Young Adult Money Helping Millennials Make More, Save More, and Live Better Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is Renting Really Cheaper Than Buying? Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:00:37 +0000 Wondering if renting is really cheaper than buying a home? This posts weighs the pros & cons including the financial implications of each choice.Housing is probably one of the highest monthly expenses you’ll ever have. While owning a home one day is a common goal for many of us, sometimes it difficult to tell whether renting or buying a home will actually be better for our finances now and in the long run.

Personally, I was always told that renting year after year was throwing away money and that I should consider buying a house. Then, I look at some of my homeowner friends and I wonder how they can afford to maintain, furnish, and upgrade their homes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, last year, the homeownership rate for millennials who were 35 and under dropped to 35% which is a 4% decline since 2010.

Now, the reason why fewer millennials are buying homes could be due to a lack of interest or for financial reasons. I figure it’s most likely a combination of both but it still leads many of us to ask, is renting really cheaper than buying?


The Advantages of Renting

Renting can be a better option if you’re looking for housing arrangements that are somewhat flexible. Typically as a renter, you only have to sign a lease for a year, 6 months, or even on a month-to-month basis which provides you with more freedom to move, travel long-term, etc. as opposed to being tied down with mortgage payments for 30 years.

The initial investment to rent a house or apartment is also quite low when compared to the rigorous process of coming up with a down payment for a house and paying for inspection fees and closing costs.

When you have lower costs upfront, you can use the rest of your money to cover living expenses, save, and invest, etc.

Another thing I love about renting is that there’s often no responsibility to take care of maintenance and repairs. If something breaks or if your home needs to be remodeled or updated, your landlord will most likely take care of it. I love that my apartment even pays for our carpet to get cleaned and our walls to be repainted every year.

Renters insurance is dirt cheap since you don’t have to pay to insure the property itself and most of your utility bills can be covered in the price of your rent if you live in an apartment.

Again, not having to pay for these expenses as a renter can help put more money in your pocket that can be used elsewhere in your budget.


The Advantages of Buying

Buying a home is an investment that you tend to put a lot of money into upfront. The costs of buying a home fluctuate depending on the market in your area and your credit, but if your credit score is good and you choose a home that’s in your budget, your monthly mortgage may end up being less than the average rent rate in your area.

The more you put down on your home, the better because you can keep your mortgage low and avoid costly expenses like mortgage insurance. If you have a fixed interest rate, you probably won’t have to worry about your mortgage payments being subject to increase each month like a renter would.

Plus, you can always refinance your mortgage later down the road to get a lower interest rate and reduce the amount of your housing payments even more. Owning a home allows you to build equity in a property as opposed to paying rent each month and having no equity.

You’ll also have the freedom to decorate, rearrange, and update your home however you please, unlike if you were a renter.

Related: 10 Financial Benefits of Homeownership

The Disadvantages of Renting

Renting definitely has some disadvantages along with quite a few hidden fees people should consider. For starters, depending on your landlord, your rent rate could increase every time you sign a new lease making your cost of living higher each year. This is what my husband and I are dealing with right now and we find the rent increase unnecessary because our apartment has not even been upgraded since we moved here.

While upfront costs may be cheaper than buying, they may not be as low as you expect because some landlords prefer a high security deposit and sometimes expect 1-3 months of rent when you move in.

Plus, if you have pets, not all landlords accept pets. For the ones that do, you may have to pay a much higher rent rate or add on an annual deposit or monthly fee if you wish to add a pet to the lease.

There are also many more picky rules and regulations for renters to abide by while homeowners can enjoy a little more freedom in regards to what they do with their property.


The Disadvantages of Buying

The biggest financial disadvantage I see homeowners mention (when compared to renting) include the ongoing costs of maintaining and repairing a home. Homeowners must keep a larger emergency fund on hand than renters because they have more responsibilities regarding the upkeep of their property.

Contrary to popular belief, the value of your home may not increase during the first few years so you’ll have to wait things out and spend several years paying down your mortgage if you want to see some ROI.

Homeownership is also generally a long-term commitment meaning you can’t just pick up and leave when you want to. You’d have to wait at least a few years and either sell or rent your home out if you wish to move somewhere else.


Other Financial Implications

Given the typical pros and cons of buying or renting a home, you must consider that there are other financial implications that can influence your decision. Debt is a big one, for example.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in debt and tuition prices are rising faster than inflation. Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio when considering you from a mortgage to see if you can actually be able to afford a home.

