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How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances

How And Why My Husband And I Keep Separate Finances

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

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

But it works for us.

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

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

Other content you may be interested in:

 

Our earnings & accounts

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

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

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

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

 

Reasons why managing money independently works for us:

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

 

Separate finances from the beginning

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

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

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

 

Recurring household bills

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

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

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

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

 

Finances beyond recurring household bills

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

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

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

 

Our Savings/ Investments

Joint Savings

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

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

 

Individual Savings

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

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

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

 

Retirement accounts

We both have our own individual 401K retirement accounts.

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

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

 

Other investments

Beyond traditional 401ks we both have additional investment accounts.

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

 

Separate finances are not perfect

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

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

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

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

 

Regular check-ins to stay on the same page

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

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

Examples of money decisions we make together:

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

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

 

Separate finances pros

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

 

Separate finances cons

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

 

Is managing money separately as a couple for you?

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles on how to make extra money:

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

 

What is Course Hero?

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

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

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

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

Here’s how Course Hero tutors work:

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

 

What subjects can you tutor on?

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

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

And more!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

To become a Course Hero tutor, you must:

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

 

What’s the schedule like for Course Hero tutors?

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

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

Please click here to check out Course Hero.

Are you interested in becoming a Course Hero tutor online?

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

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

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Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy

Home Buying Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy

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

Buying a house is a huge purchase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles related to buying a house tips:

Here are my best home buying tips.

 

Should you rent instead?

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

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

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

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Set a budget before you look at homes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Think about what you want in a home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Research all of the expenses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Estimate how long you will live in the area.

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

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

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

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

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

And so on. 

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

 

Don’t feel rushed.

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

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

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

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

 

Do you really need or want that home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But before we get to it, a necessary disclaimer:

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

Related content:

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

 

1. Not Having a Privacy Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do you put together a privacy policy?

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

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

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

 

Doing the research and writing your own Privacy Policy

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

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

Chances are your time could be better spent….

 

Privacy Policy Templates Written By an Attorney

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

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

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

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

Grab the Website Legal Templates Bundle Now.

 

Hiring An Attorney

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

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

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

 

2. Violating Copyright (Using Images Without Proper Permission)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Including Someone’s Image in a Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stock Photos and Licensing

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

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

  1. Standard license
  2. Extended license

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But you cannot:

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

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

 

3. Not Having or Incorrectly Using Disclosures & Disclaimers

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

  • Affiliate disclosures
  • Professional disclaimers
  • Testimonial/Earnings disclaimers

Let’s tackle these one at a time….

 

Affiliate Disclosures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Placing the Disclosure in the Wrong Place

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

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

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

And what happens to a sidebar on a mobile device?

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

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

 

Using Incorrect Language

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

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

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

 

Professional Disclaimers

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Testimonial/Earnings Disclaimers

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

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

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

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

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

You can enroll in the course here.

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

 

Bottom Line

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Things I Never Want To Run Out Of

Five Things I Never Want To Run Out Of

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

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

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

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

Retirement is so important.

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

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

Saving for retirement now is important for many reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who is TIAA?

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

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

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

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

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Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money?

Are Excuses Causing You To Be Bad With Money?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related content:

 

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

When was the last time you said:

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

These are all excuses I’ve personally heard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Excuses are a complete waste of your time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, you’re better than that!

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

 

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

The average person isn’t doing well financially.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stop trying to keep up with others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Find out why you make excuses.

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

Common reasons for why people make excuses include:

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

And more!

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

 

Believe in yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More debt payoff stories:

 

I brought most of the debt into my marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So, we decided to reevaluate our strategy.

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

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

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

We had his car paid off in 6 months.

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

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

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

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

So, our debt payoff slowed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

1. Monthly Debt Check-In

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

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

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

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

 

2. Cutting Expenses for Extra Debt Payments

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

Household Costs

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

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

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

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

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

It was easier than I thought it would be.

