won’t pay you back.

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

You’ve probably heard of Airbnb, the platform that lets you rent temporary accommodations to travelers from all over the world.

You may have even been tempted to get involved -- extra money sure sounds nice -- but thought you couldn’t because you don’t have a spare room.

The thing is, though: You don’t need a spare room.

To host on Airbnb, all you need is a friend, a backyard or even a couch -- plus a sprinkling of creativity and hospitality.

Here’s how it works…

How to Make Money on Airbnb -- Without a Spare Room

No spare room? No worries. 

If you look outside the box (or bedroom), you’ll discover plenty of ways to earn money on Airbnb.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Split Hosting With a Friend

Do you have a friend you trust? Or maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend you don’t live with?

List one of your apartments on Airbnb. When you get a booking, stay with the other person and split the profits. Win-win!

I’ve been a guest at several Airbnbs with this arrangement (like this one in London listed for $141 per night), and it always seemed like a brilliant idea to me.

2. Ball Out Your Backyard

[caption id="attachment_58736" align="aligncenter" width="911"]Airbnb host "Asheville's Romantic Tent Glamping Getaway," run by a woman named Brookes in Asheville, North Carolina, lets people glamp (stay in a luxurious tent) in her backyard. Photo Courtesy Airbnb[/caption]

Got a nice yard? Then you’ve got a potentially killer Airbnb listing.

Just take a look at these hosts in San Francisco who charge a whopping $275 per night for their treehouse.

Or this woman named Brookes in Asheville, North Carolina, who lets people glamp (stay in a luxurious tent) in her backyard.

Brookes charges $125 per night with a two-night minimum, plus a $50 cleaning fee. She also provides fresh breakfast each day.

So she grosses about $300 per stay -- and is booked nearly every weekend for the next three months.

When I talked to Brookes, she said the business is doing “really well” -- so well, in fact, her husband’s going to be able to retire early!

3. Use Your Couch

Even if you don’t have a reliable friend or a spacious backyard, you probably at least have a couch.

And that’s good enough for Airbnb, too; even the CEO himself used to list his for $50 per night.

This New York City couple did even better: They listed their couch on Airbnb for $65 per night -- and used the listing to pay half their $2,250 rent!

This strategy probably works best in big cities where accommodation is expensive, but it’s certainly an option anyone can try.

How to Make Your Airbnb Listing

As you can see, there are lots of ways to earn money on Airbnb. So why not give it a shot?

Here’s how to get started:

1. Create Your Airbnb Account

Make a hosting account on Airbnb.

Or, log in to your existing account, and create your first listing.

2. Make an Airbnb Listing

Make a listing for your apartment, tent, couch, spare room, treehouse, hammock, whatever.

Be sure to spend time on your description, and add high-quality photos with lots of natural light

3. Complete an Airbnb Reservation

Now, all that’s left to do is start hosting.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
  • Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

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

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

 

Susan Shain, contributor for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

I’ve often dreamed of becoming a wedding planner.

I love weddings, and I love — love — making things pretty and organized.

So I’ve always wondered: What’s it take to be a wedding planner?

Is there some magical school where you enter as a normal person and leave as JLo in that Matthew McConaughey romcom?

If you’ve asked yourself the same questions (and really, who hasn’t?), keep reading. I asked two professionals for their best advice on how to become a wedding planner.

Unlike becoming, say, a nurse or an accountant, there’s no one way to become a wedding planner -- so read as much as you can, talk with planners in your area and then choose your own best path.

What Traits Do Wedding Planners Need?

First things first: Do you have the skills and personality to become a wedding planner?

According to industry pros, here are some key traits every wedding planner should have:

  • Organization: Juggling dozens of weddings -- and multiple vendors for each one -- requires you to be on the ball, all the time.
  • Communication: Not only will you need to communicate with vendors and clients before and during the event, you’ll also need to deal with guests in a chaotic environment.
  • Patience: Clients want their weddings to be perfect, which means they can often be demanding.
  • Stamina: On wedding days, you’ll be on-site, on your feet (with a smile!) for up to 15 hours straight.

“Many of us choose this career because we thrive on the excitement, the challenge and the madness that happens on the wedding day,” explains Debbie Orwat, founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Planner’s Lounge, a community for event planners.

“We live to solve problems, keep everything on time and manage 20+ vendors without breaking a sweat. If you can handle stress and keep your cool, then this could be a good career choice.”

