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13 Great Ways to Make Extra Money this Summer


Make extra moneyDo you want to make extra money this summer for your summer travel plans or some other reason? Making extra money is a big part of growing your wealth though I would also argue that how you manage that money is a bigger part to growing your wealth over time. 😉

Making extra money can take on a variety of forms from things that allow you to make money quickly to things that are more involved and take time to see come to fruition. You may have found that it can be a challenge to make extra money in the summer if it’s filled with going on summer vacation, spending time outside, activities for the kids or a variety of other things.

I think you can still find ways to make the summer profitable so I’ve come up with a number of ways to make extra money this summer. Some are simple and some may require a little more work but the point is to get your creative juices flowing.

Money Making Opportunities this Summer

1. Housesitting – This is the perfect time of year to housesit as many are going on vacation. This might involve checking on their mail, watering plants, feeding animals, etc. If you line up a couple of gigs during the summer this could turn into a nice little side hustle.

2. Take surveys – You won’t get rich quick taking surveys, but they can be a nice little way to get some cash back or earn Amazon gift cards. With Swagbucks you can earn points, called SB points, that can be turned into money from taking surveys, get cash back from your normal shopping, or watch short videos, to name a few, and get money back.

You can sign up for Swagbacks here and earn an extra $5 sign-up bonus as a new member. National Consumer Panel, Vindale Research, One Opinion, Earning Station, Survey Junkie, VIP VoiceOpinion Outpost, ProOpinionPineCone Research, Reward TV, Harris Poll and Mobile Xpression are other great options to make money taking surveys.

3. Tutor – It may not be the traditional school year, but there are still parents out there looking to give their kids an edge. You can also check out local community colleges as they often hire tutors.

4. Dog Walking – This is a popular standby for many wanting to make extra money, summer or otherwise. This is another great option for those looking to cash in on helping those who might be traveling and pretty much anyone can do it.

5. Open a brokerage account – Investing in the stock market might seem like an odd way to make extra money this summer. Hear me out here…many online brokers offer promotions for you to open a new account with them and in many of those cases it comes in cold hard cash. You can open an account with Etrade and get up to $600 cash back and start saving for your future.

6. Shop Online – Believe it or not, but you can make extra money this summer shopping online. Similar to Swagbucks above, Inbox Dollars allows you to earn money by shopping online through their portal as well as playing games, searching the web and more. You won’t get rich quick, but can be a good way to earn a little more spending money. Join Inbox Dollars now and earn an extra $5 sign-up bonus for a new account.

7. Write a book – Thanks so self-publishing, virtually anyone can become an author. In fact, my wife wrote a short book for my mom a few years and has made over $1,500 by listing it on Amazon. You can self-publish through CreateSpace, as they make the process very easy and simple to manage.

8. Painting – House painting is common in my area during the summer and people spend serious money in doing so. The great thing is that it requires little in terms of skill. Just make sure you have some references as many will want to check on your work.

9. Start a blog – You may not realize it, but starting a blog can be a great way to make extra money as there are so many opportunities to earn income. If I can start a blog, then I know anyone else can as well. There are a number of costs associated with blogging, main among that is hosting. The best and cheapest option is Bluehost or HostGator. You can open an account in minutes with Bluehost for $2.95 per month, when you sign up through my link. I’ve replaced my day job through my blog so it can definitely be done.

10. Grocery Shopping – Again with the travel theme, it can be difficult to shop around vacations. Offer to do grocery shopping for neighbors the day before they return so they have a fully stocked kitchen when they come back.

11. Lifeguarding – My wife did this for a number of years as she lived in San Diego and many beaches and pools ramped up their hiring for the summer. If you have the appropriate training this can be a great way to make some extra money this summer.

12. Go Driving – I’ve written about making money driving for Uber before. If you have free time to spare, a newer car and enjoy meeting new people this can be a great way to make extra money this summer. Simply sign up to be a Uber driver and you can turn this into a profitable side hustle.

13. Sell Bottled Water – Assuming you live somewhere that gets really hot in the summer months this can be a great way to make some extra money. You can often find cases of bottled water at Costco or Wal-Mart for $5 or $6. Set yourself up in highly trafficked areas or outside sporting events, just make sure you’re within right to do this, and you could make a killing at it.

5 Bonus Ways to Make Extra Money This Summer

1. Yard Work – This is a staple in terms summer money making. I know kids in our neighborhood who get at least $20-25 per yard mowed. That can turn into some serious money if you do it enough this summer. Beyond cutting grass, you can do other things like gardening, weed pulling, raking leaves and a variety of other things.

2. Washing Cars – This is another simple yet common way to make extra money during the summer. This can be done on your own or with a few friends and by offering something else like detailing this could be a great summer gig.

3. Get Rid of Your Crap – Selling items on Craiglist can be a great way to make extra cash. You can sell your stuff on Craigslist, Ebay or even a garage sale. If you’re like us you have too much crap as it is and this can be a great way to make a little extra money this summer. Plus, you get rid of your crap…double bonus!

4. Child Care – Think beyond babysitting. Parents spend hundreds of dollars during the summer to send their kids to camp. Offer an alternative where you care for the kids for the week and do things with them around the house and neighborhood. If you price it right you could make a good bit of money during the summer.

