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Want to Make More Money? Stop Making Excuses!

Make More MoneyOur good friend Shannon, over at Financially Blonde, wrote a post a month or so ago about choices. Shannon was dealing specifically with the correlation between choices related to physical health and fiscal health. That got me thinking about excuses and how it relates to us in the making more money department.

We all make excuses, some more than others. I know that I have been guilty of them in the past. I’ve said if I only had more time, or I would really like to try XYZ but have no idea how to do it or where to start. Those, my friends, are good old fashioned excuses. One of the big problems with excuses is that they hold you back, especially if you believe them to be true. With that in mind, I believe a life that is full of making excuses, on many levels, is one that is going to struggle at growing wealth.

Making More Money Requires Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

I believe one of the main culprits behind making excuses is that we’re comfortable. At least that’s what I’ve found to be true of me. When you’re comfortable you’re less likely to step out and take risks and thus less likely to find opportunity. The catch is, that opportunity is where you’re more likely to find those situations where you can make more money.

I don’t want to speak for Grayson, but I know that when I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone I’ve had considerably more success. It by no means guarantees it, but it definitely increases your chances at finding success. Choosing to step out of your comfort zone can be easier said than done at times, but you’d be surprised at how much taking that first step will help you. If you think otherwise, check out these common excuses we’ve all either used or heard before:

  • I don’t have the time
  • I’d love to do that, but I have no idea how
  • I’m afraid I’ll fail
  • I’m afraid of the competition
  • Now’s not the right time

Other than the last common excuse which could hold water at times, these are all basically veiled attempts at saying you’re too afraid to step out of your comfort zone or to try something new. I know it hurts to hear that, but it’s true. The point is that if making more money is important to you then you’ll find a way to work at it. Whether that being scheduling better and wasting less time or researching your competition so you can see what worked for them and maybe what didn’t.

The Time to Start is Now

As my wife will tell you, I hate wasting time. Very few things get me more worked up than wasting time. By making excuses, you’re not only holding yourself back from making more money but you’re also wasting precious time. Last I checked it usually takes time to make money so the time to start is now.

I know full well that can be a scary proposition, but trust me, starting now is only going to help you in the long run. That can be true of starting to invest in the stock market to learning more about affiliate income for your blog to monetizing a skill for your side hustle.

We all know that it can be a bit on the tenuous side when we step out and try something new or work at different ways to make money. Speaking from personal experience, the sooner you stop making excuses the better you’ll feel and the more success you’ll generally see.

 

What is one of your “go-to” excuses when it comes to trying something new? Have you ever had times where you wonder why you even made a certain excuse?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Vandys

 

*This post was featured on Single Moms Income and Monica on Money.

Never Stop When the Going Gets Tough

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Build Wealth with DeterminationDid you know creating wealth and maintaining it takes a lot of work?  If you read a lot of articles around the web, then you might notice the droves of people who think those who are rich were just lucky.  Sorry to tell you folks, but that just isn’t true. While luck might play a very small role in how the rich got rich, it was more of their hard work.  Some of them might not have had to work as hard as others, but work they still did.  They had the determination to keep pushing hard when times got rough.

One of the world’s most popular companies, Apple, had a lot of bad years.  It took them a long time to get started and there were many ups and downs.  The difference between entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs is the desire to succeed.  I have come across many who give up when something doesn’t go their way and all I can say is that is not how you succeed.  If you want to grow wealth, you need to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough.  Never stop!

Hard Work Does Pay Off

The most common trait of successful people and the rich is determination.  They are determined to do what they want, no matter how hard it may be.  You can pick almost anyone who you consider well off and ask them how they got there.  Most likely, their answer will be a lot of hard work and determination.  While there are some who were born with the silver spoon in their mouth, that spoon was provided by the hard work of their parents.  No matter where you look, hard work is what drives us to success.

I have met quite a few people in my life who never worked hard.  They always would do the bare minimum to get by and that was it.  I never understood it.  They didn’t have passions, they didn’t have any drive, and when things got a little hairy, they would jump ship faster than Captain Jack Sparrow.  When I try to see what these people are doing later in their lives, I see where this mindset has gotten them. Some are drug addicts, some still live at home with their parents, and others just still work the bare minimum to get by.

