Tag: Side Hustle

 

How to Launch Your Holiday Side Hustle

‘Tis the season to start a side hustle.

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

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

Where to Find Holiday Side Gigs

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

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

Picking the Right Side Gig Idea

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

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

How to Launch (on a Budget)

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

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

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

How to Drive Customers

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

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

Keep the Holiday Gig Going

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

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

 

Weird Holiday Hustles You May Not Have Thought Of

Don’t stress if dressing up as Santa’s elf isn’t your ideal way to make money this holiday season. You’ve got standards after all.

But the truth is: You may need some extra dough to buy holiday gifts for your relatives. And, a side hustle can be the perfect way to earn more money.

Not sure what type of side gig is best for you? Take a look at these 7 weird holiday hustles and start saving money right away for the upcoming holiday season.

1. Mobile Gift Wrapper

If you actually like wrapping presents, then you have a real gift. Many people are willing to pay someone to wrap their presents, yet they don’t have the time to drag bags full of gifts to and from the mall’s gift-wrapping kiosk. Here’s where you step in. Instead of working at the mall, you can start your own mobile gift wrapping business. You simply go to your client’s house or workplace, wrap the presents, and leave – with cash in hand.

2. Gift Idea Generator

If only someone would pay you for your amazing shopping skills. Well, someone just might do this, especially if that someone is strapped for time. Here’s where you take over and charge by the hour to generate unique gift ideas for those who simply don’t want to shop for themselves.

 

The easiest way to organize this type of business is to take orders through an online form. This way the shopper can specify a budget, gift preferences, and give you details about their gift recipients. You create the list of presents and then place the orders – for an hourly fee, of course.

3. Christmas Light Installer

Another major holiday pain point is hanging Christmas lights. So, why not offer a service to hang and then take down holiday lights?

 

All you need to start is an appealing flyer. From there, be prepared to go door-to-door handing out your flyers and discussing your services. You can also broaden your reach by advertising your business to senior care facilities, small shops, and more.

 

If you are tech-savvy, you have even more to offer. People love lights that are synched with music.

4. Rent Out Baby Items

Tired of having your home look like a daycare? Why not rent out your baby gear to families visiting your area for the holidays?

 

Kaylee Garcia did this last Christmas using BabyQuip, an online platform that allows individuals to rent out baby gear. Garcia, who lives in central Washington, customized her profile to include snow gear and toys. According to BabyQuip stats, an average baby equipment renter earns $600 a month. As for Garcia: She likes helping other families, as well as earning extra cash.

“The best part is that I get to help families pack light and travel happy.”

5. Toy Dealer

You aren’t the only one strapped for cash this season. Parents are also on the prowl for awesome toy deals. Why not help these parents out by buying and selling used toys in great condition?

Take a look at Jeff Neal, who considers himself an expert at this. Neal, owner of The Critter Depot, purchases Lego blocks for two to three cents a piece online and then sells them for double in larger lots on Craigslist.

“They only sell when Christmas is around the corner,” says Neal. “I tried selling them during spring and summer, but there’s never any interest.

6. DJ Jingle Bells

If you know how to drop a sick beat, then you can make some easy money this holiday season. Think about it. If you’ve always wanted to DJ, now is your chance. Start out by offering holiday-themed party music packages. You can advertise your services for office parties, as well as school events and dances.

7. Toy Installer

Are you handy with tools and a pro at reading boring instruction manuals? This may be the perfect side gig for you – and a skill that parents are willing to pay for. Just think: You could be assembling Barbie’s 500-piece dream house and outdoor play equipment – for a fee, of course. If you offer Christmas Eve or Christmas Day rush assembly, even better. Don’t forget to charge a premium for that.

Get Ho-Ho-Hustling

As you can see, you don’t need a lot of money to launch a holiday side gig. You can try one of the ideas here or come up with your own business. All you need is an entrepreneurial hustle and bank app that lets you accept payments easily and instantly. And, while you’re at it: Don’t forget to automate your savings as this will help you save even more money without even thinking about it.

So, are you ready to make some extra money this holiday season? We thought so!

 

The Rise of the Holiday Side Hustle

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

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

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

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

How Popular is the Holiday Side Hustle?

