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10 Essential Budgeting Categories To Create A Successful Budget

Are you tired of looking at your finances and wondering how you’ll beat living the ‘paycheck to paycheck’ lifestyle? A budget is one of the ways you can control your finances and work towards achieving financial security and financial independence. When you think about budgeting, think about it as a form of accountability. Using a budget helps you account for every cent and motivates you to avoid overspending or impulse buying

Yet, for you to create a successful budget, understanding the budgeting categories is important. Let’s check out the main budgeting categories that you should include within your budget. 

The Ideal Budgeting Categories:

Category 1: The Necessities 

In every monthly income, there are things that you must pay for, and some of them include transport, food, and rent. Therefore, the first category in your budget includes your household’s most essential needs, for instance, housing, utilities, transportation, food, etc. 

Housing (Allocate 25 to 35%)

Housing expenses usually include mortgage payments, property taxes, HOA dues, home maintenance costs, or any other expense you need to pay to keep a roof over your head. For most income earners, this is by far the largest expense. 

Transportation (Allocate 10 to 15%)

The second most common expense is transportation. It is important to set aside the amount that you need to commute to work every month. Other categories included in transportation are car payments, DMV fees, maintenance, gas, public transit, etc. 

Food (Allocate 10 to 15%)

Food is also a necessity that you need to include in your budget. If you are a person who likes eating out a lot, then there is no doubt a significant sum of your cash probably currently goes towards food. However, it is important to budget 10-15% for eating at home and dining out e.g., restaurant meals. If you tend to make your meals, this grocery calculator can help you to determine how much you spend on food shopping and what you need to do to potentially cut back. Also, you should budget for wine and gourmet food if these are things you enjoy. 

Utilities (Allocate 5 to 10%)

This category covers HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) as well as water and electricity. You should also include all the utilities you pay for like gas, internet expenses, phone, etc. 

Insurance (Allocate 10 to 25%) 

This category includes whatever you spend on insurance, life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, and even health insurance. 

Medical (Allocate 10%)

In this category, you do not include insurance premiums. Rather, it includes costs incurred for primary care, dental care, urgent care, specialty care, prescriptions, and medical devices. 

Paying Yourself First (Allocate 20%)

When we talk about paying yourself first, we are referring to paying your debts, saving, and contributing to your investments. Committing to savings and investments is something that most people overlook. Yet, this is integral if you want to build financial health. For starters, work towards building an emergency fund with enough money to cover your expenses for at least three months. Secondly, you should frequently contribute to a 401(k) or IRA

We recommend that you also start paying down high-interest debt like student loans, personal loans, and credit card bills. If you’ve allocated 20% and still haven’t made significant progress in your debts, then it’s time to consider cutting back in other areas; for instance, you could avoid buying coffee and opt for homemade coffee instead.

Other factors that you should include in this category are: 

  • Your children’s expenses 
  • Personal care expenses (cosmetics, hair care, massages etc) 
  • Pet expenses 
Budgeting Categories

Category 2: The Non-Essentials 

Once you’ve budgeted for the necessities, then the next step is to budget for non-essentials. Here we are talking about the money you spend on entertainment, “lifestyle” expenses, and any other items that are not on the essential list. 

Personal Spending (Allocate 5-10%)

You can aim to allocate at least 5 to 10% of your money to personal spending, such as the gym, home decor, furnishings, magazine subscriptions, grooming products, clothes and shoes, etc. You can also include basic household items in this category. 

Recreation and Entertainment (Allocate 5 to 10%)

One way that you avoid overspending is by budgeting. Recreation and entertainment are important to ensure that you feel like you are able to still have fun even though you are budgeting. This category includes vacations, streaming services (such as Netflix or Hulu), hobbies, game nights, sports, or any other thing you enjoy doing for fun. 

Miscellaneous (Allocate 5 to 10%)

The miscellaneous category is for everything else that you haven’t included in the other categories, for example, clothes, shopping, higher education, textbook expenses, plus so much more. 

The 50/30/20 Rule 

The 50/30/20 Rule is another way that you can approach budgeting, which is more general and works better for some people. This strategy allows you to break your income into three main categories. 

Needs (Allocate 50%)

This category includes mandatory expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance. They should account for 50% of your expenditure. 

Wants (Allocate 30%)

This category consists of expenses that don’t qualify as needs but are necessary for your daily living. Wants vary from one person to another. But, regardless of what they are, you should ensure that they only take 30% of your income. 

Paying Yourself first (Allocate 20%)

As mentioned earlier, this category includes savings, investments, and paying off debt. You should use 20% of your income to cater towards this category. We recommend that you use the funds to build your emergency savings and save up for retirement. Remember that if you allow your debts to keep piling up, you won’t have enough for investing, and you may end up in a vicious cycle of debt. It is important for you to come up with a plan on how you’re going to pay off each of your debts, from the high priority ones to the least priority ones. 

You can use the 50/30/20 budget calculator to help get you started and you can also learn more about the 50/30/20 method in depth here

What You Need To Know 

A budget helps you allocate your income to the standard categories. However, these categories are not set in stone and we encourage you to make adjustments depending on your needs. With a budget, you will be in a better position to control your finances. If you want to free up some additional cash to contribute towards savings, a budget will help you identify areas that you can minimize your spending. 

There are some habits that can help you stick to your budget. For starters, you can avoid large purchases and even sleep on it before buying on impulse. Secondly, you can stick to a lower credit card limit. That way, you can avoid the impulse to buy more and avoid the vicious cycle of credit card debt. 

You can also budget to zero, this is called zero based budgeting. This means that you come up with a budget where your income minus your expenses equals zero. Every dollar in your income goes to use; that way you ensure every area of your life is accounted for. Learn more about zero based budgeting here.

We recommend working towards minimising excessive areas of expense in your life to help you reach your financial goals sooner. For instance, you could cut back on your entertainment subscriptions or purchasing lunch out everyday. 

Lastly, you can treat yourself whenever you reach your goals. This will help you stay motivated and avoid looking at budgeting as a chore. 

Overall, if you begin budgeting and after a few months you realize that it’s not working, you can make adjustments and try again until you find a budget that suits you. Budgeting should never be approached as an all or nothing situation, it is important to continue making changes and adjustments so that budgeting can become a lifestyle. 

Have you tried budgeting before? Feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments section below.  

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How To Achieve Financial Freedom in 2021

Financial freedom may look like a distant dream to most people. This is because the majority of Americans have an average of $37,584 in student debt. In addition to student loans, people also have credit card debt, car loans, and other personal loans. It’s no wonder that 80% of Americans are currently in debt

However, there’s hope. No matter what financial situation you are currently in, there’s a way for you to get back on your feet and achieve financial freedom. All you need is careful planning and commitment. Today we’ll give you some great tips on how to achieve financial freedom. 

What is Financial Freedom?

As the name suggests, financial freedom means having freedom from stress caused by debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and sudden events that would cause financial stress. 

Financial freedom means that you have control over your finances and your life. It means that you’ve managed your debts and have enough money to live the life of your dreams. For example, being financially free may allow you to retire early or take a job that you enjoy rather than taking the job simply because you need the money. Whatsmore, financial freedom means that you have a long-term financial plan that provides security for your future. 

How To Achieve Financial Freedom 

Financial freedom requires you to be wise with your money. You unfortunately won’t be able to gain financial freedom through living a lifestyle where you are trying to keep up with the Jones’. This type of lifestyle involves spending more than you bring in. It is important to understand where you are financially and the steps you need to make to achieve financial freedom. 

The following steps will set you on the right path. 

1. Come up with a plan

The adage is true that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The reality is that your first step towards financial freedom is to come up with a plan. Do you have a personal financial plan? A plan helps you track your progress. It helps you understand how you spend your hard-earned money and make the necessary changes that will lead you to success. 

The first step towards creating your financial plan is setting your goals. Ideally, a plan should include a list of all your debts; mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, student loans, and any other debt that you may have accumulated. Most people find compiling their debt as a frustrating experience. This experience is eye-opening and helps you create effective goals that will lead you to achieve financial success. 

Included in your plan should be a budget (we shall discuss this extensively below). Some examples of financial goals may include; planning for retirement, an emergency fund, and other short and long term financial goals. Overall, a financial plan as well as a budget helps you see where you are sitting financially and offers a strategy that will help you gain future stability. Think of this plan as a roadmap that will help you reach your goals. Click here to learn more about creating financial goals

2. Change your mindset about money 

Mastering the art of money may feel like a daunting task. However, if you want to succeed in life, you need to change your belief about money, yourself, and how money shapes your world. Every single day, your financial decisions will either take you forward or backwards. 

Your mindset about money constitutes your beliefs and attitude about money. This mindset drives your decisions around saving, spending, and handling money. For example, instead of saying, “it is impossible to reach my financial goals, so I should just keep spending all the money I get from my paycheck,” you should say, “If I budget and make small changes overtime, I can reach financial goals.” This mindset helps you change your perception of your debts, your attitude towards helping the less fortunate, and your ability to invest confidently. 

When you start looking at money positively, you will increase your chances of making it,  keeping it and multiplying it through investments. 

3. Save! Save! Save! 

In order to achieve financial freedom, it is important that you commit to saving. As a rule of thumb, at least 20% of your income should go towards saving. But if you have never committed to saving, you should work towards saving as much as you can. Begin by building an emergency fund that will last you six months. This emergency fund will cater for everything from sudden job loss to medical emergencies. An emergency fund works wonders for your mental well-being. 

Secondly, you should aim to build a long-term savings plan by contributing to a 401(K) plan or other investment options. 

The best way to successfully save is to commit to paying yourself first. You can have an automatic withdrawal once you receive your paycheck that allocates a certain amount of money to your emergency fund or savings account. You can also use a high-yield savings tool like Acorns to set you on the right track. You can also get $10 when you sign up today.

4. Learn how to manage your money

Learning how to manage your money goes hand-in-hand with learning how to budget. It requires you to take a critical look at your finances and see what issues you need to rectify. What is your debt-to-income ratio? Do you have a checking, saving, and investment account, or are you mostly using credit cards? What’s your financial situation? 

Overall, managing your finances requires you to make a plan for your Money. This includes making a budget and applying strategies that will limit your expenses and increase your savings. Managing your Money also requires you to find a budget method that works for you. 

How To Achieve Financial Freedom

5. Make a budget 

When looking to achieve financial freedom, it is essential to create a budget. Make a monthly budget and stick to it; for instance, you can use the envelope budgeting system. With this method, you set every cent of your monthly income towards your expenses, savings, and investments. Some of the tips that we recommend you put into practice include:

  • Create a budget before the next month starts. 
  • Cover all income and expenses. 
  • Track your spending as the month progresses. 

Budgeting is great, especially if you struggle with impulse buying. Moreover, it will help you stay on track with your financial goals

6. Develop the habit of tracking your spending

Tracking your spending goes hand-in-hand with budgeting. Using tools such as Mint, help you track how much you spend. When you have this information and are aware of your spending, you can work towards reducing your spending habits. 

What we like about the Mint app is that you can set goals in the app. You can set a time frame for your goals and keep track of how long it will take you to achieve those goals. Also, these types of apps help you stay focussed and motivated, as you see yourself making the steps you need to realize your financial goals. Other similar apps include Expensify, Goodbudget, and YNAB

7. Live within your means

This is a step that most people tend to overlook, yet it is detrimental to achieving financial success. Again, this starts with you changing your mindset. You need to examine your relationship with money and recognize that most people live paycheck to paycheck because they are pursuing a comfortable lifestyle. 

What you need to understand is that wealth is not only attainable by those with high-incomes. Rather, when you switch from living a comfortable lifestyle to living within your means, you increase your chances of achieving financial freedom. What does it mean to live within your means? For starters, it means spending less than you earn and looking for ways to boost your income and savings.

Learn more about how you can live within your means here. 

You can also learn about the FIRE movement here.

