Edwin

Author Archives: Edwin

Edwin is the money hacking millennial behind Cash The Checks. He lives a minimalist lifestyle and is always eager to learn and share his methods to save and make money.

8 Off-Grid Ways of Living to Save Money

Going off the grid isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, but adopting some aspects of this life can be a great way to save money without having to completely move to a cabin in the woods. Instead of taking things that far, you can reduce consumption and save money by eschewing some of the costly and wasteful habits that most people are used to.

Even if you’re not interested in going fully off the grid, here are some money-saving techniques to learn from that lifestyle.

1. Downsize Your Belongings

Most Americans have a similar problem: We all have too much stuff, and our homes are growing bigger to accommodate all those things. Home sizes have tripled in the past few decades, while 10 percent of Americans have to rent storage units to keep all their unneeded stuff.

This stuff drags us all down and takes up valuable room in our living spaces. Take the minimalist, off-the-grid approach and get rid of all the things you don’t need. Be strict and judicious with what you want to keep. When you’ve found the things that can go, donate them, sell them or give them away. Everybody wins that way, and you’ll be grateful you have room for more important things.

2. Cut the Cord

A great way to save money and move toward an off-the-grid life is to finally cut the cord and get rid of cable TV. With prices inching upwards and plenty of alternative entertainment options, there’s never been a better time to get rid of cable. The number of people getting rid of paid TV is on the rise, so you definitely won’t be alone in your decision.

Want to see how much money you can save? Use a calculator to see how worthwhile the cord-cutting decision is.

3. Look for Cheaper Internet

Getting rid of cable TV is a lot easier than ditching internet. For most of us, getting rid of internet is a nonstarter. Depending on your needs, you might want to consider using your phone’s mobile data as a hotspot.

This all depends on how good your mobile carrier is when it comes to data pricing, but it’s something worth considering. It could be an effective way to save money and reduce the number of bills you need to pay.

4. Get Energy Efficient

Power in all forms, whether it’s solar, wind or gas, is especially precious when you’re off the grid. Likewise, if you’re on the grid. To ensure you have no problems with overconsumption, you’ll want to make your home as energy-efficient as possible.

That means utilizing appliances – especially refrigerators – that aren’t wasteful, insulating the home for maximum efficiency and being smart with your consumption habits. Taking all these steps will help you save money.

5. Use Propane for Some Power

Solar and other renewable forms of energy are ideal, but they might be too expensive or inadequate to power everything you need. If you’re serious about saving money in an off-the-grid way, you’ll want to consider propane to supplement your energy needs.

This clean-burning fuel can be used for home heating, water heating and even some appliances. It’s often a cost-effective way and can be stored on your property in a large underground tank to ensure you’re off the grid.

6. Cut Down on Credit Cards

When people think of going off the grid, they envision generating their own electricity, growing their own food and similar things. Going off the grid can also mean ditching the financial norms that most people are stuck with. To that end, you should consider limiting the number of credit cards you have. This is good financial advice whether you want to go off the grid or not, as high credit card debt is something most Americans suffer from.

You don’t need all those cards. Having one or two is convenient, but any more than that might end up holding you down and costing you money.

7. Assess Your Spending

When people are going off the grid, they need a plan with incremental goals to reach. The same must be done from a financial standpoint. Take a step back and look at your spending in the previous year. Going over credit card statements, past bills and bank statements will give you a clear picture of where your money is going. When you have that knowledge, you’ll see how to spend your money more efficiently.

8. Be Flexible

One of the most important things when trying to save money is to have the ability to be flexible. You don’t have to go without your favorite things, but it helps if you’re adaptable and willing to change things up.

That’s part of what an off-the-grid-lifestyle is all about. It’s not always easy or painless, but it does come with its own rewards. Keep that in mind and you’ll do great. Your growing bank account from all the wise money decisions you’ve made will be concrete proof of that.

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5 Priceless Pointers From Successful Millionaires

How do yo improve your finances? There are literally thousands of blogs out there promising to help you with money – most of them are trash. A few websites offer helpful advice, but most everyone that’s successful got that way because they followed a few simple (yes, simple) rules.

Be Something

You can’t just do something. You have to be something, too. How can you be someone when you’re not successful? Some say “fake it till you make it.”

What’s important is that you see yourself as successful, even when you don’t have a lot of money. Not everyone who is successful in life has money. You probably already know someone who is living a great life, but who doesn’t own a movie studio or a large art gallery or has millions in the bank.

You’re probably already successful in some area of your life. Use that as your stepping stone – a platform to build further successes.

Sign a Prenuptial Agreement

For many, it’s an unromantic offer. “Here honey, sign this prenup, just in case.” But, the reality is that 50 percent of marriages end. It doesn’t always happen because of problems, either. Sometimes, people grow in different directions. People still respect the spouse, but they’re no longer in love.

That might not sound romantic, but it’s a reality. If you plan on becoming successful, sign a pre-nuptial agreement. And, if you do have money in the bank, and your future spouse refuses to sign a prenup, have a rational discussion about it. If you can’t, something is already seriously wrong with the relationship.

Love never hinges on a contract – whether it’s a prenup agreement or a marriage certificate. 

Borrow Money To Get Started

Many successful millionaires got their start by borrowing money. One of the richest men on the planet, Warren Buffet, started with a borrowed $10,000. So, if you’re strapped for cash, don’t let that stop you. Alternatively, you can try hitting up friends and family.

The important thing is to get started. Find a source of funds you can use and put together a minimum viable product or service. Market it, and you’re on your way.

Don’t Rush Financial Decisions

Wealthy people don’t rush financial decisions. This is partially because they don’t have to. But, it’s also because this is how they became successful. They didn’t make hasty decisions. It doesn’t mean that they always made decisions slowly.

It means they always acted on their best knowledge at the time, were honest about what they didn’t know, and never tried to rush into a business deal just to be part of a business deal. They went after winning trades or businesses because they knew (or had a good idea) that it would be profitable.

Have Discipline

Finally, all successful people have cultivated a special sense of discipline. This is a huge reason that successful people are successful and unsuccessful people remain that way. You need self-control and the “stick-to-it” attitude that won’t let you give up, even when the going gets rough – and it will.

  • Edwin
  • November 25, 2019

The 6 Steps To Buying Your First Home

If you’re ready to settle down and buy a home, you may be so excited by house-hunting to think clearly about the entire process. Instead of being overwhelmed and confused, use this guide to walk through the 6 steps of buying a home.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Your pre-approval for a mortgage as well as your interest rate are tied to your credit score. Before you buy your home, you’ll want to obtain copies of the three credit reports and go through them to look for any wrong information.

Correct any mistakes you find and then apply for a loan for the best odds of getting the loan and a rate you can afford. It can take time to dispute erroneous items on your report so start this process early.

2. Choose A Real Estate Agent

When buying a home, it’s important to get a buyers agent to represent you. This realtor will have your best interests at heart and can not only show you houses, but present offers and give advice on what’s a good deal.

You’ll want to work with someone that pays attention to your needs, has time to work with you and knows the area you’re looking in. If you’re not comfortable with your agent, keep shopping around until you find someone you can work with.

3. Get Pre-Approved For A Loan

Shop for a mortgage lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage. This way you’ll know how much of a house you can afford and about how much your monthly payment will be.

Going into the buying process with a pre-approval makes you a more attractive buyer to home sellers. If you’re getting offers from multiple lenders, you’ll want to make all of your applications at once.

Every time a lender checks your score it’s a hard inquiry and causes a dip in your score. Fortunately, all inquiries for mortgages made within 45 days are treated as just 1 inquiry which minimizes the impact to your score.

