Financial independence can mean different things to everyone. A 2013 survey from Capital One 360 found that 44 percent of American adults feel that financial independence means not having any debt, 26 percent said it means having an emergency savings fund, and 10 percent link financial independence with being able to retire early.
I define financial independence as the time in life when my assets produce enough income to cover a comfortable lifestyle. At that point, working a day job will be optional.
But what about the rest of America? How would you define financial independence? If freedom from debt is what you’re seeking, here are five areas that could be holding you back.
1. Not having clear, financial goals
If you’re not planning for financial independence, chances are you won’t reach it. The future is full of unknowns, but having an idea of when you’d like to achieve financial freedom should be your first step.
Do you want to retire before you turn 65? Do you want to travel the world with your spouse once you reach early retirement? Both goals will require a significant amount of cash stashed away, so it’s important to start saving ASAP to make those dreams come true. (See also: 15 Secrets of People Who Retire Early)
2. Not saving enough
It’s important to identify how much you’re currently saving, and how much you need to save in order to retire when you want to, or reach another major financial goal. Using a calculator like Networthify can help you play with various money-saving scenarios and make realistic projections about retirement.
Another way to make saving money easier is to automate it. Setting up an automatic weekly or monthly transfer from your checking account into your savings account will take the extra task off your already full plate. Even if it’s as little as $5 a week, it’s enough to start building that nest egg. (See also: 5 MicroSaving Tools to Help You Start Saving Now)
3. Not paying off consumer debt
If you’re carrying a credit card balance each month, financing cars, or just paying the minimum on your student loans, compound interest is working against you. Creating an aggressive plan to pay off debt quickly should be a number one priority for anyone who is serious about achieving financial independence. Otherwise, your money is working for your creditors, not you.
If you prefer to tackle credit card debt first, there are several debt management methods you can try, including the Debt Snowball Method and the Debt Avalanche Method. The Debt Snowball Method has you paying off the card with the smallest balance first, working your way up to the card with the largest balance. The Debt Avalanche Method is similar, but here you would pay more than the monthly minimum on the card with the highest interest rate first, working towards paying off the card with the lowest interest rate. Both are highly effective methods, and choosing one really just depends on your preference.
4. Giving into lifestyle creep
A high income does not automatically make you wealthy. As you move up in your career, the temptation to upgrade your lifestyle to match your income will be ever-present. After all, you work hard, so why not reward yourself with the latest gadgets and toys?
However, if you continue to spend and live modestly, you can put more money away for travel or retirement with every pay raise you earn. Financial freedom will be just around the corner if you resist that temptation to upgrade your home, car, and electronics to match your income bracket. (See also: 9 Ways to Reverse Lifestyle Creep)
5. Being driven by FOMO
Fear Of Missing Out, aka FOMO, is the modern version of keeping up with the Joneses. Except now you have access to the Joneses’ social media platforms, and they go on all kinds of fun adventures. Social media is a great tool for keeping in touch, but it can also make you want to spend all your money on lavish vacations, clothes, spa treatments, and other extravagent things. Resist that urge. And block the Joneses on social media if needed. (See also: Are You Letting FOMO Ruin Your Finances?)
Learning the steps toward becoming more financially secure doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are 5 easy ways to get a better sense of your finances.
Albert Cooper, Partner
January 22, 2021
financial security with having a million dollars in the bank. While having a hefty bank balance does not hurt, it is only part of the story.
Many top earners are learning this the hard way recently, as the economic uncertainty has left them on the hook for expenses they can no longer afford to pay. However, this does not have to happen to you: here are five ways to be financially secure.
When considering how to become financially secure, your priority must be to ensure that you have enough income to cover your expenses. If you cannot pass this hurdle, then you should reconsider your lifestyle. Granted, this might be harder for some people, but even if you can put away $10 per week, this will help you to have the emergency funds you need to weather times of uncertainty, such as the COVID pandemic.
Step 1: Develop good habits
Managing your finances requires discipline, which means that you need to have good habits, as this is the only way that you can keep yourself from falling into traps. One way to do this is to keep your credits cards at home when you leave the house, as this will keep you from splurging on impulse buys. You might also want to think about getting a separate bank account for your daily spending needs, because this will limit the funds available to you at any given time.
Having good spending habits means that you need to be disciplined. However, if there is a large expense that makes sense and you have planned for it, then you should consider making it.
Another healthy financial habit is to always do your due diligence. For example, according to reverse mortgage expert Michael G. Branson, you can leverage the existing value of a property you own as a senior citizen with a reverse mortgage—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research the pros and cons. Anytime you take out a loan (whether it’s a mortgage loan, personal loan, or a payday loan), open a new credit card, or finance a new car, always look at the fine print. Pay particular attention to interest rates, penalties, annual fees, and APR.
Step 2: Leave your car at home
Or better yet, sell your car. This is especially true if you are living in a city or a town where all your daily needs can be filled from shops within walking or cycling distance. Not using your car means that you can save money on gas and maintenance, and getting rid of your vehicle altogether will eliminate monthly payments for your auto loan and insurance.
If you need a car for just a day or two, then you should consider renting or using a ride-sharing app. You could also consider purchasing a “new to you” vehicle as they will usually cost less than a new car.
Exceptions to this might be if you need to use your car for work. In this case, you are using your vehicle to make money, and as such, it might be considered an investment. However, if you are using your car to make money, then you want to make sure you are accurately tracking your expenses. Not only will this help you to get any tax advantages, but it will give you the basis to determine if the money you are spending on your car is yielding the return you expected.
Step 3: Make as many pre-tax deductions as possible
While the rules might vary depending on where you live, you want to make sure that you take full advantage of any pre-tax contributions you can make. While doing so means that you will be taking home less money, it also means that you will be paying less in tax while putting money away for your future. As such, this approach is a big win for you and your financial future.
Step 4: Be insured
Having the right life insurance policy can help to protect you and your family when the time comes. As such, you want to make sure that you have enough life insurance to look after your family and to cover funeral expenses. Also, some policies can be used as collateral for loans.
While going into debt is usually not recommended when trying to become financially secure, using it to buy revenue-generating property or business might be an excellent way to get closer to your goal. As such, having insurance could help you down the road.
Step 5: Regularly review your financial health
Just like you go to your doctor for an annual checkup, you should regularly review your financial health. Doing so will give you an idea of where you stand and what additional steps you need to take to reach your goals. If you want to become financially secure, then you want to make sure that you check your financial health (e.g., budget, savings, etc.) at least once a month.
S Corp vs. LLC: Which Is Best for Your Business? – SmartAsset
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So you own a business and you’re looking to incorporate. Two of the most popular business structure are the S Corp and the LLC. Which is best for your business can depend on many factors, such as what you do for a living, your tax situation and more. We’ll walk through the key characteristics of the two, and how to decide between them.
Why Incorporation Is Important
In most cases, the best reason to incorporate is liability. When you create a corporation, you separate your personal assets from your company’s assets. If someone wants to collect a debt or, at worst, file a lawsuit, they can only do so against the company and any assets in that company’s name. In turn, your personal savings remain protected. Both LLCs and S corporations can effectively protect your home life from a downturn in your professional world.
What Is An LLC?
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of corporate entity. It’s one of the most basic business types, and chiefly serves to separate the assets of the business owner(s) from the business itself.
If you opt to create an LLC, you will have created an entity that exists entirely separate from yourself. Clients will do business with this entity, which will have its own assets, debts and liabilities. If someone collects a debt or sues the LLC, they cannot pass that debt on to you.
What Is An S Corporation?
An S corporation is a tax status that allows a company to pass all profits directly through to its owner(s). This allows a small business to distribute profit-based income without double taxation.
Under the standard corporate form, known as a C corporation, a company first pays its corporate income tax. It then pays its owners and workers, who in turn pay personal income tax on that salary. This works well when a company functions entirely separately from the people who own and operate it.
However, in many small businesses, owners will take the profits entirely as their personal income. This creates a problem of double taxation, because in this case a business owner’s corporate income tax and personal income tax are one and the same. An S corporation allows the company’s owners to pay taxes only once via their personal income tax forms.
S Corp vs. LLC: Similarities and Differences
It is important to note that, because one is a corporate form and the other a tax status, LLCs and S corporations can, and do, overlap. To be clear, an LLC can file for S corporation tax status. Conversely, if you have S corporation tax status, you can also incorporate as an LLC. These forms do share a number of similar features, though, including:
Asset Protection – Both S corps and LLCs protect your personal assets from debt, bankruptcy, legal liability and other possible losses incurred by the corporation.
Double Taxation – All corporate profits pass along to the owners of LLCs and S corps without incurring corporate income taxes. This helps you avoid being taxed twice.
Multiple Members – LLCs and S corps can each have anywhere from one to multiple members, though an S corporation caps out at 100 shareholders. Further, only U.S. citizens and legal residents can be members of an S corporation.
In practice, one of the largest differences between LLCs and S corporations lies in how they assign payment. Under a default LLC operating as a sole proprietorship/general partnership, profits and expenses pass entirely through to the taxes of the individuals involved. Each participant both deducts business expenses and claims all profits on their personal income taxes. The LLC itself does not have any tax filings.
Under an S corporation, the members assign themselves a salary that the company pays out of its operating budget. This income must be reasonable for their position and industry. Then, after the company pays all expenses, it passes along any additional profits as a distribution to its members.
Here’s an example that illustrates these differences. Sue is a freelance programmer. She currently has an LLC that she operates. Last year she made $100,000 in income and had $10,000 in business expenses. Here’s how her tax situation plays out under the two statuses:
Sole Proprietorship LLC – Sue would claim $100,000 of personal income on her income taxes. She would reduce her taxable income by the $10,000 in expenses she incurred, leaving her with $90,000 in taxable personal income.
S corporation LLC – Sue has determined that a reasonable salary is $75,000. She would report that $75,000 as earned income. Her corporation would then pay the $10,000 in expenses and pass the remaining $15,000 as a profit distribution to Sue, who would report and pay taxes on it as corporate profit income.
Operating requirements for a multi-member S corporation are also significantly more complex than they are for an LLC. An S corporation must adopt bylaws which meet IRS guidelines and must have a corporate governing body that includes a board of directors and officers.