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

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

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

  • You’ll Have More Cash Flow

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

  • You’ll Have Financial Security

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

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

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

  • You Can Avoid Accumulating Debt

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

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

  • You Can Put Your Skills to Use

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

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

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

Should you join the hype?

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

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

 

How to Make Your Life Work with Two Jobs

We talk a lot about saving money, but there’s another big way to improve your personal finances: Make more money. Working a second job can be a good way to do that, and a new study finds workers with two jobs perform just as well as colleagues with one job.

But moonlighting comes at the expense of personal and family time, the study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology finds. The study, led by Brian Webster, an assistant professor of management at Ball State University, looked at the job performance and engagement of a sample of bartenders and teachers who moonlighted in a range of jobs.

Webster believes successful moonlighters understand their employers expect them to be focused at work.

“There seems to be that recognition that if I’m at work and I’m doing this, I’m going to perform adequately,” he said.

If people can’t perform, they leave. Webster noted the study didn’t look at people who used to moonlight, but stopped.

This is good news for employers, who can count on their workers being focused, but that extra time and energy has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere tends to be family, the study finds. Only about 4.9% of workers have multiple jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but over the course of a lifetime, many people could find themselves moonlighting, Webster said.

So how can moonlighters find a healthy balance?

How moonlighting affects you

People moonlight for two reasons, Webster said: To make more money or to do something they enjoy, like an accountant teaching a class on weekends. Warren Robbins, senior sales associate for Policygenius, found himself needing to do the former in 2015, when he took a job as a bartender while working full-time at a health insurance company.

Robbins had just learned his partner, now his wife, was pregnant. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, and the two decided they needed more money.

His solution was to take a second job. Robbins worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at his day job and took on two overnight shifts at a bar, from Saturday night into Sunday and Sunday night into Monday at 4 a.m.

“My sleep schedule was all messed up,” he said.

The beginning of the week was tough, Robbins said. He would sleep all day Sunday after getting off work early that morning, work a night shift at the bar and then get to the office on maybe four hours of sleep.

His focus and drive at work suffered. So did his personal life.

“It was tough,” Robbins said. “I never saw my wife, and if I did, it was after work on a weekday. We never got to spend quality time.”

The only moments he could take for himself were during closing time, when he would pour himself a Guinness, lock the door and count the money as the sun rose.

How to find balance

Moonlighting can be stressful, but there are ways to make it better, said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. The first is to get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your mental and physical health, he said.

Also, take time each day to rest and recharge to relieve any stress from work.

“It’s free to sit back for 15 minutes and just rest,” Gionfriddo said. “It’s free to spend 20 minutes and take a walk.”

Find even a short amount of time for something you want to do, whether it’s family or a hobby, as a break from people telling you what to do, he said. If work becomes life and life becomes work, you can lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.

It’s important to be able to say why you’re working so hard, whether it’s to save for a trip, or support your family or retire early, he said.

“If you lose purpose in what you’re doing, then you’re in a real downward spiral that can lead to some real serious mental health problems,” Gionfriddo said.

You may not notice the signs of a problem, he said. You don’t necessarily have to feel suicidal to be clinically depressed.

If you feel excessively tired, or your eating habits suffer, those could be signs your mental health is suffering, Gionfriddo said.

“A lot of these things happen on a continuum,” he said. “It’s not that one day I have depression and the day before I didn’t.”

The Mental Health America website has free and anonymous screening toolsthat can tell you whether it’s likely you have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. The tools also offer more information on mental health conditions, referrals to services, self-help tools and engagement with other people who may have the same condition.

If you do have a diagnosable condition, the law offers protections against being fired or disciplined for that condition, Gionfriddo said.

“There’s no shame in having a mental health condition or concern, even a diagnosed one,” he said. “In fact, the sooner you seek help for it if you think you need help, the quicker your recovery and the more likely your recovery is going to be.”

Before moonlighting, you may want to talk to your boss to see if your current schedule can bend enough to take on a second job, Webster said, or try to find a second job flexible enough that it won’t strain your existing schedule too much. You may also want to look for a second job that complements your existing job.

“If you enjoy what you do, the two jobs might benefit or contribute to each other in some way,” he said.

Robbins only moonlighted for three months. The birth of his son made his second job impossible. He wouldn’t moonlight again, given the choice.

“It was this period where you would get revived just to get depleted again,” he said. “I would never do that again.”

