How to Train Your Dog Yourself and Save Money

Getting a dog is an exciting addition to your life. Who wouldn’t want an energetic, adorable puppy zipping around the house?

But adopting a dog comes with more responsibility than most realize. Outside of the obvious responsibilities like feeding, walking, and taking a canine to the vet, basic obedience training sessions are a must for any dog-owner.

Having a well-behaved dog isn’t just a nice trait — it will make both you and your dog much happier. However, dog training can range from roughly $25 per group training session to over $100 each for individual and in-home sessions with a dog trainer.

It can seem like a big task to teach your dog how to be on its best behavior on command, but it is completely worth it for a loving, content relationship with your pup. Here’s how to start with the basics of dog training — without chewing a hole through your wallet.

How Much Does Dog Obedience Training Cost?

Obedience training, whether learned at home or in a classroom setting, is crucial to your dog’s behavior, safety and happiness. But going the classroom route can be expensive.

For example, a six-week class at PetSmart for beginners is $129. This class teaches basic commands like “leave it” and “drop it.” It also covers house manners and impulse control exercises.

A second six-week class for intermediate-level dogs will run you another $129. This class reviews what was taught in the first course and adds commands like “heel.”

These courses, and subsequent PetSmart courses at similar price levels, still require commitment from you outside the classroom. That means, when training your dog at home, you must be patient and practice consistently.

The Cost of Not Training Your Dog

Teaching your dog basic commands is crucial for a number of reasons. The first and most important: your dog’s safety. By teaching him to come to you or stay with a single word, you can prevent your dog from running into traffic, getting tangled with other dogs, and chewing up that new furniture you just bought.

While you're training your pup to behave, you might want to pet proof your furniture to make sure it survives the new occupant. 

Reward-based training (where you give your pup a treat every time they do something correctly, like remain in a sitting position even when tempted with a toy or food) is a great way to teach your dog self-control, as well, which is critical as the dog gets older, bigger, and more powerful.

Note: Destructive behavior can happen even in trained dogs and could be a sign of separation anxiety. Consult your veterinarian to discuss behavioral changes and possible medications to reduce the effects of separation anxiety.

Training your dog basic obedience skills may seem daunting. But by using a few simple tools: treats, a happy voice, new tricks, and using food or other rewards to gradually increase the complexity of commands, you are potentially saving thousands of dollars that would be spent on training or repairing chewed up items in your home.

A dog sits for a treat.

Dog Training Resources

You can thank the digital age for helping with the training process because there is easy access to apps and videos that allow you both to conquer basic commands for how to train your dog. Most dogs will enjoy the individualized attention they get from their pet owners.

The following four resources will train you to train them.

1. Apps for a DIY Dog Trainer

It seems as though there’s an app for everything under the sun these days and dog training is no exception. You’ve embarked on dog ownership and these apps take that commitment seriously.

One of the top apps for training your dog is also free. Enter: Pupford.

Pupford has tons of instructional videos led by Zak George, a well-known dog trainer, to keep unwanted behaviors at the bay. Simply download the app to begin learning how to teach your dog things like: walk calmly on a leash, and obey commands like “sit” and “stay.” There are even instructional videos on crate training and potty training for your puppy, too.

A big part of working on behavior problems and teaching your dog new tricks is consistency. Just like with people, a routine and schedule will help your canine companion find fun and safety as the dog learns and grows throughout training.

Pup-to-Date is an inexpensive app (free for 10 logged events and then $3.99 for unlimited access to the entire app) that can help with dog obedience and new behavior. This app helps you log all things “dog,” from bathroom times to nap times to when your dog succeeded in responding to a verbal command.

Other apps like Dogo and GoodPup involve interacting (sometimes in real-time) with certified dog trainers, but those have limited free trials and then are slightly more expensive: $99.99 for a year and $29/week, respectively. Spend some time using these apps and you may find yourself saying “good dog” more than you will reprimanding.

