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It’s that time of the month again. The time where I take inventory of what we’re making outside our 9-5 income to get us closer to our goals.
After we became debt free we didn’t know what to do with our money. We’d developed frugal habits, worked well as a team, and built some income streams we didn’t necessarily want to stop just because we could.
So we channeled those assets to the goal of financial independence. We have the Choose FI podcast and community to thank for that. It showed me ways we could optimize our life to get the lifestyle we really want.
And since we’re still side hustlin, I wanted to an easy way to keep track of it all. So this is as much for me as it is for you.
As always, I only include income that’s deposited into my account so sometimes it’s from stuff I did a while ago but none of it is speculative. If you want more ideas on making money at home you can grab the list of work-from-home jobs I started with by entering your deets below.
So without further adieu, March’s Side Hustle Report.
March was really busy for us! And we made Superhost! Hopefully this will bring even more people into our home and money in our pockets — and by pockets I mean Mortgage.
People always have a lot of questions about sharing a home with strangers. Travis an I have lived with strangers before so I guess it wasn’t weird to us but I do have our listing set to not let people stay more than 14 days… because variety.
Airbnb has a lot of features to make sure we’re 100% comfortable with bookings and they offer a $1 million host guarantee that covers theft, property damage, and other accidents that could occur with a guest. If you have questions feel free to drop them in the comments and I’d love to answer them.
If you want to rent out one of your rooms then sign up through this link and you’ll help us earn a little extra too!
$922.43 of that came from Merch by Amazon and $11.47 came from Etsy. I actually thought my Etsy margins were way higher than that but as it turns out I priced my 3XL and 2XL only slightly higher thinking I’d get the same margins as smaller shirts and I’m not.
Most of my Etsy sales are larger sizes so I’m taking inventory and adjusting my offerings this month.
These are my January earnings from The No-Spend Challenge Guide. I just found out that NSCG was selected for an Amazon beta program called Great on Kindle. Not sure what it’ll do for the book but I’m just excited I got an email from a real person at Amazon.
Next month I’ll start to see earnings from Meal Planning on a Budget. January is a huge month for personal finance books so even though I’m adding another book I anticipate my earnings going down. But who knows? We’ll see.
Mystery Shopping: $0
An improvement from last month’s -$4! We did a lot of mystery shopping this month but it gets paid out 4-6 weeks later so this should be higher in the coming months.
If you want to learn more about mystery shopping you can read my post about it.
#MakeMoneyBlogging. The blog income broke down like this for March:
$16.59 from Amazon Associates
$65.85 from Ads
Travis’s Side Job: $161.15
Travis fills out aircraft paperwork for a private jet owner who has the hangar next to his day job. Sometimes they need him a lot, sometimes not so much.
Expenses: I’m a frugalprenuer so I keep my expenses low but there are some that are unavoidable.
Etsy Expenses: $7.85
I purchased mockups for Etsy listings for $7.85. I’ll have listing fees starting next month.
I use Printful to print the shirts and it charges me for each shirt that’s sold but I’m not including it in expenses I’m just taking it out of the profit.
Set aside for taxes: $774
March Grand Total: $2980.61
2018 Running Total: $7298.69
Goals for the rest of the quarter:
Jill and I are launching the Frugal Friends Podcast on April 27th! I’ll definitely announce the launch more in the coming weeks once I get the website set up and the trailer on iTunes!
I’m working on 7 news shirts that I want to get up before Mother’s Day.
I updated my Budget Coaching page. I’m offering budget coaching for anyone who’s serious about getting on a budget and reaching their financial goals. I would really like to push that service more. It’s something I like doing! So check it out and see if it’s for you!
I’m still wanting to try Amazon Ads for Meal Planning on a Budget. I think it could be a best seller and I want to do everything I can to get it there.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.
In case you need a quick refresher, federal student loans are those offered by the federal government to parents and students to help pay for college.
They come with fixed interest rates, flexible income-driven repayment plans, forgiveness, and subsidized and unsubsidized options.
These need-based loans also come with a 6-month grace period following your graduation, during which time you aren’t required to make payments.
You apply for federal student loans by submitting the FAFSA, which we’ll cover in depth below.
Private student loans, on the other hand, are those offered by banks, credit unions, and all lenders other than the federal government.
These loans come with both variable and fixed interest rates and are typically unsubsidized.
They also lack income-driven repayment plans, so you should pay close attention to the terms before getting the loan. You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to repay your student loans.
Unlike need-based federal loans, private student loans are based on your credit and income and come with higher borrowing limits, which is good news for some applicants.
While interest rates can be higher on private student loans, if you have a solid credit score, you can get interest rates which compete with federal loans.
With a better idea of how student loans work, here are some tips for choosing the best loans for your needs.
Which Type of Loan You Should Choose
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to student loans. If you’re a high-income individual with stellar credit, private student loans may be right up your alley.
If, however, you’re a lower-income individual with a subpar credit score, you may find that federal student loans are a more viable option.