It makes me a little sad to tell you the truth.  If you stood myself side-by-side with these people, you would see similarities with how we grew up.  Parents were proactive and helpful.  We had similar educations and friend groups. Where I jump away from them is in my determination and hard work.  I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I work hard.  I have worked hard ever since I was allowed to work.  I work hard because I see what comes of it.

Knowledge Matters

The more you know about finance, the better you will do in the market. While there are some people who get lucky occasionally, maintaining your wealth is just as difficult as earning it in the first place and if you do not know what you are doing, failure is imminent. One degree that can help you a great deal is the Master of Security Analysis and Portfolio Management, as it shows you how to manage your investments and maximize your returns.

Once you have this degree, you can even manage portfolios for other people, although many people that I know simply apply the knowledge to their own money.

There Will Be Ups and Downs

Building wealth is all about ups and downs.  It is just how it is.  If you can’t accept it, then you won’t be able to build it.  Steve jobs, the founder of Apple, once said:

I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.

Now, this quote is relative to his net worth, but what happens to you when you are investing in the stock market?  If you invest, and I hope you do, then you are going to face the ebbs and flows of the stock market.   That is how it works.  Most prudent investors will just ride the waves and keep on going. Others will get so scared at the thought of losing money now, they will pull everything out. Don’t do this.  Why?

Related: Start investing with Scottrade

When the stock market crashed back in 2008, people lost their shirts.  Some lost more shirt than others, but overall the market was down.  What many did was pull their money out and keep it safe. They didn’t want to lose any more money.  Others, including myself, not only kept their money in, but also bought more stock.  The reason I did this was because I wan’t worried about the fall.  I didn’t need that money anytime soon, so I knew the market would rebound.  On top of that, I wanted to take advantage of the low stock prices to build my portfolio. I am glad I did.  My returns have been tremendous over the years and they continue to be rock solid.  I wasn’t afraid of the down as I knew their would be an up on the other side.  You have probably heard the “what goes up, must come down” saying, but it works in the opposite as well.

The whole point of this post is to show you that you need to work hard to build your wealth. It is not done overnight. There are no ways to get rich quick. Sorry, they only people who get rich quick are the ones selling the idea to others.  Slow and steady wins the race, but you  have to be prepared for the ups and downs and you have to work hard.  There is no other way to make good money and build your overall wealth.

What do you think?  Have you found any ways you can build your wealth without hard work and determination?

Image via Dana Lookadoo – Yo! Yo! SEO

Why I Love Using Credit Cards

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Credit CardsI know, I know. Half of you want to pelt something at me after reading the headline. The majority of the rest of you question my sanity, especially after climbing out of credit card debt years ago. A few of you know where I’m going with this and are already smiling.

If you did not get a chance to read Grayson’s post from a few weeks back on Why Credit Cards are not Evil, then go ahead and check it out. I forgive you. 😉 That post spawned a few interesting comments, as I expected it would, as well as an email exchange between Grayson and a reader.

My desire isn’t to rehash the issue, but really to cover it from a different angle. First off, let me disclose that I am speaking as someone who had $25,000 in credit card debt…and it was 15 years ago to boot. That said, I don’t know what it would equate to in current day dollars, but the fact is I love using credit cards. Before you decide to chuck a digital stone at me, hear me out.

Growing Your Wealth Means Using Applicable Tools

Seeing as we’re all about helping you grow your wealth on this site, part of that is about using tools. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know everything (though my wife may say I claim that I do) nor do I have all the resources needed to accomplish what I want. That is where tools come in.

Think of it like investing in the stock market. I’m a dork, so I’d love to spend hours a day pouring over company annual reports to decide which ones I should invest in. There is a problem with that though…I have a life and a business that I help run, so I don’t have that kind of time. Instead of wasting all that time, I use stock screeners to help me narrow down what might be a justifiable investment for me in a fraction of the time. I believe the same argument could be made by using index funds as well. I love those tools because they save me considerable time.

I think of credit cards sort of in the same light. They’re a tool that my family uses to help grow our wealth, which I’ll get into a little more below. With that being said, I love credit cards because they’re a part of an overall financial toolbox that help my family accomplish the things we want.