Should Wedding Planners Get a Degree or Certificate?

You definitely don’t need a college degree to become a wedding planner, but majors like business, communications, public relations, marketing or event planning could give you a helpful foundation.

And while certificates might make you more appealing to potential clients, they also aren’t necessary.

If you’d like to pursue one, Orwat hears “the most positive feedback” about North American Wedding Academy. Its online “Certificate in Wedding Planning” program lasts 12 weeks and costs $1,100 (or $1,350 if paid over 10 months).  

How to Get Experience as a Wedding Planner

More important than degrees or certificates? Experience.

Whether it’s an internship at an agency or simply planning a wedding for free, acquiring in-person experience is key to success in this career.

Angelina Colhouer of The Apostolic Wife got started by planning and designing her own wedding.  

[caption id="attachment_60968" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Angelina Colhouer talks to guests about her wedding planning business at a bridal expo in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Afterwards, “almost everyone I knew started to encourage me to start my own company,” she says. “I agreed to do a friend’s wedding, and it came out beautifully. As soon as that wedding was over, I immediately booked two more.”  

Even if you can’t get a wedding planner job, search for a position in the events industry. For example, Orwat recommends working for a caterer, florist or decorator.

“You’ll have the opportunity to work at many different venues, see how different vendors work and experience a lot of weddings,” she explains. “It’ll also give you an idea of how physically demanding it is to work weddings.”

Or, she suggests going in-house by working in the events or catering department at a hotel or venue.

Should Wedding Planners Work for a Company or Go Freelance?

The answer to this question totally depends on you, your preferences and your experience level.

If you’ve worked in event planning or project management, or have prior experience running your own business, you might be good to go freelance.

On the other hand, if you’re a fresh college grad or don’t have experience managing events, it might be smart to join a company first.

If you do choose to go freelance, here are a few tips:

  • Invest in a professional website: As Orwat explains, “Your website is your storefront and is the first impression potential clients see.”
  • Educate yourself: Orwat recommends taking online courses, attending conferences and even hiring a business coach.
  • Prepare for upfront costs: When Colhouer started, she needed to pay for an LLC, styled photo shoots and a promotional video.

What’s Life Like as a Wedding Planner?

If you’re looking for a wedding planner job description, there’s no one-size-fits-all.

But wherever you’re working as a wedding planner -- and whether you’re a freelancer or employee -- you can expect every day to be different.

You might spend your time answering emails from clients and calls from vendors. You might taste cakes one day, and choose flowers the next. You might have to juggle invoices, taxes and other business tasks.

Of course, you’ll also have to plan and attend many events -- so it’s imperative you’re OK with working on evenings and weekends.

And lastly? Don’t expect it to be easy. As Orwat warns, this job is “demanding both physically and mentally.”

How Much Do Wedding Planners Make?

Your wedding planner salary will depend greatly on your location and experience -- but Payscale reports the national median is $42,407 per year.

According to Orwat, here are some annual salary ranges wedding planners can expect:

  • As a side gig: $5,000-$10,000
  • As an experienced full-time planner in a major city: $75,000-$200,000
  • As a full-time planner in a rural area: $25,000-$75,000

Since she’s new to the game, Colhouer determined her rates by speaking with established wedding planners in her area. They charged $3,000-$5,000 per wedding, so she decided to charge $2,000 for her first one.

Now that she has a few under her belt, she charges $2,500 -- and once she takes her side hustle full time, she plans to increase her rates again.

Should You Become a Wedding Planner?

Ready to dive in and create your own wedding planner job? Hopefully this post has armed you with enough information -- and motivation -- to get going.

[caption id="attachment_60967" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Colhouer arranges plate settings for a styled shoot in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

“If I were to start over from scratch, I would’ve encouraged myself to start this business earlier,” says Colhouer.

“I let my own fear and nervousness hinder me from starting what I've grown to love dearly.”

Because, although it’s hard work, wedding planners seem to truly love their jobs.

“Spending six to 12 months with a couple, then seeing it all come to fruition for a stunning celebration is unbelievably rewarding,” says Orwat.

Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She covers travel, food and personal finance (basically, how to save money so you can travel more and eat more). Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

When you think of Pinterest, you probably think of repurposed window frames and vintage wedding dresses.

But it’s actually an amazing place for career and business information -- specifically, for advice about how to work from home.