You’ll probably get a pre-qualification within minutes. When you go to make an offer, the buyer will know you’re serious and that you have a good chance of getting the necessary financing to complete the purchase.

4. Find A Home

Finally you’re ready for the fun part of house hunting – looking at homes. Get your realtor ready and take a look at all of the listings that meet your criteria. During your first few outings you may just get familiar with different neighborhoods and figure out what you don’t want in a home, but eventually you’ll find the perfect place to settle down and call your own.

If you have a deadline in mind, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to not only find a house, but to also close on it. In competitive markets, it can often take much longer to find a home you love and that you can secure before other buyers.

5. Make An Offer

Once you’ve found a house you love, it’s time to make an offer. Your agent will help you make an appropriate offer with the right contingencies to protect yourself. In competitive markets, it’s not unusual for sellers to reject contingencies, so be prepared to compete with other buyers and to make changes to your original offer.

6. Close The Deal

Once the offer is accepted, you’ll be closing on your new home in a bit over a month. During this time you’ll have a home inspection, an appraisal, a title search and your loan will be prepared. You’ll put a down payment down and provide money for any closing costs you’re responsible for. Finally, you’ll review and sign many documents and you’ll be handed the keys to your brand new home.

  • Edwin
  • November 19, 2019

10 Ways To Dine Out Cheap

Going to a restaurant can be a real budget-buster, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know how to search for good deals and choose the right menu options, you can save a pretty penny while dining out.

Here are ten ways to enjoy great restaurants and dine out on the cheap.

Use Coupons

Most restaurants have coupons available. All you have to do it is Google it or just use the Retail Me Not app to get a coupon. You may not need to even print the coupon out. Just show it to your server from your smartphone when it’s time to pay.

Join Loyalty Programs

Some restaurants only give coupons to members of their loyalty programs. You can get a free rewards card and accrue points that can later be redeemed for free food. Members of these loyalty programs also get emailed members-only coupons like free entrée with the purchase of another entrée.

Share Your Food

The portion sizes at some restaurants are ridiculously large. They’re so big they can feed two people. So consider sharing a plate with your partner and cut your dining costs in half.

Skip The Drinks

The mark-up on beverages at restaurants is huge. You might buy a soda can for $0.25 if you buy a 12 pack for example. But for the same amount of soda they’ll charge you $3.00. A lot of their profit comes from drinks. They’ll always advertise the low cost of their food, but they fail to mention the high price of their beverages.

You go to the restaurant for the food, not the soda. Choose instead to drink the free water offered instead. It’s better for you anyway.

Get Lunch Instead Of Dinner

Lunch specials cost significantly less than dinners. If you are available during the day choose to eat earlier to cash in on daytime savings. Plus there’s an added benefit, no wait time.

Skip The Appetizers

Restaurants have trained us into thinking that you must first order drinks, then an appetizer, then an entrée followed lastly by dessert. Turn the tables on them and only order one meal per visit.

If you really like an appetizer, simply make it your main course and skip the entrée.

Go During Happy Hour

Eat at the bar during happy hour and cash in on half priced drinks and appetizers. You won’t have to sit in an uncomfortable stool in front of televisions. Most restaurants have an area next to it with booths you can sit at. Best of all, there’s no wait time if you can find a seat.

Order From The Kids Menu

You don’t have to be a kid to order from the kids menu. If you have a small appetite you can order the smaller sized options typically found on the kids menu.

Choose Kid Friendly Restaurants

Many restaurants offer discounts for kids on certain days. If you’re dining with your family choose to go on their “Kids Eat Free Tuesdays” for example. The way it works is simple. When an adult purchase an entrée your kid gets theirs free.

Take The Leftovers

If you bit off more than you could chew, don’t throw that food away. Ask for a box and you can eat that meal tomorrow. While you won’t save on your current meal, you’ll save money and time by not having to buy something or cook the next day.

  • Edwin
  • November 16, 2019
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Buying Your First Car? Do These 9 Things First

Ready to begin the process of buying your first car? You’re in the right place!

Cars are a part of life. Without a car, it’s hard to do little things like buy groceries and commute to work.

Unfortunately, cars are also expensive, and there is a lot that goes into the purchasing process. It can be especially difficult for millennials who have never purchased a car before you know what to do.

If you’re thinking about buying your first car, consider these 9 steps before you sign on the dotted line.

1. Create A Budget Before Buying Your First Car

Before you even think about buying a used car, figure out how much you can realistically afford. Most financial planners recommend spending less than 15% of your total budget on a car payment.

Don’t have a budget? Yeah you’ll need to read this blog post first to create a smart budget.

Once you’ve got your budget created, see how much money you have left to spend on a car. Oh and you can figure out your estimated car payment by using this calculator.

Note: Don’t forget to include the cost of insurance in your budget either.

Yeah, I know, it really adds up!

2. Research More Than One Model

I know you’re already saying that special car of your dreams.  But before you make up your mind, open your eyes and look at other makes and models first.

Every make and model is different. Specific years even have their own pros and cons.

Before you make a purchase, research at least three different makes and models. Pay special attention to each vehicle’s weak points, repair costs, and resale value.

When you’re done, compare and contrast these statistics to help you make your purchase.

If you’re unsure where to start, two of the most popular vehicles for first-time car buyers are the Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla. Both vehicles are affordable, good with gas mileage and have low repair costs.

3. Find Vehicles For Sale Everywhere

There are a number of places you can find used cars. Each has their pros and cons. Do you want to save a lot of money? Then buy a car off eBay or Craigslist. Do you want it to be easy? Then go to a dealership instead.

New car dealerships offer a range of new and used vehicles, while independent dealerships tend to offer a selection of used vehicles of different makes and models.

Dealers and individual sellers are both open to negotiating the final price. The exception would be Carmax and Autonation, which offer you their lowest price right off the bat and leave no room for negotiation.

You’ll want to check all the hot spots first: cars.com, autotrader.com and truecar.com. Next, try Craigslist and eBay. Finally, head over to a local dealer once you are knowledgeable about what prices cars are going for.

4. Understand Certified Pre-Owned

Some dealerships sell certified pre-owned vehicles at a higher price point. While these vehicles often come with an additional warranty, it may not be worth the markup. For example, while Honda and Toyota have extensive certification programs, other certified vehicles are nothing more than retired rental cars.

A certified pre-owned vehicle will cost you roughly $1,500 more. An alternative option for you is to buy an extended warranty instead, which should be cheaper.

5. Check The Vehicle’s History

Always get a vehicle history report before you purchase a used vehicle. These reports will tell you if the vehicle has ever been totaled or had the odometer rolled back.

If you’re dealing with a friend or loved one, it can be tempting to skip this step. Don’t. You may learn information that the seller didn’t even know.

Autocheck and Carfax are two services that can help you acquire a complete vehicle history report.

6. Contact The Seller

If you’re buying a car from an individual seller, a preliminary phone call will help you gather information about the vehicle and build a relationship with the seller.

During the conversation, ask the seller about the car’s history, present condition, and reason for selling. These questions may reveal information that was not listed online.

This conversation also offers an opportunity to size up the seller. Do they sound shifty or honest? Are they willing to answer your questions, or are they giving you the runaround?

Remember that when you buy a car from an individual, you are taking a huge risk. Cars are sold as-is so there are no returns or refunds, even if the car breaks down on your way home.

7. Inspect The Vehicle

When you’ve narrowed the search to one vehicle, arrange a test drive. This is the best way to determine if the vehicle is right for you. During the drive, pay attention to the vehicle’s brakes, acceleration, transmission, and power steering.

If the drive goes as expected, you should arrange for an official inspection. Just because the car drives good doesn’t mean there aren’t issues you can’t notice. Most mechanics will offer a pre-purchase inspection for around $100. You shouldn’t buy a used car without an inspection.

