Tag: Freelance

 

How to Launch Your Holiday Side Hustle

‘Tis the season to start a side hustle.

Indeed, launching a side gig as we move into the busy and expensive holiday season can help you earn extra money to buy gifts, travel to visit family, host a Christmas or New Year’s party, and more. Best of all, since your new side hustle may be seasonal, you can move onto a new endeavor once January hits – if you want.

With so many holiday-related side hustle options, it can be tough to decide where to start turning your idea into hard cold cash. Luckily for you, we’re to help you launch and grow your side business this holiday season. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Where to Find Holiday Side Gigs

As it turns out, no one is going to knock on your door and beg you to be the mall Santa Claus. Here are a few places to start your job search:

  • Online job search: Look up “seasonal” and “holiday jobs” in job search engines like Indeed.com and Monster.com. If your community offers online job listings, don’t forget to check there too.
  • Established side gig platforms: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when starting your hustle. Instead, use gig platforms like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Shipt, TaskRabbit, and more.
  • Ask around: Keep your ear to the ground for money-making opportunities. Does your roommate complain about being swamped as a bartender? Ask if his manager will hire seasonal help. Is your aunt stressing about throwing the office holiday party? Offer to be the shopper, caterer, DJ or decorator. Look for a way to fill existing needs.
  • Strike out on your own: If the above suggestions don’t fit your ideal gig, don’t be afraid to create something unique. Your customized stockings or mobile dog grooming biz may be the ticket to extra dough. There is no guarantee for success, but you won’t know until you try.

Picking the Right Side Gig Idea

To set yourself up for success, you first need to choose a gig that aligns with your talents and lifestyle. Don’t pick something your co-worker or friend is doing just because they’re successful at it. Instead, brainstorm a list of possible holiday money-making ideas, even silly ones. Next, ask yourself these five questions:

  • Is this a job I can sustain for several hours without burning out? Ideally, you’ll be passionate about your side hustle, but let’s be real: Not many folks love shoveling snow (but you may be one of the few who does!) Pick a job that you will enjoy and that fits your lifestyle.
  • Is money the only benefit? Answering yes is not essential here. But, fulfilling a need outside of finances will keep you motivated. For example, money may not motivate you if your side gig is wrapping holiday presents, but perhaps you love your co-workers or helping customers pick out the perfect wrapping paper.
  • Do you have enough time or bandwidth to do this? Before you take on a side gig, you may want to consider whether it will interfere with your full-time job or deplete you completely of family time. Even if you have the time, you should evaluate if you have the mental or physical bandwidth to take on another job. Think about it: Added hours of freelance writing may not work for you after a long day of mentally-taxing work. So, respect your limits.
  • Is this something you are good at? Choose something you are already skilled at. For example, if you love knitting sweaters or taking family photographs, perhaps you can start a business selling hand-knit sweaters on Etsy or taking holiday family portraits.
  • Can you afford to start this business? While you can start driving for Uber or Lyft right away if you have a reliable car, other side hustles may require an initial investment. So, before launching a new gig, research and calculate all the costs associated with the new venture. Something to consider: Do you have to buy into a membership or purchase a large order of product or supplies to start? If your answer is yes and you don’t have money available in your savings account, then this may not be the right side gig for you right now.

How to Launch (on a Budget)

If you choose to launch a side hustle that isn’t tied into an existing app infrastructure (like a ride service or renting a room on Airbnb), figure out who your ideal client is. For example, are you selling customized holiday sweaters for an ugly sweater party? If so, your target customer may be college students or millennials rather than older generations. Similarly, if you are selling customized art for children, your best clients may be grandparents.

From here, you can then figure out how to go to market with a website and advertising. You may also want to research other costs like printing for business cards and brochures, logo design, and high-speed Internet. For service-based gigs, see if you can land a client or two before investing in any tools.

Remember, you can always add on as you go. For now, concentrate on making your services look presentable and start hustling.

