Tag: Life Hacks

 

How to Ruin Your Credit in Your 20s

We all make some foolish decisions in our 20s — it’s pretty much a rite of passage. But while most of these choices will be forgotten a few days or weeks, the financial ones have a habit of sticking around.

In fact, when it comes to your credit, you can easily make mistakes that will haunt you for years, even decades. And, damaging your credit has some very real consequences: Low scores could make it harder to get an apartment, car loan, or mortgage. (Not sure if you’ve got a credit file yet? Checking your credit reports and FICO scores — which are the most widely-used type of credit score — is almost as easy as opening a free bank account.)

Right now, you’re in a powerful position: You can either build your credit slowly and responsibly, or you can ruin your credit for years to come. Here are the seven worst credit mistakes you can make in your 20s. Once you know what they are, you can hopefully steer clear!

1. Charge More Than You Can Afford

The first and most common step in ruining your credit is living above your means.

That’s what Clarrisa Lee, who blogs at Later-Means-Never, did in her 20s.

“I didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” she says.

“So when I got access to credit, it felt like I’d won the lottery and I could buy everything that my heart desired — which I did, and which has cost me for decades.”

Now in her 40s, Lee is still paying off the debt she incurred more than 20 years ago.

What to do instead: Use your credit card as a tool to build credit, and never as a loan. Only buy what you can afford to comfortably pay off each month. When you pay your statement balance in full, you’ll never owe interest — but when you only make the minimum payments, you can drown in debt.

Here’s an example of what can happen if you only make the minimum payments:

  • Say you charge $5,000 to your credit card at a 19% interest rate.
  • You can’t afford to pay off the $5,000 bill, so you only make the minimum payment of $200 per month.
  • It will take you almost 12 years to pay off your balance — and cost you more than $3,000 in interest.

2. Carry a Balance on Your Card

When Mike Pearson, founder of Credit Takeoff, was in his 20s, he believed a common credit myth: carrying a balance on his card would improve his scores.

“For the first several months of having my first credit card, I kept a small balance rolled over from month to month, because I stupidly thought it would boost my credit scores,” he says.

“This caused me to pay several hundred dollars in interest.”

What to do instead: Pay your statement balance in full each month. Carrying a balance doesn’t help your credit; it only leads to interest charges and a higher credit utilization ratio (which we’ll explain below).

3. Max Out Your Available Credit

Maxing out your cards is another surefire way to harm your credit. That’s because doing so increases your “credit utilization ratio” — or the percentage of available credit you’re using — a number that comprises 30% of your FICO scores.

“I thought I could get by just paying off the minimum, until one day I realized I was using over 75% of my credit line,” recalls Russ Nauta, owner of CreditCardReviews.com.

“My credit scores took a deep dive.”

Here’s how this can happen:

  • Card A has a $1,500 credit limit and balance of $1,250.
  • Card B has a $500 credit limit and balance of $250.
  • In total, you have $2,000 of available credit.
  • You’re using $1,500 of it (or 75%), which might make lenders think you’re struggling to pay your bills.

What to do instead: Only spend a small percentage of your available credit, and strive to pay your statement in full each month. While some experts recommend a maximum of 20% credit utilization, the truth is: the lower, the better.

4. Miss Credit Card Payments

So, you bought drinks for the whole bar, or splurged on some designer sneaks — and then realized you couldn’t afford to pay your bill. The biggest mistake you can make? Deleting your statements without looking at them, neglecting to even pay the minimums.

Since payment history is the single most important FICO factor, accounting for 35% of your scores, that’s like taking the fast lane to terrible credit.

Even if you know how detrimental missing payments is, you can still slip up. Just look at what happened to Self Lender CEO James Garvey when he went on his honeymoon in Argentina.

“One of my credit cards was not set up on autopay and the bill went unpaid for two months,” he says.

“As a result of my dumb mistake, my credit scores were damaged for years.”

What to do instead: Set up autopay for all your bills, then set a reminder to go over your finances once a week. Log into all of your accounts and mobile banking apps to A) check your charges and B) make sure your payments have successfully gone through.

While we strongly encourage you to pay your statement in full, you should always make at least the minimum payment to avoid late fees and credit damage.

5. Close Your Credit Cards

You’ve finally paid off a credit card, and you’re so excited to be debt-free that you immediately close your account. In doing so, you lower your “average age of accounts,” which makes up 15% of FICO scores. Womp womp.

“The biggest credit mistake we made in our early 20s was closing down credit cards we no longer used,” says Brittany Kline, co-owner of The Savvy Couple.

“Looking back we should have kept them open to grow our credit history.”

What to do instead: Although you’re welcome to cut up your credit card so you can’t use it anymore, don’t close the account — especially if it’s your first or only card. Keeping it open will maintain your average age of accounts, and if the card has a $0 balance, will also help lower your credit utilization ratio.

6. Ignore Your Student Loans

Even if you took out student loans when you were just 18 years old — barely an adult! — they still factor into your credit scores. And a quick way to harm your credit is to neglect the bills (as overwhelming as they may be).

Marketer Destinee Wright took out thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for college. After graduating, she let one of them fall into default — a move that ruined her credit for years to come.

“I’m still digging myself out of that hole,” she says.

What to do instead: If your payments are unaffordable, ask your servicer about income-driven repayment plans, which extend your repayment period and cap your payments at a certain percentage of your income. Although you’ll pay more interest, that’s infinitely better than defaulting on your loans and damaging your credit.

