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.

 

Matching Income to Expenses When You Don’t Have a Steady Paycheck

When you have a regular day job, you get paid on a predictable schedule. Getting paid twice every month means your paychecks are typically around the same amount when they arrive, and they show up magically in your bank account via direct deposit on a regular cadence. This means planning to pay your bills is easy.

When I still had day job income, I paid my credit cards every other week on payday and paid my mortgage on the last payday of the month. This made managing my personal cash flow easy and predictable. Any side hustle income was just gravy on top! But now that my side hustle has become my day job, my cash flow works a little differently. Here is what I’ve learned along the way.

Save and build revenue until you can pay yourself a paycheck

My first step in getting more normalized revenue was to avoid paying myself. I took the minimum cash from the business I could to pay for my family’s basic living expenses in the first few months I had the business until it had grown enough to start paying myself a regular, weekly paycheck.

When I moved from Portland to Southern California last year, I converted the business from an LLC to an S-Corp. There are some big tax benefits of S-Corps for businesses that make over around $40,000 per year, and it was clear from my prior year side hustle income of $40,000 that I would be doing more than that the first year I took the business full-time.

As an LLC, you have to pay self-employment tax on every dollar you earn. As an S-Corp, you only have to pay self-employment tax on your paycheck, which has to be a “reasonable salary” for your position according to IRS rules. I pay myself $35,000 per year, a reasonable salary for someone working as a full-time writer, divided over 52 weekly paychecks.

Knowing that I will get a check for $587 every Friday (after tax, I use Gusto as a payroll service) makes it easier to manage my monthly bills. It is hard to get predictability in self-employment, but this step helps smooth out my personal income.

Give yourself a small paycheck with monthly “dividends”

If you read my blog, you know I make a heck of a lot more than $35,000 per year in online revenue. After taking out my paycheck, taxes, and other business expenses, the business earns a nice profit every month. Even after my paycheck, the business often has at least a few thousand dollars in cash sitting in the bank.

The business pays me this cash in the form of dividends, which are just online banking transfers from my business checking account at Chase to my personal checking account at Charles Schwab.

These dividends are actually worth more than my paychecks! It’s nice being a business owner where the “employee” (that’s me) does the hard work for $35,000 per year while the owner (also me) gets to keep the profits!

Dividend payments are not on the same regular schedule as paychecks, which have to follow certain Federal and state regulations. My dividends are typically more of an “as needed” payment. My paychecks cover my rent but not much more, I live in Southern California after all, so the dividends make up the difference in my monthly living expenses to ensure we have enough cash in the bank to pay off the credit cards and other bills in full every month.

Build up a sizable business and personal savings

I only pay myself what I need to live, which means if the business earns more than my expenses, which it does every month, the business should end the month with more in cash in the bank than the start of the month. If your business doesn’t earn enough each month to cover you necessities, it is probably better as a side hustle than a full-time gig, or you need to do something to fix your business and earn more, or cut your expenses.

Because of the way LLCs and S-Corps are taxed, it doesn’t matter if the income sits in the business bankor the personal account, so last year when taxes were due it was nice to have that extra cushion in my business account. Last month, I took two weeks for work and vacation trips. It was nice knowing that even if I earned zero dollars in May, I have enough cash in the bank to cover my paycheck and other expenses for a month without blinking an eye.

Everyone should have an emergency fund that covers three to six months of expenses if they have a day job and steady income. Self-employed entrepreneurs should double that. Save three to six months of expenses in a personal emergency fund plus another three to six months of expenses in your business account as an absolute minimum. My long-term plan is for the business to have an entire year of expenses saved up plus at least that much in personal savings.

Make an annual plan and review your finances monthly

Solo entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startup founders typically don’t have a team of full-time finance and accounting professionals monitoring their money every day. That falls on your shoulders. So make sure to review your finances annually and monthly.

Every year at the start of the year, create a basic budget that outlines your expected revenue and expenses each month for the year. You know it won’t be exactly right, but it can act as a good guideline to follow. Make small adjustments and check in monthly to ensure you are on track and make changes as necessary if your revenue is too low or expenses too high to meet your business and personal needs.

You’re the boss, enjoy it!

