There are many ingredients to a happy life; no one should underestimate good health but finance to live a comfortable and satisfying life is important. Conversely lack of finance leads to problems that are certain to be stressful. The recession that has receded in the last couple of years was a stressful time for many people including some that had seemingly built up assets that would guarantee that comfort and satisfaction for their remaining years. The environment has certainly changed and many people should be reflecting on the lessons it has taught society. It is not an experience that anyone wants to go through a second time.
In order to best avoid that you should sit down and look at your finances, income and expenditure to examine whether you are handing your money well and whether there are things you should be doing, both to increase your regular monthly income and to cut out waste without it necessarily meaning sacrifice.
Interest rates remain low though there is the likelihood that the Fed will increase them slightly in the months to come. At present there is little need to be paying high rates of interest even for those people with a poor credit score that is a calculation based upon personal credit history.
While many people lost their jobs during the recession the unemployment figures have halved since its low point. The percentage has returned to pre-recession levels so job security and opportunity have returned. Those in full time employment can feel fairly certain that they can remain so, and there should be chances for moving up in terms of income even if pay rises within individual organizations are not rising as fast as many would hope. There are an increasing number of opportunities to earn money in spare time; the internet offers the chance of trading or providing services to create a second income. If when you write down the income side in your budget you can add to your regular pay check then that is likely to give you more leeway when it comes to expenditure.
That is no reason to waste money of course but a chance to create an emergency fund or contribute more towards retirement must always be worth investigating.
It is always worth looking at your expenditure from time to time. There are standard monthly bills that everyone faces, typically insurance and utilities that need to be reviewed to ensure you are getting a good deal. If you compare like for like then why pay too much? Similarly you may be paying interest on credit cards and loans each month; if you are paying out on credit card balances then you will be paying at a level which is unnecessarily high. Imagine if you could reduce that expense by replacing a credit card balance with a consolidation loan at a cheaper rate you will make a significant monthly saving.
Today’s online lenders are happy to do business; they rely much more on an applicant demonstrating a regular income and the ability to repay a loan at realisticloans.com/installment-loans/ in full and on time than an applicant’s credit status. This has opened an avenue to finance that appeared to be closing because of the conservatism of traditional lenders who had taken on toxic debt pre-recession and were nervous about doing so again.
Those in search of a happy and stress-free life and needing to repair their finances to do it have a chance. If they can earn more money then their task is easier. When it comes to spending every item should be examined with the aim of creating a regular surplus to put towards the future, short term an emergency fund and longer term retirement. It is an unnecessary waste to be paying too much interest on loans, credit and store cards. It could not be simpler to go online and solve that waste immediately.
I went self-employed in July 2011 and have been working online ever since. But online blog advertising, especially direct ads like the ones I work on placing, have slowed in the last 2 years. What does a lady do when her main business slows down? She either tries to save it and grow it, or she starts a second business. I’m trying to do both.
With the online business, I attempt to keep up with all of my emails Monday-Friday. I also continue to try to post every day on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, get a weekly newsletter up every Friday, and stay on top of my commenting for hire.
In the “real” world, I started Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting in February 2014. I now pet sit nearly every day and bring in about $1500 a month from it (some months are around $500 and one has been as high as $3100).
I still make more money online than through pet sitting or with rental income, but diversification is what keeps me self-employed.
How have you been doing?
I love chocolate. And Twizzlers. And gummy bears. Let’s just summarize it, I love candy. But, I refuse to spend a ton of money funding a habit that is bad for me anyway. Especially since self-employment means that I am around my kitchen A LOT. So, I save as many ways as possible.
My favorite savings time for sweets just passed – Valentine’s Day. But another one is around the corner – Mother’s Day. If you wait for the day-after sales for holidays like those at places like Walgreens, you can have your fix without breaking your budget.
So, first you target your post-holiday binge time. Then you hunt for a general coupon to use too. For example, there is a Walgreens area at Groupon Coupons. The day I wrote this post, there was a 20% off general coupon available.
