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Getting a handle on your finances is an important aspect of living a financially free life. Most often, the emphasis is usually on cutting back expenses in order to make ends meet, but what if I told you there was another way? Yes, cutting back on expenses is a great place to start. But, adding more money to your bottom line will not only give you the financial freedom you seek, it will also allow you the freedom to maintain your current lifestyle. The following are 15 creative ways to make extra money.

1. Sell Free Stuff from Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to exchange goods and services and, for the most part, it is usually done for money. However, a little known fact is that craigslist is also a great place to get freebies. Whether someone is getting rid of something because they no longer have room for it or they have to abruptly leave their home, city, or state; there are some rare gems that you can resell for a decent return. The key is to look for free stuff on Craigslist that is currently selling on Craigslist or elsewhere. Some items will be in great shape but if not, spruce it up and resell either on Craigslist, a flea market, or a garage sale.

2. Sell Your Photos

Do you have a keen eye? Are your photos museum-worthy? Well, if you answered yes or no to any of those questions then you can sell your photos to stock photo agencies like Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe and other similar companies. It really doesn’t matter if you are a professional or novice; you still have the opportunity to make some money. Most work on a per download basis where you get paid a percentage every time someone downloads your picture.

3. Rent Out Your Room

If you have a spare room in your living space and want to generate some side income, consider renting it out. Use Airbnb to put your home to work for you, whether you wish to rent out your entire home or a single room. Think about this…If you’ll be traveling a lot this year, rent out your home to make some money while you’re away that can help pay for all of those adventures. That sounds like a great way to make some extra cash and travel for near free, if you ask me. And don’t worry, there are security protections in place that help make this option less terrifying than most would think.

4. Sell Your Skills

Do you have a voice that Simon Cowell would pay a compliment to? Are you a talented graphic designer that can take any concept and bring it to life? Are you an artist who can give Michelangelo a run for his money? If so, sites like Task Rabbit, Fiverr, and Thumbtack are great platforms to sell your skills. These aren’t only limited to those with creative skills; you can sell editing services, research services, typesetting, and the list goes on.

5. Teach Classes Online

Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional, there is something that you are good at! I am stating this as fact because even if it’s something you have never gotten credit for, chances are you have a skill that others may find valuable. Using this skill to make some extra income is possible thanks to platforms like Udemy. Many top experts use this as a lucrative way to earn passive income but you don’t have to be a top expert to take advantage of this option.

6. Become a Field Agent

You may think I’m talking about the FBI, but I am actually talking about the Field Agent app. You simply sign up for an account and do small tasks around town for different clients. Your task can range from checking prices at the local supermarket to conducting surveys. You get paid based on the assignment and you get to choose which you want to participate in.

7. Become a Secret Shopper

If you have a great memory, can pay attention to details, and report on what you see and experience, then making money as a secret shopper will be a cinch for you. Becoming a secret shopper is as simple as you registering with a company that provides that service, then going undercover to different stores and reporting your experience as a customer. You are paid for your insight and while you are at it you can enjoy some free meals, traveling and shopping. Not only are you earning money and perks but you are also helping to set the tone for how real clients should be treated.

8. Offer to Babysit for Busy Professionals

Babysitting may seem like an obvious place to start when wanting to make some extra money and you may be thinking that you are not cut out to babysit, but here’s the twist. Look for moms and dads who are busy professionals who have small children under five. They will most likely tell you that they don’t remember the last time they were able to enjoy a quiet night out. Offering your services to this niche population will not only be a lucrative undertaking, but an easy job to do as well because chances are you will be simply house-sitting as the children sleep. If you have extensive experience in child care, consider signing up for sites like Care.com where you can set your schedule of availability.

9. Give Your Opinion

When you were a child, you might remember your parents telling you to “mind your own business,” but as an adult taking heed to this advice can cost you. This is because you can get paid to mind other people’s business. There are companies that will pay you to participate in focus groups, phone surveys, online surveys, and even product trials.