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

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

 

3. Keeping the Future Front of Mind

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

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

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

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

This isn’t an easy mindset shift to make.

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

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

With practice, those hard choices became easier to make.

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

 

$93,000 in 3.5 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Can You Really Make Money With Paid Online Surveys?

Can You Really Make Money With Paid Online Surveys?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related content:

 

First, why do companies offer paid online surveys?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The survey companies I recommend signing up for include:

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

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

 

1. American Consumer Opinion

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

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

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

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

You can sign up for American Consumer Opinion here.

 

2. Survey Junkie

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

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

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

 

3. Swagbucks

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

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

 

4. Inbox Dollars

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

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

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

 

5. Opinion Outpost

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

Most of their surveys take around 10 minutes.

You can sign up for Opinion Outpost here.

 

6. OneOpinion

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

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

You can sign up for OneOpinion here.

 

7. VIP Voice

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

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

You can sign up for VIP Voice here.

 

8. Pinecone Research

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

You can sign up for Pinecone Research here.

 

9. Prize Rebel

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

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

You can sign up for Prize Rebel here.

 

10. Product Report Card

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

You can sign up for Product Report Card here.

 

11. Survey Club

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

You can sign up for Survey Club here.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Are paid surveys a scam?

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

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

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

 

Are paid online surveys a good side hustle?

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

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

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

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

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

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6 Credit Card Myths You Need To Know The Truth About

6 Credit Card Myths You Need To Know The Truth About

As someone in the financial space, I have heard tons of bad advice regarding personal finance. Some of the worst advice I’ve heard has been credit card myths. #creditcardmyths #moneymanagementAs someone who works in the financial space, I have heard tons of bad advice regarding personal finance. People just love giving others advice (sometimes it is good). And, some of the worst advice I’ve heard has been credit card myths.

I know that most people are only trying to help, but sometimes the advice is so bad that you wonder if that person is purposely trying to spread bad information!

Money is a funny subject like that, though.

Until we start having more open conversations about it and spend as much time learning about finances as some of us do reading the latest gossip, watching sports, or something else, then we still have a long way to go.

Talking about money, such as credit card tips and how to save money, can help everyone improve their financial life. After all, if no one talks about it, then you would never even know what mistakes you’ve made in the past. It would also be very hard to correct those mistakes.

Believing and following some of the most common credit card myths can be a major money mistake.

Some people rack up large amounts of credit card debt, and they do so because they aren’t aware of the credit card mistakes they might be making. According to a study done by NerdWallet, the average household in the United States (that has debt) has an average credit card debt of $15,482.

To add to those statistics, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling released their 2018 Financial Literacy Survey and found that one in four Americans don’t pay their debts on time, one in 10 has debts in collections, and 38% of Americans carry debt from month to month.

In fact, I’ve seen many people fall into those statistics over the years because they believe in credit card myths and think those myths are helping them.

Related articles:

What I find so upsetting about the statistics I listed is that credit card debt is what leads many people to living in a debt cycle. That leads to stress, depression, frustration, and more.

While there are some instances when using credit cards may be a necessity, it sounds like some people may be able to avoid some (or all) of their credit card debt in the first place. 

While you may be a person who has accidentally listened to and fallen for credit card myths in the past, it’s never too late to make a change for the better. 

Below are the top credit card myths I’ve heard.

 

Myth 1: You should ALWAYS carry a balance on your credit card.

I’ve heard this one quite a few times. Many people believe that the only way to improve your credit score is to carry a credit card balance and pay interest fees.

That can be horrible financial advice because interest fees on a credit card can be expensive, sometimes more than 20%!

Recently, I was reading comments on an article about credit card debt. Everyone was giving awful advice, such as:

  • You should always carry a 5% balance on your credit card.
  • You never want to pay off all of your debt because then the credit card company will automatically cancel your card and delete your account history.
  • You should always carry a 30% balance on your credit card.

And so on and so on.

There are plenty of ways to improve your credit score, and paying interest fees month after month for the rest of your life is not one of them.

