8 Ways to Increase Your Income and Save Money

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The secret to true wealth is financial freedom, but how do you get it?

Do you want to be free of financial constraints? Do you want the ability to live your life without worrying about money? The sooner you start on this path towards financial freedom, the better off you will be in life.

We’ve compiled eight ways that can help get you on your way to a more fulfilling and prosperous future!

1. Live below your means 

This is one of the pillars on which financial freedom rests. The key to achieving this lies in understanding your needs and wants so that you can plan for them accordingly. This is an important factor when spending money or making decisions about investments with higher risk such as stocks. It also means being aware of how much income will be left after taxes.

2. Save at least 10% of your income for retirement 

This is a golden rule for financial planning. The earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to retire (or semi-retire) in your mid or late 50s. It’ll also make surviving an emergency much more manageable if that time ever comes around without having to deplete all of your savings.

If you are aggressive enough with how much you can save, you can even reach financial independence earlier in life, even in your 30’s.

3. Invest in stocks and bonds, not just cash equivalents (e.g., CDs) 

You might be tempted to put your money in savings accounts and certificate of deposits, but if you’re looking for a good return on your investment, it’s worth it to look at other options. Consider the stock market or bonds.

Cash equivalents like savings accounts and money market funds may be better for short-term goals, but long-term investing is the key to building wealth. That’s what stocks and bonds are about.

Dividend paying stocks and Real Estate Investment Trusts can eventually make a nice passive income that will pay you continually.

You can download Robinhood or Webull, for instance, to get started with stocks.

4. Avoid credit card debt at all costs 

If you can, try not to go into debt. Credit card debt is a surefire way to get yourself in trouble. In an absolute emergency, it’s ok, but really try to stay away from racking up credit card debt.

Use cash as much as possible. If you can’t, try setting up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay off the balance every month.

I have found myself in situations where there were larger property expenses than anticipated and had to use credit cards even after depleting the emergency fund. In these situations, do your best to try and get a 0% interest for 18-24 months if you can. Many times, credit card companies and banks offer different promotions. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Just make sure you pay it off before the special is up.

5. Pay off high-interest loans and credit cards first before you invest or save money

Paying off high-interest credit cards and loans first is a great way to ensure your finances are in good shape. You’ll be able to save money and invest in the future without having to worry about paying off debt.

Getting rid of your high-interest credit cards and loans is an essential part of having a sound financial foundation. It’s like giving yourself a head start for the rest of your finances.

6. Don’t buy a house yet until you are ready

Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make in your life. Don’t be in a hurry to buy your own home if it’s out of reach financially.

There are many ways to buy a home for low or no money down, but if you are really young and don’t have enough established credit, you may find it difficult. It’s ok to rent a house or apartment while saving up.

7. House Hack your first home

When you are ready to make that home purchase, consider a duplex, triplex, or quadplex. Live in one unit while renting out the others for significant savings. You can essentially live in your home for free while someone else pays your mortgage. When you are ready to move into your “forever” home, you can always rent out the unit you were living in.

Now you have two homes and one of them is an income producing asset.

8. Retirement Accounts

If you are in a career field where the employer will match your contributions up to a certain number, then make sure you max that out. If an employer will match up to 5%, then make sure you are contributing at least 5% into your retirement account. It’s free money!

Consider the tax implications when choosing between investment options like Roth IRA vs. traditional IRA, 401(k) vs. 403b, etc.; also consider the tax implications of withdrawing from these accounts early or later in life! 

Choosing between investment options is challenging. One thing to consider, though, when you do choose investments, make sure you understand the tax implications of your choice. Keep in mind that you’ll have taxes at the end of each year based on any gains or losses. It’s a good idea to talk to a tax professional who can help you make sense of them.

Many people misunderstand IRAs. They’re not just for the elderly but a great way to save money and invest wisely.

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRAs are a great way to save for retirement. You get an upfront tax break and build your savings over time. You will pay taxes on this account when you withdraw your money in retirement. Understand that in your later stages in life, you will likely be in a higher tax bracket then you currently in now.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are great because they let you save for retirement now and enjoy tax-free withdrawals in the future. You pay your taxes up front when you make your contributions.

The traditional retirement system may not be the way you want to go

In Conclusion

Financial freedom is possible for everyone, not just the rich and privileged. Anyone can take control of their money.

Stop living paycheck to paycheck and start feeling secure in your financial future. It’s time to TAKE ACTION! Leave us your thoughts in the comments. What would you add to this list or want further information on?

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.

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How to Budget Your Way to Financial Freedom

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Budgeting, Finances
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Reaching financial freedom is a dream shared by many people. You can achieve financial freedom by having enough investments, savings, or even sufficient cash in your pocket so that you can afford necessities for your family and maintain your lifestyle. Even if you retire, you still have enough money coming in, often from investments or passive income. The goal is often peace of mind in your life and ditching the stress of living from paycheck to paycheck. 