5. Stage Homes – Summer is home buying season. A house is usually more likely to sell when it’s staged so prospective buyers can see themselves living in it. If you have decorative skills this can be a great way to make some extra money this summer. As with the painting, having references can help a lot with getting these gigs.

I know this list just scratches the surface, but the point is there are many ways you can make extra cash this summer. The key is to keep your eyes open for opportunities and then turn around and monetize them. If you can take that extra money and put it to work for you then even better!

What are some of your favorite ways to make money in the summer? What’s one thing you’d hire out during the summer if you could?


Photo courtesy of: ©Depositphotos.com/bond80



Motif Investing Review: Get Up to $150 Cash Back!


Motif InvestingMotif Investing takes investing and revolutionizes it. If revolution and investing sounds like a strange mix, this Motif Investing review will help you see how their approach simplifies investing for beginners and veterans alike.

Motif Investing opened for business in 2010 with two key missions – to help investors find ideas to invest in by using a theme-based approach and to cut investing fees.

I’ve personally had an account with Motif Investing for several years and enjoy using the platform. They have had a number of changes recently – thus want to provide a few updates for 2017. With that out of the way, let’s get on with the review of Motif Investing.

How Motif Investing is Different

Motif Investing was started by Hardeep Walia, who is a former Microsoft executive. He left the tech industry to start Motif as a way to help individuals manage their investing needs. Motif Investing takes an outside the box approach to investing in the stock market. Following are some of the ways Motif Investing is different:

  • Motif offers a theme-based approach to investing through a motif. A motif is a bucket of up to 30 stocks or Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). What you’re essentially doing is creating your own index fund.
  • These motifs can be in specialized areas like tech companies to companies run by certain political parties to pharmaceutical companies about to lose a patent on a given drug. You can also create motifs that track a certain index or high dividend-paying stocks.
  • Motif Investing now also allows single stock trading. This is a new feature they added last year for those who want something beyond their standard motif. The commission is a very competitive $4.95 per trade – which is the same price you’d see at TradeKing. This makes Motif one of cheapest options for investing in stocks.
  • If you don’t have a given area you’d like to focus on then Motif Investing takes the heavy lifting out of it for you. Motif currently offers at least 150 different pre-made motifs you can choose from if you’d rather take that approach.
  • Motif Investing now offers trading alerts. This isn’t all that unique, as other brokers offer them but Motif allows you to set up either on an individual security or motif level basis. This allows you to set up an alert so you can make a trading decision on a specific security or buy/get out of a motif altogether.
  • You can now invest in IPOs through Motif. This is thanks to a partnership with J.P. Morgan. If J.P. Morgan has access to an IPO you can get them through Motif Investing for as little as $250. There are considerable risks associated with IPO investing though this is another way Motif is helping democratize the investing landscape for the masses.
  • Motif Investing has an extensive social media presence that allows you to share your investing ideas with others. Honestly, Motif is ahead of the curve when it comes to other online brokers in this area.
  • All that said, what sets Motif Investing apart is their allowance of a specialized focus when it comes to investing. I spoke with investors all the time who wanted to have a specific focus, like socially conscious companies, but had little in terms of options. Motif Investing helps broaden those options and make it possible for retail investors to have access to that.

What’s Needed to Open an account with Motif Investing

There is no industry standard when it comes to what is required to start investing. Some brokerages allow you to open accounts with nothing and others require at least $2,500 to open an account. That is not the case here as you can open an account with Motif Investing for as little as $250!

You read that right, you can start investing in a motif with as little as $250. This is great for the individual who wants to start investing with $1,000 or less and wants a way to grow his or her money. They also offer the usual IRA and non-IRA account options.


Motif Investing


I hate investment fees as they directly impact your return. Motif Investing does not have any hidden fees. There’s no inactivity fees, account maintenance fees or anything else like that.

The cost of trading a motif is relatively low at $9.95. That gets you access to investing in up to 30 stocks and ETFs. If you want to trade out specific stocks or ETFs from your motif, Motif does charge $4.95 per trade out. They also allow an option for active rebalancing which comes at a $9.95 charge. But, since you’d likely only be doing that once per year it would only be something you’d see then which is relatively cheap to do.

I will add that if you believe you’d like to change out several of the stocks within a pre-made motif that’ll be cheaper to simply create your own motif without those specific stocks so as to not run into the $4.95 charge.

Investment Options

As I touched on earlier, Motif Investing essentially allows you to create your own index fund. With that in mind your options are fairly endless, at least in the case that you create the motif yourself.

If you’re going for the pre-made route, Motif Investing has many options to consider. If you’re uncertain of a certain industry or niche you’d want to consider they also allow you to search by specific companies to see what motifs they’re in.

Motif Investing recently introduced something they call their Horizon funds. The Motif Horizon funds are motifs that are made up of low fee index funds. Motif Investing could easily charge a fee on top of this, but they don’t. This is something that sets Motif Investing apart from someone like Betterment who would charge an additional administrative fee on top of what the selected index funds charge.


Motif Investing

Motif Investing Review – My Take

I believe for the right individual Motif Investing is a great option to consider. Motif is a viable option for two different individuals. The first is someone who is just starting to invest and has little money to begin with. At $250 as the barrier to entry, that is something many should be able to meet. The second individual is someone who may already doing quite well with his or her investing but is looking for a secondary option to invest a small (5-10%) of their portfolio in to see what they can do with it.