You should let your financial situation help guide your decision on what loans to apply for.
In general, you’ll want to start with federal student loans, as they offer unique benefits, and pursue private loans once you’ve maxed out your federal resources to cover any remaining college costs.
Often, families find that a combination of private and federal loans meets their needs well.
If you find yourself in that situation, here are the steps you need to take to apply for federal and private funding.
How to Apply for Federal Student Loans
Your first step in the student loan application process is to fill out the FAFSA.
Short for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA is the key to unlocking federal loans. Here’s how it works.
How to Complete the FAFSA
The FAFSA will factor in your tuition, income, and financial need to determine your eligibility for federal student loans, along with some scholarships and grants.
You should be able to complete the application in less than an hour if you have the documentation and info below on hand.
To complete the FAFSA, which is available October 1, you’ll need to provide yours and your parents’ Social Security Numbers and your driver’s license number.
You’ll also need to provide your parents’ tax returns (and yours if you have them), documentation of untaxed income, and data on your investments and bank accounts.
Once you’ve submitted the online application successfully, you’ll receive an email with a link to your Student Aid Report anywhere between a few days and few weeks.
Your report will tell you what type of aid you’re eligible for and what your borrowing limits will be.
How to Apply for Private Student Loans
Private student loans function a bit differently than federal student loans.
While federal student loans all come from the same place, private loans come from a number of lending sources.
What You Need to Apply for Private Student Loans
If you’re looking for additional funding beyond federal loans, or you or your parents have good credit and want to compare all of your options, your next step is to apply for private student loans.
To access the best interest rates and get the most out of your student loans, you need a strong credit score and a good debt-to-income ratio, a number which suggests you won’t have trouble keeping up with your loan payments.
If you don’t have either of those credit factors in check, as many young borrowers don’t, you can still access great rates on private loans with a cosigner.
In addition to the qualifying factors above, you’ll need to have some information on hand, like loan amount, college or university name, type of program, and whether or not you plan to use a cosigner.
Private student loans are offered by traditional and online-only banks and credit unions, as well as private lenders, many of whom are dedicated solely to providing student loans.
Where to Apply for Private Student Loans
One of the most popular private lenders on the market is College Ave Student Loans, a company dedicated to providing borrowers with a better student loan experience.
College Ave offers tailor-made loans and refinancing options for undergraduate and graduate students, building them around your unique financial needs and goals.
They also offer a variety of tools and educational resources, like student loan calculators, to help you plan out your college financing.
The application process is quick and easy, matching you with the best student loan offers you qualify for in a matter of minutes.
You can also use the pre-qualification tool that allows you to see what rates you may qualify for without a hard check on your credit.
You have a whole world of student loan options at your disposal, and fortunately, applying for them is a quick and simple process.
Whether you envision yourself getting by with federal loans or think you might benefit from private loans, take a few minutes to apply for both and see what your best options are.
With a clear idea of the fees, rates, borrowing terms, and lenders available to you, you can lay out a doable financial plan and get your college education rolling.
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Table of Contents
About the Author
Jeff Rose, CFP® is a Certified Financial Planner™, founder of Good Financial Cents, and author of the personal finance book Soldier of Finance. Jeff is an Iraqi combat veteran and served 9 years in the Army National Guard. His work is regularly featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc.com and Entrepreneur.
Marcelo Avila holds his daughter while cooking dinner in St. Petersburg, Fla. Keeping some basic pantry essentials on hand allows you to whip up tasty meals with minimal effort. Some basics include pasta sauce, chicken broth and coconut milk. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder
You finished another long day at work, and you’re ready to kick back.
But you’re hangry, and the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove and make dinner.
We’ve all been there. Saving money doesn’t mean becoming a superhuman who can ignore the stress of the day to create a three-course, budget-friendly meal.
Saving money on food comes down to working smarter, not harder. And that starts with keeping some basic pantry essentials on hand at all times, so you can whip up tasty meals with minimal effort (and thinking).
The Budget Cook’s 9 Kitchen Pantry Essentials
If you’re trying to cut down on eating out and looking to stock your cabinets on the cheap, grab these pantry essentials to build quick and easy low-cost meals.
1. Whole Grains and Breads
Quinoa and rice are standard bases for taco bowls, curries and fried rice. What you may not realize is that oatmeal is just as versatile. In addition to overnight oats and oatmeal cookies, you can create a savory breakfast bowl by adding some cheese and an egg.
Throw anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich, or add some cheese in a tortilla and call it a quesadilla. These vessels are a tasty way to mix up the delivery of leftovers to your mouth.
Reducing food waste for the win!
You don’t necessarily need these specific noodles, but a long noodle and a short noodle will do all the things you need noodles to do.
Say that 10 times fast.
Your short noodle can make mac and cheese or a great pasta primavera with leftover veggies. Long noodles are made for a good sauce like Alfredo, pesto or marinara.
3. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes cost a fraction of the price of meat, making them an affordable way to add protein to soups, chilis and tacos. Roasted chickpeas make a healthy salad topper, while lentils are great for a fantastic curry.
You can buy these canned, but buying them dry is even cheaper. Bonus: You can store them in decorative jars, and friends will think you know what you’re doing in the kitchen.
All-purpose or whole-wheat flour is essential for more than just cakes and breads. You can use it to make your own pancake mix, biscuits or even fresh egg pasta. Flour is also used as a thickener in homemade sauces.
A little sugar can make a yummy sweet-and-savory sauce or quick fruit crisp in the microwave.
Sugar shouldn’t be a staple in your diet, but it’s necessary in your kitchen. You’re likely to consume less sugar when you make your sweets at home instead of buying them at the store.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Basic nuts and seeds have a dual purpose: They’re a great snack on their own, and they give a nice crunchy texture to salads, oatmeal and baked goods.
They’re also ultra healthy. Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of nutrients — just 1 ounce has 7 grams of protein. Nuts also contain a hefty dose of healthy fats and nutrients, so skip the chips and keep these tiny gems on hand.
6. Oil and Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
You can make some awesome marinades and salad dressings with this classic combo. Apple cider vinegar makes a tasty vinaigrette; add sesame oil to peanut butter and soy sauce to create your own peanut sauce.
If you want to expand your oil and vinegar inventory, balsamic and rice vinegars add a lot of options to your pantry arsenal.
7. Condiments and Sauces
Much like oil and vinegar, condiments and sauces give new life to bland meats and veggies. Mix Dijon with a little oil and vinegar for a salad dressing. I’ve found that a little hot sauce corrects all recipe mistakes.
Peanut butter toast makes a great snack — and we’ve found that, surprisingly, there are a lot of household uses for it, too.
If you’ve already got a lot of condiments to work with, don’t let them die in your fridge. There are several ways to put them to good use.
8. Herbs and Aromatics
Crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper are a given. But buying pre-minced garlic saves time — and allows you to add fresh garlic to anything. Cumin is a staple in Mexican dishes.
Italian seasoning is a frugal life hack. It includes all the seasonings you want in the ratio you want them, without having to buy seven different bottles.
And crushed red pepper is an easy one to have on hand because you can always refill your container with the packets that come with your pizza.
Stock or bouillon
Coconut milk, stock and tomatoes are necessary bases for many soups, chilis and curries. You can also cook rice and quinoa in stock or coconut milk to add some flavor.
It’s always nice to have a fancy pasta sauce on hand if you don’t have time to make your own — even though it’s really easy.
And if you’re embarking on a pantry challenge by eating what’s on hand before buying additional groceries, having ample canned goods will help you tie together some delicious meals.
Jen Smith is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
One of the most frequently asked questions concerning credit scores is, “Can you raise your credit score?”. It’s a testament to just how little people know about this important topic. And that’s not something to be ashamed of. Personal finances are one of those things that people don’t learn about until they need to; it’s something that escapes us as youngsters, creeps into our lives as teenagers and young adults, and then hits hard when we’re 20-somethings dealing with masses of debt.
But it’s never too late to learn. In this guide, we’ll take answer the most frequently asked questions about credit scores.
Can You Raise Your Credit Score?
Your credit score is constantly changing, altered by every bank account you open and every debt you pay. If it’s below 850, the maximum credit score, then you can raise it.
Generally speaking, whenever you open a new account, default on a debt, miss a payment, or receive a hard inquiry, your score will suffer; whenever you pay debts, meet repayments, and reduce the amount of used credit, it will improve.
Can You Do it in 3 Months?
There is a lot you can do in three months to improve your credit score. In the next section, we’ll discuss some 30-day techniques that you can utilize. All of those techniques apply here as well, but you can also try the following:
Pay More: Creditors only report once per month, which means that even if you clear your credit card balance every month, it may still adversely impact your score. The best way to get around this is to make two payments each month, breaking that one big payment into two equal ones. You won’t pay any more money, but your credit score will look decidedly better.
Negotiate Debts: If you have any debts in collection status, then your score may have taken a significant hit. But you can clear these very quickly if you contact the collection agency and settle. Remember, they bought your debts cheaply and their goal is to profit, clear, and move on. Offer them a reduced lump-sum amount to clear debts quickly.
Be Authorized: If you become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, you’ll benefit from the increased credit limit without taking on any extra debt. Find someone who loves you and trusts you (a partner, a parent), make sure they are not heavily in debt, and let them know that you have no intention of using the card. The next time your report is updated, you should notice an immediate improvement.
Can You Do it in 30 Days?
The more time you have, the better, but if you don’t have 3 months then it is possible to make some big changes to your credit score in just 30 days.
Remove Mistakes: The first thing you should do is request a credit report from each of the three big bureaus. You are entitled to receive at least one per year for free. Scrutinize the reports. Look for inaccuracies, mistakes—anything that is negative and doesn’t belong there. Once you find them, dispute them and this will remove them from your report.
