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10 Easy And Delicious Lunch Ideas For Work

10 Easy And Delicious Lunch Ideas For Work

Finding exciting lunch ideas for work is one of the best ways to start saving money on your food spending. That’s because buying lunch at work can really add up if you do it too often.

When I worked as a financial analyst, I tried to bring my lunch as much as possible. But, it was easy to get caught up with others who were going out to grab a quick lunch. The leftovers or sandwich I packed never sounded as exciting as going out.

Sure, it’s fun to go out to lunch from time to time, but it adds up quickly.

I would find myself spending anywhere from $10-$15 when I did go out for lunch. Even just $5 for lunch here and there can add up to a lot of money when you’re trying to cut your budget.

So, to help you save money on lunch, I have some delicious and healthy lunch ideas for work that will get you excited about packing your lunch.

This list is full of healthy lunch ideas for work, including a great vegetarian quinoa bowl with beans, corn, and a lime vinaigrette. There are low carb options like chicken fajita bowls and an avocado chicken salad (this one looks so pretty in the pictures!).

The recipe I’m most excited to try is the chicken hummus naan wrap. It’s packed full of veggies, and if you are vegetarian, you can easily leave out the chicken and still have a great and filling lunch.

One thing I recommend doing with these lunch ideas for work is to make them even easier by doing your prep work on the weekend or spending one night cooking and preparing several days worth of lunches. You can divide them up into containers and label each, which will help you stay organized.

Even if you don’t prepare your lunches in advance, all of these recipes are still easy lunches for work. That means you’ll be even more likely to remember that there is food in your fridge so that you can save money each week on lunch. 

You might even find yourself making some of these for dinner!

Note: If you’re looking for easy weekly meal plans, full of budget recipes, I recommend $5 Meal Plan. $5 Meal Plan is a meal planning service that sends you a delicious meal plan and shopping list every week for just $5 a month. You can even add some of these recipes into your list of lunch ideas for work.

Related: Does bringing lunch to work actually save money?

Other helpful content to read:

Here are 10 easy and delicious lunch ideas for work.

 

1. Cheesy Taco Pasta

Get the recipe here.

 

2. Southwest Quinoa Salad

Get the recipe here.

 

3. Chicken Fajita Meal-Prep Bowls

Get the recipe here.

 

4. Cold Chicken Pasta Salad

Get the recipe here.

 

5. Chicken Hummus Naan Wraps

Get the recipe here.

 

6. Korean Chicken Meal Prep Bowl

Get the recipe here.

 

7. Vegan Curry Ramen Noodles

Get the recipe here.

 

8. Crispy Vegan Potato Tacos with Jalapeño Cilantro Sauce

Get the recipe here.

 

9. Smashed Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Get the recipe here.

 

10. Avocado Chicken Salad

Get the recipe here.

What are your favorite lunch ideas for work? Do you bring your lunch to work?

The post 10 Easy And Delicious Lunch Ideas For Work appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College

21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College

21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College #howtosavemoneyincollege #waystosavemoneyincollegeLooking to learn how to save money in college? With ever rising college costs, it can really help your current and future finances if you learn how to save money.

Tuition for an in-state public college averages around $25,290. Private college tuition costs twice as much, at an average of $50,900, according to Value Penguin. If you want to go to an elite, four-year university, the cost jumps to $68,000 per year.

And, if you’re going to college for something like medicine or law, you may end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years that you are in school.

As you can see, college can be very expensive.

However, I want you to know that you can learn how to save money in college so you can get a valuable college degree on a realistic budget.

Many students take out student loans to pay for college, and it can be very easy to borrow more than you actually need. While student loans do help you pay for college, having those loans hanging over your head can set your finances back by years and even decades.

And if you’re a parent trying to help your child, I’ve heard far too many stories of parents who go to great lengths to pay for school. Some take out a second mortgage, personal loans, or borrow from their retirement to send their children to college. The problem with this is that these parents are making it even more difficult to retire at their planned age. Remember, you can’t take out a loan for retirement!

College is just very expensive, but for many students it’s an important part of how they work towards a job or career they’ve always wanted. But, I want you to know that you can learn how to save money in college.

By cutting college costs, you can lower your student loan debt, or it can help parents reduce the amount they are borrowing or taking out of savings to pay for their children’s education.

Or, with these tips on how to save money in college, you may be able to attend college without racking up any student loan debt. Remember, that is also possible!

Related articles on how to save money in college:

Here is how to save money in college.

 

1. Think about the value each college will offer you.

I know many students who think about which college their friends are going to or which one is ranked the highest. But, you should think about which college is best for you and your specific major.

Sometimes, the highest ranked or most expensive college may not be the best for your actual major, which can hurt you in the long run and it isn’t how to save money in college. 

When thinking about whether or not a college is right for you, here are some things you’ll want to consider:

  • Accreditation- This is especially important if you want an advanced degree, such as medicine or law, because accreditation can determine whether or not you can go on to the next level of schooling.
  • Degrees- Which ones are offered by the college.
  • Cost- This includes the cost of tuition or the program you’re going into, plus whether scholarships or financial aid are available.
  • Location- If it’s close to home, can you save my living at home. But if it’s far away, you will need to think about dorm fees and the total cost of living.
  • Student to faculty ratio- If you need more one-on-one help with your studies, then this may be an important number to know.
  • The expertise of the professors- For me, I always liked having professors who had hands-on knowledge in the fields they were teaching.
  • Networking opportunities- A lot of life is about networking, and this is a must for some professions.

There’s a myth that expensive colleges are always better than the cheaper ones. As if higher college costs means that you’ll automatically get a great job, you’ll have an extremely high salary, and more.

One way of learning how to save money in college is to just stop believing in that myth!

In fact, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal:

From the academics [who have studied whether students from elite institutions outperform their peers or not] we know that in terms of future earnings, 1) your choice of field matters more than your choice of college, 2) after controlling for ability, the earnings differences of graduates from elite and non-elite institutions are small at best, and 3) any earnings advantage that may emerge over the long run is difficult to concretely tie back to the effects of one’s college choice.

 

2. You need to think about the full cost of college.

There is a lot that goes into the full cost of college, and it’s not just the initial tuition cost.

The most expensive school may actually be able to give you more scholarships than a less expensive school. That means the most expensive school may actually be the cheapest in the end, and this is why you need to think about the total cost.

And, there are still many great colleges that don’t come with a high tuition.

There are many factors that determine real college costs, and due to this, you’ll want to think about things such as:

  • College tuition- This will most likely be the biggest expense that you pay.
  • Room and board- Will you live on campus or not?
  • Fees- Whis can include laboratory fees, parking fees, etc.
  • Textbooks- Textbooks can easily cost a few hundred dollars each semester.
  • Financial aid- Will you receive any?
  • Scholarships- Will you apply for any?

Doing those last two things is one of the best ways to save for college, so please apply for scholarships and financial aid!

Considering all of the factors I’ve just listed can help you learn how to save money in college, and when you put them together, it may change your mind on which college provides the best value.

 

3. Remember that college isn’t the only thing that’s important.

When thinking about how to save money in college, you also want to remember that college isn’t the only thing that’s important. Yes, you definitely want to take it seriously and learn as much as possible, but there are other factors that are extremely important as well.

These other factors may play an even bigger role in helping you land the job you want.

Some of the other points you’ll want to keep in mind include:

  • Internships
  • Extracurricular activities such as college clubs
  • Part-time and full-time jobs
  • Leadership opportunities

And more!

With those things on your resume, you may put yourself ahead of others that are applying for the same position. These things are important no matter where you went to college.

Remember, companies want to see that you can apply what you learn and that you actually have experience.

 

4. Taking community college classes is one of the best ways to save money in college.

When you graduate with a four-year degree, the school name on your diploma will be the name of the college you graduated from. It won’t say, “graduated from here but took some classes at community college.” This is because your community college credits are transferred (if you follow the correct steps as outlined by your school).

If you are wondering how to save money in college, this is a great way to cut college costs.

Whether you are in college already or if you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.

Community colleges provide an enormous value. However, many think they are too good to save money by taking classes at a community college.

Usually, earning credits at a community college costs just a fraction of what it would cost at a 4-year college, so you may find yourself being able to save thousands of dollars each semester. 

You may only spend $5,000 a year at a community college (most likely even less), which is a huge difference from the costs that were mentioned at the beginning of this article.

There is also a myth that your degree is worth less if you go to a community college. That is not true at all. When you eventually earn your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and it won’t even mention the community college credits. Your degree will look the same as everyone else that attended your college, whether you took a few classes at community college or not. You might as well save money!

I only took community college classes during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.

Also, community colleges are great for getting general type credits out of the way, so you’re not missing the interesting and in-depth classes that gives your 4-year college the reputation it’s known for.

If you decide to go to a community college first, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of your credits. It’s an easy step to take, so do not forget! You should do this before you sign up and pay for any classes at the community college.

Related post on how to save money in college with community college: I Thought I Was Too Good For Community College.

 

5. Take advantage of high school classes that give you college credit.

One way of how to save money in college starts while you’re in high school. See, many high schools offer dual credit classes that allow you to earn both college and high school credits at the same time. Most of the time, these are done right at your high school, so you don’t have to go out of your way to take them!

If you are still in high school, this is something I highly recommend you look into, as it saves time and it might even be the best way to save for college.

When I was in my senior year of high school, nearly all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities.

Due to this, I left high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). I had knocked out a whole semester of college before even starting. I could’ve taken more, but I decided to take early release from high school and worked 30-40 hours a week as well.

 

6. Take all of the credits your tuition allows for.

At community colleges, you typically pay per credit hour.

However, at many universities, you pay a flat fee for your college tuition. So, whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you may be paying nearly the exact same price.

This is why I recommend that students who are paying a flat fee tuition take as many classes as you can. Now, you may want to make sure your classes are balanced because 18 credit hours of demanding courses can take a toll on you. But, this will allow you to take full advantage of high college costs.

If you think you can still earn good grades and do whatever else you do on the side, definitely get full use of the college tuition you are already paying for!

 

7. Apply for aid and scholarships to lower your college costs.

If you want to learn how to save money in college, applying for financial aid and scholarships is one of the most important things to do.

But, according to a study by NerdWallet, for the 2018-2019 school year, students left $2.6 billion of free college money on the table. That was Pell Grant money that students qualify for by filling out the FAFSA, which is easy to fill out and necessary for any financial aid or scholarships.