One of the biggest benefits of self-employment is the freedom to adjust your schedule and be flexible as you want, or need. If money isn’t coming in, cut back on expenses and go on a ramen diet for a few weeks. If money is flush, save up during the good times to weather the bad.

Self-employment is an amazing lifestyle. As long as you have the finances and operations under control, you can relax and focus on the parts of your business you enjoy most. You’re the boss, enjoy it!

 

How Much Money Can You Really Make as a Freelancer?

If I tell you I work from home as a freelance writer, you may assume it’s a nice little side hustle to make me feel more productive as a stay-at-home parent. In reality, however, freelancing is my full-time job, and I earn a full-time salary. I’ve been at it for two and a half years and I consistently earn more than $5,000 a month.

What does my workload look like? I work about 15-20 highly focused hours per week (i.e. no checking Facebook while writing) and churn out about 30-40 articles per month on topics ranging from parenting to finance to emotional labor. I write exceptionally fast, which gives me the bandwidth to take on more work. When I’m not writing, I’m still working. I still have to account for the time spent brainstorming and pitching new story ideas, finding new outlets to write for, bookkeeping, and collecting payments for overdue invoices.

Of course, no two freelance writers do exactly the same thing. They also don’t necessarily earn the same hourly or project rates. Some freelancers hustle at it full-time, whereas others prefer to take on freelance projects on the side. To learn more, I decided to talk to a few writers to get their take on how they make money. Take a look.

Katherine Clover: Freelance rookie

Freelancing for two years with earnings of $12,000 to $18,000 per year

Schedule: I set aside three days per week, or about 25 hours, for freelance work. I want to push myself to earn more than my average of $1,000-$1,500 a month, but I want to do so without burning out.

Since I am my own boss, I think about how I’d want a boss to treat me. “That means allowing myself to take breaks, setting a reasonable schedule, and trying to work with my strengths. It also means creating systems to streamline things, and keeping track of the money without getting addicted to the money.”

Best part of the job: The work itself is something I love. I also like going after projects that excite me, like writing about dinosaurs for Salon. I was delighted to learn “the big secret” of freelancing is to simply ask to write about the things you love.

Worst part of the job: People do not realize how much of a hassle it can be to get paid for the work you’ve already done, how much bookkeeping is involved, and how much it really is like running a business. All of that time doing invoicing and paperwork is essentially unpaid labor. I think people imagine when I’m working, I’m writing. This is not always the case.

Advice: Just keep pitching. You won’t get work if you don’t ask for it.

Emily Monaco: Freelance go-getter

Freelancing for four years with earnings of about $48,000 per year

Schedule: I work weekdays between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, with very little time off for breaks. I’ll usually take off one afternoon per week, but I occasionally do a bit of work in the evenings or on the weekends to make up for it. The work is a mix of interviews and transcribing, pitching, story writing, and working on my novel.

Best part of the job: The freedom. I love being able to decide on a sunny Tuesday morning to go for a hike or to go back to New York to visit my family for several weeks with little or no disruption of my schedule. I also like that my work life is constantly changing and evolving, and I can work on projects that interest me.

Worst part of the job: Self-motivation is definitely a challenge and it’s important to come up with a system that works for you. I actually think the most difficult part of freelancing is getting other people to respect your work hours. Just because freelancers don’t go into an office doesn’t mean we don’t have to work.

Advice: Break down your income goals into manageable pieces. Look at your life and the money you need to make to maintain it. For example, if you want to earn $2,100 in a month, you can break this down into 21 working days, so $100 a day. “When you get up in the morning, work until you meet that goal. Then you can either take the rest of the day off, work ahead, or pitch for new projects.”

Chaunie Brusie: Freelance veteran

Freelancing for six years with earnings $100,000 to $120,000 per year

Schedule: I start work at 5:30 am and work 40 hours per week around the schedules of my four children. I work on and off all day, spending pretty much every free moment writing, and I try to dedicate at least one full day to work while I have a babysitter. I very rarely have “set” hours.