If you’re experiencing temporary financial hardship, you can also consider applying for deferment or forbearance, which will pause your student loan payments (but not your interest accrual for unsubsidized loans) for a certain amount of time.

7. Avoid Credit Entirely

The last way to ruin your credit might surprise you: It’s to never use credit at all. If you eschew credit cards or other loans entirely, you won’t establish a credit history, and lenders won’t know whether you’re a responsible borrower.

That will make it extremely difficult for you to get financing for purchases like a home or car.

What to do instead: If you want to build your credit over time, apply for a starter credit card that helps you build credit, and then do everything you can to pay your bills on time and in full. Alternatively, if you’ve already damaged your scores, consider getting a “secured” card specifically targeted at helping people rebuild their credit.

How to Not Ruin Your Credit: Proceed With Caution

Now that you know seven guaranteed ways to ruin your credit, we hope you’ll follow the alternative advice, and slowly build your credit up from the bottom up.

Remember: The important thing isn’t to avoid credit; it’s to use it responsibly. Take it from us thirtysomethings — and don’t repeat our mistakes!

 

Wealthy Habits I Learned From Being Low-Income

I grew up relatively poor. While I never felt deprived — there was always food on the table and we took the occasional summer trip to a local water park — the fact remains: For several years, we lived in subsidized housing in a Los Angeles suburb.

I received free lunches at school, my family collected cans for change, and we shopped at day-old bakeries. I wore hand-me-downs from older, well-to-do cousins and spent summers in the stacks at the local library. We eventually moved to a middle-class neighborhood when I was 12, but much of the “poor person” mentality stayed with me well into adulthood.

While it’s still a work in progress, I had to make some mindset changes to work toward a wealth-building mentality. Here are some “poor” habits and beliefs I learned to break:

Wealth is a look

When we learn that someone makes six-figures or that he drives a fancy car, we automatically think he’s rich.

But being wealthy isn’t about dining in the finest restaurants or appearing like you have money. For example, when a relative of mine started wearing luxury brands and bought a new set of wheels, it was easy to assume that this person had fallen into money. Yet, when you pull back the hood, you might discover that appearances can be deceiving. In fact, that person may be living well above his means, and have mounting credit card and student loan debt. I’ve even heard stories about folks who buy new cars but can’t afford to keep the lights on at home.

It’s important to understand that wealth is much more than appearances. It boils down to your net worth. It’s how much money you have sitting in the bank and invested. So even if you’re shopping at thrift stores, you might be discreetly wealthy.

To get started building wealth: See where you’re at money-wise. Track your spending, and determine how much cash is coming in. From there, figure out how much is going out each month. You’ll also want to see how much debt you owe, and how much you have sitting in the bank and invested in your retirement accounts. You can use a money-saving app or money management platform to see your entire financial picture.

Having money means you’re a bad person

I grew up believing that only greedy people had money. And if you had wealth, you were inherently shrewd, extremely calculating, or a downright cheat.

It took me a long time to understand that having money didn’t automatically make you a member of the “Bad Persons Club.” At the end of the day, moola is a tool, a resource. Nothing more, nothing less. It can help you live a comfortable life and do positive things.

To start building wealth: Understand that money doesn’t change who you are. It merely amplifies your current self. If you grew up with a “poor is the noble, honest” way mentality, it may take some time for you to become a more money-minded person.

You win at the money game by cutting coupons

My mom was the type to drive to three different supermarkets to save a buck on produce. She would also carefully scour her receipts and if she found even a 10 cent discrepancy, we would drive across town so she could contest the transaction.

I adopted a lot of these frugal habits until this hit me: You can only save so much, but your earning potential is unlimited. For instance: I didn’t really start to save until I job-hopped and was earning $10,000 more a year. Because I didn’t change my lifestyle or boost any expenses, I was able to ramp up my savings faster.

These days I still enjoy hunting around for a deal, but will only do so if it’s easy (like not spending on stupid bank fees) and worthwhile. Otherwise, I’m fine spending an extra buck if it saves me time or mental energy.

To start building wealth: Focus on your earning potential. Whether it’s continuing education, expanding your client base, or working toward getting a raise at work, learn how to grow your money.

You get rich overnight

We oftentimes hear stories of that athlete or singer who got discovered and amassed wealth in a short amount of time. It’s an alluring myth, and one that continues to pervade our culture.

That belief certainly extended to my family. I grew up thinking that to be rich, you had to earn a six-figure salary, get a huge promotion, or win the lottery. But growing your money requires know-how.

To start building wealth: Start small, and start today. The earlier you begin saving and investing, the more time you have for your money to grow. For starters, you can automate your savings. Challenge yourself to saving five dollars a week, or $25 a month. The important thing is to get into the habit.

Exchanging time for money

I was also taught that you need to exchange time for money. If you’re not working 40-plus hours a week, you’re lazy. Along the same lines, to be busy means you’re making money. What’s more, I grew up thinking you should stick to your day job, where you’ll get small, incremental raises each year.

I now know that you can grow your money by finding ways to pull in passive income. This can mean creating a digital product, or earning royalties from content you create.

To start building wealth: Put on your creativity cap and think of ways you can make money in your sleep. See how you can earn more for the same amount of work.

Income is a stat, wealth is a habit

When you change your beliefs, mindset and habits, your money situation will begin to change as well.

