40% off Residence Objects at Goal = Outside String Lights 20-Rely solely $7.20, plus extra!


April 13, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Spruce up your home with these fun home items that are 40% off at Target!

Outdoor String Lights 20-Count Just $7

Today, Target is offering 40% off select home items! Here are a few fun deals you can get…

Get these Outdoor String Lights 20-Count in Discovery Green for just $7.20 (regularly $12)!

Get these Made by Design 5-Piece Mixing Bowls Set with Lids for just $18 (regularly $30)!

Get this Room Essentials Printed Microfiber Twin Sheet Set in Sleek Silver for just $5.40 (regularly $9)!

Get this Threshold ‘Be our Guest’ 1’6″x2’6″ Doormat for just $7.80 (regularly $13)!

Shop the entire sale here.

Shipping is free on orders over $35.

Thanks, Hip2Save!


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TurboTax’s Specialists Might Assist You Take Taxes Off Your To-Do Checklist — and Get the Most Out of Your Return



Tax season is here again.

And based on what 2020 threw at us, it may feel like filing our taxes is going to be even more complicated than usual. Which is why there is no shame in calling in an expert to help navigate the murky waters of your 2020 tax returns.

You don’t even need to leave your couch to get the expert advice you need to file with confidence. If you want to file with the help of a real tax expert, or let an expert do your taxes for you from start to finish, TurboTax Live has you covered.

Yep. You can talk live on your screen with real tax experts thanks to TurboTax Live. So no matter what your unique tax situation may be, whether you have questions about big life changes, investments or deductions, a real live tax expert will be there to help.

You Did a Lot This Year: Let TurboTax Live Experts Help You Get the Most Out of It

You probably know TurboTax as the DIY way to get your taxes done right — and it still is. But TurboTax Live takes it a step further by having real tax experts available to help with your taxes — or even do it all for you.

There are several options to choose from, but all you need to do is answer a few simple questions, and TurboTax will help you find the right tax solution for you. Whether you have a single W-2, are self-employed or somewhere in between, you’ll get the right amount of help you need.

With TurboTax Live, you can talk live on screen with experts to get unlimited advice about your tax situation and get answers to your questions.

Like, what does getting married or having a new baby mean for your taxes? Or what should you do if you sold stock for the first time?

If you don’t need an expert to do your taxes for you, you can still have an expert give a  final review of your return before you file. Either way, you can be confident your return is done right.

So while yes, 2020 was a doozy, doing your 2020 taxes doesn’t need to be. Get started here to let TurboTax Live experts help, or even do your taxes for you, so you can get your maximum refund, with minimal stress.


Maurices: Girls’s 24/7 Tees simply $7 At present!


April 13, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Need some new tees for summer? This is a great deal on these highly rated 24/7 tees at Maurices!

Maurices Tees

Today only, Maurices has their Women’s 24/7 Tees on sale for just $12!

Plus, sign up for a new MyMaurices Rewards account, and you might get a coupon for $5 off your purchase making these only $7!

There are lots of styles and colors included in this sale in both women’s and plus.

Choose free in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs.


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Deep Tissue Therapeutic massage Gun solely $39.99 shipped (Reg. $80!)


April 13, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Here’s another great deal on a Deep Tissue Massage Gun!

Deep Tissue Massage Gun

Amazon has this Deep Tissue Massage Gun for just $39.99 shipped right now!

This massage gun is regularly $79.99 and has great reviews.

Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping!). And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon.


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Questioning The right way to Turn out to be an Audiobook Narrator? Right here’s How



Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2019. 

While readers and writers have skeptically watched the fluctuating publishing industry in recent years, one literary market has caught us all a bit by surprise: audiobooks.

Somewhere along the path of lengthy commutes and ubiquitous smartphones, a market for audiobooks erupted: people who don’t otherwise read much.

This exploding market makes it imperative for authors and publishers to get books into audio form and on the most popular platforms — Audible (Amazon) and iTunes.

Enter Amazon’s Audiobook Creative Exchange (ACX), which connects audiobook narrators with books to narrate.

Like other publishing services you’ll find at Amazon — CreateSpace for print-on-demand books, CDs and DVDs; and Kindle Direct Publishing for ebooks — ACX simplifies the process of producing an audiobook from start to finish.

If you’re an actor or voice-over artist, you could make money working in this market.

