We live online. Work, social media, blogs, and finances. The huge stacks of paper clutter are quickly diminishing as more and more of our important financial documents are simply stored online. One More »
If you’ve been itching to save money or pay down your debt more aggressively, the answer may be simple: practice extreme frugality for one year. Extreme frugality is the practice of evaluating More »
In today’s economy freelancing is a popular way to earn extra income. And, many people who start out with side hustles are eager to freelance full time.
Freelancing has many advantages: you can set your own schedule, diversify your income, find ideal clients, and earn much more money than a day job allows. However, some people want to portray the freelance life as all puppies and rainbows and this simply isn’t the truth.
While there are many advantages of being a full time freelancer there are also many disadvantages that you should consider. Here are three signs that you’re not cut out for the freelance life.
You’re Looking to Do Less Work
One common misconception about freelancers is that they sit around in their pajamas all day watching TV and browsing the internet. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Anyone who is building their own freelance business will have to put in much more work to get started than they currently do at their day job. If you’re not willing to put in 40-60 hours per week in the beginning of your business you’ll have a hard time finding enough clients to replace the income from your day job.
In addition it can also be hard to draw the line when it comes to working at home. If you don’t set a consistent schedule for yourself you might find it difficult to say no to work all the time. You have to be able to set appropriate work/life boundaries for yourself.
You Don’t Want to Work for Anyone Else
When you freelance you get to set your schedule but most freelance businesses are based on serving clients. This means rather than working for one person you’ll be working for multiple people.
You’ll have multiple people to please and multiple projects to complete. Yes, if you don’t get along with a client you can drop them but in the beginning most freelancers take any work they can get.
You Think You’ll Be Rich
You see income reports online from super successful freelancers who make thousands of dollars per month. You start daydreaming about the day when that will be you.
The problem is that the majority of freelancers aren’t making thousands of dollars a month – especially when just starting out.
It takes to build a successful freelance business and the day that you make five thousand dollars a month freelancing might never come.
If you’re self-motivated and willing to work hard to establish yourself you can create a successful freelance business. However, you need to be realistic before quitting your day job. It will take time to build you client base and subsequently your income.
If you’re ready to take on the freelance life start building a savings buffer and work on getting clients on the side. When you’re income starts increasing and you can pay your bills off your freelance income then quit your job. Just make sure it’s what you really want before you cut ties with your employer.
We live online. Work, social media, blogs, and finances. The huge stacks of paper clutter are quickly diminishing as more and more of our important financial documents are simply stored online.
One of my goals for the year was to get more organized and of course – save a little money. Getting digitally organized with your finances can clear mental clutter and turn your finances into a fine tuned system.
Track Your Spending in One Place
I have an excel spreadsheet to track my spending, a Mint account, and an account with Finovera – which is similar to Mint. Total overkill.
Really I don’t need to do much tracking when it comes to my spending. I can plan out my budget, and give or take a few dollars, pretty much stay on target. But when I want to take a quick glance at my budget categories it would be nice to pull up a graph or spreadsheet and see where I’m at.
Having too many accounts is confusing. It takes far too much work to type each purchase into a separate account which makes the likelihood of following through pretty low.
Since I’m liking Finovera’s calendar feature I’m going to give them a fair shot. They can track my debit card spending and at then at the end of each month I should be able to easily input my cash spending.
Switching to paperless billing can get you a pretty nice discount. And, if you’re paying your bills online already then there’s no reason not to go paperless.
Start with your insurance. Discounts for going paperless on your insurance billings are usually around 5 percent. This could save you an easy couple of hundred dollars depending on what you pay.
You can also go paperless on some utility bills, credit card bills, cable bills, and phone bills.
Set Credit Cards on Automatic Bill Pay
I made a pretty big mistake a couple of months ago. I received my normal credit card statement by mail. I have one bill automatically paid by it so there’s a recurring monthly charge of $45.
Instead of paying the bill immediately like I normally do I sat it on my desk. It got buried underneath a book and I completely forgot about it. Only after the bill was already two days late I discovered that I hadn’t paid it. And guess what? I got charged $30!!
I went ahead and set that credit card bill on autopay. I never use it so it’s only $45 a month. This way I won’t have to worry about paying a huge late fee or interest on my small charge.
If your credit card bill fluctuates and you’re worried about not having enough funds in your bank account to cover it set your account up to automatically pay the minimum payment. You can always go back and pay more on the card but you won’t have to worry about being hit with fees and interest.
Savings & Investing – Transfer Now
Another financial trap that’s easy to get caught into is saying that you’ll transfer money to your savings or investing account later only that day never comes.
I believe that automatic transfers can work wonders. But, if you’re budgeting on a variable income it can be hard to make those automatic transfers. Instead just transfer any extra money you receive the day you get.