So, before you start your semester, you should always look into scholarships, grants, and fill out your FAFSA (click here to read my FAFSA tips). Paperwork for the following semester is usually due around spring, so I highly recommend doing this as soon as you can if you are planning on attending college in the fall.

Sadly, many people believe that scholarships are impossible to get. That is just another myth, and it’s probably why so students missed out on so much money last year.

I received around several thousand dollars a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for a majority of my college tuition. The scholarships were easy for me to get because I earned good grades in high school and scored well on tests. I received scholarships to all of the other colleges I applied for as well, just for good grades, so I know you can find scholarships if you do well in school!

And, there are still other ways to find scholarships. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, companies in your town, and more. Do a simple Google search and I am sure you will find many free websites that list possible scholarships.

Tip: Many forget that you sometimes have to turn in a separate financial aid form directly to your college on top of the FAFSA form. Contact your college’s financial aid office and see if there is a separate financial aid form that you should be filling out as well. Don’t forget to do this by the deadline each year!

 

8. Only take out what you actually need in student loans.

Many students take out the full amount in student loans that they are approved for even if they only need half of that amount.

This is a HUGE mistake. If you want to learn how to save money in college by reducing your student loan debt, start by only taking out what you truly need. You will need to pay back your student loans one day, and I know many people who regret taking out more than they need.

I know someone who would take out the max amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not even sure why they thought it was a good idea.

Just think about it – If you take out an extra $2,000 a semester, that means you will most likely take out almost $20,000 over the time period that you are in college.

Do you really want to owe THAT much more in student loans?

 

9. Search for cheaper textbooks to lower your cost of college.

There are a lot of college costs, and buying textbooks is one of them.

Students usually spend anywhere from around $300 to $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the amount of classes they are taking and their major. Just one textbook alone may cost as much as $400!

When I was in college, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This meant if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester.

I learned how to save money in college by renting my textbooks or buying them used. Renting was nice because I only paid one fee and never had to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return it. I didn’t have to worry about a new edition coming out and the book being worthless. Buying used textbooks was nice because sometimes I could resell them and make my money back.

 

10. Don’t bring a car to college.

If you don’t need to commute off campus for work, then you may want to think about whether you may be able to realistically get rid of your car. Not everyone in college will need a car with them, and this can be an easy way for how to save money in college.

By not bringing a car, you may be able to eliminate the monthly loan payment, a campus parking permit, fuel, maintenance costs, and more.

 

11. Use your student ID.

Your student ID is good at many places beyond just your college campus. Before you buy anything, I highly recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.

Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (such as a new laptop!), at the movies, public transportation, and more. You may receive a discount, free items, and more all just by showing your student ID.

After all, you are paying to go to college and you are paying a lot. You might as well reap all of the benefits of paying those high college costs.

 

12. Learn how to correctly use a credit card or don’t have one at all.

Many college students fall into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.

Credit cards can seem like a good option when you are living on such a low college budget, but this can lead to thousands of dollars of credit card debt. That will eventually seem impossible to get out of due to significant interest charges that keep building up.

In order to never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think that you won’t use them well.

You should think long and hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because other students have a credit card doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you will be good at using them, then there are many advantages of doing so.

Related post: 6 Credit Card Myths You Need To Know The Truth About

 

13. Get a free checking account.

If you’re paying for a bank account, you should think again. 

Opening a high yield savings account is one of the best ways of how to save money in college because it’s actually growing your savings. But, most people have their money in accounts with low rates. Unfortunately, that means many of you are losing out on some easy cash! 

With VARO, you can start earning 2.12% with a balance as low as $0.01. Once you have grown your savings, you can earn up to 2.80%.

How does that compare to the national average savings rate? It’s a very sad 0.09%. That is a HUGE difference from what VARO is offering. If you are only getting 0.09%, then you are losing out on easy, passive money.

Savings accounts at brick and mortar banks are known for having really low interest rates. That’s because they have a much higher overhead – paying for the building, paying the tellers, etc. VARO is an online bank, which means they have lower costs, then passing the savings on to you.

Here’s an example that will show you how much you can save with VARO – if you have a $10,000 savings balance, you could be earning up to $280 a year just by having a high yield savings account with VARO. With the national average, you would only earn $9 a year.

Over a 10 year period, that same savings balance with a 2.80% balance would earn you an additional $2,800, whereas a savings account with an interest rate of only 0.09% would earn you a mere $90.

Your money is just as safe in a VARO account as it is with a brick and mortar bank. You’re just earning more interest, which is something that anyone wanting to learn how to save money in college can take advantage of.

To get started and open a VARO bank account, you will:

  1. Signing up is super easy. Simply click here and sign up.
  2. Submit your application, which takes less than 5 minutes.

See, super easy!

Read more at How To Earn Over 20x The National Savings Rate.

 

14. Find ways to make extra money.

While I wasn’t smart enough to graduate from college without debt, I do know of many amazing people who were able to pay for their college tuition on their own while they were in school. They learned how to save money in college with the tips above, but they also found ways to make money that allowed them to pay their college tuition bill in full each month.

I did work full-time all throughout college. That helped me pay my bills, take out only what I needed in student loans, and go without any credit card debt.

Whether you only have one free hour a day or if you are willing to work 40 to 50 hours a week on top of being in school full-time, there are many options when it comes to earning extra money.

Here are some things you can do to pay for those high college costs:

  • Find a part-time or full-time job.
  • Look for a paid internship.
  • Make money online such as creating a blog, becoming a virtual assistant, etc.
  • Become an Uber or Lyft driver – Spending your spare time driving others around can be a great money maker. Read more about this in my post How To Become An Uber Or Lyft Driver
  • Take online surveys. This is something I did in my early 20s. Survey companies I recommend include American Consumer Opinion, Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • Maintain and clean yards. You can make money by mowing lawns, killing/removing weeds, cleaning gutters, raking leaves, and so on.
  • Move furniture and find jobs on Craigslist. Movers can earn a broad range when it comes to hourly pay, but it’s usually somewhere around $50 an hour if you run your own business.
  • If you love animals, then you may want to look into how to make extra money by walking dogs or pet sitting. With this side hustle, you may be going over to your client’s home to check in a few times a day, you may be staying at their house, or the animals may be staying with you. Rover is a great company that you can sign up with in order to become a dog walker and pet sitter. Learn more about this at Rover – A Great Way To Make Money And Play With Animals.
  • Babysit and/or nanny children.
  • Sell your stuff.

Learn more at 100+ Ways To Make Extra Money.

Related tip on how to pay off student loans: I highly recommend Credible for student loan refinancing. You can significantly lower the interest rate on your student loans which may help you shave thousands off your student loan bill over time. 

 

15. Sign up for birthday freebies.

Everyone has a birthday, and you may be able to score a lot of free birthday stuff by simply showing your date of birth date on your driver’s license or by signing up for a company’s email club to receive a coupon for your birthday. 

This is a really fun way to learn how to save money in college and it’s easy and free for everyone!

Here are 31 Birthday Freebies You Should Sign Up For.

 

16. Switch to a more affordable cell phone plan.

Most people overpay for their cell phone plan – they can easily cost over $100 per month.

I know that once you find a provider you like, it can be hard to switch. But, once you know how much you can save with another company while still having great service, this is a no brainer.

If you are looking for a more affordable cell phone plan, then check out Republic Wireless. They have monthly cell phone plans for as low as $15 per month.

I have several family members who are now using Republic Wireless and they love it!

Please read Saving Over $2,000 A Year With Republic Wireless Review for more information.

 

17. Make a budget.

Budgets help people manage their money better. It’s that simple.

Budgets are great and one of the best ways for you to learn how to save money in college because having a budget will keep you mindful of your expenses and how much money you have in the bank. With a budget, you will know exactly how much you can spend in a category each month, how much you have to work with, what spending areas need to be evaluated, among other things.

You can download a free budget printable here.

Budgets have helped people reach their goals, pay off debt, make more money, retire early, and more. This is one of the college savings tips that will completely shape and change your financial life for the better.

Learn more at The Complete Budgeting Guide: How To Create A Budget That Works.

 

18. Visit the library.

When you’re in college, the library can often feel like your second home (and not always in a good way). But, did you know that your college or local library can also be a great way to have fun without spending any money.

You can check out the latest bestseller, a classic you’ve been wanting to read, or borrow movies, music, and more. There are actually a lot of libraries now who let you borrow things like cameras, GoPros, even telescopes, and more.

This is definitely one of the best ways to save money in college as all you need is a library card.

 

19. Find a roommate.

If you decide to live off campus, then finding a roommate is going to be one of the best ways for how to save money in college.

My husband and I have had roommates in the past. While that’s not really as possible now that we split our time living on a sailboat and an RV, I still recommend that anyone with an extra room in their house think about giving it a try.

If you find a roommate while in college, you can save a good amount of money on housing costs. And, depending on your situation, you might even be able to earn a little side income.

If you are interested in renting out a spare room on a short-term basis (such as for vacations), I highly recommend that you check out Airbnb. I know people who are making thousands of dollars a month by renting out rooms on this website.

Related blog post with more saving tips about this topic: A Complete Guide To Renting A Room For Extra Money.

 

20. Read personal finance books.

This is something you can and should start doing at any age because reading personal finance books can help you in so many ways. Since many schools don’t go in depth on things related to personal finance, books are a great way to improve your financial knowledge.

Personal finance books I recommend reading are:

You can find the whole list of personal finance books I recommend here.

 

21. Other ways you can help your child get through college.

If you’re a parent and you’re reading this, then you may be wondering how you can help your child in college but not go broke yourself.

If you cannot afford to pay for your child’s college costs, or if you decide that you just do not want to, there are many other things you can do to help them. You should also read this You Don’t Have To Go Broke For Your Kid’s Education.

I believe that parents should only fund their child’s college education if the parent is on track for retirement.

This is because there are many ways to pay for college (paying for it with cash, student loans, grants, scholarships, etc.), but there is only one way to fund your retirement.

Remember, you cannot take out a loan for your retirement!

This means you should not wreck your retirement plans to help your children through college. You should analyze your financial situation first and where you are on your track for retirement to see if helping your children through college is possible. If it’s not possible, be realistic with yourself and your child. 

There are many ways to help your children with college costs that don’t involve paying for their college tuition.