How Taxes Affect S Corps and LLCs
Most Americans pay a FICA tax of 7.65% of their income under $132,900, encompassing contributions to both Social Security and Medicare. Their employer pays the same 7.65% on their behalf. The self-employed, however, pay both sides of this tax, creating what’s known as the “self-employment tax.” This combines the aforementioned rates to the tune of a 15.3% tax on all self-employment income beneath the $132,900 limit.
The self-employment tax applies to all pass-through income as well. It does not apply to corporate profit distributions, though. The profit distributions will likely be taxed as ordinary income, while you may be able to classify them at the lower dividend income rate. In the end, you will not pay any payroll taxes on them.
S corporation members do not pay self-employment taxes on their profit distributions either. As a result, these members usually try to minimize the income portion of their earnings in favor of profit distributions. This is entirely valid as long as your income remains within a reasonable range. If you attempt to reduce your income too much, you will likely trigger an audit.
Continuing our previous example, Sue’s LLC earned $100,000 and spent $10,000 in business expenses last year. Under the S corporation form, Sue would save herself more than $2,000 in payroll taxes. Here’s how things would shake out:
Sole Proprietorship – Sue will claim the $100,000 of income and the $10,000 of expenses herself. This will lead to her having $90,000 of taxable income. She will pay the 15.3% self-employment tax on all of it, leading to $13,770 in self-employment taxes.
S Corporation – Sue takes a salary of $75,000. Her LLC will pay $10,000 in expenses and send her $15,000 as a corporate profit distribution. Sue and her LLC will pay the full combined 15.3% tax on her salary earnings, coming to $11,475. She will pay no payroll taxes on her profit distribution.
In most cases, if you do business as an individual or a partnership, you should consider forming an LLC. This corporate form is inexpensive and highly flexible. Unless you anticipate major growth involving external shareholders and outside investment in the future, an LLC is a good way to protect your personal assets.
For an individual operator, the choice to elect S corporation tax status is largely a matter of accounting. If you would save a meaningful amount of money in self-employment taxes, it is likely worth electing S corporation status.
For a partnership, consider the operating requirements of an S corporation carefully. Would it significantly affect your business to adhere to bylaws and corporate governance? Do you have few enough members, and will you likely keep that membership group small? If so, once again, consider whether an S corporation would create enough tax savings to justify the costs of filing and paperwork.
Tips for Managing Your Finances
In-depth budgeting is a worthwhile strategy to adopt if you’re looking to improve your long-term finances. It may, however, be difficult to build a budget if you have little to no experience doing so. To get some help, stop by SmartAsset’s budget calculator.
Many financial advisors specialize in financial and tax planning for business owners. You can find a financial advisor today using SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool. Simply fill out our short questionnaire and you’ll be matched with up to three fiduciary advisors in your area.
Eric Reed Eric Reed is a freelance journalist who specializes in economics, policy and global issues, with substantial coverage of finance and personal finance. He has contributed to outlets including The Street, CNBC, Glassdoor and Consumer Reports. Eric’s work focuses on the human impact of abstract issues, emphasizing analytical journalism that helps readers more fully understand their world and their money. He has reported from more than a dozen countries, with datelines that include Sao Paolo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Athens, Greece. A former attorney, before becoming a journalist Eric worked in securities litigation and white collar criminal defense with a pro bono specialty in human trafficking issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and can be found any given Saturday in the fall cheering on his Wolverines.
If you’re like most Internet users, you’ve used a business listing or directory website to find a restaurant, specialty store, tax preparer, or other service provider in your area.
Yelp, arguably the most popular business information directory for customer-facing services businesses, welcomes many millions of unique visitors per month. According to Expanded Ramblings, Yelp draws more than 175 million monthly visitors, with mobile traffic accounting for the majority.
Consumers use Yelp to search for service providers near them, navigating to its website or mobile app for a few minutes at a time and closing out when they’ve found what they’re looking for. But business owners have a much more intimate relationship with business directory sites like Yelp. For many small, independent outfits, business listings represent a significant source of new customers — far more than word of mouth marketing alone. If your small business doesn’t yet have a listing, it could be time to set one up.
Yelp for Business Owners: Does It Make Sense to List Your Company?
Yelp isn’t ideal for every type of business. Generally speaking, the most popular Yelp searches pertain to businesses that offer sensory experiences, such as restaurants, bars, venues, and specialized experience providers like tour companies. Searches for retailers — both independent and those tied to a larger chain — are popular as well.
Other popular Yelp categories include:
Hotels and travel services
Beauty shops and spas
Home services, such as house cleaning, plumbing, and general contracting
Health and medical
Yelp also segments listed companies by location: county, municipality, and sometimes neighborhoods (mostly in bigger cities). If your business lives and dies by the number of people who walk into its physical location — for instance, you run a restaurant or retail outlet that does a large amount of business through a storefront — a business directory listing is basically mandatory.
On the other hand, if your company doesn’t have a storefront or doesn’t rely on one to drive sales — for instance, if you sell things online — then other means of driving customers to your business, such as social media marketing techniques or a listing on an e-commerce website like Etsy, are likely to offer a better payoff.
Pros of Listing Your Business on Yelp
Listing a business on Yelp has some key benefits, including legitimacy for businesses who’ve claimed their listings, high search rankings for Yelp business profiles and business owner accounts, and value for customer research.
1. Claimed Listings Confer Legitimacy
Regardless of how much effort you put into optimizing and curating it, the simple act of claiming your business directory listing can change how prospective customers see your business. On most business directories, including Yelp, unclaimed listings are plainly displayed as such. To the man or woman on the street, a highly visible prompt to claim a particular listing — which takes a matter of minutes — doesn’t inspire confidence that the listed business is well-run, or that the owner cares about courting new customers.
Although this is an admittedly subjective measure of an owner’s buy-in or a business’s quality, I know that I personally shy away from businesses with unclaimed directory listings unless they’re backed by a recognizable brand or I’m familiar with them by other means, such as word of mouth.
2. Listings Typically Rank Well in Organic Search (Good for SEO)
Although the details of popular search engines’ algorithms are proprietary and ever-changing, it’s clear that online directory listings rank highly in organic search results — the lists you see when you type a search term into the Google or Bing search bar.
The upshot of this: Unless its name can easily be confused with common or generic terms like “Tasty Pizza,” a typical business’s Yelp listings are likely to appear on the first results page of a search engine — an important point, since most searchers never make it to subsequent results pages. And because Yelp is a well-known and ostensibly unbiased source of information, searchers who want to get the unvarnished truth on a given business are likely to click on the results for its listings.
3. Consumers Rely Heavily on Directory Listings for Research
Despite a recent study reported by PCMag that found roughly 40% of online reviews to be bogus, 60% of consumers consider online review sites as useful as recommendations from real-life acquaintances, according to a 2017 ReportLinker survey. In an increasingly jaded world, that’s a pretty high mark — and a strong case for creating and maintaining listings on popular directory sites.
Cons of Listing Your Business on Yelp
Listing your business on Yelp does have some drawbacks, including a significant time component, limited control over reviews, and the potential for abuse.
1. Maintaining Your Business Profile Takes Time and Resources
Claiming or creating a business listing doesn’t take much time or effort. You can handle either in a spare moment.
However, optimizing and maintaining your listing is not so easy. Even free activities such as uploading photos, analyzing customer data, and responding to reviews all take time that you likely don’t have as a busy entrepreneur. If you have other social media accounts or an online store, your digital responsibilities could become overwhelming, diverting your attention from more immediate business needs.
One solution is to hire a part- or full-time marketing employee or social media manager, but that requires a new addition to the payroll — not always a realistic proposition for cash-poor small business owners. Another option is to retain an outside firm to handle your digital marketing needs, although that can be just as expensive as hiring a part-time employee.
If you currently lack the time or resources to produce a first-rate business directory profile, there’s no shame in concluding that it’s better to wait until you do have those luxuries. If you can’t do it right, don’t feel pressured to do it at all.
2. May Not Display All Users’ Yelp Reviews (or Any at All)
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, some online business directories — particularly Yelp — took lots of blowback for failing to do their part to contain the untold millions of fake reviews spreading across the Internet. Fake directory reviews came in several different flavors, but it was particularly common for listed businesses to purchase positive reviews — typically with gushing praise and the highest possible ratings — for their own listings, or post positive reviews themselves using dummy accounts. In competitive markets, less scrupulous companies likewise had no qualms about posting fake negative reviews on competitors’ listings.
Although they haven’t totally eradicated fake reviews, online directory sites have definitely cracked down on the practice. In fact, the crackdown has been so good that some legitimate reviews don’t make it through the directories’ quality filters, which are controlled by proprietary algorithms similar to those used by search engines.
If you want the opportunity to see — and ensure that your customers see — every review of your business, good or bad, this is a big drawback. And although the particulars of directories’ visibility-controlling algorithms aren’t public, one can envision an algorithm deciding that an overly enthusiastic but legitimate positive review is a fake while allowing a tepid review to be seen.
3. Directory Listings Contain Sensitive Information
If you need your customers to come to your physical place of business, they need to know where it’s located and how to contact it. A restaurant can’t survive if no one’s coming in to eat or calling to order takeout.
On the other hand, there are times when it’s better to conceal your business location, and possibly contact information, from the public. For instance, say you provide white-collar services, such as accounting or legal advice, to local businesses — but you typically visit with clients at their offices and don’t want them to know you work out of a home office or coworking hub. Listing your home address as your business address reveals where you live, while listing a coworking space can lead judgmental clients or your competitors to conclude that you can’t afford a “real” office.
Note that if an unclaimed listing already exists for your business, you may need to claim it and edit out sensitive information or request its removal altogether.
4. Your Listing Could Attract Abuse
Even if you’re not paranoid about people knowing where you live or looking down on you for basing your company out of a coworking space, there’s another reason to eschew a public business directory listing: the prospect that your listing could become a venue for abusive or hateful reviews.
Because business directory sites allow rank-and-file Internet users to post reviews on a given business’s listing without proving that they’ve actually interacted with the company in real life, it’s relatively easy to organize a negative publicity campaign utilizing Yelp or another directory site that permits user reviews. (Directories occasionally step in to delete or moderate obscene or threatening reviews, particularly in response to user flags, but you shouldn’t bank on this to single-handedly keep vitriolic reviews off your listing.)