Unfortunately, many people cannot easily attain financial freedom because of different factors that hinder their way of living. People are often burdened by credit card debt or loans with high interest rates and no plan to pay them off. They also have difficulties that arise from financial emergencies, increasing debts due to a lack of preparedness. Others plainly have a poor time managing their money in an efficient way.

To successfully budget your finances and pursue financial freedom in a way that you don’t feel that you need money, there are many general tips you can follow, such as:

  • Create a financial plan and stick to it
  • Plan for all expenses in your household, including fixed monthly and variable costs
  • Make sure that your expenses do not exceed your allocated budget
  • Prepare an allocation for emergency purposes
  • Reconsider unnecessary purchases
  • Avoid taking out loans with high interest rates

If you can create a smart budget and stick to it, then financial freedom is right around the corner.

Why Create a Budget?

Creating a budget is essential to getting control of your finances and pursuing financial freedom. However, some people overlook this crucial step because they don’t like feeling restricted in how they spend their money. In reality, a budget gives you the flexibility to spend your money on what’s important to you because you’re planning ahead for those expenses.

After you establish your financial priorities, you can avoid overspending in certain categories. For example, if you need to cut back on eating out to put more money in your emergency fund, you’ll know when you’ve reached your limit for the month to stay on track with your goals. Conversely, you may decide to reduce some entertainment spending so you can afford more expensive groceries.

Here are some of the reasons why you need to create a budget at home:

  • Avoid overspending on things that are not needed most. If you spend money without carefully thinking about where it all goes, then the time comes when you don’t have enough for the things that really matter.
  • Reach your goals faster. Budgeting helps you to prioritize the things that you can’t go without. If you have done proper budgeting, you can focus your money on your house’s essential things. This might be saving more money, working on starting your business, or getting out of debt. The budget that you have created will serve as your plan to track your expenses if you’re spending wisely while pursuing your goals.
  • Save money for emergency purposes. It is a fact that the people who do proper budgeting can save more money than those who do not. If you want to save more money and be more prepared for unexpected events, then you need to prepare a budget plan.
  • Stop worrying about money and provide for the things that make life enjoyable. Although money can’t buy happiness, proper budgeting provides you peace of mind since you don’t need to think about payments or finances. You can let your budget do the work for you. Just allocate your money based on your spending categories and their designated amounts.
  • Become more flexible. You may have to shift financial priorities on short notice. You may have to modify your budget, but you’ll be able to visualize where your money is going and where you can make adjustments. This could be helpful for you, especially if you only have a limited budget at home. It would also help you identify some issues and priorities in life to still have money going into savings at the end of the month.
  • Gain control over your money. If you create and follow a budget, then you can control your money and prevent spending too much. You will spend based on the categories and budget plan that you have created. Thus, you will have an easier time spending your money wisely and appropriately.

These are just some of the reasons why you need to create a budget for you and your household. Developing a budget and following a financial plan helps you reach your financial and life goals and prepare for unexpected expenses and events.

What Is a Zero-Based Budget?

Zero-based budgeting is a type of budgeting strategy wherein every dollar of income is assigned to a category. Your income minus your expenses and savings should equal zero. Typically, this begins from scratch, assessing all of your necessary expenses and then determining how much can go toward various savings and other categories. Zero-based budgeting allows you to be more strategic in approaching money management and ensuring every dollar is hard at work.

Why Use a Zero-Based Budget?

Using a zero-based budget is arguably better than the traditional way of budgeting. In fact, it provides great benefits and advantages to everyone, especially in making decisions for how to distribute your income. It also provides you great control over your finances. You will always know where your money should be going and have greater ease staying aligned with your goals.

  • It gives you proper planning in your money, especially with the leftover money. Using a traditional budgeting method doesn’t leave room to determine what you will do with the extra cash. If you have extra cash left in your budget, you may decide whether to purchase something outside of your priorities. The concept of zero-based budgeting helps you to build your financial objectives into your budget.
  • It helps you not to overspend. This strategy would help you to overcome overspending. If you think that something is not that important, then you probably don’t need to invest in that product. You will think that it’s not worth buying it since you stick to your budget plan.
  • It breaks the cycle on living paycheck-to-paycheck. This kind of budgeting approach is according to the money that you have earned. Since your income minus expenses will always equal zero, you won’t have to worry about not having enough money to pay your bills. It will also ensure that the money you have leftover is being utilized wisely.

How to Create and Use a Zero-Based Budget?

Creating a zero-based budget is as simple as identifying your monthly income and splitting it up into expenses and savings.

  1. Identify the average amount you earn each month. (Consider adding a side hustle or doing under the table jobs to boost your income.)
  2. Determine your fixed monthly expenses and savings.
  3. Distribute any leftover money to additional spending or savings categories based on your individual financial goals.