How to Drive Customers

Now that you’ve started a great side gig, it’s time to keep the momentum going. Here are a few budget-friendly ways to attract customers:

  • If your business is local, then get the word out locally. Go to where your target client shops or hangs out. For example, if you plan babysit, advertise at your local library, community center or via Facebook moms groups. If you are offering winterizing services, go door-to-door and advertise on local Facebook groups.
  • For product-based gigs, use both online and offline platforms. If you have a physical item to sell, then research the best way to sell it. For crafts or sweet treats, for example, you can sell at local craft fairs while using social media to expand your reach. You can also sell crafts through Etsy or Shopify.
  • For service-based gigs, networking is key. Let your family and friends know about your new side gig. Ask them to refer you to their networks. Consider offering discounted services to attract your first few customers. Build your portfolio from there.
  • Don’t miss out on follow-up business. Once you have a customer base, it’s time to turn those one-time customers into repeat customers. For example, if someone hires you to hang Christmas lights, you can perhaps also take the lights down come January. Offering a discount to repeat customers can also help you turn a one-time gig into a regular business.

Keep the Holiday Gig Going

While some holiday hustles, like delivering Christmas trees or hanging lights, are truly seasonal gigs, other jobs may be year-round opportunities. So, while you’re getting your side hustle off the ground, think about ways to keep this business going after the holidays are in the rear-view mirror.

Regardless of whether you run your side gig every holiday season, just this year or all year-round, with a little bit of creativity and commitment, you’ll be on your way to banking more cash.

 

The Rise of the Holiday Side Hustle

It’s autumn and you know what that means? Time to increase your budget as the holidays get closer. Before you know it Thanksgiving will be here and then, of course, there’s Christmas.

Holidays are not cheap and you may have to start stashing more money into your savings account – starting right now.

While creating a budget for holiday spending will help you build up a cash reserve, there’s yet another key way to generate extra money: Get a side hustle. Indeed, holiday season side hustling is the new “in” thing.

Want to learn more about how a side hustle can help you pay for your holiday expenses and achieve your money goals? Read on to learn more.

How Popular is the Holiday Side Hustle?

Holiday temporary jobs are nothing new. Many families need to increase their income as this time of year approaches. Taking on a part-time weekend or evening job to help out is a common solution. During the fall season, side hustles tend to pick up, especially when it comes to flexible gigs like driving for a ride service, walking dogs or mystery shopping.

In 2017, about 44 million Americans reported that they had a side hustle or second job during the holidays, and that number is increasing every year. In fact, by 2020, about 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.

So, how can a side hustle during the holidays help you? Take a look:

  • You’ll Have More Cash Flow

Eighty-one percent of people who side hustle do so to earn more money and the average monthly income from a side hustle is about $686. While there are many side hustles that can be done around the holidays, including working retail or selling items online, the best side hustle for you is a gig you enjoy that helps you earn extra cash.

  • You’ll Have Financial Security

With nearly four in 10 Americans side hustling, it’s safe to say that secondary sources of income are going to continue growing. In fact, Gen Xers and Millennials are leading the pack with more than seven out of 10 of them side hustling. The reason? A side gig offers financial security, especially around the holidays when expenses start rising.

In recent years, some companies have even resorted to layoffs during the holiday season, sometimes just a few weeks before or after Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the fear and anticipation of not being fully secure in 9-to-5 jobs, Americans are now ramping up their side hustles.

Indeed, by taking on a second gig over the holiday season, this gives you an opportunity to save more money, readily pay for holiday gifts, and not worry about whether you’ll have enough cash to pay your bills on time.

  • You Can Avoid Accumulating Debt

Did you know that the average American will rack up about $1,000 or more during the holidays? In the age of instant gratification and expensive technology, more people are turning to credit cards and personal loans  just to have enough money to buy Christmas presents.

However, if you have a side hustle, you can avoid this debt trap. Budgeting and saving can only do so much, especially when the average household has over $5,000 in credit card debt. So, maybe this is the year you should try out that side hustle you’ve been considering. It sure beats staring at an exorbitant credit card bill come January.