8. Open the right accounts

Opening the relevant accounts will help you achieve your goals. As stated earlier, the main accounts you need are a checking account, a savings account, investment, and retirement savings account. 

You should place your money for retirement in a 401(k) or IRA account. If you have kids, then you should consider saving for college in a 529 plan. This strategy aims to avoid spending money that you will need in the future. It is essential to complete research before opening any account, because you want to look for accounts that provide the least risk and most benefit. For instance, instead of placing your emergency savings in a normal savings account, you can open a money market or high-yield savings account and this will allow the money to compound over time. This essentially means your money is already working for you.

9. Pay off debt 

You should not off-put paying your debt for savings or investment. As much as the latter is important, you also need to develop a plan that will help you get rid of debt. Remember, money that you constantly have to put towards debt is money that you would have been able to invest elsewhere. A lot of people are relieved when they clear their debts. You can also do the same by using either the snowball method or the avalanche method. 

The snowball method starts with the smallest debt first, whereas the avalanche method means that you start with paying off the debt with the highest interest rate. Look for ways that work best for you and will allow you to commit to paying off all of your debt, including what you may owe your friends and family. 

Understand more about whether it is best to pay off debt or save here.

10. Look for investment options 

Now that you’ve crafted a saving plan, you need to find an investment option that works for you. Investments help you build wealth, and the earlier you start, the better. Presently, there are investment solutions that allow you to start saving with little capital. 

Similarly, stock investment options are a great way of investing, thanks to the magic of compound interest. You can work with a financial advisor and start reading about the investment to increase your chances of success here

11. Increase your income through a side-hustle 

If you are serious about achieving financial freedom, then we recommend you get a side hustle. Passive income is a great way to build wealth and ensures that you have income coming in beyond your 9 to 5 job. 

Some of the ideas that you can pursue include:

  • Offering online courses, if there’s a skill that you’re good at. 
  • Pick up odd jobs on Craigslist or Taskrabbit. 
  • Look for online jobs on Upwork or Fiverr
  • Sell stuff on eBay or Etsy
  • Try dropshipping on Oberlo 
  • Invest in stock 

The way you decide how best to increase your income stream depends on how much time you have on your hands. Do you have time to pursue another active income aside from your 9 to 5, or do you want a passive income option? 

These articles may help you on your journey:

12. Find a financial advisor 

A financial advisor is a good approach if you are deep in debt and need help throughout the process of paying off debt. Since they are experts in financial matters, they can help you make financial decisions to assist you with achieving your goals. Not everyone necessarily needs a financial advisor. For example, if you’re just starting in your financial journey and don’t have much in terms of savings and investments, it may be best for you to learn the tips for financial success on your own. But if you have a lot of financial obligations and struggle with managing money, a financial advisor can guide you. Learn more about getting financial assistance here. 

13. Be careful with your career choices

It is true that your choice of career can affect your ability to achieve financial freedom. A dead-end job can make you miserable, especially if you are not earning enough to make ends meet. It is important to work towards landing a job that you enjoy while also supporting your vision of financial security. One of the questions that you need to ask yourself is, “what is your income earning potential?” You may not be making your dream salary right now, but if there’s a chance to increase your income, then you should take it. 

Take time to think about your career. If you have an opportunity to grow, then, by all means, you should pursue it. 

It is also important to understand that you can have a great career without having a college degree, click here to learn more

Benefits of Attaining Financial Freedom 

Achieving financial freedom helps you live the life of your dream. When you attain this freedom, you are able to:

  • Choose the career you want without worrying about money
  • Support a charity or give to others generously
  • Plan for a trip of your dreams 
  • Enjoy the retirement that you want
  • Retire early 
  • Live a less stressful life
  • Manage your time as you see it fit 
  • Pursue your passions

The truth is that financial freedom gives you options. You don’t have to stress in the event of a medical emergency or job loss. Whatsmore, you don’t lose sleep over your debts. Such a life may seem too good to be true, but it is possible but it’s up to you to make it a reality. 

The Bottom Line

Anyone can achieve financial freedom through trusting the process. You may find your financial challenges to be overwhelming. With the steps mentioned here, you can overcome those challenges and live the life you have always wanted. If there are any tips that you use and haven’t shared here, please add them in our comments section. 

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18 High Paying Jobs Without a College Degree: Best Ranking Jobs

We have always been taught that in order to have a financially secure future, we must go to college and earn a degree. However, there are incredibly successful and influential people that never went to college. Think about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson, just to name a few.

The truth is that when you have the skills, talent and can work hard, getting a high paying job without a college degree is definitely possible. Usually all it takes is for a high school diploma in addition to a certificate, license or additional training to land a good paying job. Even though you may not need a college degree, upskilling and educating yourself is still important to excel in any kind of career. 

High Paying Jobs Without A College Degree:

18. Broadcast and Sound Technician

Median Salary: $40,800

Job Growth Rate: 9%

Education: Associate’s Degree

Broadcasting and sound technicians contribute to operating the sound equipment and ensure that the audience has a great experience. There has been a significant growth in demand for this profession. Sound technicians operate, control, and monitor the audio and lighting of the broadcasting equipment for optimal quality. 

Live shows, performances, movies and television productions also require a broadcast and sound technician. The synchronization of the sounds along with the dialogue and action is created by the broadcast and sound technician. Because of the broadcasting equipment that needs to be used, broadcast and sound technicians typically require hands on training, which can take up to a year to complete. 

17. Bookkeeper

Median Salary: $44,204

Education: High School Diploma

If you have strong organization skills, attention to detail and have a way with numbers, then bookkeeping is a job that might be ideal for you. People are often confused with the roles of bookkeepers and accountants and think that they cannot become a bookkeeper because it requires an accounting degree. 

Bookkeepers are required to have a high school diploma and the training required to become a bookkeeper will occur on the job. This role involves producing financial records, checking for financial accuracy and organizing documents. 

16. Firefighter

Median Salary: $48,900

Job Growth Rate: 6%

Education: High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

Firefighting is a noble job and a great career opportunity. A firefighter needs to be willing to protect property and lives and be willing to work in dangerous conditions. You need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to become a firefighter. You will be required to complete a few months training and regular fitness tests will also be required. The top 10% of firefighters are paid very well, earning over $87,000 per annum. 

15. Real Estate Agent

Median Salary:$48,930

Job Growth Rate: 2%

Education: High School Diploma

Real estate agents assist people with buying, selling or renting properties, they will also conduct property walkthroughs and answer questions about the property and the neighborhood. A real estate agent can represent buyers or sellers. They also hold open homes, negotiate house sales and closing on a house. Real estate agents need to get a real estate license before beginning their career. 

Becoming a real estate agent can be a lucrative career because each property sold earns you a commission. The more experienced you have, the more houses you are likely to sell which results in a higher level of commission each year.  

14. Plumber

Median Salary: $55,160

Job Growth Rate: 4%

Education: High School Diploma and Apprenticeship Program

Plumbers are skilled workers who install, maintain and repair gutters, pipes, drains, roofing, waste disposal, water supply, cooling systems, ventilation systems and much more. Plumbers are also responsible for the installation of fixtures in a home like sinks and toilets. In order to become a plumber you will need a certificate III in plumbing. 

13. Transportation Inspector

Median Salary: $55,300

Job Growth Rate:1%

Education: High School Diploma 

Transportation inspectors monitor items or goods that travel by rail, truck or other forms of transportation. They also make sure that  local, state and federal transportation regulations are followed with regards to operations of public transportation and systems. They ensure that government regulations and environmental standards are met as well.

Transportation inspectors also complete investigations about accidents and failure of equipment and whether there is a need for repairs to be completed. 

12. Electrical Power Line Installer / Repairer

Median Salary: $56,750

Education: High School Diploma or equivalent 

If you are interested in electronics becoming an electrical power line installer or repairer may be the right job for you. As the name suggests, this job includes installing, maintaining and repairing power lines and moving electricity. Operate equipment that requires power, identify devices that are defective, transformers and switches. This job will require training and an apprenticeship in addition to a high school diploma because you will be working with high-voltage electricity. 

High paying jobs without a college degree

11. Carpenter

Median Salary: $57,033

Job Growth Rate: 8%

Education: High School Diploma or Equivalent

Carpenters are responsible for the construction, installation and renovations of structures that are made of wood and other construction materials. A carpenter’s job varies from doors and windows installation, to building furniture, to building kitchens and rebuilding of roofs. This involves cutting, shaping and fitting timber parts to create fittings and structures within homes and buildings.  

10. Court Reporter

Median Salary: $58,576

Job Growth Rate: 9%

Education: Associate Degree

A court reporter includes being present in court proceedings to ensure the accuracy of reviews for court proceedings. Court reporters create word for word transcripts of the court proceedings, trials, or relevant meetings. They also have to ensure completeness, accuracy and security of legal records, be able to document conversations in order to create legal proof, so that it can be accessed and verified at a later date. 

9. Executive Assistant

Median Salary: $69,539

Education: High School Diploma or an Associate Degree

An executive assistant provides assistance to an executive. The role includes booking meeting rooms, organising meetings, taking notes in meetings, managing schedules, booking travel itineraries, handling communication and correspondence related directly to your manager. 

To become an executive assistant, it is important to have a basic knowledge of different computer applications, have strong organizational and event planning skills, communication skills and be assertive because the executive assistant is the main point of contact between colleagues in the organization and the executive(s).

8. Gas Plant Operator 

Median Salary: $71,470

Job Growth Rate: 3.8%

Education: High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

A Gas plant operator’s job involves ensuring that natural gas plants safely distribute and store gas. The job also includes monitoring the equipment, which includes; its temperature, flow gauges, level and pressure. A gas plant operator also controls the compressor, any equipment repairs required and records data.

Although the educational requirement to be a gas plant operator is a high school diploma or its GED equivalent, a vocational training course may be required. However, most of the training is completed on the job. 

7. Aircraft Mechanic

Median Salary: $73,050

Job Growth Rate: 5%

Education: High School Diploma 

Becoming an aircraft mechanic is a great job for anyone that is interested in airplanes and would like to work in the aviation industry. This job involves inspecting the aircraft’s mechanical, structural and hydraulic systems and are able to diagnose and fix malfunctions. The aircraft mechanic takes care of fixing broken wings on aircrafts and also leaks. They also make sure that aviation safety rules and regulations are complied with. 

Even though a college degree is not required to become an aircraft mechanic, getting 18 months of training from an FAA-approved aviation maintenance school is required.

High paying jobs without a college degree

6. Dental Hygienist

Median Salary: $76,340

Job Growth Rate: 5%

Education: High School Diploma and Associate Degree 

A dental hygienist is ideal for those interested in oral health and hygiene. The job involves removing plaque from teeth, taking x-rays, educating patients about nutritional and hygiene habits. In order to become a dental hygienist, you will need a high school diploma and associate degree. Programs usually take approximately three years to complete and you will be required to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene exam before being able to practice. 

5. Power Plant Operator

Median Salary: $82,000

Education: High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

Becoming a power plant operator is ideal for anyone with strong math and science skills. The job includes a wide array of tasks,  and the most important is making sure that the equipment is able to produce a safe distribution of electrical power. Power plant operators deal with boilers, turbines, gauges, controls, pumps, fans, etc. 

A power plant operator requires 1 or 2 years of vocational education in addition to a high school diploma. 

4. Elevator and Escalator Technician

Median Salary: $84,990

Job Growth: 7%

Education: High School Diploma or equivalent

An elevator and escalator technician requires someone who is skilled and not afraid of heights. This is because this job involves working in closed spaces and sometimes at heights in elevator shafts. This job includes the installation, repair and maintenance of either elevators or escalators. Apart from a high school diploma, an apprenticeship is also required. 

