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Farms Find Creative Ways to Makes Ends Meet + 15 Creative Ways to Line up Your Pockets

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Amid low crop prices and trade tensions, farmers are getting creative about how they use their produce. Unsold apples, corn and pumpkins are going into cannons, with visitors free to do some target practice. Such “agritainment” — activities like hayrides, petting zoos and, yes, fruit shooting — yielded $1 billion in business in 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports. Not all of the cannon fodder goes to waste, with some farmers turning their goats into cleanup crews at the end of the day.

This is a great way to use what you have to get what you want. When it comes to your personal finances, most often, the emphasis is 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 one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Walmart’s Creates Weapon Against Amazon + How You Can Use the Same Weapon to Automate Your Finances

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Walmart unleashed its latest weapon in the fight against Amazon: the Alphabot. It’s an automated warehouse to help speed up its grocery pickup service. Analysts are calling it “the most promising technology to hit food retail in years.” This Alphabot will revolutionalize Walmart’s business, but how can we use bots for personal finance? Enter in Artificial Intelligence, aka AI!

In finance, AI has already been transforming the industry. Banks are already using AI in FinTech to automate many processes, help with fraud prevention, as well as thwarting potential hackers from stealing sensitive information. When it comes to you and me, AI can really help us manage our money better. The sad truth is that many of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck, so a new way to stop the cycle is dire to our financial health and well being.

AI is so advanced that it can use predictive technology to analyze how we spend money and give us advice based on our habits in order for us to live more fruitful. AI can also identify potential savings opportunities if used right. I know many of us get spooked every time our favorite shopping place follows us around the internet serving us ads, but this, in a way, is a form of AI. Based on your shopping data, advertisers and retailers know what you are looking for and how to get it to you. With the right app or program, there may be a way to serve you up only the items you need and at the best price. AI can also stop you from impulse shopping by advising you on your purchases based on the goals that you put in. The options are limitless.

While the thought of computers telling us what to do can be scary; understanding how AI can make our lives easier is important. I’m not ready to give up everything over to the bots, but some things I can wait to hand over. Only time will tell how this plays out, but just know that your financial struggles may be over soon thanks to AI.

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Ditching the Commute: 7 Fast-Growing Career Categories for Remote Jobs

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Going into work is not a popular thing to do anymore. Across the total U.S. workforce, remote work has grown 91% in the last 10 years, according to an analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics (GWA). While remote work exists across most career fields, it is growing more quickly in some fields than in others. With that in mind, FlexJobs analyzed over 50 career categories in its database, comparing the number of remote jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to the number of remote jobs posted on December 1, 2019, to determine which seven remote career categories have grown at a high rate during 2019, indicating they will be promising fields for remote job seekers in 2020.

“There is far more variety and depth in the types of career fields that allow people to work from home than most people realize, but this list represents the fields that have experienced particularly high growth during 2019,” said Sara Sutton, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs. “While a number of factors contribute to growth, all of these fields are highly compatible with remote work, so it may be that companies are using remote work as a strategy to attract candidates in a tight job market,” Sutton concluded.

The seven categories below have seen remote work job listings grow more than 40% when comparing the number of jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to December 1, 2019. A “remote job” is defined as a professional-level job that allows the worker to work from home either entirely or part of the time. Remote jobs are also known as telecommuting jobs, virtual jobs, and work-from-home jobs.

These are in order from highest to lowest growth, with each category having grown more than 40%.

1. Art & Creative: Creative careers often allow its professionals an exceptional amount of flexibility in their jobs. These jobs usually involve coming up with original and innovative ideas, both for aesthetic and practical value. Some artists work freelance while others work as part of a company’s or educational staff. Some of the common remote job titles within this career are Art Director, Illustrator, Commercial Artist, Website Designer, Conceptual Designer, Interior Decorator, Textile Designer, Painter, Photographer, and Musician.

2. Bookkeeping: Remote work opportunities for bookkeepers come from a variety of industries such as nonprofit, sales, small business, art and creative, client services, and of course, accounting and finance. An aptitude for organized and detailed work, and math and computer skills are essential for bookkeepers. Common job titles associated with this remote career category include Accounting Clerk, Sales Manager, Bookkeeper, Operations Manager, Office Assistant, and Accountant.

3. Internet & Ecommerce: The Internet and Ecommerce have made it possible for thousands of professionals to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home. There are many jobs relating to the Internet that involve working with information technology, web development, and design, and social networking tools. This category also encompasses SEO, SEM, and social media jobs. Common remote job titles include Operations Manager, Search Marketing Specialist, Paid Media Manager, SEO Consultant, and Social Media Specialist.

4. K-12: Teachers and educators most often manage live classrooms in elementary, middle or high schools but in this information age, many are providing their teaching services online. There are many accredited virtual learning platforms such as elementary, middle and high school programs that are fully online now so that has opened up the door for more remote jobs for qualified teachers. There are also many parents who choose to home-school their children and receive support from K-12 teachers. Common remote job titles include Virtual Teacher, Tutor, Online Instructor, Curriculum Developer, and Speech Language Pathologist.

5. Graphic Design: Graphic designers produce visual solutions to the communications needs of their clients through a variety of creative skills and commercial awareness. They are creative people who have a flair for what is appealing to consumers, are aware of upcoming trends and can convert their ideas into visually pleasing images. There are many avenues for graphic designers to work virtually in marketing, technology, and commercial industries. Related remote job titles include Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Conceptual Professional, Art Director, Layout Manager, and Creative Director.

6. Translation: Translation careers are an exciting option in remote work. As business is becoming more global, the demand for professionals who can work as translators to bridge the communication gap between cultures and businesses is immense. This is especially important for companies that operate internationally or have operations in other countries where associates must live and work. Some of the job titles available for remote work in this category include Website Tester, Training Specialist, Language Tutor, Business Translator, Document Proofreader, Meeting Facilitator, Advertising Quality Rater, and Bilingual Writer.

7. Math & Economics: Math & Economics jobs exist in a number of industries, including education, accounting and finance, nonprofit organizations, government, banking, information technology, and publishing. Common remote job titles in this career field include Financial Services Representative, Operations Specialist, Mathematics Translator, Instructional Designer, Economist, and Statistician. 

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Credit Union Loans Getting Riskier + How-To Not Get Risky with Your Student Loans

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Credit unions have increasingly taken on high-risk loans, which could lead to borrowers or taxpayers getting burned in the event of another financial crisis, reports The Wall Street Journal. The member-owned alternatives to banks are designed to provide lower borrowing costs and higher deposit rates. Yet, credit unions’ assets have grown almost twice as fast as those of banks over the past ten years. High-risk loans from banks contributed significantly to the 2008 financial crisis. This is dangerous because unlike a traditional bank Credit Unions are owned by its members so it is the members who stand to lose the most. But how can you make your Credit Union loans less risky? This is the same question we ask when it’s time to pay off our student loans. Who will be the first? Or How can you pay off your loans faster? Here are six ways:

1. Develop a plan

Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.

2. Save your money

Each summer throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high-interest savings account. After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all four years to pay down your college debt.

3. Consolidate your loans (But use caution)

Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment but may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. In addition, you may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.

4. Exchange work to reduce debt

Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with a shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas or working for Americorps or the Peace Corps.

5. Get a work-study job

To help pay for the costs of college get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work-study jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.

6. Apply for grants + scholarships

Apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships never have to be paid back. Some grant websites are Zinch.com, Fastweb.com, ScholarshipPoints.com, Cappex.com, and Scholarships.com.

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