So, with the help of our very own Pinterest specialist Gretchen Lindow, I’ve compiled a list of 16 fabulous work-from-home Pinterest accounts and boards.

Each one is full of jobs and tips, and will inspire you to start your work-from-home journey today!

1. Color Me Frugal

Color Me Frugal focuses on living your best life while spending less.

We like her Making Money board best, since it includes lots of ideas for home-based and online businesses.

2. Financegirl

I met Natalie Bacon at FinCon last year, where she won the award for “Best New Personal Finance Blog.”

Clearly, she’s doing something right!

Her Pinterest game is also strong, and her Make Money board covers a wide range of money-making ideas.

3. FreebieFindingMom

Kelli Bhattacharjee loves working from home because it allows her “to spend more time with [her] little one” and “save money by not having to commute.”

If that sounds right up your alley, check her Make Money at Home board for tips and job leads.  

4. Frugal Fanatic

Addi Ganley might be best-known for her budgeting worksheets, but she also has some great boards for aspiring remote workers.  

Her Work From Home board features 245 pins with everything from blogging tips to full-time work-from-home jobs.

And if that’s not enough, check her Making Money! board, which has 1,800 pins (in Lindow's words: EVERYTHING).

5. Levo

You know we’re all about side hustles here at The Penny Hoarder.

So we’re big fans of Levo’s board Side Hustle: Ideas (and the site in general!).

“Levo is mostly dedicated to career advice, but this board has some great ideas you might not have already seen elsewhere,” Lindow explains.

6. Making Sense of Cents

Lots of people dream of making the big bucks as a blogger, but it’s harder than it looks. (Trust me -- I know!)

If you’re dedicated to #bloglife, check out Michelle Schroeder’s Make Money Blogging board.

She earned $72,000 in March, so I’m guessing she knows what she’s talking about!

7. My Stay at Home Adventures

Who says staying at home is boring?

Joyce, a mom of four, shares pins about parenting, frugal living and online business from her My Stay At Home Adventures page.

Our favorite part is her Ways To Earn Money board.

“It’s smaller,” Lindow says, “but it only contains ways to earn money that have been vetted.”

8. Proofread Anywhere

We’ve highlighted proofreading before -- and the subject of that post, Caitlin Pyle, has an awesome website and Pinterest presence.

Although Proofread Anywhere is useful for anybody who wants to work for themselves, it’s particularly sweet if you want to grow a proofreading side hustle.

9. Real Ways to Earn Money Online

As its name suggests, this site focuses on legitimate ways to earn money online.

Though its main Pinterest page has more than 50 boards focused on that topic, you’ll probably like the Work From Home and Work From Home - Expert Tips boards best.

10. Sarah Titus

Sarah Titus believes “every mom should have the option to stay home, regardless of income.”

She shares tips about everything from cooking to DIY-ing and working at home through her Pinterest account -- which has more than 100,000 followers!

“She doesn't have a dedicated board to making money, but she has tons of great individual pins backed up by tons of experience,” Lindow says.

11. SeedTime

SeedTime is the new name of the popular blog Christian Personal Finance.

While the name has changed, the mission hasn’t.

Its Pinterest page has a whopping 175 boards covering a variety of topics like Christian living, budget meal planning and, of course, working from home.

12. Single Moms Income

Alexa Mason may no longer be a single mom, but she still shares plenty of ways to make and save money with her followers.

Her Business Ideas board, for example, has more than 400 pins for current -- or wannabe -- entrepreneurs.

13. The Penny Hoarder

What, you didn’t really think we’d make this whole list and forget ourselves, did you?

Our site is already chock-full of posts about working from home, and Lindow has been working hard to ensure our Pinterest presence is just as prolific.

Two places to start? Check out our Make Money From Home board and our Make Extra Money group board!

14. The Work at Home Wife

The Work at Home Wife has 80 boards, divided into topics like “Home Business Marketing” and “New Direct Sales Companies.”

Bonus: If you sign up for her newsletter, she’ll send you a weeklong work-from-home email course.

Our favorite board might be Work From Home Ideas, which features gigs that “match every skill set, background experience and lifestyle.”

15. The Work at Home Woman

Holly Hanna is The Work at Home Woman, and her over 80 boards discuss everything from social media to coffee.

Her eponymous board is probably the most helpful.

“There is really something for everyone,” Lindow says. “And all the jobs have been verified to not be scams.”