These negative campaigns typically center around a major service gaffe or prominent public support for a controversial political position. A great example: In early 2015, the owners of a small-town Indiana pizzeria called Memories Pizza made headlines when they said they would follow the letter of the state’s recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many observers interpreted as giving businesses wide latitude to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The ensuing backlash saw thousands of sarcastic, occasionally obscene comments posted on Memories Pizza’s website. The Indianapolis Star reported that the shop closed shortly thereafter, with the owners citing safety concerns.
In the past, lower-profile incidents of a similar nature have hit businesses expressing opposition to state minimum wage increases or support for creationism and intelligent design. To be fair, some argue that the old saying, “All press is good press,” applies here, as negative directory campaigns sometimes spark a backlash that pays off for the affected business. It’s worth noting that, as reported by Forbes, Memories Pizza raised more than $800,000 in a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign in the four days following its closure.
How to Claim or Create Your Yelp Listing
Yelp uses publicly available and user-submitted information to generate listings for operational businesses. If you’ve been open for some time, there’s a good chance you’re already in Yelp’s database. Yelp allows the legitimate owners of such a business to “claim” their existing profile.
Claiming your profile provides certain privileges:
Updating Listing Information. You can edit critical information about your business, including its physical address, phone number, business hours, and website address. This is important because Yelp doesn’t guarantee that its unclaimed business listings are accurate.
Adding Photos and Links. You can upload photos of your storefront, merchandise, and the inside of your business. This is great for restaurant owners who want to show off tasty-looking menu items, or service providers who want to display photos of a van or truck bearing a distinctive logo, which users are more likely to recognize than a faceless storefront or generic uniform.
Interacting With Reviewers. Claimed profile owners can respond to user-generated reviews, either by sending the user a private message through Yelp’s system or making a public post on the comments feed. This is particularly useful for owners who want to address negative feedback from users and contain issues that could hurt business. Note that you can’t edit or delete negative reviews, which might call Yelp’s objectivity into question, but you can respond to them.
User Views and Leads. Yelp tracks your listing’s page views and displays this information to verified business owners. It also creates Customer Leads, which provide hints about how customers are interacting with your business. Data sources for Customer Leads include:
Mobile calls made directly to your business using Yelp’s on-site click-to-call feature
Click-throughs from your Yelp listing to your company website
User-uploaded photos on your business page
Bookmarks placed on your listing using Yelp’s bookmark feature
Claiming an Existing Business Listing
To get started, click Yelp’s “Claim Your Listing” button, then type in your exact business name and city. This takes you to a results page that displays similarly named businesses nearby and indicates whether they’ve been claimed. If your business is listed, it should say that it hasn’t been claimed.
To claim your listing, you need to create a Yelp account with your first name, last name, email address, and password. Make sure the phone number on your listing is accurate, then click “Call Me Now.” This prompts Yelp to robo-call the listed business number with a unique verification code.
Once you receive that code, you can enter it into the proper field and start editing your listing. If you’re unable to complete the phone verification process for any reason, you can also manually verify your identity as the business owner by emailing Yelp’s support team.
Creating a New Business Listing
If your business doesn’t have an existing listing to claim, you need to create one. At the bottom of the business search results page, click the “Add a Business” button and enter as much information as possible into the fields on the next screen: your business name, exact address, phone number, and website at a minimum.
After you submit this information, it takes Yelp some time — usually no more than two business days — to verify that the business exists and add it to its listings. Once added, you can search for it as described and claim the listing as your own.
How to Optimize Your Yelp Listing
Claiming or creating a Yelp listing is an important first step. However, building a top-notch Yelp presence takes time and effort.
These tips and resources are useful as you work to set your listing apart from your competitors’:
1. Fill Out Your Profile Completely
The more complete your listing is, the better it looks to Yelp’s internal algorithm — and the higher it’s likely to appear on Yelp’s search results pages. There’s no reason not to fill out your profile completely.
2. Use Google Keyword Planner or a Similar Tool
Yelp listings are visible to Google and other search engines, so it pays to use a keyword planning tool — such as Google Keyword Planner, which requires a free Google AdWords account to use — to identify keywords that relate to your company.
For instance, if you specialize in Neapolitan-style pizza and discover that your company website ranks highly for the term “Neapolitan pizza,” make sure that keyword appears at least once in your business listing.
3. Add Lots of Photos
Photos breathe life into your Yelp listing and boost customer engagement. An internal Yelp study found that consumers linger on photo-enhanced Yelp pages for two and a half times as long than on pages with no photos.
Photos are especially useful for showing off your logo — particularly if it’s already plastered on your company’s vans or outdoor advertising properties, and thus recognizable to prospective customers — as well as for highlighting particular products, especially food. If your business is open to the public, include pictures of its interior and outdoor seating areas to give visitors a sense of what to look forward to.
4. Solicit and Respond to Customer Reviews
Yelp frowns on businesses that court reviews by giving away free stuff or offering special deals to those who post positive reviews — it sees this behavior as a form of manipulation. However, you can skirt this prohibition and stay in Yelp’s good graces by placing the Yelp logo in a visible location in your store (such as at checkout or on a menu), linking to your Yelp page from your company website, and straight-up asking for reviews with no strings attached.
Separately, be sure to respond to detailed, thoughtful reviews, whether they’re good or bad. It’s especially important to respond to negative feedback, which shows other page visitors that you’re willing to address service issues and other problems. Just remember to follow social media etiquette best practices at all times.
5. Try Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates
Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates can help you monetize your Yelp listing and generate buzz around your business. Like Groupons and other social deals, both offer heavy discounts on transactions with the issuing business. Yelp Deals focus on discounts for specific local services — for instance, “20% off a haircut-and-shave package.” Yelp Gift Certificates offer across-the-board discounts — for example, “$20 in merchandise for $10.”
In both cases, Yelp takes a cut of the proceeds: 30% of face value for Deals and 10% of face value for Gift Certificates, subject to change with company policy.
6. Consider Buying Ads
If you can afford another line item in your marketing budget, consider buying ad space on Yelp. Yelp ads appear above the first non-promoted listing in Yelp’s internal search results pages, similar to the paid search ads you see on Google and other search engines.
Although they’re clearly marked “Ad,” they’re highly visible and appear only with relevant search terms, so they’re great for attracting people actively searching for what you have to offer. And because they effectively give you priority placement over competitors, they’re great if you operate in a crowded market.
Costs vary widely depending on your location and industry, but expect to spend at least $50 per month for a high-visibility ad campaign.
Yelp isn’t the only business listing site worth looking into. There are dozens of other sites that could get your company’s name in front of potential customers. Listings on some of these sites are free to claim, while others require a one-time or monthly fee. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Rather than spend significant amounts of time and marketing dollars going after them all, take a weekend or evening to research the options that work best for your business’s needs. Don’t be afraid to talk to other business owners in your industry, even if you’d normally be reluctant to share trade secrets with them. After all, with everything else you need to keep track of, the last thing you need is to make an investment with little to no chance of paying off.
A Guide to Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans – SmartAsset
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As you explore funding options for higher education, you’ll come across many different ways to pay for school. You can try your hand at scholarships and grants, but you may also need to secure federal student loans. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for a subsidized loan or an unsubsidized loan. Here’s the breakdown of subsidized and unsubsidized loans, along with how to get each of them.
Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans
In name, there’s only a two-letter difference. But in operation, subsidized and unsubsidized loans – sometimes referred to as Stafford loans – aren’t quite the same.
A subsidized loan is available to undergraduate students who prove financial need and are enrolled in school at least part-time. After students or parents of the students fill out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA), the school will determine how much money can be borrowed. Unfortunately, you can’t borrow more than you need.
One major difference of a subsidized loan vs. an unsubsidized loan is that the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a subsidized loan while the student is in school, for the first six months after graduating and during a deferment period (if the student chooses to defer the loan). For example, if your subsidized loan is $5,000 at the start of your college education, it’ll still be $5,000 when you begin paying it off after graduation because the government paid the interest on it while you were in school. The same may not be true for an unsubsidized loan.
An unsubsidized loan is available to both undergraduate and graduate students, and isn’t based on financial need. This means anyone who applies for one can get it. Like subsidized loans, students or their parents are required to fill out the FAFSA in order to determine how much can be borrowed. However, unlike subsidized loans, the size of the unsubsidized loan isn’t strictly based on financial need, so more money can be borrowed.
For an unsubsidized loan, students are responsible for paying the interest while in school, regardless of enrollment, as well as during deferment or forbearance periods. If you choose not to pay your interest during these times, the interest will continue to accrue, which means that your monthly payments could be more costly when you’re ready to pay them.
Both types of loans have interest rates that are set by the government and both come with a fee. Each one offers some of the easiest repayment options compared to private student loans, too. Students are eligible to borrow these loans for 150% of the length of the educational program they’re enrolled in. For example, if you attend a four-year university, you can borrow these loans for up to six years.
Pros and Cons
Both types of loans have pros and cons. Depending on your financial situation and education, one may be a better fit than the other. Even if you qualify for a subsidized loan, it’s important to understand what that means for your situation before borrowing that money.
Pros of Subsidized Loans
The student is not required to pay interest on the loan until after the six-month grace period after graduation.
The loan may be great for students who can’t afford the tuition and don’t have enough money from grants or scholarships to afford college costs.
Cons of Subsidized Loans
Students are limited in how much they can borrow. In the first year, you’re only allowed to borrow $3,500 in subsidized loans. After that, you can only borrow $4,500 the second year and $5,500 for years three and four. The total aggregate loan amount is limited to $23,000. This might cause you to take out additional loans to cover other costs.
Subsidized loans are only available for undergraduate students. Graduate students – even those who show financial need – don’t qualify.
If you don’t qualify for a subsidized loan, you may still be eligible for an unsubsidized loan.
Pros of Unsubsidized Loans
They are available to both undergraduate and graduate students who need to borrow money for school.
The amount you can borrow isn’t based on financial need.
Students are able to borrow more money than subsidized loans. The total aggregate loan amount is limited to $31,000 for undergraduate students considered dependents and whose parents don’t qualify for direct PLUS loans. Undergraduate independent students may be allowed to borrow up to $57,500, while graduate students may be allowed to borrow up to $138,500.
