Tag: Money Moves

 

Money-Making Apps: What You Need to Know

Is boosting your income on your to-do list? If so, you can start a side hustle or angle for a better a job. But, there may be an easier way to make a few extra bucks: money-making apps.

“While money-making and cash back apps can’t replace your 9 to 5, they’re a great way to earn some change to tuck away for a rainy day,” says Joy Hearn, founder of deal site Cards and Clips.

Indeed, money-making apps can put cash in your wallet. That’s money you can use to pad your savings account or pay off debt. Yet, you may be confused about what these apps do or which ones you might want to try, right? Well, we’ve got the details here, along with tips on how to leverage money-making apps. To learn more, read on.

How Money-Making Apps Work

The basic premise of money-making apps is that they allow you to earn a percentage of what you spend as cash back. You link your debit or credit card to the app, spend at partner merchants and cash back rewards are credited to your app account.

You’re free to use the cash back you’ve earned however you want. And you can double up on rewards if you’re also earning cash back from your linked debit or credit card.

What makes each money-making app and website different is the amount of cash back you can earn, where you can earn it and how that cash is paid out. Some of the most popular money-making apps include:

With Dosh, you can earn up to 10% cash back automatically when you pay with a linked debit or credit card at more than 1,000 stores and restaurants. You can also snag an extra five dollars each time you refer a friend to Dosh and they sign up for an account using your referral link. You can transfer the money you’ve made to your bank account, PayPal account or donate it to charity.

Lushdollar founder Tom Nathaniel likes Dosh because it’s a set-it-and-forget-it way to earn cash back.

“While I could check out which merchants give me cash back, I just look at it as a bonus if my purchase triggers a reward. Since you just add your credit card, the app always knows what you’re buying,” says Nathaniel.

Marc Andre, personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com says Ebates is his money-making app of choice. Ebates offers up to 40% cash back at more than 2,500 partner retailers. Besides the app, you can also use the Ebates browser extension to make money from your desktop.

“When you’re visiting a website that participates with Ebates you’ll be notified and all you need to do is click on a button in the notification so Ebates can track your purchases. There have been many times when I wasn’t even thinking about getting cash back but the alert from the browser extension reminded me of it,” says Andre.

Another great feature: Ebates automatically searches for coupon codes to help you find even more savings when you shop.

Like Ebates, TopCashback.com is a money-making app that also has a downloadable browser extension. It also features one of the largest merchant networks, with over 4,400 partner businesses.

Hearn at Cards and Clips is partial to Shopkick and Checkpoints, both of which reward you with cash instantly just for walking into stores or browsing retailers online. The difference is that with these apps, you’re earning gift cards instead of cold hard cash. But, the gift card selection includes retailers like Target, Amazon and Starbucks – which can come in handy if you regularly spend with these brands.

Using Money-Making Apps Wisely

Cash back apps and websites can put money in your pocket fairly easily, but there are a few rules to keep in mind as you use them.

1. Set realistic expectations for what you can earn.

Don’t think of money-making apps as a way to get rich quick.

“I think some people download these apps expecting hundreds of dollars. As long as you go in knowing you’ll make a few bucks, they’re fun to use,” Nathaniel says.

2. Don’t try to game the system.

It sounds simple but pay attention to the rules set down by an app for making money. For example, Hearn says that in her experience, survey apps tend to have explicit rules about misuse.

“If they find you’ve created multiple accounts and can track it back to your specific IP address, you can be banned from using the app. Or, if they feel you deliberately raced through a survey to earn money, your account can be terminated,” says Hearn.

Bottom line? “It’s always best to follow instructions and do exactly what an app requires so you can earn your payout,” she says.

3. Be selective.

Deciding which money-making apps to use partly depends on your spending habits, says VitalDollar’s Andre.

Checkout51 and Ibotta, for instance, are designed for earning money on groceries while other money-making apps cover restaurants or major retail brands.

“There are so many different cash back apps that you really can’t use them all effectively. My best advice is to pick a few and stick with those,” says Andre.

4. Don’t let apps dictate buying decisions.

When using money-making apps, it’s easy to get caught up in earning cash. So easy, in fact, that you might end up overspending just to chase down a few extra dollars.

“You have to keep it in perspective,” says Andre.

“Getting 10% cash back on a purchase that you need to make anyway is great. But making a purchase that you don’t need just to get 10% cash back is not wise,” he says.

In other words, keep your spending habits firmly in sight. Getting cash back is great but not if it means blowing your budget.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

When you’re earning extra cash with these apps, think about what you plan to do with it. Money-making apps can turn into money-saving apps if you’re using those dollars and cents to grow your emergency fund or save up for other goals. Plus, it’s motivating to watch the cash from mobile payment apps pile into a savings account. Are you ready to give money-making apps a try?

 

A 12-Step Plan for a Better Career in the New Year

There are two types of people: the ones who make New Year’s resolutions and the ones who don’t. I’m firmly on the don’t side — I like to set goals instead, like fattening up my savings account.