If you’re looking to rent, your debt will still play a role in your ability to afford it which is why for the first time in 100 years, more adults between the ages of 18 – 34 years old are choosing to live with their parents over sharing a living space with a partner or living alone according to Pew Research Center.

Your income and other living expenses will also play a big role. If you are trying to buy a home that is our of your price range, renting may sound cheaper or vice versa.

Related: How to Make Your Student Loans More Manageable

So Which One is Better?

You’ll see mixed information everywhere online about whether it’s cheaper to buy a home or rent. At the end of the day, you have to live somewhere so I can’t give a universal answer as to whether renting or buying a home is better. It all depends on where you want to invest your money and how the pros outweigh the cons for each option.

Ultimately, the housing market in your area could determine whether it’s cheaper to rent or buy and what the better option is for you long-term.

In my area, renting and buying a home averages out to about the same investment. Rent can be a tad bit higher than a mortgage depending on how much you put down but overall, renting is cheaper for us at the moment because we’re not financially prepared for all the upfront and ongoing costs of owning a home.

This can and will change, however, just because renting or buying a home is cheaper for you right now, that doesn’t mean it will always be the case. Some people may own a home for a few years, then go back to renting or the other way around.

Before you let anyone tell you which one is cheaper or better, consider your own preferences, do your research on the pros and cons, and run some of the numbers.
Do you think renting or homeownership is better or cheaper for you at this time and why?

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12 Income Streams You Can Create By Starting a Blog Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:00:56 +0000 How can you best protect your finances? By creating multiple streams of income. Blogging is one of the best ways to find additional income streams. We've highlighted 12 income streams you can create by starting a blog.Side hustles are a topic of frequent discussion at Young Adult Money. But we just can’t help ourselves. For all of us, side hustles have helped to completely change our financial situations all together, and for some, they have even become profitable enough to become full-time businesses.

Blogging is one of our favorite side hustles, for many reasons. While any profitable side hustle is great, blogging is especially beneficial because you can write about what you are passionate about while multiple streams of income. Plus, blogs are inexpensive to start and maintain.

Having multiple streams of income protects your financial situation. Like they say, you aren’t “putting all your eggs in one basket,” when you create multiple income streams. When you have income coming from several places, it’s not a major deal if you find a dip in profit from one area. Having multiple streams of income acts like insurance for your take home pay.

There are so many ways to make money from blogging, and I’ve highlighted them below.


1) Sponsored Content

A popular income stream for bloggers is to sponsor content for an advertiser. Many times, this looks like a blogger writing a post about a good or service provided by a company, and getting paid in return.

Sponsored content is a somewhat new way for companies to advertise their products, and it works. The best part about writing sponsored content is that bloggers can choose which brands to work with. Reputable bloggers will only choose to pair with brands that they truly use and would recommend. The Federal Trade Commission has high standards for how to disclose sponsored content, which helps for everyone to keep integrity about what they are advertising.


2) Banner Advertising

Perhaps the most common blogging income stream is advertising. Banner advertising is when you allow advertising agencies to put small blocks of ads in your website. You get paid per click, and you get paid a small commission if someone buys a product from clicking on an advertisement.

While this isn’t the most profitable income stream, it is worthwhile because it is an extremely passive way to make money. Once you get the ads in place, you don’t have to do much else from there.

For new bloggers, Google Adsense is available to nearly everyone. But for bigger bloggers, there are many advertising companies that will pay a premium for their ads.


3) Freelance Writing

While freelance writing doesn’t entail making money straight from your blog, it is another opportunity that you can obtain by starting a blog. Freelance writing is one of my favorite income streams.

If you are interested in earning money through freelance writing, I highly suggest starting a blog in the niche you want to write about. A blog is a living, breathing portfolio of your work. Having a blog also shows potential clients that you are comfortable with writing for an online audience, and that you understand the basics of SEO, coding, and social media optimization.

Here are some informative posts about how to start your own freelance writing business:

Editor’s Note: I just wanted to quickly point out that as someone who has hired freelance writers for over four years now I don’t even consider writers who don’t have blogs. Having a blog shows you are serious about writing and have the discipline needed to consistently create content. If you want to freelance write then starting a blog is a necessary first step.


4) Photo Editing or Photography

Photography is an art, and for anyone who takes their own blog photos, photography has the opportunity to become an additional blog income stream as well.