Not sure where to start? Here’s our guide.

How to Become an Audiobook Narrator

Actor Kris Keppeler has been doing voice-over work for over a decade.

“I got started through freelancing and bidding on work,” Keppeler said. “I bid on a short audiobook and got that, and it went well. When ACX came along, I started auditioning there… It’s taken a little bit to discover where my voice fits.”

Based on her experience, Keppeler shares some advice — and warnings — for anyone interested in doing audiobook work.

What You Need to Know Before Auditioning

Before you spend months auditioning to land your first gig, we have some tips to help you get started.

“My voice just fits with audiobook work,” Keppeler said. “Actors are especially tuned in for audiobook work, by the nature of our training.”

That’s because actors learn how to represent multiple characters, necessary for fiction narration in particular. Even for nonfiction, acting training can help you animate narration and make a book interesting.

“You definitely have to have some training,” Keppeler said. “If you regularly listen to audiobooks and like them, that’s a good starting point. But you have to have a real desire to do this kind of work, because it’s a lot of work.”

How is narrating an audiobook different from just reading a book aloud?

“When you read a book, you’re seeing and hearing things in your mind,” she said. “When you’re narrating that book, what you’re seeing and hearing in your mind you have to then vocalize. That’s not easy!”

Because an audiobook listener relies entirely on your narration, painting the picture just right (and meeting the author’s vision) is vital. It’s a distinct difference from other voice-over work, like commercials, where images or video complement the narration.

Because of this need to draw the reader into a made-up world, narrating fiction requires acting skills. Not everyone is cut out for it.

But, “nonfiction has its own challenge,” Keppeler said. “Sometimes what you’re reading is kind of dry, but you still have to make it interesting.”

She says it doesn’t necessarily matter whether a book is interesting to her.

“At this point, whether it is or not, I am narrating it and finding the interesting bits for me and putting it into my voice,” Keppeler said.

Even if you don’t enjoy the subject matter, you can still enjoy the process of producing the book for readers.

Learn Proper Technique

Before landing her first gig through ACX, Keppeler submitted auditions to the platform for well over a year.

Why does it take so long to land a gig?

Some of it, Keppeler says, is just learning how to narrate correctly. “I had some coaching that finally brought me to the point of doing a fairly good job.”

Author Joanna Penn recorded the audio versions of some of her own books. If you can’t afford coaching, she offers some tips for beginners at The Creative Penn to help you get started.

Some tricks to consider:

  • If you’re new at recording, schedule sessions a few days apart to ensure you have enough energy.
  • Try to avoid dairy before recording. Same goes for foods like peanut butter or anything that clogs up your mouth or throat (yeck!).
  • Try to modulate your breathing so you don’t end up holding your breath. This has a real effect on stamina.

Find Your Niche

Once she’d mastered the audiobook reading techniques, Keppeler said, she had to find her niche.

She used trial and error. She took whatever narration work came her way, and listened to client feedback. When an author liked her voice, she knew it was a good fit.

“In voice-over in general, there are so many different genres,” she said. “Most people find you have certain specialities and certain ones don’t fit.”

Once you know your voice and which genres are the best fit, she says, jobs come much more quickly.

Only audition for gigs that fit your voice, and the success rate is much higher. You can even search for books by genre.

“I’m becoming a bit of a nonfiction specialist,” Keppeler said. “[When it comes to fiction], it’s hard to learn to do the different voices… Fiction books are heavily character-based, so you’re going to have to handle [those] unless you’re hired to work with a group, but that’s not that common.”

The Challenges of Audiobook Narration

Some of the work involved goes beyond just recording the voice-over. “Especially if you work through ACX, you have to do the producing yourself,” Keppeler said. “[That’s] editing and mastering yourself. There’s a technical learning curve.”

Audiobooks require hours and hours of editing, making them much more labor intensive than a lot of other voice-over work.

“What I learned editing smaller jobs contributed a lot to being able to jump into audiobooks,” Keppeler said.

So you might consider starting small.

Search online for voice-over jobs — you’ll find promotional videos under five minutes or corporate training videos of five to 15 minutes.

Even online course videos requiring a few hours of voice-over are much shorter than most audiobooks, which run closer to 10 to 15 hours. Hone your skills on smaller jobs and work your way up to the lengthier projects.