Best part of the job: I can make a significant income and still set my own schedule. I never miss field trips or school events, I go to the gym every day, and I have the freedom to go out to lunch with a friend or do whatever I want. I enjoy being my own boss and the backend of running my own business. I also genuinely love writing and find enormous satisfaction in being a storyteller. I also love how it encourages exploration. “I can write about going on a wine tour, for example, or take my kids to a new museum exhibit. It’s awesome when life overlaps with what works for me.”

Worst part of the job: How incredibly hard it can be to set boundaries for yourself. I only recently have started to cut back on work a bit after it started affecting me physically. I’ve literally been glued to my computer and phone for years and it’s not healthy! The isolation is also hard: I feel a lot like I am writing about life instead of actually living it.

Advice: Know what you’re willing to give up because freelancing comes with a price. Are you willing to give up leisure time and TV shows? You’ll have to carve the time out from somewhere. On the flipside, set some rules for yourself so you don’t wind up working 24/7.

Do you want to try freelancing?

Whether you’re interested in freelancing as a side hustle or a full-blown career, it helps to set reasonable, actionable goals for yourself. Figure out what you want – whether it’s a cool byline at a big publication or a set dollar amount each month. From there, come up with a plan to achieve your goal.

 

9 Top Female Finance Bloggers You Need to Follow

Historically, finance has been dominated by men. Advicemanagement, and other roles in personal and corporate finance are heavily weighted towards men, but the tide is changing.

Very beneficial for the world is the fact that women have now been recognized for being just as competent, if not more so than men at handling money issues — whether said issues are common or uncommon.

One group of women stands out from the pack, and that group is made up of top female writers on topics across the financial landscape.

Below is a list of the top female finance bloggers you will want to follow.

Farnoosh Torabi

Farnoosh Torabi made a name for herself as a media journalist with appearances on Today, Good Morning America, CNBC, and many more. Torabi discussed a delicate topic for women in finance in her 2014 book When She Makes More.

Farnoosh leads by example showing women that it is not only okay to take control of your finances, it is the best thing to do to secure your future.

Follow her blog, podcast, videos, and more at Farnoosh.tv.

Melanie Lockert

Top Female Finance Bloggers include Melanie Lockert, who rose to fame as the author of Dear Debt. Her blog chronicles her path to debt freedom after taking on a boatload of student loans. She and her readers frequently share “dear debt letters,” on the site, where they open up on the site and tell debt why it’s time to go.

Lockert published a book in 2016 titled after her blog. She is a freelance finance writer for an array of publications across the web.

You may connect with her at Dear Debt.

Sandy Smith

Personality is important in finance, and Sandy Smith brings it all to the table at her site Yes, I am Cheap. Smith is a long-time personal finance blogger. She recently had a breakout moment with a series of high-quality videos on Periscope, YouTube, and elsewhere.

She preaches the power of the side hustles, as she runs her blog and other online businesses while maintaining a full-time day job. But she is on the way out and already gave notice that she is on track for self-employment.

Learn about her businesses and follow her at Yes, I am Cheap.

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is the woman behind Wealthy Single Mommy and certainly a Top Female Finance Bloggers in the world.  She runs a blog about dealing with money as a single mother.

Between her own blog, contributing to other publications, and appearances in the New York Times, The New York Post, CNN Headline News, Forbes, U.S. News, Inc., Wall Street Journal Radio, CBS Market Watch, and many more.

Johnson has proven she has the knowledge and experience to lead millions of women on a journey to financial security.

Learn more and connect with Wealthy Single Mommy.

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is the woman behind Club Thrifty, a travel, personal finance, and credit card blog helping people travel the world at a fraction of the cost.

After getting into debt with her husband and business partner Greg, the Johnson family learned quick lessons about money management and living a rich lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Learn more at Club Thrifty.

Stefanie O’Connell

“Millennial Money Expert” Stefanie O’Connell is a media personality and author of The Broke and Beautiful Life. She is a regular in national media including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Today, Forbes, and ABC News.

Stefanie shares a message of “breaking broke” and “empowerment through personal finance.”

Learn more and connect at StefanieOConnell.com.

LaTisha Styles

After graduating with a finance degree during The Great Recession, and like many Millennials she ended up moving back home with her parents and taking a job below her value in retail. She eventually did find a “good job” in finance but spent that six years building her online presence as a side hustle.