Just like with freelance writing, your blog acts like a portfolio of your best work. You can find clients to sell your photographs to as stock photography, or you can edit and design photos for them.


5) Blog Consulting

Some people have solid content and ideas for a blog, but aren’t sure how to execute the technicalities and marketing of it. If you have a strong understanding of how to create and launch a blog, there is work for you.

Think of all your family and friends who are fascinated with your blog or other blogs, but are turned off from starting one of their own because they feel intimidated by the knowledge required. You can teach them, and other clients, and earn money doing it.


6) Proofreading and Editing

Big bloggers are always needing additional editors and proofreaders to join their team. If you own a blog and have pristine writing and editing skills, you can earn money by becoming a proofreader.

As a proofreader, you can expect to earn $15-20 an hour starting out.


7) Affiliate Marketing

Create another income stream by implementing an affiliate marketing plan into your blog. Affiliate marketing, to summarize, is where you link a product or service in your blog, and you earn commission through clicks and purchases.

Much like advertising, you can join individual affiliate network to find opportunities that will work for your blog topic. Some popular affiliate networks include Amazon, ShareaSale, RewardStyle, and LinkShare.

Please note that to remain compliant with FTC standards, you must disclose in your blog post if you are using affiliate marketing.


8) Creating and Selling Products

With a blog, you have the perfect platform to sell online. Maybe you wrote a book, or an eBook, or have art to sell. You can sell it all straight from your blog.

If you have high levels of blog traffic each month, you already have potential customers seeing your product. Now you just have to figure out how to sell it to them.


9) Public Speaking

Many established bloggers have distinguished themselves as experts in their niche. Because of this, they are often invited to public speaking gigs, whether it be on the news, at a college, or for a conference.

Often, you can charge public speaking rates and get free trips out of the deal. The best part is that you can get paid to public speak, all while boosting awareness about your blog. It’s a win-win.


10) Virtual Assisting

Running your own blog proves that you are comfortable with working virtually on many tasks. You can use those skills to assist others with their company, blog, or website.

People pay for virtual assisting services. Duties as a virtual assistant might entail photo editing, proofreading, managing social media, setting up meetings, or booking travel.


11) Creating a Course

One income stream that, though often forgotten about, can be very profitable is courses.

You can create a course about any topic imaginable. It can be a broad topic, or a very specific topic. While you need some knowledge of the course topic to be able to teach it, you do not have to be an expert first. And, with courses, you can make them self-guided, so individuals can simply buy the course and complete it at their own pace. This makes it not only a profitable side hustle, but a fairly passive source of income as well.


12) Social Media and Marketing Consulting

If social media marketing is your passion and the main driver of your blog, you can use your expertise to teach others.

Social media is a necessary part of blogging, however, it can easily become overwhelming. And if someone doesn’t have an effective strategy in place, time devoted to social media won’t feel like it is paying off. Plenty of people are in search of a social media consultant, and would pay for assistance.


Want to start creating online income streams from blogging? Follow this quick guide to start your blog in as little as ten minutes!

Have you started a blog? What income streams have you created that stemmed from your blog?


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The Best Cash Back Credit Card You Have Never Heard Of Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:00:48 +0000 There's a lot of credit cards out there, but you likely have not heard of this cash back credit card, and it just might be the best one on the market right now.There’s a lot of credit cards options. A Lot of options. And there’s always new ones coming out.

As a consumer I like the variety of options. It’s not like other products or services where there is only a handful of options – or less – to choose from (I’m looking at you cable and satellite TV).

Even if you like to open up new cards frequently to get credit card rewards or travel hack, it’s nice to have one “go to” credit card that you can default to. If you don’t travel hack or open up cards frequently then it really makes sense to have a go-to card.

I’ve shared in the past about a few of the top cash back credit cards as well as what I recommend for a first card, but today I want to talk about the best cash back credit card you have never heard of.

I was only recently exposed to this card but I think it deserves to sit at the top of the list when it comes to cash back credit cards. It’s that good.


The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The best cash back credit card you have never heard of is the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card. This card offers the highest cash back on the market with it’s flat 2% cash back bonus.

Regardless of how widely known the card is, it’s undeniable that this card leads the pack when it comes to cash back credit cards. Besides the flat 2% cash back offer, it also has no annual fee. Additionally it offers all the standard credit card perks such as 24/7 support, travel and emergency assistance, zero-liability fraud protection, and identity theft recovery services.