You can:

  • Help your child understand personal finance. Helping your child create a budget, use credit cards correctly, and understanding college costs, will help them greatly in life. I recommend reading How To Create a Budget.
  • Support them and help them make a plan. Even if you are not offering financial support for college, you can always support your children in other ways. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they do, rather help them by giving advice and coming up with a solid financial and college plan.
  • Help your child find ways to make money. There are tons of ways to make extra money, and helping your children find ways to do so can help them pay for college and their living expenses.
  • Inform your children about affordable college alternatives. For example, your child may only think they should go to an expensive private university, but it’s important for you to inform them on how to save money in college with more affordable alternatives, such as going to a community college or a state university.
  • Help your child apply for scholarships. There are numerous scholarships that your child may qualify for. Some may require them to write essays, whereas others are based on high school grades. Most take very little effort and are given away by the college itself, this makes applying for them a no brainer!
  • Help your child in other ways. For some reason, there is this myth that helping your child go to college means you need to pay for everything. Instead of paying for their tuition, textbooks, food, dorm, car, and everything else, set limits on the college costs that you’ll pay for. You can help by giving them emotional support, letting them stay in your home while they are in college, helping them find ways to save money for college, helping them cut their college expenses, and more.

What other ways are there to learn how to save money in college? How much student loan debt do you have?

The post 21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances

How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances

Hey everyone! Today, I have a great guest post from Stephanie Schill. Stephanie is the creator of the personal finance blog WynningInLife.com. A lifetime saver and self-proclaimed shameless couponer, she is passionate about spending consciously and saving intentionally. When not writing she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Nick and their daughter Wynn. Below is her story of how her and her husband keep separate finances.

How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances #manageyourmoney #marriagemoneyMy husband, Nick, and I have been married for 7 years. We are successful in managing our finances happily and relatively stress-free by keeping them separate. In talking with our circle of friends and reading financial advice from experts, I get the feeling this may not be the norm.

But it works for us.

I want to share with you our experience of managing money independently, as a couple. You may be inspired to separate your finances if they are currently joined.

Or it may give you a perspective on how you can be in a relationship but keep your financials separate.

Other content you may be interested in:

 

Our earnings & accounts

Nick and I both work corporate jobs, with an approximately  62%/38% split in our earnings.  My husband earns a higher salary.

Our daughter is 3 years old and we have a second child on the way. We have one combined savings account that we can both access through Chase. All other accounts: checking, savings, investments, etc. are all managed independently.

Growing up my parents kept independent finances, so that was normal to me. My mom and dad have been married for 41 years and counting, and it has worked for them. They are a huge influence on how I manage my finances today.

While as a married couple I think it’s important to consider all money as “our” money and align on financial goals, managing money independently works really well for us.

 

Reasons why managing money independently works for us:

  • We don’t argue about money!  For example, arguing about how much he spent on this or how much I spent on that.
  • Zero bounced checks or overdrafts because we weren’t aware of what the other is spending.
  • Birthday, Christmas and other gifts given throughout the year are true surprises.
  • We both have financial independence and are able to spend, save, or invest freely as we want.

 

Separate finances from the beginning

Our independent financial model happened pretty organically. When my husband and I were dating, and through our engagement, we had separate finances.

When we got married and purchased a house in 2011, we had various financial conversations about how to manage our money. It just felt right to continue to manage our own finances individually, but take some action to bring our finances together.

We landed on having one combined savings account and managing all other finances separately.  Our preference was to make large financial decisions together but to leave the smaller day-to-day financial choices to each of us independently.

 

Recurring household bills

All of the household bills are in Nick’s name and he pays all of them every month. That includes things like the mortgage, gas, electric, cell phone bill, etc.

Once per month, I will wire him money that covers my “portion” of the bills, based on my earnings. He earns a higher salary and thus he pays a higher percentage of the bills each month.

For example, let’s say our mortgage, gas, electric, and cell phone bills are $2000 net per month. I will wire him $760 to cover the 38% that I am responsible for. In turn, he covers his 62% which equals $1240, for a total of $2,000.

We both bank through Chase. So I use Chase’s Zillow to effortlessly send him money each month.

 

Finances beyond recurring household bills

Outside of regular household bills, we each have other regular expenses we pay for individually. I pay for groceries, daycare, and anything that my daughter needs: diapers (thankfully potty trained now), clothing, etc.

Nick will routinely pay for anything around the house. Examples would be all trips to hardware stores when we do projects (he’s a project guy so there’s always something that needs fixing or improving). Typically, anytime we eat out he pays, any taxes we owe annually, any household expense like a broken water heater, or furnace checkup, etc. is usually all him.

Any expenses regarding our vehicles: gas, maintenance, payments, etc. are taken care of by each of us individually.

 

Our Savings/ Investments

Joint Savings

We have one shared savings account that we both access. We both put money into the account, but it is a joint decision if we are to ever take money out of the account. The initial goal of the account was to build an emergency fund. For example, if either of us loses our job or if there is an unexpected medical household emergency.

Over time the account has grown so now our conversations have changed toward investments and identifying ways we can have the money accessible if needed, but have it earn more interest. We all know the fraction of a percentage point any traditional bank will give you on a savings account is nothing relative to what a high-yield savings account or the stock market could yield. The question comes down to how much risk we are willing to bear.

 

Individual Savings

Beyond our one joint savings account, we both manage our own savings and investment accounts. We each have our own personal savings accounts.

While not completely defined, they would be for things like a down payment or cash payment on a car, a future vacation, or a larger ticket item either of us wants to purchase.

I consider it the bridge between our salary and the emergency fund, and money we’ll likely spend but not yet sure on what.

 

Retirement accounts

We both have our own individual 401K retirement accounts.

They are through our current employers, and we both contribute to them each paycheck. Recently we both began maxing them out which was a goal of ours for years. We know how important saving for the future is.

Due to changing of jobs over the years, we have both made decisions in the past to roll 401Ks from old employers plans into traditional IRAs.

 

Other investments

Beyond traditional 401ks we both have additional investment accounts.

We both use TD Ameritrade to purchase stocks. In my curiosity with personal finance, I’ve also dabbled using Stockpile to purchase fractional shares of stock (or gift stock) and Robinhood to purchase stock. We discuss investments but we don’t get permission from each other before we buy or sell a stock, we just do what feels right.

 

Separate finances are not perfect

While this independent financial model works really well for us, it’s not without its challenges. As the person earning less money in the relationship, even though I pay a portion of the monthly bills, our take-home pay varies significantly. Meaning, each month Nick still has significantly more money in his account that isn’t allocated toward bills.

I don’t know exactly what he makes or the exact net amount of any bonuses he receives and vice-versa.  If I ask him about his balances, he will tell me and vice-versa, but it’s not something I have visibility to on demand.

I know he’s saving money above and beyond our joint savings that I have visibility to. However, I don’t know exactly what is in his personal savings account, or retirement accounts, or investment accounts.

We each have the freedom to make our own financial choices, sometimes when the other may not fully agree. For example, purchasing a specific stock or investment, liquidating a specific stock or investment or spending money on a hobby or entertainment item.

 

Regular check-ins to stay on the same page

Regularly we check in on our finances with each other. We don’t have a specific time, but at least once per year.  Sometimes the catalyst for such a conversation will be a life event: a change in earnings from a new job, unemployment, a large purchase we want to make, or the birth of a child.

We regularly review how we are trending toward our goal of paying off our mortgage early. We’ll share how much we have in our personal savings, retirement, and investment accounts, etc. so we can make larger joint decisions together.

Examples of money decisions we make together:

  • Should we move some money from our joint savings account to an investment account that would give a higher return?
  • Should we be putting more in our daughter’s college fund?
  • Can we put more money toward the mortgage to aid in paying it off faster?
  • Is there a vacation we want to take that we should start budgeting for now?
  • Are we serious about buying that boat or gutting our master bathroom? If yes, how are we going to pay for it?

Regularly checking in our finances helps to align our finances as a couple, even if we keep them in separate accounts.

 

Separate finances pros

  • The feeling of financial independence. You get to decide where and how to spend or invest your own money.
  • Less arguing or heated conversations regarding who spent what on what.
  • Ease of budgeting when you know your income, and know your exact financial responsibilities each month.

 

Separate finances cons

  • Less visibility into the day-to-day finances.  If you’re a number cruncher or always like to have a pulse on exactly how much is in savings, calculating your net worth, exactly how much is left on the mortgage, or how your significant other is tracking toward their student debt, this may be invisible.
  • You may not account for every single expense that arises, so when something unexpected comes up, you may each think it’s the others’ responsibility.
  • If you are not the breadwinner, you may have feelings of envy of the extra money your significant other has, even if bills have been calculated relative to income.
  • If your partner is a spender, they may spend on things you don’t agree with or nickel and dime their money away each paycheck so they don’t have money to pay a portion of the agreed upon monthly bills.

 

Is managing money separately as a couple for you?

There are some things you should consider with your partner if you are thinking of going the independent finances route:

  • Is your significant other responsible enough for this arrangement? Maybe you’re not good with money or they aren’t good with money.
  • How are you going to divvy up the regular, recurring bills?
  • Whose responsibility is it for non-recurring or unexpected household bills?
    • Whip out your current budget if you have one, or create one. (If you don’t, I recommend a zero-based budget). Identify whose responsibility it will be for every line item in that budget. Being very deliberate and transparent up front will negate heated conversations down the road. Include everything: gifts, holidays, pet food, vet visits, diapers, eating out, groceries, misc. household expenses, takeout, annual lawn maintenance, snow removal, garbage removal, donations, kid’s expenses for school or activities, etc. The list goes on…
  • How will you manage savings, retirement or other investments?
  • Define how often you will check in with each other regarding the finances, and get household meetings on the calendar.

 

Conclusion

Separate finances just happened for us. My husband and I had maintained separate finances when we first got together and it became the norm as we got married. I’m used to it; we have our rhythm.

While sometimes there are heated conversations about money, they are few and far between.

I feel in control of my money which gives me a feeling of independence. But I also feel like his money and my money is “our” money regardless of whose bank account it’s in or whose name it’s under. We still make large financial decisions together and align on future goals for our money. So it’s a system that has simply worked for us.

Do you prefer joint or separate finances? What do you think of separate finances?

The post How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero

How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero

Are you looking for a flexible side hustle as an online tutor? If so, read through this Course Hero review to find out how you can start earning around $300 a week as a Course Hero tutor, with top online tutors earning $500 a week. And, it’s all from the comfort of your home.

Course Hero is a website that helps high school and college students with course-specific questions.

Using the website, students connect with Course Hero tutors on a wide range of subjects and classes, which makes this a great side hustle for people with different educational backgrounds and experience.