Cons of Unsubsidized Loans
Interest adds up — and you could be on the hook for it — while you’re in school. Once you start paying back the unsubsidized loan, payments may be more expensive than those for a subsidized loan because of the accrued interest.
How to Secure Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
If you’re looking to get loans to pay for a college education, direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans might be your best option.
To apply for a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA. The form will ask you for important financial information based on your family’s income. From there, your college or university will use your FAFSA to determine the amount of student aid for which you’re eligible. Be mindful of the FAFSA deadline, as well additional deadlines set by your state for applying for state and institutional financial aid.
After the amount is decided, you’ll receive a financial aid package that details your expected family contribution and how much financial help you’ll get from the government. Your letter will include the amount of money you’ll receive in grants, as well as all types of loans you could secure. If you’re ready to accept the federal aid offered, you’ll need to submit a Mastery Promissory Note (MPN). This is a legal document that states your promise to pay back your loans in full, including any fees and accrued interest, to the U.S. Department of Education.
The Bottom Line
Both subsidized and unsubsidized loans may be good financial resources for upcoming college students who need help paying for school. Both loans tend to have lower interest rates than private student loans, as well as easier repayment terms.
Keep in mind that these are still loans and they will need to be paid back. If you avoid paying your student loans, you could end up in default or with a delinquent status, and your credit score could be damaged. Once you’re done with your college or graduate school education, stay responsible with your student loan repayment and you’ll be on the path to a successful financial future.
Tips for Managing Student Loan Debt
If you’re struggling to manage student loan debt, consider working with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Paying off student loans can be overwhelming. One way to make it easier is by refinancing them into one lower monthly payment, if you can. Check out the different student loan refinance rates that are available to you now.
Dori Zinn Dori Zinn has been covering personal finance for nearly a decade. Her writing has appeared in Wirecutter, Quartz, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Huffington Post and other publications. She previously worked as a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Zinn is a past president of the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and won the national organization’s “Chapter of the Year” award two years in a row while she was head of the chapter. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and currently lives in South Florida.
One of the highest-rated mortgage companies on LendingTree goes by the name “Triumph Lending,” which is a division of its larger parent company Network Funding, LP.
The Texas-based direct lender boasts an incredible 5-star rating out of 5 from more than 1,100 customer reviews, meaning they must be doing something right.
They also feature an elephant in their logo, which explains the choice of image above.
Much of their lending appears to take place in The Lone Star State, so if you live in Texas, they could be a good choice if customer service is important to you.
Triumph Lending Fast Facts
Direct-to-consumer mortgage lender
Founded in 1998, headquartered in Houston, TX
A division of parent company Network Funding, LP
Offer home purchase loans and mortgage refinances
A LendingTree Certified Lender (top-10 in customer satisfaction)
Licensed to do business in six states (most active in Texas)
Triumph Lending a direct-to-consumer mortgage lender that seems to live online, meaning you can apply for a home loan remotely from their website.
The Houston-based company actually got its start as a wholesale mortgage lender, meaning they worked exclusively with mortgage brokers, as opposed to the general public.
Later, Triumph transformed into what they describe as a “hybrid retail mortgage origination company,” meaning they likely have both a retail and wholesale lending division, and/or can broker out loans when necessary.
What this means to homeowners and prospective home buyers is you can work with them directly to obtain a mortgage by calling them up or visiting their website.
They were founded in 1998 by Rex Chamberlain (current CEO) and Greg “Buzz Baker (president), who also run parent company Network Funding, LP.
At the moment, they appear to be licensed to do business in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia.
How to Apply with Triumph Lending
You can call, request a quote online, or simply apply immediately via their website
Their digital application allows you to apply in either English or Spanish
They embrace the latest technology but believe there’s no substitute for one-on-one interaction
Borrowers can manage their loan from start to finish via the online portal
You’ve basically got three options here. You can simply call them up on the phone to speak with a licensed loan officer and obtain pricing and loan options.
Or you can fill out a short quote request form on their website and wait for a loan officer to call you back.
Alternatively, you can visit their website and click on “Apply Now” and begin immediately by creating an account.
My recommendation is to always get pricing first, then decide if the company is competitive enough to follow through with the application. After all, you don’t want to waste your time or theirs.
Triumph says they offer an “all-online mortgage application,” which I assume means they use a digital platform that allows you to link financial accounts, scan/upload documents, and eSign disclosures.
You also get paired with a dedicated loan officer, processor, and closing team who will guide you step-by-step from start to finish.
Applicants can manage their loan 24/7 via the secure online borrower portal, which provides real-time updates and current loan status.
Based on their many positive testimonials, it sounds like they make it super easy to apply for a home loan.
Loan Programs Available at Triumph Lending
Home purchase loans
Home renovation loans
Refinance loans: rate and term and cash out
Conforming loan backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Jumbo home loans
Triumph Lending offers both home purchase loans and mortgage refinance loans, including rate and term refis and cash out refis.
If you’re buying or currently own a fixer-upper, you can also apply for a home renovation loan.
You can get a conforming loan backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or a jumbo loan if your loan amount exceeds local loan limits.
They have the full slate of government-backed loan programs available, including FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans.
With regard to loan types, you can get a fixed-rate mortgage such as a 30-year or 15-year fixed, or a hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage, including a 5/1 ARM or 7/1 ARM.
They lend on all the usual property types, including single-family residences, condos/townhomes, and 1-4 unit investment properties.
Triumph Lending Mortgage Rates
While they do say they’ve got the “most competitive rates and terms on the market” right on their website, they don’t actually reveal their mortgage rates anywhere.
Some of the bigger banks and lenders will show you daily mortgage rates just to give you an idea of pricing, which is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Triumph Lending. So if you want to get pricing, you’ll either need to call or submit a free rate quote request on their website.
This is probably the best way to get started as you can determine how their pricing stacks up to other mortgage companies out there.
As always, be sure to compare both the interest rate offered along with the closing costs, since you need to get an apples-to-apples comparison, and cannot do so without both.
Triumph Lending Reviews
Where Triumph Lending really seems to shine is in customer satisfaction. In fact, they’re nearly perfect based on their reviews.
Per LendingTree, they’ve got a 5-star rating out of 5 from over 1,100 reviews, with all 5-star reviews expect for two, which are 4-star reviews. That’s pretty impressive.
Additionally, they are a “Certified Lender,” which is defined as having demonstrated organizational commitment to employee development while providing “exemplary service” to LendingTree customers.
They also landed in the top-10 for customer satisfaction on the LT platform in both the second and third quarter of 2020.
On Zillow, it’s the same story – a near-perfect 4.99-star rating out of 5 from more than 350 reviews.
As I scanned through the reviews, I noticed that many of them highlighted the fact that the interest rate received was lower than expected, as were the closing costs in a lot of cases.
They’ve also got a 4.5-star rating on Google from about 15 reviews and a 5-star rating on Yelp from about 25 reviews.
While they’re not an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau, they do have an ‘A+’ rating based on their complaint history.
This means they’re generally good about resolving any customer issues that may come up quickly and competently.
Triumph Lending Pros and Cons
You can get started directly from their website
Offer a digital mortgage application using the latest tech
Can apply for a mortgage in both English or Spanish
If you’re self-employed with financial hardships due to the pandemic, there are various stimulus benefits that can provide relief. Use these ten options to improve your personal and business finances.
Laura Adams, MBA
September 30, 2020
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law on March 27 as the largest stimulus legislation in American history since the New Deal in the 1930s. Here are ten ways it provides relief for individual solopreneurs and small business owners.
1. Getting lower interest rates
On March 3, the central U.S. bank, also known as the Federal Reserve or Fed, made a surprising emergency interest rate cut of half a percentage point. That’s the largest single rate cut since the financial crisis of 2008. While this move wasn’t part of a coronavirus stimulus package, it was an aggressive cut meant to prepare the economy for problems the pandemic was expected to cause.
An economic recovery could take a few years, which likely means the Fed rate will stay near zero through 2023.
In mid-September, the Fed reiterated its promise to keep interest rates near zero until the economy improves and the unemployment rate declines. They indicated that a recovery could take a few years, which likely means the Fed rate stays near zero through 2023.
While savers never celebrate low interest rates, they’re beneficial to borrowers. In general, the financing charge on variable-rate credit cards and lines of credit goes down in lockstep with interest rates. Carrying a balance on your personal and business credit cards may be slightly less expensive, depending on your card issuer and type. For instance, if your card’s annual percentage rate or APR is 20%, your adjusted rate could go down to 19.5%.
If you have a fixed-rate credit card, the APR doesn’t change no matter what happens in the economy or with federal interest rates. Also, note that if you pay off your balance in full each month, a credit card’s APR is irrelevant because you don’t pay interest on purchases.
2. Having more time to file taxes
Earlier this year, the due date for filing and paying 2019 federal taxes was postponed from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. You didn’t have to be sick or negatively impacted by COVID-19 to qualify for this federal tax delay. It applied to any person or business entity with taxes due on April 15, 2020.
If you missed the tax filing deadline, be sure to request an extension.
Most businesses make estimated tax payments each quarter. Those payment dates have shifted, too. The 2020 schedule gives you more time as follows:
The first quarter was due on July 15, 2020, which changed from April 15, 2020
The second quarter was due on July 15, 2020, which changed from April 15, 2020
The third quarter was due on September 15, 2020
The fourth quarter is due on January 15, 2021
Individuals and businesses can request an automatic extension to delay filing federal taxes. But it doesn’t give you more time to pay what you owe for 2019, only more time to submit your tax form—until October 15, 2020.
If you missed the tax filing deadline, be sure to request an extension. Individuals must file IRS Form 4868, and most incorporated businesses use IRS Form 7004.
However, depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes, which have not been postponed. If you need a state tax filing extension, check with your state’s tax agency to determine what’s possible.
Taxes due on any date other than April 15, 2020—such as sales tax, payroll tax, or estate tax—don’t qualify for relief.
3. Getting more time to contribute to retirement accounts
You typically have until April 15 or the date of a tax extension to make traditional IRA or Roth IRA contributions for the prior year. But since the CARES Act postponed the federal tax filing deadline, you also have until July 15 or October 15, 2020 (if you requested an extension) to make IRA contributions for 2019.