8. Negotiate A Fair Price

Never settle on the sticker price. Most sellers expect to haggle with their buyers so they list the car for a few thousand dollars more than their minimum price.

When ready, make an offer that’s lower than the average resale price for the vehicle. The first number you throw out there will be the starting point of the negotiation, so you don’t want to start too high.

The seller will make a counter-offer, and you will go on from there until you arrive at a price you’re both comfortable with.

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Finance

Many how-to guides will encourage first time car buyers to avoid financing your vehicle at all costs. Obviously it’s best to save up your money and buy a car without a loan.

But we also have to be realistic. Millennials who are recent grads are saddled with student loan debt and will need to start putting their degree to good use right away. If you will use your car to go to work, then your car is crucial to you making money.

If you have above average credit, it is entirely possible for you to get a loan with an interest rate of 4%. Using that example, you could borrow $10,000 and end up paying back $11,000 total after 5 years. That’s just $200 per year in interest, not bad at all.

Do you have any tips you can share with millennials about buying your first car?

Buying Your First Car? Do These 9 Things First
  • Edwin
  • November 13, 2019
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Should Homeowners Prepay Their Mortgages?

Paying off a home mortgage is a wonderful milestone of adulthood. It allows homeowners to rid themselves of one of life’s biggest debts. It’s natural to think about doing this ahead of schedule to save on interest payments and reduce debt. Why wait 10, 20 or 30 years for the financial and emotional freedom that mortgage-free living could bring?

Paying off mortgages early is absolutely the right decision for some homeowners, but not for everyone. Before taking the plunge, examine existing debt, savings and future life expenses. Living debt-free is not the most important factor in a well-lived life. Step back to look at the big picture before deciding to prepay a mortgage.

Scrutinize Savings

No matter a person’s age or station in life, a nest egg is a valuable asset. It can cushion a job layoff or pay for a wedding, health care costs or a long-awaited trip. It’s there for emergencies or luxuries. Savings provides both financial and emotional security.

Anyone considering paying off a mortgage should look at his or her savings first. Is there enough in the bank to get through a lean time or a family crisis? That nest egg is a necessity, while living mortgage-free is a luxury. If paying off the mortgage eliminates savings, don’t bother.

Rather than putting money toward a house, think about increasing retirement savings. Many employers match a percentage of 401K contributions which can yield high returns. Conversely, pulling money out of a 401K to pay off a mortgage can bring stiff penalties that probably aren’t worth it.

Examine Emotions

In addition to financial factors, homeowners should examine their own emotions and priorities. Living without a mortgage can be liberating. Eliminating debt reduces concerns about money or might motivate a career change.

By evaluating emotions, homeowners may realize they’re using the mortgage to put off pleasures they could enjoy today. They might be able to take that desired trip or buy new furniture without being completely debt free. Homeowners should picture themselves in 10 years. Maybe their current homes aren’t even the best houses for long-term living, and therefore not worth prepaying.

Consider Spending

Sometimes homeowners need to spend money to improve quality of life. Before scrounging up funds and committing them to paying off a mortgage early, consider alternative expenses. Professional training could boost a person’s career and earning power. Money spent on yoga classes, fitness memberships or gardening tools may provide life-enhancing pleasure, more valuable than a prepaid mortgage.

While the cost of everything from food and cable service to travel and entertainment seems to rise, a fixed mortgage payment is fortunately stable. So, it might make sense to spend money enjoying other things today and paying only the required amount on the predictable mortgage.

Look at Debt

Homeowners thinking about paying off their mortgages should consider their other debts. Paying off credit card debt is much more urgent than clearing a mortgage because of interest rates. While a mortgage rate today might hover around 5 percent, credit cards often carry interest rates of 18 percent, which adds up fast. Likewise, homeowners should pay off car and college loans before looking at advanced mortgage payments.

Another reason to focus on other debt first is mortgage interest payments provide tax savings while other types of loans and credit card debt do not. The cost of a monthly mortgage payment might be fixed, but the amount of money paid toward principal versus interest varies throughout the life of the loan.

Mortgage amortization schedules are typically structured for homeowners’ mortgage payments to first apply to the interest due, then to the principal due and lastly to any escrows that may be included in the payment (for taxes and insurance).

Therefore, if homeowners plan to partially prepay their mortgages, it’s more beneficial to pay additional funds toward their principals only; if not specifically designated as such, the payments may be applied as a future payment or possibly even applied to the escrow account – which will not reduce the amount of interest paid throughout the loan term.

The earlier in their loan terms they make principal reductions, the more savings they get on interest costs. Homeowners can also check out mortgage rates and consider refinancing to lower mortgage payments while preserving savings.

Paying off a mortgage can be liberating, but it’s not always the right choice. It’s important for homeowners to examine their own lifestyles, priorities, savings and spending to make the right decision for their own circumstances.

  • Edwin
  • November 10, 2019

The 6 Warning Signs Of Emotional Spending

Whether you’ve had a stressful day at work or a fight with your significant other, stress can trigger spending that you wouldn’t otherwise do. Emotional spending – sometimes known as retail therapy – is a dangerous habit that can land you in debt without delivering the good feelings you were counting on.

Here are 6 warning signs to look for so you can prevent an emotional spending spree.

You Say “I Deserve It” When Making A Purchase

Telling yourself that you deserve the shoes that are way out of your budget is a sign that you’re shopping to boost your own self-esteem. Spending money on items you feel will make you more attractive is a habit that is rooted in your emotions. Address your own self-esteem issues to prevent buying things to fulfill something you feel is lacking.

You Shop To Escape Financial Problems

If you’ve recently been on the receiving end of bad news regarding your finances, you may be tempted to go make a purchase. However, if budgeting is hard for you, spending more than you planned can easily happen which will make your financial situation even worse. Avoid using credit cards in a fit of emotional spending as this will certainly make your situation that much worse.

You’re Seeking Immediate Gratification

When you’re stressed out, you may feel anxious, restless and even irritable. To combat these negative feelings, many people seek the immediate gratification that shopping can provide. However, the relief is only temporary and many people experience buyers remorse and a resulting low once the shopping spree is over.

Instead of making an emotional decision for instant gratification, think about the purchase and review your budget for a healthy dose of reality.

You’re Shopping Simply To Relieve Stress

Some people shop to relieve stress. Immersing yourself in the world of new clothes, kitchen gadgets and mall sales is a good way to blow off steam and forget about life. But if that type of self-help involves buying everything you see, you may need to steer clear of the mall when you’re stressed out.

Instead of shopping, try talking to a friend, hitting the gym or relaxing in a hot bath.

You Keep Trying To Keep Up With The Jones’

Let’s face it, there will always be times when friends, family members or co-workers have something better than you. When buying or collecting things becomes a competition, it gets harder to keep a clear head when making purchases. While it’s fine to want the best for your family, don’t fund that desire with credit card debt and emotional spending.

You Return More Items Than You Keep

Most casual shoppers return an item once in a while when it’s the wrong color, wrong size or just didn’t suit the need you bought it for. However, an emotional shopper may find themselves returning lots of items all the time in an effort to minimize financial damage. While you may save some of the financial ramifications of your shopping spree by returning things, you’ve still invested a lot of time and energy into the exercise that could have been spent doing something more worthwhile.

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Making Money Online: 7 Steps For Success

Want to make money online? Then follow the 7 steps to making money online that I’ll outline in this article.

You’ve seen the countless infomercials and online ads promising you that you can make money online fast from home. They all make it seem so easy don’t they? Their ads are full of cars and houses, gold chains and diamond rings. And the yachts, how did I forget to mention the yachts.

But the truth is that making money online is not that easy. It requires a lot of determination. There is no shortcut to success. There is no elevator to success. There is only a very long and tall stairwell.