Insurance for dogs, cats and even birds can keep the costs of pet care reasonable. We’ve rounded up the best pet insurance companies.

2. Training Sessions Through Online Courses

The internet continues to be a great source for new puppy training. Ali Smith is the founder and owner of Rebarkable, a $24.99 one-year program to teach your dog how to respond to verbal praise and commands, hand signals, treats as rewards, and more.

“I’m passionate about helping new puppy parents get it right, right from the start. Not just training them, but also helping puppy parents understand their growing pup and so enabling the new puppy parents to become their pup’s best advocates,” said Smith. “I’m here to help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.”

Rebarkable sends an email each week with an overview that includes the amount of activity, sleep, and food your canine companion should get alongside training. You are also warned of any red flags that could crop up during training, what type of socialization to expect this week, and what your dog should learn over the course of the week.

Rebarkable is just one of many online programs and resources to check out, but it’s key to make sure the program you choose is hosted by a certified dog trainer (not just someone who likes dogs) and employs humane methods of training.

Other online obedience classes to check out are Wondrium, GoodPup, SpiritDog and Puppy Trained Right, whose motto is “Train, don’t complain.” Hard to argue with that even when your dog has an aggravating short attention span.

Certified dog trainers may come in the form of holding a local certificate from a shelter, a regional training organization, or otherwise. You can do a quick Google search to make sure the credential is legit.

3. YouTube as Dog Training Partner

We often forget what a wealth of information YouTube can be. Just like with the caution above, you need to carefully pick and choose what media you consume on the site. But — it can be a treasure trove of helpful tips and tricks when it’s time to start training your dog.

In fact, Smith recommended Kikopup’s YouTube channel in particular as a standout and legitimate source.

Zak George, the founder of the app Pupford, also has a YouTube channel geared toward obedience training and mitigating behavior problems.

Stonnie Dennis is another famed YouTuber known for his positive reinforcement methods when it comes to training puppies and older dogs alike.

These are all free resources that only require you to put in 15-30 minutes a day of training with your beloved canine.

A dog makes a silly face in a dog shelter.

4. Turn to Shelters for Help

There is nothing an animal shelter wants more than to see all its animals placed in “forever homes” with loving owners. However, many are surprised at the effort it can take to create a dog-safe environment and end up returning the poor dog just months after adoption.

Instead of defaulting to frustration and rehoming your animal, ask around at local shelters to see what behavior resources they may have for pets. Many offer free behavioral resource libraries and regularly scheduled dog training classes with behavior experts for just this reason — to prevent exhausted owners from thinking there is no way to even begin training their new family addition.

Something else you can learn to do yourself — groom your own dog. We’ve got the scoop on what you’ll need and how to make Fido look fabulous.

Give your dog a chance to socialize, have fun, and walk on a loose leash with the help of free or donation-driven training classes from shelters. You may be surprised at the high quality of training and wealth of knowledge the shelter behaviorists have. They might even be able to provide medical advice on small issues.

Dogs are like people; they need love, consistency, care, and positive reinforcement in order to succeed and feel safe in their home.

Check out the American Kennel Club for information about how to adopt a dog, resources for training your canine based on breed and temperament, and how to get sound medical advice to keep you and your pup adventuring together — in a well-behaved way, of course — for years to come.

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on lifestyle and wellness. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Information from contributor Timothy Moore is included in this report.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Debt Avalanche: How to Get Out of Debt as Cheaply as Possible

You want the most bang for your buck, right? Even when it comes to paying off debt, you’re not interested in spending more than you need to.

What you need is an avalanche.

It’s the popular debt payoff method for those who are more interested in optimizing their payments and efforts. We’ll explain how you can use this method to get out from under your own mountain of debt.

What Is the Debt Avalanche Method?

The debt avalanche method, sometimes referred to as the debt stacking method, organizes your debt payments by prioritizing debts with the highest interest rates first.