Pay Down: Next up, it’s time to clear as much of your balance as possible. 30% of your credit score is calculated based on amount owed vs amount available, with 30% or less being the ideal amount. For example, if you have a $100,000 limit and $60,000 of debt, you’re using 60%. The lower this figure is, the higher this portion of your score will be. If you have the money, put it towards reducing your debts. It’s not all or nothing—they don’t need to be cleared 100% for your score to benefit.
Increase Your Limit: Your credit utilization ratio can also be improved by increasing your credit. Don’t open any more accounts, as that will have a negative impact in the short-term. Instead, call your current creditor and ask them to increase your limit.
Does Fingerhut Lower Your Score?
Fingerhut creates a new credit account, which means it registers as a hard inquiry and will reduce your credit score temporarily.
Fingerhut is an online shopping portal that offers installment plans. It can be useful for consumers with poor credit who need to make a few essential purchases, however, not only will it temporarily reduce your score, but the products listed on the site are more expensive than they are elsewhere.
Does Fingerhut Raise Your Score?
If you make payments on time then your score will gradually improve, just like it would with any other credit account. Fingerhut doesn’t offer anything different in this regard, but it is more accepting of users with low credit scores.
Does Affirm Reduce Your Score?
Affirm uses a soft credit check when you apply for a loan, which means it won’t reduce your score or appear on your statement. However, if you proceed with an Affirm loan this may appear on your credit report as they report to the major credit bureaus.
Does Affirm Raise Your Score?
As with Fingerhut, using Affirm can improve your credit score. It’s designed to help you make essential purchases and to establish installment plans that appear on your credit report. By meeting these repayments you’re proving to future creditors that you can be trusted.
What Can Raise Your Credit Score?
There are numerous things that can raise your credit score quickly, some of which we’ve discussed in this guide. Take a look below to see how your score is calculated and what you can do to improve it:
35% = Payment History: Pay on time, avoid delinquencies.
30% = Amount Owed: Keep your available credit high when compared to your total debt.
15% = Age of Accounts: Keep credit cards active, even when the debts have been cleared. This will also help with the Amount Owed section above.
10% = New Credit: New credit accounts can adversely impact your score, but their impact will lessen over time.
10% = Types of Credit: The more types of credit you have, the better, as lenders want to know that you’re capable of handling multiple types.
Taco Bell will hire 5,000 people at 2,000 stores across the country. The fast food chain will be taking COVID-19 precautions by conducting interviews in parking lots. Photo courtesy of Taco Bell
When you order Nachos BellGrande at the Taco Bell drive-thru on Wednesday, April 21, you can request a job as well. The fast food empire is hiring 5,000 people at “hiring parties” in parking lots at 2,000 stores throughout the country.
The chain is growing toward its goal of operating 10,000 stores across the globe by the end of the decade, according to a hiring announcement. Taco Bell currently has 7,000 company-owned and franchise locations in the United States and 600 in other countries.
The jobs available vary based on location but include all levels, from “bellhops” who take orders on tablets at drive-thrus, to general managers. Click here to see what positions are open in your area. Interested candidates can fill out an application on that same site in advance or do it in person at a store on Wednesday
Not every Taco Bell is having a hiring party so job seekers should go to TacoBell.com/locations to get phone numbers of stores near them and call to see if they are participating in the event.
Taco Bell will interview candidates outside in order to follow COVID-19 precautions. In some locations applicants won’t even have to get out of their cars. Everyone must wear a mask and stay six feet apart. You can bring a resume and references, but that is not necessary, according to Meagan Ashner, a spokeswoman for Taco Bell.
“While we are hopeful for strong, qualified talent among all applicants, attending a hiring party does not guarantee a job,” she added.
According to Indeed.com, Taco Bell’s wages start at $10.26 an hour for kitchen team members. A shift manager can make $23,494 a year and an assistant manager can make $43,969.
The restaurant gives employees a free meal during a shift, according to Indeed.
Benefits for general managers of company-owned stores have recently been expanded to include up to four weeks of accrued vacation a year and four weeks of “baby bonding” time for new parents and guardians. The company also offers eight weeks of fully-paid short term disability after the birth of a child.
Taco Bell fared well during the pandemic, adjusting quickly to the shutdown of indoor dining. The drive-thru was already a key part of its business, and the chain made it easier for customers to order and pick up food.
The rollout of new “Go Mobile” stores this year is fueling part of the need for more employees. These smaller restaurants cater only to digital orders and drive-thru pickups.
Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
Too much financial advice is about pulling yourself up out of hardship.
I’m glad it exists; people in a money hole need a way out. But wouldn’t you love to skip the hole-digging and get right to the having your life together part?
Your early 20s is a key place to set a financial foundation. You can quickly erode your financial health with unmanageable debt and expenses, or you can build a solid safety net and a plan that helps you weather this transitional period and come out on the other side on solid ground.
Hint: Choose the latter.
Here are five things to know about your money by the time you leave college to set yourself up for a solid financial future.