If you find that you have additional money that’s not assigned to a category at the end of the month, you can determine a specific priority to which all leftover funds will be distributed. Alternatively, if you find yourself short on money, then it would be best to adjust your zero-based budget to reflect that month’s income, so you’re never lacking.

Budgeting Is the Key to Financial Freedom

To become financially stable and achieve financial freedom, it is necessary to prepare a budget plan and follow it every month. Budgeting will be the basis of your financial plan that allows you to identify your goals and actively pursue them. Before you know it, you will be free of money stress and confident in your path to financial freedom.

Samantha Hawrylack
Samantha Hawrylack

Samantha Hawrylack uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others control their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur, freelancing coach, and blogger.

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5 Ways Outsourcing and Hiring Subcontractors Will Save Your Sanity as a Solopreneur

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As a solopreneur, you probably think you have to do everything yourself. That is, after all, the point of the “solo” part, right? But all the planners and scheduling apps in the world won’t keep you on top of every task you need to do in order to grow your business. Between calls with clients, posting on social media enough to stay relevant, creating or finding new products, dealing with venders, and attempting to maintain some kind of personal life, it’s easy to feel like you’re completely losing your sanity. Fortunately, there’s an answer to that: outsourcing to subcontractors.

1. Subcontractors are also business owners.

When you’re looking for help with your business, you want someone who gets your business. Subcontractors aren’t employees. They do their own taxes, run their own books, and set their own prices. Depending on what you need, there’s often room to negotiate, within reason. They don’t answer to a boss and they know what their services are worth.

2. There is a wide variety of subcontractors out there in all kinds of fields.

In this new workforce where the majority of people have learned to market their skills online, nearly every field has some kind of expert or professional you can hire to outsource tasks you need done. Some things you can look for include:

  • Social media graphics
  • Social media management (posting, scheduling, & strategy)
  • General administration (scheduling appointments, data entry, etc.)
  • Listening in on calls to take notes
  • Logo design
  • Brand kits (color palette, font choices, etc.)
  • E-mail cleanup and management
  • Google suite management
  • Organizing files into folders
  • Client management & customer service
  • Managing sales listings online
  • Product photos
  • Blog writing
  • Creating info-graphics
  • Writing a business plan

There really is no end to what a subcontractor can do, depending on their specialty and experience. Ask for examples of their work or offer to pay for a sample if you’re not sure.

3. Subcontractors work remotely.

You don’t need to deal with having someone in your home or office space when you hire a subcontractor. Most of them work from home or their own office space and they like it that way. Remember, subcontractors own their own businesses and that means they have their own way of getting things done. They don’t want to invade your space.

4. Subcontractors work autonomously.

Once you hand off your project and work out the details, your subcontractor will go and do it all on their own. You won’t need to check in on their work every moment and if you want updates, work out when you’ll get reports from them ahead of time. They work all of this into their own schedule and do it on their own, so you don’t have to do anything else.

5. Subcontractors are prompt.

When you outsource your tasks, you’ll sign a contract with your subcontractor detailing the parameters of the project. Be sure that everything (including how and when you’ll communicate and how and when you’ll pay for their work) you need to know is there and be precise about due dates. Subcontractors want good reviews when their time with you is over. They’re not your employee looking for a good performance review. They are their own business and rely on reputation to do well with the next client.

Become a Subcontractor Yourself!

If you find that your business is low and you need a little extra work, consider subcontracting out your own services and expertise! Look for groups in your specialized niche that will help you find ways to get into the business. There’s more than enough work to go around!

I have recently started outsourcing a bunch of things to subcontractors myself and that’s why I wanted to post this. I was starting to get burned out running a podcast, blog, social media pages, and real estate all while working my full-time job in the Navy. It can get overwhelming… I needed to get some more family time. The thing that took up the bulk of my time is editing audio and video for my podcast and YouTube channel. Outsourcing that has relieved a huge burden off of my shoulders and allowed me to actually enjoy some time on the weekend again. Don’t be scared to spend a little money to outsource some projects. You get to write it off as a business expense too!

Keep crushing it Average Joes!

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.

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Investment Risk Tolerance

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Finances, Investing
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When you’re ready to invest, you’ll likely consider the amount you have available to invest and what you want your financial gain to be over a specific period. You may be quite specific about these factors, or maybe you care only about the bottom line and how much you stand to lose or gain.

For your own peace of mind, it’s wise to determine your level of risk tolerance for your investments. Understanding your own wants and desires related to your finances will largely determine how you decide to allocate your funds.

Consider your answers to the following questions to help you determine your level of risk tolerance regarding investments:

  1. How much are you willing to risk? Based on how much money you currently have, how much of it are you willing to risk in an investment?

  2. Of course, some people will say, “no problem, let’s go for it” regardless of how much they’re worth. Others, however, will carefully evaluate their financial worth and be willing to risk only a certain percentage of their overall wealth.