It’s best for people who don’t necessarily care about paying off individual loans quickly. It’s also great for people who like a mathematical approach, because paying off your highest interest debt first will save you money in interest over the long term.

Debt avalanche isn’t your only option when it comes to paying off debt, though:

  • If you’re motivated by small wins, the debt snowball might be a better fit for you. In this method, you pay off your smallest balances first so that you can enjoy quick victories and build confidence. Although you save more in interest with debt avalanche, the difference in savings is rarely a significant amount.
  • If you want to save the most money — and you have the discipline to manage multiple balance transfers — the debt lasso method involves corralling your high-interest debt into a low-interest one so you can pay down the principal balance more quickly. You can save the most money using this method, but it takes the most effort, as you’ll need to regularly look for offers for the lowest interest rate and monitor promotional periods.
  • If you’re not ready to commit to the structure of any of the above methods, you can think much smaller: as in, snowflakes. Using the debt snowflake method, you can capture tiny savings — like the money you save by skipping dessert or by finding an item on sale — and immediately pay that savings toward your debt balance. The small amounts can really accumulate over time to help you put a dent in your debt.

How to Use the Debt Avalanche Method

The concept may be easy, but the execution is hard. Here’s how you can get the avalanche moving in five simple steps.

1. List All Debts From Highest Interest Rate to Lowest

Start by listing all your debts. Order them from the highest interest rate to the lowest. You can record them on paper or in a spreadsheet, app or debt calculator.

You can use a site like Credit Sesame to see a full list of what you owe and to whom, but some debts you might list include:

  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Car loans
  • Unpaid medical bills
  • Mortgage-related debt

Leave out any debts outside of the statute of limitations. After a certain amount of time has passed — usually at least three years, but it varies by state — creditors can’t sue you for unpaid debt.

Your list might look something like this:

Debt Account Balance Interest Rate
Mastercard $7,000 24.5%
Visa $2,000 18.99%
Student loans $12,000 6.5%
Car loan $7,000 3.11%

Now that you know who you owe and how much you owe them, let’s move on to what you owe each month.

2. Determine the Minimum Payment Due on Each Debt

If you used Credit Sesame to figure out your balances, you can also use it to see your minimum payments. But the numbers they provide will be estimates, so you’ll need to visit each of your accounts to get the official monthly minimums you owe.

Add those minimum monthly payments to your list.

Debt Account Balance Interest Rate Monthly Minimum
Mastercard $7,000 24.5% $200
Visa $2,000 18.99% $60
Student loans $12,000 6.5% $200
Car loan $7,000 3.11% $240

In this example, the minimum payments for all your debts equal $700 per month. That’s a big payment. If you struggle just to make those payments, look at what you can cut from your budget for a little while, or consider picking up extra hours at your job or a side gig if it’s an option.

Knowing that the sacrifice is temporary can help you cut expenses and work hours you otherwise wouldn’t consider.

3. Put All Extra Toward the Highest Interest Debt

Now that you’ve figured out what you owe and have budgeted in some wiggle room, it’s time to throw that extra toward your debt with the highest interest rate.

Let’s say you can put an extra $300 per month toward debt. That would make your total available debt budget $1,000 per month. Since your Mastercard is the debt with the highest interest rate, you’ll add your $300 additional monthly payment to its minimum payment — giving you a total of $500 paid toward the Mastercard each month.

Debt Account Original Balance Interest Rate Monthly Minimum You Pay
Mastercard $7,000 24.5% $200 $500
Visa $2,000 18.99% $60 $60
Student loans $12,000 6.5% $200 $200
Car loan $7,000 3.11% $240 $240

You’ll continue making those payments until the card is paid off after 17 months — almost a year and a half later.

This is a clear example of why the debt avalanche method isn’t for people who need quick wins. If after six months you realize that it’s not for you, you can totally switch to the debt snowball.