Keep this in mind though. After climbing that stairwell, on the second story of that house, is the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

There indeed is a formula for success in making cash online. It will take you time, you will have failures, but if you stick with it, you can and will succeed.

Many try and fail only because they think they will see results in a very short amount of time. But the truth of the matter is that only those with perseverance and yes, stubbornness can succeed.

Here are the 7 steps to making money online.


1. Find An Exploitable Market

Exploit A Market: Steps For Making Money Online

What are you going to sell? What are you going to write about? What product is in demand right now? Will you go from topic to topic, hunting for the latest craze? Or instead will you focus on one topic and stick with it?

This is something I cannot answer for you. Certain industries go through trends like dirty underwear. The weight loss niche, for example, has countless diets and exercise fads that go from zero to hero and back down to zero in a heartbeat. In industries like these, if you’re not ahead of the market, then sadly, you are behind it.

Then there are other markets that are remarkably consistent. Two of those would be travel and finance. With travel, you have cruises, planes, hotels and car rentals. With finance, you have credit cards, investments and mortgages.

Put your time and money into something you can get excited about. Then take that excitement and dive deep into the subject, looking for angles to make money off of them.

Don’t know where to start? Go to Facebook and look at the ads. Every person behind every ad is making money. My way of generating revenue was by creating a blog and selling ads on it.


2. Define Your Customer

Target Your Audience: Steps For Making Money Online

Who are you going to be targeting? This largely depends on your product. Will you sell to the masses? If so then you’ve got to have a very popular product (or niche) in mind. Odds are, it’s been done cheaper by the Chinese. Trying to make a buck selling watches, perfumes or handbags is downright impossible without overseas connections.

Instead, focus on something only you can provide. Is it training? Is it a handmade item? Is it a service? It should be something that’s difficult to find and there has to be a demand for it.

Next, you’ll have to decide whether you want to make a penny per sale and sell 1,000 per day or $100 per sale and sell one per day. I’ll gladly take the latter.

For example, you can market an around the world travel package valued at $9,999 (of which you will receive a hefty $500 commission fee).


3. Define Your Product

Define Your Product: Steps For Making Money Online

Instead of selling a hundred different things, just focus on a few – or just one. You’ll want to hyper-focus on this product and keep ripping apart the niche until you find one item that you will master. Be an authority on a product or a subject. Ever heard of the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”?

Learn everything about this item. Buy it, use it, fall in love with it. The more you know about this item the better you will be able to sell it.

If it’s a blog you’re creating, target a specific group like maltese owners, tesla fans, those who seek early retirement or iphone fanboys. People need to know you’re an authority, so creating a blog about “general stuff” just isn’t going to fly.


4. Advertise Your Product

Facebook Advertising: Steps For Making Money Online

The next step to making money online is to sell your product. This product could be something you created (like a book). This product could be a product you’re getting a commission from. This product could even be a blog you want to get more traffic to. Whatever the product happens to be, you need to market your product correctly if you want to have any kind of success.

The first place to market your product has to be Google. They are so big, Google has become a verb in the English language. There are two ways to rank in Google. First, you can pay for it by using Google AdWords. Second, you could learn about search engine optimization (SEO) to climb up the rankings.

Gone (well, almost) are the days of traditional advertising like banners and text links. Now people are advertising on social media apps like Facebook. Those ads in Facebook, those promoted Tweets and Instagram ads, that’s how the new generation advertises.

You can also do a commercial of sorts. But I don’t mean a late night informercial. I mean a YouTube video or two (or 100). If you’re marketing a 30 day diet regiment book, for example, create YouTube videos promoting it.

But if visitors see a sales pitch, they’ll run to the hills. Instead, make it a “how-to” video and push the content on your social media channels. If need be, pay an influencer in your market to give you a shoutout.


5. Test & Refine Until It Makes A Profit

Test And Refine: Steps For Making Money Online

You don’t know if something works until you try it. But if it fails, don’t throw in the towel. All you’ve got to do is tweak it. Change your campaign (whether it be the design, your price or your marketing methods). Try, then try again.

If you see some success with your changes, then you know you’re on the right track. They call it split testing. Two campaigns to determine which one is better. You then take the better campaign and do a new split test.

You continue to refine your methods until you’ve got a well oiled machine delivering perfect results. I’ve had this blog for well over 10 years and I’m STILL making changes.


6. Automate The Process

Hire A VA: Steps For Making Money Online

Once you’ve seen what’s working – do more of it. Don’t have the time? Automate the process then. There are programs that can do the work for you, such as automatically posting on Facebook and Twitter.

Tasks you can’t automate, you can delegate. Once you’ve got a method in place, hire a low cost laborer to follow your careful instructions. You can hire virtual assistants on Fiverr starting at five bucks an hour.

This frees you up to keep your business moving, rather than being stuck doing mundane repetitive tasks.


7. Rinse, Wash, Repeat

Do It Again: Steps For Making Money Online

So, now you’re at the final step in making money online. Hopefully you have managed to create a successful business. Even if it’s only making $200 per month, it’s still a success if you can have it running on auto-pilot.

You know what the next step is? Yep, repeat it all over again. Choose a different product, a different blog, a different topic altogether. Use the knowledge and skills learned in your first venture to create another one. While making $200 a month might not seem like much, imagine if you could duplicate this strategy times ten? That’s the key here, finding something that works and then: rinse, wash and repeat.

4

4 Ways To Retire Without A Mortgage

The thought of living without having to pay rent or a mortgage payment every month is an alluring one. Without this mandatory monthly payment you can live a comfortable life in retirement.

At best, you’ll be able to travel the world and really live in style. At worst, you will always have a roof over your head and enough money to put food on the table.

There are a few different ways in which you can retire without a mortgage, here are four of these methods:

Refinance

Let’s say you finally got a fixed rate 30-year mortgage at the age of 50. Better late than never, right? But have you set yourself up for having a mortgage payment until you’re 80 years old? Well yes, unless you refinance. Usually people refinance and take a new 30-year mortgage in order to lower their monthly payment. But you can also refinance your 30-year mortgage into a shorter 15-year mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year mortgage at the age of 50 at a 6% rate. Seven years down the line you get a promotion at work and your kids have all moved out. Now you’ve got extra income and decreased expenses.

Then you look at the current interest rates for a 15-year mortgage and they’re at 4.5%. You would be the perfect candidate to refinance. If you do so, you’ll pay your mortgage off in a total of 7+15=22 years, meaning it will be gone when you’re 72 instead of 80. Not only that but you’ll save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

Rent Instead

Sure, rent is almost the same as a mortgage. It still is a monthly payment you need to make in order to stay in your home. But if you don’t want a mortgage, you can rent your entire life instead. While I still recommend having and paying off a mortgage, renting is actually not as bad as it sounds.

When you rent, you don’t have to pay property taxes or insurance. You also won’t have to deal with costly home maintenance costs. All of this extra money can be saved and placed into your 401k account to be used later.

When you own your own home outright, you have a lot of equity built up in it. It’s worth $250,000 and you owe $0 on it. That’s money sitting right there that you’re not spending. You don’t have that issue when you rent.

Renting also gives you the flexibility to move. You won’t have to go through the work of selling your home and then buying another one.

Relocate

If you’re “stuck” with a 30-year mortgage and realize that you’ll need to continue to work well into your 60’s and even 70’s, you are not as stuck as you think you are. Rather than living in a $500k home with a 30-year mortgage, consider relocating to a $250k home with a 15-year mortgage.

If you can sell your current home for a profit then you’ll be able to knock down the amount you owe on your new home even more. Even if you can’t, interest rates on 15-year mortgages are always lower than on 30-year mortgages. If you got a bad rate before you can pounce on more favorable interest rates available now.