An additional feature that I like about this card is that your cash back rewards are deposited directly into your Fidelity account. From there you can either cash it out to your bank account or use it to invest. This is a great feature because it’s easy to treat cash back rewards like free money and use it on things you otherwise wouldn’t purchase (don’t worry – it’s okay to splurge once in a while).

Why is this card not wider known or written about? I think it has something to do with Fidelity not pushing the card as hard as other credit card offers have been pushed. I’m also fairly certain (though not 100% sure) that they do not offer affiliate relationships like some of the other more well-known cards. If one thing is true it’s that big credit card comparison sites and, in turn, writers, focus on the cards that give them a payout per conversion.


How the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card Stacks up to Other Cash Back Credit Cards

So how does the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card stack up against other credit cards? Let’s compare it to a few of the other top cash back credit cards.

  • Cash Back Rate
    The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a 2% cash back rate, which is comparable to the Citi® Double Cash Card which offers you 1% cash back when you use your card and 1% cash back when you pay your bill, for a total of 2% cash back. It’s 0.5% higher than the Chase Freedom Unlimited which offers 1.5% cash back. Finally it offers 1% more than the Discover it® Card.
  • Revolving Category Bonuses
    The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card does not have any revolving category bonuses where you can earn more than 2% cash back, but neither does the Citi® Double Cash Card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The Discover it® Card, on the other hand, does offer quarterly 5% cash back bonuses on select categories (i.e. dining, entertainment, home improvement stores, etc.) for up to $1,500 of eligible purchases.
  • Annual Fees
    The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card charges no annual fee, but neither do any of the other three cards I mentioned. This is typical for a majority of cash back cards.
  • Sign Up Bonuses
    The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card typically does not advertise a sign-up bonus, but in Google I did find an ad that led to a link where they are offering a $100 cash bonus when you make at least $1,000 of eligible purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account.

    The Discover it® card offers a somewhat different bonus. After your first 12 months of being a cardholder, whatever cashback rewards you earned during that period will be doubled. So if you earned $100 throughout your first 12 months, you will be given an additional $100 in cashback bonus.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 within the first three months of opening a card.Finally the Citi® Double Cash Card offers no sign up bonus.

The good news is that with even just these four cards there is a variety of reasons to sign up for each card. For example, The Discover it® card does not offer as much in regular cash back rewards with its 1% rate, but the revolving rewards categories make a case for using it for specific purchases that align to those bonus categories.

Assuming we go off of rate alone, why is the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card better than the Citi® Double Cash Card? The only real differentiating factor is that the Fidelity cash back rewards go into your investment account. While I don’t think there has been any research around this, you can imagine that someone who has the cash in their investment account is more likely to invest it than someone who has it deposited into their checking account.


Cards to Use in Tandem with the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Assuming you are sold on the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card, is there any reason to open other cards?

I’m into travel hacking and I’m willing to do the work to gain lucrative sign-up bonuses (you can see a few attractive offers in my post Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2017). Beyond that, though, there is a case to be made that the Discover it® Card is worth having for the 5% revolving categories.

Additionally there are some brand- or store-specific cards that provide 5% cash back. The only one I generally recommend is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card which offers 5% cash back on every Amazon purchase. And if you’re like me, that 5% will add up quick.

Have you heard of the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card? Would you use this card as your default credit card? Why or why not?

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5 Ways Millennials Can Build Their Personal Brand Fri, 16 Jun 2017 10:00:48 +0000 Everyone talks about building a "personal brand" but how can you actually do it? Here's 5 ways that millennials can build their personal brand.“Personal Brand” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to millennials.

But how do you actually build a personal brand? And how do you make sure you aren’t just wasting your time?

These are two really important questions for people to answer, and while each situation is different there are certain ways to go about building a personal brand that are relevant regardless of the specifics of a given situation.

Today I have some practical advice for ways millennials can build their personal brand.

Make sure you don’t skip #1! It will drive everything you do to build and leverage your personal brand.


1) Know Your End Goal

For many their personal brand will align directly to their career. The most obvious example of building a personal brand is going to grad school. Getting an advanced degree in your field builds your personal brand and provides you credibility.