This may be corny but it’s true: A basic understanding of what true wealth is, combined with a shift in your money mindset, will help you tap into your true financial potential. Are you ready to shed some false money beliefs and adopt positive financial habits?

 

How to Throw an Epic Fourth of July Party for $100

There is nothing more ubiquitous in American culture than a big July 4th party.

In fact, 86% of Americans plan to celebrate Independence Day this year. They also plan to spend a total of $6.7 billion on food items, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The most popular July 4th activity for 61% of those surveyed? Cookouts, barbecues and picnics. And, according to the NRF, the average cost per person for a July 4th BBQ is expected to hit $73.33 in 2019.

What does this mean for you? It means that a typical July 4th celebration can quickly bust your budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your quintessential red, white and blue celebration affordable. In fact, you can actually save money and throw an awesome bash for $100. Take a look at 6 ways to do this.

1. Be Selective with Your Guest List

Keep your holiday cookout cozy by inviting a small number of people. This immediately lowers the overall expenses for your event.

Here’s a tip to help keep your party guest list from getting out of hand: Send out same day invitations to some extra folks. Many of your friends may have already said “yes” to another party invitation so if they say “no” to yours, they’ll never know that your goal is to keep your number of attendees low.

2. Host a Potluck

Hold a potluck and ask your party guests to pitch in and bring a dish. This keeps your food expenses low while allowing your friends to do their part.

A couple of tips to make your next holiday potluck fabulous:

·      Create a Google doc and have attendees share what they’re bringing. This way you won’t end up with duplicate dishes.

·      Run a contest to see who brings the most tasty dish. The winner gets bragging rights for the next year.

·      Be clear with your guests about what you’re providing as the host. If you’re providing all of the alcoholic drinks, for example, you can ask your guests to bring seltzer water or lemonade instead.

If you’re still a little nervous about hosting your first potluck party, check out Apartment Guide’s tips.

3. Use a Savings App

Couponing sometimes feels like a hassle. Instead, strategize your savings with your favorite savings apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51. Then, double up with savings from your favorite grocer’s discounts.

Here’s how this works:

·      Create a list of items that you will provide for your July 4th holiday event.

·      Quickly check each app to see if you can save on that item.

If you’ve earned cash back from your savings app, use that cash towards your party expenses.

4. Borrow a Grill and Other Supplies

No grill? No blender? No worries. Fight the urge to buy new appliances in order to make your event happen.

Instead, ask your neighbors or friends if you can borrow a grill, a blender or BBQ supplies. If you think you’ll continue using these appliances or items, perhaps you can compare costs and purchase them on sale. This way you’ll also have them on hand for future parties.

5. Grocery Shop Your Pantry

Before heading to the grocery store, shop your pantry. Spend some time looking at the ingredients that are already in your home. Make simple dishes with those ingredients. If you’re short on inspiration head over to Pinterest to search for ideas.

6. Watch Fireworks as a Group

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spent $885 Billion on fireworks in 2017.

Instead of purchasing fireworks, you can instead spend nothing on pyrotechnics and instead head out as a group to see a local fireworks show. Check the following places for more information on fireworks displays in your area.

·      Your city’s website

·      Professional sports teams websites. An example of this is the Colorado Rockies in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Rockies typically have a fireworks show if they’re playing in town July 3rd or July 4th. The great thing about this display is that you don’t have to attend the game in order to enjoy it.

Start Saving Now for Next July 4th!

Now that you’re set for this year, it’s time to start saving up for your next July 4th party.

By following the tips above, you now know that you can host a fabulous party on an affordable budget – year after year. Happy 4th of July!

 

 

10 Summer BBQ Hacks

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With summer just around the corner, grilling outdoors is about to become a weekly staple. And, if you plan to invite folks over for a BBQ on the regular, you may be worried about blowing your budget and dipping into your savings account.

The good news is: With a little advanced planning, you can enjoy the wonderful weather, good company and delicious food without sweating bullets. Just heed these 10 summer BBQ hacks and you’ll be on your way to saving money.

  1. Choose Cheaper Cuts of Meat

    Merilee Speigner, Founder of the Debt Snowball Calculator says that, “chicken drumsticks are one of the best options for BBQing because they are not only inexpensive but they also stay moist because it’s dark meat.” Plus, according to Speigner, “drumsticks are also perfectly casual…people are already expecting ‘messy’ for BBQs!”

  2. Grill More Veggies

    Adding more veggies to the mix can help keep costs low. Vegetables are generally much cheaper during the summer and there’s no shortage of delicious veggie recipes these days. You can add more veggies (or fruit if you prefer) to seafood or meat kebabs and other recipes to make meals stretch further.

  3. Keep the Decor Simple

    Look no further than your local dollar store for affordable party decorations. Of course, if you happen to be good at crafting, Pinterest has no shortage of ideas for creating a festive theme without breaking the bank. If you plan to host a few BBQs this summer, then be sure to recycle or repurpose your decorations for each one.

  4. Stock up on meat during summer sales

    If you already have a membership at a warehouse store such as BJ’s or Costco, then this is a great place to buy meat in bulk at any time of the year. Outside of this, most grocery stores often run promos on BBQ food items throughout the summer, and especially around major holidays. For example, hotdogs, hamburgers and pork ribs are often cheapest during the Fourth of July weekend. You may also consider investing in a chest freezer in order to stock up on meat when prices are more affordable.

