How to Work in the Gig Economy and Still Reach Your Money Goals

Working in the gig economy offers some great perks. For starters, you get the flexibility of setting your own hours. Plus, you can often find gigs instantly using an app rather than prospecting new work yourself.

Nearly one in four Americans have earned money in the gig or “platform economy” over the last year, according to Pew Research Center. Some pick up side jobs for extra cash to pad their savings accounts. Others earn a full-time income working multiple gigs. Yet, while the flexibility of working when you want is certainly appealing, a side hustle doesn’t result in a steady paycheck arriving in your bank account every two weeks. And, this inconsistent income stream can make it harder to reach your money goals.

Here are 4 tips to help you take advantage of the gig economy while still achieving your financial goals.

Track Your Cash Flow with a Budget

Having a budget is one of the fundamentals of personal finance. And, when you work in the gig economy with an irregular income, it’s even more important to create a budget to better track your cash flow.

First off, figure out how much money you have coming in each month. From there, compile all of your monthly expenses. This will help you understand how much money you need to cover your monthly nut. By tracking your money and spending habits, you’ll be able to get a snapshot look at where your cash is going and find areas where you may be able to cut back. For instance, maybe you spend a little too much on fast food or entertainment. Yet, once you see this clearly, you can opt to cut down on the number of times you eat out on Taco Tuesday.

Set Savings Goals

Saving money for multiple goals can feel like an insurmountable task, Yet, with a little know-how and planning, you can do it!

The first savings goal you should have is to build an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a savings fund that should be used only to pay for unexpected expenses and well, emergencies. Experts recommend saving three to six months worth of expenses in a rainy day fund and it’s never too late to start one. If you work in the gig economy, an emergency fund may come in particularly handy. For example, if you go through a dry spell and jobs are scarce, you may need to tap into your emergency fund to help cover your monthly expenses during this time of low employment.

In addition to an emergency fund, this is a good time to start boosting your regular savings account by automating. If you’re a Chime member, for example, you can enroll in the Automatic Savings Program to save money with every single debit card transaction. Every time you make a purchase using your card, Chime rounds up that amount to the nearest dollar and then deposits that round-up amount into your Savings account.

Grow Your Money Through Investing

Many companies offer their employees a company-sponsored 401(k) plan to save for retirement. If your employer offers a 401(k), you should definitely take advantage of this benefit. But, if you are your own boss working in the gig economy, you may not have the option of a 401(k). No worries; there are other ways to save for retirement.

Self-employed and independent contractors can save for retirement by opening up various types of individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Do your homework to figure out the best IRA option for you.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t want to work forever. Saving for your retirement starting right now will help you grow your wealth – allowing you to relax in your golden years.

Be Prepared for Taxes

Although it’s exciting when you start getting paid for your gig work, it’s important to remember that you still have to set some money aside to pay taxes on your earnings.

Yup. When you’re the boss, no one automatically deducts taxes from your paycheck. How much will you need to pay? There is no one answer to this question. So for this reason, you’ll need to do your research to figure out the right amount. To help you get into the practice of setting money aside, try automating your savings. If you sign up for a Chime account, you can automatically direct 10% of every paycheck into your savings account as soon as you get paid.

Indeed, putting money away with every paycheck will save you a lot of stress come tax time.

Final Thoughts

As we move into a new year, there’s no time like the present to investigate new ways to earn money or grow your wealth. With a little planning and foresight, you can be on your way to successfully work in the gig economy and reaching your financial goals.

 

How I Kickstarted My First Emergency Fund

If your car breaks down or you lose your job tomorrow, do you have anything to fall back on? What if you get sick and can’t work for an extended period of time?

No one wants to think about these unfortunate events, but emergencies happen and this can mean unexpected expenses. If you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck and ready to become more financially stable, you should build a solid emergency fund.

An emergency fund acts as your first line of defense when you’re faced with unplanned and urgent expenses. Financial experts recommend saving anywhere from three to six months worth of expenses, which can be difficult and take some time. If you’re currently in debt, financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends saving at least $1,000. With that said, more than a quarter of all Americans have no emergency fund and more than half don’t have enough money saved up to cover a $500 expense.

Want to make sure you’re able to pay for your unexpected expenses? Read on to learn more.

The Importance Of Having Emergency Savings During Debt Payoff

When I was waist deep in debt and eager to pay it all off, I knew I needed to build a small emergency fund first. Why? Because if a random expense popped up, I wouldn’t have to incur more debt to pay for it.

An emergency fund also protects your cash flow and allows you to keep making debt payments. This, in turn, helps you work toward your other financial goals.

How much you decide to save is totally up to your needs and preferences. The best thing you can do is break down your big savings goal into bite-sized pieces. For example, I truly wanted a $10,000 emergency fund but decided to challenge myself to save one-quarter of that amount, which still made me feel comfortable during my debt payoff. I achieved this goal.

I established a $2,500 emergency fund during my first year of serious debt repayment. I did this in just four months. How? I did one thing that I recommend you do as well. I started paying myself first.

Start Paying Yourself First

Building an emergency fund fast is no easy feat, but when you commit to paying yourself first, it becomes more manageable. Not only that but you’ll be more likely to get the results you crave. It worked for me and it can work for you too.

The concept of paying yourself first is simple and refers to sending money straight to personal or retirement savings as soon as you get paid. Think about the first thing you do when you receive your paycheck. Do you pay all your bills? Or, do you go out for a nice dinner or buy something you want? You may think that you’re doing these things to take care of yourself, but you’re actually depleting your own funds by trading your money for unnecessary resources and services. Instead, you can keep more of your money in your possession by paying yourself first. After that, you can feed your emergency fund, save for retirement, and contribute to other savings accounts.