What about contracting the technical stuff out to an audio editor? Keppeler says that for what you’re paid, it’s not usually worth it for an audiobook.

You’re expected to record, produce and deliver a finished product. Any additional help you bring in will cut into your pay. Keppeler says you’re better off just learning to do it yourself.

The Creative Penn also offers a few editing tips:

  • Avoid page turning noises — read from a tablet, Kindle or other electronic device.
  • Turn off any devices’ Wi-Fi connections and set them to Airplane mode to avoid static noises. (They may be there, even if you can’t hear them.)
  • Each ACX file needs to be a single chapter of the book. It’s easier to record these as separate files rather than cut it up later.
  • The ACX technical requirements mean you have to add a few seconds of Room Tone at the beginning and end of the file.

How Much Money Can You Make Reading Audiobooks?

ACX doesn’t set or recommend rates for producers to charge.

But it does point out many narrators are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which lists minimum rate restrictions.

These guaranteed rates vary by publisher/producer. Author Roz Morris tells authors to expect to pay around $200 per finished hour for audiobook narration.

However, Keppeler says most freelance audiobook work will be paid in royalties. As you might guess, this reduces an author’s upfront cost — as well as their risk in hiring you.

While ACX may be a good place to find the work, the pay is usually lower, especially compared with freelance broker sites that aren’t dedicated solely to audiobook narration.

When you record an audiobook with ACX, you’ll choose between setting your own per-finished-hour rate or splitting royalties 50/50 with the rights holder (usually the book’s author or publisher).

If you charge a flat rate, you’ll be paid upon completion of the book. Royalties are paid monthly based on sales from the previous month.

Mostly, Keppeler focuses on short books she can quickly complete. And she gets paid a flat rate of about $100 per finished hour, rather than royalties.

“I have done royalty deals but only on ACX with short books,” she said.

“I don’t want to tie up my time, because you [typically] make very little on royalty books… I have four royalty books [on ACX], and about $20 trickles in every quarter.”

Whether or not a royalty deal pays off is largely based on an author’s platform, The Creative Penn points out. Research an author before signing an agreement.

If you’re just looking for a quick job and aren’t concerned with long-term sales, you can work with an author regardless of their audience. Set a flat rate, and get your money when the job’s done.

But if you want to develop a long-term relationship with an author and you’ve found someone with a sizable audience, you may be better off with the royalty deal.

Long term, you could make much more money in sales royalties. Your working relationship with the author also will be strengthened, because you’ll be invested in the book’s success.

Where to Find Audiobook Work

As with any freelance work, booking a gig directly with the client in your network allows you the most autonomy in setting your rate.

Connecting with a client through a freelance broker like Upwork and Freelancer offers less autonomy and usually lower rates than working with someone directly.

Bidding through an exchange site like ACX offers the lowest of both.

“I only go out to ACX when I don’t have other paid work,” Keppeler said.

ACX also makes it difficult to achieve one of the staples of successful freelance work: repeat clients.

Keppeler said the platform isn’t really set up to connect authors with narrators long-term. Instead you audition for each job. It eliminates a huge opportunity for narrators to work with an author on a series or future books.

Directly connecting through a freelance broker does offer that opportunity. Keppeler said it’s how she found the author of this series of books on Wicca, which offered her ongoing work.

What ACX is good for, she said, is building your portfolio.

If you’re just getting started, the platform gives you an opportunity to hone your chops.

Practice your narrating and editing skills through auditions, and improve from author feedback. Once you land a few gigs, use those as samples to land clients elsewhere.

As audiobooks increase in popularity, Keppeler is seeing more audiobook work appear on Upwork. Freelancers, she says, tend to be better for general voice-over gigs, but not audiobook narration.

Audiobook Narrator Must-Haves

Keppeler’s top tip for anyone getting into voice-over work is to invest in a good microphone and headphones.

Early on, she says,  “I lost out on work because I didn’t have a really great pair of headphones, and there was background noise that I wasn’t hearing. If you send something out that’s not good enough, they will never hire you again.”

Eventually, she hired a professional to help improve her set-up. She says she wishes she had done it up front, instead of DIYing.

A good pre-amp or audiobox can also help clean up your sound and eliminate background noise. But Keppeler warns against buying a cheap one — it’s a tool worth spending money on.