4. Once It’s Paid Off, Put Extra Toward Your Next Highest Interest Debt

Now the first debt is paid off, you can add its payment (in this case, $500) to the next highest interest debt’s minimum payment.

Debt Account Approximate Balance Interest Rate Monthly Minimum You Pay
Visa $1,450 18.99% $60 $560
Student loans $9,600 6.5% $200 $200
Car loan $3,150 3.11% $240 $240

Since you’ve been paying the minimum on this card for 17 months, it doesn’t take long to finish it once you start going hard. Only three months!

5. Repeat Until All Debt Is Gone

By month 21 — almost two years in — you’ll rinse and repeat by adding that $560 to the $200 minimum payment on your student loans. This means you’ll put a total of $760 toward the student loan debt until it’s paid off.

Debt Account Approximate Balance Interest Rate Monthly Minimum You Pay
Student loans $9,150 6.5% $200 $760
Car loans $2,450 3.11% $240 $240

Theoretically, after the student loans were paid off, you’d start paying toward your next (and in this case last) debt — the car loan.

But here’s the kicker: The car loan was for less than the student loan, and it had a higher minimum payment.

So the car loan will be paid off in month 31. You’ll then finish off your student loans in month 33.

Debt Avalanche vs. Debt Snowball

In our example above, we paid off $28,000 in debt and $3,410 in interest.

If we’d used the debt snowball method, we would’ve paid approximately $3,563 to interest. The debt avalanche saved us $153 in interest payments over two years and nine months.

That’s about $5 per month. When you break it down like that, there’s not much difference between using the debt snowball and the debt avalanche.

Ultimately, you just have to decide which method is right for you at any given time along your debt-free journey.

This debt payoff planner app will allow you to experiment with your “payoff order” to see how each would affect your debt balances.

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How to be Successful With the Debt Avalanche Method

If the debt avalanche sounds right for you, then we have a few tips to help you be successful with it.

Make your own small wins. If you like the idea of the avalanche but know you need the wins that come with the debt snowball, create your own milestones. Use a visual reminder like a bullet journal or chart to record your payoff and celebrate when you get to certain amounts.

Be patient. You can get into debt really quickly, but it takes time to get out. Have patience and persevere through lulls and hard times.

Keep doing the math. If you’re doing the debt avalanche method, then you probably liked seeing the savings it offers over the snowball. Don’t stop after one calculation. Continue to plug your numbers into calculators to see how much you’re saving every month. It can be super motivating.

Takeaways:

  • The debt avalanche will save you money, because you’re tackling your debt with the highest interest rate first.
  • After you finish paying off your balance with the highest interest rate, you move on to your debt with the next-highest interest rate.
  • If you need motivation, make a debt payoff chart to celebrate when you’ve paid off certain amounts.

Dana Sitar is a former editor at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

V, U, W, L? Why Those Recession Shapes Are Meaningless to You

Even before a recession was declared, an alphabet soup of letters was predicting what shape the coronavirus recession and eventual recovery would take. Everyone wants a V. But will it be more like a U or a W? Could it really become an L?

Everyone has theories here: economists, TV talking heads, your cousin who’s taken up day trading on his iPhone while working from home.

But here’s the thing about all those recovery shapes: They’re pretty much useless to you.

What the Recovery Shapes Mean… and Why We’re Not All in the Same Recession Together

The letters and shapes predict the general direction of the overall economy.

Picture lines on a graph. A V would mean a quick and steep bounce back from the depths. A U would be a little slower, with a little more time climbing out up from the bottom. A W would be a bouncy ride, with some steps toward recovery followed by setbacks before the economy fully rebounds. An L would mean long-lasting pain.

But do you really care what the trends on some economist’s chart look like if you’ve lost your job?

The truth is, the recession is going to feel very different based on the type of work you do, where you live and the resources you had pre-coronavirus.

