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Forget Budgeting To Death. Get Ahead With A Side Hustle You Won’t Hate.

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You say no to Starbucks runs and happy hours. You slash expenses to the bare minimum. And yet, at the end of the month, you barely have any breathing room in your budget after the bills are paid.

It can feel incredibly defeating, but you’re not the only one facing this struggle. Not by a long shot. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 78 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, including 10 percent of those who earn $100,000 or more.

The problem is there’s only so much scrimping and saving you can do. There are certain expenses that you just can’t eliminate. Nobody should have to choose between paying the rent on time and going to the doctor. And you might actually want to watch a movie or drink a latte once in a while.

Fortunately, unlike spending less, your potential to earn more income is technically limitless. Increasing your income can be a lot more effective ― and rewarding ― than whittling your expenses down to the last dollar.

An extra $100 a month can make a huge difference.

The idea of working even more than you already are to earn extra income might sound daunting. The truth is that you probably don’t have to pick up the graveyard shift or take a second job at the mall to increase your income. In fact, a few hours a month might be all you need to make a big difference in your financial life.

Still unsure it’d be worth it?

Perhaps you’re one of the 44 million Americans with student loan debt. Say you have a $20,000 loan at 5 percent interest and 10 years left to pay it off. Your monthly payments would be $212. However, imagine you earned an extra $100 each month and added that to your regular payment. You’d knock 3.8 years off your loan and save $2,353 in interest.

Or maybe you’re lucky enough to be debt-free, but you’re not exactly on track for retirement. You could take that $100 a month and add it to your 401(k). In 30 years, assuming an average annual return of 8 percent, you’d have an extra $140,855 in your account. And that’s not even including any contribution matches that your employers might offer.

Try these creative ways to make money.

If you’re interested in starting a side hustle but aren’t sure where to start, the good news is that Ubering drunk college kids home at 2 a.m. isn’t your only option. Here are some creative ideas, recommended by professional side hustlers:

Flip items for cash. Dustyn Ferguson of the personal finance blog Dime Will Tell said that flipping secondhand items on websites such as eBay or Craigslist is an underrated side hustle. “The things from our childhoods are often worth a lot of money these days and can be picked up for pennies on the dollar to then be resold for a good profit.” The best part? You don’t need any special skills or much money to get started. “Just head out to a yard sale or thrift store and bring along the eBay app to see what is worth money. Once you find something that’s well below what it’s worth, buy it and list it,” Ferguson said.

Turn your passion into a business. If you have a hobby, there are plenty of people out there willing to pay you for your skills. Whether you’re a photographer, guitar player or know how to fix computers, “turning your hobby into a money-making machine is an easy, low-barrier entryway to make some side money,” said Ferguson. He suggested starting by checking out the gigs section of Craigslist for ideas.

Become a mystery shopper. Jen, the blogger behind Smarty Pants Finance, is a big fan of mystery shopping as a way to earn income and cut expenses at the same time. “For example, last month I got my oil changed. I made a little money, and the cost of the oil change ($70) was reimbursed,” she said. Jen added that she also eats at restaurants as a mystery shopper four to five times a week, which allows her grocery budget to be less than $100 a month. “Next month I am taking my first trip to Asia, and it will be at no expense to me!” she said. She gives details about mystery shopping on her blog.

Rent out your home. Whether you use a service, such as Airbnb or VRBO, or go about it independently, your home can be a lucrative path to earning more income. In fact, you can rent out a single room or your whole place. Veronica Hanson, who teaches homeowners how to leverage their homes for income, began using Airbnb in 2017. “I rent my house out for about $500-$1,100 per night and sleep at my parents’ house,” she said. “Sometimes I get a hotel (for $125-ish) or tag along on my husband’s work trips. There was even a week I was on a free trip to Cabo from another side hustle.” In her first year, she generated $41,331 in revenue.

Take care of other people’s fur babies. If you’re an animal lover, pet sitting can help you pull in extra income and barely feels like work. “If you already have pets, you’re already doing the work,” said Jon Nastor, creator and host of the Hack the Entrepreneur podcast. “Adding another one to the mix is almost like passive income.”

Become a virtual assistant. Working remotely is a trend that’s only getting more popular. In fact, 3.9 million employees do it. According to Ashley Patrick of the blog Budgets Made Easy, “You can find local businesses that may need data entry, remote customer service or social media management.” Often, these jobs are part time. Even better, you don’t have to put on pants to do it. Patrick suggested searching sites such as Upwork and Freelancer for virtual assistant jobs.

Teach English. Teaching English abroad is a great way to make money while traveling the world. But if you don’t want to spend a year or longer in Asia or the Middle East, you can also teach English from the comfort of your own home. “You can find work online through VIPKID and other companies that pay you to teach English online,” said Patrick, who did it for about six months. “It is easy, and you get to make your own schedule. The hours are late at night and early in the morning,” Patrick noted.

Launch a drop-shipping business: Todd Kunsman, who runs the blog Invested Wallet, suggested giving drop-shipping a try. This essentially means becoming the liaison for companies with products that you buy at a fixed cost, then sell through your own store at a 15 percent to 25 percent markup, according to Kunsman. “This requires a bit more work setting up a tax ID number and LLC, and making friends with companies. But there are tons of options. I have two friends who started one 10 years ago and now do over $1 million per year in sales.”

Start a blog. As you probably noticed, side hustling and blogging often go hand-in-hand. It’s a crowded space, but if you’re able to garner a niche audience through your writing, it can be a significant source of income. “I started a music blog back in 2010 and was able to do some brand partnerships and other advertising that would make me a few hundred bucks every now and then,” Kunsman said. “Now I run Invested Wallet, which is starting to do the same for me and also has the potential to make great passive income or become a full-time gig in the future.”

Just don’t forget about taxes.

Here’s the not-so-great part about earning more income: You also have to pay more taxes.

When tax time rolls around, you should receive a 1099 form from any business that paid you $600 or more during the year. But even if you don’t get one, you should still report all the income you earned. And if your tax liability is $1,000 or more, you’ll need to pay quarterly estimated taxes in order to avoid a major bill in April.

Despite making your tax situation a bit more complicated, earning more income is one of the best ways to take control of your financial situation. You can choose to spend as much or as little time on earning extra income as you want. And, most important, creating additional income streams means your well-being will never lie solely in the hands of your employer.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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