However, this deadline doesn’t apply to retirement accounts you may have with an employer, such as a 401(k). Nor does it apply to self-employed accounts, such as a solo 401(k) or SEP-IRA, which correspond to the calendar year.
4. Getting more time to contribute to an HSA
Like with an IRA, you typically have until April 15 or the date of a tax extension to make HSA contributions for the prior year. Under the CARES Act, you now have until July 15 or October 15, 2020, to make HSA contributions for 2019.
To qualify for an HSA, you must be covered by a qualifying high-deductible health plan. In early March, the IRS issued a notice that a high-deductible health plan may cover COVID-19 testing and treatment and telehealth services before meeting your deductible. And just as before the coronavirus, you can pay for medical testing and treatment using funds in your HSA.
5. Delaying tax on retirement withdrawals
While you typically must pay income tax on retirement account withdrawals that weren’t previously taxed, the good news is that for a period, you can delay or avoid tax altogether. The CARES Act gives you two options for withdrawals made in 2020:
Repay a hardship distribution within three years to your retirement account. You can replace the funds slowly or all at once, with no change to your annual contribution limit. If you take money out but return it within three years, it’s like you never took a distribution.
Pay taxes on a hardship distribution from your retirement account evenly over three years. If you can’t pay back your distribution, you can ease your tax burden by paying one-third of your liability for three years.
Since withdrawing contributions from a Roth retirement account doesn’t trigger income taxes, it’s a good idea to tap a Roth before a traditional retirement account when you have the option.
6. Skipping early withdrawal penalties
Most retirement accounts impose a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you take make withdrawals before age 59.5. Under the CARES Act, if you have a coronavirus-related hardship, the penalty is waived.
Under the CARES Act, if you have a coronavirus-related hardship, the penalty is waived.
For instance, if you, your spouse, or a child gets diagnosed with COVID-19 or have financial challenges due to being laid off, quarantined, or closing a business, you qualify for this penalty exemption. You can withdraw up to $100,000 of your retirement account balance during 2020 without penalty. However, income taxes would still be due in most cases.
The no-penalty rule applies to workplace retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s. It also applies to IRAs, such as traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP-IRAs.
Since you make after-tax contributions to Roth accounts, you can withdraw them at any time (which was also the case before the CARES Act). However, the earnings portion of a Roth is subject to income tax if you withdraw it before age 59.5.
7. Getting larger retirement plan loans
Some workplace retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s, permit loans. Typically, you can borrow 50% of your vested account balance up to $50,000 and repay it with interest over five years.
You can delay the repayment period for a retirement plan loan for up to one year.
For retirement plans that allow loans, the CARES Act doubles the limit to 100% of your vested balance in the plan up to $100,000. It applies to loans you take from your account until late September 2020, for coronavirus-related financial needs.
You can delay the repayment period for a retirement plan loan for up to one year. For example, if you have $20,000 vested in your 401(k), you could take a $20,000 loan on September 30, 2020, and delay the repayment term until September 30, 2021. You’d have payments stretched over five years, ending on September 30, 2026. Any amount not repaid by the deadline would be subject to tax and a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.
Note that individual retirement accounts—such as traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP-IRAs—don’t allow participants to take loans, only hardship distributions.
8. Suspending student loan payments.
Starting on March 13, 2020, most federal student loans went into automatic forbearance until September 30, 2020, due to the CARES Act. On August 8, the suspension of student loan payments was extended through December 31, 2020.
On August 8, the suspension of student loan payments was extended through December 31, 2020.
The suspension covers the following types of loans:
Direct Loans that are unsubsidized or subsidized
Direct PLUS Loans
Direct Consolidation Loans
Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)
Federal Perkins Loans
Note that FFEL loans owned by a private lender or Perkins loans held by your education institution don’t qualify for automatic forbearance. However, you may have the option to consolidate them into a Direct Loan, which would be eligible for forbearance. Just make sure that once the suspension ends, your new consolidated interest rate wouldn’t rise significantly.
During forbearance, qualifying loans don’t accrue additional interest. Even if you have federal student loans in default because you haven’t made payments, zero percent interest applies during the suspension period.
Additionally, missed payments during the suspension don’t get reported to the credit bureaus and can’t hurt your credit. Qualifying payments you skip also count toward any federal loan repayment or forgiveness plan you’re enrolled in.
However, if you want to continue making student loan payments during the suspension period, you can. With zero percent interest, the amount you pay gets applied to your principal student loan balance, enabling you to get out of debt faster.
With zero percent interest, the amount you pay gets applied to your principal student loan balance, enabling you to get out of debt faster.
If you’re not sure what type of student loan you have or the pros and cons of consolidation, contact your loan servicer. Even if your student loans are with private lenders or schools, they may offer relief if you request it.
9. Having Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven
The PPP is part of the CARES Act, and it supports small businesses, organizations, and solopreneurs facing economic hardship created by the pandemic. The program began providing relief in early April 2020, and the application window ended in early August 2020.
Participating PPP lenders coordinated with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer loans to businesses in operation by February 15, 2020, with fewer than 500 employees. Loan amounts could be up to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll up to $10 million; however, annual salaries were capped at $100,000.
For a solopreneur, the maximum PPP loan was $20,833 if your 2019 net profit was at least $100,000. The calculation is: $100,000 / 12 months x 2.5 = $20,833.
When you spend at least 60% on payroll and 40% on rent, mortgage interest, and utilities, you can have those amounts forgiven from repayment. Payroll includes payments to yourself, but you can’t cover benefit costs, such as retirement contributions, or payments to independent contractors.
In other words, a solopreneur could have received a PPP loan for up to $20,833, paid the entire amount to themselves, and not repaid it by having the load forgiven. Using a PPP loan for qualifying expenses turns it into a grant.
The best part about PPP loan forgiveness is that it won’t qualify as federal taxable income. Some states that charge income tax have indicated that they won’t tax forgiven amounts.
However, if you have employees, the PPP forgiveness calculations and requirements are more complex. For example, you must maintain reasonable salaries and wages. If you decrease them by more than 25% for any employee (including yourself) who made less than $100,000 in 2019, your forgiveness amount will be reduced.
PPP loan forgiveness also depends on keeping any full-time employees on your payroll. But if you had employees who left your company voluntarily, requested a cut in hours, or got fired for cause during the pandemic, your loan forgiveness amount won’t be reduced for those situations.
The best part about PPP loan forgiveness is that it won’t qualify as federal taxable income. Some states that charge income tax have indicated that they won’t tax forgiven amounts.
However, not all states have issued their rules on taxing PPP forgiveness. So be sure to get guidance if you live in a state with income tax.
You must complete a PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and get approved by your lender to qualify for forgiveness. The paperwork should come from your lender, or you can download it from the SBA website at SBA.gov. Most PPP borrowers have from six months after loan disbursement or until the end of 2020 to spend the funds.
The forgiveness application explains what documents you must include, and they vary depending on whether you have employees. Once you submit your paperwork, your lender has 60 days to decide how much of your PPP loan can be forgiven.
If some or all of a PPP loan isn’t forgiven, you typically must repay it within five years at a 1 percent fixed interest rate. You don’t have to start making payments for ten months after loan disbursement, but interest will accrue during a deferral period.
10. Getting SBA loans
In addition to PPP loans, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several loans for businesses and solopreneurs facing economic hardship caused by a disaster, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) can be up to $2 million and repaid over 30 years at an interest rate of 3.75 percent. You can use these funds for payroll and other operating expenses.
SBA Express Bridge Loans gives borrowers up to $25,000 for help overcoming a temporary loss of revenue. However, you must have an existing relationship with an SBA Express lender.
SBA Debt Relief is a program that helps you make payments on existing SBA loans for up to six months.
Depending on your state, you may qualify for unemployment assistance, which allows self-employed people, who typically are ineligible for unemployment benefits to get them for a period.
This isn’t a complete list of all the economic relief available for small businesses and solopreneurs. There are federal tax initiatives, funds from local and state governments, and help from private organizations that you may find by doing a search online.
How to manage money in uncertain times
When it comes to surviving uncertainty, such as how COVID-19 will affect the economy, those who have emergency savings will feel much less financial stress than those who don’t. That’s why it’s essential to maintain a cash reserve of at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an FDIC-insured bank savings account.
If you don’t need to dip into your emergency fund, continue shoring it up when possible. If you don’t have a cash reserve, accumulate savings by cutting non-essential expenses, and even temporarily pausing contributions to retirement accounts. That’s a better option than succumbing to panic and tapping your retirement funds early.
If you don’t need to dip into your emergency fund, continue shoring it up when possible.
If you find yourself in a cash crunch, contact your creditors before dipping into any retirement accounts you have. Many lenders will be willing to work with you to suspend payments or modify existing loan terms temporarily.
RELATED: How to Reduce Money Anxiety—Compassionate Advice from a Finance Pro
My new book, Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, covers many strategies to earn more, manage variable income, and create an automatic money system so you can strengthen your financial future. It’s a great resource if you’re thinking about earning side income or have already started a business.
Many economic factors that affect your personal and business finances aren’t under your control. Instead of worrying, look around, and figure out how you can create more income or cut unnecessary expenses. Working on tasks that you can control gives you more clarity and helps manage stress in uncertain times.
I hope this list of income-earning blogs inspires you and proves you can make money online through blogging.
15. Making Sense of Cents
Founder – Michelle Schroeder-Gardner Income – $146,498 per month.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started Making Sense of Cents to “help improve my finances, keep track of my progress and to help readers improve their finances along the way.”
Well, let’s see — how has Schroeder-Gardner done in these areas?
She’s certainly improved her finances, paying off over $38,000 in student loan debt in just 7 months while growing the site’s revenue year-over-year.
Schroeder-Gardner has transparently tracked her progress in her popular monthly income reports. She says the reports act as a journal for her and keeps her accountable, while also showing others that side income is possible.
And she’s also helping others with their finances by publishing thousands of how-to articles about earning more, saving more, and becoming financially fit. Making Sense of Cents’ primary income comes from affiliate marketing. You can see a complete breakdown of this profitable blog’s earnings here.
#14. Smart Passive Income
Founder – Pat Flynn Income – $152,276 per month.