If there isn’t an easy to find online coupon, think about joining a company mailing list. I have an email I just use for promotions and stuff like this. I then sign up to be spammed on purpose by places like CVS and Walgreens. Then I print off the coupons or use my smart phone to claim the deals I want to use when they arrive in my inbox.
Overall, I can end up getting about 20% off of candy that is already discounted 50%-75%. It ends up allowing me to stock up from holiday to holiday with things like large $3 boxes of chocolates and bags of other candy for as little at 25 cents.
Useful on Healthy Stuff Too
I also use coupons and specials at the same time to stock up on our health-related items in this way. For example, my husband is supposed to use a fancy toothpaste and mouth wash by a company called Close-Sys. Using coupons for 20%-30% off when we can find them literally saves us $100+ a year.
Do you have a way to save on your sweets or other vices? How about your pricey health care stuff?
As you may have noticed, I stopped posting much here on HIMMB. Mostly I was overwhelmed with my online business and decided to concentrate on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. A ton has happened over the last year or two.
The biggest news is that my husband and I have negotiated more than $1,000,000 in blog ad deals since I first started making money online back in mid-2010. The vast majority of that money has been from deals closed for our blog advertising clients. I am astounded and proud. I never thought I would create a business of my own, much less one that makes hundreds of people money. I am very content with this. Here’s to another $1,000,000 negotiated in the next few years!
A Look at Our Money
I went self-employed in July 2011, Mr. BFS joined me in January 2012, we bought our long-term home in October 2012, and we paid off our first house/rental property in April 2013. So it has been a hectic few years. We didn’t just change our way of making a living, we changed how we live. But we still save for our future. Here’s a quick rundown of the accounts that have changed the most since 2011.
- Savings – We keep way more padding in our CapitalOne360 accounts since self-employment equals uncertainty. I used to aim for 3 months of money, but now I need 6 months on hand to feel stable.
- Two Roth IRA’s – We continue to fully fund two Roth IRA’s each year, so our contributions and the market rebound have helped these look way healthier.
- Scottrade – We do still invest a small amount each year into high dividend yield stocks on our own. This account will hopefully help us bridge the time between when we retire and when we can touch our retirement accounts.
- Home Equity – Paying off our first home was a huge relief. We still owe a little more than $200,000 on our current mortgage, but we have about $60,000 in equity already thanks to putting down 20%.
We seem to be in a solid position. We aren’t saving as high of a percentage of our income as before we went self-employed, but we are saving enough to feel safe.
Given that we do want to save more or be able to splurge in slow months too, I started a pet sitting business and work another 20-30 hours a week with it. My husband takes more sports officiating too. Overall, that ends up bringing in an extra $1000-$1500 a month. Woot!
Our cash padding came from saving whatever we had left each month after paying our bills. That ranges from $500-$3000 and we aren’t really ever done.
When we hit one cash target, we have another to aim for. Eventually we may even have enough to spend on smaller priorities like better furniture in our home or a backyard deck. Those are lower priorities to us than being able to pay for our next car in cash since both of ours are 7 and 9 years old and each have a few of their own problems.
How have your finances changed in the last few years? If you are self-employed, are you saving more or less now compared to when you worked for someone else?
I have recently helped two of my friends set up a plan for debt payoff and retirement savings. They both have started telling me to branch out and I try to always follow good advice. I figured this would be the perfect fit – help others get their finances under their own control and build up a little padding too.
If you are trying to come up with a REALISTIC plan to payoff debt, save more, or just to be able to watch closer, please let me know. We can:
- Review Your Numbers (Income and Expenses)
- Make a Plan Together – one that you will not just stick to, but may even enjoy
- And I will send you everything in its Excel sheet by the end of our meeting.
I do not want to hurt your financial efforts and I am just branching out, so I am keeping this to a flat $60. That will include the emails and calls to get all of the numbers together, working out the plan, emailing your Excel budget to you, and a follow up call a month later.
All I ask is that you recommend me to others if you are happy with my help.
Please email me at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail *dot* com with any questions or to get started.
You can see my own budget here.