After a taste of entrepreneurship, she lost one of her biggest revenue streams and ended up back in an office. She didn’t allow it hold her down. Rebuilt, quit her job (again), and now runs a profitable self-employed business. Now she shares her story at Young Finances.

Connect with her at LaTishaStyles.com.

Kathleen Celmins

Top Female Finance Bloggers include Kathleen Celmins who started her online journey as the founder of popular blog Frugal Portland. She has since become an expert in traffic generation and online business. She is now a partner running the business behind the scenes at the Stacking Benjamins Podcast, For-Profit Blogging, Frugal Portland, all now operating under the Stacking Benjamins umbrella.

Follow what she’s up to at Stacking Benjamins.

Amanda Abella

Millennial finance and business coach Amanda Abella is the author of Make Money Your Honey and an expert featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Daily Worth, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, Kiplinger, Business Insider, and Seventeen. Most notably she writes for our site Due as well!

Abella believes you should love your work and love your money. Rather, look at money as a crutch or something that holds you back. By taking control of your money, Abella believes you can reach your financial and lifestyle goals. You can do this all while having fun doing it.

Learn more at AmandaAbella.com.

 

How to Avoid Burnout When You’re Trying to Get Ahead

If you find it challenging to pay bills while saving for your goals, you’re not alone. You may even be burning the midnight oil to start your own business.

While working long hours may help you save money faster, it can also lead to burnout. This stress-induced mental and physical exhaustion can result in a lack of motivation and affect job performance, according to a 2016 study by the Academy of Management.

Indeed, when you’re trying to get ahead, the last thing you want to do is sabotage your financial health – not to mention your physical and mental health. “Burned out people will continue making the wrong decisions,” said The Huffington Post and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington at a 2016 NYC event hosted by The KIND Foundation and Venture for America.

So, what can you do to avoid burnout while still getting ahead financially? Take a look at our 8 top tips.

1. Rise and shine

Sleeping in is something many of us wish we could do daily. However, waking up with the roosters will pave the way for a more productive and stress-free day. For starters, early risers are more proactive and better positioned for career success than their night-owl counterparts, according to one study. Not only that but many people, including myself, concentrate better earlier in the day.

You can use your extra morning time to answer emails, set appointments, check your Twitter feed and do other busy work that will free up time in your day for other tasks. You can also use your morning time to have a relaxing cup of coffee or even go for a brisk walk – energizing you for the day ahead.

2. Disconnect from technology before bed

For some of us, it’s hard to unplug at night. But, if you’re checking your emails late into the night, this can prevent you from getting enough sleep.

Daytime exhaustion means you won’t function at the top of your game – affecting your productivity and earnings potential.

Thrive Global’s Huffington recommends starting a nighttime ritual by putting your phone to bed at night and then going to sleep yourself. Sounds a bit corny, but Thrive believes in this premise so strongly that it even sells a Phone Bed Charging Station that is designed to look like a bed. The goal: To infuse a bedtime ritual that promotes unplugging, quality sleep and increased productivity.

3. Schedule breaks throughout your day

Regardless of what type of work you do, it’s important to remain focused so that you don’t waste your time on distractions.

To help you get going, pour your energy into a block of work and then take a 15-minute break. Continue this throughout your day. These breaks will energize you and help prevent burnout, according to the Harvard Business Review.

4. Take vacations

In order to truly unplug, it’s a good idea to get away from work and take a vacation at least once a year. Time away from work helps you recharge and return with renewed focus and passion for your job or side hustle.

In fact, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2015, vacations can result in greater productivity at work. Among other things, spending less time at your desk forces you to work more efficiently, according to the article.

To help you prepare to go on vacation, organize your work ahead of time by creating a master list of tasks with deadlines. Then, set up an out-of-office auto responder message on your email and allocate tasks to someone else in your absence.

Once on vacation, consider only using your phone for emergencies. In fact, while at your destination, you can leave your phone in a hotel room or a safe, or perhaps turn it to airplane mode so you can only use it as a camera. If you’re worried that you may have a difficult time ignoring work emails, try installing the Thrive Away app. The app does the dirty work for you and deletes new emails while you’re away, letting senders know when you’ll return to the office.