A second job isn’t the only way to boost your savings. Try making these small changes.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

14 Part-Time Jobs That Provide Health Insurance

Being self-employed, I’m sensitive to the health insurance dilemma millions of people have to deal with.

My family is getting our coverage through MediShare, a Christian health sharing ministry. It’s working well for us, and I strongly recommend it. But there are other ways to get health insurance coverage, if you aren’t participating in an employer plan, or you can’t afford coverage on the health insurance exchanges.

This strategy might be a solution if you’re:

  • In between jobs
  • Self-employed
  • Or in early retirement (no employer plan, but too young for Medicare)

It’s well worth investigating if you’re in one of those three career categories. It may seem like a less-than-perfect solution for health insurance, but there actually are people getting coverage this way.

14 Part-time Jobs that Provide Health Insurance

I recently came across a great article (from Personal Finance expert Kevin Mercadante): 20 Part-time Jobs with Health Insurance that served as the inspiration for this piece.

This list is current as of June 2018. But please be sure to double check each benefit offer before applying for a job. Employers are particularly fluid when it comes to offering health insurance to their part-time employees.

Some drop coverage or change the terms, while others add it, and it all happens on a pretty regular basis.

1. Starbucks

I’m starting with this one because it’s the most frequently mentioned among any time the topic involves health insurance for part-timers. Starbucks runs largely with part-time workers, and they’ve been providing them with health insurance for years. They do it through their program called Your Special Blend. It’s a benefits package that not only provides health insurance, but also other benefits, including dental and vision.

To qualify, you must work at least 240 hours in a three consecutive month period. That works out to be at least 20 hours per week. Their website confirms they pay 70% of the premiums for their employees, and also cover 100% of preventative medicine.

One of the advantages of Starbucks as a source of group health insurance is that they’re located in virtually every nook and cranny in the United States. That means there may be a job available close to where you live.

2. UPS

This is another company that frequently appears on lists of part-time jobs that provide health insurance. And since it’s a package delivery company, they have locations across the country. UPS is a company well known for providing full-time benefits for their part-time employees.

For union jobs, which likely takes in the vast majority of delivery personnel, you must work at least 400 hours over three months. That works out to be something like 25 hours per week. That will give you full-time benefits.

If you work between 225 and 400 hours over three months, you’ll be eligible for part-time benefits, which includes health insurance. They don’t give details, but it’s likely to be a stripped-down program. Still, you can qualify by working fewer than 15 hours per week.

UPS may not be your first choice if you’re looking for group health insurance coverage. The work is physically challenging, and you have to be there for a minimum of one year to be eligible.

3. Delta Airlines

This one really surprised me, but in a good way. As one of the largest airlines, they operate out of most commercial airports across the country. If you live close to an airport, this could be a serious option. Not only that, working for an airline brings outstanding travel benefits. Delta is also one of those companies where a job that starts out as part time could go full-time, if that’s a consideration.

Delta provides health insurance coverage to part-time employees and their eligible dependents. They offer three different health insurance plans, depending on where you live. They don’t disclose the specifics of the coverage, so you’ll have to do some serious investigating before accepting a part-time job.

4. Southwest Airlines

Delta isn’t the only airline that offers health insurance for its part-time staff. Southwest does too, so it may be a norm in the airline industry.

Like Delta, Southwest is one of the major airlines, and operates at airports across the country. Their website gives no indication of how many hours you need to work to qualify for health insurance, but they do confirm it’s available. Again, make sure you look into the details before applying for a part-time job if health insurance is the main reason for doing so.

And once again, as an airline employee, you’ll enjoy generous travel benefits.

5. Lowe’s

Lowe’s is another company that has locations all across the country. In addition to the fact that they offer health insurance, this could be a real part-time job opportunity for someone with a background or interest in construction, home remodeling, or any of the trades.

Lowe’s health insurance includes prescription drug, dental and vision coverage. Benefits take effect within 31 days of starting, so this can be a real option if you’re looking for coverage fast. Like other companies on this list, they don’t indicate how many hours you need to work to qualify, so you’ll have to do some digging on that front.

Health insurance for part-timers looks like this:

6. Whole Foods

Whole Foods is another company that frequently makes lists of part-time jobs that provide health insurance. The company has nearly 500 stores across 44 states, so there’s an excellent chance there’s a location near you.