Credit Cards Offer Protection

A more practical reason why I love using credit cards is the protections they often offer. I know that sounds a bit odd since we tend to view credit card companies as villainous leaches who never give. However many, though not all, credit card issuers offer numerous hidden benefits.

Have you ever purchased something that is defective or had a dispute with a vendor and needed a refund? Many credit card companies will step in and work on your behalf. If you use cash or a debit card, you’d possibly be out that money until you get it resolved…if that happens. It is important to point out though, that these protections vary by bank, but many credit cards do offer quite a bit in terms of purchase protection.

This is close to protection, but have you ever tried to book a hotel, rent a car or anything else travel related using cash or a debit card? It can be a hassle, to say the least. If you use a debit card then they put a hold on your account which means I get to wait until the hold falls off. What I love about using credit cards in this situation though is you don’t deal with that at all whatsoever. You simply use the credit card and everyone goes on their merry way. No need to worry about if you have enough cash in your account or anything like that. That, of course, is assuming you pay your card off each month though. 🙂

Credit Cards Provide Me Free Money

I saved this one for last…on purpose. 🙂  Likely the main reason why I love using credit cards, like the US Air credit card, is the benefits I get out of them. Some make the argument that churning credit cards is only going to tempt you to spend foolishly. I get that and can see how it would be a temptation. If you deal with that then churning credit cards is NOT for you.

However, if that is not a temptation you deal with then there can be money you can earn for your everyday and planned spending. My wife and I bought couches a few months ago. Having that planned for months, we used a credit card to make said purchase. Through that purchase we got back enough points to fund most of a four day vacation for us this fall. This was all for our normal spending. Now, instead of ponying up roughly $1,000 for the lodging and gas we can use our credit card rewards points and save the money we would’ve spent for something else.

We’re also doing the same thing with FinCon this year. We churned cards to pay for our trip there instead of having to pony up the cash. Looking back at what we’ve earned since the beginning of the year we’ve scored thousands of dollars worth of free travel or cash back all for something we’d already be doing anyway. That said, I know there are some who earn much more than we do, but that is why I love using credit cards; rewards points work the same for everyone whether you set your goals high or low.

 

Do you churn credit cards? Why do you love or hate using credit cards? Have you ever had to dispute a purchase and had a credit card come through to protect you?

 

Photo courtesy of: Tax Rebate.org

Building Wealth Starts with Savings

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Wealth Starts with SavingsI am sure we all know the importance of saving our money.  It is talked about over and over again.  I showed an infographic last year about the savings drought in America. That infographic is a huge reason why I save my money.  Though we talk about saving our money over and over again, people still don’t do it.  So, instead of trying to push the savings talk down your throat, I am going to give you some options to start saving your money.  These are going to be how you can save money and where you can do it.  To make it easy, I will only talk about simple savings products, along with some simple retirement savings.  I think these are important factors in order to start building your wealth.  Just remember this…

Wealth Starts with Savings

You CANNOT build your wealth until you start saving your money.  It just doesn’t happen.  If you have no money in your bank account and no assets, then you have no wealth.  If you have assets, but no liquid money, then you have wealth, but it is volatile.  In order to increase your net worth and get on the wealth bandwagon, you need to start socking money away.  Plain and simple.  Here are some ways to do it and where you can start.

Save by Paying Yourself First

This is a common savings technique. You have probably heard everyone telling you to pay yourself first.  It is a good motto.  Though I think it is good, I don’t follow it. I will describe my process of saving after I talk about this.

Paying yourself first is simple.  Whenever you get paid, you need to put some of that money into your savings account or investments.  No matter how you get paid or when you get paid.  If you get paid twice a month, then have the money transferred into your savings account on those days.  If you are paid on an off schedule, then whenever you receive that money, take some and save it.  You can choose to take just a percentage of your income and save it or you can go with a set amount.  Say 10% of all income or $100 per paycheck.  The numbers will all differ from person to person, but the concept is still the same.

Treat Your Savings Like a Monthly Bill

Here is my tactic which I use every month to save money.  Who likes to pay bills?  No one!  I sure don’t, but I do it anyway.  When you don’t pay your bills, you get in trouble.  Your credit score can suffer or you can go into collections.  You can lose your home, your car, or your electricity can be turned off.  No matter the service, you have to pay to keep it.  Simple concept right?