Ready to embrace your inner economist? Here’s what those recession and recovery shapes look like — and when they apply to you.

V: If This Barely Feels Like a Recession to You

In the “V” scenario, the recession is short, and recovery is immediate. It could happen if economic recovery continues, even if coronavirus cases continue to rise. Optimism for a V-shaped recovery has been bolstered lately by Pfizer and Moderna’s announcements that their COVID-19 vaccine candidates appear to be more than 90% effective.

Many investors think we’re riding the “V” upward. That’s one explanation for why the stock market has mostly rallied since March and the economy has continued to add jobs.

Your own personal recession may be a V if:

  • Your income hasn’t changed due to coronavirus.
  • You have a job that’s easy to do remotely.
  • Your response when the market crashed in March was to invest in stocks even more.

What to do if you think your recession will be V-shaped: Don’t declare V for victory just yet. That V could easily turn into W, as we’ll discuss in a moment. But if you’re experiencing a V-shaped recession:

  1. Commit to dollar-cost averaging. No pouring money into stocks based on what you think the market will do this week. Decide how much of your monthly budget you can afford to invest, and do it automatically regardless of where the stock market is at. This tactic, known as dollar-cost averaging, helps you avoid the risk of stock market volatility. Some months your shares cost more, and some months they cost less, but over time, it evens out.
  2. Look for savings opportunities. If your income hasn’t been affected, there’s a good chance you’re saving more money because you’re staying home more. Review your budget to see if you can put that savings toward other goals, like paying off your credit card or saving for a down payment.
  3. Prepare for an emergency. You may feel insulated from this recession, but things can change rapidly. You still need a minimum of three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside for an emergency.
A business man hangs onto a U-shaped recession shape in this illustration.

U: If You’re Feeling Uncertain

The economy still recovers in the U-shaped scenario. But the pain is longer-lasting and recovery is slower compared with a V. Back in April, a Reuters poll of 45 economists found that half were predicting a U.

A U could happen if we all feel a collective case of the jitters. If people start avoiding restaurants, salons and nonessential shopping again because they’re worried about coronavirus, recovery could be slower.

Of course if the economy starts shedding jobs again or job gains stagnate, that could lengthen the recession. But if people are worried about losing their jobs and hang onto their money, the recovery will be slower as well.

Your recession may be a U if:

  • You haven’t lost your job, but you’re worried you will.
  • You’re still working, but you’ve lost business or had your hours or pay cut.
  • You’re still recovering from a financial setback that happened as the result of the crisis.

What to do if you think your recession will be U-shaped: Try to be cautious without succumbing to panic. There are a lot of things you can’t control right now. Focus on building a plan.

  1. Prioritize your emergency fund. Put any extra money you have in your budget into your savings, particularly if you’re spending less because you’re staying home more or not taking a vacation.
  2. Keep contributing to your 401(k) if you have access to one. If you’re still employed, keep contributing to your 401(k) at least to the point of your employer’s match. You can reassess any additional retirement contributions you’re making to determine whether you’d be better off putting them in your emergency fund for now.
  3. Update your resume and LinkedIn. Even if you haven’t lost your job, be prepared to jumpstart your job search if necessary. Now is also a good time to learn a new skill remotely that could help you land a job or earn more.

W: If You’re Worried About Another Crash

With coronavirus surging again in many parts of the country and a new wave of shutdowns on the horizon, a W-shaped recession and recovery is looking likelier. That is, a recovery that begins only to be interrupted by another crash.

Your recession may be a W if:

  • You live in an area where coronavirus cases are on the rise.
  • You’re back at work, but you work in an industry that’s been hit hard by coronavirus.
  • You kept your job because your company got a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, but funds have run out.

What to do if you think your recession will be W-shaped: If your financial situation could change any day due to a job loss or major reduction of income, now is the time to get serious about your emergency savings. Don’t count on another round of stimulus money to get you to recovery.

