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We’re Going To Start Living In A Van!

We’re Going To Start Living In A Van!

We're Going To Be Living in a Van! We're going to be living in a van! Here's why we made the choice, more info about our Winnebago Revel, our future van life plans, and more. #livinginavan #vanlifeWe bought a van last month! You’re probably wondering “You quit sailing and started living in a van?!”

No, we did not quit, and we are still sailing! We still have lots and lots of plans with the boat, and we enjoy having it. We are still on it right now, in fact, and couldn’t be happier.

So then, why did we get a van?

Last hurricane season, we mainly stayed on our boat. We did several short sails, but we wanted to do something different this hurricane season.

We talked to so many sailors, and we have quickly realized that many take a few months away from their boat each year during hurricane season, and we completely get it.

To have the best of both worlds (in our minds), mountains and beaches, we quickly realized that having a 4×4 van along with the boat is exactly what we want. ⁣⁣

We’ll mainly be living/cruising on the boat, but we will also be occasionally living in our van so that we can still do all the hiking, biking, and rock climbing that we’ve been wanting to do. We’ve been feeling like something has been missing from our lives, and now we feel refreshed and ready again! ⁣⁣

We have a lot of travel off the boat this summer, for family reasons, a wedding, and events, so having the van will make traveling everywhere much more comfortable for us and our two dogs too.

Also, another positive of living in a van is that the systems are pretty simple, and there isn’t a whole lot that goes into it. So, it’s less likely that we’ll have large repairs that take up a lot of time and money.

We really wanted it to be as simple as possible. Since we already have a sailboat that is quite complex (when compared to a van or RV), we wanted our time in our van to be as carefree as possible.

I know that some of you will think that we are nuts, so I won’t lie – I hesitated talking about this until we drove the van off the lot because I was afraid of being judged. When we sold our motorhome last year, we already agreed at that point that we’d like to try living in a van when we’re off the boat. So, yes, this was all in the original plan. And, the van makes us even more excited for our future sailing plans!

We are so excited for the future and cannot wait to start exploring!

P.S. If you’re following me on Instagram, then you already know this news. If you’re not, then please follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date 🙂

P.P.S. This is not an April Fools joke (unlike the one linked here).

Related content:

Here are some answers to questions you may have about living in a van:


Was getting a van planned?

Yes, when we bought our boat, we knew we would probably be getting an RV so that we could still enjoy the activities that we love doing off the boat.

For us, we think it will be the best of both worlds – sailing and living in a van.

We have a lot of outdoor goals that we want to achieve, and a van will make all of that much more realistic. We don’t have to wait until we’re finished boating to do those things, and who knows if and when we’ll ever be finished sailing. Now, we can do both of the things that we love!


What kind of van did you get?

We’ve been looking at vans for quite some time, and decided to get a Winnebago Revel. This is a four-wheel drive van that also has:

  • Solar panels on the roof
  • A small rooftop AC
  • A very small bathroom (you shower over the toilet)
  • A bed that can be easily brought up and down, which gives lots of space for the dogs
  • A kitchen (again, very small haha) with a stove, fridge, and sink

It sleeps the two of us and our two dogs just fine. Honestly, we were a little surprised with the space (the layout is PERFECT!), and we don’t think we’ll have any big issues living in a van during hurricane season each year.

No, we did not pay full price or anywhere near it. We’re master negotiators when it comes to RVs, haha. We got the RV at a little over 30% off MSRP, which is a normal percentage when it comes to new RVs.

Sadly, I do know of many people who paid full price for this same van! In fact, I know of people who have bought this same van used for a higher price than what we bought it for new. We got such a good deal on it that we are still scratching our heads on why and how it happened.


Where are you going in your van?

We don’t have any firm plans as of yet, but that’s the great thing about living in a van.

It is so easy to go to so many different places, many times without any reservations and very minimal planning (especially when compared to the boat!). This way we can also travel deeper inland anywhere we want to go.

We’re excited to just go wherever we want, and we will probably plan as we go.

Some places we’re hoping to visit include:

  • Baja. We’ve been having dreams of bringing the boat over to Baja, but with senior dogs we realized that would be quite the trip. So, one big benefit of living in a van for part of the year is that we plan on driving through Mexico and exploring Baja!
  • Alaska. Alaska is so big and having a van would make a lot of things much more accessible.
  • Canada. There are so many places in Canada that I want to visit.
  • Up the east coast. Going up to Maine sounds like a dream!
  • Anywhere else we want to explore. We’ll definitely be visiting a lot of our favorite places, such as Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest. Maybe one day in the future we’ll even visit South America.

We also want to be able to visit friends and family, and living in a van means we can just park in people’s driveways. That’s something we loved about our first RV – moochdocking.


Why not just keep your last RV?

Right before we bought the boat, we sold the RV. Some of you are probably wondering why we didn’t just keep the last RV we had, especially if we knew that this was all in the plan anyways.

We didn’t want both a big boat and a big RV – we didn’t want all of the maintenance that goes along with a big RV, we didn’t want a big RV just to be sitting there for months without being used, and the cost difference is fairly large as well. We also sold our last RV for nearly what we had bought it for, so it made sense to get something that better fit our new situation.

We also wanted to be able to pull up to all the amazing trails that we are used to exploring, and since we are only doing it for a few months each year, we don’t need anything massive. The boat will still be our “main” home, so living in a van will be something we do during the off season.


What will you do with the van when you’re on the boat?

Since we’ll mostly be living on our boat, we will most likely be storing our van while we are away. We have no plans of transporting the van to everywhere we go, and we would rather store it when we are on the boat for long periods of time.


What are you going to do for internet?

We currently have AT&T for our phones and internet. We used to have both Verizon and AT&T, but we switched to just AT&T and have been happy with it.

Even with that being said, sometimes our internet connection is not that great. This means I always try to work ahead as much as I can so that a lack of internet or a bad connection doesn’t create any stress.

I did just get a WeBoost which I will be installing on the van so that I can improve my signal and work in more places. Since living in a van means we will be off the grid a little more often, this will be a must for us so that I can still work!


Are the dogs going to live in the van too?

Yes, the dogs are definitely coming with us!

They’ve already done a few weeks in the van when we did a little shakedown road trip, and they did extremely well!

They are both really used to RVing, so living in a van will be an easy transition for them to make. There’s also a good amount of space for them to relax in the van. Lastly, being in a van makes it so much easier to let them out for walks, especially when we are in a big campground or on public land.

They are really loving all of the outdoor space.


How much does living in a van cost?

As I answered in How Much Does It Cost To RV?, RVing can be extremely cheap or it can be very expensive.

We paid for our van in cash, so we don’t plan on having many other costs that go along with it, except fuel and insurance (we did go ahead prepay for a year of insurance). Of course, we’ll still be paying for food, cell phones, and other normal expenses too.

One of the big reasons for why we chose the van is because it is small and can get almost anywhere. That also means that we can park for free in more places, such as family and friend’s driveways, boondock wherever, and more.

You can read more about this here – How To Camp For Free, Even In Beautiful and Desirable Places.

What other questions do you have for me? Would you live in a van?

The post We’re Going To Start Living In A Van! appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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How To Earn Over 20x The National Savings Rate

How To Earn Over 20x The National Savings Rate

High yield savings accounts are a great way to grow your savings, but most people have their money in accounts with low APYs. Unfortunately, that means many of you are losing out on some easy cash! #howtosavemoney #moneysavingtips #highyieldsavingsHigh yield savings accounts are a great way to grow 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!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t even know what interest rate you’re getting on your checking and savings accounts. You were probably told that when you opened your account, but that could have been years ago.

Savings accounts at brick and mortar banks are known for having really low interest rates. For example, here are some of the lowest savings rates I’ve seen:

  • Bank of America’s standard savings rate is 0.03%
  • Wells Fargo Platinum Savings has an APY of 0.05%
  • U.S. Bank has a standard savings rate of 0.01%

Those rates are crazy low, which means your money just isn’t growing as quickly as it could.

This is why I was so excited to meet the people at VARO Money in person. VARO is a mobile banking app that offers free checking and high yield savings accounts.

Those banks I listed above often do have accounts with higher APYs, but that’s once you have a high balance, like $25,000+.

Varo offers a higher than average APY to all of their customers, even if you are starting with just a penny. That means the average person can start growing their savings at a higher rate, which helps you save even more money.

If you’re looking for a free checking account, as well as a higher than average interest rate on your savings account, look no further!

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%.

Related blog posts:

How does that compare to the national average savings rate? While it’s actually higher than the ones I listed earlier, it’s still 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.

For example, 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.

But, let’s look at one of those accounts with an even lower savings rates. If you have $10,000 in an account that is only earning you 0.03%, that’s only $3 a year and $30 over 10 years.

That is a crazy difference, and you can make easy money by shopping around and finding a high yield savings account!

One of the other great things about VARO that they don’t charge any fees – there are no monthly fees (and no minimum balance), no foreign transaction fees, and free ATM withdrawals from over 55,000 ATMs.

That’s all great news for the average person who doesn’t have a really high account balance – a high yield savings account like this is really valuable for everyone.

It’s just a great place to save your cash and earn high interest on it, whether that’s your first $500 toward a rainy day fund, your $2,500 tax refund, your savings in general, a down payment for your next house purchase, or money you’re saving for your next vacation. It’s money you’re earning with no risk, and that’s a great feeling!

Here are a few more features you can expect when you open a VARO account:

  • You will receive a Varo Visa® Debit Card.
  • You can easily connect your account to PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and more.
  • You can still do direct deposit for paychecks and deposit cash into your account.
  • Your high yield savings account is available to access 24/7 – you don’t need to wait for a weekday or banking hours.

Click here to check out VARO.


Now, you may be thinking but this all sounds too good to be true?

If you have been with the same bank for years, you’ve probably gotten really comfortable with them. I know many people who are still at the same bank they started banking with when they were a teenager. And, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t even know what kind of interest rate you have on your savings account.

But, that doesn’t mean that finding a bank like VARO, who is offering a high yield savings account for even low balances, is too good to be true. It just means you’ve never shopped around to see what other banks are offering.