I noticed over the years when paying down my debt that I worked really hard to make sure all of my bills were paid.  After that was done, I really didn’t save any money. My main focus was keeping on top of my bills.  One day I decided to start saving money when paying down my debt.  In order to do this, I needed to take a different mental approach.  I needed to treat my savings like a bill.

One a specified day each month, I transfer money into my savings account.  I have this “payment” setup in my bill manager and I keep on top of it.  If I don’t pay the bill on time, then I charge myself a late fee.  Yep, I charge myself a late fee.  It only benefits me, but it still hurts when I have to pay it.  The reason is I don’t like to touch my savings. I don’t even recognize it when I am looking at my available cash.  If I am late, then I need to pay a late fee. Plain and simple.

Start Saving With an Online Savings Account

You might remember the day when your savings account could earn 4-5% in interest.  That was a great time.  It was a perfect idea to stock some money away in your savings account as it grew nicely.  Now, most traditional banks are ranging around 0.10%.  Yes, that is close to 0%.  Yet, when they loan you money, they charge you 6-7% interest and get to pocket the rest.  Doesn’t that suck!

In an effort to get around this, I decided to go online.  I opened a savings account with Capital One 360. They are offering a much higher rate and they make saving easy. You can have as many savings buckets as you want. This helps you set goals. You can setup transfers from your regular checking account right into your Capital One 360 savings account.  The best part is there are no monthly fees and it is free to join.  You can read my review of Capital One 360 to get more information.

I also recommend checking out a local or national credit union.  There might be some barriers to signing up as you have to be a part of specific groups, but that have never stopped me. I get some of the best rates through my credit union, Alliant Credit Union.  I use them for most of my money.

Save for Retirement with a Roth IRA

When I started my job, I got a 401K.  I realize the power of investing for my retirement. Most people will not have enough money in their retirement savings if they don’t invest in some ways.  What I learned is my 401k was not very good. There are only a few options to choose from and the management fees are high.  In light of this discover, I decided to open a Roth IRA.

What a Roth IRA account does is allow you to contribute up to $5,500 post-tax money for the year.  This means your money has already been taxed, so you will not be taxed again.  The power of this type of retirement investing is you get to choose from great funds and you can open an account at many different places.

One of the big deciding factors for me was the ability to take out my contributions at any time.  With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions at any time with no penalty.  This means you can use this as an emergency fund, but with the power of stock market earnings in the background.  You cannot pull out your earnings without facing a penalty though.  Roth IRAs can be great to add on top of a 401k if you meet the income requirements.  Most people will.

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult, but I hope these tips will get your started on building your wealth.  You can’t start until you save your money.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news people, but honesty is my forte.  Get on the wealth train and get to saving!

 

What is your favorite way to save money?  Do you have an online savings account or a Roth IRA?

 

Image via brettneilson

 

 

*This post was featured on Smart Budgeting, Millennial Cents, My Life I Guess and Student Finance.

Why Slow and Steady Wins Out When it Comes to Investing

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InvestingHaving worked in the investment industry for more than a decade, I got to see my fair share of investors. Most had their own unique circumstances, but the ones who always made me shake my head were those who viewed investing in the stock market as some kids game filled with excitement.

While it may not be sexy or exciting by any means, slow and steady is generally the approach you want to take in your investing. This is true if you’re just starting out and investing with little money or are someone who has been at it for years with a sizable portfolio. This will, of course, need to be modified to match your specific investment needs but quite often the simplest approach is the best.

Investing Should Not Be Exciting

One of the main problems with making investing exciting is that it often makes things more difficult for you and will likely cost you money in the long run. However, if you listen to the talking heads, they’re going to be talking about this stock or that stock. This is fine, on one level as their job is to get ratings and not to know the particulars about your specific investing needs.

What is commonly overlooked in these situations is that you’ll be spending more money in trading commissions, not to mention the fact you’ll be defeating your efforts to grow your wealth. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because study after study has shown that those who sit in the market for the long haul with a diverse portfolio are the ones who come out ahead. If that’s not enough to convince you, hopefully the rest of it will.