  3. Are you okay with no cash flow? Can you handle no investment cash coming in for a while if a large investment goes south?

  4. If so, how long can you put up with this condition? Being able to live with no money coming in is difficult for most people. How well you can accept this situation is an important determinant of your risk tolerance.

  5. Is an investment “doable” in your eyes? If you’re considering a specific investment, do you feel the investment is one you could make without hesitation?

  6. Each person has his own thoughts and ideas about the type of investments in which he has confidence. Your investment risk tolerance depends on the rigor with which you evaluate your potential investments.

  7. What is your experience in investing? Are you able to adjust to money losses in the short term to gain funds over the longer term?

  8. If you’re 40 years old and you’ve been investing for 20 years, you’ve got 2 decades of experience under your belt. You can most likely trust in your prior investment experience when it comes to making investment decisions. Plus, 20 years of investing builds a lot of confidence, which strengthens your risk tolerance.

  9. But what if you’re 35 years old and making your first investment? If this description is closer to your situation, your risk tolerance will be lower and for good reason.

  10. How old are you and how much are you worth? These factors are also important when it comes to making difficult decisions about how to invest your money.
  • When you’re younger, you may have more tolerance for loss because you have more time to make up any losses before you retire.

  • Also, at any age, the higher your net worth, the easier it may be to tolerate a loss of a small percentage of your worth.

It’s wise to know your level of investment risk tolerance. Because making investments are so integral to you and your family’s financial future, it’s important you be intimately connected with your feelings and ideas about investing your money and the risks involved.

If you seriously ponder the above questions and your responses, you’ll be able to determine successfully your risk tolerance for investing.

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.

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How to Talk About Money with Your Partner

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Budgeting, Finances
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Is there a right way to talk about money with your partner? There certainly is. After all, you don’t want to end up arguing over money. If you can approach the topic of money in the right way, it should be much easier to talk about!

It’s well known that money problems are one of the leading causes of divorce. To help you avoid becoming part of these statistics these tips will help you to find it easier to talk about money with your partner.

Tips For Talking About Money With Your Partner

These tips are easy enough for anyone to follow. Remember, the goal is to build trust with your partner and have honest communication with them about money.

Learn To Compromise

Everyone has their own values when it comes to money. Some people love to spend, spend, spend! Others like to save as much as they can for a rainy day.

If you and your partner share the same values that’s fantastic and will make life more harmonious.

However, problems can arise when your opinions differ. Maybe one day you want to make a large purchase using credit, but your partner is dead set against it as they don’t like taking on more debt. Here is where learning to compromise will make it easier.

There will be times when one of you might have to agree to disagree. Alternatively, you may need to compromise by agreeing to a solution in the middle. For example, you may agree you will use credit for purchases, but only up to an agreed amount. 

Understanding each other’s values and learning to compromise is a great way to build trust with each other around finances.

Don’t Dwell On Stuff

Money is something we all must learn to manage. When we are combining finances with a partner it’s best to discuss how we feel about money openly and honestly.

Sometimes people fail to do this which means over time resentment builds up. Your partner may spend too much, save too little, or just not care about making sure bills are paid on time.

Whatever the problem is if you don’t say anything it will never get better!

Don’t dwell on things until it explodes into an argument. Discuss money daily to make sure you are both in agreement with how it’s being managed.

Be A Team

When you’re in a partnership it means you need to be on the same page when it comes to money and hopefully everything else. One great way to be a successful team is by playing to each other’s strengths.

One of you might be super organized which means they are better at planning the budget and tracking spending. The other partner might be awesome at saving and living frugally. Giving responsibility for each task to the right person is a great way to be a successful team.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t both involved. Make sure you still make decisions together and talk about all options. It’s important you both know what the other is doing!

Don’t Be A Financial Cheater

Financial Cheating
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There may be times you think keeping a purchase a secret is a good idea. Perhaps you think your partner will be angry and you want to avoid an argument.

Recent studies show that more than half of Americans have committed financial infidelity. Financial infidelity includes things like secret spending, hiding debts, and not declaring savings.

You may think you’ve got a good reason to hide the truth from your partner. However, when they find out the truth the relationship could be ended. Even when small amounts are involved that loss of trust can be hard to win back. 

The good news is that if you are following the other steps and regularly talking about money, you shouldn’t need to lie!

How To Talk About Money

Whether your relationship is new or decades-long you may be struggling to bring up the topic of money. It can be difficult if it’s something you’ve argued about in the past.

To start with it’s best to bring up the topic of money when you are both willing to talk about it. Simply ask the question, ‘Hey, would you mind if we chat about money for a bit?’

By putting this simple question out there first your partner should hopefully feel at ease to discuss the topic. This makes things much easier instead of just diving into tough questions without warning. Sometimes your partner may say no – that’s OK. Just let them know it’s a topic you need to talk about soon. 