  1. Only make your minimum debt payments. If you’re paying extra toward your credit cards, student loans or mortgage, stop. This is the rare time when you should only make minimum payments. Divert any additional money you’ve been putting toward debt into your emergency fund.
  2. Look for ways to make money on top of your main job. Some industries are thriving because of the pandemic. Look for ways that you can earn extra income, like delivering groceries or pizzas, or working remotely as a customer service rep so that you can pad your emergency fund.
  3. Figure out how to live on less now. Cut unnecessary expenses even if you’re still employed by creating a bare-bones budget. A true bare-bones budget covers just the minimum you’ll need to pay for housing and utilities, medical expenses and groceries, though we suggest including minimum debt payments for now. Also include a basic cell phone and internet plan. Accessing these services is key to daily life, especially if you’re looking for jobs or applying for benefits.

L: Doomsday. Apocalypse. The Worst-Case Scenario.

The L-shaped recession is the one that gives economists nightmares. It’s the scenario where recovery stalls for years — and when it finally happens, the scars are lasting.

The good news is that few economists are predicting the dreaded L. But again, shapes that show what the overall economy is doing don’t matter to regular people. If you’re out of work for a prolonged period, it’s going to feel like an L for you.

Your recession may be an L if:

  • You’ve lost your job and you work in an industry like travel, hospitality or restaurants that won’t start to recover until people feel safe leaving their homes again.
  • Your job was automated when your company shifted to remote work.
  • You’re already behind on bills.

How to make sure your recession ISN’T an L:

  1. Apply for whatever work you can. Take advantage of whatever unemployment benefits you’re eligible for, but in the meantime, apply for any work that’s available. Don’t focus on finding your dream job. Look for a bridge job, which is any work that can help you survive.
  2. Break some rules. The rules are different when you’re in crisis mode, so we’re going to tell you to break some personal finance rules if necessary. Don’t worry about your credit score right now. If you can’t afford your credit card payments, ask your bank to let you defer payments. If they refuse, you may have to stop making payments. Yes, your credit score will take a hit, but it can recover. Food, rent and prescriptions all take priority over credit cards. Now may also be the time to withdraw money from your retirement if you’ve explored all alternatives. The CARES Act waives the penalties on early withdrawals up to $100,000 for people affected by coronavirus. You’ll still owe taxes, but you can spread them over three years.
  3. Ask for help. Call the 211 hotline, which is operated by United Way, to find out about food assistance and other local resources. You can also find out if you qualify for government benefits, like SNAP, by visiting benefits.gov. Visit healthcare.gov to determine whether you’re eligible for Medicare. Now is not the time to be shy about asking for help. Seizing on whatever assistance is available to you is key to jump-starting your recovery.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

UI Extension: How to Get 11 More Weeks of Jobless Benefits

Note: This article has been updated with new information from the Continued Assistance Act (the second stimulus package).

Most states offer Unemployment Insurance for 26 weeks. If your benefits are about to expire, and you’re still out of work, a low-grade panic may be setting in.

Here are two important things you need to know: One, unemployment extensions are available. But, two, they’re not automatic.

In March, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act authorized federal aid to supplement state-level Unemployment Insurance programs, a provision dubbed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC. The second stimulus package passed in December revived PEUC, extending UI benefits for 11 more weeks.

Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told The Penny Hoarder that the PEUC extension will become “incredibly crucial” as state benefits expire.

Data from the Department of Labor proves that. More than 4 million Americans have exhausted their state UI benefits and are relying on the federal extension.

How Unemployment Insurance Extensions Work

As an Unemployment Insurance recipient, you are likely eligible for PEUC, the new extension program from the federal government.

The catch: You can only apply for this extension once you have run out of your state’s unemployment benefits. You can’t pre-register. The Department of Labor directed states to alert you by email or letter if you are potentially eligible for the extension, but made it clear to states to not automatically enroll people.