By transferring money now instead of later you won’t have to live with the regret of not doing it at all.
Getting your finances digitally organized can not only save you money but it also helps with mental energy.
Since a good portion of your life is online you might as well take advantage of the free tools available to you. Let free budgeting software do the heavy lifting for you and set up automatic bill pay and transfers as much as possible.
In some areas it feels like winter will never come to a close. Fortunately, the light is at the end of the tunnel and before you know it we’ll be heading into spring.
If you’ve been looking for creative ways to save yourself some money one of the easiest solutions is to always shop off season.
At the end of every season stores are looking to unload all of their leftover merchandise. In addition, after holidays pass all the themed items quickly get marked down. This means you should make a list of all the things you’re going to need for next year and shop now.
We’ve covered the items you should purchase in the fall. Here are four types of items to consider purchasing at the close of winter.
You might not purchase new winter gear for yourself each year but if you have children this is a hard thing to avoid.
Winter coats, snow boots, hats, and gloves are now being marked up to ninety percent off as retailers roll out their spring merchandise. Browse the clearance racks for next year’s winter coat for each of your children at a rock bottom price.
If you think you can accurately guess their shoe size for next year buying winter boots is another great way to save a significant amount of money.
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Retailers know this and stock up on all the latest workout equipment, clothes, and gear at the beginning of the year.
By the end of January most people have completely forgotten about their resolutions and the stores that remained overstocked start slashing prices.
In addition, many people replace their old workout gear at the start of January and need to get rid of their old inventory. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing a lot of workout related equipment for sale on Craigslist.
Perfume and cologne are two common Valentine’s gifts. You probably noticed dozens of new gift sets containing these items hit the stores mid-January.
Prior to V Day these items had a hefty markup. Now Valentine’s Day is over and retailers need to get rid of their holiday themed merchandise. You can score good deals on perfume, cologne, jewelry, and even candy.
And if you have kids you can purchase them a gift for next year for pennies on the dollar.
Retailers are starting to stock their shelves with new electronics that debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Last year’s models need moved out to make room for all the latest gadgets. Look for deals on TV’s, tablets, GPS units, and even computers.
By strategically shopping you can save yourself a ton of money and be prepared for the seasons to come.
What do you buy in February?
In this economy we’re all trying to save a buck or two. That doesn’t mean we haven’t done stupid things to save money.
In fact some people repeatedly try to save money by doing things that end up costing them more money in the long run.
Here are three dumb things people do to save money. Have you done any of these?
Using a Credit Card for Points When in Debt
Last year extreme couponing was the fad. This year it’s churning credit cards for their reward points.
And, while getting free money or free travel from the credit card companies seems like a pretty sweet deal it may be costing you more than you think. For instance, many people have the tendency to buy more using credit rather than cash or debit.
And for those with existing credit card debt, using a card for the points is a big no-no. You’re paying far more in interest than you’re earning in points. Save yourself some money and swear of the credit cards.
Following a Finance Gurus Advice to the Letter
Many popular financial gurus have come under fire in recent years. Dave Ramsey for his overly optimistic advice on investing. Suze Orman for starting a prepaid, high fee debit card to “help the poor.” And, Robert Kiyosaki for filing bankruptcy for one of his companies.
While much of the advice these gurus dish out is in fact solid, some of it isn’t. When coming up with your financial roadmap take the expert’s advice in hand but also do what’s right for you.
For example, Dave Ramsey advises to use the cash envelope system for budgeting. I, for one, am terrible with cash. If I have it, it seems like it’s instantly gone. I spend it without thought. When I use a debit card I am much more careful with my money since I know that it will be deducted from my bank account balance.
Lowering Liability Insurance Coverage’s to Save Money
I’m always amazed when people declare that they knocked half the price of their insurance premium by switching companies.
While you can in fact save money by switching companies, extreme savings usually means your coverage’s have been cut.
It’s extremely important to have adequate liability coverage on your home and auto policy. You never know when something bad will happen, and you need to be prepared. A company isn’t really saving you money unless they are giving you an apples to apples quote. Many people are oblivious to the fact that their new insurance provides less coverage than their older, more expensive policy did.
The next time you’re looking to save money on insurance, have your policy in front of you before making the call. Slashing your coverage’s to save a couple bucks is just not worth it.
Those are three dumb things people do to save money though I’m sure many more could be added.
What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done to save money?
With tax time quickly approaching it’s a good idea to plan out what you’re going to do with your income tax refund.
It’s always nice to receive a lump sum of money at the beginning of the year but if you aren’t careful your money can disappear as fast as you get it. If you plan on receiving an income tax refund this year here are four ways to make the most of your money.
Start an Emergency Fund
If you don’t have an emergency fund receiving a large sum of money via an income tax refund is a great way to get started.