The longer Mr. BFS and I work from home, the more efficient we have become with our time. Plus, Google hitting a bunch of my advertising contacts hurt the business a little. My work weeks have gone from 80-100 hours a week before I had help to around 30-40 on average. I am happy and sad at the same time. I am using a few hours a week to volunteer with a hospice organization in the area, but that still leaves more than 30 hours a week that I am usually working…
Turning Time into Cash
Free time is awesome, but we are buying a new home in a few months. And we decided that we would like some more money in the bank before laying out 20% down, closing costs, and basic moving expenses. Or as Mr. BFS put it, “I like money.” So we are looking for ways to make a little more money on the side.
Here are a few methods we are using right now:
- I started commenting for hire (still have 25 spots left).
- We are renting out our spare bedroom.
- I am finally finishing up the “How I Make Money Blogging” ebook I started more than a year ago. Should be released in a couple of months. Woot!!!
- Mr. BFS just jumped at a summer job working at a bowling alley. He fixed bowling machines in college, so he’s returning to a fun side job.
- I am Craigslisting anything we don’t use for the dual benefits – more money and we won’t have to move it in a few months.
Here are a few other things that I have been thinking about:
- Petsitting again. We were receiving $15-$25 a night per dog.
- Babysitting again. About two years ago, I was bringing in about $10 an hour to watch a couple of cute kids every Friday and Saturday night.
- Side job in customer service. Maybe a part-time job as a receptionist or working at the local Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt store.
If you wanted to sock away some cash quickly, what would you do? What sort of hobby job would you like to do?
Google hurt me. Well, technically, Google decided to take a poop on a bunch of bloggers’ and advertisers’ Page Ranks, so now advertisers are gun shy. But since I run a blog advertising business, Google hurt me. April has been our lowest income month since the business took off last year. We aren’t in any danger of failing as of right now, but the next few months may be tight…
So, as I would suggest to anyone, I took a close look at my roots and decided to diversify our income a little again.
Gourmet Commenting Service
Having said all of that, I am now offering my own commenting with Twitter service for $3 per comment. For anyone who hasn’t looked into this type of service before, $3 per comment is high. I am carrying through on the higher cost by adding other value as well. BUT, do not splurge on me if your other priorities aren’t in order – I am fully admitting that I am a higher investment than necessary, but I hope to pay off well for anyone who tries me out.
This $3 covers reading the entire post that I will be commenting on, leaving 2 sentences or more of my take on the post (my normal kind of comments), and emailing the blog owner if I see that my comment gets caught in spam (happens all of the time now). I will also be keeping up a record for you of where the comments are posted AND Tweeting one of your own blog’s posts from my account weekly – that’s a little more than 1300 followers as of April 24, 2012 – you can choose the post you’d like Tweeted each week (as long as it isn’t spammy and I’ll even add a comment about it if I can fit it in).
Every single comment would have Crystal @ YourBlogName, either my email or the one of your choosing (my email would show my logo when avatars are shown), and your blog’s URL. I will email you a weekly/monthly list (your choice) of where the comments were left. You can send me a list of the blogs that you would like me to comment on or I can create a list of my own – again, your choice.
EVERY COMMENT I AM HIRED TO LEAVE WOULD BE FROM ME. This is not an outsourced business venture. 100% Crystal. Not even Mr. BFS will be helping with this.
I can only fit in enough time to leave 100 comments per week total right now, so please email me with the number of comments you have in mind per week (1-100). No minimum order is required. When those 100 spots are claimed, I will still keep a list of anyone else who is interested in case spots open up or I am able to carve out time to fit in more per week. If the waiting list gets crazy long, I will stop advertising my services until it is reasonable again.
Right now, 25 spots are filled.
My aim is to keep this organized and everyone completely happy. So you may see me all around the blogosphere with a ton of blog names right behind mine. Please don’t be confused – it’s still all me. Please check out the sites I’ll be linking to if they interest you at all – I am truly thankful for the bloggers that are investing in me. I am really looking forward to this (in fact, I’ve already started).