10. Join a Direct Selling Company

Companies like Avon and Mary Kay have stood the test of time and they allow you to start your own business for very low money. Becoming a sales rep for a direct selling company is one of the easiest ways to earn some money, especially if you’re selling something you use and/or love.

11. Drive People Around

You can really make a decent living becoming a driver for either Lyft or Uber. If a living isn’t what you are after, driving people around can still give you that needed boost in your finances by only working part-time.

12. Get Paid to Listen

If you love music, you’ll love this gig. Simply head over to Slicethepie.com and start reviewing unsigned artists and bands to earn some extra cash. Your payment per review is based on the quality of the reviews you turn out on the site, so it may take a little time to build up your reputation. But according to Slicethepie, “The better your review, the bigger the bonus payment.” The site also offers a referral program where if any of your friends sign up using your referral code and write reviews, then you’ll receive bonus payments for every review they submit.

13. Deliver Meals

Join apps like GrubHub or Postmates and deliver to-go food on your free nights or weekends. You also have the opportunity to get tips and the freedom to make your own schedule.

14. Clean Out Your Closet

We’ve all stepped up to the consignment store counter to find out that the sweater from J Crew we never had the chance to wear is only worth $3. Womp. By selling your excess or used clothing on apps like Poshmark, you have the freedom to set your price and wait. Poshmark even provides the shipping label for you. If it doesn’t work out, you can always head back to your local consignment store or put the items on Craigslist.

15. Become a Dog Walker

Sign up with sites like Rover.com or Wag! to walk dogs or care for pets and earn some extra cash. Sign on at your convenience and help out local pooches whose owners are stuck at work or out of town on business. If the apps don’t service your area, contact local grooming and boarding to let them know you are available for pet sitting or dog walking.

Do you know of any creative ways to make money? Share your ideas in a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is a speaker, bestselling author, personal finance expert, and business consultant. Ash has established himself as a thought leader and trusted voice with Corporate America, Colleges, Churches, and Community based organizations. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money.

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Dropping Digm (How-to)

Email Etiquette

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When you’re entering the workforce, you’ll need to project a professional tone in all your communications. With more teams being distributed, email has become a ubiquitous way to communicate, but many young professionals don’t get any training in school on best practices with writing emails, so we wanted to share some tips from our own culture book on proper email etiquette so you can keep that money rolling into your  checking account.

1. Don’t Argue via Email

Email shouldn’t be used if you are having a difference of opinion with someone – business or personal. Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting with the person to discuss the issue. You may want to wait 24 hours before sending an email if you are angry to allow yourself to cool down. When in doubt, don’t send it out.

2. OMG – Y U No Use proper grammar?!

Email and texting may feel like a quick way to communicate. Before pressing send, take a second look to review. Be sure you are using correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Make spell check your friend.

3. DON’T YELL

ALL CAPITALS IN AN EMAIL INDICATE THAT YOU’RE SHOUTING AT THE PERSON. When in doubt, refer to tip #1.

4. Be Bold When it Makes Sense

Bold formatting should only be used to emphasize important words. If everything’s important, than in essence, nothing is important. Choose what words you want to stand out to a busy executive by bolding them so they can skim the entire email quickly and get the point.

5. Beware of BCC

Don’t use blind copy “BCC” so others won’t see who you copied.  It might come back to haunt you. If you aren’t familiar with bcc, it refers to blind carbon copy, and those you put on that line will receive your email without the others on the chain knowing. This is a sneaky move, and shouldn’t be used. If you need your boss to see something, do the right thing and pick up the phone, or let them know a different way.

6. Don’t CC the World

Have you ever heard of too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth? Think about that saying when you decide who you want to cc on your email. Many workers today are inundated with emails on a daily basis. Use courtesy copy or “CC” sparingly.  Think, does this person really need to see this email? Also, if you are cc’d on an email, you are not obligated to respond.