Invest Like Buffett

I live in Omaha, Nebraska which is the setting of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. I’ve been to the meeting a half dozen or so times and love hearing from Warren Buffett as he expounds on different things going on in the stock market. In the midst of his speaking he states numerous times that he is not concerned about quarterly, or even annual returns. He is also certainly not concerned with trends, but sticking to his principles.

What does he look at then? He looks at the long term and since his holding period is notably forever you can imagine how long term that is! The reason why I like Buffett’s approach to investing is that at its core it’s simple. He promotes investing in what you know as well as investing in low cost index funds.

I believe that either of these approaches, especially the second one is a great path to follow as you start investing in the stock market as it’ll allow you to stay with the market instead of chasing the fools errand of timing the market. It’s also the simplest way to invest for those just starting out. If it’s good for Buffett, then it’s good for us, regardless of the scale it’s on.

It’ll Get You to Where You Want

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to investing because it’ll generally allow you to get to the destination you want. Yes, there are anomalies which will allow you to garner a nice gain, but growing wealth takes time and you want to keep it as simplistic as possible.

The people I spoke with in my brokerage past who were the most successful were the ones who followed the slow and steady approach. They weren’t chasing after gains, they were mindful of their investment fees, and they started investing as soon as possible. Yes, it meant they lost out when everyone else did when the market plunged, but it also meant they were reaping nice gains as the market rebounded unlike many of those who stayed away out of fear. I know it can be easier said than done, but often times the boring, slow and steady approach is the wisest and best approach to take as it’ll get you where you want.

 

What approach do you like to take with your investing – exciting or slow and steady? What is your time frame when it comes to investing in the stock market?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Ron Alford

 

 

This post was featured on Money Smart Guides, Save and Conquer, Financial Nerd and Single Moms Income.

Make Money Series – Renting Out Your Car

Make Money SeriesDid you know you can make money renting out your car?  Yes, that is correct.  You can earn extra cash on the side by renting out your car when it is not in use.  What a way to make that money!  I am sure there are some of you wondering why you would want to rent out your car.  I actually can see a few reasons why.  I will get to those soon, but first let’s talk about what you need to do in order to make the money from you car.  Remember, your car is an asset. While the value depreciates over time, it still is an asset.  You can use it to travel and to make money.  I consider my car a very important asset, so why not earn money from it?

How to Rent Out Your Car

If you are wanting to make money with your car, then there are some services out there looking to help. These services allow you to list your vehicle for rent and then people needing a car can rent it out.  This is not really classified as car rentals, but car sharing!  One of the bigger services out there is RelayRides.  This service allows its users to list their vehicles for rent.  You get a profile page to show off your car.  It is just like a dating profile.

Just like selling your car on Craigslist, you want to make sure you take good pictures and describe your car well. People want to know what they are renting and what they are paying for.  More importantly, you need to know why you want to rent out your car.

Are you renting out your daily driver?  What about a second vehicle?  Services like RelayRides can really help you earn money when you can rent your car for long periods of time.  People are starting to rent out other people’s cars instead of going to a traditional car rental agency.  They reason?  You can spend much less when renting out a car from another person than what you can at a car rental agency. We all love to save money, right?

When you want to rent your car on these sites, you just have to list it.  Someone will find your car and then ask you some questions about it if they have any. If they just want to book it, they do it through the site.  You get an email and then you go through the process to get the car ready for the rental. Once you agree to the terms and meet up with the renter, you are on your way to earning some sweet money.

The Legal Aspects

I am sure you are sitting there asking if this is legal.  Yes, it most certainly is, but you do need to check with your local law to see if people are allowed to rent from others.  You probably want to know about insurance as well.  That is a question I hear a lot when I talk to people about renting out their cars.  If you use a service like RelayRides, then they actually provide the auto insurance for you.  You don’t have to worry about claims going against your policy if something happens.  RelayRides takes care of it. They have a good policy as well.

Another question I hear is how do you know if the driver is legit?  If you use a legitimate service, then they will typically do a background check on the driver to see if they have a good driving record.  Some of these renters won’t get approved to use the service if they have a bad driving record. This helps weed out the riffraff and protect you.

I know quite a few people that have used services to rent out their vehicles.  They live in areas where public transportation is good, so they don’t use their cars often. They make the best of the situation and earn money.  According to RelayRides, their members can earn on average $250 per month.  Would you complain about that?  That could pay for your gas or even cover your car payment if you have one.  Since that is an average, there are some people making more or less.