If one of your goals for 2019 is kicking your career into high gear, you’ll need a plan to make it happen. And, breaking your career-boosting strategy down into monthly tasks can help you make big strides by year’s end.

To help you get going, take a look at this month-to-month guide.

January: Set career goals

As you start a new year, think about where you want to end it, career-wise, and plan it as a whole process, says Piotr Sosnowski, vice president and co-founder of career site Zety.

“Imagine yourself in a gym on the first week of January, packed with hyper-optimistic sports newbies that made going to the gym a New Year’s resolution,” he says.

“Two weeks in and the gym is nice and quiet again. It’s because some people tend to approach their goals in a very ambitious way, focusing on a goal itself and forgetting that getting into shape is a whole, sometimes even hard process.”

To stay motivated in your career pursuits for the long-haul, try SMART goals  This means you’ll make your goals specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound, while still keeping the big picture in sight.

February: Know your worth

Be ready to prove your value as an employee in the New Year.

“Hiring managers want to see upward mobility, awards and accomplishments on your resume and LinkedIn profile,” says executive career coach Jaime Chapman.

“On paper, it’s easy to distinguish a rising star from a clock puncher,” she says.

Make a detailed list of your career achievements, such as:

  • Major projects you’ve spearheaded
  • Ways you’ve saved your company time and increased efficiency
  • Monthly and annual sales numbers if you’re in a sales-based position
  • How much money you’ve helped the company save or how much you’ve helped to increase profits

Be specific, using hard numbers whenever possible so you can explain your value concisely.

“Create an elevator pitch and a punch line to quickly and clearly articulate what you do and why you’re good at it. At networking events and in casual introductions, the elevator pitch and punch line are a secret weapon—quickly weeding out irrelevant connections and engaging the right audience,” Chapman says.

March: Network

Speaking of networking, spend some time working on fostering connections.

“The best method to get a better job is using your number one asset – people,” Chapman says.

Some simple, but powerful ways to grow your network in 2019 include:

  • Attending industry-specific conferences or meet-ups in your area
  • Reaching out to hiring managers and influencers on LinkedIn
  • Regularly sending out notes to stay in touch with existing connections

“The goal is to be the first person that pops into the mind of your immediate circle of influence,” Chapman says.

April: Learn something new

If you want to get ahead at work, commit to becoming a lifelong learner.

“One of the best ways you can improve your career is to invest in your own learning,” says Jessica Hernandez, president of Great Resumes Fast, an executive resume writing service.

“If there’s something you want to learn about, resolve to invest in reading about it, studying it, taking an online course or earning a certification,” she says.

Don’t limit yourself to skills or knowledge that apply to your current job either. Learning how to code or master Photoshop, for example, are skills you can parlay into a lucrative side hustle or even a full-time business.

May: Refresh your resume

While you’re doing your spring cleaning, don’t forget to give your resume a thorough once-over.

“One of the best ways to improve your career is to have a great resume ready before you need it,” Hernandez says.

“Make it a point to update your resume at least every six months or sooner if there’s a major change in your position, responsibilities or accomplishments, and keep a master resume on file that you can add things to as they happen.”

Think outside the box in terms of formatting. Consider swapping out the standard vanilla format for an infographic, slideshow or video resume to show off your skills and your personality.

June: Build mentoring relationships

Jonathan H. Phillips, co-author of Living Your Best Career, says having a personal board of directors is essential for career advancement.

“The truth is, your career doesn’t live in a vacuum. It’s intimately tied to other personal and professional stakeholders,” Phillips says.

He recommends looking to your network and choosing a shortlist of influential contacts. Ideally, your mentors should help guide you through large and small career decisions.

July: Become an expert

If you’re not yet an expert or influencer in your field, consider making that a priority for 2019.

“Speak at conferences, publish articles or a book, teach a webinar or appear as a guest on a podcast. The opportunities are limitless to put yourself out there so don’t be afraid to brag a little bit,” Chapman says.

If you’ve got a sizable LinkedIn network, consider publishing a short article weekly on topics related to your industry. Or, you can try your hand at blogging if you have a lot to say about a particular topic.

“Building your expertise will create a demand for you,” Chapman says.

August: Improve your interview skills

Job-hopping can be rewarding if it leads to a better position or pay. But you’ll have to get through the interview process first.

“Interviewing is an art form and requires a lot of preparation,” Chapman says.

Try these tips for nailing interviews every time:

  • Get to know the company you’re interviewing for
  • Research the most commonly asked interview questions
  • Tell stories with your answers
  • Use concrete examples to showcase your skills and experience
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Let your “you” shine through

Most importantly, remember to follow up. In a Robert Half survey, 100% of hiring managers said they want to hear from job candidates after the initial interview is over.

September: Negotiate a better salary

Chapman raises a good point about getting ahead in 2019: “What’s the point of all this work if you don’t increase your salary as a result?”

To get paid what you’re worth, start by researching average salaries for someone with your experience and in your field. PayScale and Glassdoor are a couple of helpful resources to check out.