5. Automate your savings

Every little boost in your savings will help you reach your money goals faster. So why not get a little-added help that won’t stress you out or cost you a penny?

To get started, check out Chime Bank’s “Save When I Spend” feature. This automatically rounds up your Chime debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the round-up amounts into your savings account.

Don’t think this will make much of a difference for you? You may want to think again. According to Chime data, those enrolled in the bank account’s automatic savings programs saved over three times more per month than those not enrolled in an automatic savings program. Now, that’s a good way to stress less!

6. Exercise

When do you have time to exercise? Here’s the truth: You probably don’t have time. You’ve got to make the time.

It’s important to add physical fitness into your schedule because a lack of exercise can make you feel run down. Increased exercise, on the other hand, helps reduce anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association. Better physical health can also lead to improved financial health.

7. Set boundaries

We get it. Earning and saving money is important. At the same time, your health and sanity depend on declaring an end to your work day and a start to your personal time. This takes discipline and requires setting boundaries.

This is easier said than done, especially if you work for a company that expects you to always be “on” and reply to emails late at night. If you find yourself in this situation with your employer, you may want to discuss your boundaries with your boss. For example, you can talk about times when you won’t be available to answer emails. These days, most employers recognize the importance of work-life balance and will respect you for coming forward.

When it comes to your side gig, setting boundaries may be a bit easier as you make your own rules. On the flipside, time is money and you may feel it’s imperative to respond immediately to a client or manager – even late at night or on a Sunday morning. If this sounds like you, you can choose to inform your clients that you’ll respond to their requests during regular business hours and then put your phone in another room so you can enjoy your downtime.

8. Stay balanced

There are indeed other steps you can take to reduce your stress and maintain balance, like getting more sleep, eating healthy, and starting a meditation practice. Regardless of what you do, remember not to let your work life consume your entire life. You worked hard to get to where you are today. You certainly don’t want to lose this momentum by burning out.


Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

 

5 Steps You Need to Take Before You Can Earn More Money

Most of us wish we had more money. And, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to think about what you could do with an extra $3,000 per month or even $1,000. If my income doubled today, one of the first things I’d do is book a three-week trip to the Caribbean for some much needed R&R. I’d also pay down the remainder of my debt because one of my goals is 100% debt freedom.

The question then becomes: How do you get from wanting more money to actually making more money? The answer is not so simple as this takes much more than just sheer grit. Here are 5 steps to take before you can earn more money.

Make decisions based on where you want to be.

Are the career moves you’re making putting you one step closer to your goals, or one step further away? This is a pretty deep question. So, let’s break it down into some more manageable questions to ponder:

  • How important is a work-life balance to you? For example, do you mind working 80-100 hours a week? Or is 50 hours per week your limit?
  • What’s your end goal? For example, do you want to be a chief technology officer or do you want to be a solopreneur or a creative entrepreneur?
  • What do you need to do to get there? Do you need to switch careers, get some certifications under your belt or even go back to school for an advanced degree? Or, do you need to start networking like crazy and join a professional organization or two?

Remember, the way to make money by doing what you love is to, well, do what you love. Yup, you read that right. Find out what you’re most passionate about and turn that into your career.

Ask for what you want.

Most people are uncomfortable asking for a raise because they don’t want to come across as being too pushy. Or, perhaps being turned down is something you don’t want to face. But did you know that the odds of receiving a pay upgrade are actually in your favor? A 2015 study published in Time Magazine showed that 44% of people who asked for a raise got the amount they wanted while 31% got less than they asked for. Hey, those who fell into that 31% are still better off than if they hadn’t asked at all.

Keep in mind that if you just started your job or took on a new client, chances are you won’t get a raise until you have proven your worth. Think of it this way – when it’s the right time to ask for a raise, you don’t want your boss or client to think twice about whether or not you deserve it.

Write down all your accomplishments at your job for the past six months. Figure out what a reasonable increase would be based on researching your industry and the strengths you bring to the table. After you’ve done this, go for it!

Take on more responsibility.