7. Tone Matters

I’m sure you’ve read a text from your mom or friend that you thought was slightly rude, but then when you spoke to them, you found out they meant well. It’s harder to pick up on tone in an email or text message as you can when you speak to someone over the phone or face to face. Be careful of the tone of your email. Readers don’t always pick up on humor and may take it the wrong way.

8. Keep it Simple

Put yourself into a busy executive’s shoes. They are dealing with a million things at the same time, spending a ton of time in meetings during the day, are receiving not only emails, but phone calls as well. When you craft your email, make sure to keep it simple and to the point. Many people get overwhelmed seeing a huge email to read, and may even skip it, which is not your goal.

9. Replying to All

When you respond to an email, don’t click the “reply to all” button unless the sender specifically requests that you do so.  Otherwise, just reply to the sender. There may be some situations that require you to reply all, so use your best judgement.

10. Write Your Subject Line Like a Headline

I heard at a recent conference that many people only read a subject line, and that you get only eight seconds to capture their attention. Now granted, that was with email marketing, but in digital age, there are so many sources competing for our attention. A subject line should read like a headline, and tell people what the email is about. Make sure it indicates the content and purpose of the email and isn’t too vague. Writing a good subject line also helps when you need to search for past email conversations. If you had a vague subject line, you may not be able to find that email thread as easily.

  • Bad subject line: Tuesday
  • Good subject line: Project Due by Tuesday

11. Email Signatures & Formatting

Be sure your email signature includes your pertinent contact information like your telephone number, including a direct dial and internal extension, your website, and if needed, a fax number or mailing address. This way if someone needs to get in touch with you, and searches for your email, all the important information will be included. We also recommend not using a patterned background when sending emails at work. Your message is much harder to read, and looks unprofessional.

12. Pay it Forward

If you forward an email, let the recipient know why you think this information will interest them.  Highlight the important sections so they don’t have to pour through a lot of data. You also don’t want to ever forward spam chain emails. Also make sure to scan the entire thread of your email before forwarding to new recipients.

13. Boy Who Cried Wolf

Make sure that you only mark emails “high importance” when they are truly important. You don’t want to get a bad reputation that you are the boy who cried wolf, because when the time comes that something is truly important, people may ignore that red exclamation point.

14. Delivery Receipts

Delivery receipts are great for knowing that you received a package in the mail, but aren’t such a good look for internal email communication. A best practice is not to use the delivery or read receipt option because it may irritate the recipient. If people aren’t reading or responding to your emails, you may need to adjust your approach.

 

Email is a great way to communicate to your coworkers quickly, but should be handled with care. Remember that whatever you put in writing stays in writing. Let us know any other tips you’ve found helpful in the comments below.

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Dropping Digm (How-to)

Personal Finance Tips for the Entrepreneur

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According to Merriam-Webster, an entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. And while nowadays that term is extremely sexy, anyone who takes on the role of entrepreneur knows the truth behind the hype. Entrepreneurship is very rewarding; some would even call it a gift. Along the journey of an enterprise is the need to be financially astute. Yes, many entrepreneurs start out with a dollar and a dream, but they also understand some basic financial principles that transform that dollar into billions.

Cut Costs, Not Corners. Spending wisely on overhead is key in terms of building a business. Inevitably, the time comes when you must invest in your business financially. What you invest in depends on the need and the industry. While getting as many discounts as possible remember never to cut corners. Always provide quality at the very best price.

Regular Savings. Save. Save. Save. Look to the squirrel who collects and stores nuts for the winter. When we are rolling the dough also known as making money on a regular basis, we don’t see the importance of saving until a downshift in our finances occurs. And even if income remains steady, saving offers the opportunity to experience financial freedom. Remember to save a portion of your income on a regular basis. Wealth grows little by little.

Monitor Credit. Become more informed about your credit report and FICO score. A credit report is a picture of your credit history prepared by a credit bureau. The three national bureaus in the United States are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Your FICO score is calculated with software from Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). Credit scores effect interest rates, obtaining loans, getting an apartment, and sometimes employment opportunities.