Hone in on your preferred salary number, then commit to broaching the subject of a pay raise with your employer.

“Have a conversation about total compensation, including salary, time off, insurance and retirement benefits,” Chapman says.

“Get them talking, try not to reveal your numbers first and be prepared to walk away if you don’t receive the salary you feel you deserve.”

October: Stay engaged

Career coach Mark Anthony Dyson says it’s critical to stay in career advancement mode and avoid developing tunnel vision in your current role.

“It takes so long to get traction in a job search when you’ve disengaged from your network, industry trends and being active in your industry’s organizations,” says Dyson.

So, remember to stay in touch with your network regularly. You can do that by:

  • Subscribing to trade magazines for your industry
  • Reading industry-specific blogs
  • Following industry bigwigs on social media

November: Ask for feedback

Rather than cringing away from criticism, use it to your advantage.

“One thing that’s often underrated but can have serious consequences for professional and personal development is learning how to take genuine feedback graciously,” says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of online performance software provider Mettl.

“When someone gives you feedback in their capacity as your colleague, friend, peer, manager, boss or associate, appreciate it, take in stride and filter it to get to the crux of what you need to improve — skills, attitude or personality,” says Kapoor.

December: Show your gratitude

As another year winds down, celebrate your wins and use career setbacks as learning tools. And remember to show your appreciation to the people who have helped you along your career path so far.

You don’t necessarily need to buy pricey gifts but sending out holiday cards or a personalized notes can close out the year on a positive note.

 

4 Career Moves You Should Make This Year

New year. New career moves.

Think of this year as a new opportunity to take your career to the next level. Yup, there’s no time like the present to make sure you’re happy with your job and career path. It’s also the perfect time to learn new skills or consider a career move.

Leveling up in your career often goes hand-in-hand with your financial goals. This may mean increasing your savings, paying down your debt, and earning more money. If you’re looking to take your professional life to the next level, here are the best career moves you can make this year.

Learn a New Skill

How often do you learn new skills? Well, it’s time to do this. Why? Learning new skills will help you evolve with your career and make you more marketable in your industry.

When I worked at a web design company as a content writer, I made it a point to learn new skills. The industry was often changing and I had to keep up. Plus, I knew that I could make more money by advancing my skills. So, I learned how to do light website coding and SEO (search engine optimization). I wasn’t the only one. One of my coworkers got certified in SEO and in turn, he created a whole new position for himself. Mind you, this company was a start-up so things were flexible. But, you can advance your skills regardless of where you work.

There are plenty of courses available and you don’t have to go back to school for a degree. You can use sites like Udemy and Coursera to search for online courses that interest you. For example, perhaps you can take an affordable social media course online during your spare time. And just think: the courses you take can help you at your current job, or maybe even lead you to start a new side hustle to make extra money. The opportunities are endless.

Ask For a Raise

This is one of the best times of the year to ask your employer for a raise. Companies usually have new budgets set in January and are already considering things like wages, expenses, and goals for the year.

If you haven’t done so already, schedule a sit down with your employer so you can discuss your role over the past year and then broach the subject of getting a raise or promotion. If you have focused on gaining new skills, discuss this with your boss as you can now bring more to the table.

Sometimes it can be intimidating to ask for a raise but it’s worth it. And just think: Most people don’t get raises simply because they don’t ask for them.

Remember: Earning more money each year is a crucial part of advancing your career – not to mention that it helps you keep up with cost of living increases and pay your bills.

Look For a Full-Time Job With Benefits

When looking for a new job, most people focus on the salary as the top factor. While it’s important to make sure you’re getting paid well and on time, it’s also important to consider the benefits package. If your current job doesn’t offer a benefits package, it may be time to start looking for a new job.

Vacation days, medical insurance, and a 401(k) plan can help you get ahead financially. If your employer offers a great health plan, that’s a major win. The same goes with an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

So, if you’re working part-time or don’t have benefits at your current job, consider seeking a full-time job and negotiating for a benefits package that will help support your lifestyle and protect your family.

Establish an Extra Income Stream

How many income streams do you have? The average self-made millionaire has seven.

Think about it: If you’re looking to make extra money during your spare time, you can monetize one of your hobbies and earn money doing something you enjoy. Or, perhaps you can leverage a skill to create a new side hustle and generate an entirely new income stream.

For example, consider writing e-books, selling items online, walking dogs, investing in real estate, selling homemade products on Etsy, or even running errands. If you don’t want to start a business from scratch, you can even take advantage of the gig economy and drive for Uber or Lyft on the side. The extra money you earn can be added back into your budget or used to accelerate debt payoff. You can also earmark your extra cash toward a large purchase or upcoming vacation.

Who knows, you may even launch a side business that will eventually replace your main job!

Take Your Career to the Next Level

Whether you’re gunning for a promotion or want to start a side hustle, make 2019 the year that you take your career to the next level.