Tutors earn an average of $3 for each question they answer on Course Hero. Earning between $12-$20 per hour, Course Hero tutors earn an average of $300/week.

It’s very flexible because you can answer questions whenever you please.

I love finding flexible ways to make extra money. That’s exactly what I did when I was working to pay off my student loan debt. I found ways to earn money outside of my normal job, in the evenings, weekends, and even during my lunch hour. 

Finding flexible side hustles, like becoming a Course Hero tutor, can change your life in some really great ways, such as helping you with:

  • Paying off your debt.
  • Saving up for big purchases, like vacations.
  • Getting out of a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.
  • Retiring earlier than you had originally planned.
  • Realizing that your job isn’t the only option out there, especially if you are currently feeling stuck.
  • Help you to become more diversified and make money in more ways.
  • Travel more, or even full-time!

As you can tell, I am a big believer that learning to find new ways to make money can completely change your future for the better, which is why I am really excited to tell you more in this Course Hero review.

Related articles on how to make extra money:

Course Hero Review – What you need to know about becoming a Course Hero tutor.

 

What is Course Hero?

Course Hero was founded in 2007 and is an online learning website where students can access study resources. Students can search by their specific school to find study guides, videos, practice problems, class notes, and step-by-step explanations.

The idea is to help students succeed in the classes they are taking.

There are already over 25,000,000 study resources that have been contributed to Course Hero, and they have a community of 10,000,000 students.

But, Course Hero offers more than just the resources I’ve listed above. If students are struggling with specific problems or subjects, they can ask questions to get tutoring help. Course Hero wants to keep the turnaround fast (why they are always looking for more tutors), and quickly getting answers to questions is one of the things students love about Course Hero. 

Here’s how Course Hero tutors work:

  1. You apply here to become a Course Hero tutor.
  2. When you are available to answer questions, you do so on the Course Hero website.
  3. You get paid.

 

What subjects can you tutor on?

With Course Hero, you can tutor on subjects such as:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Math
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • History
  • Management
  • Psychology

And more!

What might surprise you to learn in this Course Hero review is that you don’t have to be a certified tutor, a professor, or a teacher in order to become a Course Hero tutor.

However, you will need to share information that proves you have an expertise in the categories which you would like to tutor.

 

How much money can you make as a Course Hero tutor?

As a Course Hero tutor, you earn $3 for every question you answer successfully, that means you are giving correct and valuable information. You can answer as many questions as you would like, and I know I’ve said this already in my Course Hero review, but all the work is done on your own schedule. 

Considering that you can make between $12-$20 per hour, working as a Course Hero tutor is a great side hustle opportunity that makes the most of your time. Course Hero tutors average $300/week, and the top tutors earn around $500 a week.

The way you are paid to answer questions is that students pay for access to Course Hero study resources and tutors. Because you are helping them get the information you need, Course Hero pays you for your time and knowledge.

 

Can anyone become a Course Hero tutor? What are the requirements?

To become a Course Hero tutor, you must:

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree from a U.S. or Canadian University (any major, it does NOT have to be in teaching).
  • Live in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom.

 

What’s the schedule like for Course Hero tutors?

The schedule is whatever you want it to be, as you work from home and answer questions when you are available. There isn’t a minimum number of hours each week to work, and you don’t have to answer a set number of questions each week.

To earn the most, you will have to not only provide valuable information, you’ll need to answer as many questions as your schedule allows. Even so, this is still a very flexible side hustle that lets you earn extra money from the comfort of your home.

Please click here to check out Course Hero.

Are you interested in becoming a Course Hero tutor online?

The post How To Make $300+ Weekly As An Online Tutor With Course Hero appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy

Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy

Looking to buy a house? Here are my home buying tips that will help you sort through all of your options, understand the real cost of each home, and make the right choice.  #homebuyingtips #stepstobuyingahouse #homebuyerguide #buyingahousetipsIf you are looking to buy a house, I have a bunch of home buying tips that will help you sort through all of your options, understand the real cost of a home (and help you save money), and make the right choice. 

Buying a house is a huge purchase.

In fact, it is usually the largest purchase a person will ever make.

The median U.S. home value is $226,800 and the median price of homes currently listed is $291,900, according to Zillow. And, there are some areas that have much higher average home prices, like four to five times more.

Purchasing a house is a huge commitment, and it’s easy to get excited and forget to think about some very important things before plunking down a huge amount of money. There are just so many factors to think about, and not everyone will have the same concerns. 

To help you through the home buying process, today’s post is going to be like a mini first time home buyer guide. I’m going to cover some of my best home buying tips, like:

  • Whether or not you should rent instead of buy
  • How to set a budget (one of the most important steps to buying a house)
  • Deciding what you want in a home
  • How to research the true cost of a house
  • Thinking about how long you’ll live in an area (recouping your costs)
  • How to avoid feeling rushed
  • Do you really need the house you’re about to buy

Whether you are a first time home buyer or if this is your second house or more, these are all things you should be thinking about.

Actually, these are the exact same things me and Wes have thought about before buying our sailboat and RV. They might not be “normal” homes, but they are what we live in. Plus, they are still very large purchases that need to be carefully thought out.

The home buying tips that I’m about to give you are to help you analyze what’s best for your situation – whether that’s a 5000 sq. ft. house, a 500 sq. ft. tiny home, an RV, a condo, etc.

I’ve said it already, but buying a house is a large purchase! And, everyone has felt that dreadful feeling that comes after making a large purchase and realizing that you have made a mistake. Perhaps you don’t realize for months or years later, but you eventually understand that you should have thought out your purchase a little bit more.

No one wants to feel this way after buying a house!

Articles related to buying a house tips:

Here are my best home buying tips.

 

Should you rent instead?

Before we started RVing, we sold our house and rented one for a little while. This raised quite a few eyebrows and led to questions about renting vs. buying from nearly everyone.

I even had several people tell me that I was making a stupid mistake.

I wasn’t surprised, though. Many people believe the myth that if you are renting a home you don’t know how to manage your money and that buying is always better, no matter what.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sometimes buying can be the better decision, but there are times when renting can fit a person’s situation much better.

Buying a house can have a lot of positives, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right step for everyone.

To determine if renting is better for you, you’ll want to think about things such as:

  • How long you think you’ll live in the area.
  • Whether or not you’re ready to purchase a house, financially and/or responsibility wise.
  • Buying a home sometimes may be cheaper than renting, and the other way around.

Nearly everyone says that a house is a good investment. Many people will even go as far to say that doing anything other than owning a house would be a complete waste of money.

However, I don’t agree with that at all.

Buying a house isn’t for everyone. You shouldn’t just jump at the opportunity to buy a house, especially any ol’ house. And, you should think about all of the factors before deciding that buying a house over renting one is the best and only decision for you.

For home more renting vs. home buying tips, please read My Opinion Of The Great Renting vs Buying Debate for more information.

 

Set a budget before you look at homes.

One of the first things you will want to do is to set a budget – you can’t go very far in the home buying process without one. It’s how you will know what you want to be pre-approved for, and a realtor will need that information to really help you shop for homes.

You will want to set yourself a budget when it comes to the home as well as all of the other expenses that go along with owning a home.

You will want to look at your overall financial situation and analyze:

  • The income you earn.
  • The stability of your job.
  • The amount of money you have saved for the down payment, other home expenses, etc.
  • Your credit history and credit score.
  • The total monthly amount you feel comfortable paying for a home. Make sure you look at all the costs involved!
  • Your total amount of debt.

When buying a house, it takes realizing all of these factors to understand what you can truly afford and be comfortable with.

However, many people justify buying a house that is over their budget, but that is a bad plan. 

See, banks often pre-approve people for a mortgage payment that is higher than what they can afford to pay. You pre-approval number is not a good gauge of what you can afford because it doesn’t factor in the total cost of the house. 

What you can afford takes that above list into consideration, not just the number a bank gives you. Because of that, it can be a very bad idea to go over the number the bank pre-approves you for. You should always stick to an amount that you can afford.

When determining what you can afford, you will want to think about ALL of the costs that come with buying a house and living in it. This means that your research should not end with the purchase price of the house – it actually goes way past that, as discussed in a later section of my home buying tips. 

 

Think about what you want in a home.

If you are like most people, you’ve spent years thinking about what you want in a home.

Now is the time to make a list of those things.

Buying a house can lead to a crazy amount of new feelings – happiness, stress, excitement, and more. This can sometimes make every house you look at seem like the perfect one, and that’s because they all seem so new and exciting. This even happens with houses that don’t have everything you need. And, it definitely happens with ones that have more than you need.

Before you put an offer on a house, you should think about the reasons for why you want a specific house. This is one of the first steps to finding a house that’s right for you, as this can make sure you are getting exactly what you want and need, rather than just being happy with any home.

I recommend creating a wish list that includes all of the things you want in a home. Your wish list could include things like:

  • The square footage of the home
  • Size of yard
  • If you want a fenced in yard
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms you desire
  • The age of the home
  • The quality of the schools
  • The parking situation and whether or not there is a garage
  • The size of the kitchen
  • Pool or no pool
  • Style of home
  • Whether you want to be in the country or the city
  • Your budget, and this one is extremely important!

And, you’ll also want to create a list of things that you want to stay away from, such as if you don’t want a place with a pool, a home with a lot of yard maintenance, a home that is a fixer upper, and so on.

By having this wish list on hand, you’ll know exactly what you should be looking at, and what you should avoid.

 

Research all of the expenses.

Like you just read, the listing price of a home is not all that you should look at.

When you find a home that you think is right for you, you need to make sure that you can afford all of the costs that come with that home. 

Just because you can pay the monthly mortgage payment doesn’t mean that you can afford everything else that goes with it. There are ongoing costs when buying a house, which is something that many homebuyers forget about. 

In fact, U.S. homeowners, on average, spend more than $9,400 per year in hidden homeownership costs, and maintenance expenses cost homeowners an average of $6,300 per year in unavoidable hidden costs, according to MarketWatch. These include things like homeowners insurance, property taxes, and utilities. So, this is one of the best home buying tips to help you stay out of a bad financial situation.