If you want to use a credit card to improve your credit score, I recommend paying off your balance in full each month, before any interest charges are made, and using less than a 30% utilization rate (the total amount of credit you have used).

There are other ways to improve your credit score too. Here are my general tips for increasing your credit score:

  • Make sure to pay your bills and accounts on time. Late payments can hurt you.
  • Regularly check your credit report.
  • Keep your balances and utilization rate low.
  • Ask for your credit limits to be raised, but don’t spend up to that new limit.
  • Pay before your credit card balance is reported.
  • Keep your credit card accounts open if it makes sense, such as to lengthen your credit history. However, if you think having them open will cause you to go into debt or if the annual fees aren’t worth it, you may want to think about closing them instead.

Note: If you do not know your credit score or are interested in learning more, please check out How Your Credit Score Affects Your Life + Credit Sesame Review. It includes a link to Credit Sesame so that you can check your credit score safely for free.

 

Myth 2: Credit cards are free money.

Credit cards are not free money, but too many people treat them like they are. If you are using a credit card, you should always make sure that you have the money in cash or in your personal bank account before you think you can afford something.

That jacket, dress, video game, and so on aren’t worth the debt that they may accrue if you use a credit card to purchase them without really being able to afford it.  A simple $50 dress may balloon into hundreds of dollars of credit card debt because of interest fees.

This is one of the worst credit card myths because believing it can cost you for months or years to come.

If you are finding that you are struggling with whether or not you can afford something, there are several things you can do.

  • Wait 24 hours, at least, to make a purchase.
  • Think about the other things you could use your money for.
  • Think about how much time you will have to work to pay for your purchase.
  • Think about whether you’ve made a similar purchase that you’ve regretted.

If you just take a minute to think about those four things, you may realize that you can’t actually afford the purchase in the first place. 

If you are wanting to get better about tracking your spending, check out Personal Capital. This free online tool tracks your purchases, your debt, investments, and more.

 

Myth 3: It’s fine to pay only the minimum payment each month.

This is probably one of the most common credit card myths. And, some make this mistake because they don’t have the funds to pay their full credit card balance each month. 

Others, however, only pay the minimum because they believe that’s all they need to pay in order to avoid interest charges. 

Yep, lots of people think that – this is one of the credit card myths that I’ve heard way too many people believe.

Everyone needs to fully understand what “minimum payment” means and what happens if that is all that you pay.

Here’s a basic breakdown of what minimum payments are:

  • Minimum payments are basically the smallest amount your lender will let you pay each month.
  • Minimum payments lead to paying more in the long run because of interest charges.
  • While minimum payments may keep you in good standing, they can impact your credit score in a negative way.

You should always try to pay more than the minimum. If you don’t, you will have to pay interest charges, which may increase your credit card debt by a significant amount each month and each year.

PAYING ONLY THE MINIMUM IS NOT ENOUGH!

 

Myth 4: You will always pay interest if you use a credit card.

Surprisingly, many people don’t know how credit cards actually work. Many people think that you always have to pay interest fees when using a credit card, even if you completely pay your bill each month.

However, that is not true.

I use a credit card all the time and have never paid a penny towards interest, late charges, or anything like that.

The key here is that I always pay my balance in full before it is due.

This isn’t really one of the credit card myths that can hurt you, but knowing how credit cards work is something that can only help you in the long run.

 

Myth 5: Only people with money problems have credit cards.

I’ve had a credit card pretty much since the day I turned 18. I’ve always used them, have never carried a balance, and I have never paid money towards interest.

Several years ago, I took my credit card out to pay for a purchase. One of the people I was with told me to put the card away and that they would pay since I couldn’t afford the item I was about to buy.

I looked at them confused… 

I asked, “What do you mean I can’t pay for it?”

This person started to tell me that only idiots carry credit cards and that I must be tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and that they couldn’t believe my debt had gotten that bad. 