16. Work at Home Mom Revolution

Viva the work-at-home revolution!

Many people visit Lisa Mills’ site for the work-from-home job leads she sends via email.

We like her Pinterest page because it’s all about business -- and there’s nothing like her Work at Home Jobs board, which has more than 26,000 pins!

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Maybe you dream of going on an exotic vacation to Paris or Fiji -- or maybe you just don’t want to pay an arm and a leg every time you visit your out-of-state in-laws.

Whatever it is, you’re looking for a way to travel for free. You’ve heard of these mystical “frequent flyer miles,” but you don’t want to have to sign up for a bunch of credit cards to get them.

What’s a wannabe travel hacker to do?

Take heart: you can earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards. You just have to know where to look.

Before we get started, though, here’s one important tip: be strategic with your earning. Don’t earn miles haphazardly with a bunch of different programs. Choose one or two programs to focus on, since you can’t merge or switch between them after the miles have been earned. It’s much more useful to have 50K miles in one program than 10K in five different ones.

Here’s How to Get Frequent Flyer Miles

Now, here are six ways to earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards:

1. Shop Online

It’s an often-overlooked way to earn miles, and one of the easiest. Most major airlines have online shopping portals; by simply logging in through this website, then making a purchase at the store of your choice, you’ll earn bonus miles from that airline. It won’t cost you anything extra, and it’ll only take a few extra minutes of your time.

Let’s look at an example. Chances are, you’ve shopped at Target in person or online over the past year. Did you earn miles for it? If not, don’t kick yourself. Just read on and learn.

When you’re planning to buy something, surf over to ev’reward. This site should always be your first stop when you’re about to make an online purchase. It’ll tell you how many points you can earn in each program.

With Target.com, you earn two miles per dollar spent with American Airlines, two points per dollar spent with Chase Ultimate Rewards, and one mile per dollar spent with most of the other airlines.

Now it’s time to decide which program’s portal you want to use. (Consider which programs you already have miles in, and what you plan to use your miles for.) Click on the appropriate link, log into your account with that program, and then get redirected to Target’s main website.

Shop as normal -- only now you’ll be earning extra miles with your purchase. Say you logged in through American Airlines’ shopping portal and bought a $50 blender. You’ll now have 100 American Airlines miles, just for making a purchase you would have anyway. And if you pay with a travel rewards credit card, you’ll earn even more miles on top of it.  

2. Take Surveys

If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, earn miles by taking online marketing surveys.

Two of the most popular sites are eMiles and e-Rewards. Once you earn a certain number of points, they’ll deposit miles into your program of choice.

3. Eat Out

Most airline programs offer extra points for dining within their preferred network of restaurants. And it’s easy: just sign up online and link your credit card to the program, and you’ll earn extra miles any time you pay the bill at one of those restaurants.

Here are links to a few major programs:

4. Monitor Social Media

Airlines and hotel chains often run promotions on social media. For example, you might be asked to watch a video about British Airways and like their Facebook page, and in return, you’ll get 500 points. If you’re already a social media junkie, this should be easy for you!

The best way to find out about these promotions is to follow airlines and frequent flyer blogs on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, just sign up to receive updates in your email or RSS reader.  

5. Sign Up for a Debit Card

I recommend that everyone has at least one travel rewards card to use for all of their everyday expenses. It is, by far, the easiest way to earn miles. If you’re not a fan of credit cards, or can’t commit to paying them off in full each month, get a miles-earning debit card instead.  

Though rewards debit cards are dying out, here are three options that remain:

A few other financial promotions exist -- such as investing money with Fidelity and Ameritrade -- but you typically need to put down a lot of capital to qualify.

6. Travel!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people still don’t take full advantage of this method of earning miles.

First off, you should never fly without putting in your frequent flyer number. And remember how we talked about earning miles in one or two programs? This applies when you’re flying, as well. Even if you purchase your ticket with Korean Air, you can earn Delta Skymiles, since they are partners. Make sure you put in the correct frequent flyer number when booking any tickets.  

Make sure you’re also earning miles through your hotel stays and car rentals. Check with your preferred programs to see who their partners are, and choose the best option for you.

Though those are the main ways you can earn frequent flyer miles without signing up for credit cards, the world of travel rewards is always changing. Keep an eye out for other promotions, such as those available when you sign up for Netflix, pay your insurance or get your taxes prepared.