Of course, if they keep avoiding it, then you may need to decide if that’s a deal-breaker for you and consider ending the relationship.

It’s also advisable to talk about the easy things first. Start by talking about long-term goals. Leave things like tackling debt for when you are both more comfortable.

Finally, some people feel very vulnerable when discussing their finances. It can be especially hard for people that have struggled with debt, mental health, or maybe financial abuse from parents or a previous partner.

Keep this in mind and don’t be judgmental about their past behavior. You are now a team and should be building trust in each other. This means whatever problems there are you will tackle them together going forward. Judging will only upset your partner and possibly cause a relationship break down!

Two Ways To Improve Your Finances

OK, you and your partner now know some awesome ways to better talk about money. If you are struggling with money here a couple of suggestions that might help you improve your situation.

Be Frugal

To live frugally doesn’t mean never spending any money. It simply means you are extremely careful about every cent you spend. Living frugally is a great way to become better off financially, get out of debt, or just live a simpler life.

Frugal living tips include budgeting every cent, saving as much as you can, and using cashback sites to earn some money back. When shopping, always hunt for bargains and try switching to cheaper brands. Many cheaper options are just as good as the big brands!

Don’t forget as part of creating a frugal budget to negotiate all bills and cut out all unnecessary spending. 

Start A Side Hustle

A great way to improve your financial situation is by starting a side hustle. How can you make an extra $1000 a month? The great news is there are lots of ways to make extra money. $1000 extra month is doable with a little effort.

With that extra money, you could pay off debt quicker, build an emergency fund, or simply use it as spending money. Remember, you and your partner should agree about what you are doing with the money!

Blogging, freelancing, driving for Uber, and selling handmade goods on Etsy are just some of the hundreds of things you could do to earn extra money. Have a think about your skills and see if you can use them to start a side hustle.

Maybe you could even do something together!

Next Steps

Now that you’ve read these tips, I hope you feel better about discussing money with your partner. You should be able to talk about money without it turning into an argument if you stick to this advice. 

Chris Panteli
Chris Panteli

Hey, I’m Chris. I have a degree in Business Economics from the University of Liverpool, own a small fast food business and run LifeUpswing.com. I will help you to make money, save money, and think about money in a way that will give you back your freedom.

Financial planning for 2021 – 5 Practical Tips to Protect Your Money

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The New Year is the perfect time to think about how you can bring positive changes to your financial life. It is time to sit with your family and create a financial map to reach your money goals for 2021.

In this post, we will discuss 5 tips that can help you to protect and improve your financial life.

5 Tips to Improve Your Finances in 2021

After a disastrous 2020, it is time to take care of your financial life.

Here are a few tips to help you improve your finances in 2021.

1. Set your financial goals for 2021: The first tip is to set up specific, achievable, and realistic financial goals for yourself.

Be specific about what you want. For example, your financial goal can be to stop making useless expenses and save money.

But is this specific? No.

What is a specific financial goal?

A specific financial goal is something like this. “I will save a thousand dollars every month.”

When you are determined to save a thousand dollars every month, you know exactly what you have to do. It is a specific, realistic, and attainable goal.

Another example of a realistic and attainable financial goal is contributing $100 to retirement savings accounts every month.

Have you noticed that in both examples, there is a time factor? You are contributing $100 to your retirement savings plans every month. This means that you will have to gather money for the contribution within 30 days.

Do not set vague financial goals as it is hard to devise a plan for achieving them.

2. Create a budget that you can follow: Do you know what the foundation of a healthy financial life is? It is the household budget.

A household budget helps you to track your expenses. It helps you to understand where you are spending money and where you should not spend money. It shows you the areas where you can potentially save money. If you do not know how to create a budget, then you can download a budgeting app on your smartphone.

Read reviews of budgeting apps online and download any one of them to stay on top of your finances.

Make sure you create a simple and realistic budget that you can follow. Avoid making a shoe-string budget that doesn’t give you any breathing space.

3. Pay off as much of your debts as you can: 2020 is gone. You have to think about 2021 now. Last year, you skipped payments on your debts without any trouble. But 2021 is different. You have to think about the best way to reduce credit card debt.

Ways to reduce credit card debt in 2021

You can settle your debts to pay less than what you owe.

You can consolidate your debt to pay back your creditors in easy monthly payment plans.

You can file for bankruptcy if you don’t have enough financial resources to pay off your debts.

4. Build an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses: Several people suffered from a cash crunch in 2020 due to various factors like job loss and pay cuts. Most of them didn’t have an emergency fund. As such, they couldn’t do anything to protect their financial life.

Do not make this mistake in 2020. Save money to build your emergency fund. It will help you to tackle emergency expenses. Usually, financial experts recommend saving 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. However, in the present circumstances, when everything is uncertain, it is best to save 9 to 12 months’ worth of living expenses.