According to their website, you’re eligible for benefits if you work at least 20 hours per week, and have completed an undisclosed probationary period. They don’t indicate the specific type of coverage, but it seems to be dependent on location. You’ll have to do some investigating in the store where you apply.

7. Safeway

Safeway is one of the largest grocery store chains in the country. They operate more than 2,200 stores in 33 states. Their website indicates they offer coverage for part employees, but there’s also some indication that it varies by store location. They may offer the benefit in some states, but not in others. Or it may vary from one store to another. They’re a bit sketchy on the details, so once again you’ll have to do some investigating.

8. Costco

Costco is another company that frequently makes these lists. It’s generally nationwide as well, with more than 500 locations in 44 states. Coverage begins the first day of the second month after you’ve completed 450 eligible hours. You’re then required to average at least 23 hours per week to qualify for health insurance. The coverage includes your spouse, children, parents and even grandparents.

9. Citi Bank

It turns out your friendly neighborhood bank may be a prime source of part-time with health insurance. That includes some of the most prominent banks in the country.

Citi offers coverage for part-timers. You have to work a minimum of 20 hours per week, and you become eligible after 90 days of employment.

The downside is that Citi branches are concentrated in the largest metropolitan areas, so they may not be available in smaller cities. If so, try other banks in your area. It seems to be a common practice.

10. JP Morgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase has a health insurance arrangement for part-timers comparable to Citi. You’re required to work at least 20 hours per week, and there’s also a 90 day waiting period.

Plans are provided by CIGNA and United Healthcare, include dental and vision coverage, and are available for family members.

11. SunTrust Bank

SunTrust is a large regional bank, operating more than 1,400 branches in 11 southeastern states. They don’t indicate how many hours are required to get health insurance, but they do offer it to part-timers. They have different plans, and include prescription drug coverage. And as a bank, they also offer a health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover out-of-pocket expenses.

12. REI

If you’re not familiar with REI, there a company that sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and clothing. They have 154 retail stores in 36 states across the country. And they do offer part-time jobs that provide health insurance.

Their REI Flex Plan provides health insurance for workers averaging 20 or more hours per week. You can choose between several plans, and coverage extends to your dependents. The website indicates they pay most of the premium cost for the plan.

13. Aetna

Large insurance companies may be well worth a look for part-time jobs that provide health insurance. Aetna is an example. They provide health insurance for part-timers who work at least 20 hours per week. That also includes vision and dental coverage, as well as HSAs.

14. Navy Federal Credit Union

The OutOfYourRut list reports that credit unions are common sources of part-time jobs that provide health insurance. I did some light research to see if that’s true, and it absolutely is. In fact, I hit pay dirt on the first search.

Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the country, and yes, they provide health insurance for part-timers. They list comprehensive medical coverage, catastrophic coverage and prescription drug benefits, with a choice of either a PPO or HMO, depending on location.

The website doesn’t give details as to how many hours you need to work, but 20 seems to be the standard among credit unions.

Apart from Navy Federal Credit Union, check with any credit union in your area to see if they have part-time jobs that provide health insurance. There’s an excellent chance they will.

Final Thoughts

If none of these tickle your fancy, you should also look into hospitals, county governments and colleges and universities. They commonly offer part-time jobs that provide health insurance.

In fact, it seems there are more part-time jobs with health insurance than we usually think. Check with any competitors of the companies on this list – banks, credit unions, retailers, airlines and insurance companies.

If one major employer in a field offers coverage for part-timers, there’s probably others.

 

Paycheck to Paycheck Budgeting

If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, you’re not alone. Even with unemployment at its lowest level in more than a decade, 78 percent of American workers say they are living from one paycheck to the next.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you know just how difficult this can be. Not only can your debt continue to pile up, but worrying about paying your bills can take an emotional toll on you and the people you care about.

Here’s the good news: no matter what your income is, breaking free from the constant paycheck to paycheck cycle is possible, especially if you commit to it and create a solid budget.

Let’s take a look at how you can set up a budget to help you meet your financial obligations – and maybe even save money, too.

Understand how much you’re spending each month

When creating a budget, it’s important that you start at the beginning by taking a good hard look your expenses. Why? Because understanding exactly how much you spend each month is crucial if you live paycheck to paycheck. By doing this, you’ll get a better picture of where your cash is going and how you can make changes to your overall cash flow.