Smart Passive Income (SPI) founder Pat Flynn is a beacon of light in the sometimes dark and shady internet marketing space.
Calling himself a “crash test dummy of online business,” Flynn transparently shows what’s working and what isn’t working in his business.
His site details his online business experiments and gives readers actionable blueprints to follow and outlines mistakes to avoid.
Flynn didn’t invent the online income report, but he certainly popularized them. He’s been publishing monthly income reports on the blog since 2008, detailing his income sources, revenue figures, as well as his expenses. It’s still one of the most trafficked pages on the site.
Flynn is a great example of a blogger who has successfully branched out into other areas as well.
In 2010, Flynn launched the Smart Passive Income Podcast which is routinely in iTunes top 10 Business podcasts. To date, the show has been downloaded an impressive 33 million times.
He also broadcasts Ask Pat, a Q and A online business podcast, and SPI TV for visual learners.
Flynn is now a Wall Street Journal best-selling author with 2016’s release of Will It Fly?.
And while his individual success has been plentiful and hard-earned, Flynn gives back by serving on the board of the non-profit Pencils of Promise, helping to build new schools for children in underprivileged regions around the world. SPI’s primary income comes from affiliate marketing, with other earnings from podcast sponsorship and products.
Founder – Gina Trapani Income – $154,000 per month
Lifehacker was founded in 2005 by Gina Trapani as part of the Gawker Media network.
From the start, Trapani acted as the sole contributor, writing 8 articles a day. Talk about blogging like a boss!
She impressively launched the site with an exclusive sponsorship from Sony, rumored to be 3 months for $75,000. Yeah, she’s a boss.
Lifehacker eventually added other contributors and the blog continued to grow in popularity.
As its motto claims, the site’s content is about “tips, tricks and downloads for getting things done.”
Trapani moved on from the company in 2009, and Nick Denton has run it ever since.
The site still churns out 18 articles a day, all designed to make you more productive. Lifehacker earns its most of its revenue from advertising and it’s been one of the top-earning blogs since it’s inception.
#12. Timothy Sykes
Founder – Timothy Sykes Income – $165,000 per month
Timothy Sykes is a multimillionaire stock trader who famously earned $4 million while day trading in college.
As a high school student, Sykes took $12,415 of his bar mitzvah gift money and turned it into $1.65 million by day trading penny stocks.
Not stopping there, Sykes has created a hedge fund and starred in the television program Wall Street Warriors. These days, Sykes documents his trades and strategy on his popular blog, TimothySykes.com. His top-earning blog offers a Millionaire Challenge and a successful subscription service where users can get real-time trading alerts and access a vast library of trading videos.
Founder – Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Ta’eed and Jun Rung Income – $175,000 per month
Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Ta’eed and Jun Rung founded Tut+ as a modest blog with tutorials on freelancing and Photoshop.
The site ultimately grew into a network of 15 educational blogs, helping people learn profitable online skills, from coding to videography.
At the center of it all remains Tuts+. In 2014, the group combined all 16 blogs into one central hub called Envato Tuts+.
Envato Tuts+ Premium, a subscription-based membership area offering video courses and ebooks, is the primary source of the site’s income. You can still find plenty of free content to learn creative skills and yes, they still have tutorials on freelancing and Photoshop.
Tuts+ is one of my favorite blogs and it’s inspiring to know it started as a hobby and developed naturally and organically into one of the highest-earning blogs online.
#10. Smashing Magazine
Founder – Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman Income – $215,000 per month
Smashing Magazine is the superb creation of Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman.
The blog debuted in 2006 with the goal of helping people with web design and web development interests.
Today, Smashing Magazine is a go-to site for anyone looking to acquire these lucrative skills, with an enormous amount of informative and actionable content.
Not surprisingly, the blog receives 5 million page views a month.
The site now hosts frequent web development conferences and full-day workshops all over the world, to help both professionals and amateurs improve their craft.
This top earning blog’s main income comes from their membership area, where users can learn from an impressive number of tutorials covering everything from coding, web design, mobile app development, UX design, graphics and WordPress.
Founder – John Lee Dumas Income – $223,000 per month
I’m convinced John Lee Dumas never sleeps.
He operates EOFire.com, short for Entrepreneurs on Fire, delivers a daily business podcast, and in recent years has published two best-selling journals — The Freedom Journal and The Mastery Journal.
But his bread and butter is the EOFire podcast, which is fantastic. In 2012, he noticed none of his favorite podcasts were podcasting daily, leaving him wanting more. So he launched his daily podcast interviewing entrepreneurs, and the rest, as they say, is history.
JLD, as he’s affectionately known, has now interviewed over 1600 entrepreneurs, including Tim Ferriss, Barbara Corcoran, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk.
In 2013, EOFire was named Best of iTunes.
His journals wrote the book (no pun intended) on how to run a successful crowdsourcing campaign. And through a partnership with Pencils of Promise, Dumas is parlaying the success of his journals into the creation of schools in underprivileged countries. You can see one of the schools Dumas made possible here. EOFire earned a gross income of $595,936 in February of 2016. That’s an incredible feat for one month and well-deserved for JLD.
It’s always good to see good people doing good work and succeeding.
Founder – Peter Rojas Income – $325,000 per month
Peter Rojas is so awesome he’s on this list twice.
Rojas created Gizmodo to cover technology, entertainment, politics, science and science fiction.
Gizmodo launched in 2002 as part of the Gawker Media network run by Nick Denton with Rojas as Editor in Chief. The blog quickly grew in popularity by partnering with a variety of international firms to deliver translated versions of its content in Europe.
When you visit the site’s home page, one of the first things you notice is an above-the-fold banner that is larger than most. As you scroll down, you’ll find Gizmodo does a great job of showing a lot of content with only a couple of display ads along the side, with one of them being the same advertiser found at the top of the page. When you finally scroll past all the content (there’s a lot!) and reach the bottom of the page, you’ll find another large banner just above the footer, and yes, the advertiser is the same as in the other two spots. Gizmodo’s home page has a great balance of being heavily content-focused but still being able to make a tidy profit with ads. The ads are unobtrusive but still get noticed, and because of the repetition, the advertiser gets noticed too. It’s a win-win advertising model for other sites to emulate.
#7. Perez Hilton
Founder – Perez Hilton Income – $575,000 per month
Perez Hilton is a great example of a successful blogger who capitalized on other opportunities outside of blogging. He’s also a television personality, nationally syndicated host of Radio Perez, and author of a children’s book.
But what he’s most famous for is his celebrity gossip blog PerezHilton.com. Millions visit his site every day to revel in his brand of snarky gossip entertainment. Hilton, born Mario Armondo Lavandeira Jr, started his blog as a hobby and decided to focus on Hollywood “because it was something I was inherently curious about, and fascinated with. And, let’s face it, celebrities — a lot of them — are crazy.”
This profitable blog earns its revenue from advertising banners on the site.
Founder – Brian Clark Income – $1,000,000 per month
With Copyblogger, Brian Clark created an audience-focused content marketing machine.
In fact, Forbes recently called it “the most influential content marketing blog in the world.”
Copyblogger has been helping people write better, sell more, and get more traffic since 2006.
The site’s original tagline was “Internet Marketing For Smart People.” In other words, they’re not selling snake oil and get rich quick schemes.
Now the tagline is “Words That Work” and boy, do they ever. Clark and his team are outstanding at writing copy.
When I read they’re sales copy, I’m always compelled to buy. In fact, this site operates on their Genesis Framework and a StudioPress blog theme. Based on their audience research and communication, they’ve strategically added tools and platforms to help content marketers and digital entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Founder – Pete Cashmore Income – $2,000,000 per month
Mashable was started in 2005 by Pete Cashmore, a 19-year-old who still lived at home with his parents in Scotland.
He began by documenting the latest news about social media and emerging Internet technologies.
His work resonated with lots of folks and Mashable became an immediate success, attracting 2 million readers within the first 18 months.
Mashable has come a long way since those early days. It’s no longer just Cashmore contributing Mashable’s content (they’re hiring!), and they are now headquartered in New York City. Mashable is positioned to be one of the top-earning blogs online for some time.
The blog is still growing with over 45 million readers a month and the content has expanded to cover business, entertainment and lifestyle and now offers 5 international editions.
Mashable’s income primarily comes from advertisements on the site.
Founder – Michael Arrington and Keith Teare Income – $2,500,000 per month
Michael Arrington and Keith Teare started TechCrunch in 2005 to cover technology industry news.
The blog has grown immensely and now features big-name columnists in the startup and venture capital industries.
AOL bought TechCrunch in 2005 for a rumored $25 to $40 million.. TechCrunch earns revenue from display advertising on the blog Specifically, they charge between $19.25 and $36.50 per CPM (Cost Per Thousand views).
According to the site, they receive 12 million visitors per month and 35 million page views per month. With such a high CPM, you can see how this top-earning blog makes its considerable income.
Founder – Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig Income – $3,300,000 per month
Moz is the go-to place for all things SEO. Search engine optimization pros check out Moz daily to see what’s happening in the space.
They also come to use their tools and resources to help them rank their sites and extend their visibility.
Rand Fishkin co-founded the site with Gillian Muessig, who happens to be his mother. The two initially operated a web design shop and Rand had to learn SEO to promote the business. He shared what he learned in SEO forums and quickly became known as an authority in the field.
Frustrated by the secretive world of SEO, they started SEOMoz in 2004 as a way to openly share the knowledge. In fact, the Moz part of their name is a direct nod to the open-source sharing philosophy made famous by the Mozilla Foundation and Dmoz Web directory project.
These days the profitable blog and community simply go by Moz, and Fishkin jokingly refers to his title as “Wizard of Moz.” Moz earned $42 million in 2016, primarily from its paid membership area, which offers valuable tools and services for the avid search engine marketers.
True to the name, Moz still offers numerous tools for free and even the membership area comes with a 30-day free trial.
Founder – Peter Rojas Income – $5,500,000 per month
We last saw Peter Rojas at #8 with Gizmodo and while that blog focuses on many topics, with Engadget, it’s all about tech.
Rojas created Engadget to give sound advice and detailed reviews on technology and consumer electronics. From the beginning, the site has employed numerous writers and editors to contribute to its content machine.