If you do not have an emergency fund, make sure to create one in 2021. Reduce your expenses wherever you can and do side-hustles to generate enough cash to build your emergency fund.

5. Invest to grow your money and secure your future: Forget what happened in 2020. 2021 is a new year, and you should start it fresh. 2020 was financially challenging for everyone. If you received a pay cut in 2020, then you might not have invested your money anywhere. Think about how much you can invest, and where this year will be. Smart investments help you grow your money over time.

If you want to invest in the stock market, find out the companies that are likely to grow in the long run.

Make sure you invest your money in retirement savings plans, especially when you have not made a contribution in 2020. You need to build your nest-egg to secure your financial future.

Final note

Let’s kick-start 2021 with a fresh resolve to build a healthy financial life. Let us avoid making expensive money mistakes and follow the five tips mentioned in this article. If you can do this throughout the year, you can improve your finances and achieve all your goals in 2021.

Best of luck!!!

Aiden White
Aiden White

Aiden White is a financial writer who lives in Dudley, Massachusetts. She started her financial journey in 2016 and has been associated with consolidatecreditcard.org for the last 2 years. Through her writing, she has inspired people to overcome their credit card debt problems and solve their personal finance based queries. Being a debt fighter in her personal life, her goal is to share innovative thoughts and knowledge in the debt communities.

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Second Stimulus Round 15…

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Budgeting, Finances, Investing, Real Estate, Stock Market
crop man counting dollar banknotes
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

So here we go again… round 15… Yes, being a bit dramatic about it but this entire process took entirely too long. This next round of stimulus checks might not be enough to put a dent into the debt some people may have racked up during the past 8-9 months…

The last stimulus bill was passed March 27th 2020. With the CARES Act expiring at the end of the month, this small amount may be helpful for some. However, as I said in the beginning, this isn’t much help at all.

Related: Will the Stimulus Help
Related: CARES Act – Forbearance or Deferment

So, with all of that said, this post is mostly geared towards those that are still afloat during the pandemic and not behind on bills. It’s unfortunate, but a large majority of Americans will have to dump their entire stimulus check into back owed rent or other debts that have accrued over the last 8-9 months. I do empathize with you all that are still struggling… I am really hopeful that with the COVID-19 vaccine making it’s rounds; we can return to some type of normalcy within a few months…

What should I do?

For those of you that meet the criteria to receive stimulus checks that are up to date on your mortgages, rent, and payments what will you do? You are about to get $600 for yourself and each dependent 17 and under within your household. It’s not much, but for some of you, this may be a good opportunity to start investing. If you are debt free, this might be the right time. If you are not sure if the time is right for you to invest yet, check out my article on the 7 Steps to Financial Freedom or listen to the podcast episode here.

Don’t go crazy and dump everything into penny stocks hoping to hit it big. Be mindful of how you employ this money to work for you. “Free Money” most definitely comes with a price. The more stimulus payments that get issued and bailouts for corporations that happen, the more potential we have for some serious inflation. This is a good time to try and turn that $600 into something a little more.

Maybe look at investing in some REITs, index funds, or ETFs. This can be your opportunity to start building a passive income with dividend payments. It takes a lot of money to be invested before dividends start looking nice, but this can be your start.

If you have been looking to start your own business but didn’t want to cough up a few hundred dollars to start one, maybe this is the beginning. If you are able to invest this money in yourself or your business, then that works too. Maybe it’s a side hustle you’ve been thinking about. Maybe you wanted to open an Etsy shop but didn’t have the materials to do it; now you can buy those materials and get started.

Conclusion

The main takeaway of this post is to NOT use this money to go buy another PS5 or laptop, but to invest it into something that can help you build your wealth. Use this as your initial push rolling into 2021 to make this next year your best one yet. We all know this year was pretty much a wash… However, just because there is craziness in the world, it’s no excuse to not set goals and crush them. I started a podcast this year and it’s been awesome! Let’s roll into 2021 goal oriented and ready to attack it.

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.

Lessons Learned Building A Strong Lease

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Investing, Real Estate

As landlords, we should always do our due diligence by protecting ourselves, our property, and our tenants with a lease. This binding document is not only your saving grace but your tenants’ as well. I can think of many occasions when I’ve had to reference my lease in order to enforce violations of the tenant and I’s agreement. As the landlord, you will save yourself time and thousands of dollars by keeping a tight lease. Keep in mind that each state has its own laws.

Early Termination Fee

Termination of this Lease Agreement at any time other than the termination date except as required by law or pursuant to ServiceMember Civil Relief Act 50 U.S.C. app 501 et seq. shall be at Landlord’s discretion and subject to negotiation and terms agreed to at the time such request for early termination is made by tenant in writing.” This is what my lease said when I had a family in one of my units that wanted to leave their apartment before the end of their lease due to them

having a new child. This vague verbiage put me in a compromising position because I was not specific on how much the family had to pay in order to terminate their lease early. We settled on a fee that was not the amount I was allowed to enforce based on Virginia’s state, nor was it enough to conduct a proper tenant turnover. The state of Virginia allows me to enforce 2 months worth of rent as an early termination fee amount. Look for the Landlord-Tenant Act that fits your state.