Extra Payments

By far the most common way of living in retirement without a mortgage is by making extra payments. By making an extra payment to your mortgage you can substantially cut the length of your mortgage.

Let me give you an example. You get a $200k mortgage at 5% for 30 years. Your monthly payment is $1,073.64. You decide to pay $1,200 every month instead (an extra $126.36). By doing that you will have reduced the length of your mortgage by over 6 years. Not only that but you’ll also save $44,341.62.

Even if you’re not disciplined enough to make extra monthly payments to the principal, making an extra payment once a year or even making large one-time payments works too. While you won’t get an immediate benefit from making extra payments to your mortgage right now, you will reap the rewards when you don’t have a mortgage payment to make anymore.

1

7 Tips To Stick To Your Monthly Budget

Sticking to a budget is something many people strive to do, but few can actually do it consistently. Budgeting is not as easy as it sounds.

It’s hard to budget for things like gas when the price per gallon keeps going up. Keeping to a budget is difficult when certain bills, like water, gas and electricity, change every month. Then there are those pesky unexpected expenses that always seem to pop up.

Like with any other skill, staying on budget is something that takes time and practice to master. Here are 7 tips for sticking to your monthly budget.

Give Yourself An Allowance

Giving yourself a cash-only allowance for all of the “extra” things you want is a great way to eliminate excess spending. Remember that once the money is gone, it’s gone, so that means no more lattes or other splurge items.

It’s easy to get a coffee or go out for lunch when you’re just swiping a card and not thinking about it. Instead of paying with plastic, take out a cash allowance each month to keep your spending under control.

Have the other members of your family participate in this exercise too by giving each person a monthly cash allowance.

Pay Your Savings Bill First

Treat your savings account as a bill and pay it first. Having an emergency savings account is important for all those expenses you don’t expect, like an auto accident or an injury.

If you have direct deposit through your job, have a portion of your paycheck put directly into your savings account so you’re never tempted to use it rather than save it.

Plan Your Meals And Shop Ahead

Eating out and buying groceries are two of the largest spending categories in most families’ budgets. Many people grab a pizza or fast food when they forget to take something out for dinner or can’t think of anything to cook.

Instead of eating out frequently, plan your meals in advance and shop weekly. This will help you avoid running out of food so you won’t have to do extra shopping mid-week.

Another advantage of shopping ahead is if you use the sales flyer to plan your meals you can save a bundle by shopping the sales. Using these deals and coupons can help keep your food budget in check.

Know The Prices Of Your Groceries

Make a list (a mental list is fine) of the items you regularly buy and their price. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, so if you notice that mangoes, apples or avocados cost $0.50 in one season and $1.50 in another, plan accordingly.

Other items are seasonal too. TV’s are always cheaper right before the Super Bowl or after Black Friday. Grills are cheaper in the summer. Shop for clothing during Labor Day sales or during back-to-school-specials.

Many stores lower prices on items seasonally or on a weekly schedule, so knowing when something will be at the rock bottom price will help you plan your purchases better.

Adjust Your Tax Withholding

If your budget is too big for the amount of money you’re bringing in, take a look at your tax withholding to ease that burden a bit. Sure, having a huge tax refund in April is fun, but at the same time you’ve essentially given the government an interest-free loan all year.

Instead of lending the government the money, keep it for your monthly needs or put it in your own savings account so you can at least earn interest on it.

Identify And Eliminate Expensive Habits

Whether it’s smoking, drinking or even a Netflix subscription that isn’t being used, eliminating your most expensive habits can help you lead a better life while putting more cash into your monthly budget.

Addicted to coffee? Switch from Starbucks to McDonalds McCafe. Love watching TV? Cancel cable and get a Hulu subscription. Look at your lifestyle and identify places where you can cut back on spending to help with your finances.

Utilize Smartphone Apps

Use software or apps to help you keep track of your monthly budget. There are numerous free apps and online software packages that can help you track all of your spending and accounts. There’s Mint, Level Money and You Need A Budget.

These smartphone apps will give you an overview of where you’re spending money and help you identify places you can save. Some also alert you when your budget for a particular category is almost exhausted.

3

5 Tips For A Successful Garage Sale

Garage sales are a great way to clear out clutter and make a little extra money during the process. For shoppers, finding great bargains and haggling can make for an exciting weekend morning.

Garage sales held in the spring and summer months tend to do very well and with all of the free advertising options available, it’s easier than ever to have a successful garage sale. However, getting customers to your sale is only half the battle, you’ll also need to know how to price your items.

Read on for 5 great tips to help you price your items correctly and have a successful garage sale.

The 1/3rd Rule

Price excellent condition items at 1/3 of their retail value. High-value or big-ticket items in excellent condition can successfully sell at 1/3 of their retail value. That means if you have a stroller that you paid $300 for and barely used, you can probably sell it for around $100 at your garage sale. Understand that garage sale shoppers are usually bargain hunters, so don’t be surprised if the first few people that look aren’t interested.

Mark Your Prices Clearly

Casual garage sale shoppers hate asking a price on an item, so it’s important to have prices clearly marked. Marking prices on items will result in more sales than relying on customers to make an offer or ask a price. If you don’t want to price each item individually, make a sign that says all like items are a certain price or all items on a certain table area another price. This may require some work on your part to keep track of where the items came from or how much each group of items costs.

Offer Bulk Deals

Offer bulk pricing on like items or lots of items. True bargain hunters can’t resist bulk pricing. If you have a bunch of CD’s or books, consider pricing them as a lot. Offer individual items for one price or the entire lot of the items at a discounted rate. If the shopper is a true bargain hunter, they’ll likely pick up the lot for the discounted price, which means you’ll sell more of your items and clear your house out that much faster.

Drop Your Prices

Drop prices as the day wears on. If getting rid of clutter is your primary motivation for holding the garage sale rather than getting rich, be prepared to offer discounts as the day goes on to get the last of your items cleared out. Dropping prices will bring in a few extra dollars and save you a trip to the donation bin at the end of the day.

Team Up

Team up with neighbors to have multiple sales on the same day. Garage sale die-hards love neighborhood or multi-family sales. It means more items to choose from and more bargains in less time. Consider teaming up with your neighbors to have a sale at the same time to draw in even more customers. You’ll all wind up selling more items in the end, so it’s worth the effort to find a weekend that works for everyone.

3

6 Of The Best Mobile Coupon Apps

You already know that couponing can save you a lot of money. But you just don’t have the time or energy to hunt out the best coupon, clip them and fumble through the checkout lines at the grocery store.

If that sounds like you, a mobile coupon app can help you get the savings you want with far less effort than traditional methods of hunting, clipping and saving coupons.

Read on to learn about 6 of the best mobile coupon apps for your smartphone.

SnipSnap

SnipSnap operates like a coupon binder. It allows you to search stores for coupons and then download them to the app where you can access them later. It’ll even sort by expiration date and let you search your coupons later for easy access. When you get to the checkout counter, just scan the coupons from your phone and you’ll see the savings automatically come off your total. Best of all, the app is free which really appeals to savvy shoppers.

iOS app | Google Play app

Yowza

Yowza operates by allowing retailers rather than users to upload coupons to share. That results in better savings and more accurate coupon codes. You can search the app based on your location or the retailer. You can even search for your favorite stores, even if they’re not in your immediate area. Over 70,000 retailers participate with Yowza, making it a great way to get exclusive coupons for your favorite stores. The app is free and works with iPhone or Android devices.

iOS app | Google Play app

Express Checkout

Express Checkout is part savings app and part sanity saver. Instead of fumbling with your keyring to find your savings cards, Express Checkout keeps all of your loyalty cards in one convenient location. You can scan your loyalty card directly from your phone, eliminating the need to weigh down your key ring with excessive clutter.

iOS app | Google Play app

Coupon Sherpa

Coupon Sherpa offers a virtual wallet that you can save your coupons into. It offers a variety of savings options by retailer, brand or other distinguishing characteristics. You can scan the coupons from your phone or you can print them off. The app is free and works on all operating systems.

iOS app | Google Play app

ShopKick

ShopKick encourages you to shop by providing rewards when you visit certain retailers, even if you don’t make a purchase. It is a deals app and a rewards app all in one. It uses a location serve to track which stores you’re in and rewards you with points. You then exchange the points for gift cards.