The one thing you do want to be careful about with Motif Investing is the changing out of individual stocks. Since Motif charges $4.95 per event it can be easy to rack up the cost. The other potential issue is with the rebalancing. I love that they offer active rebalancing. However, if you do that in a non-IRA account that will result in a taxable event. Of course, that is something you’d want to speak with a tax advisor on, but is something you would want to be careful of.

I believe Motif Investing is a solid option to consider especially if you’re new to investing and are looking for a way to grow your money and build a solid base or focus on a specialized niche.


What do you think of this kind of investing? Is there a specific niche or industry you’d like to invest in but have had challenges finding a way to do so?


Related: Frugal Rules’ Motif Review





How to Start Investing With $1,000 or Less


Start InvestingI regularly get asked “How can I start investing with $1,000 or less?” Many believe that because they don’t have a lot of money they simply have to wait to start investing.

Having more money to invest in the stock market is obviously better though that doesn’t mean you have to wait. It just means that you have to find the options that work best for your specific situation.

I believe that the most important step to grow your wealth is just starting – regardless of the amount you have to begin with. If you’re looking to start investing with $1,000 or less I’ve put together some of the best ways to do so – even as low as $250.

Pick the Right Discount Brokerage

As I shared in my initial post on investing in the stock market, choosing an online brokerage is a key part to investing. The problem is not all brokerages have the same minimum balance requirements, not to mention the fact that the number of options can be overwhelming.

If you want to start investing with $1,000 or less you will be somewhat limited, but not as much as you think. In fact, you can even invest at several of the three more well-known online brokerages. Below are their minimum requirements:

  • Vanguard – you’re subject to their fund minimums, of which some are $1,000
  • Schwab – you can open most accounts for $1,000
  • Fidelity – you need to have $2,500 to open an account with Fidelity

Outside of those major brokerages, there are still many others that will allow you to open an account with under $1,000. Many of the more well-known ones, such as Scottrade allow you to open various account types with less than $1,000. You can also check out our TradeKing review for a brokerage that has no minimum balance require to start.

If you’d rather have someone manage the investing for you that is even possible. You can look at Betterment vs Wealthfront as both robo-advisors manage investments and you can open accounts for $500 or less.

Point being, you do have viable options when you start investing with $1,000 or less. I will give the disclaimer though that you want to be very mindful of fees when you have little money to start investing. Fees can be a drain on an investment portfolio, and this is even more so when investing with little money.

Start Investing by Buying Fractional Shares

When you first start investing you may be overwhelmed when you look at certain stocks which trade at hundreds of dollars per share. You may think it’s impossible for you to invest in the stock market, but that’s a myth. What many don’t know is there are ways to buy fractional shares of stocks.

While this will not make you a millionaire overnight, the point is that it allows you access to start investing in the stock market so you can grow your money. The two main options to choose from if this is the direction you want to take is Sharebuilder and Motif Investing.

Sharebuilder is the older of the two options and with them there is no account minimum to start investing. After opening an account with Sharebuilder, you set up what’s called an Automatic Investment Plan. This plan allows you to set up an interval for your investing – weekly, monthly, etc. You establish how much you want to spend with each interval and what stocks, ETFs or mutual funds and it invests the money in those, even buying fractional shares if need be.

With Motif Investing, you set up what’s called a motif for as little as $250. This can be a grouping of up to 30 stocks or funds you like and they also have pre-made ones. This essentially allows you to create your own ETF and invests in fractional shares. For a further breakdown of how Motif works, here’s our Motif Investing review.

What I like about both of these options is they allow you to start investing in the stock market with less than $1,000 and make it simple to manage. The beauty is that you can start with something like this and use it as a base to get more serious with your investing as time and finances allow. Of the two, Motif Investing is my personal favorite as they allow you to create your own fund (and thus everything in one place) as opposed to buying a bunch of individual stocks as you would through Sharebuilder.

Buy Direct from the Company

The final main way to start investing with $1,000 or less is to buy shares directly from the given company. I will say that there are a few drawbacks to this, mainly that not every company sells its shares directly and that it can lead to having shares that are too spread out. While this is a viable option, I prefer not to buy direct as it can overcomplicate things – I’d much rather have everything in one location.

In most cases, you won’t buy directly from the company but through a Transfer Agent – usually through ComputerShare. Most companies have a minimum of either $100 or $500 and some will allow you to buy shares for free, though some will charge a nominal fee.

I personally wouldn’t choose to go with this route, as I’d rather not have different investments all over the place. However, if you’re a long-term investor and plan little change in approach this can be a viable option to consider.


What challenges did you face as you started investing in the stock market? How would you start investing if you were starting with $1,000 or less?


Photo courtesy of: 401(k)2012

Ally Invest Review – Trade for Only $4.95!


Ally Invest  (formerly known as TradeKing) is a good low-cost discount broker that has been in business over a decade. This Ally Invest review will help you determine if they’re worth looking at to manage your investments. There are many things to consider when you invest in the stock market – especially when it comes to the fees you pay.

If price is high on your list Ally Invest, is worth a serious consideration. This Ally Invest review will go below the surface of the low-cost to see what they have to offer you as an investor. I dealt with Ally Invest extensively during my days in the online brokerage industry and was always impressed with their service as well as their platform.