3. Commercial Pilot

Median Salary: $86,080

Job Growth Rate: 5%

Education: High School Diploma

A commercial pilot’s flight schedule changes from week to week and the purpose of their flights can be for the transportation of cargo, transportation of people from one place to another, as well as aerial tours. While a commercial pilot has flight duties, they also have non-flight duties that can include flight scheduling and arranging maintenance of the aircraft. 

2. Database Manager/ Administrator

Median Salary: $93,750

Education: High School Diploma and additional certification

A database manager is someone who organizes and stores data using specific software. It is important for a database manager to keep the data secure and available to the appropriate people when they require access to it. The role includes planning, installation, configuration, performance monitoring, security, data recovery and backup for data. 

While some database manager roles may require a degree, often it is not essential. Most simply require to be certified for database platforms such as; Oracle DBA, MySQL Database Administrator or Microsoft Certified Database Administrator.  

1. Air Traffic Controller

Median Salary: $122,890

Job Growth Rate: 2%

Education: Associate Degree 

Air traffic controllers direct the movements of aircraft to ensure their safe travel. They facilitate the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport. Air traffic controllers need to be able to make quick and confident decisions. 

In order to become an air traffic controller, you will require a high school diploma as well as an associate degree. 

The Bottom Line

In this day and age it is not essential to get a college degree in order to be successful, get paid well or have a great career. Still, what sets those who have high paying jobs apart from the rest is their drive to get the proper training and certifications for the career path that they have chosen. It is important to work on honing your skills and hopefully one of the jobs we have listed above can help you to decide on your career path. 

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How To Save Money For College: 5 Easy To Follow Strategies

How to save money for college is an important question to ask, whether you are a parent with a child/children that is looking to go to college or you yourself are wondering how you can begin saving for college. The earlier you plan and save for college, the less stressful your experience will be from a financial perspective. 

The reality is that college costs are increasing every year. College graduates from class of 2019 took out an average of $30,062 in student loan debt. That amount is approximately $6,300 more than students that went to college in 2009. Some experts are also concerned that tuition fees may increase to cater to the pandemic’s economic impact. 

The great news is that if you begin saving for college now, you do not need to be concerned about needing to take out debt to pay for college. Here are a few ways that you can do that. 

How to Save Money For College As A Parent

Setting up a college fund as early as possible is one of the best ways to save money for college. This approach can sometimes be complicated because many people are in debt, such as, credit card debt, mortgage debt and car loans etc. Still, it’s always better to do something rather than to do nothing at all. 

Tools like the College Navigator, Expected Family Contributions Calculator, and the College Board Net Calculator can help you accurately figure out how much is needed for college. These tools don’t just calculate tuition fees but also housing and other ancillary expenses. 

Suppose your child is in high school and they plan to start college in 2021 at a State University. Your annual household income is $65,000, and you aim to cover 50% of the projected cost of college (at least $110,000). Your family can take out the 529 plan and make contributions of $536 per month. 

A 529 Plan is a college savings plan that offers tax and financial aid benefits. The plan comes in two types. There’s the prepaid tuition plan, and there’s the college savings plan. Almost every state has this plan, and there are even some operated by private colleges and universities. 

Aside from the 529 plan, there are other savings options out there that you can use. Some of the ones that we like include:

Education IRA or Education Savings Account (ESA)

Education IRA is a tax-advantaged investment account that allows you to save up for your children’s education. This education savings vehicle lets you make nondeductible contributions to an education Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for a child below 18 years of age. Simply put, they work similar to retirement savings accounts, but they are not for retirement. 

This savings account has an annual contribution limit of $2,000, and saving more than that may attract a penalty. This plan is similar to the 529 plan but with notable differences. For instance, the funds in an education IRA must be distributed to the child if they do not end up being used for college. Whatsmore, if you have funds remaining from an educational IRA, you can roll them over to a new beneficiary, for example, using the funds for your second child if your first child does not want to go to college. 

It is important to note that the only parents or guardians who qualify for an educational IRA are individuals whose Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is $110,000 annually or less. For married couples applying jointly, the income restriction is $220,000 per year. 

UTMA or UGMA (Uniform Transfer/Gift to Minors Act)

The UTMA plan differs from the 529 plan and the ESA because you’re not limited to education savings. This plan provides a way for transferring property, gifts, or cash to a minor without the need for a formal trust. A custodian manages the account (can be a parent or grandparent) and usually offers tax advantages to the contributor. 

You can open a UTMA or UGMA account via a bank or brokerage institution. This plan’s main advantage is that the money contributed to the account is exempt from gift tax of up to a maximum of $150,000 a year. Furthermore, any income earned through the contribution of funds is taxed at the minor’s tax rate that is getting the funds. 

How To Save Money For College

How To Save Money For College As A Student

One of the most popular approaches to securing funds for college is by applying for a scholarship. The reality is that not all scholarships cater to all of the costs of education. But they do come in handy when you require financial assistance to cover tuition. Some can cover college tuition and housing fees. 

There are various local and international scholarships, you can check them out at scholarships.com or Scholly.com. Make the most of your talents and utilize them to apply for a scholarship that best meets your needs. 

1. Look for a Side Hustle or Part Time Job 

Looking for a side hustle or part time job works well for both parents and those looking to attend college. You can look for a part-time job at a supermarket or a fast-food restaurant, or summer jobs and save your salary for college. You can also communicate your plan to save for college with your family members and friends and have them help you out with savings. Whether it’s doing chores, yard work, babysitting, watching pets, picking up dog poop for a fee, or any other activity that can help you earn some extra cash. 

Here are some additional articles that can assist you in finding the perfect side hustle or part time job. 

2. You Can Sell Your Stuff 

You can make money by selling some of your stuff, for instance, your old clothes, electronics, books, or other stuff that you no longer use. For instance, social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are one of the places where you could upload your old stuff and look for sellers. Poshmark is one of the popular platforms where you could sell your clothes, home decor, and other stuff. Alternatively, you can use eBay or Amazon to advertise your stuff. Unfortunately, some of these sites require you to get approval from your parents if you’re under 18 years of age. 

3. Take Advanced Placement (AP) Classes 

Advanced placement (AP) classes are beneficial as they can help you win scholarships and earn college credit. The AP classes consist of standardized high school courses that are similar to undergraduate college courses. This means that you can take an AP class in school and that is one less class you need to take in college. If you are seeking to take AP classes, you will need to check whether or not you meet the criteria. The great news is that once you have completed the class and taken an AP exam, you will have one less class that you are required to take when you get to college. 

4. Open A Savings Account 

Opening a high-yield savings account is essential when you are looking to set money aside for college. Most banks offer accounts for kids, but sometimes it may be on the condition that it’s a joint account with a parent. 

If you receive money for your birthday or receive an allowance from your parents, start putting some of this money in your savings account. Watch your spending and try to save as much as you can. Instead of hanging out at the mall, you can find free activities to do with your friends. 

If you are seriously thinking about saving for college, you should aim to save at least 20% of the cash you get from birthday gifts, odd jobs, allowances, and chore money. It might not seem like much, but in the end, every bit counts and it will add up over time. 

What If You Still Don’t Have Enough Money For College? 

There are times when you may do all that it takes to save up for college but still not have enough. If that’s the case, then don’t worry. A study by Fidelity showed that one in five graduates felt that given a chance, they would have gone for less-expensive education. There are many alternative pathways to college, for instance, online degree programs, trade school, community college, and apprenticeships. 

Online college, for instance, gives you the flexibility to learn at your own schedule and pace. The only issue is that you need to be self-motivated, so that you can complete your studies. Some schools offer a mix of online and brick-and-mortar colleges. Based on your school’s offerings, location, and preference, you can opt for online classes or take some classes online and others in-person. 

Similarly, community colleges give students two main paths for learning. There’s career training and transfer preparation. The transfer route is for learners who want to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher at college or University. Alternatively, the career training route is for people who want to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. These classes are skills-oriented as they teach students skills that they can apply to the workforce. 

The Bottom Line

It’s never too late to start saving for college. In fact, the earlier, the better. There are many resources out there that can help you with this endeavor. For instance, books such as Debt-Free degree can give you insights on how to get out of debt. 

Besides saving, you should fill out the FAFSA and CSS Profile to increase your student aid chances. To conclude, remember that the best way to succeed in saving up for college is to be conscious of how much you make in a year and work towards saving as much as you can. 

Learn how to be successful in college, here.

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How Much Emergency Fund Do You Need in 2021?

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as we plan. We could end up losing our job or encounter a medical emergency. The sudden and unexpected events of life are the reason why you need an emergency fund. It is therefore important to ask “How much emergency fund do you need?” 

As a rule of thumb, an emergency fund is expected to provide enough funds to sustain you for anywhere between three to six months. However, this will differ for everyone because each family has different needs and financial situations. For some people three months is more than enough, whereas for a larger family, three months may not suffice in the event of an emergency.  

Let’s look at the issue in more detail and figure out how much emergency fund you will require. 

What Is An Emergency Fund? 

An emergency fund is simply money that you set aside in case of sudden or unexpected life events. This sudden event could be anything, from a house leak,  to a hospital visit. It is important to note that what one person considers as an emergency may not be the same as someone else. Therefore, it is important to define what an emergency would look like for you.  Defining the emergencies will help you keep your hands off of the cash when more minor incidences pop up. 

Overall, an emergency fund is for legitimate emergencies, like a job loss, acts of nature like a storm damaging your house, car expenses, unexpected tax bills, delayed income, sudden relocation, plus many more. 

An emergency fund is not for a vacation or for spending money on the latest tv or car. This money really should not be touched unless it is to be used for an emergency. 

How Much Emergency Fund

How Much Emergency Fund Do You Need To Save? 

So, how much should you save in your emergency fund? Financial experts suggest starting with $1,000 if you are in debt. This amount is a good amount to cushion you should any unexpected event occur. Such as, a sick pet or car repairs. Getting out of debt should be a top priority for you, as debt always robs you of cash that you could have used for investing. 

Be sure to check out our article on how to get out of debt. 

Once you’re out of debt, you can build up your savings and build a well-established emergency fund that can cover three to six months’ worth of expenses. Remember that you need these funds in case something happens. There are thousands of stories from people who managed to bounce back from a disastrous situation because they had a fully-funded emergency fund. Building an emergency fund is the foundation of good financial management. 

But how big should your emergency fund be? 

There are factors that you can take into consideration when determining how large your emergency fund should be. For instance, if you lack job security (maybe you’re paid on a commission basis or are self-employed), then a six-month fund would be best. Furthermore, if you have a family member with a chronic medical condition requiring regular visits to the doctor, you should build an emergency fund that would cover you for six months worth of expenses. 

A three-month emergency fund is reasonable if you’ve had a steady income for several years or are part of a dual income household and have steady employment. 

Some people even save 9 or 12 months worth of expenses in their emergency fund because they would like the additional security. For example, you are a sole provider to multiple dependents. A situation like this may constitute the requirement for additional security. However, experts generally recommend that 3 to 6 months is reasonable for most people. 

Make sure that once you have accumulated your emergency fund, you put the funds in a high-yield interest savings account. That way, your money can grow. Recently, experts reported that emergency funds could be conservatively invested.  

Once you have saved enough funds towards your emergency fund, you should focus on putting additional savings in retirement funds, such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA. It is important to ensure that when you contribute to your emergency fund, you don’t neglect your retirement savings. Saving for retirement comes with the added advantage of tax benefits and also ensures that you are financially secure in the future.  

You can also use an emergency fund calculator to determine how much you need to save. 

Where To Keep Your Emergency Fund 

A great place to keep your emergency account is in a checking account or money market. It is easier for you to access your funds in one of those accounts in case of an emergency. As stated earlier, a high-yield savings account makes sense because your money gains interest. However, it is still important to look at the rates, fees, and rules concerning withdrawal before opening a savings account. 

Money markets are similar to high-yield savings accounts. Not only do you earn interest, but some also come with the option of a debit card or check-writing option. 