Start by determining what you want your career to look like in one year, five years or 10 years. Then, focus on learning at least one new skill and exploring other options to make extra money. This may lead to a lucrative side hustle, a new job, or a raise or promotion at your current job.

One final tip: The more secure you make your career, the more secure your finances will be over time.

 

Why You Should Spend With Your Debit Card vs. Credit Card This Holiday Season

The holiday season is approaching and you know what that means — spending money. Whether it’s buying gifts for loved ones or booking flights to travel home, the holiday season typically means a spike in spending for many of us.

And, because you may spend more than at other times of the year, you’re probably going to use credit cards. But, did you know that while credit cards offer some cool rewards like cash back, using your debit card is often a wiser choice? Read on to learn why.

1. You spend only what you have

Everyone wants to think they’re responsible with credit and only buy what they can afford. Well, a lot of people are wrong. According to a 2017 study by Magnify Money, 68 percent of consumers attributed their holiday debt to credit cards.

Of the consumers surveyed, 44 percent racked up more than $1,000 and five percent accumulated more than $5,000 in credit card balances. More disturbing is the fact that half of those consumers noted that it will take more than three months to pay off the debt they accrued during the holidays. That’s more than a quarter of the entire year!

When you use a debit card, however, you spend only what you have in your bank account. And, this helps you become more mindful and realistic about your budget. Using a debit card during the holiday season can also help you avoid fees and that dreaded holiday credit card debt.

2. You don’t have to worry about making another payment

The holiday season can make the most organized person run around like a headless chicken. Everyone’s schedule seems packed to the brim and there’s always something else added to the to-do list (Think: “Buy white elephant gift for the company party.”)

When you’re so busy, some of your normal day-to-day duties can fall to the wayside. And, if you don’t have auto-pay set up, you can potentially miss a credit card payment. Another common problem during the busy holiday season: You say you’ll “do it later” and then when you remember to pay your bill, it’s late.

When you use a debit card, however, you don’t have to add anything else to your to-do list – including making yet another payment. The money comes straight from your bank account and you don’t have to do a thing.

3. A debit card is free to use

One of the biggest perks with using credit cards is the rewards, like cash-back and airline miles. But oftentime the best rewards cards come with an annual fee and the conversion on the rewards isn’t as great as you think. In many cases, miles are literally worth about a penny per mile or less.

So, you may actually be spending your money on an annual fee, high interest rates, late fees, and more – without getting much in return.

Here’s where debit cards take center stage. Debit cards are free and can help you avoid debt.

4. Your debit card can help you save

At Chime, we’re all about helping you save money when you spend money. It’s all about balance. Am I right?

With this in mind, check out Chime’s round-up savings program, where every time you use your debit card, we round-up the purchase to the nearest dollar and put it into your Savings Account. This way you can effortlessly save and know that you’re being financially responsible at the same time.

5. Stop fraud instantly

There are no two ways about it: Fraud can be rampant during the holiday season. A lot of credit card enthusiasts think this is a solid reason to use credit over debit.

But, your debit card can offer protections that are similar to your credit card. For example, if you suspect any fraudulent uses on your Chime card or your card goes missing, you can simply go into the app and immediately put a halt on purchases by disabling transactions. No need to stay on a long customer service line (who wants to talk on the phone?!) and no need for lengthy emails. Just put a stop to it, now.

Not only that, but Chime alerts you any time you use your debit card. So, if your debit card get into the wrong hands, you’ll know right away.

Bottom line

The holiday season should be a time of joy and fun, not stress and debt.

Using debit instead of credit can help you keep your spending in check, plus you’ll have one less thing to worry about. So, this holiday season: Try spending only what you have and enjoy the season with family and friends. It sure beats worrying about money!

 

How to Build a Budget for Your Dream Job

If you hate your job or just aren’t fulfilled, starting your own business can sound really tempting. But, before you get ahead of yourself: launching a business comes with its own set of challenges.

For starters, you’ll need to factor in expenses, like paying for new software, buying insurance, outfitting an office, and even outsourcing certain tasks. Your income can also be spotty, especially when you’re just starting out. And, let’s not forget: unpredictable income can throw off your own personal finances.

So, what to do if you’re still nervous about branching out on your own? We’ll show you how to save money and build a budget so you can afford to work in your dream job. Read on to learn more.

How much money do you need each month?

In order to know exactly how much you need to save, you’ll first need to tally up your monthly living expenses.

If you already have a budget, this will be pretty easy. Just add up all of your line items to see how much you can spend and save each month. Voilà. If you don’t have a budget, this will be a little more challenging.

Take 20 minutes or so to tally up all of your monthly recurring expenses — bills, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. Then, add up any monthly savings you already have (such as for pets or education), as well as the monthly share of your infrequent bills (like semi-annual car insurance payments or annual life insurance premiums).

Gold Plan: Create a Runway

Far and away, the best way to budget for your dream job is to save up a cash cushion of at least six to 12 months’ worth of your living expenses. People in the startup world call this a runway. That’s because it’s essentially just a long period where you can focus on launching your new business without having to worry about being derailed by money troubles at home.