For others their 9-5 career will be entirely separate from the personal brand they are trying to build. I fall into this group myself as I work in corporate finance for my 9-5 but have spent the past 5+ years building my brand as an expert in millennial personal finance. I also have built up my personal brand as a digital marketer. None of this aligns to my 9-5, but it was all intentional.

While having a specific end goal is ideal, having a general goal is “good enough.” In my case building my personal brand as a millennial personal finance expert opened up opportunities to publish my own book, give lunch and learns at offices, and consult on influencer marketing. I worked to build my brand in a certain direction, and the opportunities came up naturally.

At minimum you should be working towards something. Is your goal to bolster your credibility and influence in your current profession? Or to pivot into another area? Even better if you have more specific goals such as “getting paid to public speak on [insert topic]” or “become a full-time consultant to companies on [insert topic].”


2) Content, Content, Content

I may be preaching to the choir here, but there is nothing more important than content when you are trying to build your personal brand. Putting content helps you frame up your personal brand and paints a picture of your skills and expertise. The best part is you’re the painter so you have full control of how you brand yourself.

The most time-consuming – but most rewarding – approach to building a personal brand is through a blog. Yes, blogging can be incredibly time-consuming and there is a lot more to it than most people think, but there is no other platform that gives you the same control over your voice and your brand.

There is more than just blogging, though, when it comes to content. Content can be videos, podcasts, LinkedIn posts, or any other medium that allows you to brand yourself and put yourself out there. It’s not a coincidence that the most influential people in the world also consistently produce content on a variety of platforms.

Another perk of becoming well-versed in content creation and promotion is that it uniquely qualifies you for a field that is exploding: content marketing.


3) Social Media Presence

Social media can be frustrating, especially if you are looking to build a personal brand. For one, social media platforms change all the time. You may have just mastered Twitter but now Instagram is where everyone is responsive. Or Pinterest. Or LinkedIn.

You get the point. Popularity of social media platforms and your ability to leverage them is never static.

I was late to the Pinterest game but now find it as the most important platform for Young Adult Money and, by extension, my personal brand. Two years from now it may be a different platform.

When it comes to building your personal brand I think it makes the most sense to have a presence on most social networks while focusing your content on the most effective one. IF you’re spending four hours a week planning and producing content on Twitter but don’t get much of a response, it might make the most sense to spend that energy on a different social media platform.

Regardless of what works for you it’s important to at least have a social media presence. Similar to a blog, you have full control over how you brand yourself on social media. Use it to your advantage!


4) Work on a Project and Build a Portfolio

By far the best thing you can do to build your personal brand is to actually produce something. Nothing provides credibility or trust like a portfolio of past work.

One simple example is freelance writing. One of the requirements I have for contributors on Young Adult Money is that they have a blog. I essentially don’t even consider hiring people who don’t have a blog. It’s not that difficult to start a blog, but it takes work to actually write, edit, and publish posts. If someone wants to freelance write but doesn’t have the discipline to create a blog and, in turn, brand themselves as a competent writer in a niche, it’s tough for me to justify hiring them.

In a similar way if you want to be on TV but haven’t published any videos or been featured in any videos, there likely won’t be much demand to have you as an interviewee. Another example is if you want to brand yourself as a Pinterest manager but haven’t actually managed a blog or business’ Pinterest. You should be doing this for free at first and building your portfolio of work and, in turn, your brand.

Actually producing something, even if it’s pro bono, is the best thing you can do to build and shape your personal brand. There’s a reason why work experience typically trumps everything else in job interviews – it shows that you actually can do what you say you are going to do.

So do something! Even if it’s free. You have to start somewhere.


5) Make the Right Connections

Making the right connections is really important when you are building your personal brands. Going back to the previous tip, you can quickly make quality connections by working on a project with someone and providing something of value.

Besides building a core group of people who can vouch for your skills and character, there are additional connections you can make that will further build your personal brand. Authority figures in your specialty or media that covers your niche are two types of connections that can be invaluable to your personal brand.

This goes both ways, too. I remember every single person who supported Hustle Away Debt when it was released. I would – and continue to – help all of those who supported me. In a similar way, be quick to help others. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “give 51% in every relationship.” His point being, give more than you receive.

How do you make the right connections? Besides identifying the top authorities in your niche you should also be focusing on solving problems for others. For example, I noticed many wanting an easy way to keep track of the credit cards they use for credit card rewards. This was a great opportunity for me to use my Excel and blogging skills to create a free spreadsheet to track credit card rewards.