And, I completely understand that switching banks may take up a little bit of your time, but compare that to the fact that you are losing a decent amount of money by staying with a low savings rate bank.

You may be questioning why some big banks (including the one you’ve been at for years) have such low savings rates in comparison. The big reason is that they have no real incentive to raise them – they are hoping that customers, like you, who have been with them for years will just continue to hang around.

This is how those banks get you, and it’s how you end up losing a lot of money over time.

The reason is that most banks also have a lot of overhead. Each branch, teller, and ATM is costing you money. You don’t pay directly to use those things, but you do pay for them in fees and low APYs. VARO is an online bank, which means they don’t have those costs, and they pass their savings to their customers.

And, VARO Bank is regulated, so you have nothing to fear. They are just like any other bank in that way.

With VARO Bank, your money is FDIC insured to at least $250,000 through The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC. They will never sell your data, and they keep it safe with powerful 256-bit AES encryption, access control, secure processes, and audits.

Plus, with a high yield savings account, your money is much more liquid and available to you than other ways that you might find higher rates, like certificates of deposit (CDs). You can withdraw money from your VARO bank account whenever you need to and you won’t be charged a fee to do it.


Why doesn’t VARO Money charge fees?

VARO Bank doesn’t think that you should have to pay money to get a high yield savings account. Varo is all-mobile, and because there are no physical branches or overhead costs, they can pass those savings to you.

In the end, VARO Money can help you save a crazy amount of money.

With a $10,000 savings balance, you could be earning up to $280 a year just by having a VARO Bank account, as opposed to the national average of just $9 a year.


How do I get started with VARO?

Glad you asked 🙂

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!

What’s the interest rate you receive on your bank account? Are you interested in earning more by switching to VARO Money?

*Varo Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of June 12, 2019. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open account. Balance in Savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest.

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10 Easy and Delicious Camping Meal Recipes

10 Easy and Delicious Camping Meal Recipes

Camping is a great frugal activity to do with your family or friends. And with these 10 easy camping recipes, you’ll have a bunch of delicious and budget-friendly meal options.

I absolutely love camping, and making delicious meals while being outdoors.

These easy camping recipes are simple and have quick clean up and prep. And, this list has a ton of delicious and easy camping meals, from desserts to nachos.

What I love the most about these easy camping recipes is that you will end up with meals that are more interesting than what you may normally have. And, because you can prep some of these meals in advance, you can spend more time having fun while you’re camping.

For more recipe roundups, check out:

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.

10 Easy and Delicious Camping Meal Recipes:


1. Walking Tacos

Get the recipe here.


2. Campfire Cones

Get the recipe here.


3. Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Campbell’s Soup

Get the recipe here.


4. Easy Baked Camping Apples

Get the recipe here.


5. Healthy Rice Crispy Treats

Get the recipe here.


6. Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Maple Pecan Sauce

Get the recipe here.


7. Hot Dog On A Stick

Get the recipe here.


8. Quinoa Tabouli

Get the recipe here.


9. Beefy Campfire Nachos

Get the recipe here.


10. Hawaiian Packets

Get the recipe here.

Where are you traveling to next? What do you think of these easy camping meal recipes?

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How We Paid off $266,329.01 in 33 Months

How We Paid off $266,329.01 in 33 Months

How We Paid off $266,329.01 in 33 Months #debtpayoff #moneysavingtipsToday, I have a great debt payoff story. I’ve known Lauren for years – pretty much ever since I started Making Sense of Cents years ago! She was one of the first blogs I read actually.

Lauren Mochizuki is an ER nurse, wife, and mother. She and her husband paid off $266,329.01 in 33 months.  They also purchased their fixer-upper dream home, and renovated it without going into debt.  At her blog, she is sharing her home renovation story, encouraging others to become debt-free, and that one can live a great life while being on a budget. Enjoy her story below!


The Background

Female, age 25, nurse, recently married, living her life with no regard to finances.  Frequently dines out, goes to concerts, travels to foreign countries, never volunteers to work any extra shifts, lives beyond her means.  Purchased a brand new Subaru Forester, husband also purchased a brand new car, lives in an 1,100 square foot condo.

Total debt owed: $266,329.01.


My Story

My name is Lauren, I’m a registered nurse, wife, mother, blogger at, and firm believer that you can live an amazing life within your means! I didn’t have a clue what budgeting actually meant.  

When my husband first brought up the idea of budgeting, I was incredibly resistant. I thought that budgets were boring, restrictive, and I didn’t want to compromise my spending habits.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about my ideas surrounding budgeting.

Looking back eight years ago, I realized that change is difficult, but the outcome was worthwhile.  We are now debt free!

Other debt payoff stories:


Inspiration to Become Debt-Free

Eight years ago, we had some friends that were doing radical things to become debt free.  We thought they had lost their minds. They were working lots of overtime, and paying down their debt.  At the time, it sounded very extreme, and obscure.

Then one day,  after reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and having a long discussion with our aspiring debt-free friends, he said “I want us to become totally debt-free too.”  

I was ready to give my husband a swift karate chop when I heard that.  It never occurred to me that we had money problems. Our bills were being paid on time, we put aside some money in savings, but most of all, we were having so much fun with our money!  

Our debt breakdown was:

  • Credit card bills: $1,871.31,
  • The balance owed for two new cars: $31,211.10,
  • Mortgage balance for our condo: $233,346.60.

Total Debt $266,329.01.


Figuring out my “Why”

My husband kept pitching the idea of “Financial Freedom” to me, and that sounded pretty amazing, and at the same time daunting.   I wanted to support my husband, and if becoming debt-free was something that was important to him, and in reality important for US, then I decided  that I should give it a try.

I went from 0-60 very quickly.  I not only took on this journey of debt-freedom; I lived it, breathed it, and became incredibly passionate about it.  I also read “Total Money Makeover”, which fired me up even more. It was an easy read, for a “free-spirit” like me.


Accountability Partner

My husband and I became budget accountability partners.  He is the President of the Budget, and I’m the Vice-President.  

Together, we make decisions about how our money is spent, our work schedules, family schedules, and our future.  Having an accountability partner is something that is helpful for being successful on a budget. Whether it’s a friend, sibling, or coworker, find someone you trust, and respect, and most importantly hold you accountable for your decisions.


Establishing our Monthly “Budget” Meeting

At the end of each month, my husband and I decide how we are going to spend our money for the following month.  We call it our monthly budget meeting.

For example, if we made $5,000 one month, we would assign each dollar to a budget category (examples: utilities, mortgage, toiletries, work expenses, groceries, savings, etc.) for the following month.

I am the social events planner for our family.  During our budget meetings, I always have our monthly calendar open.  This step is key to having a successful budget meeting. We check the following month events for birthdays, showers, events, or weddings so that we can budget appropriately.  This helps to avoid any budget surprises.

We would also plan out all of the extra shifts we would be working during this time to cover these expenses.

It took us nearly 6 months to really get the hang of budgeting and tackling any issues that would arise.  It felt like the first several months, we kept discovering new budget categories that needed to be added.

We also started planning for big expenses all year long such as:  yearly memberships, property taxes, car and house insurance. We were also mindful of bills where a discount was given for yearly payments instead of monthly payments.

Special holidays such as Christmas, is a budget category that we allocate money to all year long.  This allows us the freedom to enjoy the holiday without wondering how we are going to pay for it.


Establish Rainy Day Savings

Unexpected costs had occurred, and we weren’t prepared.  Thankfully we had some money saved, but we realized it wasn’t easily accessible if we needed it for an emergency!

We quickly transferred that money into a different account (from a whole life insurance plan into a regular savings account) where it could be readily available to us.  It’s a good idea to have 3-6 months in your emergency fund.


Reducing our Expenses

After reviewing our monthly mortgage payment, we decided to refinance.  We changed our mortgage from a 30-year-fixed mortgage to a 20-year-fixed mortgage.  This single-handedly saved us thousands of dollars in interest.

Next, we checked every single utility bill and figured out how to bring down the monthly costs.  We were very successful with this process, by shopping around for utility providers, to decreasing our consumer habits (figuring out ways to use less water, electricity, etc), we managed to decrease most of our monthly utility bills.

Two other areas we changed to save additional money: meal planning and thorough review for big purchases. I started weekly meal planning, and I try to only grocery shop on a full stomach.  Don’t allow yourself to waste food and money if there isn’t a specific meal plan in place.

If there were big purchases that my husband and I would want to make that were over $50, we would have a conversation with each other, and sleep on it.  If we still wanted the item after a few days, and if there was money in the budget, then the purchase was justified.

We inadvertently had lots of no spend weekends.  A really frugal, and fun weekend for us would include time spent with friends and family at the beach.   Bonfire, barbeque or dutch oven meals would help reduce weekend spending, and they were delicious (my favorite are the dutch oven nachos)!  A major discovery in this whole process was that time is one of our most precious assets, and spending time with others is priceless, and doesn’t require additional money.


Increasing our Income

In order to achieve our goal, we HAD to increase our income.  

We were both incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to work extra shifts at our jobs.  I acquired a second job as an emergency room nurse, and my husband and I worked as if our lives, our future, and dreams depended on it.  

I’m talking: multiple 16 hour shifts a week for myself, and 60-120 hour work weeks for both myself and my husband (we were intentional to make sure that our mental and physical states were not in jeopardy).  We were on fire for this “financial freedom” that we were working towards. As Ramsey would say, we were “gazelle intense.”

We attended money conferences (we saw Dave Ramsey speak several times), listened to financial podcasts (You Need a Budget), and read blogs (Making Sense of Cents, Mr. Money Mustache), and books (The Millionaire Next Door, Start, The Go-Getter) that would encourage, and inspire us to keep working towards a debt-free life.  

Selling items also became a means to make more money.  We had garage sales, and sold things on eBay, and craigslist.  We wanted to be good stewards of our resources, and therefore sold items we no longer needed.  For several months, we were living off of 30% of our household income.


The Visual Aid and Celebrating Milestones

My husband and my mother-in-law pulled their creative resources together, and created a visual aid!  It was a picture made of felt material, of a mound of dirt, broken into many pieces that sat beneath the ground and a beach scene (our happy place).  