If you have a car that is sitting around for days or you don’t use on a regular basis, then think about renting it out.  If you live in a big city, then you can make some good money.  You are protected when you list through services like RelayRides and Getaround.

My Tricks to Making Money With Affiliate Marketing

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affiliate marketingA few months back, Grayson wrote a great post on the basics of affiliate marketing. If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll forgive you and you can go ahead and read it now.

Back yet?…Great! Now that you have the basics of how affiliate marketing works it’s time to implement it and start making some money! I’ve been asked by numerous people how to make money with affiliate marketing so I thought I’d just share some of my tips in the form of a post. 🙂

I will say that when I first started blogging I had basically no idea at all what I was doing, and still don’t on some levels, and was simply looking to get more traffic and talk with others about money. That said, I’ve been running a blog for nearly two years now. Over that time I’ve been able to teach myself a few things about making money through affiliate income and think it’s one of the best ways to make money from blogging.

Affiliate Marketing Means Knowing Where Your Traffic is Going

If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time you know that most of the time things don’t happen overnight. That is largely the case with affiliate sales. You need to build traffic to the site, which is really the base you need to work from. You don’t just want any traffic, but you want search traffic and targeted search traffic at that. Why is that? It’s because other bloggers generally will not click on your affiliate links.

Where do you go to see what kind of search traffic your blog is getting? My two favorite tools are Google Analytics and the Jetpack plugin for WordPress. Either will work, though Jetpack provides more of a quick glance while you can do a deep dive with Analytics. If you don’t know where to go in Analytics to see where your search traffic is going to, follow these steps:

  • Select “Visits” in Analytics and then set your chosen time frame
  • Scroll down the left side bar and click on “Acquisition”
  • From “Acquisition” you want to then select “Channels”
  • This will bring up all your traffic sources and you will want to select “Organic Search” from there
  • The final, and most important step, is to select “Landing Page” as this will tell you what pages your search traffic is landing on

That last point is very important as it tells you exactly the pages your search traffic is landing on. Go through that information as it can be a goldmine. This is what you’ll generally want to use to help you further determine what kind of affiliate products you can promote. I’ll leave up to you whether or not you want to use said products yourself, I generally do, but that’s up to you. 🙂 From there, it’s generally trial and error to determine what products work best on your site.

Funnel Your Readers

Having search traffic to your site is vital to making money with affiliate marketing. But, what do you do now that they’re on the site – you want them to stay longer! What I begin to do as I see that visitors are regularly coming to specific pages is that I begin to think of other, less loved posts that fit the same general idea.

There are numerous ways you can do this from placing a simple link somewhere in the post to mentioning the post specifically. If it’s a “money” post, then one thing I like to do is offset the given post I want to direct readers to in a quote box. This helps it stand out more and catch the reader’s eye. It doesn’t guarantee it’ll get them to click on that post, but it does increase the chance.

The beauty of doing this is two-fold. The first is that it has SEO benefits because you’re doing internal linking, which you really want to be doing anyway. The second, is that you can likely have the same affiliate link, or a similar one in the other post and thus enable you more of a chance to make more affiliate income.

Make it Obvious to the Reader

My final trick to making money with affiliate marketing is to make it obvious, yet simple to the reader. Basically, this means not getting overly link happy and placing 20 affiliate links in a post. What do you do when you see an annoying flashy billboard? Yeah…you look away. It can be the same thing with links and affiliate marketing and generally not get the desired result.

Beyond that, make it obvious to the reader. For example, if I think you should open an account with Scottrade (yes that IS an affiliate link) 😉 you make it easier on the reader as opposed to something like simply hyperlinking “account”. I like to think of it as ‘what is going to get me more likely to click on the link?’ and go from there.

 

Like I said in the beginning, I knew nothing about affiliate marketing when I first started blogging. I’ve been able to teach myself a few things and they’ve been immensely helpful. The key, other than traffic, is determining what products you want to promote and making sure they fit with your traffic/readership. There are other ways to make money through affiliate marketing, such as with email that I didn’t cover but we very well could in the future.