At times it can be tough to maintain enough patience to let money add up a little at a time. By using your income tax refund to fund your emergency savings you get instant gratification. You can continue to add to this account until it reaches your desired level of savings.
Add to Your Retirement Accounts
If you have a hard time reaching the maximum contributions on your retirement accounts each year your income tax refund could be the solution.
Adding a large sum of money to your retirement accounts will help you earn more money and possibly even receive a tax credit for the following year.
If you don’t have a retirement account, now would be the perfect time to start one. There are many online brokerages that let allow you to set up retirement accounts and begin investing.
Pay Off Debt
If you’re in debt it may be a better idea to tackle your debt before you save or invest your money. If you have credit card debt this should probably be the first thing you pay off. Credit card debt usually comes with astronomical interest rates that cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Figure out which debt has the highest interest rates and start paying it off.
Paying down debt isn’t the most fun thing to do with an income tax refund but it’s one of the smartest.
Tackle a Big Project
Is your furnace starting to tank? Is your kitchen falling apart? Does your car need repairs? If so, use your income tax refund to tackle a big project.
By doing this you can save money in the long run and possibly even earn some sweat equity.
You’ve worked hard all year. If you have an income tax refund coming back, make that money work for you.
Starting an emergency fund, saving for retirement, paying down debt, and tackling big projects are just a few ideas to make your money work for you. Think big and think smart. You’ll be able to get more bang for your buck.
If you are just starting out in Forex trading, it can be a confusing experience. Not only do you have to come to terms with things such as fundamental and technical analysis, you also need to decide on things such as the level of leverage you are willing to risk and your overall trading strategy – for example, day trading or longer-term investment. However, one of the most important decisions you need to make is which Forex broker you are going to choose when you open an account. There are many Forex brokers out there, but the key is to find one with a good reputation that offers the trading conditions you want.
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As financial executives such as Cecilia Ibru Oceanic Bank Managing Director will tell you it is important to ensure that a recognized regulator oversees any financial institution that you deal with. The problem is that some Forex brokers claim to be making trades on your behalf, but are actually making money themselves by betting against you. This is illegal in most places in the United States, but you shouldn’t just assume that a Forex broker is legitimate because they claim to do business in the United States. If you choose a US-based broker, make sure that they registered with the National Futures Association (NFA). If they are an overseas broker – and many of these have offices in the United States – then find out who they are regulated by before you sign up. If they say they are self-regulated, then walk away.
One good indicator of the quality of a broker is the minimum deposit that they require. If you are just starting to dabble in Forex trading, then you may be tempted to find a broker that allows you to put in a few dollars and start trading. However, think twice before you do this – serious brokers want to attract serious investors, and usually have a higher minimum deposit requirement than less reputable ones. It’s a good idea to choose one that has a minimum deposit of at least $500 because of this. If you do want to learn before you commit that sort of money, then all brokers offer a free demo account which lets you execute simulated trades using imaginary money – unfortunately, your profits will be imaginary as well, however.
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Another key thing to establish is which currencies the broker will let you trade. If you are a beginner, you probably only want to trade major currency pairs, such as the euro and US dollar. However, as you become more experienced, you may see opportunities to make money with less well-known currency pairs. Just about every broker supports major currency pairs, but many do not offer trading in more exotic ones. If you feel certain that you are only going to stay with common powers, then you don’t have to worry, but if you think you may become more adventurous, you should establish what you can trade up front before you open an account.
If you’ve been itching to save money or pay down your debt more aggressively, the answer may be simple: practice extreme frugality for one year.
Extreme frugality is the practice of evaluating each of your expenses and looking for the best ways possible to further cut those expenses. Only with this technique you’d be going to the “extreme”.
By implementing extreme frugality in your life for just one year you’d be able to save a substantial amount of money.
I do want to note that it’s probably not practical for you to constantly use extreme measures in your savings. However, if you can commit to a more frugal life for just one year you can make a huge impact on your personal finances.
Here are some tips for practicing extreme frugality for one year.
Determine Wants vs. Needs
The most important tactic in practicing extreme frugality is determining your wants verses needs.
For example, you may want a new pair of jeans but do you really need them? You may want a certain brand of household cleaner, but would baking soda and vinegar do the trick?
When assessing your true wants verses needs you’re going to run into all sorts of tough questions. You’ll have to take the time to really think if an item is an actual need or simply something that you want.
Do It Yourself
Another important component of practicing extreme frugality is being able to do things yourself. You’ll need to brush up on your handy man skills, cooking skills, and take on a general DIY attitude.
When you’re able to be more self-sufficient you can save a ton of money.
It’s also important to realize that there might be some projects that pop up that are beyond your capabilities. When this happens you’ll need to either hire a professional or ask for help. If not, you may end up costing yourself more money in the long run.