A certificate of deposit is another option for where you can put your funds. Unlike the other accounts mentioned, this solution requires you to keep your funds in a fund for a specified amount of time in exchange for receiving a guaranteed rate of return. The time period could be as little as one month or as long as five years or more. The only risk with this approach is that if there is an emergency before the term matures, you’ll have trouble accessing your funds. 

How To Build Your Emergency Fund 

The best way to start building your emergency fund is to live on a budget. A budget will help you see how you’re spending your money and the amount of funds you can spare for your emergency fund. One of our favorite budgeting techniques is the envelope system. This tactic will help you figure out how much you can put towards your emergency fund savings goal. 

Secondly, you should have a monthly savings goal by determining how much you want to save each month. Many people on a budget struggle with overspending, impulse buying and purchasing luxury goods. However, it is important to curb these spendings habits. In order to stay on track you can also cut down on eating out or shortening that two-week vacation for a week vacation or even take a staycation instead. Committing to a budget will allow you to set yourself up financially for the future. 

The Bottom Line

Having an emergency fund is no longer an option but a necessity. Think about covid-19 and how it has significantly impacted everyone financially. Unfortunately, we never know when an emergency may arise, so it is important to build it up and have it ready. The easiest way to do this is to treat your emergency fund like you would a monthly recurring bill that you pay each month. Dedicate a certain amount from your paycheck to your savings. That way, you will have some cash to fall back on in case of an emergency. Your emergency fund is simply there to keep you safe in a financial emergency, so only you can determine what that amount should be. 

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Self Publish On Amazon: Complete 2021 Guide To Successful Publishing

Amazon has provided an excellent opportunity for anyone with the writing bug to self-publish. In this Amazon era, you now have the opportunity to create a great ebook, signup as an Amazon Author, upload your book and get the success that you deserve. 

So let’s say that you’ve finished writing your next hit novel or a memoir that’s award winning. Where do you start? 

Don’t worry, below is a step-by-step guide on how to self publish on Amazon. Let’s begin by looking at the benefits of self publishing an eBook on Amazon. 

Why You Should Self Publish On Amazon 

Choosing to Self publish on Amazon is a great way to publish your book. Thanks to Kindle Direct Self-publishing, you don’t have to go through the long, frustrating process of landing book deals and fulfilling unrealistic deadlines. This option has eliminated our once over-reliance on traditional publishing and created a way for new, upcoming authors to connect with their audience. Amazon self-publishing is the best option because:

  1. Over 70% of books on Amazon are sold. 
  2. Self-publishing on Amazon is fast and easy. 
  3. Last year, at least 310 million people bought a book through Amazon 
  4. Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, and this increases the chances of getting high revenue from your book. 

When you self-publish you enter the world of entrepreneurship. You get to control your work schedule and build your reputation as a self-published author. Also, you reduce the time you would have spent in the traditional publishing process by publishing on Amazon’s Kindle direct. 

But newbies can be intimidated by the process of self-publishing. Below is a break-down of these steps. 

How To Self Publish On Amazon:

Step 1 – Create An Account On The KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Platform

To get started, you need to create an account with the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp.amazon.com). After signing in/up, you will see the KDP Dashboard that’s easy to use. Create a title of your book on the bookshelf and the details, for example; title, author name. 

Self Publish On Amazon

Step 2 – Upload Your Manuscript

This step requires you to upload your manuscript. The image below is the Amazon author dashboard. You’ll upload your manuscript by clicking on the Kindle ebook. Alternatively, if you want to upload a paperback content, you can click on the next tab below the ebook icon. Both paperback and ebook are publication formats. It’s up to you to choose which one you prefer.

It is important to note that the publication format you choose affects the royalties that you receive from your work on Amazon. You can receive up to 70% of the selling price for each digital copy sold and for a physical copy, you can make as much as 60%. The final percentage that you will earn from a physical copy is minus printing costs, which depends on the page count, ink type and the Amazon marketplace your paperback was ordered from. Amazon takes a small amount for each sale to cater for the printing costs of paperback books. 

Self Publish On Amazon

Step 3 – Select Your Book’s Format

The next step after selecting your book format is enter your book title and subtitle. If you’re a beginner, it is beneficial to learn about choosing the right title of the book. You can learn more about that here. As a rule of thumb, your title has to be attention-grabbing. 

Self Publish On Amazon

As you sign up, a pop icon may appear prompting you to enroll in KDP select. This feature has great benefits. For starters, it enables you to offer the book for free or for a selected period after publishing. Amazon also encourages KDP Select as a way to build your email list. You can learn more about KDP Select here

Self Publish On Amazon

Step 4 – Enter Your Book’s Title

The next step includes entering your book title and subtitle. If you’re a beginner, it is beneficial to do some research on how you can choose the right title for your book. You can learn more about that here. As a rule of thumb, your title has to be attention-grabbing. 

After that, you’ll be prompted to enter the author name. Here you can enter your name or the name that you want to publish under (your pen name). If there’s more than one author you can also enter their names in the contributors box. 

Step 5 – Enter Your Book Details

The next step includes entering your book details. The site will take you through a series of forms where you’ll provide essential information about yourself and your work. This includes the title of your book, a short description, the appropriate age range, etc. During this step you’ll have to:

Pick a few keywords and categories that increase the chances for your book to reach the right audience. You might, for example, categorize your book specifically as a sci-fi, or an inspirational book. Alternatively, you can use keywords like ‘self-help,’ ‘inspirational’ or lifestyle to help your audience find the book. When people enter the keywords that you select, they will be able to find your book. Choosing two categories for your book will help your readers find your book much easier. 

It’s important for you to take your time filling in your book’s description. This is because a great book description makes a powerful sales pitch for your audience. 

Amazon lets you write up to 4,000 words in your description page. Check out this guide on how to write a great book description

Self Publish On Amazon

Step 6 – Choose Your Book Cover

The next step is to choose the cover for your book. Amazon lets you upload a cover page for your book if you already have one. It is important to make sure that it’s the right size and there are no copyright issues. The recommended size is a height/width ratio of 1.6:1. What that means is that your cover page should be 1600 pixels in height for every 1000 pixels in width. You can make your cover page more appealing by hiring someone to create an original cover for your book on Fiverr. 

Step 7 – Verify Your Publishing Rights

Next, it is important to verify your publishing rights. You’re required to select the “I own copyright and hold the necessary publishing rights,” if you are the author of the book. The U.S Copyright law stipulates that you own the right to your work the moment you sign any content. 

Step 8 – Target Customers

The next step includes targeting the book to customers. This is where the categories assist you. A Pro tip: Opt for the categories that are performing well. Also, ensure the categories are niche specific to increase the likelihood of people finding your book. 

Step 9 – Select The Book’s Release Date

The next step involves selecting the book’s release date. At this stage you select whether you want your ebook to appear immediately or if you want to make it available on pre-order. If you are new within your niche and don’t have much of an audience, then you should consider creating a marketing plan before publishing. You can create a buzz for your book through book blurbs, social media marketing, email marketing and more. Come up with a plan for your book launch before selecting the publishing date. 

It is also important for you to click the “save and continue” option to ensure that all the information you’ve filled out doesn’t get lost. 

Step 10 – Select Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Once you upload the manuscript, you will get a pop up icon prompting you to enable Digital Rights Management (DRM) for your book. Digital rights prevents people from copying your book and giving it to others for free. Ensure that you enable DRM because once you publish the book, you cannot change the DRM setting. 

Step 11 – Upload Your Book

When looking to upload your book, there are a variety of options for your book format. For example, PDF or doc files. However, it’s advisable to turn your book into a well-formatted epub file before uploading it. What if you’ve written your book in Word? You can use the Calibre software to convert it to mobi. If you are a Mac user, you have the option of converting directly from your computer. You should know that KDP supports all major formats including: PDF, DOC, MOBI, and HTML. 

Moreso, we recommend using the current kindle format so that your book presents professionally to a reader. Formatting a book is always the hard part. Yet your audience will love your book when it’s well-formatted because it will be a pleasant reading experience for them. 

If your manuscript has pictures, Kindle Direct Publishing converts and uploads the images to the Kindle store. The images are displayed on Kindle and other supported platforms. You should note that all images should be at 300 pixels per inch. Make sure the images are high resolution, so that your readers get the best experience. You can get more guidelines on how to format the images in your book here

Step 12 – Preview Your Book

After you’ve uploaded your cover and manuscript you can preview your work using the Kindle Previewer. Do not click on the “Launch Previewer” button. Instead, click on “Preview on your computer” and install the current previewer app for Windows or Mac. Next, download and open your book file through the “mobi link.” Take your time to test everything including how the navigation works and how the cover page appears. 

Step 13 – ISBN & Publisher

An ISBN isn’t required if you opt to only publish an eBook on Amazon. This is because Amazon will assign your book with an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) that will be unique for your eBook. However, if you are planning to publish a physical copy, you will need an ISBN. An ISBN is assigned to every published book. It identifies the edition, the publisher and the physical elements of the book such as page count etc. It is important to note that once you have assigned an ISBN, it can not be changed.

Next, select “save and continue” if you want to continue. Amazon won’t publish your book until you click “publish your kindle ebook” at the bottom of the next screen.

Step 14 – KDP Select Option

You can either skip or select the KDP Select Option. KDP Select enrols your book into the Amazon free marketing option, like Kindle Countdown deals. The only catch is that the digital version of your book has to be exclusive to Amazon. You can make KDP Select part of your marketing immediately or you can select this option later after publishing. Once you select this option your ebook stays there for at least three months. 

Step 15 – Choose Your Territories

Amazon gives you the option to select territories where you’d want the book to be purchased/viewed. It is recommended that you opt for “all territories (worldwide rights) to increase your chances of earning from your books. Click this option, unless you have a reason not to do so. 

Self Publish On Amazon

Step 16 – Choose Your Royalty and Pricing

Amazon lets you choose between 35% or 70% royalties. Most authors opt for the 70% royalties as it obviously pays more. But it is important to understand that this option comes with some strings attached. Check out this royalty calculation to find out how much you will be able to make from your book. The second option involves choosing Amazon.com as your primary marketplace. After that you can set your prices manually or depending on the exchange rates. 

Step 17 – All Matchbook and Book Lending

Allowing matchbook and book lending is compulsory if you opt for the 70% royalty. 

Step 18 – Save The Book As A Draft

In this step, you have the option to save your book as a draft. It’s important for you not to rush through the process of publishing your book. Take time to think through every aspect of your book, including the marketing and author branding. Next, focus on setting up your Amazon author page once your book goes live. Make sure to check and recheck to ensure that everything is exactly how you want it to be. 

Step 19 – Kindle Matchbook Program

The next step includes selecting all the boxes. The Kindle Matchbook program lets people that have previously purchased your book buy the kindle version for $2.99 or less. In short, those who previously bought your book get a discount on the Kindle version. Aside from the Matchbook program there’s the Kindle Book Lending feature. This allows readers to lend your book out for 14 days. Both features help spread the word about your book and attract more buyers. 

Step 20 – Self Publish Your Book

Initially, authors would print their books through Createspace before selling them on Amazon. However, a large majority of printed books go through KDP. You can use your KDP account to add the printed version of your book instead of just publishing the digital version. 

Once you’ve covered all these steps your book will be ready for sale. You can regularly log into your portal to check how many sales you got. Amazon provides authors with reports on how their books perform on their platform. You can see how much your book is selling in real time via your Amazon author page.  

It’s tempting to want to rush your work and upload it to Amazon quickly. But that is risky because you can’t afford starting out with a book that looks unprofessional. We recommend taking your time to do it well and eventually reap the rewards of self-publishing. 

Learn how to succeed at life and achieve everything you want in life, here.

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How To Start A Vlog in 9 Easy To Follow Steps

Many people wonder how to start a vlog. Vlogs are an incredible way to earn additional income, build your personal brand and share your creativity with the world. Vlogging is a trend that is on the rise, with many talented individuals taking advantage of its popularity to explore their creative passion. If you are looking to pursue blogging as a career, then you are in the right place. 