They told me to get rid of my credit cards immediately because they would ruin my life. They also said there was no way to responsibly use credit cards. This person probably believed in many of the credit card myths in this post.

I remember laughing because I had no idea where all of this was coming from. I tried to convince them I was okay, but I’m positive they still don’t believe me to this day.

Don’t get me wrong. I DO understand there are people out there who should only stick to cash, but I also think there is a way to use credit cards responsibly and to your advantage.

 

Myth 6: Rewards credit cards are a scam.

This is one of the credit card myths I hear often, especially when I talk about travel hacking or earning rewards points.

In fact, one of my most popular posts on Making Sense of Cents is about just that. It’s called How To Take A 10 Day Trip To Hawaii For $22.40 – Flights & Accommodations Included.

Whenever I share it, half the people think it’s amazing, yet the other half think it’s too good to be true and that all travel rewards credit cards are a scam. 

Travel rewards credit cards are extremely popular right now. I’ve been interested in and using them for a few years now, and it seems like everyone going on a vacation is talking about them these days.

Note: You can find your own travel reward credit card here.

I absolutely love travel rewards cards. In fact, I’ve gone on many extremely affordable vacations due to travel rewards credit cards.  I’ve also received lots of free cash back, they’ve allowed me super cheap first class flights, and more.

Actually, last year Wes went on a 3,000 mile sailing trip in Europe, and when he was done, I was able to book a last minute flight back to Arizona (where we were at the time in the RV) using travel rewards credit card points. He was able to sit in business class on a 12.5 hour flight (from London to Los Angeles, I believe) and it cost less than $100 after points. It would have cost even less if I booked it more than just a few days ahead of time. After a month on a boat sharing a bed with another crew member, we wanted to get him a roomier/comfier seat, and our travel rewards credit cards made it super affordable!

He told some of the people on the sailing trip about how much we saved using a travel rewards credit card, and they thought he was being scammed!

The credit card companies aren’t just giving away points and cash back because they are nice, so I’m sure you’re wondering what the catch is. Not understanding why they offer rewards is why this is one of the top credit card myths.

See, credit card companies offer these great bonuses and rewards because they are hoping that you’ll become a loyal customer. They know that having more customers means they’ll be able to make more money, which they make in various ways, such as:

  • Interest charges
  • Taking a percentage of each transaction when you use your credit card at a store
  • Annual fees
  • And more

I wrote a whole blog post on this subject here – Are Travel Rewards Credit Cards a Scam?

 

Please understand how to use credit cards.

The best way to avoid falling for any of these credit card myths is to learn about credit cards and how they work. That’s before you use them or sign up for any more.

Before you sign up for a credit card, you should understand all of the common terms. Sadly, many people do not fully understand credit card terms, and that’s a leading cause for why some fall into credit card debt.

You should do your research and understand:

While these things apply to all credit cards, not every credit card is the same. Thinking that could even be one more of the credit card myths people believe. Not all interest rates, terms, and fees are the same. Do your research on each card!

I know that the process of researching and understanding these basic credit card principles may seem like a lot of work, but if you don’t understand how your credit cards work, you may wind up in debt or further into debt than you already are. 

Your credit cards can work for you if you are careful, but if you aren’t, they can wreck your finances and your future.

Have you ever been guilty of following any of these credit card myths? What’s the worst credit card advice that you’ve heard?

The post 6 Credit Card Myths You Need To Know The Truth About appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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How I Made Money Blogging From Home In June 2019

How I Made Money Blogging From Home In June 2019

How I Make Money Online and Travel Full-Time #digitalnomad #travelfulltime #makemoneyonlineWelcome to June 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, doing crafts, hiking, etc.).

 

A 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.

How was business income in June of 2019?

In case you are new to this blog, 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.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe that 2019 is already halfway over. I feel like it only has just started, and that I have a lot to work on still. I’m starting to wonder how life keeps flying on by, haha.