We kept the visual aid in our bedroom. It would be one of the first things I saw every morning when I woke up, and one of the last things I saw before I went to sleep.  It was a great reminder of our debt-free journey.

My husband and I created many different milestones to celebrate along our journey.  

  • We celebrated every time we paid off $5,000, and we would remove a piece of dirt from our visual aid.  
  • We printed out our mortgage amortization schedule, and celebrated every time we turned a page in our mortgage amortization schedule, and every time we saved another $5,000 of interest on our mortgage.  
  • When the principal became greater than our interest on our mortgage payments, we celebrated. It felt like we were constantly achieving a different victory!
  • Every month after a budget meeting, my husband and I would take a picture with our visual aid, we would write down the month, and if we celebrated any milestones that month!  
  • Our “celebrations” would include apple cider or champagne toasts, making a nice dinner at home, or simply reflecting on our goals accomplished that month.

After thirty three months, when we finished paying off all of our debt, I put all of the pictures together and made them into a photo album for my husband!  It’s so rewarding to look back and reflect on all the sacrifices, and all that we accomplished together! I still get teary-eyed when I look at it, and enjoy sharing this book with our children.  

This journey was one of the most challenging, and meaningful things we have ever done together.


Keep your eyes on the prize

Don’t play the comparison game.  I was the most successful when I kept my focus on our own progress.  It was very distracting when I looked around at what everyone else was doing.  I kept reminding myself that I didn’t want to be like everyone else, I wanted to be debt-free!

This whole process was difficult, challenging, life changing, and incredibly rewarding!  There were times when I felt like giving up, and just burnt out. When I felt like giving up, my husband would continue to encourage me to keep going.  He reminded me what we were working towards, and that we were positively changing our financial trajectory forever.


Work Hard, and Stay the Course

Thirty-three months can seem like an eternity when you are in the thick of it.  If you are living radically, any time spent during this season can seem like a long time.  

We had a few months where life’s challenges happened, and things would get in the way of our goals.  We didn’t let that deter us, instead, it gave us more motivation to continue on.

After a laborious thirty-three months, we became totally debt-free!  We were also expecting our first child. I still remember the day we went to the bank to pay our final mortgage payment, and the day we called in to the Dave Ramsey radio show and did our “debt-free” scream.

One year later, we purchased our fixer-upper dream home in Orange County, California.   We paid half of the total price of the home as our down payment. Three years after that, we completely renovated the home without going into debt.  We have a mortgage now, but it is very reasonable, and it’s the only debt that we have. I no longer have to work full-time, but work per diem as a nurse, and my husband rarely picks up any overtime shifts.  

We now enjoy spending lots of time together as a family.


How We Paid off $266,329.01 in 33 Months

Plant Seeds of Joy and Generosity

Maya Angelou once said “When we give cheerfully, and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

I would highly encourage being generous with your resources because it’s good for the soul,  whether it’s writing someone a kind note, buying someone’s coffee behind you, or giving to a non-profit organization or church.

During our entire debt-free journey, we donated 10% of our income, and it was always the first thing we budgeted.  This may not be for everyone, but we discovered that there is lots of joy to be had when things are given from a grateful heart.

We were first inspired to become debt free because of our friend’s story.  We now share our story in the hopes of inspiring others, and that it is possible if you are willing to work for it.  The timeframe for becoming debt-free might be long, and difficult, but it will definitely be worth it.

If you are thinking of becoming debt-free, find your passion, and don’t let anything stop you! As Colin Powell once said “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”  You can do this!

Do you have dreams of being debt free?

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10 Powerful Lessons That Every Freelancer Needs to Know

10 Powerful Lessons That Every Freelancer Needs to Know

Hi, it’s Ariel, Michelle’s editor. Over the past couple of years you’ve seen me here on Making Sense of Cents talking about real life frugality, staying in a small house, and editing and writing strategies. Last year, I turned my freelance side business into my full-time job.

It’s been nearly a year since I went full-time with my freelance editing and writing business (you can read more about that here).

The learning curve has been steep at times – I had (okay, sometimes have) absolutely no clue how to run a business. More often than not, I turn to Google for advice, searching for things like “how to file estimated quarterly taxes” and “how to set your freelance writing rates.”

There are best practices, but if there’s an official rulebook for freelancing, I haven’t been able to find it.

Freelancers make up a growing portion of the workforce – there are currently over 56 million freelancers in the U.S. That’s 56 million people who are running businesses, and most of us don’t have actual business school training. We’re making things up as we go, learning from others, and just trying to do what’s right for our businesses and clients.

One of my greatest sources of wisdom has come from working with some pretty amazing clients. From a weird vantage point that’s both in and outside of their businesses, I have the unique opportunity to observe my clients as they navigate running businesses that are much larger than mine, but still having started with equally humble beginnings. They’ve talked candidly about their mistakes, what they wish they knew going in, and have helped me become a better business owner.

I will forever be grateful for what they’ve shared with me.

So in the spirit of sharing, I’d like to pass on a few of the lessons I’ve learned in the past year working with a handful of incredibly successful bloggers and online business owners.

Related content:

Here are 10 freelancing lessons I’ve learned from my biggest clients:


1. Create a code of ethics for how you’ll run your business.

Whether this is something you write out or just hold in the back of your mind, a code of ethics will help inform the way you accept new clients, interact with them, and manage your overall business.

You’ve probably already encountered situations when having a code of ethics would apply, but if you haven’t, it’s coming. Further down in my post, you’ll see at least one point in which this kind of thing is valuable.

Here are some examples of the types of statements and standards you might include in your code of ethics:

  • Always prioritizing your client’s or customer’s needs
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Protecting intellectual property
  • Understanding the types of clients or customers that might not be a good fit for your business (an example for me would be if a client asked me to edit a blog post that promoted hate speech)
  • A willingness to work with clients or customers regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.
  • A promise of high-quality products and/or services
  • Responding to questions, comments, concerns, and returning work in a timely manner
  • Being transparent with your ability to meet deadlines and expectations

Your code isn’t something that you need to hand out to clients or customers; it’s there to lean on and inform the work you do.

Your code of ethics will likely be a fluid document, and that’s completely okay. As your experience grows and your business changes (see the next point), you will learn more about yourself and your needs as a business owner.

Related: So You Want To Be A Freelance Writer?


2. Learn to adapt.

To stay relevant and endure, you must continually adjust your business based on the needs of the industry that you’re working in. What services or products are your clients asking for? What type of content do they want to read about? If you want your business to survive, you must be willing to make those changes.

I’d say that nearly half of the services I now offer are in direct response to my client’s needs. That’s adaptation, and it’s growing my business.


3. When you want/need to work, say “yes” to as much as possible.

You already know this, but it still needs to be said: if you need cash, then you need to work. What that means is that you’re going to find yourself working on a lot of projects that you don’t really love.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to agree to every job. Like, I could never find myself working for someone who promotes hate speech, even if I really needed the work – why it can help to have a code of standards even early on. Fortunately, there are lots of menial jobs out there that can sustain you and your business, and there’s nothing wrong with doing them.

You’ll get those high-paying, soul-fulfilling jobs eventually, but that’s after you grow your base and have some cash flowing in. Then you can be a little pickier about the type of work you take on.

Related: The Truth About Making Money Online


4. Find a way to organize your workflow.

Workflow is a little bit of a buzzword, but it just means the process in which you start and finish work. It can relate to one specific project or task, or you can talk about workflow in how you structure your working day.

Why is workflow important? Well, it helps you stay on task and increases your productivity and efficiency.

Finding the right workflow is incredibly hard when you’re working from home, like many freelancers and online business owners do. You see laundry that needs to be folded, and you say to yourself, “let me just take care of that.” Having some structure to your workflow and scheduling time for breaks will allow you to know whether or not you can fold that laundry now or later.

Between my freelance clients and the one part-time job I still work, I’m pulling around 40+ hours per week. It’s really easy to push some of that work off until the weekend, but I’ve organized my workflow so that I keep the weekends to myself as much as possible – you’ve gotta get that work/life balance right.

If you need some help with workflow, Asana is a free team and project management tool that’s amazing. I found it through one of my clients, and I am 100% happy with what it’s done for me and my business.


5. Freelancers no longer live in the wild west.

I recently went to this freelancer’s happy hour and met a few folks who have been freelancing for decades. I was telling them about my experience as a newer freelance business owner and someone said something like, “you’re lucky to start it now, it used to be hell out there for us.”

They went on further to describe the old idea of what freelancers do, from the perspective of both clients and freelancers. It was ride into town, pick up some work, go unseen for a couple of weeks, and then ride back in to drop off work and pick up a bag of cash. No one wanted to interact with the freelancer and the freelancer couldn’t care less.

Freelancers were just too wild to work a real job.

However, we collectively agreed that attitudes towards freelancers have shifted. Good freelancers are in communication with their clients when it’s needed. We aren’t just doing the extra or crap work that no one wants, or at least that’s not always the general perception.

Most importantly, freelancers are being treated like valuable business assets who are running their own respectable businesses. You can still call yourself a cowboy if you want, but at least now you’re welcome in town.


6. Take care of cracks before they grow.

With that growth and adaption I mentioned in #2, there are naturally going to be a few cracks that appear in your business – your foundation is settling. While that’s normal, take care of that stuff before it gets too big and actually hurts your business.

I learned this lesson just a few months ago when someone I was outsourcing work to was making some little errors here and there. I told myself it was no big deal and that it would fix itself. But it didn’t. The outsourcing I was doing to save me time was now costing me money AND time.

It was uncomfortable, but I talked with my freelancer and we fixed the issue. Things are now really great, and we’ve both promised to always be honest with each other if stuff like this happens again.


7. Learn SEO.

You do not need to be an SEO master to benefit from some basic search engine optimization tips, and that basic level stuff isn’t that hard to learn. So, read some articles, find a course, listen to podcasts, whatever… just inform yourself.

You don’t have to optimize every page of your website or blog post with keywords, and you also shouldn’t expect that SEO alone will take you to the top of page 1 in Google rankings. Sites pay for that, and it’s often indirectly through months or years of building up their sites.

Learning SEO, at the very least, teaches you what you’re up against, the kind of content people are searching for, and the types of services (if you’re a freelance editor and writer like me) that clients are looking for.