We’re going to give you an action plan on how to set up your Youtube channel, publish videos like a pro and earn some good cash while you’re at it. 

Let’s dive in. 

A bit of Background of Vlogging 

Vlogging is something that has developed over time especially since the growth of Youtube. Before Youtube, creative people had limited access to a user-friendly platform for video hosting. The only way was to host a video on your website and distribute it to your audience via email or RSS. 

The word vlog originated in 2000 and stands for a video blog or video log. After the launch of Youtube in 2005, content creators started uploading and distributing their video blogs on this free web hosting platform. Vlogging became popular because it requires little expertise and equipment. Whatsmore, it offered a way to build a connection between creators and viewers. One of the first vloggers to start out on Youtube was Lonelygirl15 in 2006 and a teenage vlogger, Bree who took the spot as having the most subscribed YouTubers. 

Over the years a growing number of people took up vlogging on Youtube. Most people were able to capitalize on the platform with commercial offers. Also, sales from branded products and advertising revenue made vlogging an excellent means of earning passive income. 

You can think of vlogging as reality television on youtube. Content creators allow the audience into their life or at least as much as they would want to share. 

Starting your vlog is not as hard as it looks. All you need is the focus, preparation, the right equipment and a winning mindset. Without a doubt, you too can become a successful vlogger. 

Below are the key steps that you need to make to get started. 

How To Start A Vlog:

Step 1: Do Some Research 

Since there are many ways to vlog, it is best to start by completing some research. Firstly, do some research on Youtube on the niche that interests you.

Some of the popular vlogs out there include:

Travel – Many vloggers document their journey, whether it’s international trips or local areas in their city. A good example is The Budgeteers. 

Beauty – How-to videos, tutorials and product reviews in the beauty category are also quite popular. For instance, RLCBeauty101. 

Gamer – If you’re a fan of gaming, then you can share your gameplay footage via vlog. Youtube has terms of service for gaming, so it is important that you should check out the terms before you start. 

Lifestyle – This category also includes travel and other types like parenting, health, fitness and day-to-day life. 

Comedy – Maybe you’re good with jokes. You can put your talents to good use by setting up a vlog and entertaining many people online. An excellent example of this is David Dobrik. 

Step 2: Create Your Vlog Channel

It is important to use a platform that you enjoy and where you can easily connect with your audience. If you use a platform that you don’t like, you’ll feel like vlogging a chore. Some vloggers upload their work on one platform and share it to multiple platforms. The most common platform used by vloggers is Youtube, which is by far the leading vlogging platform currently available. 

One of the largest benefits of using Youtube is that it provides you with a platform for gaining a global audience. Moreover, Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google and gets more than 2 billion users per month. Since Youtube stands out from its competitors, it is a popular place to start vlogging. As such, you can start your vlog by setting up a youtube channel. What you do is:

  1. Log in to Youtube using your google account. 
  2. Go to your channel list and click on “create a new channel.”
  3. Set up a brand account that’s different from the Google name that you use. 
  4. Verify your account by typing in your phone number and confirming the verification code. 

After that, your site is ready to go. 

You can use other platforms if you are not a fan of youtube, for instance, IGTV (Instagram Tv). IGTV allows you to upload videos of up to 60 minutes, unlike the Instagram feed. Furthermore, readers who have subscribed to your website can get notifications every time you upload something new. 

Facebook is another place where you can upload your video content. You can use the Facebook Watch to upload your content. Users can also create watchlists with a list of channels they follow, and they get notifications whenever you post something new. 

Tiktok has also rapidly expanded into one of the most popular places for vloggers. Content creators use the app to upload short-form videos. There is tons of content of people lip-syncing, comedies and talent videos. 

Alternatively, if you are not a fan of youtube or social media sites, you can opt for uploading videos to your website. However, the disadvantage with this approach is that you won’t benefit from the social sharing aspect of social media, which can lead to videos trending online. 

Let’s assume that you’re like most people, and you plan to start on Youtube. Below are ways that you can customize your channel to boost your chances of getting subscribers. 

  1. Click “customize channel” to alter the look of your channel by incorporating an intro video, art, description, links and featured articles. 
  2. You can check out the channel setting to turn on the option that lets you pre-approve the comments that appear on your platform. 
  3. The ‘advanced settings’ option lets you integrate your channel with Analytics and Adwords, so that you can hide factors like subscriber count or certain ads. Also, you can customize your channel URL. 
  4. The Youtube studio, which is also your dashboard, lets you upload a video or go live with a live stream. From the dashboard as well, you can check stats for your videos. 

There’s so much more that you can do with Youtube; for instance, you can customize your channel layout from the customization icon from your channel’s page left hand  menu. You can also manage your branding and your basic info. Youtube creators have a video on how you can customize your channel. You can check it out here

Other Things that You Should Do:

Setting up a domain name and website for your online brand, is a great way to communicate to your audience who you are and what your vlog is about. This approach makes you less reliant on Youtube and expands your scope as a creator. A personal website or blog increases your chances of getting a bigger audience outside of youtube. 

If your choice of social media platform becomes less popular or dies out like Vine did, then your website becomes your best bet. 

Check out this article on how to set up a website for your vlog. 

Step 3: Get the vlogging Equipment

Smartphones are the easiest way for you to start vlogging. But if you feel motivated to get more equipment for your video, below is the equipment that we recommend you should purchase. 

Lighting – Many vloggers use lights such as large ring lights and stand-alone light sources for their videos. You can purchase these lights on Amazon at a fair price. You can purchase either a softbox lighting kit or selfie right light.

Video camera – Some vloggers don’t want to use their smartphones and prefer investing in high-quality cameras. Point-and-shoot cameras are a great place to start if you don’t have photography skills. 

Microphone – You can find an excellent price for quality microphones on Amazon. Most vloggers prefer the unidirectional one or, as it is commonly known as cardioid mic. But there are other options; for example, there are microphones that you can clip to the camera or sit on the desk and others you can attach to your clothing

Step 4: Create A Script for Your Video 

Some vloggers prefer to talk for hours on their vlog without a script. Alternatively, others prefer having an outline of what they are going to say. The primary benefit to having a script is that you tell your audience exactly what you want them to hear. You will also have more control of your time; for instance, if you want the video to last 3 minutes, then your script should have at most 500 words. The trick, though, is that you have to appear natural as you read your script. 

Some of the basics of a script are that it should flow naturally, i.e., from the introduction to the body and the conclusion. The introduction should tell people who you are, why you’re vlogging, and what your audience stands to gain from watching your video. Ensure that your introduction is quick (about 15 seconds). Also, make sure that you connect with your audience by delivering helpful content. You can adopt the following structure for your script.

  • Introduction: Who you are, why you’re vlogging. Also include phrases that hook your audience. 
  • Main body: Paragraph #1, #2 and #3
  • Summary: Summarize some key points and include a call-to-action. 
  • References: This could be links to your blog or some of your other content. Alternatively, you can have links to outside content as well or to affiliate links. 

A great place to start writing your script is to write down the title and the main ideas. You can also write the ideas in bullet points and flesh them out later. Once you come up with the topic, you can plan the sub-topic. Each sub-topic should appear in its own paragraph. 

The goal of the script is to avoid wasting time and provide your audience with incredible value. The more value you provide in your videos, the more often your audience will come back to watch more of your content. Therefore, take time to edit the script mercilessly and ensure that each paragraph is connected to the other. 

Pro tip: You can make an impromptu video but make sure to check it out later and use your editing skills to make improvements. 

Step 5: Film Your Vlog 

So you have your script, you’ve done some practice, and you have the equipment you need. So, what’s next? The filming. But there are some pointers that you need to bear in mind before you start. 

  1. Avoid rambling or talking too fast – Remember that you want your audience to get what you’re saying. Try to be as natural as possible. If there are parts you don’t like, the good thing is that you can make edits later. 
  2. Ensure that you have good lighting and audio quality – Most vloggers prefer to record the video in daylight, so that they can take advantage of natural light. Artificial lights are also okay if you prefer recording at night. 
  3. Create a preview of your content – Viewers love it when you give them a sneak peek of your content. You can do that by creating a preview of your video or a funny clip. 
  4. Tell a story – If you want to be a successful vlogger, then you should emphasize your storytelling skills. Viewers love a story, as it helps them connect with you and engage with your content. 
  5. Look at the camera – Let’s just say that vlogging is not for those who are camera shy. Therefore, if you go for “talking head” videos that capture you from the shoulder up, you should always ensure that you look at the camera. 
  6. Stay calm and avoid overplanning – When you over plan, you kill that natural appeal. Be as natural as you can when filming and you can edit it later. 
  7. Always interact with your viewers – A successful vlog requires you to connect with your audience as much as you can on a personal level. You can engage with your viewers by asking them to leave a comment, subscribe or like your video. 
  8. Sign off with a unique phrase or gesture – This will personalize your vlog and make it more memorable to your viewers. 

Click here for more vlogging tips that can help increase your viewership. Always bear these golden rules in mind, be yourself, be genuine and be original. These three concepts will help make your video interesting. 

How To Start A Vlog

Step 6: Edit Your Content 

Once you’re done filming your vlog, your next step should be editing your video to give it a smooth viewing experience. There are a variety of programs that you can use for editing, for example, Final Cut Pro, iMove and Adobe Premiere. Alternatively, some computers come with software that you can use for editing. 

Editing helps you remove the uninteresting parts and incorporate your personal touch. Moreover, it’s up to you to choose the video’s length, i.e., do you want long-form or short-form content. Many youtube trends have a longer duration; for instance, some are between 15 to 30 minutes long. Also, the benefit of uploading longer videos is the ability to put in more ads, which boosts your chances of earning passive income. 

If you have some cash to invest in your vlog, it may help if you hire a professional to edit your video. Professionally edited videos have a better flow and look more put together than videos that you edit yourself. However, if editing is a passion of yours, then this is a perfect opportunity to hone your skills. 

Step 7: Music 

A lot of vloggers prefer adding some music to their content because it makes the video more engaging and interesting for the viewer. You can select music from Youtube’s library. Youtube’s Content ID System prohibits creators from using copyrighted songs, making it difficult to find good music. Copyrighted music comes with consequences, as youtube will block your video in several countries (or even worldwide). The platform may also disable monetization. But Youtube’s Music library has a huge collection of songs that you can use without worrying about getting flagged for using copyrighted music. 

You can easily find songs in Youtube’s Library based on genre, mood, instruments, etc. You can preview the song, download it and save it for use later. A lot of YouTubers use the library to select their songs. So there’s also the risk that someone else may be using the same song that you’ve selected. You can check if a certain song is popular by looking at the bar next to the download button. A full-bar is a sign that the song is very popular on youtube. 

Note: Some songs in the library have a creative common license. Should you use the songs, you must copy the attribution into your video description. Failure to do so may get your content flagged. 

SoundCloud is another great platform for music. The platform is a music-sharing website for artists, DJs, and musicians. You can find royalty-free music on SoundCloud for a specific artist or genre. The site is popular among content creators who don’t want to use the same music platforms as everybody else. 

Alternatively, you can look for Google’s royalty-free vlog music. Next, filter the results to ensure that you only get songs available to use or modify commercially. Similarly, if you want to use a song set to “All Rights Reserved,” you might consider reaching out to the artist to ask for their permission to use the song. What’s great is that as your vlog gains more viewers, artists may approach you to use their song on your video. Lastly, you can sign up for a service like Bensound or Epidemic Sound, where you can use royalty-free music. 

Step 8: Export The Finished Video

Uploading the video is the next step. As you upload the video, you need to come up with the title, description and thumbnail image. You can also read Youtube’s recommended video upload settings here

The title – As a rule of thumb, your title should tell viewers exactly what your content is all about. Remember that Youtube is also a search engine so use keywords that will help people find your videos. 