Identify authorities. Solve problems. Make connections.

What have you done to build your personal brand? What is your end goal or what are you working towards?

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How Having a Side Hustle Benefits Your Full-Time Job Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:00:42 +0000 Do side hustles harm or help a career? We vote help. There are many ways that a side hustles can benefit a full-time job.We talk a lot about the benefits of side hustles here at Young Adult Money, but it is for good reason. Side hustles, or earning extra money on the side, can help to increase your income, teach you new skills, and can even become full-time jobs down the road. For anyone in debt or looking to achieve their financial goals faster, side hustles are an excellent way to bolster the process. The countless benefits of working on the side are often talked about, but concerns about the topic are rarely addressed.

For anyone currently working both a full-time job and a side hustle, you will be the first to admit that it isn’t easy to balance both. Side hustles require a lot of time, focus, and energy. After a long day at work, a side hustle can be the last thing you want to do, even if you doing something you are passionate about.

Because of this, it can be easy to make excuses about why you shouldn’t start a side hustle if you have a full-time job. It can be more comfortable to consider your full-time job as enough. Or you tell yourself that you don’t have the time or energy for a side hustle. Or maybe you think that a side hustle will hurt your career by being a distraction.

But for most side hustle advocates, including myself, the pros of a side hustle massively outweigh the cons. I am happy to dedicate my time to my side hustle to feed my entrepreneurial spirit without having to make a big risk.

The truth is, there are 1,000 excuses as to why you should not start a side hustle. But if you are concerned about a side hustle interrupting or harming your career – don’t be. Side hustles can benefit your full-time job in many ways and can help to grow your career. Here’s how.


Side Hustles Take the Pressure Off Your Full-Time Job

Without a side hustle, a full-time job can come with a lot of pressure. If your only income stream is from your full-time job, you might live in occasional or constant fear of losing it. Or maybe you soon realize that you aren’t in the field that you want to be, but feel stuck in your current career path. Most people have felt like this, but accept it as normal.

For anyone unhappy with their salary or career prospects, a side hustle can open so many doors. Not only can you create another dependable income stream with side hustles, but you also have the opportunity to explore a whole other career path with minimal risk. Without so much pressure on your full-time job, you might find that you are actually enjoying work more and that you are performing better.


Side Hustles Build New Skills

When I started blogging, I learned so many new skills that I wouldn’t have learned at my full-time job. I learned the basics of coding, how to manage social media, and improved my writing and photo editing skills.

No matter what your side hustle is, you are bound to learn new skills that you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to learn at work. These new skills can be transferred should you ever decide to move up in your career, or to change career paths completely.


Side Hustles Increase Time Management

It’s no secret that it takes a lot of balance and time management to be successful at both a side hustle and a full-time job. But with focus and practice, it is very possible to flourish at both.

With so much time dedicated to working, whether it’s at a full-time job or a side hustle, time to yourself or with others becomes even more valuable. Before I started my blog and freelance writing side hustle, I spent most of my “free time” in front of the television, and I took time with friends and family for granted. Now, when I have free time, I can fill it with hobbies I truly enjoy.


Side Hustles Up Your Marketability

No matter what your side hustle is, it improves your marketability if you are ever looking for new opportunities. Whether your side hustle is related to your career or not, they are a pro among employers because they show that you are committed to personal development, have the skills to run a business, and have the time management to balance it all.

It takes commitment to balance both a side hustle and a full-time job. By having both on your resume, you already beat out a majority of the competition for new jobs or promotions. Plus, your side hustle might have led you to learn new skills that your competitors might not have that could further advance your 9-5 job.


Side Hustles Motivate You to Work Your Way Up in Your Career

The best part about side hustles is that it taught me that I am in charge of my finances and my career, including my income. So many people consider their income to be at mercy of their employer, which is not true. While an employer certainly has an influence over your income, if you are wanting to increase your income, you can switch jobs, start a side hustle, or ask to be promoted.

Side hustles have empowered me to take charge of my finances and career. I want to work harder to be the best I can at both my full-time job and my career.

Have you considered starting a side hustle while you work a full-time job? Or do you currently balance both? How has a side hustle helped, or could help, your career?

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How to get a Free Weekend Getaway Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:00:13 +0000 A weekend getaway is a great way to relax, unwind, and explore a new. Travel can hit your wallet hard, though, so we share how to get a free weekend giveaway.A weekend getaway can be a great way to step away from the fast pace of life.