Before making a home purchase, you should think about how much the home will cost you in the long run. There are many ways to think of this, such as:

  • Property taxes. These vary widely from town to town. You may find yourself looking at two similar houses with similar price tags, but the property taxes may vary by thousands of dollars annually. That is a LOT of money. While it may seem small when compared to the actual home purchase price, remember that you have to pay property taxes annually, and a difference of just $3,600 a year is $300 a month.
  • Gas. Many homes use gas to run the hot water heater, the stove, and so on.
  • Electricity. Generally, the bigger your home, the higher your electricity bill.
  • Sewer. This isn’t super expensive, but it is generally around $30-$50 a month.
  • Trash. This isn’t super expensive either, but it does cost money.
  • Water (and possibly irrigation).  Depending on how you use water and where you live, water bills can vary widely. I know many who live in areas where the average water bill is a few hundred dollars each month.
  • Home insurance. Home insurance can be cheap in some areas but crazy expensive in others. Don’t forget to look into the cost of earthquake, flood, and hurricane insurance, and know that it can add up quickly depending on where you live.
  • Maintenance and repairs. No matter how old your home is (even brand new homes), repair and maintenance costs will eventually come into play. In fact, U.S. homeowners pay an average of $3,435 per year in annual optional costs, including house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing. But, don’t forget about things like needing a new roof or other repairs that may come up! Those are big expenses that you will need to be able to save up for.
  • Homeowners association fees. This can also vary widely. You should always see if the house you are interested in is part of an HOA. Often, the fees are high and involve rules you may not like.
  • Home furnishings. Furnishing your home can be done cheaply, but I know some who buy huge homes and can’t afford to put anything in them, such as a table, a bed, and so on. Why own a $500,000 house if you don’t have any furniture?

Always remember to add up the total cost when deciding to buy a house!

 

Estimate how long you will live in the area.

This is one of the home buying tips you might not think of because you are so anxious to be moving. How could you possibly think about moving again already?! 

Here’s why this is important to think about – it usually takes around five years to recoup the costs you paid to purchase a house. If you only live in a house for one or two years, then you may lose money on closing costs, due to the volatility of the real estate market, and more. Plus, it usually takes some time and legwork to buy a house, so you may not want to do it again so soon.

This is why you’ll want to think about how long you’ll be living in the area before you purchase your home.

You’ll want to make sure that the house will be suitable for you for at least five years, so you’ll want to think about things such as:

  • Are you happy with the area?
  • How are the schools?
  • Is the house big enough if you plan on starting a family?
  • Do you plan on working in the area for at least 5 years?

And so on. 

You really need to think about your future when deciding to buy a house.

 

Don’t feel rushed.

This is one of the home buying tips that is hard during a seller’s market, which is what’s happening in many areas right now. Knowing that homes are selling very quickly, you may feel rushed to find a house and put an offer in. 

It’s also tempting to jump on a house the minute you find something you like, but if the purchase can wait 24 hours, then you may want to delay it. This will allow you more time to think about the purchase, go over your budget again, let any butterflies you have about the home purchase go away, and so on.

You will be able to make a much more rational decision if you think about your decision for at least 24 hours.

Plus, for all you know, you may even realize that you don’t want the house at all!

 

Do you really need or want that home?

Finally, the last of my home buying tips is to think about whether or not you actually need the house you are about to buy. It sounds easy enough, but many people do not even think about asking this question. When in fact, it is one of the most important questions to ask when buying a house (or any large purchase for that matter).

Really dig deep and ask yourself this simple question. Sure, you might think you want the house, but have you also been able to spend time thinking about the rest of my tips? 

Do you know the full cost of the house? Are you okay spending that much? Does the house have everything you need? 

Purchasing a home is a huge investment, and it deserves a lot of time and thought for you to make the best decision.

Have you bought a home recently? What other home buying tips should people think about?

The post Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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3 Super Common Legal Mistakes Bloggers Make (and How to Fix Them)

3 Super Common Legal Mistakes Bloggers Make (and How to Fix Them)

When you start a blog, you may have ideas and a list of what you want to do. But chances are the legalities aren’t high on that list. Here are 3 common legal mistakes bloggers make.  #howtostartablog #bloggingHey everyone! Today, I have a great article from Liz Stapleton. A licensed attorney since 2012, and a blogger since 2014, she has spoken at both virtual and in person conferences, including FinCon (my favorite blogging conference), on the importance of legally protecting your blog and business. She is the founder and voice behind Less Debt, More Wine – a personal finance site, and ElizabethStapleton.com, where she helps readers earn more money while making sure they are protecting themselves and their businesses legally. Enjoy!

When you first decide to start a blog, you are filled with ideas and inspirations and a long list of what you want to do. But chances are the legal compliance and protecting your blog aren’t high on that list if they’re on there at all.

After a while you realize there are probably some things you need to do to either protect or blog or to have it be compliant with the law.

Unless you went to law school, you’re probably stressing about what those things are and perhaps how much it would cost to hire a lawyer.

Well, I’m excited to be here to help you understand some of the most common legal mistakes bloggers make and what to do about them so that you and your blog are keeping things legit and your income is protected.

But before we get to it, a necessary disclaimer:

While I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and nothing in this post is to be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, nothing in this post or resources made available are to be considered legal advice. Content and resources provided are meant for educational and informational purposes only. The author is not liable for any losses or damages related to actions or failure to act related to the content in this website. If you need specific legal advice, consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.

Related content:

Now, that’s out of the way, lets get to it….

 

1. Not Having a Privacy Policy

The purpose of a privacy policy is to inform your site’s visitors of what personal information you collect and for what purposes.

Privacy policies can also be required by law. Perhaps the most well known law that caused a big splash in the blogging world in 2018 is the General Data Protection Regulation also known as GDPR.

GDPR helped to bring the law up to date with technology, but that also meant a lot more work for website owners and a potentially hefty fine for those that didn’t comply.

The purpose of GDPR is to allow people to have better control over their own personal information aka data.

For people to control their data they need to know how sites are collecting and using it. Enter the privacy policy and likely a cookie notice.

GDPR came out of the European Union, so does it even apply to you?

While there is some debate about the reach of the law, the strictest reading suggests that if someone in your audience is located anywhere in the European Union, then it applies.

But it’s important to know that GDPR isn’t the only law out there requiring sites have a privacy policy. If you’re located in the United States there are lots of state laws relating to online privacy.

There are also parts of federal laws that relate to data privacy, meaning while there is no specific federal law requiring a privacy policy, all the various parts of other laws basically amount to privacy policies being necessary.

Not having a privacy policy could make you vulnerable to fines or lawsuits. Neither of which as a blogger (especially a new blogger) are something you want to deal with.

And if you think you don’t collect personal information, then you probably need to think again, do you….

  • Use Google Analytics?
  • Allow comments on your blog posts?
  • Have a contact form?
  • Have an email list for people to sign up to?

Any one of these are examples of ways you collect personal data, and as you can imagine there are a lot more.

So how do you put together a privacy policy?

There are three main ways that you can get a privacy policy together for your site:

  1. Do a ton of research and write your own
  2. Buy a Privacy Policy Template written by an attorney and customize it for your site
  3. Hire an attorney to write a custom privacy policy

Now, which path you take likely depends on your budget….

 

Doing the research and writing your own Privacy Policy

While on the surface this may seem like the cheapest option, it kind of depends on how you value your time.

Writing your own policy doesn’t require any out of pocket expense but it would require several hours of your time.

Chances are your time could be better spent….

 

Privacy Policy Templates Written By an Attorney

This option does have out of pocket costs, but in most instances you would be able to implement a privacy policy on your site in a matter of minutes.

Additionally, a template written by an attorney likely doesn’t cost as much as you’d think and is sure to cover all the basics. You can purchase them at a wide range of prices.

But in most instances the best bang for your buck is going to be purchasing a template bundle, that includes all the basic policies you’ll need for your website (disclaimers, terms and conditions, disclosures, etc.).

For example, I offer my Privacy Policy template for $79 or you can get my Website Legal Templates Bundle which includes a Privacy Policy template, for just $147, less than what two templates would cost you and it comes with 4 different templates.

Grab the Website Legal Templates Bundle Now.

 

Hiring An Attorney

If you can afford it, hiring an attorney to craft a custom privacy policy is going to ensure your site is covered, but it comes at a much higher price tag.

There are some great firms that specialize in helping creatives, online blogs and businesses like WilkMazz or Hashtag Legal.

The Fix: The best option is to purchase templates written by an attorney (like these) or hiring an attorney to craft custom policies for your site.

 

2. Violating Copyright (Using Images Without Proper Permission)

Graphics are an important part of blogging. Whether you are creating featured images or social share images or just headings to break up the page, there is always a need to create graphics.

Often times these graphics require photos but where you get those photos from and if you’re allowed to use them matters.

First, you cannot just pull images from Google images to use in your blog post, doing so means you’re likely violating the copyright of who own those photos.

Some other instances where it’s not okay to just share someone’s photo without permission include:

  • Regram on Instagram
  • Including an image of theirs in a roundup post
  • Using stock photos that don’t have proper licensing for blog posts
  • Using stock photos that don’t have proper licensing for products

So let’s break these down a bit more to make sure you understand what I’m talking about…

 

Why You Can’t Just Regram Someone’s Photo on Instagram

In Instagram’s terms of use they explain that user’s own the copyright to their photos, which means you can’t just share them without permission.

I actually had this happen to me, a user was taking my posts, which were just simple questions and posting them to their own Instagram. I actually didn’t know they had been doing this until they started using Regram which tagged me.

I immediately reached out and told them they needed to take my images down or I’d report them to Instagram.

The reason why I did this is because unlike on other platforms, there was zero advantage to me for her using my images, she was just stealing them.

The Fix: If you want to reshare someone’s photo on Instagram, ask their permission first. If you don’t get their permission, don’t share it.

 

Including Someone’s Image in a Roundup

Unlike the Instagram example where there was no advantage to the image owner, in a roundup post you’re likely linking the image to their content, which they’d want right?

Maybe not. And there could be lots of reasons why they would or wouldn’t give you permission.

They may be fine with it, but you won’t know unless you ask first.

They may not be fine with it because they are restricted by the licensing of the photo, if for example it’s a stock image and they only purchased with a limited license. (In which case you may be able to go purchase the same image).

Alternatively, some bloggers have a policy listed on their site for having images included in a roundup post, check their terms and conditions on their website.

The Fix: Check their terms and conditions to see if they have a policy on images being used in roundup posts. Don’t see anything on their site one way or the other? Get permission, it’s just that simple. Ask.

 

Stock Photos and Licensing

Stock photo sites sell images with certain licenses attached. You may have to pay more to be able to use the image in the way you want.

For example, I get most of my stock photos from DepositPhotos and they offer two different licenses:

  1. Standard license
  2. Extended license

The default license granted for purchasing photos on their site is the Standard license which allows me to create blog graphics.