Description – A good vlog description should be keyword rich and accurate. Done right, a description can boost SEO, subscription, watch time and view counts. The description should inform viewers what to expect from your content. It should also include links and metadata to boost SEO. 

Thumbnail – A thumbnail is an image or screenshot of your video. You can create it using canva or photoshop. Some bloggers take a screenshot of the video and upload it. However, more people click on videos that have a carefully created thumbnail that is engaging. Check out this page to learn how to create a thumbnail. Make sure to go for a thumbnail that best captures what the video is all about. 

Captions – Captions are essential as they allow users who have trouble hearing to watch your videos. You get captions on your content by hiring a freelancer on Fiverr. Alternatively, you can transcribe your videos using Rev.com. 

Step 9: Marketing Your Vlog 

Uploading your video and leaving it there is unfortunately not enough to get you views. Even when you use SEO on your description and title, you still need to market your videos. There are various strategies that you can use to market your vlog. You can use any one of the techniques below. 

Partner with other vloggers – You can partner with established vloggers in your niche to boost trust with your target audience. Don’t know where to start? Fortunately, there are established vloggers/influencers that you can use as a reference, for example, Perlu, Izea, and Famebit. You can also check out your favorite vloggers to get their contact information and reach out to them to see if they would be interested in collaborating with you. It is important to remember that when you are first starting out, you will get more traction from other Youtubers if you have a similar audience size to them.  

Ads – You can run ads for your channel on social media and search engines. A good ad on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Twitter, or any other platform. This is a great way to market your vlog. 

Reddit forums are also important – Although Reddit has some strict rules about self-promotion. You can still leverage it as a marketing tool. The platform consists of user-generated content posts. You can sign up, address questions and concerns brought up by your target audience. Make sure to add a URL to your profile, so that people can check out your vlog. 

You can cross-promote your vlog on Pinterest – Pinterest isn’t just a place for uploading pictures but it is also a search engine with millions of users visiting it daily. You can make the most out of the platform by setting up your free account. All you have to do is fill in as many details as possible and include your website or your Youtube URL. After that, you can start “pinning” previews of your video or shorter previews. A good approach is to type some of your themes or topics into the search bar and see what pins others are making. 

Instagram’s IGTV – IGTV is perfect for promoting your vlog. This feature lets you post both long-and short-form content. Typically, the maximum length is 60 minutes. You can create your content to fit within that time frame. You can also consider a trailer clip for your content accompanied by a call-to-action that triggers people to check the full videos. 

Most people find Youtube videos either by searching on the platform itself or by searching on Google. Others find videos through the “up next” and related videos recommendations. This means that you should optimize your content to increase the chance of people finding your content on Youtube. 

How To Optimize Your Youtube Videos 

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world. Optimizing your channel not only benefits your search engine rankings but also lowers the time that it would take you to earn money from your content. Remember that Google owns Youtube, so you can rest assured that the platform prioritizes quality videos. Since youtube has its search bar, here are some things that you can do to optimize your channel. 

The number of videos – Work on the number of videos that you put out and building your content archive. Set up a publishing schedule and work towards improving your video word count. 

Video quality – Similar to Google, Youtube rewards quality. Therefore, always aim to deliver high-quality videos. The longer that people watch your content for, the more that Youtube will display your content to new viewers. This is because your videos are assisting with keeping people on the platform for longer. 

The frequency of new content – Regular uploads are another excellent way for you to optimize your Youtube videos. When you are consistent with your uploads, you will build a consistent audience. 

The number of subscribers – The more subscribers you have, the more likely you are to rank on Youtube. Most beginners face the challenge of increasing their subscriber base. If you want to increase your organic reach and start making money, you have to hit those subscriber milestones. You need at least 1,000 subscribers to become a Youtube partner and start earning from your channel. Plus, the more subscribers you have, the more likely you are to benefit from Youtube. 

Tag your videos – Tagging your video increases your chances of appearing on youtube’s search results. The secret to tags is to keep the words non-specific. Look for words that people will type in the search bar. Try to avoid using attention-grabbing tags that have nothing to do with your video. You can get ideas on what tags to use by typing the words in the search bar and reading the auto-suggestions. 

How To Increase Your Subscribers On Youtube 

The best approach is to simply ask people to subscribe to your channel. You can remind your viewers during the video and at the end of the video. Another approach to reminding people is informing them about what the next video will be about. You can hype your next topic to encourage and engage your viewers. 

Forming a relationship with your viewers, also increases the likelihood of them subscribing to your channel. You can do this by responding to comments on your video and following the channels of other Youtubers. These relationships will help you develop a community that celebrates your creativity and gives you ideas on what to work on next. 

You can also update your channel art after a period of time. You should work on a banner that encourages people to check out your video and subscribe. There are some great ideas of banners on sites such as Canva and Bannersnack

Lastly, you can build your vlog accompanied by a blog. This strategy will help you increase your site’s search rankings with the Google algorithm. 

Warning: Don’t Buy Subscribers 

A lot of vloggers feel that their content is taking too long to get subscribers. So they end up engaging in dark practices such as buying subscribers. But this is a complete waste of time as Youtube’s fake engagement policy stipulates that such a practice will result in the banning of your content. Brands may hesitate in working with you, and at the end of the day, you won’t achieve any real growth. It is always best to stick with the organic route, even though it may take a little longer to accomplish.

How Do You Build An Audience For Your Vlog?  

Below is a summary of some tips on how you can build your audience. 

  • Always deliver quality, useful content and be transparent with your audience. 
  • Create a schedule for your content and abide by it zealously. 
  • Collaborate with other vloggers and brands. 
  • Build a community by engaging on social media with your audience as well. 

The Bottom Line

Vlogging is a project that requires consistency, dedication and commitment. The truth is that you might spend more time vlogging then earning money. But over time, you will start earning from your vlogs and you get to forge connections with brands and other vloggers. 

It is not too late to start vlogging. This is because there will always be demand for content, whether it be for entertainment purposes or for people seeking answers. If you do your research and find a need for certain content, go ahead and get started. Many vloggers promote their content across a variety of different social media platforms, so make sure that you do the same. All you have to do is to remember to be patient, keep posting and don’t give up on your dreams

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How Does Mercari Work? The Complete Guide For 2021

How does Mercari work? Mercari is a platform that allows people to sell their items online. This selling app has quickly gained momentum with over 17 million monthly active users. Mecari has many benefits for both the seller and buyer. One of its key benefits is that the buyer and seller never need to meet in person. It is an incredibly safe platform to use and is definitely worth checking out. So, let’s see what Mercari has to offer. 

What is Mercari? 

Mercari is a marketplace that lets you buy and sell almost anything, provided it can be shipped. The app was launched in 2013 to create a valuable global marketplace where anyone can buy and sell. Since its launch, the app has continuously worked to enhance its features. It presently has impressive solutions such as an escrow system for payments, artifical intelligence listing, barcode listing, Mercari shipping, plus so much more. 

The app is unique from other apps in the market because it restricts in-person meetups and permits sellers to ship merchandise to buyers. The escrow protection also prevents either party from being ripped off. Also, there’s the identification verification and review to inform either party of each transaction. 

Mercari also charges a flat sales fee of 10%. There are other charges, but more on that later. 

How Does Mercari Work?

On Mercari’s platform, you can sell almost anything provided it can be shipped. But before you get started, you need to look at Mercari’s list of prohibited items to ensure that you’re selling the right stuff. In a nutshell, you can’t sell items like narcotics, weapons and counterfeits. There are also products that you cannot ship, for instance, flammable items. 

Once you’ve done that, you need to follow the steps below to get started. 

1. Set up a Mercari Account

To begin selling on Mercari, you first need to sign up for an account. Once you’ve signed up, you can click on your profile picture to check out your profile. You can get useful information, for instance, you can check who is following you and who you’re following. You can also see how much money you’ve made, coupons available and a “trust and verification” bar. The good thing is that you can customize your profile within the settings section.  

2. Create your listing

You can create a listing on Mercari by pressing “Sell on Mercari” at the top of the page. Next, you’ll enter the details of your deal and start uploading photos. A great listing requires you to accomplish three main tasks:

  1. You need high-resolution/quality photos. Choose as many pictures as possible to give your sellers a good look at your item.
  2. You should ensure that you price your product fairly. Take time to look at the price listing of other similar products in the app to ensure that you set a fair price.
  3. Describe your product fully to increase the likelihood of it selling. 

There are categories that the Mercari app automatically fills. However, if you don’t like the autosuggestions, you can edit them. When you enter your zip code, the app will create a shipping cost estimate based on your entered information. You can check this estimate by clicking on the “nationwide shipping” box under the “Delivery section.” 

3. Start Selling

Once you’re done setting up your profile and making your listing, your next step is to wait for buyers. You can set the app to notify you whenever someone likes your product, sends you a message, or makes an offer. You can customize the notifications so that you only get the information that you want to see. Also, you can choose whether you get the notifications on the phone or via email. 

Under each listing, you can see how many views or likes your product has gotten. You can also edit the listing anytime before the item is sold. 

Similar to other apps, Mercari allows you to promote your product. Whereas other platforms charge you whenever you promote your items, Mercari enables you to promote for free. You can also choose what shows up in the promotion; for instance, you can set the promotion to include the number of likes your product gets to encourage people to buy. 

When people check out your product, they will send you offers. It’s up to you to choose whether you’ll decline, accept, or counter the offer. However, it’s important to note that the offers expire in 24 hours.  

There are two ways to pay in Mercari:

  1. You can make direct deposits into your checking account – You will not pay any fees for this unless the deposit is less than $10, and in that case, there’s a $2 fee. The money can take up to five days to be deposited, and the amount will be transferred into your checking account. If you opt for this route, you should ensure that you have your bank’s account number and routing number. If the bank rejects the funds, you’ll incur a penalty fee of $2. 
  2. Instant pay via a linked debit card – You will incur a $2 fee for this method. The major benefit with this method is that you will get the money instantly into your account within minutes. 

4. Shipping the Product 

Once your item sells, the app will automatically mark it as “sold.” All Mercari sales are final unless the item falls in the Buyer Protection Guarantee. Mercari offers its users several shipping options for their listing. The recommended option is the prepaid Mercari shipping label. When shipping products with the Mercari label, you save on average 30% of the retail cost of shipping. The company offers a flat shipping fee for 50 states. All Mercari labels get shipping protection of up to $200 and you can ship using FedEx or USPS.

Mercari sends you a shipping code when you make a sale. You simply need to take the shipping code to a UPS store location. The UPS store’s certified packing experts will print your label, package it and ship it on your behalf. 

You have three business days to pack and send your item. Once the buyer gets your item, they have three days to confirm that they have received it and rate the seller. Your buyer’s rating and description will significantly boost the credibility of your profile. 

How Does Mercari Work

5. Get Paid

You get your money after the three days are up and the buyer has received their item. You can check your balance on your profile. You can also see additional details about your sales earnings, deposit history and cash transfer. 

Tips on How To Sell on Mercari

The truth is that you can make really good money on Mercari. The tips below can help you boost your sales on this marketplace. 

Set a reasonable price – If you are paying for shipping, then ensure that you set a price that covers the cost. Make sure that you are competitive with your pricing, especially if you are selling used items. 

Get ready to give bargains – One of the primary reasons people shop at second-hand stores is to get a good deal. Therefore, if you add deals or discounts for some of your items, it will encourage people to buy. Some sellers choose to put a set price on their items but that may not be enough to dissuade people from bargaining. 

You can consider marking down the price if your items don’t sell – If you lower the price and the item still doesn’t sell, you should consider removing it from the listing. It is also important to ensure that you evaluate photos, descriptions and other elements to ensure that your listing encourages people to buy. 

Use real photos of the item – Avoid using stock photos as they are likely to discourage buyers because they are not sure what they are getting. Stock photos may communicate that something’s wrong with the item. So, instead opt for real images that give a clear view of the item. 