Once you start looking, the opportunities to earn miles are everywhere.

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) has been working seasonal adventure jobs and traveling the world since 2008 -- all on a strict budget. Follow along on her blog, Travel Junkette, to learn how you can do the same.

The freelance writing life is wonderful, but it’s not easy.

You’re a business of one, responsible for marketing, writing and invoicing, as well as paying your bills each and every month.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we have plenty of information about becoming a freelance writer -- and even lists of websites or blogs that pay -- but what about earning more from your writing?

If that’s something on your mind (and if you’re a freelance writer, it probably is), here are seven free sites that will help.

1. The Write Life

The first tool you need to arm yourself with? Knowledge.

And there’s no better to place to learn the ins and outs of freelance writing than The Write Life. It has information on everything from getting published to blogging, but its freelance writing coverage really shines.

Start with a post like How This Freelance Writer Made Six Figures in 2016, or check out its ebook Get Better Clients and Earn More Money.

2. Beyond Your Blog

One of the toughest parts of freelance writing is figuring out what editors want. And though no site is a crystal ball, Beyond Your Blog comes pretty close.

Offering articles, lists of writing opportunities and a Facebook group, it’s an all-around excellent resource for freelance writers.

Best of all, founder Susan Maccarelli often interviews editors from major websites to find out what they’re looking for from freelance writers. It’s a wonderful peek behind the scenes that will help fine-tune your pitches.

And when more of your pitches get accepted, guess what? You make more money.

3. Contently

If you don’t have a freelance writing portfolio yet, it’s easy to create one with Contently.

But your Contently portfolio won’t only be a repository for your previous work; it might also be a way to get future work. The platform works with brands that need content -- and relies on its network of freelancers to create it.

When editors have projects for which they need writers, they search through the profiles of freelancers. So be sure to include your specialties in your profile, as well as the phrase “available for freelance assignments.”

Although I don’t depend on the platform for regular work, it’s always a nice surprise when an invitation to pitch a new Contently client appears in my inbox. And because the clients are national brands with big budgets, the assignments have paid crazy well.

4. Who Pays Writers

Don’t waste your time pitching an outlet that pays pennies -- target ones that understand what good writing is worth.

Here to help is the crowdsourced database Who Pays Writers.

Just log on and type in a publication.It’ll bring up reports from other freelance writers: how much (and how quickly) it paid, plus whether they had an existing relationship with the editor and how much reporting was required.

Pitching outlets that pay more is a surefire way to increase your freelance earnings over time.

5. FreshBooks

Although it recently changed, FreshBooks is still my favorite online bookkeeping tool.

I first fell in love with the platform because it allowed you to invoice your clients via Paypal -- and it only took out a 50-cent fee. In the new version, that option’s no longer available; your clients can only pay via credit card, and the platform charges fees similar to Paypal.

But, here’s a little-known secret: If you already have a FreshBooks account, you can revert to the Classic version just by following these instructions. If you’re signing up for the first time, you’ll have to contact customer service to try Classic.

Whichever version you use, don’t forgo the option to track your time. Even if your hours aren’t billable, knowing how long projects take is a vital part of setting rates as a freelancer.

6. Careful Cents

Does the thought of doing your freelance taxes keep you up at night? I know the feeling.

That’s why I love reading Carrie Smith’s blog Careful Cents. As an accountant who later became a freelance writer, she’s been on both sides of the game. On her blog, she offers tons of helpful advice for managing your finances and making more money as a freelancer.

She even has a free mini-course called No More Job Boards that’s all about landing better-paying freelance work.

A few other sites that deserve an honorable mention? Writer’s Weekly, Make a Living Writing, The International Freelancer, Funds for Writers and the goodies on this resources page.

Work smarter -- not harder -- and the freelance writing gods might just reward you with an income you deserve.

Susan Shain is the founder of Where to Pitch, a free resource that helps freelance writers figure out where to pitch their stories. Just type in a publication or topic, and it'll suggest similar outlets. Pitch smarter, not harder!

You may have seen our lists of states where you could earn more money.

Or save more money.

Though interesting, those lists come with two caveats: States include many different regions, and depending on where you live, your salary doesn’t always reflect your buying power.

A new study from Pew Research Center, on the other hand, takes both those factors into account.

By adjusting average weekly wages for cost of living, Pew determined the 10 metropolitan areas where Americans earn the most -- and the 10 where they earn the least.