It sounds like a lot of money, and indeed it is, and doubly so if you’re starting from scratch. But if you can shave off expenses from your budget and commit to setting aside a certain dollar amount each month (plus any extra income), you’ll get there even sooner.

Silver Plan: A Mini Runway

Alright, so we realize that saving up a years’ worth of expenses is out of the question for some folks. If you can do it, then all the more power to you.

But if you can’t, the second-best option is to at least save up a few months’ worth of expenses. Ideally you’d have at least this much money in your emergency fund all year, even if you’re earning a stable income.

A shortened runway or savings buffer of at least a few months’ worth of income may not allow you the full freedom of a years’ break from money stress, but it will at least provide you a little bit of time.

Bronze Plan: Earn at Least What You’re Making From Your Day Job

Pretty much any responsible financial adviser will tell you that you need to save something before you quit your day job.

But, even that’s not always possible. Sometimes you lose your job for whatever reason — maybe it was a temporary position, maybe you were laid off, or maybe even fired (womp womp).

If you’ve already been hustling on the side, one option is to take your side hustle full-time and turn it into your own business. In this case, it’s best to already be earning the cost of your monthly expenses, solely from your side hustle. So if you need $2,500 per month to get by, you’d want to make sure you’re at least earning that much from your day job before you take the leap.

Again, it still sounds like a lot of money and it is. But if you’re down to this last option with no savings to sustain you while you launch your business, you need to be sure that you can earn a full-time income first. And the best way to ensure that this happens is if you’re running an existing side hustle. If not, you don’t need to abandon your hopes of a dream job quite yet. Instead, a better option might be to find another job now just to pay the bills. You can still focus on growing your business on the side, but think of it as using your day job to support your business until you have enough savings to safely take your business full-time.

You Can Do This

Budgeting to launch your dream career as a business owner sounds like tough work. But it’s the best way to give your business a fighting chance.

By planning ahead and saving up for your leap, you can sustain losses and wonky paychecks until your business is established. You won’t need to shut down at the first bad month you have because you won’t be able to afford your rent, for example.

Owning your own business is challenging, but you can do it — especially if you get your personal finances in order first.

 

Budgeting for Your Next Career Move

Changing jobs is rarely a smooth transition. Perhaps you accepted a better opportunity, or maybe you have found yourself in-between jobs. Whatever the case, a new job may require a lifestyle change and possible financial shift.

Not only are you having to get used to a new schedule, job responsibilities, and new co-workers, but you have to consider your financial situation. And, before you start that new gig, you may have to stretch your budget a little – at least temporarily. This is why proper financial planning is so important when it comes to reaching your savings goals and paying your bills.

The good news: the financial stress of switching jobs is usually just a short-term inconvenience. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth financial transition into your next job.

Ask about your new pay schedule

Every employer handles payroll differently, which can make it incredibly confusing for you as the employee.

After you leave a company, it’s possible that you will receive a payout for paid time off or severance. Remember – that amount of money can help tide you over while you’re waiting for your first paycheck from your next employer.

While you’re making your cash last until your next paycheck, make sure you ask your new employer about the pay schedule. Some employers pay employees every week, while others pay just once a month. Not only that, but some employers pay up-to-date, meaning you can get your first paycheck sooner. Other employers take an additional pay period to process your paycheck, so you are paid for previous time worked. Talk about confusing.

The best thing you can do is ask your human resources department when your first paycheck will hit your bank account. And if you’re paid by the hour, be sure to ask how many hours you can expect to see on that paycheck – this way you’ll know what you’re looking at. And, here’s a pro tip: if you have a Chime bank account, you’ll get paid two days early. No more waiting for your electronic payment to come through or waiting on a check to be delivered in the mail. Instead, your hard-earned money is available right away. No more waiting.

Don’t forget about insurance payments

For anyone currently covered under an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, you will want to pay close attention.

Once you leave an employer, they will terminate your health benefits, usually at the end of the month. After that, you should receive a notice in the mail called Continuation of Health Coverage, otherwise known as COBRA.

COBRA exists to ensure you don’t let your insurance lapse while you’re between jobs. The law allows individuals to stay on COBRA for up to 18 months, so it provides quite a bit of wiggle room in the event you need it. The drawback is that COBRA comes with a steep cost. In most cases, transitioning employees can expect to pay the entire health premium out-of-pocket, plus a small administration fee on top of that.

If your previous employer contributed a substantial amount to your health premiums, then you may be shocked to discover the price you have to pay while on COBRA. Depending on your location, insurance plan, and how many dependents are on your plan, this can quickly cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 or more per month. Ouch!

The best thing you can do is is prepare for the cost and consider your long-term options. If either you or your spouse can find a job that offers partial company-paid premiums, this can help offset some of the cost of insurance.

Pay attention to your 401(k)

If you participated in your employer’s 401(k) or other type of retirement plan, then don’t forget to create a plan for those funds once you leave your job.