You can also get points for completing social activities, taking surveys and performing other actions. The downside is that the app has to be open to reward you with points and it is known to drain the battery life of most phones.

iOS app | Google Play app

Checkout51

Checkout51 is an effortless app that’s great for people who don’t really like to coupon. It offers a great cash-back product for products you’ve purchased anyway. You access the savings by scanning receipts, meaning you’ll never have to clip coupons or take them to the store. Once you reach a specific threshold you can have a check mailed to you.

iOS app | Google Play app

Are there any apps you use to save money I may have missed? Let me know in the comments section.

1

The Five Habits Of People In Debt

Do you ever wish you had someone that would just follow you around and slap your credit card out of your hand whenever you were about to make a bad financial decision?

The “good angel, bad angel” on the shoulder portrayed in movies would sure come in handy when you’re about to make potentially life-ruining purchases or decisions. And believe me, if I could send you a pair of budget-conscious fairies to help you change your habits, I would.

But let me fill you in on a little secret: you don’t need them.

With a little bit of research and a lot of self-discipline, you will begin to see what seemingly harmless or inconsequential decisions can do to your bank account and credit score.

For starters, here are five common characteristics of people who find themselves in a perpetual cycle of debt.

Having No Emergency Savings

When unexpected events occur, such as speeding tickets, car accidents, broken bones or illnesses, job layoffs, home repairs, unexpected travel for a family emergency, etc, do you have a plan in place to cover the financial burden?

Having an emergency fund set aside just to guard against these unexpected circumstances from destroying you financially is absolutely crucial to avoid debt or even bankruptcy. Because when, not if, something happens, borrowing funds from your regular budget means less money for bills, food, gas etc. Which usually means you start throwing your purchases on the credit card. This leads to a downward spiral of playing catch-up that is hard to break.

All of this can be prevented by starting a simple savings account that goes untouched unless absolutely necessary. If you don’t have much to start with, that’s okay! Set a goal to add $5, $10, $20 per week or month to it, and over time it will become a substantial amount that will give you peace of mind.

Relying On Credit

People in debt tend to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and with a heavy reliance on their credit cards and lines of credit. Spending more than you make is a nasty habit with lasting consequences, usually in the form of hefty interest payments, late payments, and dings to your credit score.

Those who are in the habit of reaching for the plastic should consider carrying an allotted amount of cash with them that they can use in place of their credit card, and should also consider getting rid of their overdraft protection. Those cards don’t seem like money to us because we don’t see the amount leave our possession, so using cash and keeping a running or mental balance of our funds can help you live within your means and be mindful of your spending habits.

Failing To Budget

The old adage, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” rings true for your finances. If you don’t have an idea of what you spend each month in relation to what you make, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It won’t take you long to sit down and list out all of your bills, their amounts and their due dates. A simple search through your online bank account can give you an idea of how much you spend on shopping, eating out, gas, etc.

Once you have an idea of how much you’re used to spending, set some goals to ensure that it is well within your income and to save the rest for your emergency fund or large purchases.

Ignoring Your Credit Report

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once per year. Look it up, and learn the lingo. There may be some terms you don’t quite understand, like “utilization ratio” and “revolving account.” You can find many helpful resources online to help you quickly figure out what it all means. Look for your overall score, and also any negative items. It’s also important to learn how to identify any potentially incorrect information that you could dispute to improve your score.

Recreational Shopping

Last but certainly not least, a very common habit among those in perpetual debt is retail therapy. Shopping as a distraction from your problems, shopping to relieve boredom, shopping for exercise – these are all red flags that your spending may be out of control. When you go shopping without a plan or purpose, you are destined to spend impulsively, wreaking havoc on your budget and, over time, your credit score.

Instead of defaulting to shopping, focus on ways to deal with your problems directly so that they are managed appropriately. Have a plan of action so that the next time you feel that stress or boredom coming on, you can go directly into an activity that won’t drain your bank account or rack up debt on your credit cards.

Like all good things in life, financial management skills take time and practice to perfect, and with some trial-and-error and a lot of self-discipline, you will soon see how living debt-free really is a new kind of freedom you never experienced before.

Nighttime Rituals To Boost Your Productivity

Whether you’re seeking a serene environment for sleeping or trying to get a head start for the following day, you need a great nighttime routine in order to wake up the next day feeling ready to be productive. Here are some nighttime rituals you should incorporate into your daily life.

Properly Balance Work/Family Time

For a lot of people, the workday is not over by 5 PM. More than half of full-time workers in America put in more than a 40 hour work week and a third of working Americans work weekends.

If you want to build a good night routine, you have to find a way to balance your work with quality family time.

Telecommuting and flexible working hours are becoming more common. See if your employer is willing to accommodate you. If they’re smart, they’ll realize that a happy and refreshed employee is the most productive.

When you’re at home, you can designate a workspace for yourself so that members of your family will know when not to disturb you.

Put your phone on silent when it’s family time so you won’t be tempted to check it every time it beeps.

Adopt Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is not about keeping your sheets and pillowcases clean. It involves putting efforts into make it easier for you to sleep well.

If there are no cues to let your system know it’s time to wind down, it might be difficult for you to keep your mind quiet as soon as you’re in bed. It is very important to create boundaries between time to work and time to wind down, particularly for self employed entrepreneurs, remote workers, or anybody who takes work home.

There are no set rules for what the appropriate method of sleep hygiene is. But here are some practices you can adopt:

  • Stay away from alcohol or caffeine several hours before your bedtime.
  • Have a steady bedtime every night.
  • Drink warm milk or some herbal tea, or eat a light snack.
  • You can try doing some activities that are screen-free like reading or meditating.
  • Try to make your bedroom as quiet and serene as possible.
  • Make your room dark and keep the room quiet.
  • Your bed is for sleeping and your body needs to know this so don’t linger in bed eating or watching TV.

Get A Full Nights Rest

I’m sure you’ve heard of super successful people who succeed on little sleep. It was reported that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey had to work for 16 hours daily in order to concentrate all his attention on Twitter and Square. People like Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Marissa Mayer, Sergio Marchionne of Fiat and several others survive on 4-6 hours of sleep every night.

But is it right for you? Probably not. Surviving on nothing other than a “glorified power nap” is more related to genes than any form of motivation. Approximately 5% of the world doesn’t require more than a few hours rest to feel refreshed and this can be linked to a genetic mutation.

Most people need at least 7 to 9 hours of rest nightly, but they’re not necessarily getting it. More than 50 million adults in America suffer from sleep disorders, and about 30% of adults sleep for six hours or less daily.

But hey if you’re already up, then you should probably take advantage of it, right? Lots of people who are night owls find they are most productive and creative at night.

The founder of JetBlue, David Neeleman, used to work until 2 AM during his tenure as CEO. It was reported that he viewed his ADD as a form of creativity and energy to maintain the company’s growth. Working long after his family had retired for the night and sending out the ideas fresh off his mind were very good strategies that helped him launch JetBlue into the world of competitive airlines.