Get affordable healthcare. Healthcare is the largest bill is one of the largest expenses we have to cover. Regular checkups and emergency room visits can take up a chunk of income. This area is often overlooked. Be sure to invest in your health and find affordable healthcare. A sick entrepreneur is a broke one.

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Dropping Digm (How-to)

9 Important Money Tips for Traveling Abroad

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Traveling abroad can be an exciting adventure, but it does require a lot more preparation than your typical U.S. vacation. If you’re planning on traveling overseas, you’ll want to know about the culture, weather, and currency before you reach the airport.

Not to mention, you’ll want to prepare from a financial perspective in more ways than one. To help you have a stress-free trip when it comes to your money matters, we have a financial checklist with nine money tips for traveling abroad for your viewing right here.

Financial Checklist for Traveling Overseas

1. Find out how much it costs to travel to that country via online research

Solotravel.org has a series of calculators to help you approximate what it will cost to sleep, eat, drink and travel to a different country.

2. Know the best date to fly to save money

Before you book your flight, here is a helpful tip – consider flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday to save money on your flight. Another money saving travel tip is to change the time of your flight to a red eye or early morning flight.

3. Ask your doctor about any vaccinations you may need

These can sometimes be in the thousand-dollar range, so make sure to account for this within your travel budget.

4. Stay in the know by going paperless

To stay updated on your bills and bank account, set up paperless billing before you travel. If you use a mobile banking app, you can view your accounts, transfer money, pay bills, and receive alerts right from your mobile device. For the rest of your mail – ask a buddy or family member to bring it in for you so your house doesn’t look abandoned. If you have any pets, see if they could double as a pet sitter, or you may need to pay extra to bring your dog or cat to a pet hotel.

5. Contact your bank

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar bank or branchless bank, call your bank before you travel. Let them know where you are going and when you will be there so your account doesn’t get shut down due to an identity theft scare. Most banks would shut off your card if they see abnormal activity, leaving you without any way to pay – unless you have backup (which we highly recommend just in case). You also will need to know if your cards will work overseas. Many European banks have converted to chip-and-PIN technology so your magnetic strip card may not work.

6. Know your fees

While you’re on the phone with your bank, find out if they charge any conversion rates or extra ATM fees overseas. At BankMobile, we don’t convert or collect an exchange rate on any overseas transaction. The bank abroad will convert your cash and determine the conversion rate. The ATM owner may charge a fee, but we don’t.

7. Know the conversion rateKnow the conversion rate before traveling overseas

You’ll also want to know what the currency conversion rate is prior to your travel dates. For example, by doing a search via oanda.com you’ll learn that 1 US Dollar is equivalent to 117.095 Jamaican Dollars, 0.64894 British Pounds, and 8.28223 Swedish Krona. Typically you can save money on conversion fees if you visit the country’s ATM or bank instead of using the conversion centers in and around the airport. You’ll want to have some local cash on hand for those places that don’t accept cards.

8. Know your deadlines and get your paperwork in order

September is National Passport Awareness Month, and our government wants us to keep in mind that it takes time to get a passport. If you plan ahead, you can save $60 per application by opting for their routine service, which takes 4-6 weeks to process. You also may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you plan on driving abroad, as many countries don’t recognize a U.S. driver’s license. To find out, check with the embassy of the country you are visiting. You can get an IDP from AAA (American Automobile Association) or National Auto Club. You may also need auto insurance too – so make sure to take all of these expenses into account before you go.

9. Know your voltage and bring adapters

Other countries have different plug sizes than the U.S., so bring a charger or two, and grab an adapter before you leave so you can use your electronics and keep tabs on your bank account.

Before you board your flight abroad, make sure to prepare yourself with all the proper paperwork, vaccinations, and information. This will help reduce your stress and give you peace of mind so you can rest assured that you’re in for an amazing trip. Bon voyage!

Do you have another financial tip for traveling overseas? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

 

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