To get started, begin tracking every expense for a month. To help you get going, you may want to check out one of any number of budgeting apps, including Mint and You Need A Budget. However, if you are a more hands-on person, you may prefer to keep tabs on your spending via an Excel document.

Better yet, if you have a Chime bank account, you can take advantage of numerous automated features. For example, each time you make a transaction with your Chime debit card, you can receive a notification. Then, at the end of the day, you can enter the transactions into your spreadsheet or app of choice. How you end up tracking your spending doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you take the time to do this so you can monitor where each penny is going throughout the entire month.

The results may surprise you.

How much income are you bringing in?

Once you’ve listed out your expenses, it’s time to move onto your income.

If you are a salaried employee, this is going to be pretty simple. You probably already know how much after-tax income you take home each month. However, if you are a freelance worker or have an hourly job with varying hours, it’s going to be a bit more difficult.

So, try to go back through the past six to 12 months and find out what your average income was during this period. You can do this by looking at your bank account or perhaps any accounting app you may use for your side hustle.

Once you determine how much you earn in an average month, you’ll use this figure in your budget.

Start analyzing your financial information

Now that you’ve listed out your expenses and calculated your income, it’s time to dig deeper into the numbers.

Start by subtracting your expenses from your income. This will give you your net income. Is the resultant figure close to zero or lower than you expected? If so, it’s time to get to work by cutting down on your spending to give yourself a little breathing room. So how do you do this?

You can begin by taking a closer look at the expenses you listed out. It may even help to group your monthly costs into categories, like groceries, restaurants, clothing, gas stations, etc. This will help you see whether there is one particular area where you spend more money than you should. From here you can highlight potential areas where you can save money. Do you still have a cable plan with all the premium channels? Are you going out to dinner multiple times a week? Maybe you can cut back here or elsewhere.

The key here is to identify troublesome areas and make changes. If you’re not ready to cut the cord entirely on cable, for example, maybe you can cancel the premium channels. Or, if you eat out everyday at work, maybe you can start by bringing your lunch to work three days a week. Find places you can trim your spending. You’ll be shocked at how much money you can free up.

Start hustling to boost your income

Once you’ve identified the expenses you can eliminate, the next objective is to increase your income. You may be able to take on extra hours at your day job or pick up a second job in the evenings or over the weekends.

With the growing popularity of the gig economy, you may also want to consider starting a side hustle. If you have a reliable car, for example, you can drive for Uber or Lyft. If you love to write, try your hand freelance writing. You get the point.

Allow your budget to guide you in the right direction

By creating a budget, curbing your spending, and increasing your income, you’re giving yourself a way to break the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Just remember: this isn’t something you do once and then forget about. You need to constantly monitor your spending throughout the month and develop sounds financial habits.

Eliminating the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle isn’t hard to do, but it takes work. With diligence, perseverance and commitment, you’ll be on your way to living within your budget without worrying about when your next payday will arrive.

 

6 Tips for Paying Off Debt on a Small Income

If you aren’t earning a lot of money or you’re barely making ends meet, paying off your debt may seem impossible.

People fall into debt for a variety of reasons. Regardless of whether you have mounting credit card bills from past financial mistakes, student loans, medical bills, or something else, debt can feel all-consuming and completely overwhelming. Yet, did you know that it’s possible to pay off every last penny you owe? It’s not always easy, but with some determination and dedication, you can pay off your debt, save more money, and improve your entire financial situation.

Here are 6 tips for paying off debt when you have a small income.

1. Create an emergency fund first

While you may be eager to jump right in and start tackling your debt, if you don’t have an emergency fund, this should be your first goal.

Without an emergency fund or financial buffer, any unexpected costs can derail your debt repayment process. Maybe your car breaks down and needs repairs, or you had a larger heating bill than you budgeted for. Whatever the case, when emergencies come up, you need money – and fast.

So, start an emergency fund now with a separate savings account. This way you aren’t tempted to use it for your day-to-day spending. If this feels overwhelming, start small. Even $500 saved up can help you out in a stressful financial situation.

2. Develop a “minimum needs” budget

A “minimum needs” budget is a budget that covers just your most basic living expenses, such as rent, groceries, and debt-repayment. It should be pretty bare-bones and should eliminate all non-essential spending.