5 Things to Know About Your Money After College
Figure out the answers to these questions now to set yourself up for financial success for years to come.
1. What’s Your Credit Score?
This sounds like a dreadfully boring place to start, but it’s key to making a solid financial plan. Understanding your credit history and the factors that make up your credit score give you a solid financial picture you can build from.
You can get a free credit report directly from a credit bureau, but that won’t include your score. Instead, I recommend a tool that shows you your credit score and the elements of your credit history that affect it.
Among other information, these tools will let you see:
Your FICO score or VantageScore. Each of these types of credit scores can be useful. They’re different, though, so make sure you know which one you’re looking at and how it compares to what creditors and lenders will see.
A breakdown of your debts. Any credit cards, auto loans, personal loans and student loans in your name will show up, including how much you owe and which company you owe it to.
Payment history. You’ll see if you have any outstanding negative marks, like unpaid bills. You can use this information to pay them off and clean up your credit or, if they’re old, wait for them to fall off after seven years.
Word of warning: These tools earn money by recommending products like loans and credit cards. Their recommendations can be useful to help you save money and improve your credit — but first make a plan and shop around. You might find better options on your own.
You might learn that you have no credit score, which is also useful information. It means you haven’t borrowed or used credit cards long enough to generate a credit history.
If that’s the case, choose one of these steps to start building credit:
Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card — like your parents or another family member.
Open a secured credit card with a deposit and low credit limit.
Take a credit builder loan.
Open a store credit card — but don’t use it too much.
Finance a big purchase, like furniture or appliances, with the store.
Use a cosigner for a credit card or small loan.
Use a service that reports your rent payments to credit bureaus.
Act now: Check your credit score and report details for free through a tool like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
2. How Do You Make a Budget?
This is so basic you might overlook it: You have to know how much you spend each month versus how much you earn.
Making and following a budget can be especially tricky during a transition period, like starting a new job or moving. Right after college, you might not have a stable monthly income, and a lot of budgeting advice probably doesn’t feel like it applies to you.
But you should figure out how to make a budget that works for you.
My favorite is envelope budgeting, because it lets you plan for your necessary expenses, debt repayment and savings, and then lets you do what you want with whatever’s leftover. So you don’t have to keep a detailed log of every burrito you buy.
You can use actual paper envelopes if you deal with a lot of actual paper cash — or you can make a digital envelope budget using an app or bank account that includes the feature, like Qapital or Qube.
Or you could simply create a spreadsheet budget and set a weekly money date for yourself (and your partner, family or housemates) to log spending and income and make a plan for the following week.
However you prefer to set it up, a budget should help you see in one place:
Income. If you have a set salary, you can plan ahead for your after-tax monthly take-home pay. If you have an irregular income, creating a budget to track it can help you find a three-month or 12-month average you can use to plan ahead.
Expenses. Tracking your recurring expenses, like housing, bills and food, lets you see how the amount compares with your income and could help you spot places to cut back. For example, your housing shouldn’t cost more than 30% of your income, and there are tons of ways to keep your utility bills down.
Spending. This is what typical budgeting apps show you: Where your money goes day to day. These are your everyday transactions, like eating out, shopping or entertainment. Track this at least when you first start budgeting to spot any trends and places you can cut back when money’s tight.
Debt. Minimum loan and credit card payments fall into your expenses, because those are necessary monthly bills. Adding debt-specific categories gives you a productive place to funnel extra money each month, so you can pay debts down faster.
Savings. Don’t forget to budget for saving money after college! If you build savings in around your income and expenses, it’s easy to find room to set a little aside each month.
Act now: Create a simple spreadsheet or download a budgeting app to keep track of your money.
3. How Will You Pay off Debt?
Getting your credit score and report details will help you see how much debt you’re dealing with and who you owe money to.
That means you can make a plan.
Your plan depends on how much debt you have and how much extra money you have to work with each month, so there’s no best plan for everyone and your plan might change as your income changes.
The debt snowball method is a smart plan if you’ve got multiple accounts to pay off with limited income. It eliminates the overwhelm of debt payoff by letting you focus on one debt at a time with however much money you can afford to allocate to it.
If you have federal student loan debt, look into your repayment options. By default, you signed up for a 10-year standard repayment plan, and that might make monthly payments tough to handle. An income-driven repayment plan could help.
Private debts and even credit cards might have more repayment flexibility than you think, too. You might be able to:
Refinance private student loans to get a lower interest rate.
Ask for a deferment or forbearance period due to economic hardship.
File for bankruptcy to wipe out most of your debts.
Negotiate a payoff amount, especially for debt in collections.
Negotiate a payment plan that’s easier for you to keep up with.
Act now: Prioritize your outstanding debts in a way that makes sense for you — by interest rates or balances. Use your monthly budget to see how repayment fits in.
4. What’s Your Long-Term Savings Plan?
You’re probably just getting started in the workforce, so I’m sorry to bring this up, but… retirement.