Charge Service fees 

⁃ Lawn care fee

For one of my properties (triplex), I charge a small $21 a month lawn service fee. The property has a huge back and front yard. Originally it was my tenant’s responsibility to cut the lawn, but they were not doing so, and it was affecting the curb appeal of the property. When it was time to implement a new lease, I added a lawn care service to cover the price of having my landscaper cutting from April through October. he charges me $40 to cut the grass once a month. $40 over a span of six months is a total of $240. the $21 I charge my tenants total for this particular property is a total of $252 on a 12-month lease. This saves me from eating into my cash flow, and the tenants pay a small fee ($7 each) a month for convenience.

⁃ Water service fee 

As a landlord, based on the kind of property you bought, you may find yourself taking a utility bill into consideration of your cash flow. For me, with all five of my units, I pay the water bill. Well, I did pay out of pocket until I structured my tenant’s lease with a flat rate water bill. I averaged out the monthly cost of the water and charged a service fee. For example, both units are a 2 bedroom 1 bath for my duplex averaging are $140 a month in water usage. I included a $70 a month water service fee in their lease so that the utility bill does not eat up my cash flow. People are usually a bit more mindful of how much water they use when paying for it. It is in you and your tenants’ best interest to look into products that will lower your utility bills. This saves you money and your tenants’ money. The more money you save them, the more likely they will pay their rent even when times get a little tough.

Stagger Lease-End dates

Timing is essential to structuring leases. A best practice is to have your tenant’s leases end during the busiest times of the year people move. This allows you to turnover from tenant to tenant with minimum vacancy timeframes. People like to move in during income tax months as well. It’s a lot easier to come up with the application fee, first month’s rent, and security deposit when you just got a couple of thousand dollars from the IRS. According to Moving Labor , 80% of all United States moves occur between April and September. Increase your chances of turning over the unit quickly by arranging your tenants’ leases to end between April and September.

Conclusion

A strong lease is not meant to ensure you obtain as much money from a tenant as possible. It is used to protect and enforce. If you have to throw in a bunch of fees to break even in cash flow on a property, then that real estate investment is not for you. Compare your lease with the leases you had in the past when you were a renter. See what safeguards and policies your landlord had. You can learn a lot about the people and businesses who have been. 

Anthanē Richie
Anthanē Richie

Anthanē Richie is an active duty member in the U.S. Navy along with being a real estate investor. He shares knowledge through his podcast, Rich State of Mind on real estate investing, business, personal finance, and self development. Feel free to check out his website and follow him on the different social media platforms below

Aspiring Entrepreneur? Plan Your Escape From Your Job.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in General
Aspiring Entrepreneur

Have you ever thought about walking away from your current 9-5 job to start your own business? What’s stopping you? It’s likely to be one of two things: common sense or integrity. Both are very valuable traits.

Common Sense and Integrity

Common sense says that you most likely have commitments, obligations, and responsibilities that show up monthly, weekly, and even daily. Would it be smart to risk any of those commitments? It could cost you big time in the immediate future or long term.

You would put both yourself and your new business under immense pressure if you went in without being prepared.

It’s significantly better to have a support system in place when starting a new venture. Your family, friends, and countless other individuals can play a significant role in your future success.

Integrity takes a long time to earn. The integrity you have earned at your current job will give you some credibility to start with. Use the integrity you have built with your employers and with your work colleagues as much as you can. These could be very useful and influential contacts in the future.

It’s unwise and unhelpful to put your integrity in jeopardy.

So, instead of just pulling the plug, it’s important to plan your escape. Common sense and integrity need to be your guiding principles moving forward.

Business Preparations

It makes good sense to do plenty of research on your new business and get all your questions answered before you make any decisions. Here are a few things you can take in for consideration.

  1. Get an insider’s opinion. Getting an insiders’ view would serve you well. Standing on the outside looking in is significantly different from being on the inside looking out. It could save you time and money as you move forward into your own business.

    – Find someone who has already done something similar and ask them, “If you were doing this all over again, what would you do differently?”The answer they provide will be the most valuable conversation you could possibly have for your new business.
  1. How will you generate a profit? This is a crucial part of moving forward with a new business. It’s important to figure out, the easiest and most effective way of generating a profit from your new business. Yes, a profit… income… not just breaking even. Both the business and you as an individual will not survive without an income.
  2. How will you scale up? Determine what you need to have in place to scale your business to grow. Customers are key! They are the people who will provide your profits and build the reputation of your business.
  3. How much time do you need to get the business started? Determine how much time you have available to get your business off the ground. Naturally, the more effort and energy you put in, the quicker everything will go.