To start your budget, you first need to determine the cost of your everyday living expenses.

These are bills you can’t cut out – bills that need to be paid every single month, like rent, groceries, and utilities.

As you create your budget, see if there is any way you can work to lower your bills. For instance, if you have an extra bedroom, can you find a roommate to save money on rent or your mortgage? Can you lower your grocery budget by clipping coupons and signing up for your grocery store’s rewards program? Perhaps you can consider cutting out cable to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year. Every little bit helps. The point of a minimum needs budget is to free up as much cash as you can. Every dollar you have to spare can be put towards paying down your debt.

To help you get going, start budgeting on a spreadsheet or use a budget app. And remember: no matter how you choose to track your money, the most important thing is to set a budget and stick to it.

3. Consider refinancing

If you have debt, it’s a good idea to find out if you can save money by refinancing your loans.

Refinancing your debt essentially means another company buys out your debt. In return, you start making payments to your new debt servicer, and this new company then collects your interest payments.

Refinancing companies typically offer you a lower interest rate to gain your business. This helps you because over time, you won’t have to pay nearly as much money in interest and can make a bigger dent in your principal loan balance.

Take it from me: it’s worthwhile to do your research and refinance if possible. A few years back, my husband and I refinanced some of our student loans and now pay a two percent lower interest rate than we were originally paying. This is saving us thousands of dollars in the long-run.

4. Set goals and find accountability

You can’t succeed on your own. Without solid goals and accountability, you’re much less likely to ever become debt-free.

In fact, in a study done by psychology professor Gail Matthews of Dominican University, it was found that sharing your goals with a friend is the key to accomplishing your goals. In her study, Matthews found that people who both wrote down their goals and had an accountability partner had a 76 percent success rate of accomplishing their goals. In comparison, there was another group in the study which was instructed to only think about individual goals. Only 43 percent of those people accomplished their goals.

So, practice writing down goals following the SMART method. With this method, your goals meet the following criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Once you’ve developed your SMART goals, share them with a friend or two. Ask a trusted friend or family member to check in with you and hold you accountable.

5. Focus on increasing your income

Cutting back on your spending certainly helps you pay off debt faster. But unfortunately, there is only so much you can cut out.

The secret to paying off debt quickly is to trim your expenses and increase your income at the same time. Then, use your freed up cash to throw extra payments towards your debt. There are thousands of ways you can increase your income. For you, maybe that means finding a higher paying 9 to 5 job. Or, you can start side hustling to earn a few extra hundred dollars each month. These are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Drive for Uber or Lyft
  • Babysit on the weekends
  • Start blogging or freelance writing
  • Have a garage sale
  • Mow laws
  • Pick up part-time or seasonal work

Once you start earning more money, put the entire amount of extra cash towards your debt. You’d be amazed at how much faster you can progress when you can put $100, $500, or even an extra $1,000 a month towards your debt.

6. Give yourself a guilt-free allowance

Even if you’re taking all the right steps, it can take years to pay off debt. In order to stay in the debt-repayment game for the long-haul, it’s imperative that you give yourself a little break once in a while.

The idea here is to give yourself a small, guilt-free allowance each month. Because it’s already in your budget, this is money you can freely spend without feeling regretful. The concept of a financial allowance is a lot like dieting. People are more successful when they allow themselves a rest day and a cheat meal once a week. It keeps them from feeling deprived and prevents large, impulsive purchases later.

So, factor a little free spending into your budget. Whether you give yourself $15 a month to go to the movies or $30 for a night out with friends, the choice is yours to enjoy…guilt-free of course.

Improving your financial situation

Paying off debt isn’t easy, especially on a small income. But with grit, hard work, and a whole lot of commitment, it is possible to live a life free from the burden of debt. Are you ready to follow these 6 steps and get started?