Watch out for retail arbitrage – This means that there are people who buy and sell on Mercari and other platforms by looking for deals. Later, they sell the item on another platform for a higher price. This tactic is sometimes referred to as flipping. So you should take time to review the buyer to see how active they are on the site to ensure that this does not happen to you. 

Be thorough in your description – Ensure that you give as many details as possible about the product. When you provide a detailed description and incorporate clear images, buyers feel confident about buying from you. 

Watch out for ratings – Similar to most marketplaces, ratings can make or break your business. Still, you should never feel threatened by a buyer. Always work towards engaging in open and honest communication with your buyers to avoid any potential problems. 

Is Mercari Legitimate? 

Mercari is a legitimate place for buyers and sellers. Still, like every other marketplace, Mercari does have its flaws. So far, there has been no scamming issues on the platform and most of the complaints against it are self induced. For example, a seller may sell an item but fail to provide a tracking number to the buyer. If the item has already been shipped and has been three days since the purchase, if the buyer does not have a tracking number they may cancel the purchase because they are not sure about its status. In this situation the buyer would receive a refund. 

In case of any concerns, you can contact the platform’s customer service. Mercari has phone support every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m PT. You can also visit their help center and fill out a form stating your issue. 

Pros & Cons of Mercari 

Our experience with the Mercari app has been positive. We have made several purchases from the app and have found it to be a reliable site. The information provided in the app is detailed and easy to understand. If you want to sell items on the platform, for example, some clothes or things that you have in the house that you no longer wear or use, then Mercari is definitely a great place to start. 

Mercari stands out from its competitors, as it lets you set up your earnings goal. It’s easy for you to target and track your progress in the platform. Whatsmore, you can avoid the 10% selling fee, shipping label cost and potential cash transfer fee by opting for direct transfer of funds and accumulating $10 in sales. 

Mercari appeals to many sellers because making sale arrangements is fast and straightforward. Although there isn’t always the instant gratification of getting paid right away after you make a sale, you don’t have to make the sales yourself or meet anyone in person like you have to on some other platforms. 

Mercari is a safe place to buy from and has so many benefits. Remember that you get shipping options and low seller fees (10%). Maintaining your listing is also easy and won’t take up too much of your time. If you are a beginner, you might find their dashboard a bit complex when first starting out but you will get the hang of it in no time at all. 

Have you used Mercari before to sell your products? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments section below. 

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28 Money Saving Tips: How To Save More Money

Many people wonder how to save more money. We live in a consumer driven society which is focused on spending rather than saving. It is easier than ever to access cash, accumulate credit card debt, shop online and get tempted by sales. Saving money requires some planning, effort and commitment. The great news is that you can accomplish all of your financial goals by following the tips laid out below: 

How to Save More Money:

1. Money saving tip: Automate your savings

Automating your savings is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are consistently saving money. You can automate your savings by setting up recurring deposits from your checking account to your savings account with your bank. It is also a lot easier to budget when you automate your savings. 

You can automate your savings by setting up a highest interest earning savings account with CIT Bank here.

2. Money saving tip: Track your spending

Understanding exactly where your money goes is important when you are planning on saving money. You can track your spending using a budget. Tracking your expenses allows you to ensure that you are not spending your money on non-essential items. It also encourages you to hold yourself accountable to meeting your saving goal for the month. 

3. Money saving tip: Save your change

Saving your change is a great way to save more money. Every time that you make a payment towards a purchase, such as groceries or coffees for example, save whatever change is left over no matter how small or large the amount is. There are apps that will help you with this such as Acorns (earn $10 by signing up with Acorns). Take for example you purchase a coffee for $2.75, you could have the app round up to $3.50, so that you are saving 75cents every time you have a coffee. 

4. Money saving tip: Put any raises and bonuses towards your savings 

As your salary grows, so should your savings. Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of increasing their spending and improving their lifestyle rather than saving additional money that is earned. This is called ‘lifestyle creep’ and it can be a silent killer when it comes to your savings. A great rule of thumb should be that the more you earn, the more you should save. 

5. Money saving tip: Try the Money Savings Challenges 

Sometimes the most efficient way for you to save money is when you challenge yourself to do so. There are different money saving challenges that you can check out and decide which one is best for you. 

  • 30 days Savings Challenge
  • Penny Savings Challenge
  • 52-week Savings Challenge
  • Spare Change Savings Challenge

Click here to learn more about each savings challenge and which would be most beneficial to you.  

6. Money saving tip: Use the cash envelope system 

The cash envelope system is a great way to save money. It enables you to track how much money you are spending each month by putting the allocated cash amount in an envelope and discipline yourself to only spending what is in the envelope. These allocated amounts will align with the amounts that are specified within your budget. Take for example that you are trying to control your spending on food. Withdraw the amount of cash that you have budgeted for food and only allow yourself to spend that much money. 

7. Money saving tip: Contribute more towards your retirement

Contributing towards your retirement is a great way to save more money and will also set you up financially for the future. Many employers also contribute towards your 401(k) and will match your contribution up to a limit, which essentially means you receive free money from your employer. 

Learn more about investing into your retirement here. 

8. Money saving tip: Buddy up

Having an accountability partner when it comes to your savings will help keep you on track with your savings plan. An accountability partner will remind you that you need to save rather than spend money on things that you don’t need. It can be easy to get tempted when sales come around. 

9. Money saving tip: Implement the 24-hour rule

The 24-hour rule is a great technique to utilize when you are looking to save more money. The way it works is that you see something that you want to buy (non-essential items) and instead of purchasing it straight away or on impulse, you go home and give it 24-hours to decide whether or not you need the item. If you don’t feel like you still need it, instead of purchasing the item, you can save your money instead.   

10. Money saving tip: Keep your savings account separate 

Separating your savings account from your main checking account makes it harder for you to access and spend the money in your savings account. As a general rule, it is always better to keep your everyday expenses and savings separate from each other. This will help you stay consistent and disciplined with saving. 

11. Money saving tip: Cancel unused subscriptions

A great way to save money is to cancel subscriptions that you are no longer using. You may have started a trial, provided your credit card information and forgotten to cancel the subscription once you decided you no longer wanted to use the service. Alternatively, you may have old streaming services that you haven’t used in a while that will save you quite a bit of money when you add it up over the course of a year, if you cancel them.  

12. Money saving tip: Lower your cell phone bill 

Many people spend much more on their phone bill then they need to. Costly data plans and insurances will quickly add up and are unnecessary. Do your research and if it is beneficial for you to switch providers go for it. It is worth the change to save more money. 

How To Save More Money

13. Money saving tip: Buy generic

Often the only difference between expensive brands and generic brands is the label and marketing. Purchasing generic brands on products such as staple foods (for example beans and rice), cleaning products, paper goods and medicine is a great way to save a lot of money. 

14. Money saving tip: Cut back or quit expensive habits

Expensive habits could be draining your bank account. These habits could include drinking a lot on the weekends, smoking, buying snacks or lunch everyday when you are at work. Cutting back on these habits will save you a lot of money. It may take you some time to completely quit these habits but work on cutting back initially and doing everything you can to minimize the cost of these habits. 

15. Money saving tip: Take a shopping list when you go shopping

When you go grocery shopping, it is important to create a shopping list. Having a list handy will prevent you from purchasing things that you don’t need and will also keep you on track with your budget so that you don’t get swayed by items that are on sale but that you don’t necessarily need. 

16. Money saving tip: Learn how to cook 

If you eat out or get takeaway often or several times a week, this will kill your savings. Do research on your favorite recipes and take some time to learn how you can recreate them. Learning to cook instead of eating out on a regular basis will save you a lot of money from month to month. There are many recipes online as well videos that you can follow step by step. 

17. Money saving tip: Get a coffee machine

Buying a coffee machine may sound counterproductive when you are trying to save money. However, owning your own coffee machine will save you a lot of money over the long term. If you purchase your own milk and beans it will cost you between 50cents to $1 when compared with buying coffee out can cost you anywhere between $4 to $5. 

18. Money saving tip: Go to the library 

Utilizing your local library is a great way to get free entertainment especially if you have children. Many libraries offer games, books, movies and even free events for kids or the family. 

19. Money saving tip: Become a mystery shopper 

Becoming a mystery shopper is a great way to save money. You can save money on meals, experiences, services and products. Simply for leaving companies feedback. Becoming a mystery shopper can be great if it covers the expense of things that you would normally do anyway. 

Learn more about becoming a mystery shopper, here. 

20. Money saving tip: Pay your bills on time 

Paying your bills on time is a great way to ensure that you have a good credit score. Having a good credit score will give you lower interest rates when you are looking to get a mortgage. Paying your bills on time also ensures that you won’t need to pay interest or expensive late fees. Some energy providers also provide discounts to their customers who pay on time. Late fees can really add up quickly especially if you engage in buy now and pay later services. 

21. Money saving tip: Live as if you only have one income

If you have a spouse or partner and both of you are working and earning money, a great technique to save money is to work towards living off of one of the salaries. Use one income to cover all of your living expenses and the second income can go directly towards savings. 

22. Money saving tip: Use cashback apps

There are a variety of apps online that will help you save money. A few of these cashback apps are Ibotta, Rakuten and Dosh. Your accumulated cash back rewards can be withdrawn through gift cards or transferred to your paypal account or bank account. 

To learn more about cashback apps, click here. 

23. Money saving tip: Make use of leftovers 

Making use of leftovers will save you money because 20% of people throw away the groceries that they purchase each week. Making use of leftovers also cuts down on wastage and allows you to use up excess food. You can cook larger portions of meals and freeze them. Examples include, bolognese sauce, curries, lasagna, pizzas, soups and so much more. 

24. Money saving tip: Shop out of season 

When you plan ahead you can get warm coats in summer and shorts in winter when the sales are on for the last season. Outlets are also a great place to get incredible sales, which will save you money on items that you need. 

25. Money saving tip: Price match 

Price matching is a great way to save money. You can check for online deals or brochures to see the cost of different items from a variety of retailers. You can then use the lower price and go to your preferred retailer to see if they will match or beat the price of their competitor.

26. Money saving tip: DIY work 

If you are currently paying for your house to be cleaned, lawn to be mowed or car to be cleaned etc. Doing these tasks yourself or asking your kids to help out will save you money. 

27. Money saving tip: Take cheaper transport 

If you currently drive to work everyday, it will save you money to leave the car at home and take transport 2-3 days a week. Alternatively, if you don’t live too far from your office you could ride  a bike there, which will save you money and also help you keep fit. 

28. Money saving tip: Enjoy a staycation 

Holidays can be incredibly expensive especially if you have children. A great way to save money is to enjoy a staycation. Spending a week or two exploring your local area is not only relaxing but is an incredibly cost effective way to holiday. Consider going to parks, local attractions, enjoy going on hikes and try new food within your area.

The Bottom Line

The key to saving money is to always start small and work towards increasing your savings. Building a habit of saving will take time but with consistency and a commitment you will be able to reach your financial goals. 

Saving more is all about changing your mindset. When you are able to shift your mindset to that of a saver or investor, you will see your behavior change and the way you treat your personal finance changes as well. 

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25 Easy To Follow Tips To Save Money When Broke

No one enjoys the feeling of being broke and having to worry whether an unexpected expense may put you further into debt. Although there are many factors that can lead to someone being broke but there are a number of easy to follow tips to save money when you are broke. 

It’s easy to get disheartened when you’re broke and living paycheck to paycheck is certainly a position that nobody wants to continue living in. The good news is that there is a way to start changing your position and the best part is that it’s all within your control. If you start to change your behaviour and start building new habits you can change the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and start building financial security and wealth.  