For all of my Twitter followers, do not worry. I will not spam you with crappy post announcements. I am only being hired by awesome bloggers, so these would be posts that I would happily promote anyway. :-) You will not be sad.
How do you diversify?
Many businesses cost a bunch up front in order to succeed. I’ve been told several times that a business owner needs at least a year’s worth of expenses set aside in cold, hard cash because it can take that long or longer to start turning a profit. And with brick-and-mortar stores, that can be very true. But online, you really do not need to take a fast loan before launching an income stream.
I make the majority of my money through blogging via blog advertising for my sites and all of my clients’ sites. I started Budgeting in the Fun Stuff for free on Blogger.com, but then saw the error of my ways and moved over to WordPress and self-hosting. Altogether, my startup costs were about $150 and were only that high because I paid to have my site transferred over. The domain name was about $10 for the year and hosting was another $75 for the year thanks to a Black Friday sale at Host Gator. You can start a great blog for less than $100 a year and start making money from it within 6 months if you have the time to grow it quickly via guest posting, commenting, writing your own posts, and networking.
If you rather not jump all in on the blogging bandwagon, you also have a veriety of online freelancing options that don’t cost you anything up front. I personally comment for hire for other bloggers. That is when you read other blogs, make useful comments, and your name would link to the site of the person that hired you. It isn’t the best pay ever, but it is a pretty easy way of making $100 or more a month depending on how much time you have.
I’ve also made money by being a staff writer for other blogs. By writing solid, 400-600 word posts for others, you can bring in $15-$25 per post even when you are just starting out. If you can get word of mouth going, this is a pretty easy way of bringing in $400 or more a month – again, sort of up to you.
Then there are online jobs that pay by the hour or based on what you negotiate. I was a social media manager for a few months at $20 an hour. If you enjoy Facebook, Twitter, etc., this sort of position is meant for you. Many bloggers, like me, do not much care for all of the extra time that social media platforms need from us, so we outsource.
Overall, there are ways of starting a business or making extra money on the side that do not require money up front. So if you are in the market, think about what you enjoy doing and start seeing if anyone else would like to outsource that specific chore.
If you would like to make an offer or have any questions, please email me at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail.com. Thanks!
I just made it back from the Financial Blogger Conference 2012 and it was AWESOME!!! You can read all about it at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.
BUT, I totally did not forget you either! Whether you forgot to grab something or just couldn’t make it, here is a FinCon Swag Bag just for you! I grabbed extra swag just to give away here and on BFS – feel free to enter both giveaways to double your chances!!! The BFS giveaway will go up over the weekend…
Financial Blogger Conference 2012 Swag Bag for HIMMB
You will be leaving any comment below to win:
- Ally Bank tote bag
- Ally Wireless Mouse (USB just clicks in and out – it is so cool! And they included batteries!)
- “Pocket Your Dollars” by Carrie Rocha – Advance Reading Copy
- USAA small note book and pen set
- Metal business card holder with sea shell theme (sponsored by Crystal, lol)
- RetailMeNot stylus pen
- Power Wallet pen
- Power Wallet screen wipe
- CommissionSoup money clip
- Ally white-chocolate covered Oreos
- Lending Club M&M’s
- How I Make Money Blogging eBook bookmark (has $10 off coupon code)
How to Enter
- Simply leave a comment below. If you need an idea, let me know what your favorite item in the swag bag will be! My fave is the wireless mouse…
The official stuff:
1) SORRY, but ONLY Continental USA entries since shipping is going to be costly.
2) Contest ends September 30, 2012 at 11:59pm CST.
3) ONLY ONE COMMENT/ENTRY PER PERSON.
4) The winner will be selected randomly and notified by email by the third day of October 2012.
5) The prize will be held for 2 calendar days. If it isn’t claimed, a new winner will be randomly picked and contacted.
6) I reserve the right to reject comments that I consider spam or invalid entries.
7) An invalid or incorrect email address automatically disqualifies you from the drawing…it’s hard to contact a fake email…
8) Local laws, rules, and regulations apply.