Here are a few resources for SEO training and support:

  • Stupid Simple SEO
  • Ahrefs (a paid tool for analysis, research, rank tracking, etc.)
  • Yoast  (a WordPress plugin that has both free and paid options)


8. Get to know your audience and/or your client’s audience.

If you’re a blogger, you know that your audience is driving your work. So, if you’re a personal finance blogger and your audience starts asking for more budgeting advice, you do reviews on apps like Personal Capital and Mint. Have a food blog and your audience wants more vegetarian recipes? You put some on your content calendar.

For freelancers, I think that you also have to be aware of these audiences.

There are big, and sometimes very subtle, differences in the types of readers and customers your clients have. This informs the content, tone, and language you’ll encounter and need to be familiar with, and it will help you move between your work. And, I’d say this applies to most, if not all, freelance writers, editors, virtual assistants, etc.

To learn about your client’s audience, you can ask them for some demographics, read through the comments on posts, follow them on social media, and join their online communities.

I know it takes a little extra time, but trust me, it makes you a better freelancer who understands your client’s needs and is sometimes able to identify them before they do.


9. Outsource as needed.

If you’re a freelancer for a blogger or online business owner, it’s because someone has outsourced work to you. Outsourcing doesn’t just save your clients time. It lets them focus on tasks that have a higher ROI (return on investment). So, spending a little money increases their earnings overall.

Freelancers can also outsource, and it’s incredibly helpful when you’re smart about it (see #6 as a reminder).

Even though I am an editor, I outsource editing for some of the writing I do to a few different freelance editors whom I know and trust. While it might take me around an hour to copy edit a blog post that you’ve written, it can take me 3+ hours to edit one that I’ve written. The time I save is then used for other tasks that pay better.

Read more at How I Make Working From Home Work For Me


10. Network, even if it’s awkward at first.

Remember that freelancer’s happy hour I told you about? It was awkward, like really, really awkward. A decent part of that is because I don’t always know how to talk with new people, but I really did learn a lot. It was also just really nice to meet other people who are doing the same thing that I’m doing – this is hard to find when you’re self-employed, working amid piles of laundry on your dining room table, and referring to your dogs as coworkers.

Networking can bring you new clients and introduce you to ways of doing business that you never thought of. And, you can find people to commiserate with and share in the successes that those directly around you just don’t get.

Where you network is going to depend on what you do, but Facebook groups and other online communities are a good starting point.

In the end, everyone is just trying to run their business the best they can.

Working for yourself is sometimes an act of humility. You can get clients who don’t like your work, readers who email you saying that you’ve misrepresented facts, and sometimes you just don’t think things through and majorly eff things up.

I know it’s frustrating, but we’ve all been there. The upside is that you learn something with each of those challenges, even if it takes you a little time to see the silver lining. Trust me, you regain your footing and move forward.

Are you interested in becoming a freelancer?

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Save Money With These Top Tips For Buying A New Car

Save Money With These Top Tips For Buying A New Car

Looking to buy a new car? Here are 10 top tricks and tips for buying a new car so that you can learn how to save money with your next car purchase. #tipsforbuyinganewcar #buyingacar

I’ve recently heard a lot about people spending an exorbitant amount on their monthly car loan. Personally, I know several people who spend over $1,000 a month on their car loans while barely making enough to cover that and all of their other bills.

So today, I want to give you some tips for buying a new car so that you can save money on your next car purchase.

According to USA Today, the average new car price is around $37,000, with the average new car buyer paying around $550 a month with loan terms of 69 months. Many people are buying more expensive cars and taking out loans with high interest rates in order to “afford” them.

In fact, according to Edmunds, the current average annual interest rate on in 2019 is 6.19%. I’ve even seen car buyers with interest rates of 20% and higher.

And, people are extending their car loans for longer periods of time in order to get an even lower monthly car payment. While 72 months used to be a crazy long time to finance a car, terms of 84 months are even starting to become the norm.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a car loan or buy a new car. But, I do want people to be more mindful of their car spending and be more knowledgeable going into the car buying process.

Today’s post is all about the best tips for buying a new car so that you can save money when buying your next vehicle. And, many of these tips for buying a new car also apply to buying a used one.

Not all car dealerships and car salesmen are bad. I know this for a fact because my husband used to be a new car salesman (and he was nice, I promise!). My husband knows all about the flack that salesmen get, and he even helped with some of the tips for buying a new car that I’m going to tell you about.

Despite the reputation car salesmen get, the car buying process itself can be really stressful for everyone.

Whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, there are several car buying tips and tricks you should know of so that you can walk away with the best deal possible. There are so many options and extras that come up when buying a car, which means there are many ways for you to end up leaving confused or paying more than you should be.

Whether you are buying a $500 car or a $50,000 one, you want to get the best deal available. To make sure you don’t walk away from a deal angry or regretful, it’s important to be as knowledgeable as possible.

Cars aren’t cheap, which can leave a lot of room for mistakes and overpayments. You can buy a car that doesn’t meet your needs, is too expensive, and more.

We’ve had a lot of vehicles in our life, from a really cheap $500 car that ran well (yes, you can find good vehicles for cheap), to expensive new vehicles. And, we’ve used all of the tips I’m going to share with you today.

Before I tell you the top tips for buying a new car, I want to tell you about several ways that car dealerships make their money. These are things to be mindful of:

  • Your trade-in vehicle. To make a profit on your used car, car dealerships will offer you less money than they can sell it for. Of course this is normal, but you want to be mindful of this so that you can get the most money out of your trade-in vehicle. Even though it takes a little more work, you can often make more money if you sell your car privately instead of selling it to a dealership.
  • Incentives and bonuses from the car manufacturer. This means that if you can buy a car when a dealership hasn’t reached their selling quota, you may be able to get a great deal on your car purchase (this is covered more in my list of tips for buying a new car). Many times car dealerships will take a loss on the vehicle if it means that they will be able to reach their quota.
  • Financing the vehicle. Dealerships make money when you finance vehicles through them.
  • Extra options. These are things like an extended warranty and upgrades.

Buying a new or used car can be fun and stressful at the same time. You don’t want to get tricked or duped, so here are tricks and tips for buying a new car before you start shopping!

Here are my best tips for buying a new car (or used one):


Think about the WHOLE COST of the car.

The most important of these tips for buying a new car that I can offer you is that you should think about more than just the monthly payment.

You should only purchase what you can actually afford. Just because the monthly car payment looks affordable, it doesn’t mean that it actually is.

There are car payment terms that are as long as 96 months, which is just crazy to me. A car salesperson may stretch out the car payment so that it looks to be more affordable for you, but you should be aware of the whole cost, which includes things like interest and taxes.

Please, please, please, look at the whole cost and see if that’s actually an affordable amount for you to be paying every month.

Even if you aren’t buying a brand new car, used cars can still cost you more than you think in insurance and taxes, so always think about the total cost before you purchase your next vehicle.


Shop around for your own car financing.

If you have to finance your car purchase, make sure you shop around before you agree to the dealer’s interest rate. Sometimes the first dealer you visit will have the lowest rate, but sometimes they won’t.

You may be able to save yourself hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a year by simply shopping around. Plus, it’s extremely easy to shop around for the best interest rates – start with local credit unions and banks!

I’m in quite a few Facebook groups about personal finance, and this topic comes up over and over again: people who are excited about getting a car loan with an interest rate of over 20%. And sadly, many of these people are buying brand new cars, not realizing how much they are about to pay because they don’t know much about personal finance.

20% is not a good interest rate for a car loan – so please don’t be excited about that! I am saying this to help you, not to be mean in any way.

You should shop around and make sure you are getting the best possible rate. If you are getting a 20% interest rate on a car loan, then you should probably not be buying a brand new car. There are plenty of more affordable vehicles that are older but still quite reliable.


Visit more than one car dealership.

You can shop around car dealerships both online and offline.

I recommend shopping online before you go to a dealership, this way you can be prepared in advance with the costs, loan terms, extras, and more. While shopping around does take time, you won’t be wasting it on a dealership that can’t get down to the price you want.


Skip the extras at the end.

When you are about to purchase a car, you will be encouraged to buy many small options that you may not need. This may include extras such as:

  • Paint protection
  • Extended warranties
  • Upgrades

While you may believe that you need some of those options, you should make sure that you’re not just thinking about the monthly cost. The financing manager will offer you these extras in a way that makes it seem affordable. But, these extras only appear inexpensive because they are padded into your monthly cost, so don’t be fooled by how “affordable” they seem.

Yeah, $10 or $50 each month may not seem like much, but it can add up to a lot over a 5 year period!

Trust me, you are paying for these. Dealerships make money on these extras.

Related: 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month


Figure out how much your trade-in is worth.

One of the best tips for buying a new car if you’ll be trading in your vehicle is to know how much it is worth before you step foot into a car dealership.

Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for researching what you’re old car is worth. While you may not get the exact amount that Kelley Blue Book claims you will get, it can be a good estimator or starting point when negotiating with the car dealership.


Know when to shop.

There are certain times of the month and year that are better for car shopping than others. If a dealership is trying to meet their sales quota, they are more likely to give you a deal than when they’ve already beat their quota or if it’s the beginning of their quota.

This is because car manufacturers will give bonuses and extra incentives to car dealerships who sell a certain amount of vehicles. This gives car dealerships extra motivation to give really good deals if they are close to their quota.

This is one of the best tips for buying a new car that my husband learned from selling cars.

To know the best time to shop for a new car, you may want to make friends with a car salesperson, find out when their end of month or end of quarter is, and so on. Or, you could just ask someone at the car dealership.


Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Even if you get a discount, such as a car manufacturer discount, you should still negotiate. Many times, those friends and family discounts mean that you are not able to haggle at all, which can lead to you actually paying a higher price.

Cars sales are usually meant to be negotiated, whether it is a brand new vehicle or a used one. If you don’t haggle, you will most likely lose out on a lot of money.

Other aspects of the vehicle buying process can be negotiated on as well, this includes your trade-in vehicle, warranties, interest rates, add-ons, and more.

Learn more about negotiating at How To Rock At Negotiating On Everything.


Be nice.