 

What are your thoughts on affiliate marketing? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Is there anything else you’d like us to cover on affiliate sales?

 

Photo courtesy of: 401k calculator

Don’t Make these Investing Mistakes Like I Did

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Don't make these investing mistakesJohn wrote a great post the other day about what investments you should have in your 401k.  It was really informative and made me think about a big investing mistake I made when I was first starting out.  I still consider myself a amateur investor, but I am slowly learning much more.  I have a 401k, Roth IRA, and a Scottrade investment account.  I like the idea of making money with the stock market, but I also understand the risk.  My understanding of investing has really grown since I started blogging and I am glad for it. There is so much to know when you start out with investments that it can be overwhelming for many.  I can see why some don’t ever do it. There are so many places to start that some just don’t start at all. I would say this is a bad idea, but I do understand it.  What I don’t want you to do is what I did when I first started investing. I had a 401k with my employer and ran it poorly.  Don’t make this investing mistake.

Paying Debt and Investing

I have always been a proponent for paying down debt and saving money. I consider investing part of saving money. You really only can reach retirement if you have investments.  It is still the best way to make money for retirement.  I even created a debt/saving allocation method when I was in debt. The concept for my method came from retirement investment allocations.  When you are young, your investments tend to be aggressive then turn conservative when you are older.  This is a basic method, but it makes sense.  You can do the same thing with investing.

While I was saving money and paying off my debt, I was more focused on my debt.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except I wasn’t investing to my potential I had setup my 401k and then just put it on cruise control.  My employer would add money to my 401k before my paycheck, so I never saw the money.  It was easy.  Unfortunately, easy doesn’t always mean the right way.

Ignoring Company Match

I have to admit I was really dumb when I was younger.  Being so focused on my debt and thinking my 401k was running smoothly, I didn’t think about a company match.  When I first started at the company I am currently still with, there was no company match. This means they wouldn’t match any of the funds you put into your 401k.  While I didn’t really have a problem with it, it wasn’t very competitive in our area.

I wasn’t taking much from my paycheck in order to invest.  My main focus was my debt in the beginning, so the rest could go to investing.  One day my company decided to offer a match. I said “cool!” and moved on with paying down my debt.  What I didn’t do was change my saving percentage to cap the match.  This means I was leaving free money on the table. The worst part is I left free money on the table for close to 3.5 years.  I think about it now and it really pisses me off.  How could I leave free money on the table?

You can’t get back lost returns.  Investing is all about compounding interest.  Your money earns money throughout the year and that money then earns money throughout the years to follow. Money just builds on top of money and that is how you gain money to retire.  When you don’t take advantage of company matches, then you will have to put more funds in to cover the loss returns.

Watch the Fees

John indicated this in his post.  I started thinking about my fees and remembered once issue when I had my 401k.  When I first learned that I could pick my own funds and investments, I decided to look around.  The big problem is I only focused on the average return of the funds. I didn’t look at the risk or the fees associated.  Fees can kill your returns in a second.  Luckily I didn’t move everything over to this fund as I am a fan of diversification.  What I did move over just got all of the returns eaten by management fees.  It was terrible.  While the returns were awesome, the fees were terrible.

My best advice is to always pay attention to fees.  Not only do you need to understand how much it costs you to have a fund under management, but also how much your management fee is.  There are a lot of providers for investment accounts.  Their fee structures are all different. Some are low and some are really high.  Always question the fees and understand how those fees work into your investing goals.  Paying high fees over many years can really erode your returns.

Never be afraid to invest when you are paying down debt. I think you really should be doing both.  If you do end up paying down debt and investing, then make sure you are active in the account. Don’t just set it and forget it.  Understand if your company is providing a match into your retirement account. If they are, then contribute up the the company match amount.  It is really hard to make up for lost returns.  After all of that, keep your eye on all fees you pay.  While you might not have much of an option when you are still working at the company managing the 401k, you might have options to what funds you invest in.

 

Are you guilty of doing any of these investment mistakes?

 

Image via StockMonkeys.com

 

 

 

This post was featured on The Value Geek and Budget for Health.