Keep reading to see the surprising results.

Where Americans Earn the Most and Least

For the study, Pew used Regional Price Parities (RPPs) -- which “measure local price levels in each of the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas” -- to adjust each region’s average weekly wages.

“High regional price levels can erode the real value of wages, but relatively low prices can effectively offset low wages, at least to some extent,” it explains.

Here are the results:

[caption id="attachment_30289" align="aligncenter" width="640"]cost of living Source: Pew Research Center[/caption]

few surprises on the list, right?

I couldn’t believe Silicon Valley came out on top.

I knew wages there were great, but I figured they were offset by the area’s insanely high cost of living.

That said, the results also show you don’t need to move to California to find well-paying tech jobs.

Two lesser-known tech hubs -- North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” and Huntsville, Alabama -- joined NorCal on the list of highest wages.

Thinking about moving? Here are a few other posts that might help:

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Say goodbye to being a starving artist.

We just found a way you can work for a creative and artsy company -- from the comfort of your own home.

Museum Hack, a startup that runs quirky private museum tours, is hiring a customer service representative.

How to Get an Artsy Job With Museum Hack

As you can read in our interview with the founder, Museum Hack is turning the traditional museum tour on its head. It offers “highly interactive, subversive, fun, non-traditional” tours of museums in major cities such as New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

Right now, it’s hiring a remote customer service representative whose duties will include answering questions and closing sales via email and sometimes over the phone.

You must be a detail-oriented, quick learner with excellent customer service skills, “nearly perfect written English” and high flexibility.

Previous experience with web-based services (Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, Xero, PandaDoc, Base CRM) is also desired; if you’re familiar with them, be sure to mention it in your cover letter.

This is a part-time position that has the possibility of becoming full time. You’ll start off working between 20 to 30 hours per week.

You must be based in the U.S. and able to work flexible hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST, plus a few hours on weekends. Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST are required hours.

Not only does this sound like a fun gig with a cool and growing company, but it pays $12-$15 per hour, with occasional “performance-based rewards and incentives.”

It also sounds like you’ll have opportunities to advance your career.

“Most of our customer service representatives stay with the company for years, and move up to do really exciting things with us,” the job description states.

Want in on the action? Click here to apply.

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

A toaster. A set of plates. Some bath towels.

If you’re attending the wedding of close friends or family members, chances are you don’t want to get them some impersonal household item.

But you also don’t want to spend a ton of money OR give a gift that doesn’t have meaning.

So, the obvious answer: Make something.

And the tough question that follows: But what?

To answer that, we scoured Pinterest to find 10 affordable, handmade wedding gifts.

Not only will these options keep your budget under control, they’ll be something the couple will cherish for their whole marriage -- which, hopefully, is a long time!

1. Photo Collage Letters

[caption id="attachment_30061" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: House on the Way[/caption]

These photo collage letters from House on the Way are super easy to make. You could use the first letter of the couple’s new last name, or the first letters of their first names plus an ampersand.

All you need are wooden letters, Mod Podge, scissors, a paintbrush and photos. (Personally, I love the black and white!)

2. Relationship Map  

[caption id="attachment_30062" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: High Walls[/caption]

I don’t know about you, but I think maps are the coolest. And this cartography heart set from High Walls could highlight where the couple met, got engaged, got married or currently lives.

If the hearts are a little much, you could simply cut the maps into squares or circles instead.

3. Personalized Recipe Book

[caption id="attachment_30063" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Savvy Eats[/caption]

As Savvy Eats says, a personalized recipe book really is “one of the best gifts you’ll ever give.”

Instead of just including your favorite recipes, you should request them from the couple’s friends and family as well. Ask them to type up their favorites, plus a note to the couple, then compile them into a cute book.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

4. Photo Coasters

[caption id="attachment_30118" align="aligncenter" width="640"]hands-woman-photography-children Photo Source: Ryan McGuire under Creative Commons[/caption]

These photo coasters from The Frugal Girls are another project I’ve completed successfully. They’re simpler than they sound, and are also quite affordable.

Use high-quality photos of the couple or maps of meaningful spots, and you’ll have a beautiful (and useful!) gift.

5. Year-of-Firsts Basket

[caption id="attachment_30064" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Spool and Spoon[/caption]

This year-of-firsts basket from Spool and Spoon is perfect for the couple who loves wine.