Finally, “You have to have a desire to learn the technical part of it,” she said. “You can ruin an audiobook with bad editing.”

How to Get Started

ACX offers comprehensive guides and FAQs for authors, narrators and publishers, so review those before you get started.

Here’s an overview of how it works:

  1. Create a profile to detail your experience.

  2. Upload samples to your profile to showcase your various skills — accents, genre, style, etc.

  3. Determine whether you’ll always want to be paid per finished hour or by royalty agreements, or if you’re open to either.

  4. Search for books authors/publishers have posted, and record a few minutes of the manuscript to audition for the gig.

  5. When you’re chosen by the author/publisher, they’ll send you an offer. To take the job, accept the offer. All of this should happen through ACX (not over the phone or via email) to ensure the contract terms are on record.

  6. Record and edit a 15-minute sample for feedback before recording and editing the full project. They’ll also have the right to approve or request changes once you’ve submitted the full project.

  7. You’ll be paid a flat rate upon completion and approval of the project or monthly royalty payments based on book sales.

If you’re just getting started in voice-over work, try browsing Upwork for smaller projects you can use to find your voice, build your technical skills and grow your portfolio.

Or reach into your network, and get creative to find freelancing gigs on your own.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a former branded content editor at The Penny Hoarder.


Outdated Navy: Girls’s Excessive Waisted Bike Shorts solely $7!


April 13, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Grab some women’s bike shorts for your summer wardrobe!

Bike Shorts

Today only, Old Navy has Women’s Bike Shorts on sale for just $7!

There are several colors to choose from in both women’s and plus sizes.

Choose free in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs.


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Piggyback Mortgage Is One other Dwelling Financing Choice



Shopping around for a home loan? Then you’re probably trying to figure out how to strike the best balance between your down payment and monthly mortgage expenses. Understanding just how much house you can afford is tricky, which is why it helps to know all of your options in advance.

Piggyback loans are just one more financing option you have at your fingertips for purchasing the home of your dreams — even without that 20% down payment. These loans involve taking out two rather than one mortgage, but can save you thousands of dollars on private mortgage insurance for borrowers who can’t afford a large down payment. Ready to learn more about piggyback home loans and if borrowing one is the right choice for you? Keep reading.

What Is a Piggyback Loan?

A piggyback loan, true to its name, is a set of two loans — with one piggybacking off the other. These loans are also sometimes referred to 80/10/10 loans, where the first loan is equal to 80% of your home’s purchase price, and the second loan is equal to 10% of the purchase price. This type of financing structure assumes you have at least 10% of the home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment.

Since many lenders require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on mortgages with less than a 20% down payment, this financing structure can help bridge that gap (for borrowers who don’t have the full 20% saved up) and ensure that you avoid paying extra PMI fees— which definitely don’t come cheap.

Let’s crunch some numbers as an example. Say you want to buy a home for $300k. Using a piggyback loan, your financing plan would look something like this:

1st loan (80%) $240k
2nd loan (10%) $30k
Down payment (10%) $30k

As you can see, using this financing structure will save you roughly half the sum of your down payment, allowing you to focus on saving up $30k rather than a whopping $60k in order to buy your home.

Benefits of piggyback loan

The biggest benefit of a piggyback loan is the savings you get from not having to take out a PMI policy. These insurance policies, which are required by most banks for borrowers putting less than 20% down on their homes, typically cost anywhere from 0.5% to 1% of your total loan amount per year. Some experts claim this number can even go up to 1.86% per year. This might sound insignificant, but let’s crunch some numbers to really see what it might actually cost you.

Using the same example as before, let’s say you were to take out a conventional loan for a house with a $300k listing price, and put 10% as a down payment. This would put your loan amount at roughly $270k. Here’s what various PMI payments might look like on a loan this size.

PMI rate (as % of your loan) Annual payment due Monthly payment due
0.5% $13,500 $1,125
1% $27,000 $2,250
1.86% $50,220 $4,185

As the numbers will show, PMI is clearly nothing to scoff at. In fact, PMI is so expensive that it could easily cost you a monthly mortgage payment many times over— in addition to actually having to pay your mortgage each month as well.

Things To Keep in Mind

Now that you know a bit more about piggyback loans, and all the savings they can provide, let’s talk about some of the downsides. After all, if piggyback mortgages are so convenient, why don’t more people get them?