June 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. I am wanting to grow Making Sense of Cents in many areas – income, readers, more helpful blog posts, and so on.

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 advertising and Facebook advertising. I would like to use social media advertising to grow traffic as well as to grow my email list.
  • Adding an online shop to my blog. 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 for the first year (a $15 value) through my Bluehost referral 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

June was a fun month!

At the last moment, I signed up to go to the Outwild event – it was a weekend full of yoga, rock climbing, yummy food, and hanging out. I’ve never done a retreat before (I also have never been to a yoga class), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m so glad that I went.

As a full-time traveler, it can be hard at times to meet and hang out with other people who enjoy the outdoors, so I jumped at the opportunity to attend. I also wanted to try something new, which was yoga, and to simply get out of my box and meet a bunch of new people. I went solo as it was for women only, and it felt like a grown-up summer camp. It was amazing to disconnect from the real world too, haha. I didn’t have to plan anything, and it was a weekend full of fun and delicious food.

The rest of the month, we spent most of our time fixing up the boat, buttoning it up for hurricane season, and completing our van build.

I also got a ton of work done, and caught up on the tons of emails and messages that I received while we were in the Bahamas. I also wrote several blog posts and outlined even more. It was a good month, but I still have a ton of work to do to catch up on my to-do list.

Below are several other business and blog-related updates:

  • I’m currently around one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead. I do have several months of blog posts planned, though, I just need to finish writing them and hand them to my editor.
  • 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 15,000 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 blog freebies do you recommend?

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. 

I understand that as a blogger, there are many, many topics for you to learn about. Freebies can help fill some of these gaps, and what’s better than free anyways?

Whether you’re looking to start a blog or if you already have one, I have several great free checklists and guides to share with you today.

The resources below will help you create your blog, come up with blog post ideas, grow your blog income, grow your page views, learn how to guest post, and more.

These are all valuable tips that will help you grow your blog correctly.

First, if you don’t have a blog, then I recommend starting off with my free blogging course How To Start A Blog FREE Course.

Here are 9 freebies that I recommend and there are affiliate links below to freebies from others that I enjoy as well.

  1. Affiliate Marketing Cheat Sheet – 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.
  2. 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog – Sponsorships on your blog are a great way of earning a living online. Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000-$20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships! This is a free cheatsheet.
  3. The Essential Blog Post Promotion Checklist – This is a great checklist that goes over what you need to do after your blog post is published.
  4. 20 FREE (or almost free) WordPress Plugins – A very common question I receive is “What plugins should I use on my blog?” This freebie will tell you exactly what you should use!
  5. 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – This free ebook gives great tips on how to increase your blogging income.
  6. 120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas –  Are you struggling to come up with new content for your blog? Here are 120 great blog post ideas that will help you beat writer’s block and create great content.
  7. The New Blogger’s Guide To Guest Posting – Guest posting is a great way to improve your blog traffic. However, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here’s exactly what you should do!
  8. The Secret Blueprint For Blogging Success – This shows you the exact steps you need to grow your blog and make money!
  9. Facebook Ads For Bloggers 101 – This free training will show you how to increase your blog’s traffic with Facebook ads. This is the top area I’m working on this year, and I recommend you do the same!

Enjoy!

Past featured questions:

 

My plans and goals for my blog and my business.

I have so many plans right now for my business that sometimes I feel like I don’t know where I want to start! But, that is a good feeling to have.

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! I’m hoping to finish the above course and this one by the end of July.
  • 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 June of around $50,000.

It will be increasing in July and the following months as I will be promoting a few affiliate offers to my readers. I have most of the rest of 2019 planned for affiliate offers, which is great.

I’m also hoping to improve my affiliate income by growing my traffic through SEO, as well as advertising on Facebook and Pinterest.

Some of the areas that 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.

June was an average month for sponsored partnerships. I secured a couple of deals with new advertisers that I’m excited to work with, and I’m thinking that the fall months will be quite busy as well.

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.

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 June 2019 appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

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