 

How Freelancers Can Balance Business and Personal Finances

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

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

Set Up a Business Account

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

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

Know Your Tax Burden

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

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

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

Create a Business Plan

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

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

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

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


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

18 Ways to Earn Money Online This Summer

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

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

1. Open a new bank account

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

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

2. Use a cash-back website

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

3. Get rid of your stuff

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

4. Sell your photos

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

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

5. Lose weight

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

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

6. Go grocery shopping

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

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

7. Find unclaimed money

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

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

8. Shop for a new car insurance policy

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

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

9. Get rid of unwanted gift cards

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

10. Get crafty

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

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

11. Rent out a room

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

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

12. Lend your money to others

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

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

13. Invest your spare change

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

14. Run errands or do handyman work

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

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

15. Online focus groups

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

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

16. Test out apps and websites

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

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

17. Use coupon codes

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

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

18. Play with apps on your phone

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

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

Are you ready to save more cash?

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

 

Best Summer Side Hustles for Teachers

School’s out for summer. Families are enjoying warm weather, fresh watermelon, and fun activities with the kids. But summer also leaves many hard-working teachers worrying about their bank account until they return to school in the fall.

Are you a teacher looking for ways to keep cash flowing in the summer? We’ve rounded up our favorite summer side hustles that don’t include babysitting your neighbor’s kids. Read on to learn more.

1. Tutor

If you love your job, continuing to teach in the summer may be the best option for you. There are numerous ways for teachers to continue educating children in the summer. Some options include teaching at a summer school in your district and one-on-one tutoring with struggling students.

Companies like Varsity Tutors, focused on teaching online with a flexible schedule, pay $20 an hour on average. Alternatively, companies like Catapult Learning work with at-risk students to improve educational outcomes. According to Glassdoor, the company pays teachers $24 an hour or more.

2. Sell lesson plans online

Do you spend hours coming up with perfect lesson plans and activities for your students? Why not save your fellow teachers time and make money by selling those plans to other teachers?

Marketplaces exist for teachers to sell educational resources across grade levels, including Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher’s Notebook. You can also reach out to local homeschool groups, where parents are often looking for high-quality lesson plans. Tools like Canva can help you make your ideas even more professional, without a need for design skills.

3. Freelance writing and editing

Every business needs a website and social media presence. This means that there will always be a demand for high-quality written content. If you have solid writing or editing skills, consider putting them to use. Freelance writing, proofreading, or editing can be a lucrative side hustle.

To get started, try joining sites like UpWork and PitchWhiz to find writing jobs. Or, reach out to publications you read anyway and pitch your article ideas. For editors and proofreaders, Gramlee and Kibin are free platforms to list your services and get matched with clients.

4. Work as a camp counselor

If you love being outside and spending time with kids, working as a camp counselor can be the best of both worlds. While you’ll still be working with kids, the environment is more fun and laid back than school.

For teachers who want to travel the world, consider counselor positions for outdoor adventure programs like Outward Bound, NOLS, and Wilderness Adventures. While the pay isn’t great (assistant leaders at Outward Bound start at just $64 a day), these companies cover travel, accommodations, meals and activity expenses for trip leaders. Besides: you’ll get to experience something new.

5. Teach English online

Have you ever thought about leaning on your teaching expertise by helping kids in foreign countries learn English? Many programs have popped up in recent years that pay educated, native English speakers to tutor online.

While teaching via webcam may seem awkward, there are benefits to these programs. The pay is reasonable, ranging from $15 to more than $25 an hour depending on experience and the company. You set your schedule, taking time off as needed for vacation or family. And, your daytime hours remain free so that you enjoy the summer. Why? Tutors often teach in the early morning or late at night – which is daytime in China.

Popular platforms include VIPKID, Qkids, and Cambly, all of which have higher starting pay rates for certified teachers.

6. Offer house sitting services

If you are craving those summer months to recover from the busy school year, you can prioritize relaxation while still bringing in some cash. One idea is to offer house sitting services in your local area for families heading out on vacation. Among the typical house sitting tasks: bringing in the mail, watering the plants, and feeding the cat. It’s a cushy gig that gives homeowners peace of mind.

If you live in a destination area, also consider providing rental management services. Owners of vacation rentals pay a decent fee, on average 28% of the rental price, according to Rented.com. Rental managers meet new renters to hand off the keys and instructions, coordinate with a cleaning service and remain on call for any issues with the property.

Take time to re-energize

As a teacher, you’re doing important work all year. But you also deserve to get ahead on your savings. Luckily for you, these side hustle opportunities will help you earn and save money in the summer months. Before you dive in, however, don’t forget to take the time you need to read a good book, relax, and take care of yourself. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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