  5. Make it BYOB…

    This is not to say that you should have zero alcohol on hand but rather, it indicates that you don’t plan to spend hundreds of dollars on drinks. Plus, your guests can bring their beverage of choice. Creating a signature cocktail, serving homemade iced tea and fruit-infused water are also excellent thirst-quenchers that you can provide that won’t break the budget.

  6. …And/or Potluck Style

    Diana Farmen, a middle school teacher and founder of Diana on a Dime, says that when it comes to budget hacks for summer BBQs, “I always recommend a potluck.” After all, as the saying goes, food always tastes better with company. And, as Farmen says, (a potluck) “cuts down the cost for everyone and allows for a wide variety of dishes.” Another good rule of thumb: Create a group chat so that everyone doesn’t bring the same side dishes.

  7. Ditch the Pre-Made Extras

    “It can be very easy to get sucked into the grocery stores’ BBQ prepped food, but by making it yourself, (you can save a considerable amount of money). For example, “a fruit salad can be made from fruit in season or on sale.” says Farmen. “Take a few minutes to cut them up yourself instead of paying for the convenience of a store prepping it.” The same principle can be applied to pretty much any side such as guacamole!

  8. Take Care of Your Grill

    By properly maintaining your grill, it can last you for many years to come. The good news is that you don’t need to invest a lot to keep your grill in tip top shape, according to Cecilia Paola, a young wife and mother in New Jersey. She says that when it comes to cleaning your grill, “a grill brush with soap and water works perfectly.”

  9. Don’t Go Crazy on Grilling Accessories

    Many of us are guilty of purchasing kitchen gadgets that we never end up using. Avoid going down this same route by investing in three key items to start: a sturdy set of tongs, a good meat thermometer and a grill brush. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find the other accessories you need by taking a quick look through your cupboards.

  10. Make Enough For Weekly Meal Prep

    One great way to reduce your per-meal fuel cost is to cook enough leftovers that will last a couple of days. This will also save you time during the week and help you avoid the need to order takeout.

Summer-Proof Your Budget

It’s important to budget for every season since our spending habits change just like the weather. Summer happens to be the second most expensive season – a time when people tend to overspend during longer, warmer days. Creating a separate “summer fun money stash” is a great move if you want to avoid slipping into credit card debt.

And one of the easiest ways to save money for BBQ season is by automating your savings. Chime makes it easy for you to do this by helping you to save as soon as you get paid. If you open a Chime bank account and select Automatic Savings, Chime will automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck directly into your savings account.

It’s also important to create a budget for non-fun items that can easily derail your budget during this time of year. Last summer, for example, the AC in my car suddenly stopped working. However, because I had been funding my miscellaneous spending account during the prior few months, handling an unexpected $600 expense was no sweat off my back.

Now that you’ve learned how to take the heat off your summer budget, it’s time to fire up the grill and make the most out of the next few months!

 

How to Quit Your Food Delivery Addiction

Have a food delivery addiction? There’s no denying that restaurants offering a delivery service provide lots of convenience to busy people who don’t have the time or energy to cook.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Millennials are three times as likely to use food delivery apps as their parents. That’s partially what’s fueling the online food delivery market, which is projected to grow from $17 billion to more than $24 billion by 2023.

To boot, new delivery app services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have taken it to the next level. With these apps, you can quickly order meals from your phone to be delivered to you at work, home, or anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the food delivery habit adds up. And, spending regularly with food delivery apps can definitely negatively impact your savings account.

If you’re tired of eating up all your money (literally) with food delivery apps, here’s what you can do to quit your food delivery addiction.

Actually Visualize What Your Spending

One thing you can do to motivate yourself to quit is to actually look at what you’re spending. Track what you spent on food delivery apps over the past 90 days and add up the total. You may be shocked by the numbers you see.

For example, Uber Eats charges a flat rate fee which is usually under $5. However, sometimes they tack on a ‘busy fee’ during high volume times. Postmates, on the other hand, charges a $5.99 delivery fee (which is reduced to $3.99 for partner restaurants) for orders under $20. These noticeable fees add up each time you place an order.

Once you add up what you’re spending, you can actually see what your food delivery addiction is costing you. Then, think about your annual salary or hourly rate at work and compare it to your food delivery purchases. How many hours did you have to work just to be able to afford all that takeout? What else could you have done with the money instead?

Delete the Apps

It may be tough, but you might want to go cold turkey and delete all your apps at once.

You can still dine out occasionally to make the transition smoother. This way, you can indulge a little but you’ll be actually be leaving your house for the social experience of dining out. Better yet, you’ll skip out on the hefty delivery fees.

Plan Your Weekend Meals

Let’s face it, most people feel the urge to dine out and order food on weekends. Maybe you have a busy schedule or perhaps you just want to relax.

Instead, try meal planning in advance so you feel prepared and don’t resort to using delivery apps. Prepare a simple breakfast like oatmeal and fruit, or homemade avocado toast and eggs before you head out for the day.

If you’ll be out all day, consider packing a lunch to bring with you. You can also buy snacks in bulk at stores like Costco to help curb your appetite between meals.

Lastly, consider preparing a delicious batch meal (multiple servings) to enjoy for dinner over the next few nights so you won’t have to cook. It only takes an extra hour to meal plan for busy days during the week but the savings are worth it.

Pay Yourself First

Do you have other financial goals that you need to reach? I’m sure your main desire isn’t to spend a ton of money on food delivery each week, right?

To start, narrow down what you really want to do with your money and then, start paying yourself first to save up.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to take a tropical vacation, start saving money whenever you get paid. If your dream has always been to remodel your kitchen, pay yourself first and set aside money for this project each month.