No matter what, you should be a decent human being. This is one of my tips for buying a new car that applies to most other aspects in your life.

Being rude doesn’t get you anywhere. It won’t get you the best deal, and it may actually make the salesperson and the dealership not want to help you.

After you purchase a car you are asked to go through the car manufacturer to grade your car salesperson. If the salesperson knows that you might give them a bad grade (for no reason at all), they may not want your deal because it’s not worthwhile to them to have a bad score, which decreases their salary/income.

Plus, you should always be nice anyways. Salespeople are just doing their job and trying to make a living, and the majority of them are good people. If you’re nice to them, they may be willing to help you out a little more.


Miscellaneous tricks and tips for buying a new car.

Here are several other tips for buying a new car (or used one):

  • Never shop when you’re hungry or tired. You should always be well-rested and ready for an eventful day.
  • For the car dealership to beat their quota, sometimes they will buy a new car themselves and put it on the “used” car dealership side. The car is still brand new, but is now considered pre-owned. This can allow you to save a good deal of money. However, you do want to be mindful of the warranty, because the warranty has most likely started once the car was officially bought the first time, even if it was bought by the car dealership.
  • Purchase a car at the end of the car’s model year. Dealerships want to move out last year’s model to make room for the new ones, which can lead to a good discount.
  • Look into car insurance before you purchase. You should contact your car insurance agent so that you are not surprised by a high insurance rate after you make a purchase.
  • Figure out what you’ll need to pay in personal property taxes for your car, which varies state to state. You will need to add this into the total cost of your car.
  • Don’t tell the salesperson what your budget is for a monthly payment. You should always negotiate on price first. A dealership will try to get you into something that will just barely fit your monthly payment budget, which can cause you to spend a lot more money in the long run.
  • Be confident. When negotiating, you should always be confident in what you are saying, and do not be afraid to walk away. If it’s not meant to be, then it’s just not.

What other tips for buying a new car can you share? Leave them in the comments below!

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10 Easy Freezer Meal Recipes

10 Easy Freezer Meal Recipes

On nights when you are busy, having a freezer meal ready to go is one of the best ways to feed you and your family. So, to help you get ready for your week, I have 10 easy freezer meal recipes for you to try, from breakfast burritos to meatless shepherd’s pie.

Freezer meals are simply meals you prep and cook in advance, stick in the freezer, and pull out to reheat when you need them. They are simple, healthy, and help you save money.

If you’ve never made freezer meals before, here are a few tips:

  • Batch cook several meals at once.
  • Label your meals with reheating directions.
  • Use freezer quality bags so your food doesn’t get freezer burn.
  • Make a list of what freezer meals you have and put it on your fridge or somewhere else that’s easy to see.

Trust me, these meals are nothing like the frozen dinners you would buy from the store – home cooked always tastes better (the from scratch Hot Pockets on this list look delicious!).

And, one of the best things about these easy freezer meal recipes is that you can save a lot of money on your monthly food budget. You will be less likely to get fast food or take out when you know that you have a delicious meal at home that you just need to pop in the oven or microwave.

For more recipe roundups, check out:

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.

Here are 10 easy freezer meal recipes to try:


1. Healthy Homemade Hot Pockets

Get the recipe here.


2. Tuna Casserole

Get the recipe here.


3. Freezer Mac And Cheese

Get the recipe here.


4. Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Get the recipe here.


5. Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Get the recipe here.


6. Breakfast Burrito Bonanza

Get the recipe here.


7. Instant Pot Pumpkin And Plantain Curry

Get the recipe here.


8. Butternut Squash Soup

Get the recipe here.


9. DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos

Get the recipe here.


10. Black Bean Taco Soup

Get the recipe here

Are you interested in making easy freezer meal recipes?

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How I Made Money Blogging From Home In April 2019

How I Made Money Blogging From Home In April 2019

How I Made Money Blogging From Home In April 2019 #makemoneyblogging #workfromhomeWelcome to April 2019’s business report where I show you how I made money online and traveled full-time last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and see how I did.

If you’re new to Making Sense of Cents, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my business report each month.

This all started out as my extra income report because, in the beginning, it was all about the money I was earning from my side jobs. In my side income reports from the beginning, I included all of the income I made except for what I made at my day job.

However, I left my day job as a financial analyst in October of 2013 and now my monthly business reports consist of the many ways I earn a living with my business.

Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly talk about what I’m working on each month. Some think I’m crazy, whereas some are glad I’m open about what I’m doing. Whatever you think, I enjoy publishing my monthly business reports and I share them publicly for three main reasons:

  1. Before I started blogging, I knew nothing about side hustling and making money online. I didn’t think side jobs were worth the effort and I thought the only way to significantly increase your income was through raises at your full-time job. If it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. There are many different ways to make money online, and I like to share my story each month to help motivate others to improve their financial situation by making more money.
  2. Secondly, I like to publish my business blogging reports because it’s a way for me to look back, learn from my mistakes and actually see what areas need improvement. I use my monthly blogging reports as a way to track how I’ve done and it helps to keep me accountable.
  3. Lastly, I like to show others that making side money is possible and that there are many legitimate ways to make money from your home.

I know I say this every month, but it’s the truth. Life is great now that I’m my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day and it’s a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every single morning.

Above are just a few of the reasons for why I enjoy publishing my monthly income reports. I like to show others that you don’t have to hate your job and hate your life. You can make changes to your life and make money in a way that allows you to truly enjoy the life you are living. I’m not saying that you have to LOVE your job, I’m just saying that your job should, at least, allow you to do what you like to do outside of work (whether that be spending time with loved ones, painting, hiking, etc.).


Quick reminder on the recent announcement.

I want to repeat the announcement again because I have been asked – How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports? so that no one is confused. I’m sure I’ll receive many questions from readers who missed it.

As you all know, for quite some time I have been thinking about getting rid of my monthly income reports. However, whenever I would mention this in an income report, 99.9999999% of you asked me to continue on. Due to that, I want to find a happier way to continue with them.

Now, these will be “Business Reports” where I talk about how the business is doing, my goals, etc. Basically, everything will be the same, except there will be fewer numbers.

Instead of breaking my income apart down to the exact figure, I am including a pie chart. Many of you asked that I still do this so that you can see where income is coming from.

If you’re looking for actual numbers, I did publish income reports for several years that talked about how much I earned from specific sources. You can find every single income report here.

I really don’t think too much will change. Instead, I want these monthly reports to be more helpful, instead of focused on just the numbers. I will still be answering reader questions, talking about what I’m working on, and so on, so I still think these will be extremely beneficial.

Many of you have asked “Did your blogging income drop after getting rid of the numbers in your income reports?”

It’s only been a couple of months since I decided to stop publishing the exact numbers in each income report, and I also definitely do not know what direction I’m going with these still.

Many of you have wondered if my income has dropped because I’m now no longer showing readers exactly how much I am earning.

I was curious too to see if this would impact my earnings at all.

Well, after just a couple of months, traffic appears to be the same, and email subscriber growth is the exact same as well.

Most readers have completely understood me wanting to get rid of the numbers aspect of income reports, which has been nice!

So, it doesn’t look like it will change anything at all.

If there’s anything new that you would like me to add to these monthly reports, please let me know in the comments below!

Income breakdown for April 2019

How was business income in April of 2019?

In case you are new, the main areas I earn a living from include:

I regularly earn over $100,000 a month blogging, and I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blogging business total over the years.

Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.

April of 2019 was another great month for Making Sense of Cents and the whole blogging business. I earned a great income and enjoyed my month.

I have many plans for the rest of 2019, and I have a jam-packed to-do list that I am very excited to start crossing off and accomplishing.

Some of the things that I plan on doing in order to grow Making Sense of Cents include:

  • Focusing on SEO. I will be taking an SEO course soon from start to finish, in order to start growing Making Sense of Cents in this area. I tried a few years ago, but stopped. While I get decent traffic from SEO without much effort, I do think this area can be a great way to further grow my website.
  • Learning about Pinterest and Facebook advertising. I would like to use social media advertising to grow traffic as well as to grow my email list.
  • Adding a shop. I would like to create a shop for Making Sense of Cents, where I sell products such as printables.
  • Creating new optins. I don’t have many optins for my email list, and haven’t added a new one in quite some time. This is currently on my to-do list so that I can reach new readers and gain more subscribers.

The month was great in many areas – blogging, course-wise, life, and everything else. The business is doing well and I’m very happy with it. My business is doing well, I have a lot of ideas for the year, and I am very excited about everything. I really love my business and I don’t know where I would be without it.

Below are some of my monthly online income reports. I publish an online income update every month but only included some of them below as it would be a very long list. If you head on over to my income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase, at least, 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, if you are asking yourself “can you make money blogging?” – my top tip is to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.


Blog/life news

April wasn’t a bad month, but most of the month was spent working on the boat, getting warranty items addressed, modifying things, and so on. As you can see from the picture above, we hauled our boat out of the water, and that is me standing in front of it.

In May/June, we will be sailing our boat from Fort Lauderdale, through the Keys, and to St. Pete. We were going to go up the east coast, but quite a few things have come up and we just don’t have the time to dedicate to go up the coast, along with several other reasons (such as the fact that boat repairs/additions took a LOT longer than we thought).

Don’t worry, though, we have an exciting summer loosely planned and we will be going back to tropical waters once hurricane season is over. If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know the news. And, I will be sharing all about it in a blog post soon!

Work-wise, April was full of a lot of work. Since we weren’t sailing the boat, I had a lot of time to work on the blog when we weren’t working on the boat.

But, I still have a ton of work to do, and I am hoping to catch up in June, which I’m fairly certain that I will be able to do.

Below are several other business and blog-related updates:

  • I’m currently less than one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead.
  • Traffic for the month was over 400,000 page views.
  • I am working on a series where I will help readers with specific financial questions, and tutorials to go along with them. Topics such as: How to open a bank account, How to write a check, Finding an online bank, Building and creating an investment account, etc. What other topics would you like to see me cover?
  • My community group for Making Sense of Cents is continuing to grow. This is a Facebook group in which you can seek advice from other readers on all sorts of topics such as finance, blogging, travel, running a business, and so on. There are already over 14,000 members!
  • I released my How To Start A Blog FREE Course. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, then check this out. I created this email course for those who are interested in starting a blog, but haven’t done so yet. The course is free, and over 50,000 people have already signed up. Thank you, everyone, for the kind emails about how great the course is. Glad everyone is enjoying it!
  • Due to how well my first free course went, I also created the free Master Your Money email course. It’s full of great money management lessons and financial worksheets (such as a free budget template), and I’m loving the positive response from this email course as well.
  • Other freebies I have include 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income and 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.


Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:


Featured Question: What products can I promote on my blog?

I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer. 

Are you wondering what companies and items you can promote/sell/advertise on your blog through affiliate marketing, and sponsored partnerships?

Luckily, the list is pretty much endless.

No matter what topic you are blogging about, there are probably many, many items you can advertise on your blog to your readers. And, a lot of the products that you use in your everyday life are included!

I’ve heard from numerous bloggers that they cannot find affiliate programs for the specific niche that they are in.

Well, let me tell you, you’re not looking hard enough (or, even at all) if you can’t find any affiliate programs.

Nearly every niche has affiliate programs, and there is an affiliate program for the majority of products that are out there. Most products will have affiliate programs, so the list is endless.

To find the specific affiliate programs mentioned below, they may be linked directly, you may have to find them within an affiliate network (such as Shareasale or Awin), click on “Affiliates” or something similar within the footer, and so on. If you’re not in my affiliate marketing course, you may want to purchase it because I teach you exactly how to find affiliate programs and how to get approved to them as well.

Here are some affiliate programs that you may want to look into according to your niche:

As you can see, there are many, many affiliate programs for each and every niche to choose from. And, many of the above can be applied to different niches – you don’t have to put yourself in a box! For example, I am an affiliate for all kinds of products, from finance, to blogging, to work at home, to travel, to food, and more. If you enjoy a product, there is probably an affiliate program for it.

If you’re interested in affiliate marketing, then I recommend taking Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. In this course, I list out over 80 possible affiliate programs for different niches, I teach you exactly how to apply for affiliate programs (and get approved for them!), the affiliate income strategies you need to implement so that you can earn passive income on your blog, and more.

Past featured questions:


My plans and goals for my blog and my business.

We have a crazy May planned. We’ll be finishing up work on the boat, traveling to see family quite a few times, and sailing the boat from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys, and then to St. Pete.

I’m also hoping to get a lot of work done.

Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person motivated too.

Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:

  • Complete the Facebook Ads For Bloggers course. There are two courses that I am really wanting to finish so that I can continue to grow Making Sense of Cents. Learning about Facebooks ads is so important and I think I will benefit from this course a lot.
  • Complete the Stupid Simple SEO course. This is the second course. SEO is something I just have never really spent much time on, so I know that this course will be extremely helpful!
  • Get to Inbox 0. After several months in the Bahamas, my inbox is out of control. I also have around 5 or 6 different to-do lists that are work, life, and boat-related that need to be addressed before I go crazy, haha!
  • Create a freebie optin for affiliates to share for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I have been asked by several affiliates for this, and I’m glad to finally start working on it! This is a great thing to do because my affiliates can easily promote my course with this freebie optin, and then be credited for future sales. For me, as an affiliate for other products, freebie optins are usually the very first thing I promote (as well as my favorite) because it’s a great way to introduce an audience to a new product/service/company.
  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
  • Work less than 30 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 30 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I recently wrote about it here – My Quest To Be More Present And Enjoy Life More. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to 2019!


Affiliate marketing results.

Affiliate income was at a normal Making Sense of Cents level in April of around $50,000.

Some of the things I am working on to improve my affiliate income include:

  • Planning out 2019 for affiliate offers. I’m not really much of a huge planner, but I am changing that in 2019. I already have affiliate promotions planned out for almost all of 2019. This will help to keep me organized and better prepared.
  • Learning about SEO and applying techniques to my blog. This past guest post has me super interested in starting to take SEO seriously – The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year.
  • Using Facebook ads to my affiliate marketing advantage. This past guest post also has me interested in growing in this way as well – How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
  • Creating a high-quality funnel. Funnels are something that I have never really spent any time on, but I would like to change that. I want to create a high-quality funnel where I continue to give valuable information to my readers, and keep them happy for the times when I may not have the greatest wifi.
  • Continuing to grow the reach of Making Sense of Cents. Traffic has been a little stuck lately, and I want to change that! I want to see what I can do to grow the traffic, as that will help me to reach new readers.
  • Analyzing popular affiliate blog posts to see how they can be improved for the future.
  • Seeking out new affiliate products to promote, and seeing what my audience is interested in.

And more!

Earning affiliate income is something that I’m extremely grateful for, especially lately. We have been so busy lately and I haven’t spent as much time on the business as I would normally like.

Even though I am spending less time on the business, I am still earning a great income each month and this allows me to focus on a better work-life balance.

I’m a very big fan of affiliate income, of course. It’s something that I enjoy due to how passive it can be. It makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable when I know I can bring in an income while having fun seeing new areas.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, I recommend getting the free guide 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income. With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you to rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.

I also have a course too!

In the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, several worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful and exclusive Facebook group, and more. I go through everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing, such as:

  • A quick introduction to affiliate marketing and how it works
  • The exact steps I’ve taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post
  • How to correctly pick affiliate products to promote
  • The steps to increase your conversion rate
  • 80+ affiliate program ideas for different niches
  • How to build trust with your readers (this is a MUST!)
  • The required disclosures you need to know about
  • The many different strategies to promote your affiliate links

My course is anything and everything about affiliate marketing. This course is perfect for you whether you are a new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, no matter what topic your blog is about, what country you live in, and so on.


Sponsored partnership results.

April was another great month for sponsored partnerships. That is because the first few months of each year is usually a popular one for financial blogs. Page views are up and readers are interested in improving their finances due to making new annual goals.

Due to this, I formed new sponsored partnerships with a few financial companies in the first and second quarter of 2019.

For some reason, sponsored blog posts and sponsored social media ads seem to scare bloggers, whether they are brand new or have been blogging for years.

What do I charge? How do I find companies who will want to work with me? What are the rules?

There are SO MANY QUESTIONS when it comes to sponsored posts.

It makes sense – sponsored partnerships are something that probably 99.9% of bloggers want to pursue, but the problem is that they have no idea where to start.

I started Making Sense of Cents in August of 2011, at the age of 22, without any hopes of ever earning an income from it. It started as a hobby – just a way to journal my life and talk about my personal finance situation.

Then, around six months after I started my blog, a blogger friend of mine connected me with an advertiser and I earned $100 from that advertisement.

It wasn’t a lot of money, especially considering the amount of time and work I had already put towards my blog. However, it was very motivating to see that something I absolutely loved to do could actually make money. I honestly had no idea that blogs could even make money when I started mine!

After that first $100, my blogging income quickly grew.

I now charge, on average, around $5,000 per sponsored post.

You can learn more about sponsored partnerships in my free guide 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.

Are you interested in earning blogging income?

The post How I Made Money Blogging From Home In April 2019 appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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Living On A Boat – The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful

Living On A Boat – The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful

Living On A Boat – The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful #livingonaboat #boatlife #smallspaces #travel“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Wow, it’s crazy to think that we’ve been living on a boat for over a year now! Just a year ago, I was pretty much a complete newbie to sailing. I had no idea what I was doing, and at times, I was wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into.

You can read all about our start in Welcome To Paradise – We’re Living On A Sailboat!

In the beginning, I shed a lot of tears, was stressed out, and occasionally wondered if I made a huge mistake.

But, I also pushed myself, learned a ton, and was rewarded with each new accomplishment. I’ve even received compliments on my docking, line handling, and sailing skills from other sailors, and that is so nice because it helps improve my confidence with this never ending learning process. I know that I am not perfect, but I know that I am trying my hardest!

We had so many people tell us that they were excited for our new journey, but we also had just as many people tell us that we were going to die and/or not make it.

So many people told us that the first year of sailing and living on a boat would be the toughest, and we’ve personally met many people who quit just a few months into the sailing life due to that.

While I am still no expert (learning never ends when it comes to sailboats), I am very proud of what I’ve learned this past year – not just about sailing, but pushing my own limits as well.

While the first couple of months living on a boat were the hardest, the recent months have been absolutely amazing.

There have been amazing sails, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, great snorkeling, fun dinghy rides, so much incredible sea life, fun visits from family and friends, and more.

I love being on our boat and I’m sad whenever I have to leave it. I love sailing, I love the planning that goes along with it, I love going to new destinations, I love being on the water, and more.

It’s crazy to think back to the start of this past year and realize how much I’ve grown and learned. It’ll be interesting to read this post next year and do a second year update.

Related content:

Recently, I posted the following question on Twitter, and between the responses there and the questions I’ve received via email and Instagram over the past year, I have a lot of things to talk about today.

So today, I am going to answer your questions about living on a boat!


Did you quit RVing because you didn’t like it?

Oh, have I heard this question so many times…

We did not stop RVing and switch to sailing because we didn’t love RVing.

In fact, we loved RVing a TON! We decided to start sailing because we wanted to learn something new and go on a new type of adventure.

While we sold our RV last year, we haven’t finished our RV adventures.

I recommend reading 11 Reasons to Choose RV Life.



Is living on a boat as perfect as it looks on Instagram and Youtube?

Things aren’t always picture perfect like on Instagram – cruising on a boat and traveling with your home is a lot of work.

One of the things I hear ALL of the time about sailing is “the highs are high and the lows are super low.”

That is the truth.

The hardest part for me about living on a boat is the fact that I enjoyed RVing sooooooo much, and I sometimes miss the adventures we had on land – rock climbing, long hikes, cycling, and more. While this is possible to do while living on a boat, it is a little more difficult as you can’t exactly park your boat at the bottom of a mountain or carry a bunch of outdoor gear on board. In fact, we can barely find room for our folding bikes on our boat, let alone a mountain bike.

RVing had gotten so easy and comfortable. There really weren’t any super lows – everything really was amazing.

But, we had wanted to move onto a boat for quite some time. Actually, we wanted to live on a sailboat before we even started RVing.