Buy a bunch of their favorite bottles and label each with a “first” they’ll have during the next year: beach trip, dinner party, anniversary, etc.

6. Hand-Painted Song Lyrics

[caption id="attachment_30065" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Swiish[/caption]

If you know the couple’s wedding song (and have legible handwriting), this song-lyric canvas from Swiish would make a stunning gift.

That’s one thing I’d hang on my wall for sure!

7. Wooden Photo Hanger

[caption id="attachment_30066" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Heels In The Mud[/caption]

Who doesn’t want a shabby chic photo display in their home?

Though Heels in the Mud doesn’t go through each step, it looks pretty easy to figure out -- especially if you bring a photo of the project into your local hardware store.

To make it more wedding-y, you could paint the couple’s names and wedding date onto one of the boards.

8. Handwritten Plates

[caption id="attachment_30122" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Photo Source: Tiffany Terry under Creative Commons Photo Source: Tiffany Terry under Creative Commons[/caption]

Did you know Sharpies are magic? So magic, in fact, you can create personalized plates like these ones from Orthodox Mom.

You could make them into “giving plates” like she did, or decorate a few with your favorite recipes.

9. Personalized Cutting Board

[caption id="attachment_30067" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: The Neely Grange[/caption]

This personalized cutting board from The Neeley Grange requires a wood-burning tool (around $20), so it’s a bit more expensive than the other projects.

But it looks so beautiful (and professional) that I had to include it!

10. $3 Photo Display

[caption id="attachment_30068" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Diy wedding gifts Photo source: Shanty-2-Chic[/caption]

In contrast to the prior project, this rustic photo display from Shanty 2 Chic only costs $3 to make.

At that price, you could make several for the couple -- perhaps with their names, or with different quotes about love and marriage.

After discovering all these projects, I’m confident I’ll have beautiful gifts for all the weddings I’m attending this summer.

Now, I guess it’s time to start making ‘em!

Your Turn: Which of these handmade wedding gifts is your favorite?  

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

Editor's note: The job listing for the tour bus driver/tech is no longer open.

Can you hear that?

It’s the sound of my coworkers crying, as they realize their wildest dreams have finally come true: You can get paid to travel the country with a crew of kitties.

The Acro-Cats, a troupe of former orphan and stray cats, travels from city to city performing live shows to “sold-out audiences.” (Yes, we’ve written about them before.)

And right now, they’re hiring both a tour assistant and a bus driver/tech.

Does that sound like your cup of catnip? Then keep reading.

How to Work for the Cat Circus

The Acro-Cats show is “devoted to promoting cat-training awareness and supporting feline adoption and rescue,” so it travels across the country in -- what else? -- a custom cat bus, fostering and finding homes for its animals.

As well as performing what sounds like an intriguing show…

First off, it features an “all-cat band” called the Rock Cats. (Wut.)

[caption id="attachment_36406" align="aligncenter" width="600"]cat circus via circuscats.com[/caption]

Second, the cats do tricks with hoops, skateboards and other props. (I’ve never met a cat that would do what its owner said if its life depended on it, so this is a MUST-see.)

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the show involves something called a “cat vs. chicken bowling show-down.” (I can’t begin to fathom what that is, which means it alone is worth the price of admission.)

Here’s how to get your paw in the door.

Tour Assistant

The company is looking for a tour assistant whose responsibilities would include “cat wrangling,” moving props, selling tour merchandise, caring for “Rock Star cats” and coordinating volunteers for all performances. It’s a bonus if you can drive a 45’ bus.

The listing states pay is “commensurate with qualifications and experience” -- and I’m assuming it means experience with tours, and not cats. Because no amount of experience with cats prepares you for everything that is cats.  

Tour Bus Driver / Tech

In this position, you’d be responsible for driving and maintaining the cat tour bus, which is actually a 45’ bus that tows a 14’ car.

The other portion of your job would be doing sounds and lights for the show. You must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds, as you’ll have to load equipment in and out of the vehicles.

No pay is listed; rather, the company states it’s “taking bids/offers for this position.” A resume, plus a check of your background and driving record, are required.  

Not into cats? Then check our open positions here at The Penny Hoarder.

I have a feeling we’re going to lose more than one staff member to this traveling troupe of tabbies…

(H/T to DNAInfo for finding this fun gig.)

Your Turn: Do you want to join the cat circus?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.