By design, this may cause an interruption in weekly payments.

Another source of uncertainty is the number of weeks PEUC will extend your unemployment benefits in total. The first stimulus package authorized 13 additional weeks of benefits. The second package authorized 11 more. But it’s more complicated than adding those two figures together and getting 24 extra weeks.

The unemployment provisions laid out in the first stimulus package expired in December 2020. So the 13 extra weeks provided by the CARES Act are no longer available to new applicants.

But even if you didn’t get that first extension, you could still get the 11 additional weeks approved in the second stimulus bill.

Pro Tip

The PEUC application is based on your state-level unemployment claims. While you must opt in to receive the additional weeks of benefits, you won’t have to completely reapply.

Under PEUC, your weekly benefits will be the same as your state benefits, the check will just be coming from the federal government.

But Wait. There’s More.

If you are unable to find work after exhausting your state’s program and all additional weeks of PEUC, you may be eligible for a separate extension from your state.

In times of high unemployment rates, 49 states (all except South Dakota) have an Extended Benefits or EB system that adds up to 20 weeks of benefits, according to data compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Provided that local unemployment rates are still high when you exhaust PEUC, you may qualify for more benefits.

“There’s an order of operations here,” Evermore said.

Based on guidance from the Labor department, the order of unemployment programs for typical jobless workers goes like this:

  1. State UI programs (which vary from 12 to 30 weeks)
  2. Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (as many as 24 weeks)
  3. State Extended Benefits or EB (six to 20 weeks)
  4. The final failsafe if all other programs are exhausted: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Here’s our 50-state guide to filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. (We include an interactive map with specific state-by-state instructions.)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a federal program that’s available for a maximum of 50 weeks, including the weeks of all previous programs you may have been on.

For example, Florida has the shortest duration of unemployment benefits, at 12 weeks. The state’s Extended Benefits program is also one of the shortest, at six weeks. The order of operations for all possible extensions in Florida would look like this: 12 weeks of UI, 24 (max) weeks of PEUC, six weeks of EB. The total so far is 42 weeks, meaning Florida residents can potentially use Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for 8 weeks to reach the maximum of 50 weeks of aid.

New York residents who exhaust their state’s program, in contrast, would not be eligible for PUA because the total length of their state benefits plus all available extensions exceeds 50 weeks. By quite a bit, too. Including all sources of assistance, New Yorkers are eligible for up to 70 weeks of unemployment benefits.

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“Taken together, the expanded benefits have had a massive effect on the economy,” Evermore said. “Initial unemployment claims are still coming in at unprecedented levels — but this could have been a lot worse without all these federal benefits.”

For jobless applicants, though, taking all this in can be overwhelming. But benefits are there if you can trudge through the paperwork and arcane websites.

“Understanding the difference with all these programs and acronyms is going to be confusing,” Evermore said. “Just follow the instructions from your state agency. The agency is required to give you information on how to apply [for extensions].”

Whatever you do, don’t lose your password to your online unemployment profile.

“The password reset process, in many states, is really difficult,” Evermore said. “You have to call and talk to a password reset person, and then that person will mail you — in the mail — a new password.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

5 Investments Warren Buffett Avoids (Invest in This Instead)

Imagine you’d invested $1,000 in the S&P 500 back in January 1965. Today you’d be sitting on a nest egg of more than $190,000.

Now imagine you were a beginning investor who entrusted $1,000 with Warren Buffett when he acquired Berkshire Hathaway in 1965. By investing in stocks the Buffett way, your $1,000 would now be worth $27 million.

At 90, Buffett is the seventh-richest person on the planet, with a net worth over $80 billion.

Want to invest like Buffett? Here are five investments to avoid.

5 Investments Warren Buffett Doesn’t Like

A lot of what we know about Berkshire Hathaway’s holdings comes from its 13-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. When these quarterly reports are released, you hear a lot of hype about the latest “Buffett stocks.”