We made the switch to a sailboat because we wanted the challenge, to gain new skills, and to try something different.

And, living on a boat does bring lots of new challenges, like dealing with the weather, fixing broken things, staying safe, it being expensive (boats are expensive!), and more.

I talked about the subject more in my recent blog post Is Full-Time Traveling As Good As It Sounds?

Still, sailing is great and the highs are amazing! I would never trade all of the hard things in for all of the incredible things we’ve been able to do – sailing to new locations, spending time exploring beautiful islands, being able to moving our home with just the wind, being able to make our own water, and more. There really are so many great things about sailing that you just can’t do while RVing.


What did you do the first year on your boat?

In our first year living on a boat, we:

  • Sailed from Fort Lauderdale to St. Pete (we stayed in St. Pete for hurricane season).
  • Went on many day and overnight anchorages at nearby islands to improve our skills and to have fun during hurricane season.
  • Added several things to our boat, such as a Code 0, feathering props, and more.
  • Sailed to Key West on a friend’s sailboat – the boating community is great!
  • Once hurricane season was over, we sailed to Key West and did our first solo overnight sail. It was around 33 hours and was the first time it was just the two of us sailing.
  • Hung around the Keys for about a month.
  • Sailed to the Bahamas and went to so many islands.
  • The first stop was Bimini. Bimini isn’t usually talked about a ton, but we loved this little island!
  • Then, we went to Grand Bahama. We stayed for just a few days to check it out.
  • Afterwards, we headed to the Berry Islands, Great Harbour Cay to be specific. We absolutely loved the community here, as well as the fresh bread delivered to the marina. Yum!
  • Next, we sailed to Chub Cay. We had a visitor fly in to stay with us and we stayed for a while to relax after the busy months we had.
  • New Providence came next, and we loved Nassau! People were friendly and there was a lot to do.
  • And on to the Exumas. We were only able to do the northern Exumas this visit, but it was a blast. We will definitely be back! We snorkeled, saw a ton of sea life, and the blue water just can’t be beat.
  • Then Eleuthera. After visiting Eleuthera by plane the previous year, we knew we wanted to bring our own boat for a visit. While we only visited one tiny spot on this long island, we had a great time.
  • After that, we somewhat retraced our steps and went back to Florida (where we are now) to have some boat work completed.

I ended up with around 3,000 nautical miles under my belt in the first year of living on a boat. I accomplished more than I thought I would, and I am so very happy with how the year went!

What are your future sailing plans?

As full-time travelers, we don’t live by a specific schedule, and that’s because things can change fast. One thing we learned from RVing is that it’s hard to plan even a month out, let alone years.

Our plan right now, which will probably change, includes going back to the Bahamas next winter and exploring the parts that we weren’t able to visit, such as going further into the Exumas, the Abacos, more of Eleuthera, and so on.

There are around 700 islands in the Bahamas, and we loved our time there so much that we definitely want to go back!

The Bahamas are great, especially if you have dogs. The Bahamas are easy to get into and each island is a little different.

We have dreams of exploring the Caribbean even more and visiting Europe, the Pacific, and more.


When will you be done living on a boat?

The number one question we got while RVing was “how do you get mail?” The number one question while sailing is “when will you be done?”

I find this super funny because the questions are so different even though they are both about full-time traveling.

I have no idea when we will be done. There are still so many places we want to see and sailing goals we want to meet.


How are the dogs doing on the boat?

For some reason, some of you think that we just gave our dogs away. Haha, that simply isn’t true! I wouldn’t be living on a boat if it meant my dogs couldn’t come. We’ve had them for far too long – we got Sailor when we were just 18 years old, French Fry when we were about 20. They come on nearly all of our trips, and they seem to love it!

We have taken things slowly with them since they are older and didn’t grow up on a boat. Taking it slow is the top tip we’ve heard heard from other people with boat dogs.

They’ve adjust really well, and our dogs can get on and off the boat just fine. Sailor runs on and off without any help and hasn’t fallen in at all (yet).

We had no problems bringing them to the Bahamas, but we did have to get some documents in order to be approved, which wasn’t too difficult.

Since our dogs were used to RV life, they got used to a TON of walks, chasing us on mountain bike trails, hiking mountains, and more. But, that didn’t really translate very well to boat life, haha.

We’ve learned that even though we would love to visit far away islands, our bigger dog just likes walks too much. To keep her happy, and us, we’ve done shorter sails and still walk her about 5-6 times a day.

We’ve met many people who have re-homed their pets due to the reasons above, and others who limit walks. We know some people who literally never walk their dogs, we know some who walk once a day, and then there’s us – walking our dogs about 5-6 times a day. Due to this, we tend to get some weird looks from other sailors.

But, I’m fine with all of this. We still find plenty of places to explore and I just can’t imagine not bringing our dogs with us! While there is definitely more planning required when you have dogs on a boat, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.


How do you receive mail?

Last year, we switched our residency from South Dakota to Florida. We chose South Dakota while we were RVing as it’s a state friendly to full-time RVers (fun fact: it’s one of the top 3 states that full-time RVers tend to choose). Now that we are on a boat, though, Florida makes more sense.

We belong to a mail forwarding company called St. Brendan’s Isle. All of our mail gets sent there, and they forward our mail to wherever we are.


Aren’t you scared of rogue waves, sharks, your boat breaking down, modern day pirates, or unexpectedly sailing into an unfriendly island?

I get asked this a lot, and it’s tough to answer.

These are all things that can and have happened to people while sailing. There are ways to prepare yourself for freak events and ways to be more careful, but in the end, I’m not scared enough to stop sailing.


How much learning and training do you need to put yourself (and your husband) through to sail and operate a boat?

Learning never ends on a boat. We did training in June and July of last year and have been doing everything by ourselves since then.

Wes has logged many more miles than I have, and he has several family members who have lots of sailing experience. For me, though, I was a complete newbie.

You can’t really take time off from learning when you’re living on a boat, but I expected that going in. If it were easy, then everyone would do it!


How do you do your laundry?

We have a washer/dryer on the boat. It’s an all in one unit and works very well! The only downside is that our clothes come out quite wrinkly.

Since we have dogs, having laundry on board is really nice since our bigger one gets pretty dirty and likes to roll around a lot outside – we’re constantly cleaning up after her!


Do you think you’ll miss your boat when you move onto your new plane? 😉

I had to include this one. While this person knew I was joking, most of my readers, even family and friends, thought my April Fools joke was real. Ha!

So no, I’m not moving onto a plane.

You can read more about this here: We’re Moving Onto A Plane!


What’s the biggest difference between living on a boat and an RV? In terms of actual living space, etc. Obviously not just the fact that it’s in the water versus on land.

Because I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of questions about RVing versus sailing, I’m going to write about this more in-depth in a separate blog post.

RVing and sailing are similar in a lot of ways, yet they are different in a lot of ways too.

With both options, you are traveling with your home and bringing it to new places. You can bring both of them around the world (yes, you can bring your RV around the world – people do it all the time), you always have the comforts of home with you, some of the systems are similar (such as how you still need to dump your tanks, fill up water, solar, etc.), boondocking is similar to anchoring, campgrounds are similar to marinas, you’re living in a small space, there’s lots of planning that goes into where to travel next, and more.

But, of course, they are different too.

Differences between sailing and RVing include:

  • Our living space is MUCH bigger on our boat, and that means we can host guests much more comfortably. But because of the layout, the boat has less storage space than the RV. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but that’s just the way it is.
  • Living on a boat comes with more daily and weekly chores than living on an RV. That’s because, on a boat, you are fighting so many elements since you are dealing with both the water and the wind.
  • You can go a lot faster in an RV. We could easily log 500 miles in a day and still feel great. Our last RV drove like a dream. In the boat, though, sailing 75 miles in a day makes for a really long day.
  • Being on the water, even in a marina, is absolutely beautiful. I love just being able to go outside and see the beauty around me. Yes, RVing is great too, but being on the water is a much different and wonderful feeling.
  • When you are sailing, you get to see so much amazing sea life from your boat, even when you’re in the marina. Right from the helm seat while sailing, I’ve seen sharks, dolphins, schools of fish, sting rays (we even sailed through a “fever” which means that there were over 1,000 rays and we were surrounded by them!), sea turtles, star fish, and more.
  • Paying attention to the weather is very serious when you’re living on a boat and sailing, while it’s not nearly as important when living in an RV.

The list goes on and on.

Both are great and they both have their positives and negatives. It’s hard to choose which one is better because they allow you to do slightly different things.

We have met many RVers who used to sail, and many sailors who used to RV. The type of people are actually quite similar – whether they want to admit that or not (there’s definitely a rivalry that goes on amongst sailors and RVers, which I’ve learned about over the past year, haha).


What is the best and worst thing about living on a boat?

Best – being able to travel, sail, see ocean life, and explore. Our boat is fairly self sufficient, and that is an amazing thing. We have solar panels, we can make our own water, and we have sails to move the boat. Sure, we do use our engines, but we really haven’t used too much fuel in the past year.

Worst – the amount of planning, breakdowns, and bad weather. While our Lagoon 42 has been solid, other items have broken or failed us, such as our solar panels, watermaker, we had a prop fall off as we were docking, and more.

And, that’s just completely normal for #boatlife, haha. They say traveling on a boat is simply fixing a boat in exotic locations – ain’t that the truth!

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post about the reality of living on a boat. I feel like I have so much more to talk about, so I will be doing this again for sure!

What other questions about living on a boat do you have for me?

The post Living On A Boat – The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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How To Make $1,000 Extra With Facebook Each Month

How To Make $1,000 Extra With Facebook Each Month

How To Make $1,000 Extra With Facebook Each MonthToday, I have a fun interview to share with you that will show you how to make extra money running Facebook ads for local businesses.

I recently had the chance to interview Bobby Hoyt. Bobby is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance blog Millennial Money Man full-time, as well as a digital marketing agency for local businesses that he started in 2015.

Yes, this is a skill you can learn!

Last year, business owners spent over $88,000,000 per day on Facebook ads.

If you are looking for a new business or even just a side hustle so that you can learn how to make extra money, learning how to make money running Facebook ads for local businesses may be something that you want to look into.