However, what I can’t do is re-sell the graphic or use it in something free where the image plays a major role and adds value.

An example would be using the image in a Pinterest Image template, whether it’s free or not, using the image in that way would be in violation of the standard license granted.

However, I could purchase the image with an Extended license which does allow it to be used for creating products or freebies where the graphic plays a role and adds value.

If you’re still using free stock photo sites….

Like Pexels or Pixabay they have some similar license restrictions. Under the free license you can:

  • Use the image for personal or commercial purposes
  • Without attribution (aka giving credit to who took the photo)
  • Modify the photos

But you cannot:

  • Sell or redistribute the images (for example, as a wall paper aka where the image plays a major role and adds value)
  • Use them in a way that is misleading in relation to a specific brand or service

The Fix: Pay attention the license you are granted when getting photos from stock photo sites.

 

3. Not Having or Incorrectly Using Disclosures & Disclaimers

There are lots of reasons why you would need to have certain disclosures and disclaimers and each blog is different, but some common ones include:

  • Affiliate disclosures
  • Professional disclaimers
  • Testimonial/Earnings disclaimers

Let’s tackle these one at a time….

 

Affiliate Disclosures

If you’re on this site, chances are you know a bit about affiliate marketing, afterall, Michelle is an absolute pro at it (it’s why I bought her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course).

But affiliate marketing is not without it’s rules. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) requires that you disclose affiliate relationships and has rules on how to do so.

Michelle covers all this in her course, but the basics are this, disclosures must:

  • Be placed before the link
  • Clearly convey the relationship
  • Be easily visible
  • Should not encourage clicking to support the site

Chances are you’ve seen some disclosures that do not adhere to these rules. So what is the potential fall out for not complying?

First, you’ll likely be kicked out of whatever affiliate program you were promoting and could face consequences for not complying with their terms and conditions.

Second, you could be fined the amount of money you earned, basically you’d have to payback your affiliate income to the government.

Generally, the goal with affiliate marketing is to earn money, so let’s make sure you get to keep that money by doing it right. Here are some common mistakes I’ve seen bloggers make with affiliate disclosures and how to fix them.

 

Placing the Disclosure in the Wrong Place

Some common places for disclosures that don’t work include the footer of your site or the side bar.

Hopefully, it’s obvious to you why the footer doesn’t work – it would never be seen before the affiliate link.

However, the sidebar placement is less obvious. While on a desktop the disclosure would likely be seen before an affiliate link could be clicked on, mobile use is on the rise…

And what happens to a sidebar on a mobile device?

It gets pushed under the content, which means the disclosure would not be seen before the affiliate link could be clicked on.

The Fix: Either place it at the top of your content like Michelle does or within the first few paragraphs.

 

Using Incorrect Language

The disclosure has to be easy to understand. A general rule I tell people that if your Grandma wouldn’t understand it, it’s not clear.

You also can’t say things like, “clicking on affiliate links helps to support this site.” because it encourages superficial clicks. Kind of how you can’t get paid for clicking on display ads on your site.

The Fix: Inform but don’t ask for clicks. A simple, “this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission if you click, at no cost to you” will suffice.

 

Professional Disclaimers

Professional disclaimers are necessary if you are or are not a professional writing in a certain niche.

For example, at the beginning of this post I put a disclaimer about my being attorney but disclaiming and attorney-client relationship and explaining that the post is informational only. It’s just one example of a professional disclaimer.

Michelle, has a similar disclaimer on her site about the content not being professional financial advice.

If you are a specific professional you need to state that the information provided is not “official” advice, as that can only be rendered if you know the details of what an individual is dealing with.

If you’re not a professional and you do write in the space, then you need to explain that too so those are some reasons why you would use Professional disclaimers.

The Fix: Add a professional disclaimer to your site’s “Legal” Page.

 

Testimonial/Earnings Disclaimers

Testimonials and income reports can be a great way to generate more revenue. Testimonials have the power to sell your products for you and income reports can be a great way to show readers what is possible.

But if you are using those things you need a disclaimer explaining that you cannot guarantee they will have the same results.

I think you’ll agree that when it comes to income reports, Michelle’s are #goals, but she can’t guarantee you or I will have the same results and she says as much here.

Earnings disclaimers are just explaining that such results take work and you may or may not achieve the same level of results.

If you want to learn a bit more about earnings and testimonial disclaimers as well as get an earnings disclaimer template, I created a bonus lesson inside Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that goes more in depth and provides a template example.

You can enroll in the course here.

The Fix: Add a testimonial and earnings disclaimer to your site’s “legal” page and any outside pages that use them (for example, sales pages on Teachable or similar platforms, or webinar software where you include testimonials in your webinar)

 

Bottom Line

There are lots of potential legal issues that can come up when blogging, but it’s not very hard or difficult to address them and make sure you are protecting your blog and complying with the law.

Hopefully you’re now feeling confident in what to do about these three common legal mistakes bloggers make.

And if you want to learn more, you can head over to ElizabethStapleton.com also be sure to grab my free checklist of 10 Things You Need to Include on Your Site’s Legal Page.

What legal mistakes have you seen bloggers make? What questions do you have?

The post 3 Super Common Legal Mistakes Bloggers Make (and How to Fix Them) appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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Five Things I Never Want To Run Out Of

Five Things I Never Want To Run Out Of

The following is a sponsored partnership with TIAA. All opinions are my own.

There are five things that I never want to run out of. These include:

  • Travel and adventure – I always want to be able to RV, sail, hike, and ride bikes. I love being able to explore, do new things, and see what this amazing planet has.
  • Delicious food – Who doesn’t love food?
  • Dogs to pet – This one is another no-brainer.
  • Time with family and friends – This sparks joy, of course!
  • Retirement income

And, today, I want to talk more about retirement. This is a personal finance blog after all!

Retirement is so important.

For me, I am all about saving for retirement, and my husband and I save a significant percentage of our income each month due to this.

Retirement to me means that I never have to run out of travel and adventure, or any of the other wonderful areas of my life from my list above!

Saving for retirement now is important for many reasons.

However, according to a survey done by GoBankingRates, 56% of Americans have less than an average of $10,000 in retirement savings and 33% have no retirement savings at all.

But, I think this can change, and I think you can start saving for retirement.

One way to prepare for retirement is with TIAA’s guaranteed monthly income for life.

With TIAA’s guaranteed monthly income you will feel more financially confident that your retirement will have consistent monthly payments so that you can continue to pay your bills, live your life and never run out of retirement income.

I know that many of us worry about running out of retirement savings, and the future can be a weird thing to think about (it’s so far away, right?!).

I’m sure that we can all relate to the experience of running out of gas, having our cell phones die, running out of toilet paper, and the list goes on, but with TIAA you can be sure that you won’t run out of income in retirement.

According to the TIAA’s 2019 Lifetime Income Survey, 69% of working Americans say that having an income during retirement that is guaranteed to be paid for as long as they live as the most important goal for their retirement plan.

AND, 88% of people who own an annuity with guaranteed lifetime income say it positively impacts their confidence about being financially secure.

With guaranteed lifetime retirement income from TIAA, you can turn your savings into regular monthly income so that you can pay your expenses when you are retired.

Due to this, you may want to think about making guaranteed income part of your retirement plan.

You can calculate what your monthly income could look like in retirement by using TIAA’s Personal Pension Calculator to find out what you need and check whether you are eligible for TIAA’s retirement plan.

 

Who is TIAA?

TIAA is a leading financial services provider for those in the nonprofit, academic, research, medical, and governmental fields, with over 15,000 institutions and 5 million individuals served.

They are a different kind of financial services company, helping people in these fields meet their financial goals through their global and diversified financial services. TIAA continues the legacy built by Andrew Carnegie, who helped create TIAA in 1918 to ensure teachers could actually retire.

What does it mean to you to not run out of money for retirement?

The post Five Things I Never Want To Run Out Of appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money?

Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money?

If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not you will find an excuse.” ― Anonymous

Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money? #badwithmoney #moneymanagementtipsAs a financial writer, I hear a lot of reasons for why a person can’t pay off debt, save more money, retire, travel more, and so on. While some of these are legitimate reasons and there are people who are stuck in a bad situation, I find that some people are just bad with money.

I honestly do know that some people have a much harder life than others.

But, I’m talking about people who keep justifying poor financial choices with excuses that prevent them from living the life they want.

These are things like why someone “needs” a brand new car or huge house. Choosing those things doesn’t make you bad with money, it’s when you let them be the reason you aren’t able to work towards more important financial goals.

If you want to be better with your money, you’re going to have to stop making excuses and start making better choices.

Just think about the last time you said, “That won’t work for me because (fill in the blank with your excuse here).” Again, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for why some people have financial setbacks, but there are still many people making excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals or why they are bad with money.

So, today’s blog post is going to be a “tough love” article about changing your mindset so you can stop being bad with money.

I want you to start improving your life right now – don’t wait until tomorrow (please, don’t give me that excuse!), don’t wait until next year, and so on.

Start making better financial choices right NOW so that you can change your life for the better.

As you read through this post, I want you to think a lot about the excuses you’ve made in the past and remember that they won’t help you make better financial decisions, they hold you back, and they won’t help you and/or your future at all.

Related content:

 

Have you told yourself any of these reasons for why you’re bad with money?

When was the last time you said:

  • What if I fail? I don’t want to look stupid.
  • That person had an earlier start than me so there’s no point in me even trying.
  • I can’t pay off my debt because _____ (fill in the blank).
  • I need a brand new car or I can’t go to work!
  • I don’t have time to make extra money.
  • That person had everything paid for by their parents, and that’s why they are successful.
  • I deserve and/or need the things I buy.
  • I enjoy my job and can always make money later, so saving for retirement isn’t something I need to do.
  • The city I live in is too expensive to save money. Good luck trying that on the east (or west) coast.
  • It’s too late for me to start saving money.

These are all excuses I’ve personally heard.

Now, I know some of these are legitimate reasons. But, I’m talking about when you use them as excuses that hold you back from reaching your goals.

Think about this quote: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.” – Anonymous

If something is really important to you, you will find a way to make it happen.

However, if you keep making excuses for poor financial decisions, you are starting a bad habit that can hold you back from ever reaching your financial or life goals.

To put it simply, excuses prevent you from living the life you want. 

You’re giving up before you’ve even begun.

To reach your goals and to stop being bad with money, you’ll have to work hard and stop making excuses. No one has a perfect life, so it’s a waste to make excuses for why something is impossible for you.