I know: OK, boomer. It’s far off. It doesn’t matter. You’ll probably work forever.
I’m not asking you to pick out your condo in the Florida Keys. Just add a retirement savings bucket to your budget, and thank your wise young self later.
Here’s why: The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it is — and the more you can get for free. Retirement savings accounts are invested into the stock market, with interest earned going back into the account to earn more interest — i.e. compound interest.
Because of compound interest, you only have to save a little bit each month if you start now, and it’ll likely grow to quite a lot by the time you retire… or start your third act or whatever knowledge workers do in their 60s.
Act now: Set up paycheck contributions if your employer offers a 401(k). If not, set up an IRA on your own, and contribute anything. The rule of thumb is to save 10% to 20% of your income for retirement, but save less if it’s all you can afford — it’ll pay off in interest later.
5. Do You Have an Emergency Fund?
One of the best things you can do for your financial health and security — even when you’re on a tight budget — is build an emergency fund.
When money’s tight, it can be tough to set some aside for a rainy day, but won’t you be glad you did? (I’ve been there, and the answer is definitively: YES.)
Don’t be intimidated by recommendations that an emergency fund needs to cover six months’ salary. If I were you, that would keep me from ever starting one in the first place.
Instead, just set aside money as you can.
A few hundred or a few thousand dollars might not pay your rent for six months, but it could keep your budget intact when you get an unexpected electric bill. Those small moments can make or break your financial health, so find tiny ways to always be prepared.
Savings apps can help you save money without even noticing — by taking a little out of each paycheck, rounding up purchases to stash “digital change” or secreting away bucks from your bank account.
Once you have an emergency fund you’re comfortable with, start saving for other short-term goals, too.
You might want to make a down payment on a car or a house, take a vacation, get married or upgrade your living room furniture. Whatever it is, saving ahead in small increments helps you spread the expense across several months so you don’t feel the hit to your budget all at once.
Act now: Add a savings “envelope” or bucket to your budget, and start funneling money into it regularly.
Build a Solid Financial Foundation
As you embark on adulthood, enter new jobs and move into new cities, you’re going to be bombarded with advice to optimize your finances — investing this, credit card rewards that.
This advice is fine, but you need a solid foundation first.
Quiet the noise, and make sure you have these five pillars in place to stabilize your finances before you start gambling on crypto and travel points.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.
In an age where data breaches are common, another company’s data has been exposed. It may come as a shock, but Lifelock, the company that millions of consumers turn to in order to protect their identities, has holes in its security that could potentially lead to more phishing scams and identity theft.
Lifelock’s site security hasn’t updated since 2015, which is a huge issue since technology is always changing making it easy for hackers to access sensitive information such as millions of users’ email addresses.
The holes in Lifelock’s security were discovered by security expert and blogger Brian Krebs. He found a vulnerability on the site that allows anyone to index millions of customer accounts on their web browsers when they unsubscribe from Lifelock’s marketing emails. This makes users vulnerable to any identity thieves out there who might be looking for easy prey. This is a huge disappointment for consumers, who seem to be facing the never-ending nightmare of the potential for identity theft.
Aside from causing headaches and costing lots of money, identity theft can destroy your credit. So where do you turn to for help when you trust a company to protect your sensitive information and they fail you? Luckily, there are trustworthy companies out there that can help you who haven’t been breached, and do everything they can to protect your sensitive information.
Who Can I Trust to Protect My Sensitive Information?
Lexington Law Firm offers credit repair services, but we also offer identity theft protection services. And we make every effort to protect our users’ data, because we understand how important it is. Lexington Law Firm is PCI-DSS and EI3PA compliant. PCI-DSS means that we are constantly maintaining and building a secure network, protecting card-holder data, maintaining a Vulnerability Management Program, implementing Strong Access Control Measures, monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining an Information Security Policy.
The EI3PA is Experian’s Independent Third Party Assessment. This means that we use Multi-Factor Authentication and run vulnerability scans on a quarterly basis, keeping us updated on any new security risks. This means that our users’ data is always secure. The EI3PA is performed by a third-party PCI Qualified Security Assessor. We work with theses third parties to make sure everything is secure.
Lexington Law Firm also has firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, file integrity monitoring, and physical access controls. Plus, we encrypt all sensitive client data. Lexington Law will never sell your sensitive data to any other companies and takes users’ security very seriously. Lexington Law will not ask for any sensitive information via text message or email either.
How Else Can Lexington Law Help Me?
On top of all of that, our credit repair services have helped consumers that have already been affected by identity theft. We have a dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals that will fight for your right to a fair and accurate credit report. We’ve seen removals of negative information on credit reports that was a result of identity theft.
Our clients are also covered under an identity theft insurance policy for as long as they use our services. Not only that, but some of our products include credit monitoring and protection, as well as identity theft restoration. These products allow users to receive alerts anytime there are changes to their accounts – including those that don’t show up on credit reports, such as checking accounts and savings accounts. If you’re looking for a company you can trust to protect your sensitive information, or are in need of credit repair from identity theft, call us today for your free credit consultation.