In this interview, you will learn:

  • How Bobby started making money through running Facebook ads;
  • Why small businesses want Facebook ads;
  • How a person can find their first Facebook ads client;
  • How much you can make doing this type of work;

And more!

Bobby has been seen on CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Reuters, MarketWatch, and many other major publications.

One last thing before we head to the interview on how to make money running Facebook ads for local businesses. Bobby has a course called Facebook Side Hustle Course that teaches you how to successfully make money running Facebook ads for local businesses.

Because you are a Making Sense of Cents reader, Bobby has created an exclusive $100 off coupon code just for you. Simply use the coupon code “MICHELLE100” at checkout to get the discount before the course closes and the discount disappears.

Check out the interview below for more information.

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1. Can you share your story and also tell us how you started running Facebook ads for clients?

Sure! At this point my story is getting more and more complicated, but I’ll filter it down to the important parts.

Just a few years ago, I was a high school band director that wasn’t quite happy with my career path. It’s not that I didn’t like teaching part of my job or the kids, but I felt trapped. Like a lot of teachers, I was really struggling with the idea that I would never really make a lot of money, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was being paid enough for how hard I worked (band directors regularly work 70-80 hours per week).

I also had $40,000 of student loan debt coming out of college, which didn’t help. Between that and my teaching salary, I was feeling trapped.

So I decided to live as far below my means as possible (up to and including renting a 10×10 bedroom from my in-laws and driving a crappy car with no power locks or windows), and threw everything I could at the loans.

18 months later, I had paid off the entire $40,000 of student loan debt!

But… I still had the job I didn’t like haha. So I started blogging, eventually created Millennial Money Man, and got SO passionate about working online that I walked in one day and quit my job after making a cool $3 in display ad revenue.

It wasn’t exactly the smartest move and I don’t recommend that anyone quits their job the way I did, but at the time I felt like I could “make it” with M$M and was willing to take a shot on it.

After I quit, I got scared. Not going to lie. I loved running the blog and it was growing, but I wasn’t bringing in enough money. In fact, I wasn’t bringing in any money at all.

That’s when I started looking for other ways to make money while the site caught on, and I eventually ended up connecting with the jeweler that made my wife’s engagement ring.

He needed someone to help run their website, create content, and run Facebook ads.

I was desperate, of course, so I started working with him and learning how to run ads for local businesses. The money was solid for the amount of work it took, and I picked up a few more clients which allowed me to make money while I continued growing my “full-time” gig.



2. I keep hearing that “Facebook is dead?”

You can hate Mark Zuckerberg all you want – but this just isn’t true.

Facebook ads are the most effective local lead generation strategy for brick and mortar businesses, and when you add in the fact that Facebook also owns Instagram (which is wildly popular and is quickly becoming popular for local business lead generation), that won’t be changing any time soon.


3. Do small businesses really want Facebook ads? Why would they pay for a service like that? Can’t they just do it themselves?

They really do want Facebook ads, and it isn’t hard to see why. The only thing that business owners need more than extra hours in the day, are more customers and clients walking in the door.

Local businesses use Facebook just like the rest of us do, and they’re constantly seeing their competitors successfully use Facebook ads to bring in leads for their business. They hear about how effective Facebook ads are and they want that for their business.

The problem is that Facebook doesn’t exactly make it easy for business owners to run ads effectively on their own.

Here’s the normal progression for small business owners that attempt to use Facebook ads:

  1. They see the “boost post” option on their Facebook page
  2. They hook up their business credit card and boost a post
  3. They waste money because boosting a post isn’t the correct ad type to run for local businesses
  4. They give up and decide that Facebook doesn’t work

It’s unfortunate, because if they just used the correct ad types they would actually be able to generate tons of leads for their business. Instead, then get frustrated and give up.

That, or they just don’t have time to learn how to run ads effectively or even make time to focus on the ads. Even in my own business, there are plenty of times that I outsource tasks that I either a) don’t have time to do, or b) have no interest in learning.

You can help solve both of those problems – you can bring them tons of new customers and increase their monthly profits, while also taking a big task off their hands so they can focus their time on other things without stressing about their marketing efforts.

That’s why there’s such a market for ad managers. You can go in, run the correct campaign types for business owners, help them generate new business, and charge great money for the service because you are increasing their profits.


4. Is this side hustle hard?

No, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t work involved. We teach our students literally everything that they need to know to be successful with this side hustle, from creating the ads, to finding the clients, all the way down to the nuts and bolts of billing their clients.

If someone is willing to put in the time to dig into the course material, then we do everything we can to help them succeed in the private coaching and support group that’s attached to the course.

The course itself is structured in a logical, step-by-step way and uses “over the shoulder” style videos, so student can literally see our screens as we create the ads and talk them through the process.

When it comes to actually running the side hustle, it only takes a few hours per week to run ads for a client. The beautiful thing about Facebook ads is that once you set them up, they essentially run on auto-pilot.

Sure, you’ll need to make small changes from time to time, but the reason this course has worked so well is that it’s truly designed to be a service that is provided in your spare time to bring in an extra $1,000 – $2,000 per month.


5. How can a person find their first Facebook ads client?

We understand that the idea of trying to find clients is hands down the most intimidating part of starting this side hustle, which is exactly why we spend so much time on client acquisition strategies in the course.

Luckily there are plenty of simple ways to find clients online, even if you’re an introvert or are brand new to the online business world. We provide training on 9 different ways to get clients using a variety of methods and social media platforms. We have effective strategies using Facebook groups, LinkedIn, email, YouTube, and Upwork just to name a few.

All of these methods can be used to find clients without paying for advertising. It just takes some time, effort, and a little courage to put yourself out there. We’ve found that some of our students are very introverted, and some are extroverted, so we made sure to include strategies that will be for all personality types.

Our biggest advice when it comes to client acquisition is to focus on one or two of the strategies that we teach, and then go all in on those.

Our students tend to gravitate to different strategies, but we’ve found that the ones who stay focused and put the work in using the strategies that appeal to them most are the ones that stack multiple clients (assuming they want more than just one).

It’s also important to note that we don’t just give you the strategies and send you out into the world on your own.

We help our students strategize client acquisition in our coaching and support group.

Let’s say you reach out to a business owner and want a little help formulating a response to something they say to you. All you have to do is post your situation in the group, and we will tell you exactly what to say to get their business.

We really do everything we possibly can to help our students get clients, which is a large reason our students have been so successful since we launched it in 2018!


6. How much money can you make doing this type of work, and how many hours does it take per week?

The going rate for Facebook Ad management is $1,000 – $1,500 per month, per client. Now I know that sounds like a ton (and it is), but you have to think of this from the business owner’s perspective:

If you could pay someone to give you a steady stream of customers to your business, would you? Especially if the leads were affordable, and you made way more money from the new customers than you were paying for the ad management?

It’s really a no-brainer for a lot of business owners.

The other factor is that while $1,000 is a lot of money, it’s usually not an arm and a leg for an established small business owner. Many times, their rent alone is several thousand dollars per month!

So when you look at the $1,000/month per client we recommend charging from the business owner’s perspective, it makes a lot more sense.


7. Is there an opportunity to grow this side hustle into a full-time business?

I love this question, and the answer is absolutely! In fact, during our last launch someone asked this exact question in my Facebook group and our students chimed in with some incredible responses.

Check this out to see what I mean:

How To Make $1,000 Extra In Your Spare Time With Facebook
The course was initially designed to just be a side hustle, but we’ve had quite a few students take it full-time and leave their day jobs.

Here are a few other stories from some of our other $5k Club Members (our $5k Club is for students who have 5 or more clients paying $1k per month – it’s a big deal in our coaching community when someone achieves this):

  • Kathrine left her job and was able to support herself and her children after a divorce using what we teach in FBSH
  • Jason and Candace were able to build up enough income to allow Candace to leave her teaching job and become a stay at home mom. Now they are working on replacing Jason’s income.
  • Graham paid off $20k of debt last year and now runs his agency full-time from the comfort of his home.

We have video testimonials from these people on our sales page, so you’re welcome to check out their stories and put faces to the names)


8. What exactly are people going to learn from your course?

The course teaches you how to create profitable ads for local businesses so that you can start making an extra $1,000-2,000 per month on the side, even if you have no marketing or technology background.

Inside you’ll learn:

  • How Facebook Ads work, so that you will be prepared for any questions from prospective clients, and will be able to confidently share your new expertise with clients
  • To create profitable ads for local businesses, with step-by-step video walkthroughs so that you know exactly what settings to choose and buttons to push to get the best results
  • Strategies for troubleshooting problems with ads, and exactly what steps to take to overcome those issues and improve ad performance
  • Unique methods for targeting the right potential customers for your client, so that they make more money and refer you to other businesses
  • Our top three strategies for finding your first Facebook ad management clients, so that you can start making money as soon as you complete the course
  • Systems and templates for tracking results so that you can show your clients exactly how much money you are making their business – when clients understand the results you’re getting, they’ll want to keep you on payroll forever! (Some of our clients have been with us for years for this exact reason)
  • Ins and outs of running a Facebook ad business, so that you can get better results for your clients and work fewer hours.

You get lifetime access to the course for just $397. Just to give people a little perspective, Facebook training courses like this typically go for $1,200 or more.

But I wanted to do something different. Mike and I understand how difficult it can be to create a successful side hustle, but we also know how life-changing it can be.

I have so many readers that ask me for legitimate side hustles, so we decided to price this course so that it was accessible to as many people as possible.

And since you can earn more than double the investment with your first client, we think it’s a pretty sweet deal.

But when you join you’re going to get more than just the course…

You’ll also get access to our coaching and support group where students can ask questions, get troubleshooting advice on their ads, and help them put out any fires that might come up with their clients. Membership in the support group is paid, but we give everyone who joins the first month for free to make sure they get all the help and support the need to be successful when they start. After that it’s only $47/month afterward. And of course, the group is totally optional, you can leave at anytime.

But think of it this way – you can get the course plus nearly a year and a half of support for the amount you can earn in the first month working with ONE client.

Please click here to check out the Facebooks ads course.

What do you think of this Facebook side hustle idea?

The post How To Make $1,000 Extra With Facebook Each Month appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.


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