Whether your ideal getaway includes secluding yourself in a cabin in the woods, laying in the Sun on a beach, or exploring a city you’ve never been to, a weekend getaway can give you a quick reprise from the daily grind.

Here in Minnesota popular weekend getaways include a trip up to Duluth, a visit to one of the thousands of lakes we have, or a quick trip to Vegas.

I’ve done all of these trips, but this Summer my wife and I are doing a new type of weekend getaway. We’ll be going to an out-of-town concert where two of our favorite bands are playing.

After doing some research I put a plan in motion for getting a *nearly* free weekend getaway. While our flights won’t be entirely free, we will get $300 off as well as a free hotel room.

My question to you is this: could you use a weekend getaway? How about a free weekend getaway?

Read on to find out how you can make it happen.


Step 1: Understand How Travel Hacking Works

If you have never looked into travel hacking you’ll want to get a basic knowledge of how it works. My post The 7 Keys to Successful Travel Hacking is a great primer on travel hacking and what you can expect.

The biggest thing about travel hacking and credit card rewards that people misunderstand or are surprised by is just how much time it takes to put a plan in place. Many travel rewards credit cards will take a few months to gain the sign-up bonus, so if your goal is a free weekend getaway you need to give yourself as much lead time as possible. I will be signing up for a travel rewards credit card in a few weeks here that I don’t plan on using until Winter 2017. The more time you have the better.

If you are trying to get both a free flight and a free hotel you will either need to sign up for two cards or settle for getting a discounted trip. IF you go the two card route, which is the approach I took for our weekend concert getaway, you will want to give yourself even more time to gain rewards.

There are some great travel rewards credit cards that do not discriminate on the type of travel you redeem your rewards for. For example the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® sign-up bonus gives you a $525 travel credit that can be spent on any travel-related costs.

To view my picks for travel rewards credit cards check out my post The Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2017.


Step 2: Find the Ideal Airline Credit Card

Most airlines have rewards credit cards. While they vary in value of sign-up bonus, virtually every airline credit card has some sort of incentive offer to entice people to sign-up. More often than not these offers are enough for at least one, if not two or more, round-trip flights in the United States. Depending on the rewards program they very well could translate to a round trip international flight.

Here’s a few airline-specific credit cards you may want to check out.

My wife and I have really focused on United Airlines the past couple of years because of cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® that translate 1:1 to the United MileagePlus program. We recently amassed enough points for a free international trip using rewards.


Step 3: Find the Ideal Hotel Credit Card

Unless you’re camping or staying with friends, you are going to need a hotel room for your weekend getaway. Thankfully there are a number of solid hotel rewards credit cards that have sign-up bonuses that will get you free stays at hotels.

Here’s a couple good options.

  • Rewards® Premier credit card – Hilton’s card offers a whopping 100,000 points when you sign up and spend $3,000 within the first three months. This translates to as many as four or five hotel nights depending on the points per stay at the hotel you are staying at.
  • Marriott Rewards® Premier – Marriott’s card offers you 80,000 bonus points when you sign up and spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. This can translate to as many as four hotel nights, but should get you at least two hotel nights.

Alternatives to hotel rewards credit cards include using a travel cash back reward card like Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, booking on Airbnb (use this link for a $20 credit), or camping (always a frugal option).


Step 4: Redeem your Rewards and Book Your Trip!

Now to the fun part – redeem your rewards and book your trip! With a little planning anyone can have a free weekend getaway. Just remember that it can take at minimum a few months to get some of the sign-up bonuses that credit cards offer, so give yourself plenty of time if you plan on using this strategy for your free weekend giveaway.

A quick reminder to not use this strategy if you are in credit card debt. Instead read what to do if you are in credit card debt and how to afford travel without credit cards.

What is your ideal weekend getaway? Do you have any weekend getaways planned?

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5 Ways to Save Money on Fun Splurges Fri, 09 Jun 2017 10:00:53 +0000 Everyone has splurges from time to time. Here are 5 effective ways to save money on your splurges & keep your budget intact.The temptation to overspend on non-necessities may always be constant year-round.

For some of us, it’s harder to save money during the summer because there’s so much fun stuff to do. No one wants to be cooped up in the house all day when you can travel, go to beaches and BBQs, and attend festivals.