These goals are fun, exciting, and motivate you to pay yourself first. I love this concept because it ensures that you will be able to afford your most important expenses. From there, you can budget with whatever is left. If you still want to dine out or order food occasionally, you can do so without feeling like you’re overspending and neglecting what’s important.

Prepare Freezer Meals for Emergencies

We all have those situations where it’s been a busy day and there’s no plan set for dinner. In the past, you may have resorted to ordering food on Grubhub or Postmates.

Instead, prepare some emergency meals in advance to stick in the freezer. The ‘freezer cooking’ trend is huge on Pinterest and you can find tons of recipes and meal ideas to prep.

Imagine the convenience of being able to pull a healthy meal out of the freezer to warm up for dinner. It will only take minutes and save you tons of money over time.

Don’t Fall For the Convenience Factor

Food delivery is an expensive addiction to have. To break this habit, you’ll have to be motivated and consider how much it is costing you.

So, think about purchases you’d have to push off or smart financial moves you couldn’t make due to your excessive take-out habits. With this in mind, you’re more apt to consider deleting your food delivery apps or at least cutting down and trying some of the alternatives mentioned above.

Are you ready to try ditching your food delivery habit? Give it a go. Your savings account will thank you (and possibly your waistline too!)

 

Summer Side Hustles to Try This Year

It’s almost summer! This means BBQs, beach days, and road trips. Yet, summer isn’t all fun and games. It’s also a great time to make more money.

Whether you decide to get a temp job or strike out on your own with a new side hustle, now is the perfect opportunity to put extra cash toward your money goals. To help get your wheels rolling, check out these eight side hustle ideas.

1. Real Estate Agent Assistant

Spring and summer are the busy seasons for real estate agents, especially if you live in a region with a hot housing market. Many agents need extra help with listings, and this includes taking photos of houses and shopping for personalized thank-you gifts for clients. At the same time, agents may not have the budget or need for a full-time employee. That’s where you come in.

Perhaps you can become a freelance personal assistant to a local real estate agent. Don’t be shy. Start pounding the pavement, meet with real estate agents, and let them know what you can bring to the table.

2. Social Media Manager

Admit it. You already spend too much time on Instagram and Snapchat. Why not get paid for your social media usage? Restaurants and stores need people with good communication skills to increase their online presence. So, create a sample account to show local businesses how you can help them gain more traction with social media.

You can charge an hourly rate or offer a flat rate package that includes a set of curated images, posting ideas and content creation. For an extra weekly charge, you can even manage the company’s social media accounts daily.

3. Manager for Airbnb Hosts

Did you know that you don’t actually have to own a rental to profit from Airbnb’s popularity? Instead, you can become a property manager for Airbnb hosts in your area.

Many Airbnb hosts rent out their home on the side but still have a busy life to maintain too. Summer months might also be the time that hosts want to do some traveling on their own, without stressing out about their own guests.

You, in turn, can be the reliable person that can fill in the gap for them. As part of the deal, you can also offer to clean the rentals between guest stays, do lawn care or welcome guests. You can even offer to improve their listings with better photos and descriptions.

4. Summer Program Instructor

Have you thought about becoming a swim instructor or teaching kids yoga classes? Perhaps you can offer children’s art or drama classes?

Summer is a great time to get your creative juices going and teach kids classes. If you haven’t taught swimming in years or you want to learn a new skill, the American RedCross offers a Water Safety Instructor’s Course in many areas. This course prepares you to teach preschoolers and children, as well as ‘Parent and Me’ aquatic classes. You can charge $25-35 for an hour of one-on-one swim lessons or charge $300 upfront for a package of 10 swim lessons.

When it comes to yoga, this may be easier than teaching swimming because you don’t need a pool and can run classes at a local park or even in a backyard. And don’t worry if you’ve never taught yoga before. You can hook up with a company like Pretzel Kids yoga, which offers an affordable online training course enabling you to start teaching children’s yoga classes immediately. Pretzel Kids teachers can earn $40 to $100 a class, depending on where you live and how many children are enrolled in your classes, says Pretzel Kids founder Robyn Parets.

“Some of our Pretzel Kids teachers also run mini-camps for a week or even three days during the summer. The best part: You can pick a summer week when you’re around and even bring along your own kids. It’s a lucrative and flexible way to earn extra cash doing something to enrich kids’ lives,” says Parets.

5. A Sitter for All Needs

Once school is out for the summer, many parents are desperate for affordable day care.

Have you considered becoming a babysitter? Even if you are only free nights and weekends, you can still pick up regular gigs when parents need a date night. If you become a child’s favorite sitter, you might even get invited on vacation.

Pet sitting and house sitting are also in-demand during the summer months. Many people prefer in-home pet sitting to boarding their animals, especially if they have more than one fur baby. For an easy way to make more money, check out Rover.com to apply for local house or pet sitting gigs.

6. Teach Kids Online

Companies like VIPKid hire online instructors to teach English to children in China. The virtual one-on-one teachings pay up to $22 an hour. To be a teacher, you need a bachelor’s degree and to pass the application process.

You can also look into other online teaching opportunities at companies like Outschool, which hires independent contractors to teach all sorts of classes for kids via video conference calls. With Outschool, you have to go through an approval process and then you can set your own hours and rates.