While you may want to dip into this money to tide you over, this isn’t a wise idea as there are major consequences for cashing out your 401(k) early. Not only are you depriving your future self of the funds you worked hard to save, but the government imposes strict penalties on anyone who withdraws money early. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service charges a 10 percent penalty for withdrawing cash from a 401(k) before you reach retirement age (with a few exceptions). Not only that, but you will have to pay income taxes on any cash you take out of your account.

In most cases, however, you will have to eventually move your money out of your previous employer’s plan – preferably into another type of retirement plan. The new plan can either be part of your new employer’s 401(k) retirement plan, or you can roll it into a self-directed retirement plan.

Budget for new work expenses

Don’t forget about the little expenses that come up about when you switch jobs. These can add up – big time.

For starters, consider the types of supplies and attire you may need for your new gig. Will you need new clothes due to a change in dress code? What about new tools or technologies?

And if your new job is further away, you’ll need to budget in the additional transportation costs as well. Speaking of cars, don’t forget to ask your employer about mileage reimbursement. While some companies don’t provide a reimbursement for miles driven on your personal vehicle, you may be able to claim a deduction come tax time. To find out if your eligible for mileage deductions, it’s advisable to speak to a tax professional.

Ensure a smooth transition

While it can certainly cause a significant amount of stress, making a career move can change your life for the better. With proper financial planning, you can ensure a smooth transition into your next job.

 

The 3 Worst Career Moves You Can Make for Your Money

Just because you’re a working professional doesn’t mean you’re earning at your full potential. One career mistake can compromise your finances. Unfortunately, poor financial decisions abound in the modern workplace.

Don’t jeopardize your future by making the wrong move. Here are three of the worst career moves you can make for your money.

1. Not negotiating your salary

Negotiating a higher salary during the hiring or performance review process is the best way to maximize your earnings. Not only will a higher salary equal a bigger paycheck, but also bigger future percentage-based raises, which will build on that amount. Whether you’re about to start a job or ask for a raise, it’s in your best interest to negotiate.

But many people never attempt to negotiate their salary. According to Jobvite, only 29% of job seekers negotiated their salary at their current or most recent job and 47% don’t feel comfortable negotiating at all. While negotiation is tricky and you shouldn’t overplay your hand, it can mean the difference between an acceptable salary and an exceptional one.

“The biggest mistake you can make is not negotiating. This has implications that can last for the entire duration of your career. If you’re underpaid from the start, you’ll continue to be underpaid — even when you’re given a raise or a promotion,” said Ashira Prossack, founder and CEO of The Generational Factor, a company dedicated to bridging the generation gap and helping businesses prepare for the future of work.

“This is especially detrimental to your finances if you plan to stay with a company long term, as it’s harder to re-negotiate and get a substantial salary increase internally,” Prossack said. “You don’t want to be forced to leave a company that you love just to get a higher salary.”

2. Not saving for retirement

Retirement savings should be a priority for all working Americans, Social Security and Medicare face a funding crisis. But Americans aren’t saving for their retirement aggressively, or in some cases at all. Retirement plan participation is particularly low among working millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1991 — 66% of whom have nothing saved for their golden years.

The reasons for low retirement savings may include stagnant wages and a lack of employee awareness. But retirement savings are essential for everyone, and in some cases your employer may help you save.

“Many employers that offer a retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), will match the employee’s contributions up to a specific percentage of the employee’s salary, which is usually around 3%,” said Ryan Firth, a certified public accountant and president at Mercer Street, a financial and tax services firm.

“Essentially, the employer is giving the employee a form of bonus compensation by matching a percentage of the employee’s contributions to her retirement savings plan,” Firth said. “From the employee’s perspective, it’s like free money! So if the employee isn’t contributing up to at least the employer’s match, then she’s losing out on ‘free money.’”

3. Choosing a career for the money only

Choosing your career based on salary might be one of the worst money moves you can make. If you’re only seeing dollar signs when you accept your job offer, you may end up in a career you hate. In that scenario, you might be looking for an exit strategy sooner than you think.

“It’s important to do your due diligence before moving forward with any job offer because the money may be good, but you may not be happy in the long term,” said Firth. “Conversely, the money may be less than you’d like, but if the job is a good fit, you’re more likely to enjoy your work, which usually predicts higher job performance (and hopefully a commensurate increase in pay).”

Salary is only one part of the picture. Compensation also includes benefits that directly impact your wallet.

“Not taking into account the value of company benefits such as health care insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, etc. when considering a job offer,” is a big mistake, said Firth.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

4 Tips for the First Time Home Buyer

When my apartment complex was sold a couple of months ago, I had a hunch I would need to move.

Lo and behold, a few weeks ago, I received official notice that our cluster of apartments would be taken off the rental market for good. Yes, I’d definitely be forced to relocate.