If you’ve not heard of Ally Invest, they have risen in popularity after their acquisition of Zecco in 2012 that brought on a fuller range of investment offerings. Ally Invest is also widely known as having the cheapest commission schedule in the industry at a flat $4.95 per stock trade and $.65 per option contract – both of which are very tough to beat. With that all out of the way let’s get on with the review of Ally Invest.

How Ally Invest Is Different

Ally Invest has been in business for a little over ten years and during that time they’ve managed to make a good name for themselves. Of course, Ally Invest has some things you’d find at any other brokerage though following are some of their unique traits:

  • Ally Invest has killer pricing. At a flat $4.95 per trade and an additional $.65 per option contract they are the market leader in price. Again, this makes them the cheapest brokerage in the space, along with Motif Investing. If you trade more than 30 times per quarter, or have a balance over $100,000, that rate goes to $3.95 per trade and $.50 per option trade.
  • Ally Invest offers forex trading. This feature is available as a result of their merger with Zecco. A number of brokerages offer forex, though certainly not all. There is no commission associated with forex trading at Ally Invest as they’re compensated on the bid/ask spread. If you want to get your feet wet with forex trading, TradeKing offers a free $50,000 virtual forex trading account to get you started.
  • Ally Invest Advisors Program. This is a new feature Ally Invest launched in late 2014 as a way to better help individuals manage their investing needs. The program essentially acts as a robo-advisor that uses portfolios modeled by Ibottson (which is a subsidiary of Morningstar) consisting of low-cost index funds. You can open a TradeKing Advisors account for as little as $500, and this service is free of fees in its first year! This makes Ally Invest able to offer a wider range of investment options, including those who want a managed account.
  • Like Motif Investing, Ally Invest is active on their site with both social media and various forums. I love to see this as it provides a way to get real time support when you need it.
  • Ally Invest offers more than 12,000 mutual funds. If you like to invest in mutual funds, you’ll notice that this puts Ally Invest in the highest tier of what brokerages offer. As a result, you shouldn’t have much of an issue locating the mutual funds you like at TradeKing.

What’s Needed To Open An Ally Invest Account?

This is likely my favorite feature of Ally Invest. TradeKing does not have a minimum account opening balance requirement. Few brokerages offer that, which is a shame in my opinion. If you want to start investing with $1,000 or less, this makes Ally Invest a brokerage you’d want to look at right away.

Fees I’m no fan of investment fees as they eat away at your portfolio. Ally Invest does not have any hidden fees, though they do have an inactivity fee. At first glance, I don’t like it but you need to dig a little deeper to see if it would impact you. If not, you can ignore it as you’ll never be charged the fee. Ally Invest’s inactivity fee is $50 per calendar year if your combined account values are under $2,500 and/or you don’t have a commissionable stock trade in the past 12 months. However, if you meet one of those qualifications it’s not something that applies to you and have nothing to worry about.

Investment Options I would rate the investment options available at Ally Invest as relatively competitive, especially as you compare them against other lower cost brokerages. Ally Invest offers the following investment options beyond the standard stocks, EFTs/mutual funds and options:

  • Forex trading
  • Bonds
  • AutoTrade – which is a feature that allows you to automate trading based on the recommendation of specified investment newsletters

What helps Ally Invest stand out from the pack is the introduction of the Advisors program. This allows Ally Invest to be more than just a low-cost brokerage but a firm that can manage accounts for you. Add that to an intuitive platform and a healthy self-directed offering, and it  puts TradeKing on the higher end for investment offerings.

Ally Invest Review – My Take

I think for many, Ally Invest, is a great brokerage to consider. The pricing at TradeKing is difficult to beat and they have a growing offering of investment options. Ally Invest is also consistently recognized as having the best customer service available among online brokers which, having worked in the industry myself, is saying a lot. I know the inactivity fee can be hard to swallow.

However, if you wouldn’t be impacted by it then it is of no concern as you would not be charged it. If it were something you’d be hit by then I might look elsewhere, but if not don’t let it hold you back from considering them. If you are considering opening an account with Ally Invest, make sure to be on the look out for a promotion.

Their best current promotion allows for $1,000 in free commissions when you deposit $5,000. In order to qualify, make sure to deposit funds within the first 30 days of account opening and use the promo code “FREE1000.”

You can also potentially qualify for up to $150 in transfer fees to be reimbursed in addition to the free commissions. If you’re going to bring them your business, it makes sense to earn a little something back for it. 🙂

5 Work-From-Home Business Ideas for Moms


student-849820_1920Being a mom is not an easy task all the time even though it is very rewarding. As a working mom, I have to balance my time properly so I can actively spend time with my son and support him all while earning an income as well.

Since school is starting up again in most areas, moms may find a little more time in their schedules. Why not earn some extra money with a home-based business?

Whether you are a work-from-home mom or work outside of the home these work-from-home business ideas will allow you to earn some extra income without even walking out the door.

1. After School Care

Child care is a booming industry if you are on the receiving end and not the parent who has to pay for care outside of school (because it can be quite expensive). If you are a stay-at-home mom or have a flexible work schedule, you could offer parents in the neighborhood a more affordable child care alternative by starting an after school care business.

Providing after school care is better than babysitting because you won’t have to do it on the weekends or late into the evening if you don’t want to. You can set your own rates and pick up other children after school to stay at your home for a a few hours until their parents get off work. You can provide a snack and services like homework assistance to add even more value.