Trust me, I used to be very bad with money. I bought clothes I never wore, spent too much money on going out to eat, and so on. I told myself I deserved those things, but really I should have been making better choices with my money.

Now, if I want to do something like that, I plan for each purchase and think about what other things I could be doing with that money.

Sure, it’s nice every now and then to just spend freely, but unless it’s in your budget, this will keep you from reaching your goals.

 

Excuses are a complete waste of your time.

I have a motto in life that I say to myself and my husband quite often.

Will I spend more time thinking about doing something than it would take me to do it?

So many people spend time thinking about excuses for things, dwelling in regret, and constantly living a life of “what-ifs.” But, that’s time and energy you could be using to change your life.

It can be hard, but stepping outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself can change your life.

Making excuses means that you’re wasting time by not even trying.

Instead of finding reasons for why you shouldn’t pursue a goal, you should spend your time creating a plan to achieve your dream life.

Next time you’re about to make an excuse, remember that being negative and making excuses is just a huge waste of time.

And, you’re better than that!

Related content: 11 Ways You’re Wasting Time And How To Change

 

Don’t use averages as an excuse for why you’re bad with your money.

The average person isn’t doing well financially.

  • 68% live paycheck to paycheck.
  • 26% have no emergency savings.
  • The median amount saved for retirement is less than $60,000.
  • The average household has $7,283 in credit card debt.
  • The average student loan debt is $32,264.

As you can see, the average person has a lot of work to do to get their financial life on track. So, don’t just look at those statistics and think that it’s okay if your finances aren’t doing well.

There are lots of people who fall into those statistics for legitimate reasons.

But, there are others who use those statistics to justify not working harder for the things they want.

If you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, have money in savings and for retirement, and to take control of your financial situation, you’ll have to start owning up to your mistakes and finding a way to change things for the better.

So, stop using averages as an excuse for why you’re bad with money and start realizing how you can change your life.

So, please Stop Using These Ridiculous Excuses For Not Saving Money.

 

Stop trying to keep up with others.

Often, people are bad with money because they want to keep up with what other people are doing. You see your friend buy a brand new car and think you need one too. You get on Facebook and see someone from high school going on an amazing vacation and think you deserve a vacation.

However, you don’t know anyone else’s financial situation but yours.

Maybe these people went into tons of debt to “afford” these things. Maybe they really can afford them. You don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

The only thing that matters is what’s going on in your life.

If you want to go on vacation, start saving to make it happen. If you want to buy a new car, think about how having a large monthly car payment will affect what you can put towards retirement. 

You don’t deserve something because someone else has it – you deserve it if you can make it happen.

Related content: How To Take Control of Your Life and Stop Making Excuses

 

Find out why you make excuses.

People make excuses for all sorts of reasons. By figuring out why you are constantly finding excuses, you’ll be closer to tackling your problem.

Common reasons for why people make excuses include:

  • Fear of not reaching a goal, failure, hard work, etc.
  • Being scared.
  • A feeling/belief that life is unfair.
  • Not really wanting it or lacking motivation.
  • Lack of confidence.

And more!

A lot of the time, the reason you make excuses for why you are bad with money is deeply rooted in past experiences, a lack of confidence, lack of motivation, and more. But, when you find out what’s holding you back, you’ll be able to move forward in reaching your goals.

 

Believe in yourself.

You might be bad with money now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change your life for the better.

To take control of your life and to be successful with your finances, you need to start believing that you can do it.

Think about what you are good at, think about successes you have had, and see those things as evidence for how you can succeed. Everyone has it in them, but sometimes we forget that we have already overcome things.

Next time you think “That’s not possible for me because of (your excuse),” you should think instead about what you have already accomplished and about how you can make your current goal a reality.

You also NEED to admit that you are making excuses, because until you admit that, you will most likely just continue making them.

Yes, it may be a little difficult to change your mindset in the beginning, but as time passes you’ll realize that your excuses were just a waste of time and energy. Because, if you really want to make a better financial life for yourself, you can find ways to make it a reality.

Reaching your goal will take time, and there might be setbacks (there probably will be – that is only normal!), but your goal for making a better financial future is only impossible if you quit before you get there.

Do you think that a person’s mindset can impact how well they do with money? What excuses have you made in the past?

The post Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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2 Strategies and 3 Habits That Helped Me Pay Off $93,000 of Debt in 3.5 Years

2 Strategies and 3 Habits That Helped Me Pay Off $93,000 of Debt in 3.5 Years

2 Strategies and 3 Habits That Helped Me Pay Off $93,000 of Debt in 3.5 Years #payoffdebt #debtfreeHello! Today, I have a great debt payoff story from Heather O’Donnell of HappyHumbleHome.com. Enjoy!

These days, I’m a frugal living blogger at Happy Humble Home and I provide money saving advice and encouragement to others.

But there was a point in my life, not that long ago, when I thought I would be in debt forever.

When my husband and I got married in August of 2015, we had $105,000 of debt. Since then, we have worked very hard towards our goal becoming debt free and we have crushed $95,000 of our debt.

Along the way, we’ve used 2 different debt payoff strategies and we’ve learned 3 essential habits that have helped us be successful along the way. In this post, I’m going to give you an inside look at how I overcame my giant mountain of debt because I know without a doubt that if I can do this, you absolutely can too.

More debt payoff stories:

 

I brought most of the debt into my marriage

My husband was debt-free except for his car payment. I had a giant student loan and a car payment of my own. Here’s a breakdown of exactly what our debt looked like:

  • Student Loan – $68,000
  • My Car Loan – $20,000
  • His Car Loan – $17,000

If you’re wondering about those numbers, let me give you a quick backstory.

My giant student loan was consolidated from my undergraduate and masters degrees. I went to school to be a elementary school teacher and was working as a kindergarten teacher in an inner city when we got married. Obviously, this was not a very high paying career choice.

It was just pure bad luck that my husband and I had to buy cars at the same time.

A few months before our wedding, his old car was starting to have problems and it would have been expensive to fix. We decided together that instead of fixing his old car, it would make more sense to trade it in and get a new one. So, he did.

We expected the little Honda Civic that I was driving at the time to last us at least another 5 years and we didn’t think his one car payment would be that bad.

But just a few weeks after my husband bought his new car, my car was totaled in a hit and run accident. Thankfully, I wasn’t injured. On the other hand, my poor little car was destroyed.

Clearly, I was going to need a new one. And of course, I could have bought something used and affordable. But instead I did a rushed month of research and decided to invest in a new car that would last us 10 years, barring another horrible accident.

So, that’s how we ended up with 2 car payments at the same time on top of my student loan.

We paid for our wedding in full with cash that we had saved up during our 18 month engagement. But this also meant that we were only paying the minimums on our debt during this time.

 

It was right after we were married that we decided to get serious about paying off our debt.

Emotionally, it was hard to be the one to bringing so much debt into my marriage. I felt really guilty about it and it took several long conversations with my husband before I was ready to tackle or debt together.

We started by learning everything we could about debt payoff strategies.

We decided that because we were already highly motivated, we should use the debt avalanche and focus on paying off my student loan first since it had a much higher interest rate.

For the next 18 months we devoted every spare dollar that we could to paying my student loan. We paid off $38,000 of the $68,000 total during that time.

The debt avalanche was serving us well. We’d paid off more than half of our biggest and highest interest rate debt. But our life situation was changing. I was pregnant and planning to leave my job to stay home with our baby. We knew this would drastically decrease our income and affect our debt payoff.

 

So, we decided to reevaluate our strategy.

After looking at our debts, we decided the best thing for us would be to eliminate our highest monthly payment. That would free up more money each month and would make life easier when I wasn’t working.

My husband’s car loan was our smallest debt, with our smallest interest rate, but it was our highest monthly payment at $505.  

We set our sights on that small car loan and started devoting all the extra money that had been going to my student loan each month to the car loan instead.

We had his car paid off in 6 months.

This put a lot more breathing room in our monthly budget.

Then, we turned our attention to my car payment. The minimum monthly payment for my car was only $297, but it was a much smaller total amount than my student loan and we wanted to remove that monthly payment too.

We put everything we could toward paying off my car, including our 2017 tax return, and we had it paid off 7 months later.

By this time, our son was here and I had left my job. Our income was much less than when we were both working and our expenses were a little higher since we had another person in our family.

So, our debt payoff slowed.

There were several months that we could only pay the minimum monthly payment towards the student loan.

Whenever we had a little extra, we would pay more.

Even though our progress had slowed, our motivation was still high. We had built so much momentum when we were paying off our debts quickly and that carried us through those harder months.

Since I left my job in August of 2017, we have paid off $21,000 of my student loan on one income.

So at the time that I’m writing this we still have about $10,000 of debt left. I have this new, life changing ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know we will be debt-free soon, and once we are, we’re never going back.

I want to share with you 3 essential habits that we used to pay off our $95,000 of debt so far.

These strategies worked for me even as someone who was horrible with money in the beginning. And they’ve kept me motivated through the hard times when I felt like giving up. I know these strategies can work for you too.

 

1. Monthly Debt Check-In

Every month during the last weekend of the month, my husband and I spend an hour planning out our budget for the month ahead and checking in on our debt payoff progress.

We talk about how much debt we’ve paid off and how much further we have left to go.

Sometimes we play with an online debt calculator on Unbury.us. The calculator tells us when our debt will be paid off based on how much extra we can pay each month. For example, if we pay an extra $600 a month, we’ll have our debt paid off my February 2020. It just gives us a rough idea of how close we’re getting.

Talking about it is powerful gets us excited and motivates us to continue.

 

2. Cutting Expenses for Extra Debt Payments

We did everything we could think of to lowering our expenses so we would have more money to devote to paying off our debts. This wasn’t fun to think about at first, but it was fun to see all that extra money going toward paying off debt.

Here are some of the expenses we cut to free up money for extra debt payments.

Food

We completely stopped going out to eat at restaurants. During the 3.5 years that we’ve been married and working on our debt, my husband and I have only been in a restaurant on our anniversary or birthdays.

We also stopped getting take-out food on the busy (or lazy) nights that we didn’t feel like cooking. Instead we had some supplies on hand for super simples meals that we both liked and that would be easy to prepare when we didn’t want to cook. These were mostly things like tuna, cartons of soup, or frozen chicken fried rice.

I made an effort to meal plan and once I learned a system that worked for me, I worked on stretching the same ingredients out for several different dinners in a week. For example, shredded beef would work for beef and broccoli, beef tacos, and stew.