Engadget is now run by AOL, who acquired the blog in 2005. The lesson here is if you ever want to sell your blog, it’s best if it is a brand on its own and not a personal brand.
The company earns massive revenue from advertising on the site.
Founder – Arianna Huffington Income – $14,000,000 per month
In 2005, Arianna Huffington launched the Huffington Post with the goal of becoming a political counterpart to the popular Drudge Report. The blog provided a liberal view of politics and lifestyle and quickly gained a strong following.
The site has grown year after year and in 2011, Huffington sold the blog to AOL for $315,000.
Huffington received $21 million-plus stock options in the company as part of the sale and stayed on as Editor-in-Chief. She resigned from that post in August 2016, and now devotes her time to a new startup Thrive Global, a health and wellness site.
The site has rebranded and is now known simply as HuffPost.
It is the #1 most popular political blog according to a study by eBizMBA. Alexa Global, Compete and Quantcast.
The top-earning blog is an enormous success, earning $14,000,000 in revenue in 2016, and it is estimated to be worth $1 billion currently.
Sponsored advertising revenue provides the majority of HuffPost’s income. The site provides banners and other ads across it’s variety of channels.
What do you think?
I hope this list shows you what is possible and inspires you to follow your own path to the top.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think
15 Top Earning Blogs Making Money Online Infographic
As always I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think
As always I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below. What did you think?
Just the thought of a job interview can make even the most confident prospective employee nervous. So much is riding on how you answer seemingly random questions asked by people you may never have met before.
Will they dig into the technical aspects of the job, making you wish for a calculator and a cheat sheet? Do they prefer those old cliche questions such as “What’s your biggest weakness?” Or do your interviewers subscribe to the wacky logic school of questions, like “Explain why manholes are round”?
You can’t buy an SAT prep book to prepare for a job interview, but here are some of the toughest job interview questions around, with tips on how to answer them gracefully, without breaking into a chorus of “Take This Job and Shove It.”
1. How weird are you?
Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is known for posing some real stumpers to job candidates. The late Tony Hsieh, who was CEO of the firm, reportedly liked asking job candidates: “On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?”
Tips: This is one of those no-right-answer questions. Interviewers are likely looking to see if you can think on your feet and produce a decent response off the top of your head. They also want to know how you’d fit into their culture. One of Zappos’ core values is: “Create Fun & a Little Weirdness.”
2. Sell me this pencil
Job site Monster.com singles out “Sell me this pencil” as a job-interview challenge sometimes faced by those seeking sales jobs. It kind of makes sense — we’ve all met natural salespeople, and turning on that kind of charm in an interview can reveal whether you’re one of them.
Tips: Your interviewer is looking for confidence, so avoid stammering or trailing off when searching for uses for the writing instrument. The best salespeople know to ask a prospective buyer plenty of questions first, to determine if he or she needs the product they’re hawking.
3. Why are manhole covers round?
It’s a cliche interview question, but that doesn’t mean an interviewer won’t throw it at you: “Why are manhole covers round?”
While not all employers use this kind of question, you don’t want to be unprepared if they do.
Tips: The most common answer is that the cover won’t fall into the hole, but if you can defend a different answer, go with it. It may be as simple as redefining the question — pointing out that manhole covers need to fit a manhole, and in this country, at least, manholes are generally round.
4. What are you most passionate about?
Another question is to ask candidates to explain what they are most passionate about. It’s a cliche, but it’s widely used, so be prepared.
Tips: Your answer doesn’t need to be related to your career field. If you brew beer at home, explain how that’s done. If you raise pugs or play fantasy football or know all the best tricks for collecting frequent-flyer miles, that could be your response. Your interviewer probably wants to see how well you explain yourself, how you think about process and how you deal with ambiguity — all vital skills in the workplace.
5. The cup of water challenge
This one’s not a question but a hidden challenge. An interviewer might brings you a disposable cup of water to drink. It looks like a simple act of hospitality, but you may be under observation to see if you clean up after yourself and dispose of the cup when done.
Tips: Just as those signs in office break rooms say, your mother doesn’t work here. (And even if she did, it’s not her job.) Remember the cup example as a way of reminding yourself that sly interviewers may be watching everything you do, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to the position you are applying for.
6. Why shouldn’t I hire you?
You’re sitting there telling the employer all about why he or she should hire you — and you’re hit with the opposite question: Some managers ask why they shouldn’t hire you. Ugh, nice curveball. Be ready to swing away.
Tips: A similar question some interviewers like to ask is, “What would your enemy say about you?” Think about the position you want. If you’re never going to have to make sales calls, it won’t hurt to admit that you aren’t a cold-calling salesperson at heart. But salespeople also come with a natural enthusiasm about their product or business, so be careful to find a way to show you have that.
7. Where should we eat?
Mike O’Neill, the CEO of music-rights company BMI, has asked job candidates to choose the restaurant where their interview will be held. He wants to see if they’re trying to impress or please the possible future boss, or if they’re honestly choosing a place they like.
Tips: O’Neill likes honesty to be on the menu as part of his restaurant test. He notes that he loves it when candidates confess that choosing the restaurant made them nervous — there’s nothing like candor, even if it makes the candidate look less than perfect. We’d steer clear of either end of the budget spectrum — neither fast-food nor four-star dining. Go for something eclectic, yet reliable — like you!
8. Are you smart, or do you work hard?
Another tried and true interview question is this: Which would you say is more true of you, that you are smart or that you work hard?
We’re thinking most candidates want to say they’re both, but imagine you have to choose.
Tips: Some bosses believe that hard work, showing up, diligence and consistency matter more than brains. Whatever you say, don’t explain that your intelligence means you don’t have to work hard. Humility matters a great deal in the workplace.
9. Where does your boss think you are right now?
Making time for a job interview when you’re still employed can be tough. It suddenly can get a lot tougher if your interviewer asks where your current boss thinks you are right at that moment. Uh, busted?
Tips: The interviewer probably wants to know how you treat your current boss as a sign of how you will treat your boss at a new company. Be honest but tactful. Sure, you may not have specified to your current boss that you were going on an interview, but make it clear that you are not taking time you’re not entitled to and that, of course, you’ll finish whatever work needed to be done while you were out.
10. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
Some interviewers relish the bizarre logic of questions like “How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?” Or “How many golf balls can fit into a school bus?”
Tips: You don’t need to get the answer right — no one knows the answer anyway. What interviewers want here is to see how you walk them through the method you use to attempt a solution, says job search site The Muse. Talk through the size of the bus and the size of the golf balls, and make sure you think of oddball elements of the problem, like the space needed for the bus seats. Even a nongolfer can take a swing at this one.
11. Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
This is another of those inane questions meant not to elicit a precise answer but to see how you think on your feet: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
Tips: Don’t quack up, you can get this. It’s likely that the interviewer wants to know if you can stay poised under pressure and how you will break down a problem to solve it. Like the golf balls in the school bus question, there’s no right answer. And unlike that one, this requires less knowledge of sizes and spatial awareness and relies more on creativity. Think about the pros and cons of each battle, and then go ahead and wing it.
12. How have you solved tough problems?
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of electric motor company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX and the world’s richest person, has said that he asks job candidates this: “Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.” While he may want to hear the answer, it is another tricky interview question.
Tips: The question may not be bizarre, but Musk’s motive is unusual. CNBC explains that he asks it to screen for liars. “The people who really solved the problem know exactly how they solved it,” Musk said. “They know and can describe the little details.”
13. Which state would you get rid of?
Another well-used job interview question you might encounter is this: “If you were to get rid of one U.S. state, which one would it be, and why?”
It’s reminiscent of a bit on “The Simpsons,” when Grandpa writes to the president of the United States to lobby for eliminating three states. “There are too many states nowadays, he grumbles, adding, “P.S.: I am not a crackpot.”
Tips: This is another zany question that tests how your thought process works. Be aware: It may also reveal plenty about you and your values. Maybe you would start with Alaska or Hawaii for practical distance reasons. You might think outside the box and suggest combining two similar states, say, North and South Dakota, into one. Really, any thoughtful answer should be fine, but don’t bring politics or some weird personal grudge against, say, Rhode Island, into the picture.
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Let’s face it. Most of us, at one point or another, have been faced with a financial emergency, or a plain, old-fashioned cash crunch. It’s definitely not a fun spot to be in. While there are steps we can take to avoid such situations (more on that later), that’s often the last thing on our minds when we need to come up with money — quick.
To assist, I’ve compiled the following list of money-making ideas. While some of the items included are more lucrative than others (you’ll never get rich taking surveys, for example), they all share a common theme: making money fast. Ready? Let’s dive in.
And before anyone mentions it, yes we’re aware of the irony of publishing an article about making money fast at a website called Get Rich Slowly.
Sell Your Old Stuff
I’ll kick off the list with an obvious one: selling your old stuff. After all, is there a faster way to make money? If you walked a few steps to your basement right now, or stepped outside to the garage, I’m willing to bet that you’d find some junk lying around that someone else could use:
Old computers and video games.
Sports equipment your kids have grown out of.
That extra bike that’s never ridden.
Your old collectibles. (J.D. sold his comic books. You could sell your baseball cards.)
Once you’ve come to grips with parting with your junk, selling it is as easy as taking a few pictures, and posting an ad on Craigslist, or your local Facebook Buy and Sell. If you need some inspiration, here’s a list of 12 surprisingly valuable things that are lying around your house.
Taking online surveys isn’t going to make you rich, but that’s not your goal here. You need to make money fast, and paid survey sites like Survey Junkie will help you do just that. In fact, you can start earning within a few minutes of signing up, and get paid as soon as you accumulate $10 in rewards.
Survey Junkie will pay you for each survey you complete, in the form of Paypal credits or gift cards to your favorite retail stores. The more surveys you take, the more you’ll make. The best part is that you can take surveys while doing other things, like watching TV, or listening to music, making it an easy way to earn some quick cash.
Swagbucks is similar to Survey Junkie, but they take things a step further, by giving you more ways to earn cash and rewards. In addition to completing surveys, Swagbucks will pay you to browse the internet, play games, and shop online. They’ll even send you a daily survey, and a daily poll, as a way to earn rewards faster.