But sometimes Berkshire Hathaway’s investments seem not especially Buffett-like. Case in point: Berkshire Hathaway’s recently $570 million stake in data cloud company Snowflake’s IPO. Buffett probably isn’t the one who chose Snowflake.

He’s reportedly given his second-in-commands Todd Combs and Ted Weschler freedom to make investment decisions on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway. Snowflake is widely believed to be a Combs or Weschler pick.

Here are five investments that Buffett openly dislikes, according to the Oracle of Omaha himself, rather than SEC records.

1. Bitcoin

He’s called bitcoin “rat poison, squared.” He’s joked that it’s only useful in that it reduces the demand for suitcases — a jab at its frequent use to transfer funds for illicit purposes.

The reason Buffett hates bitcoin and other cryptocurrency: He thinks it’s worthless. He’s compared it to checks: You can use a check to transmit money, but does that mean checks themselves are worth lots of money?

Buffett sees bitcoin’s value as based solely on speculation. “You can’t do anything with it except sell it to somebody else,” he told CNBC. “Then that person’s got the problem.”

Buffett has repeatedly vowed that he’ll never own cryptocurrency. In fact, after Justin Sun, CEO of cryptocurrency Tron, gifted him a Samsung phone containing bitcoin and Tron, Buffett reportedly donated it to the GLIDE Foundation in San Francisco.

2. Gold

Buffett has a longstanding bearish take on gold. He’s not a fan because he says the precious metal doesn’t produce income and its usefulness is limited.

“Owners are not inspired by what the asset itself can produce — it will remain lifeless forever — but rather by the belief that others will desire it even more avidly in the future,” Buffett wrote in his 2011 letter to shareholders.

So last month’s news that Berkshire Hathaway had invested in Barrick Gold Corp. (GOLD) sent stock watchers squawking. Did Buffett finally change his mind about investing in gold?

Not exactly. Berkshire Hathaway didn’t actually buy physical gold. It bought stock in the second-largest gold mining company in the world — a company that produces gold, plus income for shareholders by paying dividends.

3. Tech Startups

In the tech sector, Buffett sticks mostly with behemoths like Apple, Amazon and, previously, IBM. He believes tech companies often lack a competitive advantage. Plus, many fail to live up to Buffett’s oft-quoted advice: “Never invest in a business you cannot understand.”

And IPOs? He told investors in 2016 at Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders meeting he ignores them. “People win lotteries every day but there’s no reason to let that affect [your investing strategy] at all,” he said.

Buffett’s aversion to most tech stocks and IPOs give credence to the theory that Snowflake wasn’t his selection.

4. Treasury Bonds

Buffett described investing in long-term Treasury bonds as “terrible investments” at the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

The reason: Say you buy a 30-year Treasury bond that pays you 3% interest per year. The Federal Reserve aims to keep inflation around 2%. After taxes, you might be left with 0.5% returns when you adjust for inflation.

What Buffett considered a terrible investment in 2018 has only gotten more terrible. With interest rates historically low, those Treasurys that yielded 3% two years ago are now hovering around 1.4%.

5. Penny Stocks

Buffett isn’t a fan of buying cheap stocks just because they’re cheap. “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price,” he’s said.

So it’s safe to say that penny stocks are the ultimate anti-Buffett investment. Shares often cost $1 or less, but there’s a good reason. The issuing company often has no proven track record, or it’s seriously troubled.

How Buffett Thinks Most of Us Should Invest

Buffett doesn’t think most people who aren’t named Warren Buffett should pick their own stocks. He says most people are better off investing in low-cost S&P 500 index funds. The easiest, cheapest way to do so is through exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

But if you’re determined to handpick a portfolio Buffett would approve of, think long term. Buy stock in companies you’d want to own forever, rather than investing based on speculation or the latest fad.

Coca-Cola is a yes for Buffett. Cryptocurrency, not so much.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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