Then, I started getting serious about saving money on groceries. I started looking for sales, comparing prices, using some coupons, and shopping with a grocery budget. I was able to lower our grocery costs by $40 a week with just a little bit of work and thinking ahead.

Household Costs

After we got our food costs under control, we focused our attention on our household costs.

We seriously cut down on our electric bill just by unplugging things and intentionally turning off what we weren’t using.

We negotiated our cell phone bill and saved $15 a month.

We made an effort to use a little less of everything – less paper towels, less detergent, less shampoo.

We’ve even tried to do some simple home repairs ourselves without calling (and paying) a professional. My husband was able to fix the ice maker in our freezer, replace our doorbell, and even do a simple repair on our toilet.

It was easier than I thought it would be.

I expected cutting our expenses to be a grueling process but it was so much easier than I ever expected. We would just try something, and if it worked we’d get really excited about the money we saved.

My success with cutting our expenses is one of the main reasons I wanted to start my blog, Happy Humble Home. I was excited to share simple, actionable ideas that other people could use in their own lives, with their own families, to save money.

 

3. Keeping the Future Front of Mind

The biggest change that helped me while paying off debt was actually a mindset shift.

I stopped thinking about what I wanted right now, and instead started focusing on what I want in the long run.

I knew that I didn’t want to still be paying off my student loan when my kids were in college. And during the times that I was struggling, that’s what I would remind myself.

And my husband and I are always talking about how much more money we will have once we don’t have to make any debt payments. We’ll actually be able to save money for things that we really want, like remodeling our bathrooms.

This isn’t an easy mindset shift to make.

There were so many times that I wanted the instant gratification that came from take-out food or going out with friends or buying a cute new outfit.

I had to keep reminding myself that 5 years from now I wouldn’t remember that meal, or event, or outfit. But if I made the right choices, in 5 years I could be debt free. And that would have a profound impact on my family forever.

With practice, those hard choices became easier to make.

And now that I’m so close to being debt-free, it’s very easy to turn down temptation.

 

$93,000 in 3.5 Years

It’s a little scary to put all my real life numbers out there into the world. But It’s pretty amazing to take a step back and think about how far I’ve come. And It’s even more amazing to think about how close I am to the finish line.

My husband and I expect to be 100% debt free by the end of 2019. And once we are, we are never going back. Also, there will be a party.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep sharing my money saving tips and debt insights over on my blog, Happy Humble Home. I’m doing my best to empower everyone I can reach to fix their financial situation, just like I have. I’d be honored to be a part of your financial journey. You can join me here to get access to all of my best money saving tips and tools (including a printable debt payoff tracker!)

If your debt feels overwhelming like mine once did, I want you to know that this is not impossible. With a little intentionality, some smart choices, and healthy money habits you can pay off your debt and change your future. I know that if I can do this, you can too.

Do you have debt? What are you doing to pay off your debt?

The post 2 Strategies and 3 Habits That Helped Me Pay Off $93,000 of Debt in 3.5 Years appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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The content for this post was sourced from www.makingsenseofcents.com

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Can You Really Make Money With Paid Online Surveys?

Can You Really Make Money With Paid Online Surveys?

Looking for paid online surveys for money? Yes, you can get paid to take surveys - I have! Here's how you can find paid surveys and make extra money. #makeextramoney #paidonlinesurveys

Looking for paid online surveys for money? Yes, you can get paid to take surveys – I have! Here’s how you can find paid surveys and make extra money.

Not too long ago, one of the top ways I made extra money to pay off my student loan debt was by doing paid online surveys.

No, I didn’t get rich from them, but I was able to earn some side cash by taking online surveys in my spare time.

The way I made it work for me is that I signed up for as many online survey sites as I could. Due to that, I was able to complete at least a few surveys each week.

There were many times when I would receive an easy $100 check in the mail from completing surveys in a one-month period. The work is really easy. It can all be done from home, on your own schedule and timeline, so it’s a win-win!

Below are some of my tips for side hustling with paid online surveys.

Related content:

 

First, why do companies offer paid online surveys?

Companies use surveys all the time to learn what their current and potential customers think of their products, services, and company. With the surveys you take, companies get valuable opinions on how to improve their products, and that’s what they are paying you for.

The companies I’ve listed in this article are market research and consulting companies who put together the surveys for companies.

 

Sign up for as many paid online surveys as you can.

To increase your chances of making money, I recommend signing up for as many online survey companies as you can.

I say this because individual survey companies may only send a few surveys your way each month, so the more you sign up for, the more money you may be able to make.

By joining as many sites as you can, you’ll receive the most opportunities. It’s really that simple!

The survey companies I recommend signing up for include:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. Swagbucks
  4. InboxDollars
  5. Opinion Outpost
  6. OneOpinion
  7. VIP Voice
  8. Pinecone Research
  9. Prize Rebel
  10. Product Report Card
  11. Survey Club

You can learn more about taking paid online surveys with each company below.

 

1. American Consumer Opinion

American Consumer Opinion is a free online survey company I highly recommend. They pay you for each survey you complete.

You can usually earn anywhere from $1 to $50 per survey taken through American Consumer Opinion. It all depends on the length of the survey.

American Consumer Opinion also gives you the opportunity to test products for free (yay, free stuff!).

They have paid out over $30,146,855 to survey takers and have had over 20 million surveys taken.

You can sign up for American Consumer Opinion here.

 

2. Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie is a top survey company. You simply build a profile with them and they match you to paid online surveys that fit your demographic information. They pay either cash through PayPal or with gift cards to Amazon, Target, and more.

Survey Junkie accepts members from the United States, Canada, and Australia.

You can take surveys for cash by signing up for Survey Junkie here.

 

3. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much as I used to, but I still occasionally use them to earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. They have surveys you can take and there are countless other ways to earn points with Swagbucks. You redeem those points for gift cards or cash through PayPal.

You can sign up for Swagbucks here, and you’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up through my link.

 

4. Inbox Dollars

InboxDollars is an online rewards website I highly recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, watching videos, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more.

Most of the paid online surveys on Inbox Dollars pay from $0.50 to $5.00 and take 3 to 25 minutes to complete. If you match certain profile requirements, you can make up to $10, $20, or more per survey.

Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive a free $5.00! Sign up for InboxDollars here.

 

5. Opinion Outpost

Opinion Outpost is another paid online survey company that pays cash via PayPal or with gift cards to places such as Amazon.

Most of their surveys take around 10 minutes.

You can sign up for Opinion Outpost here.

 

6. OneOpinion

OneOpinion is an easy company to sign up for. It’s free and takes less than one minute to sign up. You can get paid for their online surveys through cash or gift cards.

Currently, people living in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Australia are able to sign up for OneOpinion.

You can sign up for OneOpinion here.

 

7. VIP Voice

VIP Voice conducts over 12 million surveys each year and is one of the leading companies for online surveys.

You may take surveys related to clothing, cars, beauty, food, toys, sports, and so on.

You can sign up for VIP Voice here.

 

8. Pinecone Research

When I was regularly taking surveys, Pinecone Research is the company I used the most. From my personal experience, I believe they are one of the best online survey sites. And, I honestly know they are a legitimate company to use. They pay you for each survey you complete, and they also occasionally send free products to review!

You can sign up for Pinecone Research here.

 

9. Prize Rebel

Prize Rebel is super easy to use and you can sign up in just 10 seconds. You are paid through cash and gift cards to places such as Amazon, Walmart, Visa, and more.

They have paid out more than $18,000,000 in cash and rewards since 2007.

You can sign up for Prize Rebel here.

 

10. Product Report Card

It takes just a few minutes to sign up with Product Report Card, and you can start receiving paid online surveys within 24 hours of signing up. They pay cash, with Amazon gift cards, and you may even receive free products.

You can sign up for Product Report Card here.

 

11. Survey Club

Survey Club has been around since 2005, and they match you with available studies and surveys in your area. After you’ve completed a survey, you’re paid via cash or Amazon gift card.

You can sign up for Survey Club here.

 

How do I get paid to take online surveys? Do I need any special equipment to take online surveys?

All you need is internet and some sort of device such as a laptop, computer, or tablet. There isn’t any extra equipment or tools you need to take paid online surveys through the sites I’ve just listed.

Paid online surveys are quite flexible – you can take them at any time of the day, which makes it an easy way to make extra money.

For most of the survey companies above, you can get paid to take surveys from your desktop, laptop, tablet, cell phone, and so on.

If you can access the internet, then you can probably get paid to take a survey.

 

What kind of questions will you be asked when getting paid to take surveys?

When filling out the survey forms, you will be asked many different kinds of questions. These could be things related to what you like to eat, your birthday, your favorite movie, and more.

Survey companies ask these kinds of questions because they are trying to figure out what people want – hence the surveys. Remember, this is market research you are helping them with.

You should always be honest when answering because the survey companies want people who actually fit what they are looking for.

Plus, you don’t know what each survey is looking for anyways, so lying may actually hurt your chances of earning money.

 

Are paid surveys a scam?

The free online survey sites above are all real, but there are many not-so-legitimate ones out there. I am often sent emails from readers asking whether so-and-so is real and what I would do.

Below are some warning signs that a survey site may not be legitimate:

  • Are they promising you the world? It would be very hard to earn a full-time income by just answering one website’s surveys. Surveys are meant more as a way to earn side income so get-rich-quick schemes are usually fake.
  • Do they require an upfront fee? I have taken many paid surveys over the past several years and I have never had to pay a penny to take any of them. If a website asks you to pay for access to a survey, they are most likely a scam.
  • Do you remember signing up? Some scam websites are just there to take your information. If you don’t remember signing up for the company, definitely ignore their emails and don’t click on anything!

 

Are paid online surveys a good side hustle?

Like I said in the beginning, you are not going to get rich by taking surveys for cash. You are earning small amounts of cash or gift cards that can help you make extra income. 

You will want to think about why you’re taking the surveys to see if they are a good fit for you. I put every extra dollar I earned from online surveys towards my student loan debt, and it helped me pay it off really quickly. But, this isn’t money you earn the day you take the survey, and it’s not something you could really do full time.

Online surveys are a great for helping you pay off your debt (every little bit really does help!), save up for vacation, put money in an emergency fund, and more! When you think about how easy they are, it makes taking them almost a no brainer.

What do you think of paid online surveys? What paid survey websites are you a part of?

The post Can You Really Make Money With Paid Online Surveys? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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The content for this post was sourced from www.makingsenseofcents.com

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