With Swagbucks, you won’t have to wait before redeeming your rewards. While you’ll need $25 worth of Swagbucks to move cash to your Paypal account, you can redeem points for gift cards worth as little as $1. In fact, when I checked out the Swagbucks rewards page, I noticed $3 Amazon gift cards advertised.
Remember your goal – to make money fast. When you sign up for Acorns using my exclusive link, you’ll receive a $5 credit to kick off your account. Now, I wouldn’t suggest that you go to all that trouble for $5, but with Acorns, you’re getting so much more. Acorns is an investment app that makes saving money easy. You can open an account on your mobile phone in a couple of minutes, collect your $5, and be on your way to building that emergency fund, or saving for your next special purchase.
Open Your Acorns Account and Earn $5
To help you get there, Acorns uses an innovative feature, called round up savings. Acorns syncs to your debit or credit card and then rounds up the “spare change” whenever you spend. For example, let’s say you buy a pack of gum for $1.25. Acorns will round to the nearest dollar, and set aside .75 into your Acorns investment account. Because the amounts are so small, you’ll hardly notice the money leaving your account, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the savings adds up.
Acorns works so well, in fact, that it’s my top choice for investment app for 2020.
Drive with Uber
If you have a clean driving record, a reliable vehicle, and enjoy being around people, driving for a rideshare service like Uber is a great way to make some extra money, and fast. One perk to this job is the flexibility it offers. You decide when, and how much you want to work.
Once you’ve signed up with Uber, most drivers report that it only takes about 3-5 days to be approved.
Here’s more about the pros and cons of becoming a rideshare driver.
Deliver Food with UberEats
If driving for Uber sounds enticing, but you’d rather not spend your time making small talk with strangers, you could decide to deliver food with UberEats. You use the app to select deliveries that are in your area. The best part is that you decide when you want to work, and how much. Keep in mind, you will make more money during peak periods.
Rent Out Your Ride on Turo
Take advantage of your car’s downtime by renting it out to someone who needs a ride. Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing app that makes it easy to rent out your car. I’ve used Turo as a renter multiple times and believe it will continue to catch on, so they’ll need an increased supply of vehicles for rent. Once you’re set up through Turo, list your car on the app, wait for a request, and be ready to accept or decline. Keep in mind, your car will need to meet Turo’s vehicle requirements, and the nicer it is, the more money you can charge.
Rent Out a Room With Airbnb
If you have a spare bedroom in your home, you can rent it out to a short term guest, on Airbnb. Some people will even rent out their entire home, if they have another place where they can stay.
Not only is this a great way to make money quick, but if it’s something you enjoy, you could turn it into a regular income stream. A great perk with Airbnb is having the flexibility to decide when your space will be available, and how much you’ll charge.
Employee Referral Programs
Any recruiter will tell you, it’s tough for companies to find good people these days. As a result, many organizations will pay their own employees a bonus for successfully referring new talent.
Depending on the role, and the demand for the position, you could be eligible to receive hundreds, even thousands of dollars by bringing in a new employee. Not only is this a quick way to make money, but it requires almost no effort on your part. You’re simply connecting to parties.
Babysitting or At-Home Daycare
In today’s society, most families are dual income, with both parents working outside the home. Because of this, there is a constant demand for reliable childcare. If you’re a natural caregiver, and enjoy being around kids, you can make good money by offering to provide childcare within your local community. Whether it’s babysitting or an at-home daycare, it won’t take long to find your first client. Use your friends and family to get the word out, or notify your Facebook community, and you’ll be making money in no time.
Teach English with VIP Kid
If you enjoy teaching, consider putting your English skills to good use by becoming an online tutor. Websites like VIP Kid source clients for you, and the pay is pretty good too. It’s not uncommon to make $20-30/hour teaching online.
Tutoring is something that can be done in person as well. In fact, during the school year, there’s no shortage of students in your community in need of help with their studies. Check with your local high school, or get the word out on your community Facebook page.
J.D.’s note: For eighteen months, I met with a Spanish tutor three times each week. Aly had moved to the U.S. from Peru, and she found that tutoring was a fantastic way for her to make money.
Rent Out Your RV With Outdoorsy
If you own an RV, Outdoorsy will match you with people who are looking to rent a trailer or motorhome, for their next summer adventure. At rates as high as $150/day, or more, this is a great way to make money fast. Head to Outdoorsy, and find out how you can get your RV making money for you.
Collect Rewards With Drop App
Money doesn’t always have to arrive in the form of cash. Drop allows you to earn points when you shop at your favorite retailers, then redeem your rewards for gift cards at places like Starbucks, or Amazon. Drop works by syncing to your debit and/or credit card, and keeping track of your purchases. You don’t need to worry about clipping coupons, or scan receipts to receive discounts, Drop does all the work for you.
Download the free app to start earning with Drop!
Earn $50 per Year With the Nielsen Ratings App
For decades, Nielsen has been tracking TV ratings. But did you know that they will pay you to download their app to your computer or smartphone? Doing so allows them to compile data by tracking your internet usage. No need to worry however, your anonymity is guaranteed, and according to Neilson, the app won’t slow your device’s performance in the least.
Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? There is a BIG caveat, however. You must be selected by Nielsen. That’s because Nielsen families are chosen using a scientific process. That said, it’s good to know about this easy money-making opportunity, in case you are ever approached by Nielsen.
Take Advantage of Bank Signup Bonuses
This is a great way to make some quick money. Banks everywhere are in a constant battle for new customers. The financial services industry is highly competitive, and companies know that if they can secure your day to day banking business, they’ll have a shot at your mortgage and your investments as well.
While these promotions come and go, it’s not uncommon to be offered a few hundred dollars when you open a new checking account with a bank, providing that you meet the qualifying criteria. This usually includes hooking up your automatic payroll deposit and completing a couple of online bill payments, that kind of thing.
Earn Credit Card Rewards
I’m a big fan of credit card rewards, but I’ll be the first to admit that using credit cards as a way of making money can be dangerous, and definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re not paying off your credit card balance in full each month, or if using a credit card creates a temptation to overspend, then having a rewards credit card will cost you more money than you will ever make.
That said, a cashback, or travel rewards credit card can be a great way to make extra money. Many premium cards come with a welcome bonus, such as a couple hundred dollars cashback upfront, or enough travel points to get you a free flight somewhere. Have an upcoming trip planned? This could be a great way to subsidize the cost. Head here for more information on the best credit card rewards.
Make Money as a Freelance Writer
If you have interest, or experience in a specific area and love to write, there’s a good chance you can make money online as a freelance writer. What I love about this side hustle, is that it’s something you can do on your own schedule from the comfort of your living room. Not only that, but you can make good money. The website Problogger has an active job board, where you can browse, and apply for, freelance writing gigs across a wide range of niches.
Note: Many former Get Rich Slowly staff writers have gone on to become professional freelance writers with lucrative careers.
Advertise Your Freelance Services on Fiverr
In addition to writing, there are no shortage of services you can offer as a freelancer. Graphic design, bookkeeping, social media management – these are all services that small businesses will pay you to provide. One of the best ways to find clients and start making money is by joining a freelance marketplace like Upwork, or Fiverr.
Teach Music Lessons
Who said that a musician needs to live like a starving artist? If you are skilled on any number of musical instruments, you can make good money teaching private lessons. Ask your local music store if you can post an ad on their bulletin board, or advertise through Craigslist or Facebook. Early September is a great time of year to get started, as students are back to school and looking to start up music lessons after the summer break.
Earn Cash Back With Rakuten (Formerly Ebates)
Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, makes it easy to earn cashback when you shop online at top retailers, such as Amazon, Kohl’s, and Microsoft. Sign up with Rakuten, and gain access to hundreds of partner retail stores via links directly on their site. Rakuten will keep track of your cash rebates, which can be as high as 40%, when you factor in limited time offers. The best part? Receive an automatic $10 bonus when you sign up for Rakuten, and earn an additional $25 when you refer friends or family.
Deliver Food With DoorDash
DoorDash is one of a number of app-powered food delivery services that have popped up in recent years. If you need to make money quick, becoming a delivery driver for Doordash may be the perfect solution. In fact, the signup box on their website reads, “Get Your First Check This Week”.
Ask for a Raise
Perhaps the fastest way to make extra money is by leveraging the job you already have. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about this, and instead feel like they need to take on something extra. I’ll finish with a few ways to increase your 9-5 income.
You’ve probably heard it said, “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be, no”. To most companies, a valuable employee is worth their weight in gold. Part of this is due to how much time and money it takes to hire and train someone new. Chances are, your employer is willing to pay you more, but you need to ask. If you’re able to effectively communicate your value to your boss, you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
Since the early says of Get Rich Slowly, we’ve advocated learning how to negotiate your salary. It’s one of the best ways to boost your income — now and in the future.
Apply for a Promotion
When was the last time you considered applying for a promotion? Not only is a new job a great way to make more money, challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone will further develop your skills, and help you grow as a person. If you’re having trouble getting promoted at your current company, you may decide to go to take your skills somewhere else. Here’s an article that gives 10 reasons successful people change jobs more often.
Take Advantage of Any Unused Benefits
If you’re not taking advantage of all of the benefits your employer is offering, you may be leaving cold hard cash on the table. Far too many employees don’t take the time to understand what’s available, and as they say, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Read through your employee benefits package, or speak to an HR representative if you have questions. There’s money to be made, from health spending balances and 401K matches, to affordable insurance coverage and employee discounts.
Ask to Work Overtime
Not every job offers this opportunity, but if yours does, consider volunteering to work overtime, if you’re needing to make more money fast. Overtime work saves you from having to start something extra in your spare time, such as a second job, or a time-consuming side hustle. Remember, the goal is to make money fast. Either way, always strive for a healthy balance between time at work, and time away. The last thing you want is to feel burned out.
Final Thoughts on Making Money Fast
At the outset of this article, I mentioned that there are ways to avoid finding yourself with a shortfall of cash. While we can never be prepared for absolutely every emergency (nor should we try to be), we can make life a little easier with some advanced planning.
My best advice is to build an emergency fund. This can be as little as $500, or enough to cover several months worth of expenses, it’s up to you. Having an emergency fund will not only reduce your stress level, but it will also decrease your odds of having to use a credit card to cover a financial emergency, and that is a good thing.
In the meantime, my hope is that you feel more confident about making money fast, should the need arise.