How Can I Protect My Identity?
Although the experts at Lexington Law are happy to help you with protecting your identity, there are steps that you can also take to protect yourself as well. Here are some precautions you can take:
Change your passwords. The longer and more complex the better.
Check your credit reports regularly. Doing so will allow you to keep track of what accounts you have and will help you spot fraudulent ones.
Keep important documents such as your social security card someplace safe.
Be careful who you provide sensitive information to – if you’re not sure who you’re speaking with, either find a brick and mortar location you can go to or find the correct phone number for the company you’re speaking with on the BBB’s website to call back
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.
A competitive salary is something we all strive for in our careers, but for some, the salary we know we deserve doesn’t necessarily match our reality. An employee may put in extra hours, take on more responsibilities and go the extra mile, but they still may not be properly compensated for their work.
Being overworked and underpaid isn’t as uncommon as we think. According to a poll conducted by Gallup, 43 percent of U.S. workers believe they are underpaid.
Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on a person’s productivity, mental health and even credit health. So, what can you do if you feel you’re not being fairly paid at work?
Read on to find out the psychological impact of being overworked and underpaid and how you can combat this issue—or jump straight to the infographic below.
Impacts of being overworked and underpaid
Sometimes we’re so eager to accept a job that we settle for whatever salary we’re offered, only to find out that what we’re given doesn’t match the responsibilities we’ve taken on. Or, you may have been at a company for a while and experienced an increase in your workload but seen little to no increase in pay.
Being overworked and underpaid can ultimately lead to a multitude of feelings that can cause more harm than good. Here are three signs you shouldn’t ignore:
Decrease in productivity
Employees who work long hours and have heavier workloads aren’t necessarily the most productive. Some may think the more hours you work, the more you’ll get done, but for most, this can have the opposite effect.
The more work an employee takes on, the more prone they become to mistakes. This can lead to feelings of burnout, sleep deprivation and work-life imbalance due to stress and the inability to keep up with the heavy workload. On top of that, if you’re being underpaid, it can make it extremely difficult to stay motivated in your role.
Gallup found that 23 percent of employees felt burnt out almost always at work, according to a study made up of 7,500 full time employees. When it becomes hard to juggle workplace stress, people can find it difficult to function and stay productive. The same study conducted by Gallup also found that 13 percent of workers are less confident in their work performance when experiencing symptoms of burnout.
Employees may start to feel disconnected from their work and may even have built up resentment toward their employer because of their lack of compensation, causing a never-ending cycle of stress, burnout and lack of productivity. These feelings can ultimately impact employees’ overall well-being and mental health.
Negative effects on your mental well-being
Most people spend the majority of their time in the workplace. Unfortunately for some, the stresses from work can be hard to shut off even when leaving the office for the day. According to a study conducted by Wrike, 94 percent of employees said they felt stress at work and 54 percent said the stresses from work negatively affect their home life.
Long work hours, an increase in work-related tasks and insufficient pay can all start to take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. A survey conducted by Paychex found that 57.9 percent of employees said work impacted their mental health in some way.
Damaged credit health
Aside from mental health and productivity, being underpaid can start to hurt your financial standing. Though your income doesn’t have a direct impact on your credit score, lack of income can make it more difficult to pay your bills on time. A survey by WalletHub found that 30 percent of respondents missed credit card payments because they didn’t have enough money.
A Gallup poll also found that 55 percent of women feel they are underpaid for the amount of work they do, which could play into why they hold nearly two-thirds of the student loan debt in the U.S. With women receiving lower-than-average wages, keeping up with student loans and other debt payments becomes harder, thus affecting their overall credit health.
6 ways to handle being underpaid
Being underpaid is a problem that many people find themselves in and struggle to get out of. The only way to get out of this predicament is to take matters into your own hands. Here are six ways you can get out of being underpaid:
1. Negotiate a competitive raise
Asking for a raise can seem scary and intimidating, but it’s an important step toward solving your problem. Though it’s not always the easiest thing to do, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
When asking for a raise, make sure you do your research on your industry’s salary range and provide an exact number when meeting with your employer. Providing an exact dollar amount as opposed to a salary range will show your employer that you know what you want and will make the negotiation process easier. Try aiming a little higher than what you would like to leave room for negotiation. When researching salary ranges, tools like Salary.com and LinkedIn’s salary tool can be a huge help.
To support your case, come to the meeting with documentation to show your work and accomplishments thus far. Provide hard data, numbers, positive feedback you’ve received in the past and all of the ways you have helped and plan to help increase the company’s bottom line. The more evidence you provide, the better chance you have at landing that raise.
2. Review company growth path and policies
Most companies give performance reviews and have a growth path clearly noted, so it may be worth revisiting your company policies first. Growth paths are important in understanding what’s expected from your employer in order to progress within the company and earn a higher wage.