Look for Ways to Cut Costs
The whole point of practicing extreme frugality is to save money. This means you’ll need to stay on the lookout for ways to cut costs.
Since extreme frugality is meant to be used as a short term tool there are several things you can do to cut your costs:
- Look for cheaper housing
- Use your car less
- Use coupons
- Cook your own meals
- Perform basic repairs yourself
Just be creative and look for ways in which you can further cut your budget.
The hardest thing about practicing extreme frugality for a year is remaining motivated. It’s very likely that you’ll get burnt out in a short period of time.
To help you stay motivated you should look for support, read frugality books and blogs, and remember that these sacrifices you are making are short term and are for the greater good of your financial situation.
What tips do you have for practicing extreme frugality for a year?
Having an online current account is a wonderful way to store money, save money and pay monthly bills without having to leave the home. However, one should be very cautious about online bank accounts that promise “free” banking or free checking. A wide range of fees exist within these free checking accounts that most consumers do not know about, but a multitude of them discover them once they have had their bank accounts for a few months. UK consumers should watch out for these three hidden fees that exist in the world of online banking.
Sneaky Overdraft Fees
Banks get a huge portion of their income from sneaky overdraft fees. Most consumers are aware that overdraft fees exist. However, not all consumers are privy to the way that banks handle bank card transactions. Some banks withhold the charges for up to a week, and they resolve these transactions in a manner that allows them to ding the customer’s account with overdraft fees for small charges that are under five pounds. They handle the largest charges first and then end up hitting customers with overdraft fees for a series of small purchases. The best way for a consumer to avoid this issue is to keep a log of all the transactions that he or she makes with the bankcard and be sure to have extra money in the account. Consumers can also opt out of overdraft protection so that the banks will not cover these minuscule charges and assess hefty overdraft charges.
Minimum Balance Fees
Some bank accounts require a minimum balance for the customer to avoid additional monthly charges. Several banks have raised the minimum balance requirements on accounts so they can remove the monthly fee from the customers’ accounts. The consumer must always stay on top of e-mails about term and disclosure changes from the banks they use. Many banks provide these updates in a way that is difficult for the consumer to see.
Returned Mail Fees
Another fee that most consumers do not know about is the returned mail feel. Customers who fail to update their addresses when they move are subject to these fees. Some banks will charge as much as three pounds for an address that has not been updated by a consumer. To avoid this fee, consumers have to be sure to update their personal information the moment it changes. These fees can add up to detrimental amounts if the consumer does not pay attention to the charges.
Staying on Top of Accounts
A banking customer is sometimes his or her worst enemy, because that person fails to stay on top of accounts. Checking one’s account balance on a daily basis is an excellent way to catch tricky bank fees that eat away at the account. Since the consumer has such a wide array of options for banking, a person who is receiving too many miscellaneous fees can move on to an institution that has more integrity. Consumers must be assertive and make efforts to protect the funds they were so hard to save.
We are almost one week into the New Year and I know that many of you have set goals to save more money this year.
Luckily, if you are willing to make some minor revisions to your current financial situation you can do just that. The best part is all you have to do is make some simple changes to your financial routine.
Here are three easy ways to save more money this year.
Track Your Spending
First and foremost tracking your spending is the easiest and most effective thing you can do to save more money this year.
You don’t have to spend hours each day tracking your spending. In fact, you can accomplish this in about ten minutes per week.
To do this you need to save all of your receipts for the week. After that pick a simple spreadsheet to record these in. I use the “family monthly budget” which is a free Microsoft Excel template. If you already own Microsoft Excel all you need to do is search for this in the existing templates.
Once you have chosen a simple spreadsheet to your liking, simply set up your budget categories and at the end of every week take a look at your receipts and record them in the appropriate categories.
By doing this you’ll be able to see exactly where your money is going and will be more conscious about spending it.
Clean Your House
You’re probably thinking what does cleaning my house have to do with saving money? Well, I’m here to tell you that it does.
How many times have you bought double or triple of an item because you couldn’t find it? I know I’ve done this several times.
Take a few weeks to thoroughly clean your house, de-clutter, and organize. By doing this you’ll know exactly what you have and what you need. You can also sell the items that you no longer want and bring in more money to save!
Work on Your Grocery Budget
Grocery budgets are usually the first item people look at when they want to save money. The reason for this is that saving on food is the easiest area to save.
You can slash down your grocery budget by menu planning, crock pot cooking, and looking for sales at the grocery store. With a little concerted effort you’d be amazed at how easy it is to save money on food costs.
If you’re willing to make a few easy changes this year you can save a significant amount of money. Just remember to commit to the plan and take things slow.
If you try to do too much at once you’ll only be setting yourself up for failure. But, if you are able to stick to your plan you’ll discover more and more ways in which you can save money this year.