  • You Can Put Your Skills to Use

Regardless of what type of side hustle you choose, try to find something you’re good at.

For example, are you a skilled handyman? Maybe you can pick up some side gigs fixing things for your neighbors or assembling furniture. Or, are you a talented graphic artist? Maybe you can take on some clients on the side and help them redesign their logos or brochures.

By doing something you love, your side hustle will help you in more ways than one: You’ll have renewed job satisfaction and you’ll earn enough dough to buy your holiday gifts without stressing about how you’ll pay for them.

Should you join the hype?

With side hustles offering the freedom and the ability to earn extra cash, it comes as no surprise that they are becoming increasingly common.

Starting a side hustle to earn extra dough is a great idea any time of the year, but especially leading up to the holiday season. Are you ready to do the holiday side hustle and start saving more money today?

 

How Freelancers Can Balance Business and Personal Finances

Handling and organizing money is essential to your survival and growth as a freelancer. Many people will talk to you about how to increase your freelance rates, or where to look for more work. But how to actually handle the money you’re bringing in? No one really talks about that.

How you organize the money that you earn, and how you use it to live your life outside of work is probably the most important skill that you can have. Here’s how freelancers can balance business and personal finances.

Set Up a Business Account

The first step for any freelancers, no matter the type of work they’re doing, is to set up a business bank account for themselves. It’s very easy; simply apply for an EIN for free, and then use that to open a bank account for your business income.

Keeping your business and personal finances separate will help you organized from the start. It’s only getting more common to get paid online– having a business account offers some privacy and protection for your personal funds.

Know Your Tax Burden

Taxes have to be paid no matter what. That’s why understanding how much you owe for quarterly taxes and for your annual tax burden throughout the year. It’s very painful to have to pull money out of your personal finances to pay your business tax debt.

You can estimate your quarterly taxes here, and should always make payments. Your freelance business is not a hobby- if you can’t pay for it from the profits of your work you need to reassess how you’re doing business.

Save a percentage of each paycheck for taxes. That way, you’ll keep up with your tax obligation as the year progresses and hopefully never get behind.

Create a Business Plan

When you freelance it’s all too easy to treat it like a hobby and not like a full time job. But this IS your job. Creating a business plan- that is, a plan for how you’ll make money throughout the year- will help guide you through the months.

For example you can say that in 2018 you want to start off with 6 design clients a month for January-June, and then take June and July to focus on collaborations on social media. From August-December you plan to grow your website revenue and social media followings to generate cash from sponsored content.

Write all this down and be as specific as possible. Freelancing comes with feast and famine months. Your business plan will guide you in the famine months.

Your personal finances and business finances should live in different worlds. Focus on making your business profitable and keep it organized, and you’ll see that your personal finances do well.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

18 Ways to Earn Money Online This Summer

If you need extra cash to pay down debt or save money, there are plenty of ways to earn money online. From automating your bank account to selling your photos through an app, it’s possible to boost your cash flow without ever leaving your couch.

To help you find the best options available to earn more money, we’ve put together a list of 18 ways to boost your savings. Take a look:

1. Open a new bank account

Switching banks can sound like a daunting task. But many banks offer bonuses to people who sign up for an account, set up direct deposit and use their debit card. Some of these perks can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.

Chime’s Automatic Savings program, for example, connects your savings account to your debit card. Every time you use the card, Chime rounds up the transaction to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up amount directly into your savings account. Cha-ching!

2. Use a cash-back website

Sites like Topcashback, Ebates and Swagbucks offer cash back when you use their shopping portals to shop at your favorite retailers. Ebates and Swagbucks even have browser extensions that notify you if you’re eligible to score cash back on a site you’re visiting. Some stores offer upwards of 10% back.

3. Get rid of your stuff

Unless you’re a staunch minimalist, you likely have unused items lying around. Why not sell your stuff on sites and apps like Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Wouldn’t you rather get paid for those books you’ve already read?