The biggest downside of piggyback loans (and the reason more people don’t have them) is because they’re actually pretty hard to get. Think about it: Instead of going through the loan approval process once, you have to go through it twice. You’ll also be borrowing two separate loans at once, which is seen as a higher risk to many lenders.

These loans require higher credit scores, and you might even need to apply through a special lender who is accustomed to dealing with these types of financing packages. There’s also repayment to consider. Although refinancing a mortgage is typically seen as a relatively simple move for borrowers interested in securing lower interest rates— refinancing will be a lot harder when you have two loans instead of one. You’ll also be responsible for paying the closing costs on two separate loans (typically 2% to 5% of the loan amount) as well as any loan origination fees the lender may charge.

How To Apply

According to the credit experts at Experian, you’ll need a “very good to exceptional” credit score in order to qualify for a piggyback loan. Meaning, your score will need to be at least 700, although you’re more likely to qualify with a score of 740 or higher.

You should also plan on having enough saved up for as much of a down payment as you can afford, plus some extra funds for closing costs and other fees associated with buying your home. Finally, you’ll want to make sure your debt-to-income ratio is within a reasonable range before approaching lenders. While all of these things are pretty standard for anyone on the market to buy a home, the requirements are even more strict when applying for a piggyback loan— making it that much more important to have your financial ducks in a row.

Final Word

Piggyback loans might not be the most straight-forward financing package out there, but for the right home buyer— they can make all the difference in the world. Sit down and take a good hard look at your finances to decide if borrowing a piggyback loan might be able to help you reach your financial goals. And if the answer is no, don’t worry— there are a lot of other options that can help you afford your dream home.

Contributor Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate and lifestyle topics.




ULTA: Magnificence Field Be Stunning Assortment solely $16.49 (a $137 worth!)


April 13, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Whoa! Don’t miss the HOT deal on this Beauty Box Be Beautiful Collection from ULTA!

 Beauty Box: Be Beautiful Collection

ULTA has these Beauty Box: 22-Piece Be Beautiful Collection for just $19.99 right now (a $137 value)! Plus, you can get an extra $3.50 off when you use the promo code 945671 at checkout or use the printable coupon here.

That makes it only $16.49 which is a great deal. This box would make a great gift idea!

Shipping is free on orders over $35.


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Old Navy: Women’s High Waisted Bike Shorts only $7! »


Sperry Sneakers for the Household simply $29.99 shipped!


April 12, 2021 | Gretchen


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

If you love Sperry, be sure to shop the sale on sneakers!

For a limited time, you can get Sperry Sneakers for Men and Women for just $29.99 when you use the promo code SNEAKERS29 at checkout! Plus, shipping is free!

There are lots of styles to choose from in men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes.

Thanks, Wear It For Less!


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NEW Mint Characteristic Spotlight: Transaction Widget on iOS


Minters – Say hello to our newest feature, the Mint Transaction Widget on iOS! 

With the new Mint widget, you can now track your spending faster than ever without even opening the Mint app. It’s customizable, so you can change your view depending on whether you want to see your last 1, 3, or 5 transactions. Designed to be both convenient and secure, the new transaction widget will never show up on your lock screen. 

How to Get Started

Step 1: Touch and hold an empty area on your home screen.

Step 2: Tap the plus sign (+) in the top left corner.

Step 3: Search or scroll to find Mint and tap “add widget” when it pops up. 

Step 4: Choose the widget format you like best. Now you have a view of your transactions without needing to open the app!

Insider tip: if the line item is grey on the widget it means the transaction is pending. The widget is also available in dark mode. 

The Budgeting Tool You’ve Been Looking For

Mint is here to be your all-in-one finances app, where you can connect your accounts, bills, and more – in just one place. And that’s why we’ve rolled out new features like the Transaction Widget, the This Month tab, and personalized Alerts. You deserve a better holistic view of your financial picture, and we’re here to give that to you!  

Whether you’re just starting out, or have been budgeting for a while, the Mint widget empowers you to quickly access your finances any time, any place – within seconds. With the transaction widgets, tracking your spending has never been easier. 

Try it out for yourself to stay on top of your finances!

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Annemarie Belda (14 Posts)

Annemarie Belda is the communications manager for Intuit Mint. She is passionate about helping readers achieve their financial goals from starting a savings account to financial freedom.