For the past eight years, I paid lower-than-market rent for my bungalow-style one-bedroom apartment. And yes, my low rent had allowed me to stash cash away into a savings account. But still – I panicked. I frantically started scouring online for apartment listings. As you probably guessed, rent in Los Angeles is super duper high, and the nice places get swooped up fast. Plus, all of the apartments comparable to mine were almost double my current rent.

Then a light bulb went off. Okay, maybe my partner suggested it. Perhaps I should consider buying my first house? As a single, female self-employed freelance writer who lives in the most unaffordable housing market in the U.S., I’m not exactly the obvious home buyer. With a sufficient down payment—we’re talking 20 percent here—it turns out my monthly mortgage, plus any HOA fees, would roughly equal my newly increased rent. I’m also a commitment-phobe. I’m the type of person who considers committing to a brand of eco-detergent a small victory.

Nonetheless, buying a first home isn’t a bad idea. Here are the steps I’m taking to prepare for homeownership:

Research

I’ll be zeroing in on the cost of homes in my preferred area. I’ll also poke around to gauge exactly the type of property I want. And as I get closer to actually making an offer, I’ll work on getting pre-qualified for a mortgage (yikes). Will I get an FHA loan or a conventional loan? How much will I qualify for? What are the conditions? So much to figure out.

Understand the costs involved

Boston-based financial planner Eric Roberge of Beyond Your Hammock makes an excellent point: when you’re leasing, your rent is your most expensive cost. But when you own your home, your mortgage is the absolute minimum you’ll pay. There are also taxes, insurance, and the cost of routine maintenance and repairs. When you buy a house, you also need to consider closing costs. In my case, I need to make sure I’m prepared to stomach all the expenses that come with owning my own place.

Leveling up

With any endeavor, my standard M.O. is to gradually level up. In other words, slowly invest in something, test things out, then reassess.

Case in point: when I took an interest in roller derby, I borrowed gear for six months before investing in my own set of skates. I’m currently practicing drums on a basic practice pad before buying an electronic drum kit. And as for the #freelancelife, I moonlighted as a copy editor and writer for several years before taking the leap to full-time status.

How will I gradually level up to buying a house? The long-term goal is to sock away a certain portion of my income each month. It’s an ambitious number, and I’ve automated my savings so that I can accomplish this. I’m also socking away any extra cash I get. My target amount for a down payment? At least 20 percent.

Saving money each month will also help me get into the habit of saving for maintenance and repairs, which is a big part of responsible homeownership. The general recommended amount? At least one percent of the purchase price. So, if I’m hunting for a $300,000 condo, this means I’ve got to have at least $3,000 saved up for repairs

Time to Get Real

As my fellow self-employed writer pals can attest to, working for yourself makes the home buying process more stressful.

For starters, there is more documentation required than if you worked a day job as an employee. Plus, it can be tougher to qualify for a mortgage if you don’t have a steady income. Indeed, I have a lot to think about. Plus, I have no clue what my life situation, needs and wants will look like in a few years. Will I be married, wanting to have a child? Will my freelance business be in a growth phase? Will alien bunnies take over the planet? As you can see, there are many unknowns.

At the same time, saving now and starting to explore the possibility of homeownership will get me in the proper mindset. In turn, I’ll be able to gauge if buying a house is truly the right choice for me. Here’s more good news: if it turns out that I don’t want to be a homeowner after all, I’ll have a healthy nest egg to funnel into something else. It’s important for me to get my ducks in a row—both mentally and financially. This way I’ll be prepared to buy a house if it turns out to be the right choice for me.

 

Oprah: From Broke to Billionaire

She’s rich, she’s famous and she’s one of the most successful women in America. She’s Oprah Winfrey, and as of March 2018, her net worth is estimated to be about $2.7 billion dollars, according to Forbes.

Her empire is comprised of The Oprah Winfrey Show (the final episode aired in 2011), as well as a magazine, a cable network, and a hefty investment in Weight Watchers. However, Winfrey wasn’t always the rich and powerful woman that she is today. In fact, she had a humble upbringing and her life wasn’t always smooth sailing.

So what’s her secret to success? Read on to learn more.

Humble Beginnings

Winfrey was born on a farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. She was initially raised by her grandmother, who taught her how to read at the age of two. A bright and gifted child, Winfrey loved to talk, and started public speaking a young age. She would give speeches at school and even her local church.

When Winfrey moved in with her mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her life took a difficult turn, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Despite her circumstances, which included sexual abuse, she made the best of things and continued to excel in school. Eventually, she went to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was strict, but his discipline paid off. When Winfrey graduated high school, she received a full scholarship to attend Tennessee State University.

Getting Her Start

Winfrey was popular during college, and this helped her win Miss Black Tennessee during her freshman year. At 19 years old, Winfrey accepted a position as co-anchor of the WTVF-TV evening news. She was the first African American female to achieve this.

After graduation, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she spent seven years reporting the local news. From there, she went to work for A.M. Chicago, where she took the initiative to focus on controversial topics like politics, racism, and even child molestation. When Winfrey joined the news show, A.M. Chicago was last in the ratings, but within a few months, ratings soared and the program was renamed The Oprah Winfrey show. It went on to become the highest rated talk show in history.