4. Sell your photos

Are you an amateur or budding photographer? You may be happy to find out that you can actually turn your photos into cash. Foap is an app that allows you to get paid for the pictures you take on your phone.

Just upload your images, and if a brand, agency or individual wants to buy your photo, you’ll get paid five dollars through the app. There’s no limit to how many times you can license the same photo.

5. Lose weight

Shedding a few pounds isn’t always easy, but earning cash to do so can be an extra motivator. HealthyWage and DietBet are two websites that reward you for betting on yourself. If you achieve your goal, you get paid.

Here’s how it works. You track your weight throughout each challenge and work toward a specific goal. How much you earn typically depends on the type of challenge you choose, the amount you contribute to the pot at the beginning, and how many other people achieve their goals.

6. Go grocery shopping

Clipping coupons can be time-consuming. Why not use an app to save money on groceries instead?

Ibotta, for example, is a cash-back app that offers rebates on various items and products at your local grocery store. All you have to do is choose which products in the app to buy, then take a picture of your receipt after you’re done shopping.

7. Find unclaimed money

It may sound unbelievable, but it’s possible that you’re owed hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You may have refunds from various merchants, old savings accounts and other sources. You may have completely forgot that you even had these accounts in the first place.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is an organization which maintains a database of unclaimed money for individuals in each state. To see if you’ve left money on the table somewhere, visit Unclaimed.org. Check your current state of residence as well as other places you’ve lived to make sure you don’t miss anything. If you find missed money that belongs to you, you’ll need to answer some questions to prove your identity. You’ll then provide your current contact information and voila, a check will arrive in the mail.

8. Shop for a new car insurance policy

If you’re a good driver, a 2017 NerdWallet report shows that you could save $416.52 per year by shopping around for car insurance. Wow.

Where to start? Compare at least three or four car insurance companies to see if you can get a better deal than what you’re currently paying. Also, call your current insurer to see if it’s willing to match the lower rates you find elsewhere. Make it a habit of negotiating and seeking lower auto insurance rates once a year.

9. Get rid of unwanted gift cards

From time to time, we all get gift cards to retailers we would never shop at. Instead of letting these unwanted gift cards gather dust, sell them online through websites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. Depending on the brand, you can get up to 80% or 90% of the card’s face value in cash.

10. Get crafty

Do you like to make beaded jewelry, handcrafted ceramic pots or anything else that’s artsy? Etsy is a popular website for people with a talent for crafts. If you have been thinking about selling your wares online, why not just do it?

Your earnings can vary depending on the quality and demand for your products, but it’s possible to earn some serious extra dough from your hobby.

11. Rent out a room

Got a spare bedroom in your house? Why not turn it into cash? Airbnb and VRBO allow just about anyone to rent out a room, a couch or their entire home to travelers looking to save on accommodations.

This option is best if you live in a popular tourist destination or major city, and you’ll have to be comfortable with having strangers stay in your place. But it’s possible to earn hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month. As an example of how much you can earn, a quick search on Airbnb for a private room in Chicago yielded an average rental rate of $109 per night.

12. Lend your money to others

Investing in the stock market can be risky, especially if you’re a newbie investor. Instead, consider investing in people by lending some of your cash and earning interest.

LendingClub and Prosper are top peer-to-peer lending marketplaces that allow you to lend money to people looking to borrow in the form of personal loans. LendingClub claims historical returns of three to eight percent a year and Prosper says you can earn an estimated return of 7.3% on average.

13. Invest your spare change

If you like Chime’s Automatic Savings program mentioned above, you may want to consider Acorns, a micro-investing app. All you have to do is connect your bank account or credit card. Every time you use your card or checking account, Acorns will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and invest the round up amount in exchange-traded mutual funds.

14. Run errands or do handyman work

If you have spare time and the right skills, you can earn some money on the side through TaskRabbit.

The TaskRabbit website matches people in need of home services with “Taskers” who are eager to help and earn extra cash. You can sign up to offer various services, including grocery shopping, furniture assembly, moving and packing, and general handyman work.