Conclusion

A good evening routine does more than set you up for more relaxing sleep or help you maximize creative working hours, it sets the tone for the entire next day, helping you feel productive from the second you wake up in the morning.

Do you go to bed early or do you stay up late at night? How do you create a boundary between work and family time?

2

4 Things You Need To Buy A House

In this article I’ll go through a list of 4 must-haves that everybody needs to have if they want to buy a house.

Buying a house isn’t as easy as it used to be. The days of no-documentation or low documentation loans are all but gone.

And with good reason, as they are partly the reason why we got into this mess in the first place. There was a bunch of people who were allowed to buy homes they could not afford. The banks knew it but they couldn’t care less because they were selling their loans and pocketing all the profit with no risk.

Then the collapse came as people’s adjustable interest rates started adjusting and their payments skyrockets. With that, foreclosures skyrocketed as well.

But now it’s a bit different. Things are slowly beginning to change. Now is a good time to invest in real estate (or buy your first home) if you have all of the right pieces to this real estate puzzle.

Before you even begin to consider buying a house there are some reality checks one must face. Here are 3 things you need to buy a house.

A Good Credit Score

How A Credit Score Relates To Interest Rate On A Mortgage

If you want to make your dreams of owning your own house come true this year the first thing you want to make sure of is that your credit score is in order. Let me be more blunt: you need a good credit score to buy a house in 2018. The better your score, the better the rate, after all.

What’s considered a good credit score?

The absolute bare minimum credit score to qualify for a mortgage is 620. However, to secure the best rates, you need a score of 740 or higher.

If your credit score is below this number, you have several options:

  • Wait. While this can take a while, it may be best to wait to buy a house until your credit has improved.
  • Get an FHA loan instead. For an FHA loan, you need a score of at least 500 to go along with a 10% down payment. (If your score is over 580, then you’re only required to put down 3.5%) The downside of an FHA loan is that you have to pay a monthly mortgage insurance premium on top of your mortgage payment.

If you have bad credit, don’t despair, there other factors that can help you qualify for a mortgage. These are:

  • A low loan-to-value ratio. You can achieve this by making a higher down payment. If you want a $200,000 house and can make a $50,000 down payment, it shows you are more committed to making the payments on the property.
  • A big savings account. The more money you have saved up, the better.
  • High income. Even if your credit is bad because of past mistakes, you can overcome it if you show you make a lot of money.
  • A low debt-to-income ratio. If you don’t have much (if any) credit card debt, yet good income, it shows you will be able to handle the new mortgage payment.
  • A long history of employment. If you’ve been working at the same place for over 10 years, odds are your job is pretty safe. This goes a long way toward showing future income stability.

Have Verifiable Proof Of Income

When you’re applying for a mortgage the one thing you’ll need is a lot of proof. The lender will ask you for… just about everything.

Be ready to provide bank statements of every bank account you have, to show you have steady income. You’ll also be asked to provide recent pay stubs along with the last 2 years of tax returns.

You need proof for everything. So if you have side gigs which pay you cash, that income is not going to count.

This information you provide must back up the total income you claimed to earn. You will not qualify for a house if your income isn’t up to par.

To help you better qualify for a mortgage, you can combine your income with your spouse. But if you do, keep in mind that now both credit scores will be taken into account.

While income can be combined, credit scores are not combined or averaged. The lender will use the lower credit score of the two of you to calculate your interest rate.

Save For A Sizeable Down Payment

Put A 20% Down Payment To Buy A House In 2018

The days of buying a house without putting a down payment are long gone. Lenders want you to be committed to your home purchase. After all, if they’re letting you borrow a few hundred grand, they want to make sure you’re invested into the house too.

To buy a house, you need to make a sizable down payment to secure a mortgage.

It is advisable to put down 20% of the homes sale price toward the down payment. By doing so, you avoid paying the dreaded private mortgage insurance (PMI).

You pay PMI every month until you owe 20% of what your property is worth. Typically, PMI is 1% of the loan amount per year. So on a $300,000 loan, you owe $3,000 per year (or $250 per month). This money doesn’t benefit you and goes straight down the toilet.

If you don’t have 20% down payment, you have several options:

  • Wait until you’ve saved up 20% down.
  • Bite the bullet and pay private mortgage insurance.
  • See if you qualify for something other than a conventional mortgage.

Other lending programs don’t require too much of a down payment:

  • FHA loans require 3.5% if your credit score is at least 580.
  • VA loans don’t require any down payment. Plus, there’s no monthly mortgage insurance to pay.
  • USDA loans don’t require a down payment either. USDA loans are available for single family homes location in less dense, rural areas.

To Buy A House, You Need To Have Reserves

Have 6 Months Of Cash Reserves In The Bank

And lastly, banks will want to see that you have enough money in your reserves just in case you happen to fall into a financial setback.

It used to be a good rule of thumb to have at least up to 3 months of money reserves, but now just to be on the safe banks want to see that you have at least 3-6 months of reserves.

Here’s how you calculate how much is necessary to have in reserves.

You need to take your total proposed monthly mortgage payment and multiply by 6 for 6 months reserves.

Your mortgage payment may consist of the following: principal, interest, private mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, real estate taxes and homeowners association dues. It really adds up!

For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, the amount needed in reserves vary depending on your credit score and the loan to value ratio. As a rule of thumb though, the riskier the loan, the more you need to have in reserves.

Other loan types, like FHA, VA and USDA don’t require reserves.

If you find yourself fulfilling all of the requirements to buy a house then you’ll be well on your way to owning your first home.

7 Tools To Stay Productive Throughout The Day

Entrepreneurs face the challenge of keeping on top of things. There are countless emails to go through every day as well as staying on track with your projects. If you have employees then there is the added task of delegating responsibilities and keeping track of their progress. And let’s not forget networking and looking for new business opportunities.

All of this must be done without being too distracted by the news, social media, watching sports and then we must also make time for our families.

So how can entrepreneur juggle life’s challenges and stay productive? The answer is by using smartphone apps and other tools that are readily available to better manage our workload.

Today I’m going to list several of my favorite tools that I use on a daily basis to help me effectively tackle my daily responsibilities and ensure I make the most of my workday.

1. Trello

I use Trello to manage most of my life. Whether it’s to plan a family vacation, create an editorial calendar, or follow a strict exercise regimen, Trello is there to save the day.

The main point of Trello is to give you a birds eye view of projects, large and small. In Trello there are boards, lists and cards. A board could be titled Work, a list could be titled Articles and each card would be the title of a different article.

From within each card you can set due dates, add a checklist and even invite others to collaborate on a project. This is extremely useful if your collaborating with a team member on any kind of project.

That team member doesn’t have to be a coworker though. It can be your spouse as you are jointly planning your child’s birthday party. You can create a list of what you need and each of you can check items off as you complete them. You can add comments, images and links to each card.

2. Dropbox

There are so many cloud services out there. It seems like each major company has one. There’s Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive and of course Dropbox.

The reason I choose Dropbox over all of the major companies is that Dropbox works perfectly across all platforms. I use it all the time to share documents. I create a document, save it, then right click on the file to copy the Dropbox link to share. I no longer need to attach documents to emails. Edits can be made by the other party, I can then see their edits, add comments and see who has opened the document and when.

Other benefits of Dropbox include being able to recover deleted files, restore a previous version, setting expiration dates for links and of course it works on both my computer and my iPhone seamlessly.

3. Momentum Chrome Extension

Momentum replaces your new tab window with a beautifully designed simplistic one. It’s designed to keep you focused on your goals. Instead of just a blank page as your new window, your Momentum page features a full sized background, an inspirational quote and you can set your main task for the day. This way, every time you open a new window you get a reminder of what your goal is for the day.