To get started, make small adjustments at first, because if you try to change everything it will be too much change and you won’t stick with it. So in the below list, choose a couple of tips to save money, to get started and then stick with them and you will begin to be able to change your financial situation. Here are 25 easy ways to save money even when you are broke:

1. Tips To Save Money: Keep Track of Your Monthly Expenses

When you cannot accurately account for your expenses and your paycheck is just enough to cover all your expenses, you need to closely monitor where you spend your money. The only way to know where your money is going is to track your monthly expenses. 

It will help you identify where your spending patterns can be changed. As it’s likely that you don’t even realise you’re spending significant amounts of money on certain things or categories of expenses. 

2. Tips To Save Money: Lower Your Cell Phone Bill

Chances are that you’re like most people and have a smartphone. But chances are if you’re trying to keep up with purchasing a new phone every year or have a large data plan, phone insurance, etc. there is some room to save some money. Start doing some research and review your usage and then start looking for a more competitive plan. Also, if you’re due for a phone upgrade, don’t choose the newest model of phone. You can go for a year old model and you’ll save a tonne of money.

3. Tips To Save Money: Buy generic brands

A great way to save money is to start buying generic brands when you go shopping. This is most applicable at the grocery store but you can also shop generic brands by purchasing basic items like t-shirts, socks, etc. at large dept stores such as Walmart or Target (from their in-house brands). Depending on the item you could save 30-50% over the brand name items. 

4. Tips To Save Money: Save your change

A great way to start building your savings when you’re broke is to start saving your change. Whether you pay in cash or use a debit card, it’s an easy way to start saving. If you use cash it’s a matter of not using change at all and then when you get home at the end of the day, throw all your change into a jar and count it up at the end of the month. You’ll be amazed how quickly it adds up.

If you use your debit card for most of your purchases, you can begin to save your change by utilising an app such as Acorns. Which rounds up each transaction you make and deposits the ‘change’ into a savings account for you.

5. Tips To Save Money: Pay Yourself First And Automate Your Savings

Paying yourself first is an easy and efficient way of building savings. The premise is that each time you’re paid you automatically have a portion of your paycheck debited into a separate savings account and then you live and pay bills on the rest of what’s left. When you implement this it may seem like you’re in the same situation as before you started to save and in some ways that’s true but now you have savings set aside. This strategy forces you to become creative and live on less and you are prioritising savings. 

The best part about this strategy is that it can easily be combined with budgeting and other savings tips. It’s also great because you’re prioritising yourself over your bills, after all it’s your money, not someone else’s.

6. Tips To Save Money: Remove Temptation 

One of the best ways tips to save money when you’re broke is to try to not place yourself in situations where you’re going to be tempted to spend money. This may mean that you forgo a few social activities or maybe suggest having people come over (and bring something with them for a dinner party) instead of going out. If you’re into online shopping you’ll save money by staying off your phone and not browsing any promotional emails you’re signed up for.  

7. Tips To Save Money: Use Cash for Payments

If you are someone who regularly uses credit cards, it can make it difficult to track your spending and manage your finances. When you use cash you only take what cash you need or what you’ve allocated in your budget and that’s it, no more. This helps you to learn discipline and also prevents you from overspending and impulse buying. One of the best methods to start utilising cash is to start utilising the cash envelope system.

Using cash for purchases and utilising the cash envelope method is about changing money behaviours and habits. It’s a great method to use to start saving money and helps you to be more conscious and intentional with your money.

8. Tips To Save Money: Review Your Grocery Bill

If you’ve never paid a lot of attention to your grocery bill you may be surprised at what you purchase each week. A lot of times, grocery shopping can be the activity where people impulse buy. Even though the impulse purchases may not add up to much each time you shop, they add up over a month and can be an easy place to reduce spending and start building some savings.

A few ideas are to not shop when you’re hungry, prepare a list ahead of time and stick to it. It also helps to plan out each meal that you’re shopping for, ahead of time. Also be sure to check out the weekly specials and what’s in season for fruit and vegetables and cook with those. 

9. Tips To Save Money: Eliminate Cable 

If you’re one of the millions of American households who still use satellite or cable for tv and movies, it’s worth considering switching to a streaming service such as Amazon Prime or Netflix.  Depending on the services you’re currently paying for you could save anywhere between $50 to $80 a month. Granted the streaming services may not have as large of a selection as cable tv, but you don’t have to put up with watching ads or waiting for a week until a new episode of your favourite program is released. Just don’t be tempted to have 3 or 4 streaming services, otherwise it’s no different (in cost) to having cable.

10. Tips To Save Money: Cancel Unused Subscriptions & Memberships

These days it’s easy to get a subscription for just about anything. Usually with a low monthly cost, it’s enticing and easy to sign up for a free month but to then forget to cancel it once the trial is finished. 

Most people have at least one or two unused subscriptions or an unused gym membership they’re paying for. The easiest way to check for unused subscriptions and memberships is to review your bank and credit card statements from the past 3 months to see if you can recognise any transactions relating to subscriptions or memberships that you don’t use. It’s also good to look at the app store on your phone as you may have signed up for a free trial of an app you no longer use.  

11. Tips To Save Money: Pay off Debt

Something everyone should be striving to do is to work at paying down debt. Particularly high-interest debt. If you have debt, the first thing to do is to stop obtaining more debt, start a budget and start living on less than you earn. The second thing is to start putting more money towards your debt than just the minimum payment required. You’ll not only pay down the debt faster but once you’ve paid it off you’ll no longer have part of your salary going towards payments, which frees you up to save and invest.

There are 2 main methods for paying down debt:

Debt Avalanche Method

Pay more than just the minimum towards the debt with the highest interest rate. When it’s paid off, then apply the payment you used to pay towards it, towards the debt with the next highest interest rate until all your debt is paid off. 

Debt Snowball Method

Pay more than just the minimum towards your debt with the smallest balance, and once that’s paid down then attack the second smallest balance and continue until you’ve paid down all your debt. 

12. Tips To Save Money: Leave Your Credit Card

Impulse buying is a habit that a lot of people don’t realise they have. Leaving your credit card at home, especially when you are going to the mall or going out with friends can help you to stop spending money you don’t have. Utilizing cash instead of a credit card or debit card can help you not to overspend and avoid impulse purchases. Also, stop going online ‘just to browse’ the sales. If your credit card information is saved to Amazon or other shopping sites, remove your card details to avoid the temptation to spend. 

Tips To Save Money

13. Tips To Save Money: Pay your bills on time

There are many negative impacts on your financial well being when you miss paying a bill on time – you will likely pay hefty late fees, your credit score suffers and you may also pay more on interest than normal. To avoid this, make sure that you set up a reminder for when your payments are due each month. 

14. Tips To Save Money: Designate a Day as a “No Spend” Day

Not to be confused as not spending any money at all, a no spend day means not spending anything outside of your basic needs. For it to work, it’s best to choose a day where you generally don’t have social commitments. Otherwise, if you choose a day where you have to give up too many social events, you likely won’t stick with it in the long run. This exercise can help you learn self discipline and can even be a permanent fixture in improving your financial life.

15. Tips To Save Money: Bring Lunch to Work

Eating out daily for lunch may not seem like a big deal but it can be very costly. With an average lunch costing around $10, that can be up to $200 a month, just on lunch! An easy way to start bringing your lunch to work is to make extra supper the night before, and take leftovers to work. It saves you time and potentially money over preparing a fresh lunch every morning.  

16. Tips To Save Money: Plan Your Meals and Meal Prep

Making planning out what your meals will be for the week is a great way to reduce food wastage and ensure you only buy what you need. Another aspect that can help you not only save money but buy time, as well is meal prep. Meal prep is essentially preparing and cooking multiple meals at the same time and portioning them out into containers for the week. This can save you money as you’re buying in bulk generally and as it’s planned out and portioned, it saves money as there is no wastage.

17. Tips To Save Money: Make Your Own Coffee

If you love heading to Starbucks or your local cafe for your morning fix, it’s time to consider making your coffee at home. Yes, it may not be as great as a barista made latte or cappuccino but it’s a lot better on your wallet. It may take a couple weeks to get used to but not buying a $4 coffee weekday could easily save you $1,000 or more every year. 

You can substitute your barista made coffee for a nice single-origin coffee from a small batch roaster or even consider a pod machine for ultimate convenience

18. Tips To Save Money: Sell Stuff You Do Not Need

An easy way to gather up a few dollars is to take a look around at your stuff and start sorting out some of the items that you no longer need or could stand to live without. In fact, it will not only just clear out your house but also your head. Living with less tends to make people happier and the extra cash in your pocket doesn’t hurt either. Depending on how much stuff you have to get rid of, it could also mean that you could move into a smaller place which is less rent or smaller mortgage.

19. Tips To Save Money: Renegotiate Your Rent

During times of economic downturn or if rents start to decrease, it could be worth going to your Landlord and renegotiating your rent. If you decide that it’s worth raising this with your landlord, it’s important to come to the conversation armed with facts and examples of houses or apartments in the area that are comparable and are at a lower rate. If the landlord pushes back, it’s worth keeping in mind that in a market of decreasing rent that a landlord is much more likely to want to keep a tenant than have their property vacant, so the advantage is on your side.

20. Tips To Save Money: Refinance Your Mortgage

It can be worth thousands of dollars to you to pay attention to interest rates. Interest rates have never been lower, so it could be worth reaching out to your bank or a mortgage broker to see what’s available in the market. Even if you save 1% on your mortgage, that could mean thousands of dollars in interest expense that you save over the life of the loan. The best part is that all it takes to get started is a phone call or email.

21. Tips To Save Money: Explore Opportunities for a Side Hustle

There are only 2 ways to better your financial position, cut expenses or increase income. And if you find your finances are tight, then it would be advantageous to do both. If you’ve already made cuts to your expenses and started tackling your debt, it’s time to explore opportunities for bringing in some side income. There are more opportunities than ever to start earning additional income on the side, including earning money online, starting a small service-based business, or getting a weekend or part-time job are possibilities. Just be mindful not to burn yourself out.

Learn more about passive income ideas here.

22. Tips To Save Money: Live Below Your Means

It is a universal fact that in order to put money towards your savings, you have to live below your means. Living below your means living intentionally and disciplined. It may seem difficult at first, and it likely will be for a few months until you get into a routine. But if you’re able to turn it into a lifestyle, your finances and overall well being will reap the rewards. 

23. Tips To Save Money: Cut Back on Vices

We all have our own vices but sometimes our vices can also cost a lot and be damaging to our finances. If you smoke, even occasionally, or tend to unwind on weekends by going out to bars and/or drinking. You will see a significant change in your finances if you’re able to either reduce or eliminate these vices. You’ll also likely physically feel better. Try to replace any vices with other healthier activities, such as exercise or volunteering. 

24. Tips To Save Money: Limit Your Gift Budget

Birthdays and the holiday season are fun but it can be easy to get caught up in trying to impress family and friends or panic and just buy something last minute. It’s much better to try to anticipate how many birthday’s you’ll be buying gifts for and set a designated amount at the beginning of the year. Gifts don’t always have to be expensive to have meaning, something that’s well thought out or handmade can be more valuable that a really expensive gift that someone doesn’t want or need.

25. Tips To Save Money: Consider a Minimalist Lifestyle

To live a minimalist lifestyle means living a life with less, but not with nothing. Although it’s counter-cultural, living a minimalist lifestyle can have a lot of benefits. And although there are some people out there who pride themselves on only having 100 items in their life, there’s no reason to take it to such an extreme. Minimalism is about reducing your material possessions and focusing on other things in life like family, relationships and experiences. Which we can all agree would mean living a richer life than owning a bunch of stuff.

Conclusion

Being broke isn’t fun for anyone but there are ways that you can start saving money and begin to change your financial situation as we’ve outlined above. The key is to start and to be intentional, nothing mentioned above will just happen on it’s own. It will take effort from you and likely an adjustment in your current lifestyle. But if you’re serious about making change, it’s possible and there are thousands of people who have made the decision that they’re tired of being broke and want to live in financial freedom. 

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