15. Online focus groups

Both large and small companies spend a lot of money doing market and consumer research to get feedback on their products. You can participate in such focus groups online through websites like FocusGroup, Fieldwork and Inspired Opinions.

Keep in mind, however, that some focus groups may require that you attend in person.

16. Test out apps and websites

One of the many ways app and website developers make improvements is by asking consumers for their feedback.

UserTesting pays you to use apps and visit websites, and then offer up your opinions. You’ll complete a few tasks while recording your thoughts as you speak them aloud. You can earn $10 for every 20-minute video you complete, for an hourly rate of $30.

17. Use coupon codes

Online retailers often create coupon codes and promotions to entice shoppers to buy something. But unless you receive every retailer’s e-newsletter, you likely won’t ever hear about these deals.

Luckily, websites like Honey and RetailMeNot offer browser extensions that let you know when a website you’re on has available coupon codes. While you’re technically not earning money through these tools, you’ll keep more of your cash in your wallet.

18. Play with apps on your phone

If you enjoy exploring new apps on your phone, you might as well get paid doing it, right?

AppKarma allows you to earn cash and gift cards just for downloading and playing with different apps on your phone. While you won’t get rich doing this, it may be worth it if you have the time and enjoy trying new apps.

Are you ready to save more cash?

There are countless ways to earn money online and boost your savings. The 18 options listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. As you do your own research, you’re bound to find something that suits your skills, passions and wallet.

 

Why Freelancers Need Income Diversity More Than Ever

It’s been a rough start to the year — at least it would have been without income diversity. Since January, I’ve had three different agency clients let me go in favor of hiring in-house. On top of that, two different clients cut their standing monthly orders by half.

That’s a lot of income to see fall by the wayside. In fact, it amounts to about 2/3 of my income.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to stay afloat because I live in a low-cost area and because I have a level of income diversity that doesn’t just rely on a client or two.

Work for Hire and Sudden Income Loss

I spent a lot of time building up regular gigs. These are nice because you have some degree of stability (until you don’t). A set number of articles each month can ensure something approaching a “real” job when it comes to your income.

However, the downside is that work for hire also comes with the risk of sudden income loss. Whether someone decides to hire an in-house writer full time to replace you, or whether a client dramatically cuts your workload, it can mean instant income loss.

Most of my agency clients were kind enough to give me notice, but my other clients simply announced that they weren’t going to order the same amount of work. It can be devastating to go from a client paying $2,000 a month to that client paying $1,000 a month overnight.

You can protect yourself, to some degree, with a work for hire agreement or contract that requires notice, but the reality is that sudden income loss can be a real problem if you haven’t planned to protect yourself with income diversity.

How to Promote Income Diversity

Promoting income diversity as a freelancer is vital. Here are some of the ways you can diversify your income:

  • Different clients: Don’t rely on just one client. In the past, I’ve had “cornerstone” clients, but I try to keep them limited to no more than providing about half my income.
  • A mix of one-off gigs and long-term gigs: Even though most of my freelance gigs are long-term gigs, I still like to keep up with one-off gigs. Having a couple of these projects around can provide some quick cash when needed.
  • Other side gig income: Sometimes I drive for Lyft. I don’t do it a lot, but if I have a day where I’ve got a wide swath of time, I’ll turn on the Lyft while working on other projects and get a little extra cash. There are other side gigs like that you can do with a little extra time and effort.
  • Your own products and websites: I have a book that still makes a little money for me. You can also develop and sell courses, do consulting, and build your websites. I’m in the process of building up my websites into the income-producing level they should be at.
  • Other investments and income sources: I also have some money in taxable investment accounts. I regularly add to these accounts, which include dividend-paying funds. Many of my freelancer friends also have rental income. Figure out how you can earn a little income from different sources, and you could see improvement.

No matter your situation, income diversity is vital to your financial future. As a freelancer, though, it’s especially important to cultivate different revenue streams.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

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.


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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. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.