If just one task seems too simple, realize that people often times have trouble finishing just one task per day. Set your goal the moment you open your browser window and the Momentum plugin will keep you determined to completing your main task for the day. The next time you open a new window and get tempted to waste hours on Facebook, Momentum keeps your focus where it should be.

4. Spotify

Wait, music? I thought this was about focusing on work. Well, for me at least, listening to music on Spotify helps me to stay productive and focused. It’s so easy to be distracted by things like outside noise, the TV and your phone. But when there’s music on, none of those other things matter. I function better when there’s music on in the background.

Just like a good playlist can help you power through a tough workout, music can help you power through a day of work. Not sure what to listen to? No problem, go to the Focus section on Spotify, choose a playlist and let them do the rest.

5. Canva

If you’re graphically challenged yet need to make a quick logo, banner or edit a blog image, then Canva is for you. This photo editing app is nowhere near as intimidating (or expensive) as Photoshop. First of all, you can do all the editing from your browser with a simple drag and drop system.

If you know how to use Snapchat or Instagram stories you already know how to use Canva. Just choose an image, add some graphics and choose a font to add text. You can create everything from large infographics to ebook covers or just a simple blog post image. In fact, the image on this blog post was created on Canva in under 5 minutes.

6. Streak CRM For Gmail

Want to know if your emails are being read? Install the Streak CRM for Gmail chrome extension to take your GMail to another level. Tracking opens lets you see if your messages are being opened or if you’re being ignored. It shows you when, where and how many times your email has been opened. You can also track clicks, which is particularly effective if you’re sending an email newsletter. You can see what type of content resonates with your audience by checking your email analytics.

Other features include being able to schedule emails to be sent at a later date/time. If you write a lot of the same things in emails to various customers/clients, you can also save snippets, so you don’t have to keep writing the same thing over and over again. Finally, there’s also a “mail merge” option which puts emails in one thread for all those times when a subject is changed and a new thread is inadvertently created.

7. Fiverr

For just 5 bucks you can get a quick task completed on Fiverr. Don’t expect amazing results, but for simple tasks nothing beats Fiverr.

So if you’re looking to get some text translated, an article to be proofread or need a caricature/avatar made, Fiverr is the place to go.

I use Fiverr weekly for any small tasks I need help with. Here’s a sample of some gigs I’ve had completed for me the last couple of months on Fiverr:

  • I bought a new blog and needed a logo. $35 later I had a perfect logo at a reasonable price.
  • I also needed new content for this site, so I bought bulk articles at a rate of $10 each.
  • There was an error on another blog of mine I couldn’t fix. I ordered a gig from a WordPress expert who got my code fixed.
  • I ordered a review of a blog I own because I wanted the input of an impartial observer. They gave their opinion on the color scheme, style, text size and overall thoughts on the blog.

Bonus Tool: ServiceScape

Do you need an email, business plan, academic paper, blog post, or book edited? ServiceScape has the right expert editors for all of your editing needs. They have been providing professional editing services for over 17 years, and their editors are all vetted, rated, and reviewed. They even provide free sample edits upon request. So, if you’re looking for a second set of eyes to correct and polish your writing, ServiceScape is the perfect place to go. Everyone can benefit from an outside perspective.

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7 Things Broke People Have In Common

Do you know anyone who is constantly broke? It’s not that they don’t have a job or make money. It’s that they don’t know how to manage their money properly. They overspend on things, they don’t save and they end up in credit card debt.

For them, being broke is a way of life. They don’t know why they’re broke, but they always seem to be short on cash. This has little to do with how much they make. Rather, it’s their lifestyle that’s the problem.

Here are 7 things that all broke people have in common.

They Always Overpay

While you are able to find good deals, they don’t even bother. Their impulsive personality means that when they see something they like, they buy it. They don’t go research prices or even use coupons. The concept of comparison shopping is foreign to them. Look at their smartphones and you’ll find Facebook and SnapChat rather than RetailMeNot and ShopShavvy.

They Don’t Plan Ahead

People who are always broke seem to live in the moment. They do not plan for the future. It’s all about instant satisfaction and not sacrificing anything today for tomorrow. They may seem happy today, but tomorrow they’ll be dealing with the consequences.

They Rely On Others

Those who are consistently broke always go for the bailout when things get tough. For example, they hit up their parents for money. They ask their friends for a loan. They “borrow” things and “forget” to return them. Then when all else fails, they just file for bankruptcy, clean the slate, wipe out their debts and then do it all over again.

They Have Bad Credit

For broke people, a credit card is their best friend. They live on plastic. They don’t use cash, they use their credit to buy things. When debts need to be paid, they’ll get a loan to pay off another loan.

They Need To Maintain A Certain Lifestyle

People who are continuously broke all need to have the best car, the best clothes and the nicest house. It doesn’t matter if they can afford it or not. That’s irrelevant. They need to maintain a lifestyle they cannot afford.

They Lack A Budget

Those who are always broke surely have never created a budget before. They are baffled as to where their money goes. They earn a good income but never seem to have enough money. They don’t know why. The reality is that if they create a budget they would be able to clearly tell where every penny is going. Then they could take action and fix the money leaks.

They Blame Everyone Else For Their Problems

Everything is always someone else’s fault. It’s either their cheap boss, their greedy landlord or the IRS. They always complain about their financial situation but never point the finger at the person who is truly responsible, themselves.

  • Edwin
  • September 25, 2019

7 Surprises In Life That Require An Emergency Fund

What it’s a car repair, an illness or a sudden and unexpected bout of unemployment, sometimes life can catch you off guard and leave you in dire financial straits.

When the unexpected happens, it’s time to dip into your emergency fund to cover life’s ups and downs.

While it would be nice for an emergency fund to have at least 3 months of your living expenses, the reality is that most of us can’t save that much.

Whatever you can save is better than nothing, so even if you can’t sock away a lot of cash, every little bit helps.

Read on for some surprises that may inspire you to finally start the emergency fund you’ve been thinking about.

Job Loss

Whether it’s caused by a lay off or a sudden desire to quit, having an emergency fund can make a job loss less scary. The temporary income replacement will help cover basics while you hunt for a new job.

Medical Expenses

Health insurance is covering less and less of medical expenses and an unexpected illness or emergency can still put you into financial ruin. Having an emergency fund can make planning for the unexpected easier, relieving stress that many families feel whenever someone falls down or starts getting sick.

Cost Of Living Increases

With the fluctuating economy, bills and housing costs are skyrocketing. If you have an emergency fund to cover the cost of living increases that rise faster than your paycheck, you’ll have plenty of money set aside to cover bills when the price of oil starts to rise or when you’re suddenly spending more on electricity.

To cover the cost of living increases, you’ll need enough money in your bank account so you can write the checks to cover these added expenses.

Sudden Moves

If you work for a company with more than one location, there’s always a chance you can be asked to relocate at the last minute. Not all companies offer moving reimbursement, so having a savings account that you can dip into to cover the cost of sudden moves is a must.

Car Repairs

You probably need to drive to get to work and if it hat’s the case, having a fund to cover car repairs can be invaluable. Car repair funds will allow you to fix whatever is wrong with your vehicle so you can get back on the road quickly. That means you’ll be back to getting groceries, driving to work and taking care of business in no time.

Household Repairs

It seems like when it rains it pours, so it’s not uncommon to have to battle several household repairs at once. When things start going wrong at home you can either turn to your insurance or you can dip into your emergency fund. Turning to insurance may include paying a deductible, which could require your emergency fund as well.

Unexpected Travel

Even though you’re not planning on visiting your grandmother on the other side of the country, a death can mean a necessary ride in an airplane or an extended drive. Instead of worrying about travel costs, dip into your emergency fund and focus on what really matters.

  • Edwin
  • September 22, 2019
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