7. Garden and Lawn Care

We know, mowing lawns is the ultimate cliche of summer jobs, but it is for good reason. Taking care of your lawn is harder in the summer when plants and weeds grow faster.

So, try offering extra services that a regular gardener does not do, such as dog poop removal, palm tree trimming and patio power washing.

You can even skip the monthly service all together for a one-time charge. Call it the “Take a Week Off” special, offering individuals an hour of garden care for $25.

8. RV Prep and Cleaning

Hitting the open road is a summer favorite for many families. Yet, prepping the RV and cleaning it after the trip is something many wish they didn’t have to do.

You, however, can profit off of this common pain point with your own RV service business. To boot, advertising this type of business door-to-door is easy, since most of your potential customers will have their RV parked on the side of their homes.

Get Your Side Hustle On

Now that we’ve given you eight great ideas to make extra money this summer, it’s time for you to get started!

And here’s one final pro tip to level up your income: If your employer offers direct deposit, you can get paid early with Chime. Even without direct deposit, you can still manage your side hustle paychecks with Chime and automate your income. Simply transfer a percentage of your paycheck into a separate account every time you get paid. This way you can reach your money goals with ease.

 

How to Turn Your Side Hustle into a Full-time Gig

Fifty percent of millennials have a side gig, according to a study by Experian.

This is often the perfect way to jumpstart your financial goals, including debt freedom, moving into your own apartment, or funding that dream vacation. A side hustle can also be a big motivator to launching a full-time business and achieving financial freedom.

To help you learn more, take a look at seven tips to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig.

1. Be Realistic

The truth is: Not every side job can be turned into a full-time hustle. For example, mowing your neighbors’ lawns every weekend probably works really well as a side gig, generating a few hundred dollars a month. But you would need to put in a lot more effort to transform this concept into a full-fledged business. For example, you’d need to consider advertising costs, the seasonality of a lawncare business, and the existing competition in the market.

Putting together a financial forecast to determine your total revenues and expenses is another important part of your research at this stage.

2. Stop Treating Your Side Business Like a Hobby

Leah Gervais, founder of Urban 20 Something, says that if you want to scale your side hustle into a full-time gig, you need to treat your side business “like your job, because it is.”

“This means scheduling out your time to work on it and making those meetings unbreakable. Be honest with yourself; this will be an intense time period with long hours and lots of sacrifices. But it’s just a chapter. The more dedicated you are, the faster you’ll be able to make your side hustle your full-time hustle,” says Gervais.

Another way to up your commitment level is to formalize your business structure. Tasha Cochran, one half of the YouTube channel One Big Happy Life, recently quit her job to pursue her blogging hustle full-time. As she noted on her website: “We became an LLC, signed a partnership agreement and started to be more strategic about what we were doing.”

3. Look for Ways to Work Smarter

A side hustle can be hard to scale but it’s not impossible. One way to grow your side hustle is to transition from a one-to-one business model to a one-to-many business model. Translation: Figure out how to earn money while you sleep!

One booming market for doing this is the e-learning industry. According to Reuters, global e-learning grew to $165.21 billion in 2015 and is expected to skyrocket to $275.10 billion by 2022.

Just be aware: In order to scale an e-learning business with a host of online courses, you do have to hustle.

For example, Robyn Parets migrated online with her branded Pretzel Kids Yoga Teacher Certification Course in 2016. Pretzel Kids still offers live trainings and kids yoga classes, but the online school allows the company to grow its reach globally. Pretzel Kids nows sells a host of courses via its online kids yoga training school, such as How to Teach Mindfulness to Kids and Yoga for Kids with Special Needs. In addition, Pretzel Kids instructors can join a membership community where they can access branded materials, download teaching resources, get booked for teaching gigs, and more, says Parets.

“The ability to offer online trainings and a membership community has been pivotal to the growth of Pretzel Kids. We also offer our trained teachers a way to immediately start their own side hustles using our curriculum,” she says.

4. Invest in Yourself

Have you ever heard the saying the best investment you can make is in yourself? This is especially applicable to scaling your side hustle because you are your biggest asset.

As a full-time entrepreneur to-be, the learning process should be a continuous one. In the early days of scaling your hustle, you might have to invest in tools and courses to beef up your skill set. For example, you may need to learn more about email marketing or social media. Yet, in the long-run, this will save you time and money.

You can also fast-track your success by finding a mentor and connecting with other like-minded people who can help your business thrive.

5. Wait Until Your Side Hustle Earnings are Consistent

Before you make the leap from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur, your side hustle earnings should either equal your current income or be sufficient enough to cover your living expenses.

Don’t forget to include a line item in your new budget for those intangible benefits that your current job provides, including health insurance, 401(k) contributions and the like. For example, if you have to say goodbye to free lunch on Fridays or free daily coffee, make sure to add these as new expenses each week.

Another tip is to wait at least a few months in order to determine whether your side business will produce consistent earnings. This is exactly what Gervais did. Once her side business started regularly bringing in more money than she made at her 9 to 5 job, she had the confidence to turn it into her full-time job. Today, her online business generates more than $10k in sales per month.

6. Boost Your Emergency Fund Before Taking the Plunge

If you have a healthy savings account, then you’ll have peace of mind to go all-in on your side business. To help you boost your emergency fund faster, you can try automating your finances.

With a Chime bank account, for example, you can save when you get paid and automatically direct a percentage of every paycheck into your Chime Savings Account. This way you can put your savings on autopilot and reach full-time entrepreneur status sooner. As a bonus, if you use your Chime Visa Debit Card to make purchases, Chime will round up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar, and transfer the round up amount right into your Savings Account.