Many people claim they don’t have enough money to save and can’t afford to build an emergency fund. When you pay yourself first, however, that excuse goes right out the window because you’re prioritizing your own personal savings over other expenses. Before I started paying myself first, I would spend money on everything under the sun when I got paid. Then I would wonder why I had no money left to set aside in a savings account at the end of the month.

I realized my process was flawed and I would never reach my emergency fund goal this way. Instead, I set up automatic transfers to a high-yield savings account every two weeks on the same day I got paid from my job. Automating essentially meant my money was out of sight, out of mind while I effortlessly grew my account each month.

Next Steps

Once you commit to the idea of paying yourself first to grow your emergency fund, set a clear goal based on your needs. For example, how much do you wish to save and how long do you expect it to take?

Also, make sure you consider lowering your expenses, especially if you’re not used to prioritizing savings. Odds are, you will have to adjust your lifestyle and give up some expenditures in order to save more money. While you’re at it, don’t forget about increasing your income. I got a side hustle to help me build my emergency savings and pay off debt faster.

Commit to YOU

While you’re building your emergency fund and paying off your debt, keep in mind that having extra income won’t solve all your problems. You’ve got to take the first step: pay yourself first.

If you don’t do this, you run the risk of mismanaging the extra money you make, making impulse purchases and inflating your lifestyle. But, if you commit to yourself, you’ll develop a solid emergency fund faster as failure or procrastination isn’t an option.

Are you ready to grow your emergency fund by paying yourself first?

 

How to Budget for Love

I don’t care what hardcore romantics say. You can put a price on love. In fact, with more single people than ever in the U.S., singles are throwing down some serious dough in search of a soulmate — or just a suitable partner.

Let’s look at some numbers, shall we? For starters, dating services alone make up a $3 billion dollar industry. And according to a Match.com survey, the average single person in the U.S. spent $1,596 on dating in 2016.

As it may take you months —  or even years —  to find love, you may want to sock away some funds for dating. Take a look at 4 cost centers to factor into your “love” budget:

1. Dating Site Subscriptions

While there is no shortage of free dating apps — Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish for starters — you might consider signing up for a paid dating site. Those who pay for a dating service tend to be more serious about finding a partner, after all. Prices vary depending on the dating service and subscription you choose. Popular dating site eHarmony, for example, charges $39.95 a month for a three-month subscription. But, if you opt for a six-month subscription, it’s $29.95 a month, which works out to $180 for half a year.

If you have more cash than time to find love, you can link up with one of those elite matchmaking services, such as Kelleher International. These services, which oftentimes include coaching too, can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 (yes, count those zeros) a year.

2. Dates

Whether you grab drinks at a bar, partake in fancy dinners, or buy tickets to see one of your favorite bands, dates add up quickly. Unsurprisingly, according to the Match.com survey, men spent $1,855 a year on average, compared to $1,423 spent by women on dating. This includes everything from dating subscriptions, new outfits, entrance fees to clubs, and beautifying oneself.

While you can go splitsies, there will still be times when you’ll want to treat your date. And let’s not forget those expensive “let’s kiss and makeup” reconciliation steak dinners out (they do happen).

3. Weekend Getaways

When you’re dating, don’t forget about those impromptu weekend trips. While it depends on what you and your partners want to do, it’s safe to budget $1,000 a year or more on trips with your boo — based on my personal experiences. And, if you are in a long-distance relationship, you’ll need to factor in travel expenses to spend quality time with your significant other.

When I was dating more actively, my partners and I would go on trips at least several times a year. This easily added up to at least a thousand bucks a year in travel, which included long weekend getaways up the California Coast, friends’ weddings, or a short summer stay in other parts of the country. 

4. Special Occasions

According to the National Retail Federation, a person can spend about $136.47 on Valentine’s Day. So, it’s not surprising that you might want to budget for getaways and gifts for occasions like birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries.

Depending on your relationship dynamic, spending money on special occasions can be negotiable. One of my exes and I actually moved our anniversary celebration date so that it wouldn’t bump against a month that was super crowded with birthdays or major money-burning holidays like Christmas. This way we could allocate ample time and money to celebrate our anniversary.

Save for Love to Alleviate Stress

If you’re actively dating or plan to start the process soon, you can start to save up for these expenses by adding a bit of padding to your discretionary spending each month, or, better yet, start earmarking money into a dating fund. The search for romance is rarely easy, and expenses can quickly balloon. However, setting aside some funds for dating will alleviate some of the stress that comes with romantic courtship.

 

Mint Now Supports Chime Bank Accounts

Over the past year, hundreds of Chime Members have written to let us know about their interest in linking their Chime account to Mint. In fact, it’s been one of the most popular requests we’ve received from the Chime community.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that Chime is now a supported account in Mint!

We couldn’t have gotten here without you: Mint looks to requests from the community in order to decide which new accounts to support. Thank you for telling companies like Mint that Chime is an important part of your financial lives.

At Chime, we’re dedicated to building a seamless and connected banking experience. We’re thrilled to work like-minded companies such as Mint that share a mission to help our Members build better financial habits. We’ll continue to work every day to make it easy for Members to connect a wide range of financial services, both traditional and emerging, to become your central hub for achieving financial wellness.

Do you have any suggestions for future Chime integrations? Let us know in the comments!


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