2. Pet Sitting

Pet sitting is more laid back than watching other people’s children. If you like pets, you can offer to watch over animals in your community while their owners travel, work, etc. The easiest way to find business is to ask around and put an ad out in your local paper or community newsletter. You can also create business cards and ask local pet shops if you can leave them there.

3. Blogging

If you want to try something that is flexible and quite fun, you might want to give blogging a try. Blogging can be a great hobby, but it can also be profitable once you start treating your blog like a business.

In order to establish a blogging business, you’ll need to set up a self-hosted blog and specify your niche and the topics you’d like to cover. There are so many blogs out there these days, but the most profitable ones are the ones with excellent content that also help people solve a problem or overcome an obstacle. You don’t have to be technically skilled as it’s fairly simple to set up a blog. It’s also not that expensive – you can start a blog for as little as $3.95 per month with Bluehost and they set everything up for you.

You can monetize your blog by putting ads on your site, partnering with sponsors, selling your own products and services and affiliate marketing.

It takes a while to start earning money from blogging, but it’s worth it once the dollars start rolling in. Having a blogging business opens the door to diversify your income and even develop a source of passive income that requires you to work less hours.

4. Work-at-Home Bookkeeper

If you are good with numbers and accounting, you can try your hand at establishing your own home-based bookkeeping business. Smaller companies don’t want to go through the trouble of hiring a professional bookkeeper as a regular staff member and requiring them to come into the office each day since most of the work can be done remotely.

There are many CPAs and successful business owners who have created home-based bookkeeping businesses that you can learn from as you’ll probably need a mentor if you’re starting from scratch. The great thing about this business is that you don’t need to juggle a ton of clients to earn a decent income.

5. Social Media Manager

Are you always on your social media platforms? Learn more about social media marketing and different algorithms so you can turn your knowledge and experience into a lucrative business.

I always thought being a social media manager sounded like a blast. Once you learn about effective strategies to help grow a brand’s presence online, there are so many helpful tools, resources and software (mostly free to use) that will allow you to schedule out updates, track engagement, and promote special campaigns.

If you have been longing to work from home and earn an income with a flexible schedule so you can still have time for your kids, any of these work-from-home businesses would be great options to look into further.

Which one of these home-based businesses would you be willing to try?

5 Skills You Need to Earn Money Online


workstation-405768_1920Earning extra money is almost always a good thing. When you can earn money regardless of your location, it’s even better. Location independence is one of the main perks of being able to earn money online.

It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to since I plan to start working from home as a full-time freelancer this fall. Many people reach out to me asking how they can earn money online or if I have work-from-home leads for them.

Sometimes I’m at a loss for words because the truth is, there are so many different ways to earn a legitimate income online. Sure there are scams, but there are twice as many real online jobs and freelance opportunities to take advantage of.

Part of someone’s success with securing online work comes from knowing where to look while the other part depends on what kind of skills they have. Not everyone can be successful with online work. You need to have at least some of the following skills.

1. Writing

One of my favorite ways to earn money online is with freelance writing. Businesses, entrepreneurs and website owners all need writers to produce content for their website and blog. Being a skilled writer can go a long way if you wish to earn money online.

All you need to do is pitch a few potential clients or respond to ads on job boards. Once you land a few recurring writing gigs you have the potential to grow your income by raising your rates or obtaining more clients. Many people earn both a part-time and full-time income from freelance writing so it’s a very flexible gig and you have the power to determine how much you earn.

Even if you aren’t interested in writing articles and blog posts, you still need to have some basic writing skills if you want to find online work. Many online gigs and job opportunities require you to fill out reports, send emails regularly, update social media accounts and so on and you need to know how to spell and use correct grammar in order to do the work. If you’re a good writer but simply want help launching an online writing business, check out my friend Cat’s course on writing for blogs and earn a living doing so.

2. Typing

This is a given. If you’re going to work online, you must know how to type and have some basic computer skills. If you don’t know how to type well it will really slow down your productivity and level of efficiency.

There are quite a few online gigs and jobs like transcribing audio and video, data entry and virtual assistant work that require you to type well in order to earn money online.

If you aren’t savvy with the computer or typing, you can download training programs like Mavis Beacon or visit your local library to see if they provide basic computer training classes and assistance. It will become second nature once you get the hang of it.

3. Word Processing

Speaking of having basic typing and computer skills, it’s important that you know how to use word processing programs so you can earn money teaching other people how to master them as well or offering your services by editing and organizing professional documents.

Almost all companies send out letters, emails, reports and marketing campaigns. Smaller businesses and even individuals who can’t have someone prepare these documents in-house may look to outsource the task to a freelancer.

While a lot of people still use popular word processing software like Microsoft Word, there are many other programs and platforms available to take advantage of these days along with email marketing platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact. If you learn how to draft, design and edit newsletters using a popular email platform, that can be a valuable skill you can use to market yourself for online work.

4. Helping Someone Set Up a Website

There are millions of websites out there and thousands are still being developed each day. As someone who’s worked in the web design industry for the past two years, I know how high the demand is for businesses and individuals to establish a professional online presence.

If you have skills that involve graphic design, programming or even a general understanding of how to setup a basic website and hosting package, you can probably make a killing helping people set up websites from the comfort of your own home. It’s best to have a portfolio site to help attract clients for this type of work. Here’s our guide to setting up a site in a few short steps and you can get hosting for as little as $3.95 through my Bluehost link.