7. Schedule in Self-Care

When you’re working to scale your side hustle into a full-time business, it’s easy to put health and wellness on the back-burner. But taking care of your physical and emotional well-being is more important than ever at this stage. The good news is: Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as scheduling in a 30-minute walk each day to get some fresh air and mental clarity, reading a book or enjoying a long bath.

Ready, Set, Go!

If transitioning your side hustle into a full-time gig is something that you’ve been on the fence about, we hope these seven tips will give you the push you need to start living your dream!

 

How to Buy Groceries for One Person

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Grocery shopping for one is a struggle.

I should know. Some weeks I’d buy too much food – only to throw away 70% of it at the end of the week. Other weeks I’d make one meal and begrudgingly eat it every single day. Not ideal. Yup, it took me years to master the art of buying food when I was a household of one.

Yet, wasting money on groceries isn’t just a problem that plagues the solo shopper. The average family of four wastes $1,600 per year on uneaten food. And, Americans waste nearly one pound of food per person, per day. That adds up to $165 billion of food that goes uneaten.

While food waste is a problem for a number of reasons, it can be a big problem for your bank account. Ever wonder how much money you could you be saving?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered with some easy ways to shop smarter and avoid food waste.

Get into the planning

You’ve heard this before, for good reason. Meal planning is the key to not buying more than you need.

But meal planning can also be more difficult when you’re planning meals for one. That’s because recipes rarely have a serving size of one. You’ll typically see recipes for family meals serving upwards of four people.

So, when you’re meal planning, opt for food items that you know will freeze well. And, if you you don’t want to be stuck eating the same thing all week, make sure it’s something that you can easily pop into the freezer and enjoy eating later. For ideas, take a look at this list of 33 meals that freeze well.

Another clever idea is to pick two or more recipes that use the same core ingredients. Brianne Bell, a registered dietician and food blogger, suggests doing this to avoid eating the same meal all week. For example, she buys a whole chicken and roasts it. For her first meal, she’ll eat roast chicken. Next, she’ll shred the remaining chicken to use in salads and sandwiches for the rest of the week. Planning meals around the main ingredient of chicken ensures nothing is wasted.

Utilize your freezer

Before you head to the fresh produce section of your grocery store, take a stroll down the frozen food aisle. The produce you’ll find there contains roughly the same level of vitamins and minerals as fresh fruits and veggies, making this a healthy and smart option for the solo shopper. Relying on frozen produce also means you’ll never have to throw away a sad carrot again.

If you do end up with fresh food that you’re not going to eat before it spoils, Bell suggests freezing it before it goes bad. And you know how frustrating it is when you just need a few basil leaves for a recipe but you have to buy a large bunch? Bell advises throwing those in the freezer as well. Just chop them up, put them into an ice cube tray, cover with oil and freeze.

While freezing is a great option for the times when you do end up with more than you need, not everything freezes well. The Kitchn breaks down the foods that don’t freeze well. So, if you’ve stocked up on cucumbers and lettuce, don’t plan on relying on your freezer to help you with the excess.

Shop differently

I used to steer clear of the salad bar in a grocery store, assuming that it’s always going to be the most expensive option. But more often than not I’d get to the end of the week and find a half-eaten bag of spinach that I needed to throw away.

Turns out, the salad bar and bulk food aisle may hold the keys to your shopping for one success, says Mary Weidner co-founder of meal planning app Strongr Fastr. Rather than picking up a bag of spinach when you only need a little, the salad bar and the bulk food aisle may be your best bet.

“Just last week, I bought some spinach, quinoa, spices, dried berries, olives, and sliced nuts- all in the exact quantities I needed for about $3.50. And had no food waste for the week,” says Weidner.

But don’t stop there. If you need some meat, food blogger and recipe writer Jim Mumford suggests that you head to the butcher counter to get the exact amount you need, rather than picking up the family-sized pre-packaged meat.

“Most pre-packaged meat is well over a pound, and not ideal for one or two meals. The butcher at the counter is willing and happy to cut something down, even a roast or a tenderloin,” says Mumford.

If you want to skip the hassle of the store altogether, Bell advises that fruit and vegetable deliveries can be a smart option. Oftentimes, you can get just get what you need delivered straight to your door.

Make it social

Need to buy something that you definitely won’t eat all on your own (like that loaf of bread)? Get a little help from a friend. Figure out the things you both need to buy and split it. As a bonus, you can use this strategy to take advantage of the buy one, get one offers you see in some grocery stores.

If you’re really feeling social — and have a friend with similar food preferences — why not split groceries and cook some main meals together? If you’re making a recipe that serves four, you won’t have to worry about whether it freezes well or whether you’ll be able to handle eating it all week. You’ll each end up with two servings and have some fun while cooking.

Are you ready to solo shop?

Shopping for one can be a little tricky. But, by following these tried-and-true tips, you’ll be on your way to saving money without wasting food. Are you ready to take a new approach to shopping for groceries?

 

What’s A Good Credit Score in Your 30s?

You likely spent your 20s growing a lot, making mistakes, and discovering yourself. Your 30s, however, are a time for refinement and fine-tuning.

While in your 20s, you were just starting your financial life. Yet, hitting the big 3-0 signaled that it was time to level up your finances. One way you can do this is by improving your credit score.

In this guide, we break down what a good credit score looks like your in 30s, and why this is important.