Spending on splurges like restaurant food, pricey hobbies, events, vacations, etc. can really interfere with your budget and even cause you to spend more than you earn.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t splurge and enjoy some of your money at all, but you need to keep it controlled in order to avoid not being able to pay for your actual necessities or even getting into debt.

When you’re tempted to splurge over the next few months or just want to treat yourself every now and then, here are a few ways to save so your spending doesn’t get out of control.


1) Plan Your Spending

This kind of sounds ironic when you’re talking about a splurge, but some splurges can actually be planned. For example, if you really want to go to a concert or sporting event, odds are you’ll know about it several weeks or months in advance so you can have time to plan for the expense.

It also helps to set a specific budget category for entertainment and miscellaneous expenses. If you don’t spend the money allotted each month, you can just set it aside until something comes up.

Planning your spending and saving up ahead of time can also help you score early-bird discounts on pricing for some purchases helping you reduce your spending on the splurge.

Related: An Automated Budget Spreadsheet in Excel


2) Use Coupons

Using coupons is a great way to cut the costs of any spending you do. While clipping coupons to save on food and household items isn’t always the best use of time since the coupon amounts are often small (DC may disagree!), you can save big when you use coupons to get discounts on big-ticket items along with outings and events.

Groupon is one of my favorite sites to use to find discounts on splurges I have. For example, if you want to save money on a gym membership, museum ticket, restaurant purchase, a one-hour massage, electronics, or even a wedding gift for someone, you can find deals on Groupon to generate savings or even use Groupon’s coupon section to save.

Another site I like to use to score discounts and coupons is Ebates. As long as you’re signed in to your free account, Ebates will search each website you visit for deals and coupons. They will also give you cash back offers on select purchases.

All you need to do with Ebates is make sure you opt in so you can receive the cash back and coupons.

Related: 5 Best Cash Back Sites to Earn Extra Money


3) Use Amazon or eBay

For everything that you can’t get at a discounted price with Groupon, I recommend using Amazon or eBay. eBay allows you to bid for some items to get them for a cheaper price, and Amazon has really competitive prices for quality brands.

For example, fit desks are all the craze right now because they allow you to use your laptop or tablet while you exercise. However, they’re pretty pricey depending on where you get them from but you can compare prices from different sellers to find the best deal and model for you.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can enjoy free 2-day shipping on your orders and if you have Ebates, you can even earn a little cash back.

If you have a Swagbucks account, you can also earn points and cash back on your purchases on Amazon or eBay and you can redeem your points for free gift cards to your favorite retailers.


4) Go the Community Route

When you’re thinking about a splurge, consider free and cheap offerings in your community before you spend a ton of money elsewhere.

If you’re looking to pick up a new hobby, take a class, or join a sport, see if any community organizations offer a free or discounted solution.

I found a free baseball camp for my son this year and they’re even covering the price of his uniform and shoes. I didn’t have to put him in a sport this year but it’s fun to get him involved, especially when I find something that our community offers for free.


5) Discount Days

Many museums, aquariums, zoos, art galleries, etc. offer free admission or discount days to help you save money.

First, choose where you want to go, then check their website to see if they offer any special days when you can receive discounted admission.


BONUS TIP: Make Good Use of Your Credit Card Perks

If you have credit cards that offer rewards, you can use your cards wisely and strategically to save money on a nice vacation in the future. If you get a frequent flier rewards card, you can reduce the cost of your flight and fly direct instead of having to take several layovers to save money.

You don’t have to be a serious credit card churner to take advantage of sign-on bonuses for your favorite credit cards. You can also use cash back to your advantage and use it to pay for some of your travel expenses or even food while you’re away.

I like using credit card reward points for all-inclusive resorts because food and some activities are included with your stay so you can really feel like your splurging without spending a ton of extra money.

Just remember to avoid letting credit card rewards cloud your better judgment. Make sure you don’t go overboard and always pay your bill off in full each month. The mere rewards aren’t worth getting into debt over.

Related: The 7 Keys to Successful Travel Hacking
Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2017
How I Plan on Flying too Europe For Free

While I don’t want to encourage you to make regular splurges, they’re going to happen from time to time and there’s not really anything wrong with enjoying your money as long as you can comfortably afford it.

To create even more breathing room in your budget, you can use some of these tips to save money on your favorite splurges so you can still meet your financial goals.

What do you find yourself splurging on from time to time? Have you ever used any of these techniques to save money?

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