If you can write, you may even be able to offer marketing copy as an additional service for the websites you help create.

5. Communication

Communication skills are important for any job, but crucial if you are working online. Working from your computer at home requires you to rely on your communication skills more since you won’t always see the people you are working with face-to-face.

It’s important to have proper email etiquette, respond promptly and communicate important information to others.

Clients and employers who hire you to do online work will be looking for someone who is dependable and communicates well. Therefore, you must be a self-starter, able to work independently, and willing to communicate clearly despite working location independently sometimes.

Once you possess any or all of these marketable skills, the opportunities for establishing online work will be seemingly endless.


Have you ever tried to earn money online either as a side hustle or full-time job? What type of skills do you have that have been beneficial?

Need a Second Job? These Employers Offer Flexible Hours


agent-18762_1920Given the growing popularity of online side hustles as a means to earn an extra income, working a traditional second job is still a very reliable way to earn more money. Many Americans work extra jobs to help makes ends meet, stop living paycheck to paycheck or reach a financial goal.

One of the downsides of working two traditional jobs is managing your daily schedule and trying to avoid getting burnt out. As a parent, I prefer not to be away from my home for hours upon end each day and I crave flexible work hours to a certain degree.

If you’re looking for a lucrative second job that offers stable pay, one of your best options is to find a position that you can work around your day job and other responsibilities. Below are three employers that offer flexible work hours.

1. Advantage Solutions

If you’ve ever seen those people at the grocery store who give out samples of food and drinks and thought: hey that seems pretty easy, maybe I could do it too as a side job, you might have been on to something.

There are several companies that hire brand ambassadors to do in-store product demonstrations part-time or even full-time. As opposed to being hired by an actual store to do demonstrations, most people are hired by marketing companies who have contracts with several different stores in order to reach a diverse range of customers.

Advantage Solutions is a national company that hires part-time Event Specialists to do in-store demonstrations for food, drinks and other products in stores like Target, Sam’s Club and Walgreens just to name a few.

What I like about this opportunity is that the hours are pretty flexible. Most shifts are about 6.5 hours and include a 30-minute unpaid lunch break and two 15-minute paid breaks. Most Event Specialists receive work based on their availability and can either start work earlier in the morning or closer to noon.

Weekend hours are also available making it an ideal gig for people who work the typical 9-5. Pay for this job is higher than minimum wage, and I believe it was recently at least $11 per hour in the Midwest.

2. First Student

School will be back in session very soon. Have you ever thought about driving a bus during your spare time? First Student is the leading school transportation solutions provider in North America. The company has 57,000 employees, 47,000 school buses, and transports more passengers per day than all U.S. airlines combined. Needless to say, there are always plenty of jobs available.

Working part-time as a school bus driver is flexible because you don’t need to work all day long. If you start work later at your main job or have an off day, you can pick up a shift for a few hours and be on your way. First Student provides training to all employees and bus drivers. According to Glassdoor, bus drivers make a starting hourly wage of $14.82.

3. Alorica at Home

Work-from-home customer service jobs are another option if you are looking for additional work that is flexible. To qualify, you mainly need a landline phone, internet connection and a quiet area to work since you’ll most likely be answering phone calls and talking to customers.

Alorica at Home is a top customer service company that allows you to answer customer questions and resolve customer issues from the comfort of your own home on your schedule. The company let’s customer service agents set their own schedules. Employees receive paid training and must agree to a background check that they will not be reimbursed for.

Alorica pays employees on a bi-weekly basis and offers schedules based on a per minute, per call or guaranteed hourly rate. The company does not allow active employees to earn less than minimum wage. In other words, if you want to earn decent steady income with this job, you should create some availability in your schedule to work at least 10-15+ hours per week.

These jobs may not be the highest-paying opportunities, but they offer a flexible way to earn a stable income that is guaranteed each month.


If you know anyone who is looking for an extra job and doesn’t know where to start their search, be sure to recommend these opportunities to them!

How to Start Investing in the Stock Market


Investing in the Stock MarketWant to start investing in the stock market, but don’t know where or how to start? You’re not alone. Investing in the stock market is a broad topic that many don’t understand for a variety of reasons. Many find investing in the stock market difficult and simply don’t begin to invest.

You’ll find a number of articles on Sprout Wealth about investing and how it helps you grow wealth for the future. While investing in the stock market seems hard or impossible it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be very simple if done in a certain way, but you do have to start. If you’d like to know how to start investing in the stock market, this post is for you.

Investing in the Stock Market is Vital to Building Wealth

Before we get to how to start investing in the stock market, I do want to touch on the fact that investing in the market is vital to building wealth. It is part of the site’s name after all and I would be remiss not to mention that fact. 😉

Other than real estate, I’m hard pressed to think of other areas you can go into that’ll allow you to grow true wealth over time. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, just that it’s more difficult to find those opportunities which will allow you to build wealth over the long term.

With that in mind, before you do get started investing a key is to determine your investing goals. Are you wanting to:

  • Save for retirement
  • Save for college expenses
  • Save for some other long term need

Determining those goals is going to help you immensely as you invest in the stock market over the long haul.

Educate Yourself

Many think they can’t invest in the market because they lack the education or experience. The simple fact is that shouldn’t be something that holds you back. Yes, investing in the stock market can be difficult but a little education can go a long way at easing that. Trust me, if I can do it then anyone can.