Now that you’ve asked for more money and hopefully received it, you’ll probably be expected to take on more work. You could even be asked to take on a leadership role and manage other employees. However, make sure you can handle any extra tasks. If you say yes to every extra assignment, you may quickly find yourself on the brink of burnout.

Ensure that you’re agreeing to an extra workload for the right reasons and that you have the bandwidth to take them out on. Have an honest and open discussion with your supervisor or client about expectations and timelines. Then, get these expectations in writing if possible.

Scale back your lifestyle.

When was the last time you spring cleaned your finances and trimmed the fat from your budget? If you’re struggling to remember, then it’s probably time to take action. Challenge yourself to find some areas in your life where you can scale back. Chances are, there are many ways to pare down and “find” money in your budget. Here are three possible options:

  • Cancel that gym membership that you swore you’d start using at the beginning of the year.
  • Cook more meals at home instead of eating out. Millennials spend close to $3,000 a year on eating out according to a recent study in Forbes.
  • Find a cheaper place to live or if you have a spare room, consider renting it out on Airbnb.

Review your spending over the last 90 days and separate wants from needs. Figure out where you can scale back and start living below your means. The idea is to start developing healthy financial habits so that you can start building wealth for your future.

Create a solid plan to save more money. 

One big motivation for making more money is achieving financial freedom. However, making more money will not get you closer to this goal if you squander it away. Instead of spending it all on shoes or vacations, it’s time to get serious about your money and your future. That’s right, I’m talking about saving most, if not all, of your pay increase. Use this extra money to pay down debt, build an emergency fund or save for retirement.

With a Chime bank account, you can save when you get paid and automatically direct 10% of every paycheck into your savings account. This way you can put your savings on autopilot and achieve financial goals faster. As a bonus, if you use your Chime card to make purchases, Chime will round up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar, and transfer the round-up from your Spending Account to your Savings Account. How awesome is that?

To recap, before you can start making more money, you need to remember these five strategies: Create a vision for the future, ask for what you want, understand the extra responsibilities, live below your means and start saving when you get paid. Now it’s time to go after your goals and make it happen!

 

Are You a Freelancer? These 9 Tax Deductions May Save You Money

Are you a home-based freelancer or do you have a side hustle? If so, you know the benefits of being your own boss, including flexible hours and no commute – unless you count walking from your bed to your desk.

Yet, along with these perks comes a tedious task: filing taxes for your business. In fact, dealing with your taxes may be so daunting that you haven’t even started to organize your year-end books or figure out which tax deductions you can take. Luckily, you still have time and this is one task that is certainly worth it. Why? Tax deductions can lower the amount you owe Uncle Sam or perhaps net you a refund. Either way – this can mean more money in the bank for you. So, stop procrastinating and take a look at our top 9 tax deductions for freelancers.

1. Home office

If this marked your first year freelancing, you may not realize that you can deduct home office expenses even though you don’t have a separate “office” in your residence. Although a dedicated office is ideal, this may not be an option if you live in an apartment with roommates. Luckily for you, you can allocate a corner of your dining room or even your bedroom as your workspace. According to the IRS, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage for the room or space that is used exclusively for business purposes. For example, the square footage of my home office equates to about one-eighth of the total square footage of my house. This means that I can deduct about 12 percent of my mortgage payments.

2. Home office supplies, equipment, and furnishings

Talking about a home office, you can also deduct expenses related to the purchase of home office supplies and computer equipment. This includes office furniture like a new stand/sit desk – my big ticket office expense in 2016. I researched affordable electronic desks and purchased one for $669 at Ikea. But, guess what? It was money well-spent as my back fatigue is now gone plus I get to write it off as an office furnishings expense. Besides a new desk, other big-ticket office items may include an ergonomic chair, a printer, or a new laptop. And, don’t forget about smaller everyday office supplies like printer paper, notebooks, paper clips or anything else you need to run your business. These are all typically deductible too.

3. Utilities, wireless and other related services

Just like you can deduct a percentage of your mortgage or rent as home office space, you can usually do the same thing for utilities and other household bills. For example, you can typically deduct the portion of your electricity, gas, cable, wireless and cell phone bill used to conduct business. Just make sure you keep accurate records and remember: Your personal household bills are not deductible.