A good credit score in your 30s

When you’re in your 30s, you’ve had a decade to establish and build your credit. You might still have student loans, as well as several credit cards. You may even have a car loan or a mortgage.

If you played your cards right, your credit score may be in good shape. But if you spent your 20s racking up credit card bills and in denial about your student loan debt, your credit score might not be so hot. According to data from Credit Karma, the average credit score for 25-34 year olds is 628. The most popular credit scoring model, FICO, defines a “good” credit score as 670 to 739.

If you take the average credit score of 628 and add the other two data points that FICO describes as “good” – 670 and 739 – and divide by three, you get 679. And, while a credit score of 679 is a good benchmark in your 30s, having a score in the low to mid 700s is even better.

Let’s back up a bit. In your 30s, a good credit score in the 700s should be attainable. Why? Take a look at these factors to understand what contributes to your credit score and why a good score can be achievable in your 30s.

What factors make up your credit?

The length of your credit history is one of the factors that make up your credit score. By your 30s, you should have a solid credit history with years of data.

On top of that, your credit mix is another factor that contributes to your score. This refers to the different types of credit you have, like an auto loan and a credit card. By your 30s, it’s likely that your credit mix is more diverse, which can boost your score. For example, you might have an auto loan, student loans, credit cards and a mortgage. If you make your payments on time and keep your balances low, this can reflect well on your credit score.

The two main factors that contribute to your credit score are your payment history and your credit utilization. If you have years of positive repayment history and never missed a single payment, then time is on your side! This can show lenders that you’re a responsible borrower.

Additionally, keeping your balance below 30 percent of your available credit, also called your credit utilization, is important. If you have high balances, whether you pay them off in full each month or not, this can be a red flag to lenders who might think you’re a risk.

Given all of these factors, you should aim for a “good credit score” in the 700s. If you’re not quite there, don’t fret. Pay off your debt, keep your balances low, minimize the number of accounts you open, and pay your bills on time. This will help boost your credit score.

Why is having a good credit score in your 30s important?

So, why is having a good credit score in your 30s important anyway?

Your credit score can seem like just a number. But in your 30s, when you’re ready to level up your finances and life, a credit score can make or break your options.

For example, you may be ready to start a family and buy a house. Your credit score, in turn,  can influence whether you get approved for a mortgage and what interest rate you get.

Or, perhaps you want to refinance your student loans to try to save money. Good credit can help make this achievable. Plus, if you have kids and want to get a minivan, you’ll want to snag a great rate on an auto loan. And, you guessed it, a good credit score will help you get a lower interest rate.

Bottom line

Your 30s are all about coming into your own and refining everything you learned in your 20s. This is true of your credit too! This is the time to look at your mistakes, reflect and revamp. If your credit isn’t great, you still have time to improve and all is not lost.

Just think: Once you have a good credit score in your 30s, you can get the best interest rates and start reaching your life milestones without all the extra costs.

 

How Long Should You Side Hustle For?

Side hustling is a great way to make extra money. The more successful your side hustle is, the more motivated you are to continue, right? Not exactly. There are many other factors that contribute to the longevity of your side hustle.

Here’s how you can tell how long you should side hustle for.

Set a Goal If You’re Trying to Leave Your Job

If you’re side hustling in order to leave your full-time job, it’s important to set a deadline for when you’d like to leave and under which circumstances. How much do you need to earn? How many hours to do you expect to spend working?

For me, unfortunately, I had hit a breaking point with my side hustle which prompted me to leave my 9-5 and turn my side hustle into my full-time job. I was burning out from working so many hours between both jobs.

Luckily, I was earning enough money to allow myself to quit without too much worry. Still, this is something to keep in mind. If you plan on working several hours and building a business up on the side, set a goal as to when you will make the transition to full time so you know that side hustling is only temporary.

Consider What Your Short Term Goals Are

Are you side hustling just to meet a short term goal? Whether it’s to pay off debt, fund a large purchase, or to gain a new skill, get clear on why you’re side hustling so you can meet those short term goals.

Also, develop a plan for what you’ll do after you reach them.

Is Your Side Hustle Still Enjoyable?

This is a question my husband is faced with currently. He’s been side hustling with Uber for about 3 years now. He admits it’s not as enjoyable as when he first started.

In the beginning, he wanted to side hustle to help us pay for extra expenses, pay off his car loan, and save more for the downpayment on our home.

We have met all of those goals and he’s gotten to a place where he’d rather stay home at night instead of going to drive for Uber. We could still use some extra money each month, but it seems like it’s time to switch to another side hustle.

Since you’re working on the side, you’re already putting in extra hours so you might as well do something that you enjoy and are good at. If your side hustle is no longer enj0yable and doesn’t stimulate you, you’ll lose motivation and it will feel more like a chore.

Consider Working in Seasonal Spurts

If you plan to make your side hustle a long-term venture, continue working is seasonal spurts. That way, you’re expected to be “on” and working all the time. Working 7 days per week is not sustainable for anyone long-term.

Choose a side hustle that’s flexible and allows you to pick up or drop hours as you see fit. For example, you may want to work more hours during the summer when work at your main job is slow. A seasonal side business can be more sustainable because it allows you time to rest.

Summary

Side hustles are often great to have, but all good things tend to come to an end. Be intention when deciding what type of side hustle you’ll try and what your goals are. Consider doing flexible work and allowing yourself the freedom to slow down or speed up production as you see fit.

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