Once you’ve determined these aspects, it should be possible to calculate what needs to be done in order for you to create a timeline for escaping from your job.

Related: I am Afraid of Being Laid Off

Start Your Business Wisely

So, now you can quit your job, right? Hold on a second! You’re almost there!

Many smart people get their business into the marketplace by working part-time from home while they keep their regular job intact. Even if it takes 9 months or a year, or even a couple of years, to get it working efficiently and effectively, it’s got to be worth it, right?

Remember to factor in some wiggle room for the unexpected… Make room for some down time and even holidays.

Talk to people who have already made a similar transition to get an idea on what is reasonable and doable for your situation.

Author’s note: I personally started my own business while still being active duty in the Navy. Becoming a licensed REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, investing in real estate, and starting a blog and podcast. It’s been an absolute blast so far.

Check out our Average Joe Finances merchandise here

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Your new business should have no requirement for you to work 40+ hours a week. Your intent is to move on up in terms of profit and income potential and move down in terms of time needed to create it.

Consider different ways to work smarter, not harder. If hard work was any guarantee of success, most new entrepreneurs would already be wealthy.

It’s not about working hard. Your success will come from having a plan, an effective strategy, and the discipline and enthusiasm to follow through on it.

Speaking of working smarter and not harder… Check out this post by Bella Wanana regarding tax deductions here. Knowing about tax deductions and what you can claim with your business can save you tons of money.

It’s time to work out a sensible plan to quit your job once you can check off these two items:

  • You’re confident that you have a profitable business plan.
  • You’re working part-time on your business and showing some profits

Yes, this entire process takes patience. Just remember what your “why” is. In time, you’ll look back at the job you once had and smile knowing that you have replaced that income with something that’s your own.

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.

How to Resolve Information on a Credit Report

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Finances

The information in your credit report can affect many areas of your life. It’s important to keep track of what’s in it. If you find incorrect information, it’s your job to dispute it and have it removed from your credit report. ONLY YOU are looking out for your own credit rating, no one else… Pay attention to your report!

There are actually three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Make sure you are monitoring all three of these credit reports. It’s essential because the information can differ from report to report.

Follow this process to ensure your credit reports are accurate: Request your credit report

There are a few methods to track your credit score and credit reports. The fastest way to get a copy of your credit report is to visit Annual Credit Report. You’re entitled to receive a copy of each of your three reports for free once per year.

If you haven’t been following what’s in your credit reports, start out by requesting all three reports at once. The information they contain can actually vary quite significantly, depending on which creditor has reported what to them. Differences from one report to another can amount to a significant credit score difference.

Once you’ve obtained and corrected past information in your reports, you can stay updated by spreading out your credit report requests to every 4 months. Request your report from one of the credit reporting agencies every 4 months. Over the course of a year, you’ll have received all three.

Promptly correct mistakes in all 3 of them if you find an error.

Information accuracy

Comb over all three credit reports carefully in search of incorrect information. Any detail that isn’t right should be changed, even if it’s just a wrong address, because these pieces of information can have an impact on how lenders view you when considering your loan application.

Contact the credit reporting agency

If you find information that needs to be changed in your credit report, the next step is to contact the agency (Experian, Equifax, or Trans Union) of that specific report. It can take some time to dispute incorrect information, so the sooner you do it, the better.

Writing a dispute letter

You can find sample dispute letters online that will give you a good starting point for writing this letter. Be professional, use facts and not emotions, and include all of the necessary proof that the information is incorrect so the credit agency can make the change.

Be sure to include copies of any documents that support your position. Do not include the originals.

The process of disputing an item

Typically, the credit agency will contact the company that reported the false information, and an investigation will follow to determine whether or not the information is inaccurate.

Add accounts to your file

If you are missing credit accounts on your credit file, then you may want to ensure that missing information is added. You can make this happen by contacting the companies that aren’t reporting your credit history and asking them to begin reporting for you.

* Note: Not every company will want to report this information for you, so it can take some time for you to have this information added to your account. However, if you’re diligent, you should be able to have the information added

Check out our Average Joe Finances merchandise here

Follow up

Be sure to follow up on your requests if you don’t hear anything from the credit reporting agency within 30 days, as this is the normal length of time for an investigation.

The power is in your hands to keep your credit report in good standing. If there is inaccurate information in your credit report, or if important information is missing, then take the steps to get the information corrected. Your next job, home, or loan may depend on it. Are you checking your credit score and credit reports?

Mike Cavaggioni
Mike Cavaggioni

Mike Cavaggioni is an Active Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, Real Estate Investor, and Finance Coach located in Honolulu, HI. He is the founder of Average Joe Finances and host of the Average Joe Finances Podcast. Mike is building a community for people to come together to learn and build their wealth.