Side Hustling vs. a Part-time Job

Side hustle versus part-time jobI get questioned from readers about the difference between side hustling and having a part-time job.  Many people think this is the same thing.  While there are differences between the two, I feel this subject comes up because there are so many who need to have a part-time job on top of their full job to survive.  This is where we are with our economy and our outlook on jobs.  It is what it is.  While having a part-time job along with a full time job could be considered side hustling, I would say that it isn’t.  There are clear differences between working a side part-time job and running a side hustle.  Here is the battle between side hustling and part-time work.

What is a Side Hustle?

You probably hear this term a lot, especially on the internet.  Side hustling is a popular thing among many people. I am an active side hustler.  No, I don’t pimp prostitutes or sling coke on the streets to thugs.  That is the underbelly of side hustling.  What I do is completely legal and very much legitimate.  It also brings me quite the sum of cash on the side.  Here is what Entrepreneur.com labels as a side hustle:

A side hustle is a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in. It can also be your true passion – a chance to delve into fashion, travel or whatever it is you care about the most without quitting your day job.

As it states, a side hustle is something that allows you to earn extra cash, but still have flexibility.  Many people, including myself, hustle in something we are passionate about. I am passionate about blogging and helping WordPress blog owners run their blogs. That is what I like to do.  I also like to write.  Never said I was good at it, but I do enjoy it.  Not only that, but I am not restricted to one thing when I side hustle.  I can do a number of different things.  As long as I am bringing in money and still enjoying it, then I will be a side hustler.

There tends to be less structure with side hustles.  They might not require you to be there everyday at 5 or clock in.  If you have a good side hustle, then you can do work when you have some free time. I work in the mornings before my full-time job. I work at night and on the weekends.  While my side hustle may feel like work sometimes, I am not obligated to do it. I do it because I enjoy it.

What is a Part-time Job?

I hope we all know what a part-time job is, but if not, then they are typically jobs that require less than the requirement for full-time.  Clever response isn’t it?  OK, a part-time job is typically one with less than 30 to 35 hours.  Each employer can label an employee as part time if they meet these hour requirements.  You might still have the same duties, but being a part-time employee does not grant you the benefits of being full-time.

If you have a part-time job, then you are still being controlled by a company or boss.  You still have to will out specific employment forms along with interviews.  A part-time job is just the less glamorous full-time job.  You get less benefits, work the same amount (work load, not hours), and could be treated differently.

With regards to structure and scheduling, a part-time job typically has a rigid structure and schedule. You might be required to be at this place at this time.  You have to be there or you could be fired.  Remember, a part-time job is pretty much a full-time job without the perks.

A Side Hustle is Better than a Part-time Job

Yes, I am saying it.  I think a side hustle is better than a part-time job.  While some hustles turn into jobs, they are usually born out of passion.  People hustle because they enjoy it. They create their own schedules and tasks. They might not have to report to a boss or go into an office. They still don’t get the perks of being a full-time employee, but neither does a part-time employee.  I have said it before and I will say it again, side hustling is my cup of tea.  I love it!

 

What do you think about the side hustle versus part-time job battle? Do you have a favorite?

 

Image via Unlisted Sightings

How to Make Money on YouTube

Who doesn’t love YouTube?  I for one love watching videos on the site.  I get a lot of  my DIY from YouTube.  You can easily type in what you are looking for and then a huge amount of videos come up.  I learn more when I watch something instead of read something.  I am a visual learner.  Either way, YouTube is one of my go-to sites for DIY videos.  Not only that, but you can also make money on YouTube!

Over the years, I have noticed quite a few people starting to earn money from the site.  These were just regular people who loved to make videos.  Many of these people rose to stardom from the site.  Anyone know Justin Bieber?  Yeah, he grew huge from YouTube and now is a multi-millionaire with millions of fans around the world.  All from a little video site.  I was approached by a  friend with another blog who wanted to show me a cool infographic about making money on YouTube.  I was intrigued, so I wanted to share it with you.  Making money on YouTube is possible for anyone.  If you know how to make a video, then you can make money.  Some of the best videos are just people don’t regular things and then monetizing the videos with YouTubes built in features.  What a great way to make money. Some of these people are making hundreds of thousands in real money each year.  Now, get your creative juices flowing and starting making money on YouTube!

Make Money on YouTube

 

Have you ever thought about making money on YouTube?  What is stopping you?

Infographic from YouTube Downloader