Winfrey soon added acting to her resume when she debuted in The Color Purple in 1985. The movie was a huge hit and Winfrey was in high demand as both a television host and actress.

Making Strides

In 1986, Winfrey founded Harpo Productions, a production company that has produced television shows like the Dr. Phil Show and The Dr. Oz Show, as well as many movies, including the 2014 critically-acclaimed Selma. Starting with just five employees, Harpo now has more than 12,000 employees. Most importantly, at only 32 years old, Winfrey was the first black women to control a major entertainment studio.

During that same year, Winfrey became the first African American television host to be nationally syndicated. Her income jumped exponentially. Between 1987 and 1988, Winfrey earned $30 million. By 1995, her net worth was estimated to be about $340 million.

Winfrey continued to host her talk show until 2011. At the same time, she began investing in other companies as well. She also formed a charity, Oprah’s Angel Network, and became the CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network (or OWN).

Learn Key Money Moves From Oprah

Winfrey has proven time and time again that you don’t have to be born into money to make money. Not only is she a billionaire, but her money continues to grow. So how does Winfrey achieve financial success? Here are our thoughts on this:

1. She has multiple streams of income

Winfrey not only has her own TV network, but she has multiple other income streams as highlighted above. This allows her to make money in different ways – without putting all her eggs into one basket. And, regardless of how hectic things get, Winfrey doesn’t let being busy run her life. She also seems to have an excellent grasp at time management, which helps her earn more money.

2. She works hard

Winfrey has worked hard ever since she was a young child. She has faced hurdles along the way, including being fired from her first “real” job. But, she handles it all with grace and often creates a business opportunity from a disappointment.

3. She gives freely

Winfrey has often expressed that she likes to show gratitude by giving back, and giving back she does! In fact, her non-profit Oprah’s Angel Network is now worth over $200 million dollars. But that’s not all. Oprah also works with many other charities, including Free The Children, Peace Over Violence, and Women For Women International.

4.She doesn’t let anything hold her back

Winfrey’s first job was working at the grocery store next to her father’s barber shop, a far cry from the work she does now. However, this did not hold her back from pushing forward with her dreams.

She has dabbled in multiple areas of business and entrepreneurship, and this has helped her earn millions during her 30+ year career. She has also made wise investments to grow her money beyond what most people will make in a lifetime.

We can all learn a thing or two from Winfrey. At the very least, her financial prowess can help you realize that with hard work, determination and smart money moves, you too can achieve success.

 

4 Side Hustles You Can Do with Your Family

When you’re faced with budget difficulties, other well-meaning people suggest cutting expenses. But sometimes that simply isn’t enough of a solution.

The next common piece of advice you’ll likely get is to start a side hustle and earn more money. Unfortunately making that choice can really cut into family time. It may also be tough to do when you already feel like there isn’t enough of it.

So what’s the best solution? A side hustle you can do with your family, of course.

Taking on a side hustle you can do with your family has advantages. You can earn more money and still spend time with them. It also gives you the opportunity to teach them the value of money and hard work. Here are a couple of side hustles you could choose to do with your family.

1. Grow a Lawn Care Service

Not all side hustles are family friendly, so finding one a spouse or kids can help with may be tricky. One side hustle you can do with your family is to grow a lawn care service.

There are positives to choosing this type of business. For one, you get to spend time outdoors. Another is advertising through happy customers with great looking lawns who will refer you to others.

By building up a client base you’ll have repeat customers every week or so. You can use your calendar to keep a schedule so all family members can follow along. Use it to schedule as many jobs as you’d like according to everyone’s availability.

Obviously you’ll need an invoicing system as well as a little equipment. But family members can help pull weeds, sweep, use a leaf blower, and perform other small tasks. Older kids may be able to mow and use a trimmer too. Having help allows you to complete lawn care quickly and make more money.

2. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking

Having a side hustle you can do with your family may be easy if you like pets. Try pet sitting, dog walking, or both to get your family involved and making money along with you.

Not a lot of skills are required most of the time. Still, liking and being good with animals makes it much easier and more fun.

Young children will love helping with this job. It will give them an idea of what it’s like to start their own business while they’re still young.

3. Baking and Catering

An additional side hustle you can do with your family is baking and catering for others. To get started, try some recipes out on family and friends. Ask for referrals and advertise on social media to build repeat business.

To include your family, have them help do the tasks they can for their age. For instance, small children can carry non-food items that are not overly heavy or help with clean-up. Older children can probably do more of the actual cooking and baking.

4. Rent Rooms in Your Home

Need another idea for a side hustle you can do with your family? Try renting rooms in your home to travelers through Airbnb. Signing up is easy and your family can help out.

Have youngsters assist by stocking small toiletry items and towels. Older kids can clean and do other needed tasks.

Taking on a side hustle doesn’t have to mean sacrificing all of your family time. Choose a side hustle you can do with your family and you can have both while boosting your budget.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

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