If you haven’t received an official review, get one on the schedule with your boss. A 2018 report found that 68 percent of executives say they learn about employees’ concerns for the first time during performance reviews. If you’re concerned about your growth within the company, don’t wait for your employer to come to you about it.
3. Start a conversation about your workload
If you’re continuing to work long hours and find the pay still isn’t worth it, it might be beneficial to have an open and honest conversation about the amount of work you’ve taken on. If your employer is unable to give you a raise, you may want to discuss cutting back on your hours or workload.
The result may not be an increase in pay, but you may be happier in your role and be able to perform better if they ease up on your day-to-day tasks. Your pay sometimes isn’t worth being unhappy at work. In fact, one of our studies on employee happiness found that 60 percent of Americans said they would take a job they loved with half their current income over one they hated.
Employers may not be aware of the impact the extra work is having on you, so always try your best to be transparent about your load to find a healthy compromise.
4. Start exploring other options
If your request for a raise gets denied and you still find yourself in the same predicament, you might want to start exploring other options. In fact, those experiencing symptoms of burnout at work are 2.6 times as likely to actively be looking for another job.
Though monetary benefits are usually of the utmost importance, remember to consider other factors like health insurance options, flexible hours, vacation policies and overall company culture. The issues you experience in your current position can help you determine what you’re looking for in your next role.
5. Consider quitting your job
At the end of the day, no job is worth putting your mental health at risk. If your current employer isn’t paying you what you deserve and you don’t feel fulfilled in your role, consider moving on. Now that you’ve done extensive research on your industry’s salary range, you’ll know what range to keep in mind when applying for other positions.
Before jumping the gun and resigning from a position, make sure you’re financially prepared. In these situations, it’s smart to have at least three to six months’ worth of pay saved to give you some cushion during your job search. It may become more difficult to get approved for a credit card without a job, so having saved up income can help ensure you’re able to pay your credit balance.
6. Know your worth
Understanding your own worth means being clear on the value you can bring to a company. When you know your worth, asking for a raise and vocalizing your concerns will start to come naturally to you.
Assess your own skills and level of expertise and be realistic with yourself. Once you’ve analyzed your own skills and industry’s expectations, you’ll have a better understanding of an appropriate wage. Glassdoor has a Know Your Worth tool that can help you determine salary ranges by title, experience level and location.
The most important thing to remember is to not sell yourself short. Research from Glassdoor found that 59 percent of employees did not negotiate salary and accepted the first offer they were given. Know your worth and don’t settle for less than what you deserve.
Money isn’t everything when it comes to employment, but it can certainly start to impact your career and personal growth if it remains stagnant. If your paycheck isn’t reflecting your worth, take action and make sure you’re getting the compensation that will set you up for further financial success.
For tips on how to handle being overworked and underpaid, check out our infographic below.
Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.
Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
A good credit score can make life easier, so ensuring your decisions have a positive impact rather than a negative impact on your score is best. When it comes to your tax debt and how it can affect your credit score, it may not be clear if this type of debt affects your score, so you may have questions.
You’ll first want to make sure you understand how credit scores work if you want to fully understand what effect, if any, your tax debt can have on your credit score.
How Are Credit Scores Calculated?
When you apply for a home loan, credit card, or even auto insurance, your approval may be dependent upon your credit score. Creditors like to see that you are financially responsible, and your credit score gives them insight and answers questions about your ability to successfully manage your debts. A lot is taken into consideration when calculating your credit score, and depending on the information that is reported, your score could fall anywhere on the scale.
What Effect Does Tax Debt Have on a Person’s Credit?
Many Americans will have a tax debt they are responsible for at some point in their lives. And some may not have paid off that debt just yet. Since your credit score factors in your total amount of debt, you may assume that your tax debt is included in this amount. Although tax debt is a debt, it actually is not factored into the debts that are used to calculate your credit score.
In the past, when you owed a tax debt and failed to or refused to pay it, the IRS would file what is known as a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Basically, this notice stated that the IRS has claimed ownership of your property until the tax debt was paid or another resolution was reached. Since this notice would tell creditors that you had not paid your federal tax debt, when creditors would see the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, it made it difficult to get approved for credit. This was likely because there would be concerns about a consumer’s ability to repay their debts.
All of this changed in 2017 when the three credit bureaus, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian, decided they would no longer list federal tax liens or judgments on credit reports. From that point on, tax liens no longer affected consumer credit scores. Past tax liens were also removed from credit reports if they were still listed. Consumers should note that although federal tax liens no longer have an impact on your credit, a Notice of Federal Tax Lien can still be filed.
Like any debt that you owe, you can’t ignore tax debt because there are other ways your unpaid tax debt can negatively impact your life. If you owe tax debt, rather than ignore it, you’ll want to pay it. It would be ideal for taxpayers to make their payments by the due date, but those who can’t pay in full have options that will allow you to settle your debt over a predetermined amount of time and avoid a tax lien or any other consequences of unpaid taxes.
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