4. Insurance

This is an expense that is often overlooked, especially if you’re a newly minted freelancer. Yet, if you have any type of insurance that extends to your business, it may be tax deductible. This can include insurance paid for liability, theft, worker’s compensation, malpractice, disability, and maybe even health insurance premiums. For example, I carry fitness liability insurance as I teach yoga classes on the side. When I used to operate a home-based yoga studio, I also had an umbrella policy, which offered my business an extra layer of protection above and beyond my homeowner’s insurance policy.

5. Automobile expenses

Do you drive your car to visit clients or meet prospective customers? Or, perhaps you rack up hundreds of miles driving for Uber or Lyft? Regardless of whether you’re a Lyft drive or a roving fitness instructor, if you put miles on your car for business, you can either claim the actual car expenses or deduct the standard mileage rate of 56 cents per mile during 2016, according to the IRS. If you decide to claim the actual expenses for your car, don’t forget to include gas costs for traveling to business-related events and meetings, as well as expenses related to oil changes and repairs.

6. Travel costs

If you traveled to meet with clients or to attend events, conferences and trade shows, you can usually deduct related hotel bills, airline travel, or other associated expenses. You can also deduct 50% of your business meals or entertainment, according to the IRS. For example, if you take a prospective client for lunch, you can normally deduct 50% of the restaurant bill.

7. Supplies related to your business

Do you run a craft business on Etsy? Or perhaps you have a side hustle refurbishing old furniture? Regardless of what type of business you run, if you sell merchandise, you can often deduct material costs. In addition, you can deduct the amount you spend on merchandise for your business. In my situation, I deduct the cost of yoga props and other fitness equipment that I use for my classes.

8. Marketing

Did you create and print marketing materials for your business, including brochures, flyers, mailers or business cards? If so, these are typically tax deductible. In addition, you can usually write off costs for online advertising through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. And, don’t forget about paid email marketing using Constant Contact or other similar channels. This form of marketing is also a viable tax deduction.

9. Professional service fees

Did you hire a lawyer to help you incorporate or an accountant to handle your bookkeeping? If so, you can usually deduct these professional fees. You can also normally deduct fees for other professionals you hire for your business, including an SEO expert or graphic designer.

Regardless of which deductions seem appropriate for your business, it’s a good idea to seek advice from an accountant or financial advisor. And, keep this in mind: The cost to hire a tax expert may be tax-deductible. A win-win.

 

4 Ways to Budget Without A Steady Paycheck

Whether you work on commission, have a seasonal job, own a small business or work as a freelancer in the new “gig economy,” it’s likely you’ll end up without a steady paycheck. Even when your income is sporadic, the bills aren’t. Use these tips to build a budget and stick to it, even when your next paycheck is hard to predict.

Find Out Where Your Money Goes.

There are two keys to budgeting on sporadic income. First, tracking your expenses so you know how much money you need and when. Second, tracking your income so that you can estimate the lowest average income you can expect–whether you’re measuring things weekly or monthly–and build your budget around that. This leaves you free to save during times of plenty and able to survive the lean times, too.

Be Your Own CEO.

Once you know how much money is coming in and where it’s going, give yourself a regular monthly, weekly or twice-monthly salary that’s enough to cover your expenses and, ideally, allow for some spending money. If you’re bringing in more than enough to save with your salary, put the extra away in a “rainy day” fund that will make up the difference should you fall short.

Prioritize Savings.

Is that rainy day fund growing? Good! Once you’ve built up a comfortable savings cushion to buffer you in case of an emergency, it’s time to start thinking about other uses for those savings: These can include building a retirement fund, saving for a special purchase, and–most importantly–putting away money for tax season.

Automate Your Savings.

Sporadic income can make it hard to get into a saving mindset. Automating the process makes it easier–you won’t even miss the “absent” money. Consider opening a Chime Savings Account and turning on Automatic Savings.

When Automatic Savings is turned on, each Chime card purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar. Round ups are transferred from your Spending Account to your Savings Account. 

Luckily, electing for a flexible lifestyle does not have to mean financial insecurity as long as create a realistic budget and stick to it.

How do you budget without a steady income?