You may be thinking that getting education is great and all, but where can I get unbiased information? There are two great, and usually free sources for that: your 401(k) provider (assuming you have one) and most online brokerages. There are many investing books out there that provide great information for beginners, though I tend to recommend A Random Walk Down Wall Street or The Essays of Warren Buffett as they’re clear, actionable and easy to understand.

Find a Place to Invest

If you’re going to invest in stocks, then you obviously need a place to do that in. 🙂  The two best sources for beginning investors to invest is either through their 401(k) offered by their employer or an online broker.

With regards to your 401(k) plan, if you don’t know where to start then pick the lowest fee funds so you have more of your money working for you. Hopefully you also get a 401(k) match, which is nice because it’s free money…is there any better? 🙂

Outside of your 401(k), you can also select an online brokerage to invest with and tend to prefer Scottrade, or Motif Investing. Scottrade is a great option due to their sheer number of tools, though for those just starting to invest I lean towards the latter as you can start investing with as little as $250 with Motif Investing.

Beyond those two, there are a plenty of other brokerage options to choose from so make sure you find one that meets your needs…meaning one that doesn’t charge too much and has all the tools you want. If you’d like to have someone manage your investing for you, a robo-advisor like Betterment takes care of all the facets of investing at a low-cost.

Determine What You’re Going to Invest in

Now that you’ve become somewhat comfortable with investing and have found a place to do your investing, you need to determine what you’ll invest in. Assuming you’re new to investing, then my suggestion is to keep it as simple as possible.

The easiest way, generally speaking, to do this is to invest in low-cost index funds. I’ll be doing a post on index funds in the future, but this essentially allows you to invest with the market as opposed to trying to beat it. Index funds, speaking plainly, are a basket of stocks that track a certain index or industry and can give you broad exposure to the stock market as a whole.

If that is too simple for you and you want to invest in individual stocks then my suggestion is to look at your daily habits. What do you use around the house? What is an item you use on a regular basis? They’re likely made by companies who’re in the stock market and usually pay somewhat nice dividends.

The last thing you want to do, especially if you’re a newer investor is to waste money on fools errands like trying to actively trade, time the market or investing in penny stocks. That’ll likely only cause you to lose money in a variety of ways and defeat the purpose of your longer term investing goals.


How did you get started investing in the stock market, or are you not doing so yet? Assuming you are, how are you using it to grow your wealth?


Photo courtesy of: ©Depositphotos.com/hackman

How to Earn Money with Your Social Media Profile

office-605503_1920There are so many ways to earn extra money these days. While some may be more complex than others, there are plenty of opportunities to go around for everyone. When it comes to social media, if you have a lot of followers and a strong influence, you can certainly try your hand at some of the options below.

Sponsored Posts

If you have a large social media following, brands may want to sponsor some of your content. This means you can get paid to tweet a message, share an Instagram update and so on. Many celebrities do this actually as it’s similar to endorsements. The first two people that come to mind when I think about sponsored social media content are Kendall and Kylie Jenner who are very influential on social media and receive around $300k+ per Instagram post.

While everyday people like you and me shouldn’t expect to earn anywhere near that amount, companies targeting smaller audiences will gladly pay you to post on social media about a product or service they offer.

Of course, you’ll have to follow certain guidelines including disclosing that what you are posting is sponsored and by whom. If you are a blogger, thought leader, or influential business owner, you can sign up with IZEA.com to apply for sponsored post opportunities on social media. This site allow you to set up a profile and bid on opportunities that are relevant to you and your audience. They submit payment via PayPal.

If you’re confident in your social following and would like to work with a specific brand, don’t hesitate reaching out to them on your own and inquire if they would like to work with you.

Monetize a YouTube Channel

There are so many unique YouTube personalities out there these days, but there is always room for more. Video content is very popular and valuable. If you have something interesting to say about a particular topic or if you’d like to show or teach someone something via video, sign up for a YouTube account and post consistent videos online.

If you grow your audience and subscribers over time, you can start to cash in the views on your videos by applying to be a YouTube partner and allowing ads to play before or in the middle of your video. These ads will generate income based on how many people see them. You may not make a killing from using YouTube Partner ads, but if you enjoy making video content and growing your platform, it can be a great way to make some extra money each month.

Sell Products on Instagram

Instagram is a fun platform to share imagery to update others about what’s going on in your life, share inspiration or even promote products. Most users who sell products on Instagram are in the fashion/beauty industry but that is slowly changing over time.

Yet and still, if you have, make, or design clothing or jewelry, sell custom t-shirts and coffee mugs or even reupholster furniture, having an Instagram profile is a must in order to show off your work and connect with potential customers.

You can connect your Instagram account to an e-commerce service called InSelly. This WikiHow article walks you through the process of launching a successful Instagram store step-by-step.

Post Affiliate Links to Social Media

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to earn money from blogging, but you can also use social media to boost your affiliate income. Affiliate marketing basically allows you to gain a commission by referring someone to use a product or service. Once you sign up for a referral or affiliate program, you’ll be given a unique link to identify which leads are sent to the company from you. If you share that link on social media in a tweet, status update, etc., and someone clicks on it and makes a purchase, you’ll earn money as a result.

If you are using a product or service that you really like, see if they have a referral or affiliate program. Odds are they do and you can earn some extra money by connecting others with a quality product or service. Some affiliate programs take a while to payout so be sure to read the details and terms thoroughly. Also, be sure to disclose to your followers that you use affiliate links as this may be required.


This list has just scratched the surface of the numerous things you can do to generate extra money from your social media profiles. While most of these opportunities will not make you rich overnight, it’s important to understand that this can be a worthy additional stream of income as long as you are willing to put the work in to build your social media following upfront.

Keep posting content consistently, engaging and connecting with others, and increasing your list of followers all the time.

Have you ever tried to earn extra money from your social media profile? Which one of these options are you most interested in?

Top Freelance Writing Myths Debunked

office-1069207_1920If you want to earn a sustainable income online, freelance writing is one of the most popular ways to do it. Writing online from the comfort of your own home is a great side hustle option and can even transform into a profitable small business over time.

Getting started with freelance writing is easier than you think if you like to write and don’t mind networking and sending pitches to get jobs. However, there are a few common misconceptions and myths about freelance writing that may deter you from getting started or give you the wrong idea in terms of how to be successful.

Here are the top five myths about freelancing along with why they are untrue.

Myth #1: It’s Impossible to Make a Steady Income from Freelance Writing

This is a common myth spread by people who don’t understand how freelancing writing can be a lucrative side hustle and even a reliable career. Yes it’s true, your income will fluctuate as a freelancer. You may have tons of work one month and then your leads dry up the following month.

However, one of the best ways to make a steady and predictable income from freelancing is to secure recurring work. Ask clients to take you on as a regular staff writer for their site so you can produce articles consistently on a monthly, weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on the client’s needs.

You can also make secure your income by signing a contract with a client that states how much work you’ll receive each month so you can have clearer expectations of what your income will be like.

Myth #2: You Need a Degree to Start Earning High Paying Gigs

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a degree to become a successful freelance writer and often times, a degree or resume is not even required for most jobs including higher paying gigs.

To clients, the most important thing is your experience and knowledge about particular subjects. They tend to focus on how good your writing is, if you have good grammar, and if you present yourself as a professional and adhere to deadlines.

If you have specific life or work experiences that can add to your level of expertise on a particular subject, that can also help you land a higher paying job. Some clients also like to see that you have a sizable social media following so you can promote your work, and they may even offer bonuses based on how many social shares your articles receive.

Myth #3: A Freelance Writer’s Income is Capped

Unlike working a traditional 9-5 job, your income is not limited as a freelance writer. Since you can set your own rates, you can earn as much as you wish. That doesn’t mean that everyone will accept your rates, but you can search more efficiently to find someone who will.

If your expenses increase and you want to earn more, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to secure a raise. You can start immediately by either asking your current clients for a raise, or pitching new clients and ask for a higher starting rate to increase your income.

Myth #4: Work is Hard to Find

One of the hardest parts of getting started with freelance writing is finding clients to pay you for your content. I don’t like to see it, but some people even quit freelancing early on because they can’t secure clients as easily as they thought they could.

Finding your first few clients is not extremely hard, but it’s not particularly easy either. Competition pay seem stiff but there is actually plenty of work to go around since there are millions of websites and blogs out there.

On the bright side, there are plenty of ways to secure a client shortly after you decide to start freelance writing. You can start by starting a blog to serve as your writing portfolio and comment on other blogs to establish new relationships. If you don’t want to start a blog, you can at least set up an online portfolio or a Contently page so potential clients can view samples of your work. You can start a blog for as little as $3.49 per month when you sign up through my Bluehost link and they will do all the work to get your site launched in a few simple clicks.

You can also start by guest posting on popular blogs and sharing in your bio that you are looking for freelance writing work. Put up a ‘hire me’ page on your blog so visitors can learn more about the services you offer. You can send cold pitches to bloggers who seem like they could use your help or companies that have a blog. Make sure you are emailing the right person like the actual blog owner, an editor, or a content manager and don’t forget to include writing samples in your pitch.

You can also search for work on the ProBlogger job board and join freelance writing groups or get a coach to help you learn how to land gigs. There are even courses available to help you start freelance writing. My friend Cat has a great course that helps you launch your own freelance writing business. When it comes to securing work, you can’t be afraid to network and pitch people about your services. Sometimes you’ll get rejected, but other times you’ll receive a positive response.

Myth #5: Freelance Writing is a Great Side Hustle Option for Anyone

Freelance writing is a good side hustle option but it’s not suitable for everyone. For starters, if you don’t like to write and send pitches for work, or it takes you a long time to come up topic ideas consistently, you may not enjoy freelance writing.

Along with the actual work, you have to send invoices to clients in order to receive payment and may be asked to attend regular virtual meetings which could cause you to spend quite a bit of time at your computer. There are plenty of other active side hustles you can try out if you don’t want to be stuck at the computer often throughout they week.

Does the Honest Truth About These Myths Make Freelance Writing Seem More Appealing to You?

If the pros outweigh the cons and you can earn a consistent income from freelance writing, I’d say it’s worth a try. My freelance writing income has been consistently increasing after I started over a year ago. Plus, I love the work! I was able to pay off a lot of debt this past year and build my savings all thanks to the extra income I earned from freelancing.


Did any of these myths surprise you? Would you ever try freelance writing?